Ever since it’s initial release I have tried to enjoy Hearthstone. With each major expansion, I glance over what is included: all the additions, tweaks and new mechanics. However, it has never grabbed me as an enjoyable card game. When I win I feel I was just lucky with the cards I drew and when I lose I feel unlucky with the cards I drew. Duelyst, on the other hand, is a glorious digital card game where my every decision feels vital. Something Hearthstone can only aspire to replicate.
Let me start by saying I realise that Hearthstone is amazingly popular and has great production quality and I’m sure a lot of people really enjoy it. All I can say to those people is that Hearthstone is a good gateway game in the grander world of card games. As somebody who played a lot of Magic: The Gathering when he was younger and later progressed from this onto games like Android: Netrunner my standard for card games is very high and Duelyst easily ranks amongst the best I’ve ever played.
Duelyst and Hearthstone are similar in so much that they both have players crafting decks of cards and do battle with one another. However, Duelyst adds a whole extra set of considerations with each match taking place on a 9×5 grid with a general leading your army. So not only do players need to decide which card is best for a given situation they also need to choose where to put their monsters on the battlefield. All while taking into account its movement, is it ranged, how much health does it have, how will it’s ability affect what is around it and will this help me not die.
Duelyst also has 6 distinct factions that all play extremely differently. For example, the Abyssians are all about putting spikes on the map and summoning a legion of weak, but prolific monsters. Songhai let you teleport your units around the map and have lots of really cool spells. Magmar is all about buffing your general so he is massive and then punching the other general squarely in the chops. I know Hearthstone has it’s own different classes, but lots what makes them different is rather stale in comparison to a lot of the ways Duelyst differentiates its own factions.
The other amazing thing Duelyst does is it gives you the choice of replacing a card in your hand for another random one in your deck. Giving you yet another great decision especially when you star to run low on cards. Do you dare try to replace this card in the hope you’ll get a better one? So much juicy risk-reward in one single choice. This mechanic is pure genius.
So does is Duelyst the best digital card game you can play right now? Most definitely. It blows Hearthstone out of the water and in the stratosphere. They both let buy ‘booster packs’ through collecting in-game currency or with real money, but from my experience of both, I’d say Duelyst wins again. I have played with loads of decks and none of them felt ‘under-powered’. I struggle to find cards in Duelyst that are just bad, but instead can server a purpose in the right deck. I didn’t see this in Hearthstone as much. There was an over-reliance on super rare cards. This is still to some degree the case in Duelyst, but a well constructed and played deck with no rare cards in will beat a legendary stuff deck played by somebody with no skill every time. That is how a card game should play. Some luck, a lot of skill.
This article was originally published on GamerTimeUK but unfortunately, that site no longer exists, so I’ve republished it here.