Counterplay Games and Bandai Namco’s Duelyst is a card-based strategy game. Yep, you read that right.
Mostly, though, it’s a little bit like chess. Okay, it’s more like chess than I think the devs were expecting, but they really do seem to have rolled with it. There are three mana points on the board that you and your opponent will fight over. Whoever goes first is farther away from one of the mana points, while the other two are often more equidistant. That way, the player who goes second is not at a complete disadvantage. But much like with chess, one side always goes first, the other second. Instead of black and white, it’s the right and left sides of the screen. Left goes first, as that’s the common reading order.
However, the Chess comparisons break down once you get into the factions, card decks, and hero choices. Then it’s more of a turn-based strategy game meeting a hero shooter. It actually reminds me a lot of a tabletop favorite of mine, Wyrd miniature’s Malifaux since you basically get a squad of 5-7 characters, with one master.
The best thing about Duelyst though, is the fan-created strategies. The players of Duelyst go deep into their planning, as fans of many games do, and they have distinct strategies they stick with and prefer. Some even shift between them based on starting position.
It is, honestly, charming. And Duelyst is one hell of a stunning game. The backgrounds and load screens include some insanely gorgeous designs. So if turn-based strategy games are your thing, or you would like to play a tabletop game without the hassle of physical miniature storage, assembly, and painting, you could do much worse than Duelyst.
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