Wot I Think: Duelyst

Duelyst is Hearthstone’s child. You can see the shared DNA everywhere, from the menu layout and free to play business model to specific minion abilities and hero powers. Almost everything Hearthstone does, however, Duelyst does better. I’ve spent years grinding away at the Hearthstone mill, but now I’ll never go back.

Duelyst does so much more by slapping on a whole other game to the tried and tested CCG formula. The goal remains the same: to kill the enemy player before they kill you. Most of the core mechanics from the genre are there, untouched – minions and spells are randomly drawn from a deck, and are played using a mana pool that increases each turn. The key difference is that in Duelyst those minions – and the player ‘General’ themselves – are played onto an actual board, where skilful positioning can often tip the scales against an opponent with a better deck.

The result is an elegant hybrid that combines deck building strategy with moment to moment tactics. Even if Counterplay Games had executed the idea sloppily – and they haven’t – it feels like a natural combination. Take ‘Provoke’ minions, for example. It’s a mechanic you’ll instantly recognise if you’ve played pretty much any CCG: minions with Provoke force other units to attack them first. In Duelyst , of course, that only applies to minions that are next to them, meaning careful positioning is needed to both employ and avoid them effectively.

At the same time as bringing new life to old ideas, the extra dimension opens up entirely new possibilities. While most minions can only be played next to a square that already has a friendly unit on it, Airdrop minions can appear anywhere. Blast minions are ranged, and can target all units in a row or column. Flying minions can move to any square on the board, while Backstab minions will do more damage and won’t be countered if they attack from behind. It’s a toolkit that, with the huge number of combinations offered by the 300+ cards currently in the game, allows players to be smart and creative in ways that the typical CCG format cannot.

That variety isn’t limited to the cards. There are 6 different factions, each with a unique cohort of minions and spells that gear them towards different playstyles. On top of that, every faction has two different Generals to choose from, each of which has their own Bloodborn Spell that’s analogous to Hearthstone’s Hero Powers. Abyssian generals summon hordes of small creatures, throwing them at the enemy while Deathwatch minions gain in power every time one of them dies. There’s a Songhai general that can teleport his minions short distances, allowing them to move in for killer backstabs. The starter Magmar general, being a dinosaur, buffs his own damage so he can tear apart anything in melee range by himself. He also lays eggs.

This is all well and good, but let me tell you about Argeon. He’s the first general the game suggests you play, and he revolves around summoning big armies with lots of high health Provoke minions. His faction, Lyonar, use Zeal minions that gain extra attack when standing next to their general. He’s less fiddly than most of the other generals, but by no means less powerful: I managed to get up to gold division on the ranked ladder without looking at online decks, which I’ve found impossible to do in Hearthstone. More importantly than that, however, is that he can sometimes end games like this.

That’s me winning the game with an emote. I love messing around with them, which are yet another idea that’s been taken and improved from Hearthstone. They’ve got more personality than Hearthstone’s voice lines, and more people use them – admittedly mostly for trolling purposes, but I have managed to get a nice dialogue going in a few matches. It’s a shame that they need to be bought with either in-game or real life money, which is better saved for card packs, though if you played at all in the beta then many of them will already be unlocked. You can also buy card backs and other cosmetics, though the pixel art is gorgeous enough as it is.

It says something about how much there is to praise that I haven’t gotten around to explaining what might be Duelyst’s best innovation of all. Once a turn, you can swap a card for another random one from your deck, which introduces yet another layer of skill without losing anything of what makes CCGs fun. Choosing which card to sacrifice, or even whether to swap one out at all, is an agonising decision that asks you to draw on knowledge from your own deck and from guesses about what’s in theirs. There’s an old principle I learnt from my Hearthstone days: you should know which cards you need to draw in order to win and play as if you’re going to draw them. When that works, you feel amazing – this doubles the chances of that happening.

Games are mostly short and fast paced, though I’ve had some which have lasted over half an hour. Even then, matches rarely feel like they’re dragging on: the games that go late are those where both generals are on low health and dance around each other, knowing that one wrong move will end it. I had a game where me and my opponent were on one health for five turns or more, where if I hadn’t played exactly as I did I’d have lost for sure. In games like that, at the moment when all the parts click into place and you manage to tease out a winning play, you feel like a genius.

At its best, Duelyst feels like an infinite puzzle game that constantly generates interesting situations, powered by the variety of cards and faction match-ups combined with the unpredictability of human opponents. Past the first couple of turns, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see the same board state twice between games. Still, there’s a big question that needs addressing. There’s no doubt that Duelyst’s skill ceiling towers above Hearthstone’s, but does that actually translate into a ranked ladder that’s possible to climb without spending countless hours (or pounds) hoarding cards?

Yes, but only up to a point. I mentioned earlier that I managed to climb to gold division (from rank 30 – 10) without netdecking. That was after only a few weeks of play with a pretty meagre card collection, and for a while I convinced myself that Duelyst had done the impossible and made a card game where decks didn’t need to be packed with legendaries to be competitive. Then I played a few games in gold, and got absolutely crushed.

I’ve heard the some people have managed to reach Diamond using just common and rare cards, and while it’s nice to know that’s technically possible, it’s a feat that’s well beyond me. Unlike Hearthstone’s maximum of one copy of each legendary card in a deck, Duelyst allows you to put in a full three. It is much more generous with its drop rate, but that doesn’t begin to make up for the power difference between newer players and those with hundreds of games under their belt. The situation isn’t helped by the ‘Seven Sister’ cards that were added a few months ago, several of which are especially powerful and can only be unlocked by crafting 3 of each rare card for their relevant faction. Frustratingly, I’m still over 3,000 spirit (a resource needed to craft cards) and many, many hours away from getting one.

In fairness, it’s a problem inherent to the genre that can’t be solved without sacrificing the long-term appeal of gradually building up a competitive card collection. Besides, it’s possible to side-step the issue by focusing on ‘Gauntlet’ mode, which is Duelyst’s take on Hearthstones Arena. Instead of playing with a pre-constructed deck, at the start of each run you draft a deck by choosing between 3 cards at a time. It costs either 150 gold or $2 to start a run, though the game’s generous enough with gold that you shouldn’t have to splash out real money. I’ve always thought that Arena was a little underappreciated in Hearthstone, so it’s nice to see that there’s a healthy community forming around Gauntlet mode. I’ve found streamers like Hsuku and Zelda are great to have on a second screen while playing, and the twitch chat is – amazingly – usually pretty friendly.

In its present state, Duelyst is fantastic, and with time it’s likely to only get better. The game’s first expansion, Denizens of Shim’zar, came out last month and introduced an entirely new unit type. ‘Battle Pets’ either pack powerful abilities or inflated base stats for their mana cost, but they’re controlled by dumb Ai that the other player can exploit. It’s a neat mechanic that shows the devs aren’t done toying with fresh ideas. While Hearthstone’s doing its best to keep up, the base game lacks the complexity that affords Duelyst the freedom to properly experiment. If you’re at all interested in card games, or even strategy games in general, you have to check this out.

Duelyst is out now for Windows and Mac and is free-to-play.


  1. Ferno says:

    I’ve been loving this game for the last week. Even if you don’t enjoy the competition of the game as a whole, it’s well worth downloading just for the puzzles. You can complete daily puzzles which task you to defeat the opponent in a single turn without having to pay a penny. It doesn’t take long to unlock a series of solo puzzles to complete too. I’m currently waiting for the devs to add further puzzle packs into the game as I’d happily pay for more!

  2. kwyjibo says:

    New users can get 100 free cards at http://humblebundle.com right now.

    You should do it, and then you should play.

    • JFS says:

      I’ve got two Duelyst bonus keys in the latest Humble Bundle sale. Here they are, I hope no re-seller snatches them.

      Twenty spirit orbs:

      Cosmetics bundle:

      Please only take them if you actually intend to play that game.

      • AshEnke says:

        The keys for Duelyst are freely available on the page even when you don’t buy the bundle, so anyone that doesn’t come too late will be able to get a key.
        But that’s nice anyway

    • Kitsunin says:

      Ugh, this is irritating, I created an account a little while ago, but never actually got around to playing the game, so I’m not eligible.

      • Kitsunin says:

        So basically, if I want to play, it makes sense to just create a new account and not get to launch via Steam ever, to take advantage of that damn big deal. That’s freaking inconvenient. Camaaaaan *angry Italian hand gesturing*

        • Rack says:

          I’m in a similar boat, though my account is much older there’s almost nothing on it. That said I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use a steam account, it’s still going to go through the normal login rigmarole anyway isn’t it?

        • Hex says:

          You can actually contact CounterPlay Support and have them unlink your current account from Steam, so you can get a fresh new Duelyst account set up on your existing Steam account.

          Unlinking is a one-time thing.

          • AshEnke says:

            I contacted them asking to delete my existing account and if not possible to unlink my steam account so I could create a new one. Here’s the reponse from support (in a few hours though so that was fast.

            As a matter of policy, we don’t offer account deletions. Rest assured that your personally identifiable information will not be shared. If you’d like to read more about our privacy policy, you can read the full policy here; link to duelyst.com
            Unfortunately we are unable to unlink your Duelyst account from your Steam profile at this time.

    • Nevik says:

      “New” aka started after 15th of september and not 2 weeks earlier when the steam release was.

      I read of people who started at the 14th: played a lot, invited friends (who got the 100 extra cards) or even bought cards/orbs for money. And now every “new” player gets orbs worth 20-30€(about a month doing the daily quests) for free and those who were interested a few days earlier get nothing but a legendary card with a special skin.

      It is advertisement yes, but counterplay kinda screwed all the new steam player of before the 15th over.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Honestly, gotta say I’m in the group that is “better off” from this situation (can comfortably just make a new account and deal with it) but this is horrible.

        So, I guess they wanted to attract new players by offering a great deal for them. But they weren’t willing to (maybe) sacrifice a lil’ bit by having the old guard (maybe) spend less money because they’ll get stuff for free! So they’re refusing to give anything to the people who actually supported them!

        Seems like a real slap in the face.

  3. Vandelay says:

    I need to play more of this. Downloaded a week or so a go after seeing Quinns gushing over it on Cool Ghosts. I only played the opening tutorial games and a couple against AI, but I liked what I saw.

    But, it is once again an electronic CCG that is just spawning minions and hitting your opponent’s hero until their health drops to 0. The strategy element is a great addition, as it is in Faeria and Infinity War (to an extent,) but there are so many more interesting game play styles that they could look at for inspiration, instead of always looking to Magic.

    “In fairness, it’s a problem inherent to the genre that can’t be solved without sacrificing the long-term appeal of gradually building up a competitive card collection.”

    This has been solved in the physical CCG space. Again, if they looked at other games like Netrunner or Doomtown, they would see how effective the Living/Expandable Card Game format is much more consumer friendly. You still have to spend money to keep up, but it is much clearer what you need to spend for particular card(s) rather than having to keep pumping money until you get what you want.

    • TheDandyGiraffe says:

      Being a fan of the LCG format, I’m actually quite glad that Duelyst is a CCG. There is something – I’d like to believe that it’s more than mere nostalgia – that really attracts me to it precisely because it’s not LCG, because it’s a little bit oldschool; as if Duelyst reminded me of a long-forgotten itch that I didn’t even know needed to be scratched.

      As for the precise reason, I think it’s this: when I play Netrunner, the feeling of achievement, the satisfaction and the occasional pride stems from my skills and my skills only (be they as they may); whether it’s a well-built deck or the actual in-game skills, it’s still all about my personal abilities. When I get a new data pack, sure, there’s excitement, but it’s a challenge, not a reward – what I’m thinking is “how can I integrate these into my deck?”, not “that’s some sweet loot”. And this idea of cards as loot, as a reward, as a tangible evidence of achievement (even if it’s luck-based) or as something to boast about, calls back to some early memories of playing Magic during recess and unleashing a cool new creature on an unexpecting friend.

      Sure, this might be a card game equivalent of fast-food, but that’s fine by me. I have my Netrunner and my sophisticated Martin Wallace deckbuilders and Arctic Scavengers and all of that, and Duelyst is simply something different. And the gameplay itself is subtle enough not to leave a fast-foodish taste in your mouth.

      • Vandelay says:

        It sounds as if the attraction of the system for yourself is similar to the unlock grind that pretty much all modern multiplayer shooters use. “Keep playing, because in another 700xp you will be able to get that sweet weapon everyone keeps killing you with!” It is a system I don’t like, but understand the appeal.

        I think the same could still be achieved in an electronic LCG via purely cosmetic items. Card backs, different backgrounds, variants on card art, foil cards, new special effects, etc could all replace the unlocking of actual cards.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I mean, you have all of those things, but none in the digital medium, so far as I’ve seen.

  4. zind says:

    I’d love to see an Android version of this. Basically all I use my tablet for is playing digital CCGs. I’m not the biggest fan of Hearthstone, I prefer paper MtG to Magic Duels, the YuGiOh app is just awful, and so I’m mostly playing Pokemon TCGO. Would be nice to have something a little fresher in rotation.

    Still might check it out, although I doubt I’ll spend much time on it as long as I can only play it at my PC.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Tablet is definitely the most natural way to play CCGs – to the extent where I never even saw the appeal of playing Hearthstone on PC. It’s something I used to play slumped on the sofa in front of the telly – not something I’d sit at a desk for.

      I think it’s because touchscreen is more tactile, and these games take place in a single screen. It’s essentially a digital table scenario.

      But this is a PC website so we should discuss this quietly in a darkened corner.

    • Intrinsic says:

      Good news, the mobile version is in development atm but i’m not sure exactly when it’ll be ready.

    • mukuste says:

      If your tablet is powerful enough, you can try the browser version:


  5. Zankman says:

    Reading your first paragraph has gotten me thinking…

    “Well – what will happen when our author here discovers Faeria?”.

    Seriously; you speak of this game as “like Hearthstone, but better in every way” – but people are saying that same, exact thing about Faeria.

    “It has less RNG, more strategy, more uniqueness, a fair business model and a cute aesthetic”.

    How the hell is someone supposed to know which one to chose, then?

    Hm, if only some journalists and game critics could take a look at both games and give us an informed and empirical comparison…

    • Thurgret says:

      I dunno, I prefer the name of this one.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Why do you need to choose? Play both, form an opinion.

    • Coccyx says:

      Hallo, I have played a little bit of Faeria! It’s certainly interesting, but I don’t think it’s got anything on Duelyst. It’s possible I didn’t give it enough of a chance, but from what I saw it didn’t seem to have the same variety or inventiveness that I like so much in Duelyst. Plus it’s much slower paced, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I definitely think Duelyst’s approach has wider appeal.

    • kizu says:

      Just wanted to comment on this too — I wonder why there is close to no coverage on Faeria at RPS, almost like it doesn’t exist, which is kinda untrue. I remember when RPS was a site with coverage of a lot of different weird beautiful things, and from a CCG/TCG view its just mostly HS site now. Was there Scrolls coverage? Almost nothing. Faeria? Never heard of.

      Faeria, in my opinion, deserves at least as much attention as Duelyst got there. It is rather close to release. It was under a paywall for a while, but now it is free to play (and much, much friendlier than HS or Duelyst to new players with much less grinding). They even added recently a bunch of single player content (not perfect, but enough to learn a few things and to boost your collection).

      I would really, really like to see it covered at RPS.

      • Baines says:

        Duelyst was most likely actively promoted to game sites, just as it is tied into the current Humble Bundle.

        Duelyst also looks fancier and more exciting. Faeria has small static icons on a hex map, while Duelyst has fully animated characters that could have fit directly into an action game.

      • Vandelay says:

        I think it is unfair to say that niche CCGs are the kind of games that RPS used to cover. RPS has never been particularly interested in competitive games. There has been a slight shift with Pip joining the team and MOBAs getting some coverage, but they still go for games that are normally about a unique experience and certainly favour single player games.

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        “I remember when RPS was a site with coverage of a lot of different weird beautiful things, and from a CCG/TCG view its just mostly HS site now.”

        He wrote, in a comment on a Duelyst review.

        As always, we cover things because our writers (including freelancers) are interested in them and because the games seem interesting to our audience.

        Consequently, we’ve done maybe one Hearthstone feature in the past year, and we cover it in news quite a bit because people who work for the site play it or used to play it. We covered Duelyst throughout its development with features and news and reviewed it now because our writers were interested in it. We haven’t covered Faeria yet because no one I know is playing it or is interested in it.

        I am glad to hear that you like it, however, and always open to suggestions of “Hey, cover this because it’s great and here’s why!”

        • notenome says:

          There’s no denying that RPS has given Duelyst coverage throughout its development process, including the controversial change in monetization.

          But one thing that has bothered me a little bit (and this is a very minor point) is that a lot of people praise Duelyst’s tactical board without mentioning Scrolls, Mojang’s ill-fated CCG or even Card Hunter, two games that featured this concept albeit in a different form. This isn’t a condemnation by any means but its become something of a conspicuous absence in the critical discussion, if that makes any sense.

          As for Hearthstone, I liked it when I played it but the rampant greed in that game just ended pushing me away.

          • Baines says:

            Both Card Hunter and Mojang’s Scrolls received multiple news posts and articles on RPS.

            I would guess that the main reason that they do not continue to receive such coverage is simply because they aren’t “news” anymore. They are old games. The development stories have been told, the releases released, the players have played them and moved on.

            Duelyst is currently new, so it gets news articles and reviews. I would also guess that Duelyst is already entering the decline of its coverage, as it has released. It might pop some more coverage with expansions and maybe some end of year awards, but its story as far as the news cycle is concerned is largely over (barring any controversies or scandals).

          • notenome says:

            I am well aware that both Card Hunter and Mojang got news coverage in RPS, in fact I found out about both games through RPS back in the day. Calm down.

            Perhaps I did not phrase it well enough. I’m not complaining about ‘why didn’t you cover x’, that’s a silly complaint to make. It’s no one’s obligation to talk about a game I like. I’m talking exclusively about the narrative surrounding Duelyst. Everyone (I’ve read) mentions Hearthstone, which is certainly half of the equation. No one mentions Scrolls or Card Hunter. As I said, it’s a minor niggle that for some reason has become to bug me.

            Maybe the reason it’s bugging me is that Card Hunter, Scrolls and Hearthstone were all games I liked. Duelyst, which is clearly being billed as the next step forward, leaves me cold and I can’t figure out why.

        • kizu says:

          Well, ok. Hey, cover Faeria because it’s great and here’s why:

          – It introduces a so-called “Living Board” — not only it has a hexagonal field, but it is also starts filled with oceans with players’ on different end. Players build lands first, so they can actually play anything. This leads to having both extra strategic (how are you planning to build your lands in the future) and tactic (how would you answer opponent’s lands and adjust to the current situation) layers.

          – It has a “Power Wheel” — each turn you can choose one action: to build one colored land, to build two colorless lands, to gain one faeria (mana) or to draw an extra card.

          – It has a really nice color and mana system: you have a universal mana — faeria — which you can use to play cards. But each card (except for colorless neutral ones) have a certain treshold — the land requirement. Some cards, with smaller land requirement you can play almost right away, for some you’d need to commit first. Multicolor is viable but not overpowered this way, as the need to build more lands instead of gaining more mana or drawing cards from the wheel matters.

          – Each player gets 3 faeria each turn and then there are four faeria wells on the board that spawn more faeria, so with board control you could gather 7 faeria at once (or even 8 if you’d get one from the wheel). So the board control matters for economy.

          – An important part: Faeria don’t have “mana curve” as the unspent faeria won’t burn in the end of turn. This leads to a lot of things, like you don’t need to spend everything each turn, so you have option to wait and play things later, and going to economy can lead to really powerful plays.

          – The game length is longer than HS’ one, but not that long. Shorter than in Scrolls for sure, and the game don’t feel slow as there is always what to think and plan on.

          – It has a really fair business model: you can purchase the whole core set for $50 (would be 70 or 80 after release), so if you don’t have a lot of time, you still can be competitive. Otherwise it is free to play and you gain enough in-game gold through the single player and daily quests to get the needed cards fast enough. There were a bunch of players that started as free-to-play and got to the first “god” ranks (HS legendary analogue) — you don’t need the whole collection to build viable decks and the legendaries are often just flavourful and not OP in any way.

          – It has great artworks for cards. While, yes, it doesn’t have animated models for units like in Scrolls or Duelist, the art is excellent.

          – Developers support e-sport and there are monthly cups with $3000+ total prizes each month. You can read more at https://esports.faeria.com — and they stream those tournaments on Twitch, and when you understand the game it is really nice for spectating. And there are a bunch of regular streamers for the game, if someone is into this stuff.

          – It already has great community, enough players for nice queue time, Draft/Arena-like mode with an added extra fun and a lot of other stuff.

          I guess I could continue, but I’ll stop for now. Really, it is a nice game, if you’re into CCG and/or tactical games it can really click. And as it is free and have a nice progression, it would really worth it to try it.

          • Thurgret says:

            Spent a couple hours playing it. Thanks for the recommendation.

          • Premium User Badge

            Graham Smith says:

            Thanks for writing this! It’s useful both to us and other readers.

            I will keep Faeria in mind when it comes to commissioning articles on next month’s budget.

        • Zankman says:

          This is a gaming coverage website.

          Where you cover games.

          Someone should be sitting on Steam every day, checking the latest releases…

          And needless to say giving games like Faeria attention.

          Most importantly – this attitude of “Duelyst is amazing, the Hearthstone replacement” – IS problematic when there is another game *right there* to compare it to.

          It’s completely unfair, for all the wrong reasons.

          • Premium User Badge

            Graham Smith says:

            We do look at Steam every day, and a whole lot of other places besides. But there are dozens of games released every day and we have finite resources. We pick and choose, and this inevitably means not covering games that some readers would like us to write about. There is nothing unfair about this, as it is not our responsibility to cover every game, or every game that someone somewhere cares about.

            Luckily, we’re not the only games website in town. And if there are more CCGs than the generalist games press can cover, perhaps it’s time for someone to launch a dedicated CCG site. Perhaps you’re the Zankman to do it.

        • Ginhyun says:

          I’d really love to see RPS cover Faeria, as it has a very different take on the CCG/Strategy combo compared to Duelyst. The way the living board plays out gives Faeria a sort of board game feel, and it provides another layer of complexity without being too overwhelming.

          I feel like the learning curve might be a bit rougher on Faeria, as it didn’t quite “click” immediately in the way Duelyst did, but the single player campaign is well made and does a fantastic job of introducing players to the game.

          It’s been a while since a game has drawn me in like this, and I love it.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Faeria = Hexes
      Duelyst = Grid

      Decision away!

      • Hex says:

        Duelyst is essentially hex-based, as well (sort of).

        Units can move/attack diagonally — the movement cost of a diagonal move is, however, double.

        But the important part (attacking) plays out as it would on a hex-based board.

  6. Massenstein says:

    Ganondorf looks pretty dapper in blue and gold.

  7. notenome says:


    So I’ve been trying to bounce off of Duelyst hard, and I don’t really know why. Part of it is probably that I really don’t like the aesthetic (I’m not a fan of pixel art in general, but duelyst has 3 simultaneous competing aesthetics – the cards are pixel art, the menu are sleek xbox-livey things and the generals are kinda manga-anime something), it really doesn’t work for me. But the actual game just felt incredibly flat for me, in a way that its two biggest inspirations (scrolls and HS) didn’t, even though I also burned out on those two.

    Which is weird, because I’m apparently decent at the game. I started playing the season ladder with the abyssal (?) deck and went on a winning streak to the point that the game was actually skipping tiers after every win. This probably comes off like me bragging but I was deriving no enjoyment from it, which is ironic I guess (the one online game I’m good at is one I don’t like to actually play). Best part of the whole affair was being able to tip people gold ’cause it felt like a nice thing to do.

    Both RPS and coolghosts, sites whose opinions usually align with mine, are praising this game to the high heavens and I can’t really explain why I’m so cold on it. Maybe playing with friends helps, I dunno.

    • shadowmarth says:

      I backed it an absolutely hate it. I keep seeing people giving it praise here and there, and I pop back in once in a while, but every time I do I am immediately reminded why I don’t like it. It’s extremely random and shallow in the same sense as Hearthstone. Games always seem to be decided by hard counters rather than good plays. They F2Ped it after promising not to. They pitched it as a “tactics” game and it is anything but.

      Prefer Faeria, even though they scaled the game back a fair bit from the original beta and made it F2P, it’s far more interesting to me, and the one-time buy in option, and their F2P model as a whole, is far more reasonable than HS/Duelyst (which deserve to be lumped together in so many respects).

    • MisterFurious says:

      It’s one of the best CCG’s on the PC right now, but it’s still a CCG and has all of the problems that CCG’s have. One is luck-of-the-draw. The majority of games I played came down to who drew better, just like Hearthstone. That was far more important than any tactical choices made during the match. There were a whole lot of games were I would win if I drew a particular card but if I didn’t, I lost. I had three of them in my deck but if I didn’t get lucky, I lost. If I did, I won. Another problem, one mentioned in the article, is that people with better decks than yours will beat you no matter what you do. That’s a problem that goes all the way back to Magic: The Gathering. Duelyst also has the main problem that Hearthstone has and that’s no trading. I can’t trade off cards I don’t want for cards that I do and that’s really frustrating.

      The game is definitely better than Hearthstone but it still has a lot of problems and I got burned out on it after a week or so. My favorite part of it was the daily puzzles and I almost kept the game installed for them but they’re all pretty easy, really, so I didn’t.

  8. Daoler says:

    True bliss is having your strategy blow up in your face and still managing to win: as an Abyssian player, I find getting my Deathwatch cards smashed early on and prevailing using a bunch of 1/1 minions to be poetry in video game form.

    • TheDandyGiraffe says:

      Oh yes. Also, this feeling when the Vanar player is trying to win the waiting game by chipping off 2 of your HPs every turn, and you play a Shadowdancer and position two of your wraithlings in your column every turn, so he/she effectively commits suicide, sometimes without even noticing.

      Or when you play against Vetruvian with lots of obelisks and you draw a perfect hand and remove/dispel each and every one, while flooding your opponent with cheap minions.

      Or when you play a third game in a row against the god-damn Spellhai with their bullsh*t Phoenix Fire and lots of burst, out-of-hand damage and you fall down a whole rank and you curse the developer to seven hells for playing favourites with factions. Seriously, Songhai is still _the_worst_.

      But to be serious for a moment, this game manages to be immensely satisfying despite having some of the traditional CCG randomness. And the sheer narrative potential is great – after a week or two you already feel like a battle-hardened veteran, with lots of stories to tell, a nemesis or two and a sense of real loyalty towards the faction you’re maining.

      It really is worth the time and (occasionally) money – and I say this as a Netrunner fan.

      • Hex says:

        Abyss complaining about Songhai. That’s classy.

        • TheDandyGiraffe says:

          Yeah, I have to admit, I’ve been trolling a little bit – wasn’t supposed to be completely serious (and the truth is the higher you get up the ladder, the more you fear other less obvious decks/factions; for example, I’m now genuinely horrified by high-level Vetruvian decks).

          But, if we’re being completely serious – although RPS comment section is probably not the right place for this kind of a specific, detailed discussion – Songhai still seems a bit out-of-place to me. It’s not exactly about them being OP in any specific way, it’s just that their most efficient strategy – relying on out-of-hand damage – seems to clash with the basic mechanic of the game: namely, the existence of the board. That’s the whole point, right? It’s a CCG with a board – and the main mechanic is that in order to do something you have to place your stuff on board. Sure, there’s rush, and removal, and some out-of-hand burst damage in other factions as well – but Songhai is the only one that’s supposed to rely on this sort of direct, immediate effects; and that’s why so often they seem to be playing a completely different game. Once again, it’s not exactly about them being OP – it’s just that when you play against Spellhai decks you basically need to play a different game.

          (And yes, we can argue if backstab-based Songhai decks are more effective than the classic Spellhai, but I don’t believe so; they’re much too easy to counter with both lots of cheap minions and just a handful of more powerful ones. And even if you think that backstabbing is more effective than burst, it still relies on out-of-hand damage and immediate effects, although to a smaller degree.)

          • kwyjibo says:

            Yes, it feels like Spellhai is playing a different game, ignoring the board with spells and ranged units.

  9. cpt_freakout says:

    This kind of just made me want to go play Chaos Reborn for a million hours again…

  10. gbrading says:

    Hmm, sounds interesting. Think I’ll need to try it. I’ve kind of grown rather cold on Hearthstone because of some of the inherent unfairness of it.

  11. Bobtree says:

    I tried Duelyst because of the Humble code, and it makes a great first impression. Easy to learn, snappy, and quick to play. I didn’t intend to keep playing, but now I might invite some friends.

  12. xaphoo says:

    I really love this game. I like that the devs have a clear vision of what it’s supposed to be and aren’t afraid to make big changes to cards and mechanics in order to make the gameplay fit their vision.

    The downside of this is that it is easy to have your decks grow outdated when its most important cards get nerfed, and other ones buffed. The meta changes really rapidly one can get stranded outside of it without the cards to re-enter. I’m at that point now. I haven’t played in a few months and, venturing back into it, it might as well be a new game.

  13. tokyodan says:

    I like the concept of the game. But if it had only 30 unique cards instead of 300+ I’d like it more. How can anyone remember 300+ cards. ANd if you can’t remember them, then you’ll never know what to prepare for. I don’t get it.

  14. nullward says:

    Duelyst is a really good game. I played a bit too much of it and got a bit too into the competitive side of things, and it became a source of stress for me, so I stopped playing. It is a great tactical game, but it has a very high skill cap, and will burn you over and over again for small mistakes when you get into the higher rankings.

    That said, I actually really like the balancing job they did with the cards overall. The differential is very small between card qualities, with a few exceptions. The legendaries mostly feel powerful in different ways — not just more powerful. Plenty of common and rare cards are capable of countering or steamrolling if played at the right time. Of course, that’s only if you draw them at the right time…