Note: this article will be split into a series of shorter articles in the future (about 5 or 6). The updated series will include an updated discussion of Battle Pets - how they should be used on Turn 1, how they affect your mana curve and how both players should position around the semi-random nature of Battle Pets' target priority.
Duelyst has a reasonably gentle learning curve – since it has a small card pool and uses prediction and positioning as a source of depth rather than inherently complicated rules, you can easily learn the fundamentals of Duelyst within your first day of experimenting. Being a great player requires a lot of practise and familiarity with the options that your opponents are likely to choose, but becoming a good player is much easier in Duelyst than for most other CCGs.
However, one skill that’s extremely important for new players to learn is card evaluation. Judging how strong the cards in your collection are – and which ones are most useful together – requires that you understand several interlocking elements of Duelyst’s design, such as the amount of mana that you normally have within the first few turns and which stat thresholds (such as 2 health vs 3 health) are especially important. Understanding why particular cards are stronger than others is one of the main skill barriers when jumping into your first game of PvP Duelyst – the default decks that you’re provided with are good enough to learn the basic rules of Duelyst, but your early PvP experience will be much more enjoyable and put much more control into your hands if you’re using a well-rounded deck rather than a showcase of miscellaneous cards.
Rather than simply listing which Basic and Common cards are especially powerful, I wanted to use these articles to explain why those cards are used in successful decks – how the fundamental nature of Duelyst means that particular cards become stronger than average, as well as which cards are less powerful than they would seem because of exploitable weaknesses or competition for deck space with other cards at the same mana cost. Since this is going to involve a lot of writing, I’ll be spreading these explanations across a series of 6 articles.
On Turn 1 Mystic, we aim to teach new players how to climb to Gold Division as soon as possible, then from Gold Division to S-Rank as soon as you're interested and have time.