Puzzling Through Duelyst

(Editor’s Note:  We missed our first publishing deadline of the new year.  But, we promise not to make it a habit and will continue to crank out at least 3 new articles every week!)

We’ve been meaning to do a Duelyst article for some time now. Several factors have kept us from doing so.  Most notably, I haven’t played the game much.  When I first learned about it, I loved the concept and played through all of the tutorial missions as quickly as I could.  However, I haven’t had the time to explore strategy in any significant way, so playing live opponents wasn’t that much fun, even with the gold rewards.

I still have played many live opponents.  I’ve played against a few now and then to clear out my quest log, butt I still have no real grasp of the intricacies of the game.  Therefore, this article will mostly be an introduction.  I will also talk about my current favorite game mode, the daily puzzle.

If you’ve never played Duelyst, it is a difficult game to explain.  It might also be difficult to understand the appeal of the game.  Well, I’m doing a heck of a job selling it, that’s for sure.  As I often say, there’s a reason that I’m no longer a salesman.  Many reasons, actually, but the main reason is that I’m a terrible salesman.  Though, I’m sure you deduced as much from that lame attempt.

Seriously, what do you want from me? It’s a 19 inch TV. It’s like every other 19 inch TV out there. It might have stereo, but do you realize how far away from the TV you’d have to sit in order to get the stereo effect? But this 100 dollar one instead. It’s probably the exact same TV made in the exact same Chinese factory.

In spite of my evident handicap, I will try to make a case for the game.  First, let me see if I can even explain it.  It has elements of a card game, but it isn’t exactly a card game.  It plays like a miniature game, but it isn’t exactly a miniature game.  It combines these game types into a not quite perfect conglomeration.

In an age where video games are pushing graphics, sometimes over story, Duelyst has chosen a different trend.  The graphics have an old school 8-bit feel to them.  This is charming and comforting to an old man gamer like me.  It speaks to that part of my brain that responds to the “nostalgia” that I discussed in an earlier article.  Your results may vary and the style might even turn you off.

As if all of that isn’t enough the game has (what I assume to be) a robust story and lore.  I say that I assume because I have not actually read any of it.  However, apparently the designers built a puzzle into the lore that took a few months to solve.  So, they seem to be proud of their work.  Perhaps I will read it one of these days.

Hmm, 100,000 gold, you say? Yeah, that might be worth a few hours of my time to read some silly stories.

So, what do you think?  Old school (like way old school graphics) and an odd combination of card and mini strategy, all with a possibly decent story.  Sound like your kind of game?  Well, if you’re like me (and judging by the traffic, not many of you are), this is just about the perfect game.  Even so, it has take some time to grow on me.  But, it does finally have its hooks in me with the puzzle mode.

Before I give specifics on that, though, I should probably explain the general gameplay better than it is an imperfect combination of card and mini games.  Okay, here goes nothing.  There are factions similar to Hearthstone’s classes.  Each faction has at least one general that acts as your proxy on the battlefield.  Therefore, destroying the general effectively destroys the player.  Now, here is where Duelyst plays more like a miniature game.

Once the minions have been summoned to the battlefield, they can move around and attack.  The board is not a simple one tier, or even multi tier, playmat style.  It is a chess or checkers like gameboard that allows for movement in 4 directions by both your general and minions.  If this seems like a huge departure, it is.  It adds so much strategy to the game beyond spamming minions or spells and pounding the opponent in the face.  It is simultaneously a reason that Duelyst interests and intimidates me.

Me go face! Wait, where is face? This board is cheat!

As a result, I have spent much of my time in the game playing through the daily puzzle mode.  You are faced with a, seemingly hopeless, situation and expected to solve it by the end of your turn with the resources available to you.  It reminds me of the Magic the Puzzling page that I forget about for months at a time only to remember again randomly, like right now.  That reminds me.  I have a few months of puzzles to solve.  The nice thing about the Duelyst puzzle mode is that you know right away if you have solved it or not.  Also, there is a tangible reward at the end instead of just your name in lights on a web page.

I’m also pretty sure that the puzzles are supposed to show off mechanics in the game and potential combos in the game.  It might also intend to give deck ideas.  I’m not sure why, but my brain hasn’t been able to wrap itself around the first two in any reliable way.  Sure, I understand how the cards work together and most of the time I can figure out the situation based on how those cards work, but I can’t for the life of me make those things happen without the guidance offered by the game right now.

However, I will say that I started to research (Google) different deck types in the hope of getting some ideas to start building something.  So far, I haven’t gotten any farther than clicking a link or two, but it’s a start.  I’d really like a practice partner where there isn’t any judgement or pressure.  That way I’d be able to do what I do with the puzzles and make mistake after mistake until it finally clicks into place and I can figure out the different ideas that I have.  For now, though, I guess I’ll just work on the puzzles and reintroduce myself to the MtG puzzles, too.

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