An interesting free-to-play card game was released a few months ago under the name of Duelyst, produced by Counterplay Games. Some of you might remember the Kickstarter for the game. For those who have no idea what the game is, Duelyst is a 1v1 turn-based tactical battleground game centered around a 9×5 grid with mana management. The object is simple, kill the enemy general.
Generals are the main focus of the deck. They decide your faction and can change your playstyle based on which general you play. There are 2 generals for each faction (maybe more to come) who have different Bloodborn Spells. Similar to Hearthstone, it is a spell that is unique to each hero. But in Duelyst, they have a cooldown in addition to a 1 mana cost. With having 12 different generals and many variations of Bloodborn Spells, you could run into something different each game.
In addition to your general, you have other cards to flesh out in your deck. There are 3 types: Minions, Spells, and Artifacts. Minions and Spells are nothing new to card games, but Duelyst brings something new with artifacts. They are equipped to your General once you use them and will not be removed until your General takes three hits. Otherwise you can keep it the whole time and depending on the artifact, you might be able to use it for a long time and see some scary results.
Throw all of that together and you have a deck. Now, you are ready to wage battle against other players in the ladder or try out some of the solo challenges to rack up some gold and learn the gameplay mechanics that might make or break a match.
Aside from gameplay, Duelyst has a lot of focus in the lore of the game. Counterplay Games is trying really hard to create the world of Duelyst. In their “Codex” tab on the main menu, you can read up to 10 chapters of lore, just a few paragraphs each (with 31 more chapters coming soon). Also, the folks at Counterplay Games are going even more in-depth with the lore, giving each card their own 150-word bit of lore!
Each card also has their own narration so if you’re not caught up looking at the gorgeous backdrops you can alt-tab while finding out what is going on and why you are fighting in the world of Duelyst. Another very useful feature is an easily accessible world map which shows the territories of each faction.
Pros & Cons
One of the pros of Duelyst I would really like to focus on is the artwork and soundtrack. Both are absolutely amazing. The backgrounds of each menu and map are absolutely stunning and have the most gorgeous colors. The minions, generals, spell icons, attack and spell animations are all a mesmerizing pixel art. It is a really odd combination of art styles that works really well together and makes a beautiful aesthetic.
The soundtrack, composed by Ben MacDougall, will send chill down your back. It is very well done and makes your 1v1 battles even more intense. As of right now, you can’t buy the soundtrack, but you can listen to it here or by clicking on the large title image at the top of the page.
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is how you get more cards for your decks. It is a very similar style to Hearthstone. You get 100 gold and you can buy a pack, or you can buy them in bulk with money. The thing about Duelyst is it seems to be very generous with their gold, as it is very easy to hit 100 gold and the quests are never that bad. You can also earn packs in the Gauntlet, Duelyst’s version of Arena.
Duelyst has a built-in option to watch other people’s past games in the menu. You can even replay you and your friends past games by going to the player profile of the persons game you wish to see.
Duelyst, however, is a young game and does have some flaws. Not a lot of them are glaring, or big in anyway, just minor annoyances such as menu navigation and a lack of a casual ladder. That means every game is a ranked match and you will climb or fall. That makes it difficult to want to experiment with you decks unless you are confident in your ability to climb back up.
Duelyst is a very well done game, but it is also has room to grow. They are already working on expanding the lore and adding even more variation to the units in the game. My suggestions on what could be added and introduced are:
- Casual Play: Only ranked play is available and it would be a more welcoming experience to experiment more without having to worry about a ranked ladder.
- Lore Events: The lore is already expansive but it could be overlooked by many players. Lore events could bring up specific chapters and immerse the players in the game. Currently there is an event going on called The Seven Sisters, but unfortunately it is not lore based.
- Voice Acting: Hearing the generals’ banter at the start of a match and voice lines for emotes would give a fun and even more interactive feel.
Overall, Duelyst is a great game. It brings new and interesting mechanics to the world of digital card games and tactical battlegrounds. It also comes in a pretty package with a great art style and soundtrack. I really recommend taking a look at it and trying it out. It is currently free-to-play and you can find it on duelyst.com or play in your Google Chrome browser at beta.duelyst.com.
All images of Duelyst copyright of Counterplay Games and their respective owners.
UPDATE: As of recently, The Seven Sisters was announced as a lore event (via email all current players of Duelyst received.)