Marvel Duel is developer NetEase’s weird auto chess/collectible card game (CCG) hybrid. It’s fast-paced yet easy to learn. It’s good for quick casual games but you can still spend hours on it if you really want to dive deep into deck-building and combat strategies.
If you’re into Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone, as well as Marvel comics and/or movies, Magic Duel is right up your alley. Here’s everything you need to know before you get started with the game.
Marvel Duel can be daunting at first, especially if you’re not familiar with the concept of CCG or auto chess (SPOILER: It’s not chess). But the game does a great job of holding your hand through your first game, which is your initial tutorial. There’s more tutorial content in the Hero Trial game mode.
The concept is relatively simple: You have a deck of character, equipment, and effect cards. From this pool of cards, you set and strengthen your front line, which can have up to 6 characters at a time, on the battlefield. Your goal is to have your front line wipe out your opponent’s front line so you can deal damage to your opponent. You battle 5 other players in a single match. Combat is automated, so characters attack other characters randomly.
This automated combat may not sit well with some players, but it offers a more interesting game dynamic to others.
There’s nothing like having the right combination of strategy, cards, and luck coming together to carry you right into your endgame as seen in the above Challenge Mode screenshot where three Thanoses (Thani? Thanosi?) are ready to deal the death blow to Madame Masque.
Your deck will actually be composed of three superhero-specific decks and one neutral deck of 18 locked cards. Each of these “Super Heroes” — putting a quote on that because Elektra is at best an anti-hero and Hela is the Goddess of Death, definitely not heroic at all — have their own strengths and weaknesses, requiring their own unique deck building strategy.
- Star-Lord – His GotG deck relies on members of the Guardians of the Galaxy coming together to make each other more powerful. It may take some time, but once you get the right combination of cards going, your front line could become near unstoppable.
- Thor – His Asgardian deck is a defensive one. Armor can be built upon characters quickly but you’ll need a couple of characters like Thor and Throg (yes, the Frog of Thunder) to deal some damage.
- Captain Marvel – Her Intergalactic War deck is all about dealing skill damage. The Marvels and their alien buddies can become a real nightmare as they become stronger and deal more damage as the battle goes on.
- Iron Man – His Stark Industries deck relies heavily on shop upgrades. The shop, where you get your cards during combat — not to be confused with the game shop where you can buy in-game currency with real money — strengthens your cards as you upgrade it. If you survive early battles and quickly level up your shop, you’ll be pretty strong when you reach your endgame — not to be confused with Endgame where Iron Man dies.
- Spider-Man – His Spider-Verse deck’s strategy is simple: overrun the opponent with powerful Spider-Verse characters. You have characters that summon other characters and characters that strengthen the summoned characters. It’s all about characters, you see.
- Hela – Her Ragnarok deck banks on the Maverick skill, which triggers the first time you only have one character on your front line. It can be a challenge to trigger the Maverick skill at the right time, but if it’s done properly with a strengthened character, the end result for your opponent would be disastrous.
- Elektra – Her Marvel Knights deck might be the most complicated of all decks as it requires you to complete quests to strengthen your front line. If you do get to set up your characters without dying, you’re going to have a pretty scary front line towards the end.
There are currently only seven Super Heroes available in the game, but it’s going to be really exciting to see new ones down the line. There are currently characters that are curiously not included in the game like Captain America, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four, so it would be interesting to see if they’ll be included if ever the game adds more themed decks.
Deck building in Marvel Duel can seem a bit weird even for longtime CCG players. You’re required to pick 3 Super Heroes, each having their own exclusive set of cards. You have to pick 10 cards per Super Hero, with up to 4 copies of each card. You’re also required to pick 10 cards for a fourth neutral deck, which brings your total to 40 cards. You can’t use a deck if it has less than that.
There’s a set of 18 “locked cards”, also up to 4 copies each, that becomes available to you in your matches. These locked cards can’t be edited. This brings the total of available cards in your pool per battle to 58. MATH!
This type of deck building makes the game experience more chaotic and fun. You can be forced to build your front line around, say, Spider-Verse characters in the beginning but if later draws constantly give you cards from other decks, you’ll be forced to make a choice: throw out your symbiote-filled front line in favor of Asgardian thunder and lightning or stay the course?
You will also be forced to think about the potential synergies not just between related characters, but characters across decks as well. You can go as deep as you want in your deck building strategy and that’s neat.
You can find strategies for each deck on the Marvel Duel website to help you get started.
Once you have your custom deck (or decks; you can create up to 10) ready, you can take it out for a spin in the different game modes. However, before you get into ranked matches, you should go through training and some trials first.
- Training – This game mode lets you practice using your deck against A.I. disguised as Iron Man, Thor, and other characters. This is good if you’re still working out the kinks of your custom deck.
- Adventure – This category has 3 game modes: Hero Trial, Challenge Mode, and an unnamed one that is still “coming soon”. Hero Trial is a fun tutorial mode that teaches you the basics of how to use each of the Super Hero-themed decks. Challenge Mode is where you bring your custom deck to really put it to the test. Both accessible modes in Adventure give you plenty of rewards, including cards, so it’s good to go through these so you can enhance your custom decks further.
- Duel – This is the main game mode category of Marvel Duel. You can battle with no pressure in Casual Mode or you can try to go up the leaderboards by engaging in ranked battles in Ladder Mode. There are rewards based on your rank sent weekly and at the end of the season. Rewards are also given whenever you go up a rank.
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to fire up Marvel Duel on your Android or iOS device. However, like most digital CCG titles, this is better viewed and experienced in larger screens. If you’re partial to using the PC, it’s a good idea to use an Android emulator for this. You could get a better look at the beautiful card art too boot. Chewie agrees.
Marvel Duel is available now for iOS and Android devices. Note that this is confirmed to NOT be a global release title, so it’s only currently available in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.