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Video Game / Duelyst

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"Competitive turn-based strategy card game!"

Duelyst was a Free-to-Play Card Game and Turn-Based Tactics hybrid created by Counterplay Gaming and released on April 27th 2016. Its development, which lasted an entire year, began with [[funding from Kickstarter, raising $137,707 on March 9th, 2015 from over 3500 backers. The game is available on Duelyst's home page, on Steam and the trailers can be found here: gameplay trailer, animated vignette 1, animated vignette 2.

Focused on 1v1 online competitive matches, the turn based play and squad development on a 5x9 board, is reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics and The Banner Saga. However, it is also a card game as the minions, spells and artifacts that compose your squad are displayed in card form, much like Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. It had rarities of cards, booster packs, a collection, Ranked mode (Seasonal) and Draft/Arena mode (Gauntlet), factions (classes) and emotes like in Hearthstone, but plays out more like Chess in the actual matches. Like in many table top games, you control cards (characters) represented by 2D moving pixel sprites, reminiscent of 16-bit era games, however the board, interface and backgrounds have simple 2D graphics reminding the player of RTS user interfaces or mobile games design.


Unfortunately, the game's servers were shutdown on February 17th, 2020, and the game is no longer playable.

For comparison check out Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering, and ShadowVerse.

Gameplay Tropes for Duelyst:

  • 100% Completion: It takes some time to get there, but to get all the cards is easier than in other games as the booster packs offer rare cards more frequently.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Like Hearthstone Heroesof Warcraft, many aspects of Duelyst simplify and streamline the gaming experience:
    • The main resource, Mana, replenishes at the start of each turn and a game starts at 2 mana crystals, as opposed to 1, so you are almost guaranteed to have something to play on turn 1.
    • Getting gold is much easier than in other card games, allowing you to theoretically buy 1 orb per day at least.
    • Once reaching a certain threshold in Ranked: Ranks 20, 10, 5 and 1 respectively, players can lose points, but never fall below those thresholds until the season ends.
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    • The climb up the ladder in Ranked Mode is softened by Daily Challenges, puzzles that has the player defeat the opponent in one turn with any combination of cards.
      • Daily challenges were removed when the developers ran out of ideas (although they've stated they want to bring them back later). Instead you now get a random free common card as an additional login bonus. The time-limited challenge idea has been replaced with extraordinarily powerful PvE bosses who crop up every couple of weeks for a limited time and reward you with a free orb if you can defeat them.
    • The Replace feature was added to the game in order to cycle through your deck for better answers to the situations you confront in a match, instead of just sitting on useless cards you can't use and letting your other ones burn, due to limited hand space.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • The dispel mechanic erases the card text from any card, though there are no visual cues as of writing to show a minion has been dispelled.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Players have the option of tipping 5 gold to their vanquished opponent if the game was either interesting or the odds were not in their favour.
  • Attack Animal:
    • Pandora is a minion that at the end of the turn summons one out of six possible 3/3 Spirit Wolves, each with its own unique keyword.
    • Battle Pets can be seen as this as they are animal(like) creatures that charge into battle, attacking whoever is closest to them.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The Abyssian faction's Dark Transformation card does this, represented in-game by instantly destroying an enemy minion and spawning a friendly Wraithling in its place.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Vaath the Immortal of the Magmar Aspects is depicted using his fists in combat. To further extend the idea, many artifacts used by the Magmar have a very distinct claw aspect.
  • Bayonet Ya: Faie Bloodwing sports a cool looking cross between this and Cool Gun.
  • Blade on a Stick: Zirix Starstrider from Vetruvian, Lilithe Blightchaser from Abyssian and Starhorn the Seeker from Magmar are all fond of this style of weapon.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Averted. While Duelyst does have microtransactions for Orbs (booster packs), a player can simply buy them with gold earned in-game, as the awards are pretty generous for each 2 wins and the daily quests offer enough gold to buy at least 1 Orb per day. The other microtransactions are purely cosmetic, optional and can be very well crafted with the crafting material for cards, Spirit.
    • Somewhat less-averted after the buyout by Bandai Namco. The drop rate for Epics and Legendaries in Orbs was massively reduced compared to what it was before, and with the fact that Legendaries aren't restricted to one per deck like in, say, Hearthstone and there are a lot of Epics and Legendaries you effectively NEED multiple copies of to be able to be competitive, it's much harder to play with any degree of success without paying now.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The factions of Duelyst have primary colours that reflect on their Generals, minions and spells. Lyonar is gold and blue, Songhai is red and teal, Abyssian is purple, Magmar is green and orange, Vetruvian is gold and black and Vanar is blue and white.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Any high health minion with Provoke can become unmanageable when facing against Zir'an Sunforge due to her Bloodborn Spell healing them back up.
  • Decapitated Army: The risks of being the General. You are the end goal.
  • Expansion Pack: Duelyst, like any respectable card game, has the following:
    • 1. Denizens of Shim'zar, that introduced a new game mechanic, Battle Pets, AI that act according to pre-programming rather than being controlled by the player.
    • 2. Rise of the Bloodborn, that introduced the new mechanic, Blood Surge, which are abilities that activate when your general uses their bloodborn spell, as well as a lot of other cards based around manipulating the bloodborn spell.
    • 3. Ancient Bonds, that introduced the new mechanic, Bond, based around synergies between families of creatures, particularly Golems and Arcanysts.
  • Human Chess: Pixel art chess, actually.
  • In the Back: The Songhai Empire sport the "Backstab" skill, whenever a minion with this skill attacks the back of an enemy, it deals extra damage and the enemy cannot counterattack.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: The number of keywords can be quite overwhelming for new players, as well as specific interactions regarding Rebirth Eggs, Battle Pets, Blast and Ranged minions and many more.
  • Long-Range Fighter: The minions with the "Ranged" skill. Mostly composed of Songhai and Neutral minions. They can attack from any point of the map, but can be counterattacked by other Ranged minions.
  • Magnetic Weapons: Many minions are depicted as possessing large cannons, most notably the Seven Sisters.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: for documentation
  • Prestigious Player Title: In the game you assume the role of General in charge of your squad (your deck).
  • Random Drop: Loot Crates with purchasable keys, drop anywhere from emotes, profile icons to orbs and prismatic cards.
  • Sinister Scythe: Cassyva Soulreaper has one - she is called Soulreaper after all: and a skull shaped flail and Kaleos Xaan wields two of them in his mechanical arms.
  • The Gunslinger: Faie Bloodwing
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Deathwatch keyword relies on this, seeing as one of Abyssian's tactics relies on swarming the board with a bunch of 1/1.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: A viable strategy for holding off incoming aggression is to form a blockade of minions in front of you in the hopes that you survive long enough to draw into your answers.
  • Zerg Rush: The Abyssian faction specializes in getting large amounts of weak minions into play.

Lore tropes for Duelyst: