Hey everyone, Alexicon1 here. Today myself and Ardent Dawn will be walking through the basics of deckbuilding, one of the more important skills in a player’s arsenal.
Step 1 – Have A Goal
So, for starters, you definitely need to have a goal to achieve with your deck. Plenty of players put very powerful cards together, that independently are very good cards, but together lose effectiveness. This is where we start talking about synergy which is how effective cards are when used in conjunction with others. Sometimes, cards aren’t that good by themselves, but when grouped with others are very good. For example, the Baconator/Meldhai archetype that was popularised by Nowayitsj was very reliant on the synergies within the deck in order to win. A common mistake that beginners make is they include cards in, that they only have 1 of, because the card is powerful or suitably awesome. You don’t really want that. In Duelyst, you want to have two things above all else, deck synergy and deck consistency. Aim for have 2x or 3x a card in your deck.
In the Introduction to this series, we discussed some basic strategies for replacing cards in your opening hand. In brief summary, our current opening hand contains a 2-mana Healing Mystic to summon on Turn 1, a 4-mana Primus Shieldmaster to potentially summon on Turn 2 and Ephemeral Shroud as a flexible answer to any minions with powerful effects - it has all of the basic tools that we should need in the first few turns.
But while all of that information is extremely useful, it's ultimately there to provide context for the main topic of this series - explaining the five most important terms in competitive Duelyst. In this article, we'll be using the first two turns of this replay to explain our first essential term - positional advantage.
The rest of the essential terms - board control, card advantage, tempo and burst damage are still crucial considerations when choosing how to start the game, but in this particular replay, the first two turns happen to provide the best example of positional advantage. I'll discuss each of the other terms separately, to spread the content evenly across the series and keep each article reasonably short.
I'll also be using T2k5's deck tracker script in this game, which I strongly recommend using - you can find out more about them in our Useful Tools & Websites page.
With that said, let's get the ball rolling.
After playing CCGs for over a decade, I’ve been searching endlessly for a good online CCG. I could never stomach the randomness of Hearthstone, which paired enormous slot machine effects with the roulette wheel involved in summoning your largest minion on-curve. Magic the Gathering is an amazing CCG on paper (in both respects), but the online client was awfully designed and I could never justify the amount of money needed to build a tournament-worthy deck.
For years, I’ve been waiting for the perfect CCG – a game that I could fit around my university schedule, without needing to ritually sacrifice my credit card or spend months earning in-game currency before I could afford a competitive deck. Hopefully a game without decades’ worth of articles written about it, so that I could get involved in the community and publish original content.
And after so many years, I eventually found Duelyst.
Duelyst has everything that I love about CCGs. Between the constant decisions created by the replace mechanic and by positioning your units on the board (both of which reward forward planning once you know what you need to plan around), Duelyst feels like a fencing tournament. It’s a fast-paced game that punishes you hard for your mistakes, but shows exactly when you messed up and how to improve in the future. It has enough randomness to offer unique puzzles in every game, but has enough consistency to let you solve those puzzles without relying on luck.
But since most of those puzzles require background knowledge to solve, Duelyst has a much steeper learning curve than most other CCGs. You need to learn a wide range of tactical concepts before you can really compete at the highest levels – none of them are complicated on their own (especially if you’ve played other CCGs before), but most of them aren’t spelled out in-game. And if Duelyst is your first CCG, then learning this library of little tricks as well as general CCG strategy can present an enormous amount of information for you to process at once.
It’s about time that we fixed that.
LiquidKitten and Ardent Dawn clash in a friendly best-of-3, with Ferrari Magmar and Midrange Vetruvian facing off against Ardent Dawn's Midrange Argeon.
With much musing about how to best position around removal spells, they face off in a series of decisive games, followed by a rambling conversation about Flash-Khymera, the re-emergence of tech cards and the founding of Turn 1 Mystic. Anticipate plenty of in-depth discussions and a touch of nervous rambling while Ardent Dawn records her first video on YouTube.
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.