Order & Chaos Duels is a digital trading card game for phones and tablets based on the fantasy MMORPG Order & Chaos Online. This means it already has a strong foundation in an established fantasy universe. Millions of people around the world play Order & Chaos Online on their phones and tablets, as it is arguably the world’s largest portable MMO, designed to be a more stripped down clone of the World of Warcraft MMORPG.
But how well does it translate over into the card game genre? Read on to find out…
In Order & Chaos Duels, players each have a Hero card which you start the match with. Heroes have a unique ability that can be triggered after it is charged up over a number of rounds. They also have health and the goal is to reduce the opponent’s Hero to zero health to win the game. Heroes can also equip item cards that will have effects when they use their power or are attacked directly, so Heroes actually do feel like they are a part of the battle and not just a life point counter.
Each turn, you’ll draw cards until your hand contains five cards. This means you can use as many cards as you can pay for in a single turn and you’ll get to draw that many cards to replace them. This makes the game flow much smoother than games in which you only draw one card per turn, which can often cause a game to slow down once players have used up all of the cards in their hand.
One per turn, you need to “sacrifice” a card into your discard pile to increase your overall resources by one. Some cards even have a special effect when they’re sacrificed in this way, so it’s not entirely a waste of a card, and since you can draw more than one card per turn, its a really well-designed system with a lot of flexibility for players.
Minions are your creatures which you summon onto the battlefield which is two rows of five slots. This is a lane combat game, so Minions will attack the slot in front of them and if it is empty, they will attack the opponent’s Hero directly instead. Minions have attack and health values. All your Minions will attack during the combat phase and the opposing Minion does not attack back at this time but in the opponent’s turn, so you can kill them before they have a chance to strike back. Health points do not recover automatically so you’ll need to manage it with effects and spells if you want your Minions to stay alive over a number of turns. Spells are cast once and then are discarded.
A unique aspect of this game are Enchantments which are played onto a specific slot on the battlefield, either your own or your opponent’s. There are three kinds: Auras, Traps and Troves. They give a range of benefits or negative effects whenever a Minion is summoned onto that slot, and the Enchantment will remain there until it’s removed or replaced. This adds a spacial dimension to the game where you try and control the flow of your opponent and where they will summon Minions, such as placing a negative Enchantment in the slot opposite the big Minion you just summoned this turn.
Order & Chaos Duels has a single player campaign which takes you through a range of maps in a linear fashion, defeating enemies along the way and unlocking more cards for your deck. It’s actually quite important to play this mode because you will unlock things for your character, such as a larger deck capacity, and you’ll need this for the online ranked duels. You’ll level up, earn gold and cards as you play the campaign so it’s worth doing that. The downside of this is that if you don’t want to do the campaign, you’ll be at an advantage in online multiplayer as your Hero will have lower health.
You can play online Ranked matches against other opponents, or even set up a custom game where you can select the Race and Class of the character you want to fight against. This is a bit odd, but I guess it helps you test your deck against specific opponents if you’re trying to make it robust enough to handle anything. Limiting the opponent this way though usually means you’ll be waiting for a while to connect to a game.
Likely the most popular feature is going to be the Tower, which is a Hearthstone-style Arena where you draft a deck from scratch and use it climb the ranks. You can earn better prizes the more games you win, but the difference here is that if you lose three games you’ll be booted out of the Tower and forfeit most of your winnings. Therefore you’ll need to decide when you want to cash in what you’ve earned so far and leave or risk pushing forward to get a bit higher. This creates a lot more tension to the whole process and its a welcome addition to have the now established Arena routine that many games are rushing to implement in the wake of Hearthstone’s success.
Deckbuilding and Strategies
A big part of the strategy in Order & Chaos Duels begins when you choose which Hero you are going to use, so it’s important to pick one that will be the most useful to your play style. Some of the Heroes’ effects are immediately useful whereas others will take a few rounds to show their value. It depends if you want to deal damage immediately or inflict some kind of bleed effect which will take time, or have the ability to heal your Minions.
Furthermore, your Hero’s level actually counts in multiplayer matches, and as you unlock more health for your Hero you will carry this over into the multiplayer mode, so you don’t want to get paired up against someone who has more health than you already as that will tip the scales in their favor.
There are several deck strategies for this game built around archetypes such as Rush or Control. Rush decks will attempt to gain board advantage very quickly by summoning lots of smaller Minions, forcing the opponent to make less than optimal plays in order to block your Minions. Control decks like to deal lots of damage to Minions and use negative Enchantments on the opponent’s slots to force them to play Minions elsewhere or onto less-than-ideal slots. They will also use lots of Minions that stun the Minion in the opposing slot, so you’re better able to control the flow of your opponent’s moves in your favor.
Lastly, you’ll want to utilize Minions with sacrifice effects. Since you have to play cards to earn the energy you need each round anyway, it’s best to get some value out of it by sacrificing Minions that will cause negative effects for your opponent or giving you positive effects such as gaining you health or attack.
Order & Chaos Duels has enough unique selling points for it to be more than just a clone of other digital card games, and it has a lot of style added on top. The graphics are beautiful, the animations are varied and detailed, and the whole experience just feels very high quality. This is definitely one of the better card games available for phones and tablets, although you’re going to be putting a lot of time into this game to grind the necessary gold needed to buy new cards unless you’re happy to buy the premium currency for booster packs. These are a little more expensive than in other games, but you’re guaranteed rares and epics tailored for your particular faction so you’ll have less unusable cards in the boosters.
The Tower is likely going to be the most addictive part of the game since it provides Arena-style runs and you get to draft a whole new deck each time you do it. The reward payout is good provided you can climb the ranks high in one run, but there’s always the element of risk that you might lose it all if you lose that third game so there’s added drama to the whole process. This actually makes it even more exciting, in my opinion.
If you enjoy fantasy card games that allow you to build and tweak your own decks, with varying strategies to go for, this is a good one to pick up. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time playing it to unlock everything you need.
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