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Published on February 10th, 2016 | by Peter Freeman

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One Hour In: Duelyst

Duelyst – currently in development by Counterplay Games – aims to be a card-driven, turn-based, strategy game. If that sounds like a lot to chew at once, know that the game is surprisingly simple in its current state. Just to be crystal clear, the game in an open beta at the moment. You can simply go to their website, download the client, and play tutorial matches to teach you the basics.

After that, you’re open to start playing the game. It won’t take long for you to realize that Duelyst is basically Hearthstone played on a chessboard. You play units from a deck of cards and there are selection of factions (heroes) to choose from. There are currently six available and they each have their own unique mechanics and units. I have no idea if Counterplay is going to add more, but at the moment the six seem to be enough. There are also a selection of neutral units that you can choose from.

There are a few key differences from Heathstone: your hero is a piece that can move around and participate in the battle. Unit positioning in and of itself is an important factor when playing Duelyst. Some units can hit everything around them, or in a straight line across the board, or something that’s only directly in front of them.

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But beyond that, the game is scarily similar to Hearthstone. You have mana, which you gain one more of every turn. You have a hand of cards, which you can mulligan one of each turn. Your cards have mana costs. Your cards have effects when they’re summoned. They have effects when they die. There is a taunt effect, there is a charge effect. The list goes on. If it’s in Hearthstone it’s probably going to be in Duelyst. This is unfortunate because the similarities makes very little about the gameplay unique. Sure you can move your pieces around the board, but as a Hearthstone player you’ll see very little challenge in the game.

The art style is kind of fun though. It’s a little weird in that all of the still images are fun little anime cartoons. But the game is played in a pixel art style. It’s an odd disconnect, but it works in the game’s favor. The attack animations and little voices the characters have are neat touches.

This might read more like a review, but it’s most a summation of my experience in the beta thus far. So far I see no reason to play this over and instead of  a game like Hearthstone. The only reason I would say go for it is if you’re into turn-based strategy games with an added layer of randomness.

But you never know! Things change all the time in betas and I will be keeping an eye on Duelyst to see if changes that the game makes turn it into a unique product.

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