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Have You Played… Duelyst?

Only for the coolyst

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I bounced off Hearthstone, and I couldn’t care less about Magic: The Gathering. If there was a Netrunner adaptation for the PC, I’d play that endlessly, but apart from that I tend to shy away from collectible card games. All that deck-stacking, all those tiny sums. It just feels dirty. So why do I love Duelyst so much?

It’s pretty simple. When you fight in this CCG, you fight on a grid. You draw your little warriors, your battle pets, your minions or what-have-you, and plant them down on the squares according to whatever rules govern them. In Hearthstone and other games the action is happening in your head, many small logical steps, intermingling with luck, reaching for some end goal – the destruction of your opponent. It’s a purer form of battling, maybe, but it’s a fight that is removed from any physical realm.

Duelyst realised something important: the addition of a simple landscape, no matter how abstract, and of physical figures was all that was needed to enhance the game of numbers on a tactical level. Now you can’t just think about what you’re doing – about what digits will be assigned to what – but also where you’re doing it. Add in some strategically important pools of mana and a bunch of creepy monsters that can fly across the board, or trap you in place, or multiply upon death, and you have a silly, tough battler that feels exactly how that weird alien chess in Star Wars looks.

There are some downsides. It’s a free to play game and has all the usual randomised loot crate nonsense, as well as a seasoned playerbase that will thoroughly trounce you upon landing. But it’s also generous with new cards, especially early on, throwing knights and dragons and sprites into your card pile willy-nilly. If you’re into turn-based tactical duels with randos from across the planet, there’s no reason not to try it.

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