Collectable card games (CCG) have become extremely popular of late, with Magic the Gathering leading the charge way back in 1993. Since then a myriad of CCGs have come and gone over the years with only the most entertaining staying afloat.
Seeing how popular the CCG genre has become, Ubisoft has taken upon itself to develop a digital version that is set in the Might and Magic universe. Called Might & Magic - Duel of Champions (MMDoC) this game is a free to play CCG that boasts in-game currencies that are bought for real money (gold) and earned by playing the game (seals). These can be used to buy booster packs, just as one does when buying packs of actual cards in traditional tabletop CCGs.
MMDoC is actually up and running and has been since September of last year in Europe. It is only now that the game has been launched in North America, hence its appearance at PAX East. Available on PC and iPad 2 and above, the game takes place over an 4x4 grid of cards, with the player being represented by a hero card.
This card has different attributes, which are might, magic and fate and these can and should be increased as you play a match. As the player lays down cards they can be placed in the 4x4 grid, with the second row from the player being the front line and the other closer row being the rear. The placement of these cards is crucial as the opposing player can only attack the player's hero if there is a gap in the line of minion cards in play.
Some cards can be used enhance the abilities of minion cards in play while others can inflict damage on the opposing players minions. In order to play cards the player's hero must reach certain criteria, that being they must have enough resources and that their attributes must equal or surpass those that are written on the card they wish to play. Attributes can be increased before any cards are placed in a turn, which enables the player to place cards they couldn't previously.
Another criteria is resources. Each turn the amount of resources available to both players is increased exponentially and thus offers more options to the player as the match progresses. All cards have a resource cost and it is expended every time a card is played. Initially few cards are placed thanks to the low level of resources, but this quickly changes as a match reaches its climax.
Each engagement lasts in the region of 10-15 minutes, depending on the foe you are facing and how many bone headed moves they pull. It's quite easy to forget to protect the hero card as that represents the player. If they fall then it's game over, no matter how many minions you have in play. Many was the time I thought I was going to be overwhelmed only to find my opponent had left a gaping hole in their line of minions and I dually dispatch their hero with a few well timed combination attacks.
MMDoC has five factions, each of which have a set theme for the cards contained within them and can be summarised as follows:
Haven is what can best be described as a Lawful Good faction. Their cards tend to be of the defensive and healer type and take a lot of pounding to beat down.
Sanctuary are based around a race of half snake and half human creatures. They have the ability to buff creatures over and above what their foes can defend against very quickly. This gives their opponent a false sense of security as they see seemingly weak minions appear only to see them become almost unstoppable within a few turns.
Stronghold are the orcs and other green skinned creatures in the Might and Magic universe. Very aggressive and relentless attacks and seemingly endless number of troops at their disposal. Their sheer weight in numbers can overwhelm their foes.
Necropolis faction is of the Necromancers who deal with the undead and wield their power through them. Their attacks rely on draining the life force of their foes as well as creating hordes of undead minions to their side.
Inferno are the 'nukers' of MMDoC. Their spells are extremely destructive and turn the tide of battle very quickly in their favour. Their attacks can hurt friendly minions, such is their fercocity.
The final piece in the MMDoC playing field is the event cards. These cards affect both players and act as a risk/reward mechanic in the game. One increases the attack power of all creatures for that turn. That means that while this effect will benefit the player that played it, it will also enhance the opposing players creatures.
As mentioned from the outset, MMDoC is a free to play game and relies upon the player buying booster decks from its online store. A word of warning on this: while it is possible to buy preset decks they cannot be delved into and broken up to form new decks.
This means that the only way to create custom decks is to buy booster packs. Granted it's possible to earn seals to buy them, but the advice of buyer-beware still holds true, whether or currency is time or actual cash.
MMDoC is primarily a multiplayer online game, but it does come with a limited single player campaign that acts as a kind of tutorial. It does a terrific job of explaining the game's mechanics and trains the player in knowing when to place cards and how to manage their resources.
Having played the game both at PAX East and in the comfort of my hotel room on my laptop, I can safely say that MMDoC is a thoroughly entertaining game that certainly deserves your attention. I can compare it to the World of Warcraft CCG which is an excellent game that to my mind is actually better than Magic the Gathering.
MMDoC is available now for the PC and iPad 2 and above.