Hello. My name is Jeremy and I am addicted to Magic.
No, not coin tricks and illusions like David Blaine, but Magic: The Gathering collectible card game and its various iterations. I have told plenty of stories previously about how I was late to the game and only discovered the wonderful world of Magic a few years back, so we won’t go over old topics. I have tried all sorts of collectible card games in my lifetime, especially since developing and affinity for Magic, but none of them have really clicked with me the way Wizard’s classic game has. That is, until now. Recently I was introduced to Might & Magic: Duel of Champions and I think that it is safe to say that I have found my new addiction.
Duel of Champions is a strategic (virtual) card game from Ubisoft that is set in the Might & Magic universe. The game is scheduled to be released on the PC later this month with an iPad version following soon after; cross platform play will be supported once both versions have launched. The game uses a lot of mechanics similar to Magic but builds and expands on them in a way that crafts an experience all its own. Those familiar with Wizard’s game will find it easy to slide into the world being crafted here, but I think you will soon discover that it isn’t as easy to get up and leave.
The concept is actually pretty simple and reminds me a bit of a more complicated version of the classic children’s card game War (or 1-2-3, War as I have also heard it called). Imagine playing War and having the ability to suit up your 3-card with new weapons and gear that will make it put up a fight against that 10 your opponent keeps playing. You will pick a hero and then proceed to build an army of monsters and spells around him for protection. The first player to reduce their opponent’s hero to zero life points wins. With each of your turns, you can draw resources from your Hero’s abilities and then use them to play a variety of spells or creature cards onto the battlefield. Resources increase with every turn of the game, which sort of makes things more intense the longer that they go.
In addition to resources, there are also Might, Magic, and Destiny traits that must be managed on your hero in order to play cards. Cards require both a certain amount of resources and a certain affinity in one of those three categories in order to be played. You can only draw upon your hero for resources or to increase their affinity in a category once per turn, but you can play as many cards as your pool of resources allows.
Instead of placing cards anywhere, there is a 4x2 grid that you have to use strategically, as throwing any card down anywhere will lead to a quick demise. This is because there are different classes of creatures that you can play, including ranged, melee, and flying creatures. Ranged and flying creatures will receive strategic advantages to being placed in the back row of your playfield, enabling them to put their flying and distance-attack mechanics to use over the up-close melee fighters that populate the front row.
Once a creature is on the field, they can do one of two things: move or attack. Moving allows you to shift them around to another open position on the battlefield; this could be to set a well-planned block for your hero or to bypass your opponent’s defense on the next turn. If you don’t move your creature, you can then initiate an attack. Attacking creatures inflict damage on cards located directly in front of them; creatures have their own life points which are reduced upon being attacked and reducing a card to zero removes them from play. If there aren’t any cards in front of them, that damage is dealt directly to your opponent’s hero, taking you one step closer to victory.
This sounds simple enough, and it really is, however the literally hundreds of other cards in the game will add twists and changes to these rules as you play. While things start of a bit slow, they will soon proceed to an incredibly fast pace that makes the games (or battles) frantic and exciting. This can be in the from of direct magic spells, event cards that alter the entire game’s scenario, and fortune spells that help with the accumulation of resources. It would take a lot of time to explain all of the mechanics that tie into the overall experience, which is something that I can’t and won’t try to do here. Know however that the game has a very well-crafted tutorial built into the early stages of the campaign which will help ease new players into this engulfing world.
The joy of Duel of Champions is that it in addition to being incredibly fun and addicting, the development team has done a good job at blending both the on- and offline experience. The campaign is robust and enjoyable, but you have to be willing to spend time in the multiplayer realm if you want to get everything out of the game. There are times when you cannot proceed in the single player story until you have completed versus-battles against either AI or human-controlled players and vice versa. It sounds limiting but actually helps to keep the gameplay experience fresh. I found myself forced to head into multiplayer at one time with the intention of doing what I had to do and going back to the campaign; three hours later I was still facing off against people online.
The game is free to play, but don’t let that turn you off. Too often companies take the free to play concept and transform it into pay to win. Yes, you can throw down some real-life coinage to improve your card selection and deck variety, but that is only if you don’t want to wait to earn them in the game. Playing through the game with simply its free decks and cards will earn your virtual currency that can be spent at the in game store in lieu of real money; there isn’t anything that you can buy with cash that you can’t buy with the virtual money you earn in the game. It is pretty generous too as you earn quite a bit just by battling it out on your own and the pricing of the additional content is pretty reasonable. As for what is actually up for sale, the choices range from packs of cards of various sizes and pre-made decks that play into different themes.
I highly recommend that collectible-card-game fans and fantasy fans in general check out Duel of Champions for two reasons: one, its free, so what do you have to lose? Secondly, it is a really fun game that might surprise you both in its quality and its depth. The developers have done a great job of not only crafting an excellent game, but also at easing players into the experience and making the world entertaining and one that sucks you in and refuses to let you go. With a lengthy campaign, a friendly user base, and community tournaments and support that look to keep it fresh for along time to come, this is one experience that you don’t have to spend money on, but will do so because you will want more. Now, if only they can figure out how to produce this as a real-life collectible card game, then they can have all
of my money.
You can find out more about Might & Magic: Duel of Champions at the game’s official website
and look forward to its official release later this month.