Mabinogi Duel is already gearing up to be the hottest “true trading” TCG on Android and iOS. We here at TradingCardGames.com love this game so much that we can barely tear ourselves away from our devices long enough to bring you this strategy guide!
Alright, I’ll put my phone down, because I really want to help anyone who wants to get into this game do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. So here we go!
First thing’s first! Grab the game on iOS or Android (in ‘soft launch’ still, so is regrettably unavailable in some countries until wider release) and boot it up. When starting, you’ll been given the choice between two free decks: Starter Pack Type A and Type B, each with 12 basic cards to get you started.
Both are perfectly acceptable at this point in the game, but if you ask my opinion, the cards in Type A are a little bit more powerful. They are more flexible in the heat of battle, so you have more options available to you and that’s always better than a deck that is less flexible.
Nevertheless, both decks will do the job nicely at first, and since you’ll outgrow most of these cards fairly quickly, it’s not an end-of-the-world decision. (Whatever you do, do not buy the other pack for 70 Gems in the shop when it offers it to you — this is way too expensive for a deck that is mostly common cards, and it’s money better spent on booster packs that contain much stronger and rarer cards.)
The contents of each Starter Pack are listed for you below so you can decide which one you’d rather use. Click the image to get a full-sized look at what’s inside each one!
You’re going to want to play and finish the single-player campaign as quickly as possible. This will introduce to you the whole range of mechanics you’ll find within the game, as well as expose you to many cards in the base set so you’ll have a good idea of what kinds of cards and decks you might come up against in the multiplayer modes and Arenas.
Pay attention to the story dialogue because many characters will explain essential gameplay concepts to you. You’ll miss them if you skip all the talking so it’s crucial you read everything. You’ll also gain experience points needed to level up and collect new heroes, as well as some good rewards along the way, such as free cards, premium Gems, and gold currency (not to be confused with Gold Camp cards!) used to open single-card gold packs.
I’ll tell you more about those later, but for now, save up your gold while playing the campaign. It’s also extremely funny and over the top, so enjoy the story and the wildly eccentric characters!
One thing you need to keep in mind about the story campaign is that you’re going to play a lot of “irregular” matches — these include extra mechanics, cards not otherwise present or available in the game, and other highly strange events. These are fun and exciting, but they somewhat distort the manner in which the game is normally played.
Have fun with it and enjoy it, but try not to pick up too many bad habits in the story Scenarios, like completely ignoring what the (sometimes poor) A.I. is doing and instead just summoning Creatures away from them and hitting the opponent directly (although yes, that does occasionally work in the campaign matches!).
If you’re having difficulty with some of the Quest Scenarios being particularly tricky, try to shift your mindset away from seeing it as a duel and rather see it as a puzzle. Some of these fights are more like a puzzle than a duel, and they require a very specific order of card summoning and attacking to win, so look at it from this perspective and see if that helps.
Assess the Scenario carefully and from all angles. What cards is the opponent using? Can you turn any of their Creatures or their effects against the opponent somehow? Do you just need to stall for time instead of destroying all of their Creatures?
Trust me: push through those difficult matches, and by the time you end up screaming, “BUT WHICH WAY IS THE CANDLE FLAME REALLY POINTING?!” at one of the later Scenarios, then you’ll know you’re definitely addicted to this game. (Hint: it’s the direction that makes the candle flicker the fastest!)
Which membership to buy?
Honestly, this is going to vary according to what you can afford, but even if you only buy it once, the Premium Membership B will offer you the greatest value. If you spend just a little bit more than twice the cost of the A version, you’ll get a booster pack’s worth of Gems a day for a month, and even more than that, given the % discount vouchers you get as well.
With the Membership A option, you’ll have to wait 3 days before getting enough for a new pack, compared to one a day with the B version. If you can afford it, go for B, but A is not bad either if you can’t afford the B version. Just remember that Membership A is a better value than spending $10 on a pack of Gems directly, so do that first if you’re going to only spend $10 and want some Gems.
The Cat Merchant
Occasionally you will see this guy pop up and offer to trade cards with you. Watch out for this guy. He’s known in the community as “Scam Cat”, because the trades he offers you are, usually, notoriously bad deals for you and excellent deals for him, even if he says “it’s my loss, it seems”! He is like that guy at the card shop who pounces on newbies and pretends to be offering them really good trades but is ripping them off for their rares. Generally, if he’s trying to get good rares out of you, don’t accept them unless he is giving you something truly exceptional in return.
Knowing if it’s a good trade or not will come with experience and time. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, just deny all of his offers and tell him to go away for the day. You can push him to refresh his cards and show you something else, but if you push him too far, he will run away, so if he’s offering a good card, you better take it the first time rather than test his patience. Otherwise, stay well clear of this crafty fellow!
Daily and Draft Missions
It’s quite important to finish at least the last level of each of the Daily and Draft Missions, if you have the time. You used to have to complete all the levels from the start, but now you’re permitted to complete them in any order you choose, so you can skip all the earlier ones (which give very little rewards) and go straight to the last tier which has the most.
The last levels give you 5 Gems each (so after 3 days, that’s enough premium currency for a whole booster pack!) as well as a chance at gaining a card from a selection of 5 cards, chosen at random from the Daily Mission and Draft Mission booster packs for the day (you can see the contents of these in the shop).
Some people get lucky enough to be offered the rarest card in those packs as a part of the 5 cards on offer here, which is one of the main reasons it’s worth doing these Missions each day. If you don’t select the rare, you’re given the chance to keep picking cards for 6 Gems each.
Don’t do this unless you really, really need to get the rare on offer. Mostly, it will offer you common cards and they’re not worth spending the 6 Gems to get them. You should have seen what cards it offers you at the start of picking them before they become hidden by being turned over, so you should know whether it’s worth spending the Gems or not. Use your discretion.
The other notable thing about the Draft Missions (but not the Daily Missions) is that each tier provides you with experience points for completing them. This is great if you’re trying to level up your profile, which you should because you gain rewards as you level up.
The most important thing about leveling up is that you’ll unlock extra heroes to use in battle, and these have special abilities that will trigger during the match or otherwise modify the stats of certain things in the match, so the more heroes you have, the more flexibility you have when building decks for the Arenas. Get that XP, and collect those heroes!!
The bulk of the game, once you’re past the Quest story, is the various Arenas available. Here is where you’ll earn huge rewards for a relatively small investment of time and practically zero gold currency, and for literally no real money cost at all. The Arenas are extremely generous with their prize pools and this is what the fan base loves about the game so much.
There are four kinds: The Rookie Arena, the Random Draft Arena, the Veteran Arena, and the PvP Arena. The rewards vary at each Rank in the Arena: the first-place winner gets the Champion Rank, with the highest payout. Then there’s Platinum, Gold, Silver, and lastly Bronze.
The prize structure varies for each one, including: boosters from the latest set, pre-release boosters (the next set not yet purchasable in the shop without coupons), pre-release booster coupons (there they are!), booster coupons for G1+ Daily and Draft boosters, Gems, percentage-discount coupons for booster packs, Arena tickets for the Veteran arena and a share in a gold pot based on how many Arena participants there are.
The arenas are slowly becoming more and more competitive, as more people enter the game and play the Arenas religiously. This means it’s getting harder to climb the ranks, but it’s still possible with very minimal effort to hit Gold or at least Silver for each Arena, as they tend to be open for about 1 to 3 days (depending on each Arena) before closing.
It’s important to note that you’ll earn more points the greater the consecutive wins you get, as well as your A.I. ghost achieving a higher level to win games for you passively as other people encounter it. The best thing to do is, when you can’t afford to spend any more time playing, push as high as you can in consecutive wins with your deck and quit your win streak there. Now just sit back and enjoy the passive wins earned by your A.I. ghost!
Gold, Gems and the Shop
Gold — Getting gold is pretty easy in this game. If you log in every day you’ll be given gold for free, but the most gold will come from a) the Quest Scenarios, b) doing the Daily and Draft Missions, and c) spinning the roulette wheel after winning matches in the Arenas, or friendly duels. You’ll amass quite a lot of gold just regularly playing the game, so you shouldn’t run dry unless you open lots of Gold booster packs.
Gold boosters are not worth it once you’ve got most of the common cards in the offered set, however, if the rare offered is one you really want, then save up many thousands of gold first. Then you can spend them all at once to try to get the rare, and you could get lucky! However, you should try to keep some of your gold for spending on the Arenas and re-rolling decks when drafting, but feel free to binge-spend on the Gold packs if the rare really interests you.
Gems — There are no two ways about it — getting Gems without paying for them is the hardest thing to do in the game currently. There is the very generous 5 Gems you can earn by finishing the final stage of each of the Daily and Draft Missions, which consist of 4 or 5 matches that you have to win in a row without dying (but if you do, you can re-start them). You can also earn 1 Gem each from the two Medium stages of each type of Mission, for a total of 4 Gems, but this takes much longer as you’re looking at 3 battles just to earn 1 Gem, which in my opinion is not time efficient (you’d make more money flipping burgers somewhere in the same amount of time!).
If you’re going to start buying Gems, then firstly, you should have one of the Memberships (as discussed in the first section of the guide above). Then, decide on a budget for yourself — how much are you willing to put into the game? The more you spend on a Gem pack, the more free Gems you’ll get in return.
The best value is the 1300 Gems for $99.99 as you are gaining 300 Gems for free (equivalent to 10 non-discounted booster packs for free — even more, if you’re using discount coupons). That’s a lot to ask, I know, but if you think you’ll be buying lots of smaller Gem packs over time, it might be better to just bite the bullet and buy a single, bigger one instead.
The other way to get Gems for free is to reach the higher ranks in the Arenas. This will mean a significant investment in time to reach the desired rank, but you could do it with as little as an hour or two of playing per day to get to a higher rank, and even if you’re not skilled, you can slowly accumulate points through winning, even without win streaks. Read the Arena section above for more info on this.
The Shop — Here is where you can buy booster packs, Gems and Memberships. I’ve discussed most of these in different sections, so here I’m going to focus on talking about the booster packs available. The “Generations” are the game’s card sets, so G1 is the base set and G2 is the next one. You can openly buy G1 packs, but G2 packs are only available as prizes, or become available to buy by “unlocking” them with coupons earned in the Arenas.
The best packs to buy are the Single Gold booster (when you’re new and don’t have a lot of the commons yet, but later, you’ll probably ignore these), then a few basic G1 boosters (the ‘Lord of Farkka’ ones, where any card in the set can appear), then you’ll start to buy the G2 boosters if you’re able to get them with coupons. Save the other booster types for when you’re more advanced in the game.
In brief, the other booster types — G1+ boosters have some very good G1+ rare cards in them which are not available in any of the other packs, but they’re hard to pull and some of them are not powerful enough to be more than collector’s pieces, so don’t go crazy buying these.
The Mutant packs will be of interest once you have most cards in the set, as they offer variations of normal cards, which are either resource-shifted or a +1 or -1 variant, modifying the cost and stats of a card. These can be very good, but only on the right sorts of cards. Lots of the Creature Mutants are, frankly, just awful and aren’t much better than their basic versions. Use your discretion or ask some people online if it’s worth it before trying to get it, if you’re unsure.
There is also the Card Exchanger, but in general, this isn’t that useful except to get rid of cards that you have 6+ copies of for a bit of extra gold, so you can safely ignore it for now — if it spat out Gems instead, well, then it would be an entirely different story! *Please, DevCat / Nexon!*
The scope of this article is not large enough for a detailed, in-depth discussion on deckbuilding (stay tuned for a guide on this coming soon!). However, I can offer some preliminary tips to beginners who are unsure of what to do when building their first decks.
Let’s start by pointing out that you need to fill a deck with all 12 cards — any less and you’re missing out on an important slot that could be filled, so never make any decks that say (Lack 1), (Lack 2) and so on at the end of the name. That means you’re missing that number of cards from the deck, so it’s not full.
Single-resource, or even double-resource decks are quite difficult to build skillfully. They require a lot of experience with the game and learning to balance your resources, because you gain a more limited number of resources each turn compared to a triple-resource deck. The downside to triple-resource decks is the more random nature of Charging to gain a resource, but this is a minor downside and three-Camp decks are the norm right now. So, for your first few decks, stick to including cards from three different Camps.
To start, you can pick a few of your favorite cards from different Camps and ask the game to “auto complete” the deck for you. It will generate a decent-enough deck from the available cards in your collection, trying to give you a mixture of high- and low-cost cards. You can then save the deck and try it out against the Cat Merchant in a friendly duel — how well does it work, do you think? Are there too many high-cost cards making it impossible to play at least one card per turn? Are there enough Spells to take out enemy Creatures? How flexible does the deck seem?
The auto-generate feature is great to start out, but don’t rely on this too much — the system is not that intelligent at building the best possible decks out of your collection. It’s great to quickly get started, but soon you’ll want to be editing and building your own decks.
It’s hard to know where to get started, I know, but this is a good method, at least at the beginning. Experiment and see how well it works for you until you’re ready for some more advanced deckbuilding concepts (which I’ll follow up with in my next guide!).
That’s it for now! Until next time, Duelists!
Got any good hints and tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments below!