I basically grew up playing CCG’s (for the layman, that’s Collectible Card Games), so every time I see a digital CCG online I get excited and think to myself “Is this the next Magic?” For those of you that don’t know, Magic: The Gathering is more or less the original collectible card game, it’s been around for 20 years or so. It’s the benchmark that all other CCG’s try to set their standards to. A lot of other games have ripped Magic off, sometimes blatantly, and most fall short of making a genuinely interesting or fun game. This review however is not about Magic. It’s about Might & Magic: Duel of Champions.
M&M:DoC just came out a couple of months ago this year. I remember the Heroes of Might and Magic franchise from when I was a kid, so I was already interested. The game is completely free to play, it’s a quick download with registration, and within minutes you’re playing the game. You will be pestered numerous times to change your password though. It’s obnoxious.
When you first log in, the daily reward system is displayed. You can cash in your daily rewards immediately, or if you hold off and keep logging in, they increase in value every day. So if you can save up your rewards for a whole week, at the end when you cash them in you get a bunch of extra gold and seals as a reward for your patience. Then we’re off to the tutorial.
Right off the bat I will warn you that the tutorial is long. You follow the map through a series of duels in a campaign designed to gradually introduce game mechanics to new players. Every match in the tutorial gives you the guidelines you need to win, and instructions on the new mechanic, then leaves you to finish on your own. It’s a bit tedious, as you generally will only have a couple of cards to play with, but you are rewarded with gold and experience for every match. Even though it’s long winded and dull, I would highly suggest completing the tutorial. Most of the cards and their mechanics are not self explanatory. Card abilities do have explanations of what they do, but the actual functions of the cards and the battlefield are not clear in and of themselves. That being said, I did find myself going “Hhhhuuuuurrrrrrrrgggghhhhh” a lot. It’s kind of a gutteral exasperated sigh. There’s supposed to be some kind of a story going on during the tutorial, something about armies and battle, but I couldn’t be bothered to read it.
After you finish the tutorial, there’s additional campaign missions you can do, which are basically increasingly difficult matches. Currently there are only two chapters after the initial tutorial, and I’m hoping that they add more soon. The campaign missions are a good way to earn gold and seals, and to practice with your deck as you tweak it. If you can’t beat the missions, you don’t stand much of a chance against a skilled player.
The way the game is set up you gain resources every turn depending on how much might, magic, or fortune you’ve accumulated. Your hero can increase one of these each turn by a set amount. You use these points to summon creatures or cast spells. Your hero card itself usually has a special ability, some being better than others. You can get new heroes by purchasing special hero boosters that include on hero and 6 other random cards. You have two rows for your creatures; one for melee and one for shooters, with flyers being able to pass between the two.
Gameplay itself is fast paced, and each turn is timed (usually with a two minute limit). If you waste time and can’t finish your turn before the clock runs out, you forfeit the match. I’ve actually won a handful of games because the dude on the other end wasn’t paying attention or had to run to the bathroom or something. Free gold!
The cash shop in M&M:DoC is set up pretty smartly. You can buy booster packs and premade decks using both gold and seals, the better stuff using the seals. Both seals and gold can be purchased with real world money, or earned in game. Gold is rewarded after every match or campaign battle, and seals are awarded when you gain a level, or when finishing campaign battles. You can always save up your gold and buy packs of cards, so you aren’t stuck playing with the same junky cards all the time.
One of my favorite aspects of the shop system is the Infernal Pit. Hells yes. It’s like a gambling den for your collection. When you open up the Infernal Pit you are shown a card that you can possibly win by sacrificing cards. So you start picking cards you don’t want any more, and throw them into the pit. After every card it gives you a percentage of your chance at winning the card. Better, more rare cards yield better odds. But on top of that, each card has a gold value which is given to you as well. So even if you don’t win the card, you still get something for your sacrifice. Snackrifice.
Now here’s where I start running into some issues. The card shop and the pit are your only options for new cards. There is no trade function. I will pause here so you can digest that.
Yes, I said there is no trade function. So you can buy all these cards, snackrifice them to the interweb demons, and that’s it. What’s more, you can’t have more than four of any given card in a deck, but at the same time your cards, while digital, are not open to multiple decks. What this means is, if you have a card you really like, and you want to add it to a new deck, you need to buy more copies of that card to be able to use it in a second deck. That means buying more packs and hoping you get lucky. So you can wind up with piles of cards you don’t want or need. You can snackrifice them, but you only get one card to choose from a couple of times a day. Who the hell plays a card game and doesn’t trade cards?
Another issue I had, albeit a minor one, is that the art is all recycled. Now granted, M&M:DoC does a much better job recycling their art than any other game I’ve seen. But it’s still pretty obvious that multiple images have been edited and reused for different cards. As a doodler that likes to consider himself an artist, I find this to be a little lazy, but they do it well enough that it isn’t really distracting. But I would still much rather see original images for everything, especially when the artwork they used is so cool looking. All these firey raging demon things are badass. And there’s zombies and sekeltons. But they lose their luster when you see them again, overlapped with more art.
You get tournament tickets when you gain levels and unlock some achievements, but I have yet to participate in a tournament. I only win like every two or three games, and when I looked at the leaderboard I cringed; I’m hanging on by a thread somewhere around the 15,000th place mark. Or maybe it was 150,000th place? I don’t know. It was bad. I cried a little.
So it’s that time.
The good: The game itself is fun, fast paced, and requires legitimate strategy. A good player will keep you on your toes and can throw your strategy down the crapper, so how you build your deck and working the odds can be challenging.
The bad: There is no trade option. I poked around the forums and found that the devs are currently exploring this and the option to have single cards in multiple decks, but current state it’s a big pain. It’s really deflating not being able to trade, and it takes away from the feeling of community in the game.
Why should you bother: If you like playing collectible card games and, like myself have been disappointed with your online options, then this game is worth your time. It really sucks that you can’t trade though. A lot. But hopefully that will be corrected sooner rather than later. If you aren’t into CCG’s, then don’t bother. This is quite literally an online card game. It appeals to a rather limited audience, but I think that true gamers like myself with enjoy it.