If Hearthstone is the Pokemon of today’s free-to-play card battling, Duelyst [official site] sometimes feels like the Digimon – lesser-known but still beloved and popular enough to get by. Also: objectively better in every way. Some big changes are coming in the next patch though, including the addition of AI-controlled bosses who will change every week and bleed rewards when you defeat them. That’s good. Meanwhile, the daily challenges – small one-turn problems that are Duelyst’s equivalent to chess puzzles - are being put on hold. That’s sad.
Let's have a more detailed look at the changes, and what else is good or sad.
First, let’s talk bosses. Each one will come with its own bespoke deck and starting board state, and will only be available to fight for a limited time (the first two, starting on a Monday, are planned to last a week each). Beating them will get players a spirit orb with the usual five cards and a ‘boss crate’. Here’s were things get a bit grubby.
The Boss crate costs $4.99 to unlock and contains:
- 1 Common Chest Key
- 1 Gauntlet Ticket
- 3 Shim’zar Spirit Orbs
- 1 Random Legendary Card
The Boss crate expires 48 hours after you have earned it.
Loot crates and loot keys I can just about deal with, and there’s some decent gear in this box. But expiry dates, as ever, feel too much like a sleazy salesman’s tactic. “For a limited time only! Buy now or miss this opportunity!” As if dangling a crate in front of someone - making them feel like they’ve earned a prize but have no access to it until they buy a key – isn’t bad enough. Now there’s more FOMO-exploiting salesman psychology at play. Yuck.
As for the daily challenges, they are being put on the back-burner for the time-being as developers Counterplay Games “regroup and explore a better vehicle to deliver challenges”. This is a pity, not because players are now losing the puny 5 gold you’d normally get as a reward, but because these puzzles were often great practice for learning the strengths and clever uses of the more obscure cards. In its place, however, is a daily free card for everyone – one “random common craftable card” every 24 hours. That's nice.
The dripfeed of monthly cards is also stopping, say Counterplay. This is because they want to focus on bigger, “more cohesive” expansion packs and seasonal events. This makes sense to me. I would far rather have less cards of a more interesting quality than tons of cannon fodder choking up the game and making rarer cards even harder to come across.
Last but definitely not least is the teasing of a new “continuous draft mode”. This isn’t coming out just yet (it’s being toyed with for the “near future”) but here’s what they are saying about it:
In this mode, you will pick a General, receive a fairly basic starting deck, and improve your deck over time by leveling up. But there are a number of twists including something special: in this mode you can build cross faction decks. That’s all we’re going to reveal for right now, but feel free to start dreaming up zany cross faction combos you can build.
Cross-faction nonsense! Very exciting.
Anyway, the 1.79 patch is out today, and despite some of icky free-to-play stuff I’m glad they’re mixing things up a little, especially with all the interbreeding between factions on the horizon. My amazing decks are going to be even better now.