Might & Magic: Duel of Champions is a free-to-play, turn-based, fantasy CCG that features two champions engaging in combat using magic and Monsters to defeat their enemy. You should know the formula by now, since it’s been done so many times before already. It’s an age old formula that will never get old, only more refined as newer games are released, and while many people are getting sick of it, I can’t get enough of fantasy TCGs/CCGs.
Duel of Champions was released back in 2013 when the CCG app market was being flooded, and I will admit that this isn’t my first time playing Duel of Champions, as I did play it at the time of its release. Since then, my expectations for how good an online CCG should be and how well it should play have changed a lot. Will Duel of Champions impress me as much now, as it did back in 2013?
Read on to find out…
Might & Magic: Duel of Champions uses a similar system to that of Hearthstone, whereby you have a Champion who must be protected at all costs. Victory is obtained by reducing the opponent Champion’s health from 20, to 0 (wonder where that idea came from?). Defeat will occur if your Champion’s health is lowered to 0, so best to not let that happen, alright?!
The usual line-up of Monsters and Spells ensure that’ll you have at least some familiarity with this game due to other CCGs that you will recognize. There’s also the addition of Treasure cards that are similar to Spells, and Event cards that can be used by any player during their turn. These offer a little more to the game than just fighting with Monsters and Spells, and can sometimes be critical to a strategic maneuver.
Duel of Champions introduced an excellent resource system that doesn’t follow anything else I have played. It makes the game far more strategic than most CCGs of this genre. You have four resources available to spend: Might, Magic, Honor, and the main one just called Resource (and they were named so thematically up until the last one… Oh well.).
All Monsters, Instants, and Treasures have a minimum requirement for any of these four resources before they can be played. For instance, you may have a Monster that requires 3 Might and 2 Magic to play, alongside its usual Resource cost. The Might, Magic, and Honor resources are permanent and don’t get spent when placing cards onto the field. So as long as you have more Resource available to spend, you can keep on dropping Monsters onto the field, their resource cost is shown on the top left of the card. It’s best to think of Might, Magic, and Honor as a threshold you need to reach, rather than a limited resource.
Duel of Champions has some fantastic art for its cards, and that isn’t too surprising given how big the publisher (Ubisoft) is. Not only are the cards good looking, with full card art, but they are well designed, too. Each card will usually have three main statistics: Attack power, Retaliation power, and Health. Any damage done to a Monster is permanent, and if a Monster’s health is reduced to 0, it will die and be placed into its owner’s graveyard.
Attack power is rather self-explanatory, used to deal damage. However, the Retaliation power is mechanically something new. Retaliation happens when a Monster is attacked, and when it is, it will deal its Retaliation power back to the attacker, providing it doesn’t die from the attack. Monsters that have an ability called Preemptive Strike will deal their Retaliation power first, and some Monsters are immune to Retaliation. There are so many different effects that Monsters have, you’ll want to explore them all.
Combat takes place over two lines, with a front line and a back line. Each has four spaces where Monsters can be placed. There are a variety of Monster types, and their deployment can be rather specific, such as Shooter Monsters that can only be placed onto the back row, as they are ranged attackers. Your Monsters act as a shield for your Champion, but are also your attackers. Most Monsters can only attack what is in front of them, or the row behind, if they have an ability to do so. If there are no Monsters in front of the attacking Monster, they hit your Champion directly. You can have your Monsters move to an appropriate empty space to block a direct attack from occurring. Also, because of the layout of the battlefield, there are vertical and horizontal lines that cards can take advantage of.
There are phases within the gameplay, with the main ones being blended together to be rather seamless. You’ll start your turn by drawing a card and then an Event card gets turned over. There are always two active Event cards at any given time. You then have one very large blended phase where you can summon Monsters, cast Instants or Treasures, conduct a battle, gather a resource, or draw a card using the final ability of the Champion. When Instant or Treasure cards are played, they will immediately go to the graveyard, unless they have a lingering effect. There is a special place for these cards above the Champion.
I really enjoy this style of gameplay, as it is less restrictive than most TCGs/CCGs. It allows a freedom and flexibility to take your actions in the most advantageous order, such as to use your Monsters to attack first and then play cards that can deliver a final blow to the enemy’s Monsters, or maybe change their position from other card effects, hopefully ensuring that you won’t leave yourself open to attack on the next turn. Battles are exciting with a great amount of, “Oh man, I really should have done X first instead of Y” which means you’ll grow more as a player the more you play the game.
Modes and Features
Might & Magic: Duel of Champions is not lacking in gameplay modes to keep my appetite for new and exciting things satisfied. Although an online connection is always needed, you can play the game without playing anybody online if you wished, though where is the fun in that?
The Campaign is where you will begin your Duel of Champions experience. Within the Campaign mode, there are a number of different story arcs to play through, and most are unlocked by completing the previous chapter. However, one is only available once you have 5 online Quick Play victories. I found this to be extremely difficult with only my starter deck and the few cards I managed to pick up from boosters.
This was the first major pay wall I faced and I did not like the fact that I am almost forced to spend money or more packs for better cards, or grind for hours on the Campaigns that I have already beaten to obtain Gold (the game’s non-premium currency) in order to buy packs for more cards. In order to gain more Gold from the already completed Campaigns, you will need to play with a separate Faction, and you can no longer obtain the Gold by defeating it with the same Faction over and over.
In order to collect cards to build your deck, you’ll have to use one of the two currencies available in the game. Gold is the first, and is won easily through playing online, or by completing chapters in the Campaign. The second is the premium currency, Seals, which can also be won by completing Campaign chapters, winning online, and from in-game achievements, but at a much slower rate than Gold. After a few hours of gameplay, I had over 100,000 in Gold, but only 100 Seals, which isn’t enough to buy a lot of items in the store. If you want Seals for the more premium purchases in the Store, you’re going to need to buy them.
It’s at this point that I feel Duel of Champions begins to lose the free-to-play status, but should be called a freemium game instead, as the pricing of Seals is rather pricey, with the minimum purchase being $9.99 for 500, which is again, not enough to do most things in the Store. I guess this is typical pricing for a physical TCG, but I’m not sure it flies in the digital sphere any more. Just know that if you want to play for free, you’ll have to grid a whole lot to get anywhere.
The main emphasis of the game is the various online modes that you will want to take part in, if only to further enhance your skill level. I personally found the online mode to be rather difficult, but that could just be because I chose the wrong starter deck after completing the Tutorial. In one game, a player had a huge deck of about 140+ cards and still managed to beat me, despite smaller decks often being the most consistent in pretty much every other TCG or CCG I have played.
Quick Play is the main online mode that you’ll probably dip into more than any other. In this mode you’ll choose to play a Ranked or Unranked game, and then you’ll be paired with a player with the same rank (and level, if possible). This is to try and ensure you are both on equal footing as much as possible, but this doesn’t take into account those that have paid a lot of cash at the start to build an amazing deck.
Tournament mode is the final online offering, but requires tickets to enter. These can be won by grinding through the game, or by using Gold to purchase additional tickets; either way you have to grind to get your tickets. I quite liked the Tournament mode, and I am sure I would have enjoyed it much more with a more advanced deck. Obviously when you play in a tournament, you’ll be competing at a much higher level than those in the Quick Play mode. This means you’ll be playing against a lot of meta decks, which are decks that will have the best cards currently available to play. Some online CCGs and perhaps even some TCGs lack a healthy and varied meta, but Duel of Champions does not.
The Store has your usual assortment of packs, decks, add-ons, and premium purchases. You can also purchase Seals through the store, if you so desire. Most of the basic packs can be obtained using Gold, which is a blessing due to the price of the Seals. However, a lot of the premium content and even the pre-Constructed decks are only available by using Seals. So get out your wallet — it’s time to make it cry.
Deckbuilding and Strategy
Might & Magic: Duel of Champions is uplifted massively by having an amazing deckbuilding system. The simple interface of dragging and dropping the cards into, or from the deck, makes it simple to rearrange your deck to your liking.
The fundamental rule to remember when building your deck is that whichever Faction your Champion belongs to, you will only be able to have that Faction’s cards in your deck, with the exception to this rule being the Neutral cards of which there are many. I would recommend that when you look through your available cards to see what sort of cards you have, then choose your Champion from there, and not the other way around.
There is a slight issue with deckbuilding in the game though, and it’s quite an annoying one, too. When you unlock a starter deck by defeating an opponent for the first time that used that deck online, you cannot use those cards to make your own deck. You can use the Champion and then only use the cards you’ve unlocked from packs with that Champion. To be limited in this way yet again proves that game has a heavy emphasis towards the pay-to-play model. So be aware of that.
As I have mentioned many times before in this review, Duel of Champions has a lot of strategic depth that can be exploited by not only the cards you play, but by their movement and effects. From a personal perspective, I am a huge fan of games that offer you additional ways to utilize your cards to their maximum potential and away from the usual face-off that happens in other games in this genre.
There are a plethora of different card effects to become familiar with, such as cards that will allow you to stop other Monsters from attacking in that line, or will allow you to completely switch the position of a Monster, whereas others will give poison tokens when attacking, or even the ability to cause burst damage, which will wound other Monsters close to the attacked Monster. There’s just so many interesting and varied strategies that you can go for in the game, it’s really worth exploring them all if you have the time (and money).
As far as CCGs go, Might & Magic: Duel of Champions is solid and the gameplay is a lot of fun… most of the time. The campaign mode isn’t very accessible at the start and I find that this hinders those who do want to use the free-to-play option. The pay wall is ever so apparent in every gameplay mode that it has put me off a little. I’m not put off by paying to play — not at all. What has put me off is the pricing in order to play — $29.99 for 1800 Seals is a lot to pay, especially if all you want is a single pre-constructed deck. Seals are available if you want to spend hours grinding the game, but don’t expect to win many online matches with a deck that simply cannot compete with those that have put more cash into the game than you, even if you are the same rank!
Overall, I still enjoy playing Duel of Champions, just as much as I did back in 2013. It has some great ideas, innovative mechanics that still haven’t been fully explored, and some amazing art as well as drawing upon the rich lore of the Might & Magic series and game universe. Yes, I am upset that Ubisoft have decided to lean very heavily on a pay to play model that’ll make the game rather inaccessible to those who do not have the disposable income to do so, but it doesn’t ruin the game entirely and it’s still a very solid game with a strong community of players.
It’s worth checking out, and it just may be your newest TCG obsession. I hope your wallet won’t hate me too much for introducing you to it.
For more screenshots, click here.
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