I hope it’s uncontroversial to state that duplicate bridge is the best real-life card game that’s ever been invented.
I think that the intrinsic balance and step up in sophistication that comes from the duplicate concept could be of real benefit to Duelyst, especially as a tournament format.
You play in teams of 2 players. Each team brings 2 decks (A and B)
In the first match, Team 1 Player 1 (hereafter, T1P1) uses Team 1 Deck A (hereafter, T1DA) plays T2P1 using T2DA.
At the same time T1P2 uses T2DA to play T2P2 playing T1DA. That is: whilst both “Player 1s” are playing each other, the “Player 2s” are playing the exact same match up with the decks the opposite way around.
In the second match, it’s T1P2 T1DB vs T2P2 T2DB, and T1P1 T2DB vs T2P1 T1DB.
You sync the RNG seeds, so that they start off with the same card order in their deck and same mulligans, but the RNG of course diverges as soon as there’s a difference.
This eliminates the edge you might get due to bringing the right metadeck to the match-up, or to having perfect luck, and brings it back down to skill.
But it has another advantage:
Because each round, one player is playing the opposition’s deck blind, it rewards diversity in deckbuilding. If you’re T1P2 and you look at T2DA and see that it’s a standard Burn Vaath deck, you can pilot it just as well as T2P1 can, and you’ll both do equally well. Whereas, if T2DA is some kind of bizarre homebrew with unexpected combos that T2 has practiced with for ages and you’ve never seen before, and you don’t even know what the rest of the cards are - you’re more likely to lose.
One more thing though:
Because a 2-2 draw is a reasonably likely result, in the event of a tie the remaining health of the winning general in each game is used as a tie break. This again is a faint nudge away from the kind of raw face deck that just ignores the board and squeaks a win with 5 health left. If you do that - but the opposition with their control deck wins a match with 25 health left - you lose the tie break. I can imagine nail-biting moments as the final game of a public tournament plays out, where a player is winning - but if they win, the round will be drawn, and they have low health, which means they still lose, so they’re trying to keep control of the board and stay alive and keep the enemy general alive whilst they dig through their deck for that healing spell that will give them victory, whilst the enemy general wants to either suicide quickly or use the extra time to turn the game around…
(If your opponent concedes we’d have to count the winner’s health as 25, in order to make this fun situation possible)
So the overall winner will be the team who plays their decks the best, who has constructed their decks the best, who has constructed their decks so that they’re hard for the opposition to play, and who is the best at decoding and playing the opposition’s decks.
Whilst talking in bridge and communication outside bidding is obviously forbidden, there’s no way you could eliminate that in an online game, so we have to allow it, and might as well make a feature of it, allowing that to add another layer of depth: whilst T1P2 is playing T2DA, they can be informing T1P1 of the content of the deck and what they have in their hand and therefore what T1P1’s opponent has in their hand. And vice versa of course.