Ubisoft present a collectible card game set in the Might & Magic universe, and it is free to play.
Collectible card games are an amazing way of getting people to part with their money. I am not having a dig or anything, but I remember a time when collecting cards of any kind meant that you just had a collection of cards to look at. Now, the simple act of collecting these cards has a purpose and spending money on them feels more acceptable. Recently though, things seem to have gone full circle as digital cards are being collected for the purpose of playing games, taking away the physical owning of the cards themselves, and thus their long term value. I am not sure how I feel about this, but as a gamer who enjoys card games, I am willing to look the other way and embrace the games for what they are – good fun.
Collectible card games with microtransactions are popping up everywhere lately, and one of them is the free-to-play Might & Magic: Duel of Champions from Ubisoft. Set within the popular Might & Magic universe, Duel of Champions has the initial appeal of being free, at least to a degree – Spending money is optional.
Anyone who has played Magic: The Gathering or another similar card game before will pick up the basics very quickly. The aim is simply to reduce your opponents health to zero by casting spells and summoning combat units that will cause your opponent damage, all the while trying to prevent them from doing the same to you. Each card that you lay down, whether it be a unit or spell, has a cost that has to be paid. This limits what the player can do in the early part of the game.
However, players expecting a mana-like system in which they can play a card each turn, if they have one, to increase their pool of mana and thus cast more powerful spells, will be interested to know that Duel of Champions has taken a rather different, much more balanced approach. The players hero has three stats, Might, Magic and Destiny, and each turn can increase one of these stats. The spells and summons have a required level in each of these stats before the player can cast them. Then you have the Resource points, which increase by one and are refreshed each turn, dictating how many spells and which spells can be cast. In this respect, Duel of Champions keeps things much more balanced than Magic in that the chance of not having any land cards, and not being able to cast any spells whilst your opponent whittles away at your health, is removed. The cards that you can play come down solely to how many Resource points you have and which stats you have increased.
Another way that the game is substantially different from Magic is the way the playing area is laid out. Fans of the Heroes of Might & Magic series will fondly remember the turn-based tactical combat, and it is a similar system that the developers have employed in Duel of Champions. When summoning a unit to do battle on the players behalf, where that card is placed is actually important. There are two columns available, with the forward most one suitable for melee units and the rear for ranged units (flying units can go in either column). Units can then only attack the enemy unit that is directly in front of them in the same row, and players wanting to attack the enemy hero and cause damage will need a clear “line of sight” across the row. To further enhance the tactical options of the summoned units, the player can choose to move their units rather than attack, allowing the blocking of damage to the players hero.
There are other boxes on the playing field which can be used to house spells that affect entire rows or columns, raising even more tactical choices. Besides the “area of effect” spells which can be used on the battlefield, there are spells that can increase a units attack, spells that deal direct damage or spells that change the battlefield rules, such as allowing the player to attack the rear column even if an enemy unit is in the front column.
The other type of card in play is the Fortune card, which is directly linked to the heroes Destiny stat. These cards focus on the game away from the battlefield, allowing the player to increase their Resource points or draw more cards and such.
The actual combat between units is straight forward – Each unit has an attack value which is directly removed from the defending units health. There is also a retaliatory value which the attacking unit suffers if they are in direct combat and fail to destroy the opposing unit out right. This makes it very easy to see how your units will preform and plan your strategy.
At the beginning of the game, each player will put Event cards into a pool which are then cycled through each turn, allowing the player the chance to use a card that can potentially affect both players. These cards add another element to the game and each player must include a set number of these cards in their deck.
In fact, the customisation options are pretty impressive. When it comes to creating a deck, the rules are that the deck must have at least fifty cards, including a Hero and the set number of event cards. The Hero cards allow the player to pick and choose between whatever they have available, each of which have different beginning stats and abilities which compliment different types of play and different decks. There are a huge number of cards available within the three factions. Extra cards can be purchased from the store as either boosters or full packs, and thankfully the game doesn’t force the player to spend their hard-earned real-world cash to buy them. Both gold and seals, the two currencies needed for buying cards or consumables (which boost either experience or gold earning), can be earned by playing the game, ensuring that players that don’t wish to spend money in this free-to-play game can still compete.
Duel of Champions offers standard games against real-life opponents, practice games against either AI or real opponents, tournaments and a very nice campaign. For the beginning player, the campaign starts out by explaining the basics in a very easy series of battles. Then the player can continue with the story and improve their skills, along with their experience and wealth. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the campaign makes the game a worthy option for even those who don’t usually go down the competitive multiplayer route, being that it is quite enjoyable and has a relatively easy difficulty curve.
Duel of Champions is certainly worth a look by anyone who has a passing interest in card games. The mechanics are comfortably familiar whilst having their own flavour, and the fact that it is free-to-play means there really is no reason not to try the game. And if you like it, then spending some money is no real hardship. Grab the game and give it a go at www.duelofchampions.com