Game: Might & Magic: Duel of Champions
Developer: Ubisoft Quebec
Available on: Windows PC, iPad
Reviewed on: Windows PC
I didn’t play many trading card games when I was growing up, I collected many of them, Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, even a couple of Pokemon cards, but I never found the time or the drive to play with any of them in a competitive sense, I was simply content with looking at the artwork and knowing that I had them in my collection. The rise of the digital trading card game allowed me to start playing this game style without the worry of ruining my prized collection, but more than that, I didn’t need to struggle to find people to play against, I could play against people all over the world and at any time of day. Might & Magic: Duel of Champions is a digital trading card game which makes the whole genre accessible to absolutely everyone by being absolutely free as well as being set in one of the most established fantasy genres; Might & Magic.
GRAPHICS: I wasn’t expecting much in the graphical department, at the end of the day it’s only a card game, but what I experienced was actually rather surprising. The visuals help a great deal in informing the player what’s happening on the screen with just a simple glance, for example, the flying creatures will hover above the deck, slowly bobbing up and down just enough to give the player an instant visual indication that that particular card is a flying creature and will behave as such (can attack any card in its row whether it’s on the front line or the back). These visual cues extend to every part of the game, spells will give the appropriate feedback, as will destroying one of your opponents cards. It’s not the greatest visual feast you’ll get on a PC, or even an iPad, but as far as this genre of games go, it’s got everything you’d need.
SOUND: The sound aspect of Might & Magic: Duel of the Champions is exactly like the graphical element in that it serves its purpose but it’s not going to break the boundaries of the genre. There are plenty of quest-like elements that players will get to take part in throughout the title but none of the relatively short quests are voice acted. Not a big deal given the style of the game but it’s difficult not to continue to play without thinking that it would have been a nice addition to the game, something that would have taken it into the next level. The sounds that are in the game, the various effects to go with the spells that the player will be laying onto the battlefield all serve to enhance the experience and make the player think that they’re playing something a little bit more epic than a simple card game.
GAMEPLAY: When players first start to play Might & Magic: Duel of Champions it would be a good idea to get into the Boot Camp and complete all of the tutorial missions. The game does a very good job at learning the new, or returning, player all of the ropes. The method of play for trading card games can be notoriously difficult to wrap your head around but Duel of Champions doesn’t really suffer from that thanks to the in-depth tutorial missions and the fact that the game will highlight cards from your deck that you can use at the moment, and even show you where on the board you can place them. That’s something that playing the game in the “real world”, no matter the social advantages, could teach, or show, you.
Players will have the opportunity to play through Boot Camp missions, play Practice missions against an AI opponent, a friend or any other online player, but the crux of the gameplay experience, and where most people will spend their time once they’ve gotten to grips with the game, will be either the Duel mode or the Tournament mode. The Duel mode works exactly as you’d expect, grouping a player with another player of a similar skill level – Duel of Champions uses an ELO rating system, similar to Chess – and giving them the opportunity to win fame and riches by winning the battle. Winning the battle will award the player with gold, experience points and an increase in the global ranking system. The gold can be used to purchase more cards through the various packs that are available in the in-game store, but you’re going to need a lot of them in order to purchase even the smallest thing so you’re either going to be spending a lot of time in Duels or Tournaments, or you’re going to be parting with some of your hard earned cash.
Tournaments are where the big money is though, getting players to enter in the hopes of winning the massive jackpots that are often available. It’s not going to be easy though, there are a lot of people playing, some of who have racked up a crazy amount of hours in game and have some amazing decks in the repertoire. The tournaments aren’t for the feint of heart but if it’s cold, hard gold that you’re wanting to get your hands on, you could give the tournament a go. Just don’t expect it to be a walk over.
If the Xbox 360 has made it so that you can’t fully enjoy a game, no matter the genre, if you’re not earning some kind of achievement, then Might & Magic: Duel of Champions even has you covered in that area too. Players can earn achievements for a variety of actions throughout all aspects of the game, allowing them to even earn rewards from attaining them. The rewards that you’ll be able to get range from a little bit of experience or gold all the way through to the much sought after Seals, the in-game currency that will allow you to buy anything you want from the store; provided you have enough of them.
LONGEVITY: Might & Magic: Duel of Champions lasts exactly as long as you want it to last. If you only want to give it a couple of matches to hook you then that’s entirely up to you. Thanks to the fact that it’s free to play if you find that it’s not for you then you haven’t lost anything in the process. Most people who give the game a chance will do so because they already have an affinity with the Might & Magic universe, and those people will want to play the game for a very long time indeed. Playing match, levelling up and getting better and better at the game, learning the tactics, moves and everything else that the game has to offer.
VERDICT: It’s hard to argue against at least trying Might & Magic: Duel of Champions given that it’s totally free to play, but it does suffer from one of the biggest problems with the microtransaction system in that it’s very much “pay to win”. The game does a good job at matching people of similar skill levels but if your opponent has a deck that’s vastly greater than yours simply because they had the funds to be able to buy all the cards then it doesn’t matter if you’re the greatest player in the world, you’re certainly going to have a hard time on your hands. That being said though, go and give it a go, you never know, you might actually find that you enjoy it as much as I did.