Monster card battler Duelyst cosies up to Bandai Namco

My favourite take on monster chess and free-to-play collectible card game Duelyst [official site] is “partnering” with publisher Bandai Namco, say developers Counterplay Games. The deal won’t change the design team, say Counterplay, they’re still in charge of inventing horrible beasts and animating them with neato pixel art, but the publisher will now be in charge of managing the servers, advertising and customer service. This could be a good sign, or it could be a bad sign, or it could be a sign that reads: “I am not particularly significant”.

The upside for the creators, they say, is that it “frees up the Counterplay team to focus solely on development” while more ads mean they’ll be “able to introduce more and more people to the game we all love”. That latter point – bringing more players – is a significant goal when you examine the steady decline in player numbers, according to (a site that pulls hourly player numbers from Steam’s own data).

There won’t be any change on the creative side, but players will be expected to merge their Duelyst account with a BNEA account to allow Bambi Nandos to “start managing the Duelyst servers” and as a means of giving tech support. That’s a mild annoyance but it’s better than having some SUIT with ideas marching into the office and telling them to introduce a PACMAN as a character.

For any wayward fans, a big expansion is also due out next week. Unearthed Prophecy is going to add 94 new cards and introduce new tile effects for factions that don’t normally use that type of power. For example, the ability to turn a tile into a source of healing, or a place where creatures will spawn. Counterplay have a more detailed preview of the expansion but to summarise: some of these cards are nasty, nasty, nasty. That expansion is coming on July 11.

As far as declining player numbers go, it would be a shame if love for the game petered out. It remains the best free-to-play CCG in my book. I’ve played Hearthstone, Faeria, Gwent and am currently dipping my toes into Elder Scrolls Legends for a review and while all those have their strengths I don’t feel any had the tactical cleverness or ludicrous possibilities of Duelyst, a game which resulted in the dumbest multiplayer fight I’ve ever had. Here’s hoping Branflakes Nambro plaster enough bright lights to bring in some fresh meat.


  1. Viral Frog says:

    This is actually one of the best PC card games I’ve played. I need to pop back in, haven’t played in quite some time.

  2. Captain Narol says:

    Did anyone around tried the Early Access game Shardbound ?

    The gameplay seems to have some similarity to Duelyst but it has a different artstyle that is more to my taste.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Of course lots of people play it outside of Steam, so those numbers aren’t the end-all. That said, Duelyst suffers from what many CCGs suffer from: it’s really unfriendly to casual players. Not that it’s hard to learn, but that the rate expansions come out divided by the frequency a casual player plays means you are constantly falling behind, you can make fewer and fewer mid-tier decks (not worrying about top-tier for casual, of course) and it’s just frustrating.

    To be absolutely clear, Duelyst is still more friendly than something like Hearthstone or Faeria, but not enough for occasional players like me. I guess we just aren’t the target audience, but that business model is a gamble, because you’re basically asking players to play your card game exclusively.

    • TheDandyGiraffe says:

      A large part of the problem is the business model they adopted for the last two expansions: orbs (card packs) are more expensive, and the cards themselves are non-craftable (which means, essentially, that you can’t “sell” the cards you don’t need to “buy” the ones you need). The nice thing is, you can’t get duplicates (as in, every time you buy a card pack, you get 3 copies of a new card, and that’s the maximum amount you can have in a deck), but still, this basically means that if you want to use the cards from those expansions, you need to grind A LOT. So if you want to get a so-called budget deck, you can’t use any of the more recent cards – and quite a few of those seem essential right now.

      Luckily, the upcoming expansion goes back to the more traditional model, and maybe the game will become more beginner-friendly once again. Either way, Duelyst is very generous with the in-game currency, orbs etc.

  4. kwyjibo says:

    There’s so little marketing for this game, I hope a publisher can help. (And also help with ports and localisation)

    I’ve been having a blast in this game. It’s been my to-go game for the last year. Last season I made S-rank with a deck without the last two expansions. So it’s not like you need the latest and greatest. (although they do help – biggest problem with the last expansion was power creep)

    I’m not too worried about declining Steam figures, because matchmaking is still fast. Duelyst also has a significant proportion who don’t use the Steam client (you can just play it in your browser).

    • TheDandyGiraffe says:

      Congrats on reaching S ;) One of the things I love about Duelyst is that it’s still more about skill than anything else – one of the proofs being that you can still get to S-Rank (the highest division) with basically any deck, as long as you have the necessary experience/skill set. Yes, it’s going to be easier or harder depending on your deck, but it’s not as important as in any other CCG (that I know of).

  5. malkav11 says:

    I’d really recommend trying Hex, because for my money that’s by far the best singleplayer digital TCG experience on the market. And none too shabby as a multiplayer game either, although there it doesn’t stand out quite as much (since it doesn’t have the position element of most of the games you name).

  6. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    The gameplay of Duelyst is quite fun and the pixel art is quite good, but I stopped playing because, well, I missed single player content. There are some snippets of story scattered around (on various cards) but these are awkwardly implemented. And while I don’t mind dipping my toe into a multiplayer environment (and moreso if I have some friends who play the game which – isn’t the case with Duelyst) it’s not enough for me, especially when I know I am not keeping up with the meta (which is usually the case).

    I did buy the soundtrack, though. Only thing Duelyst-related I’ll probably ever pay for if they keep the game as it is. Which is fine, of course, it’s just not for me outside of the occasional ‘install, comp stomp, uninstall’ episodes.

    -edit- I suppose I should just bite the bullet sometime and just look around a bit more for players in a friendly community when I’m interested in a game. Social anxiety is a pain.