Duelyst Forums

Another thread on Trials

There has been many discussions and arguments about Trials and their power level. This time I want to talk about possible changes that would remove the unfun part.

To me, the unfun part lies in the following:

  1. Trials are inevitable. You cannot do anything about opponent progressing their Trial*. You cannot do anything about them completing their Trial.
  2. Consequently, when playing against Trials you are racing against the clock. If you don’t kill them before Trial is complete you most likely lose.
  3. Consequently again, Trials promote uninteractive playstyle. Your opponent chases their win condition and often ignores your plays just to progress the Trial. Your board and whatever damage you have dealt may become irrelevant in a turn.

* Nemeton is a notable exception. That exception is what makes it notably bad. Anyway, it’s not really relevant as Nemeton is still capable of highrolling, it just happens less often.

But, despite all those downsides, deep under the thick layer of toxicity, lies an interesting, even good design idea. Trials promote unconventional deck building. Ironically, this is best illustrated with the worst offender - Wanderer. To play it, you make a highlander deck and sacrifice your ability to play multiple copies of cards you want to play.

Unfortunately, instead of being “flavors” to deckbuilding devs degraded Trials to “you play a terrible deck and if you survive for X turns you get an OP deck instead”. So, how can you make them not so polar? The easiest way to illustrate it comes with what has to be the first Trial in Duelyst - Titan. You don’t need all you minions to have 1 attack, you don’t have to fill your deck with all sacrificial spells you can find. You just have to put aside a part of your deck. It makes you think what you replace that part with, it makes you think how you’re going to do what that removed part was supposed to do, it makes you think how you play your deck now. Titan makes you actually fight to accomplish the “Trial”, makes you respect your opponent’s plays and makes you respect the fact that your opponent can still “undo” the “Trial”. That is what makes Titan fair**.

Achieving the same with Trials would require significant rework of course. One of the changes I was thinking about is that Trials are no longer activated by minions but instead are chosen in the deck building process. Mythrons no longer exist or fulfill another purpose.

Easiest (not necessary good) example of such rework again comes with Wanderer. Destiny is now active from the first turn and allows you to replace one additional card each turn. That’s it. The point is that your deck now has an answer to basically any situation in the game and you get an ability to look for those answers.

Another example. Ox: “Have at least 5 minions of 6 different mana costs. If you replace a card before summoning minions, you draw a minion with the cost equal to your mana.” (5 minions of 6 costs means 30 minions total. Some fallback assumed in the case you don’t have a minion of required cost when replacing. This is an example so please don’t start a fight over it.)

** Of course, Titan is not the exact definition of fun and sometimes feels as toxic as any other Trial. But in my opinion a lot of that comes from the fact that you don’t know what you’re up against and when you realize it’s already too late. And because of this I believe some other decks should become Trials too, with corresponding ingame indication. Some of those decks are: Titan, Fault, Mantra, Dying Wish, Mechazor, Ice Age/Winter’s Wake, Apex. Creep already has some indication but that could be improved.

Example rework for Dying Wish. Carrion & Lurking removed/reworked. Trial is: “Whenever you trigger a Dying Wish, lower the cost of Dying Wish minions in your hand by 1.” You no longer depend on drawing discounts early but also have to put some thought into hand management and positioning. Your opponent can deny your Trial by procing DWs on their turn or by preparing removal for the turn you drop your entire hand in.


I have nothing constructive to add at the moment, but I want to say I love your opinion on the Trial problems. I don’t enjoy playing any of the Trials much (except maybe Nose) and enjoy playing against them even less. That said I always thought that the concept itself is pretty neat, but is done improperly. Unlike Titan, which is an example of a good trial.

All in all, :+1:


All due respect, but you do realize you just buffed one of the most annoying top tier decks, right? Not to mention that you nerfed Ox with the exact quality that makes Nemeton a fair/bad trial …

You got some solid points there though, but I believe each trial deck has a counterplaystyle that gives you a fair chance of beating it (except for Wanderer of course). I don’t want to go too hard into details there, but if you think about it, you could come up with some on the spot. Many non trial decks have them aswell and with those figuring out what you are playing against should be to priority.

I don’t think the decks you pointed out need any special indication.
Based on early game plays:
Metallurgist/celebrant Zirix - Fault, almost 100% of the time
Carrion/lurking - Dying wish
A progression mech - Mechaz0r
Ramp/walls Kara - Walls
No spell removal - Titan
Abbysal crawler or the spiky snail - Creep (that one is really easy to spot)
Nothing and running into a corner - Mantra

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I’m not sure how I buffed anything. If you mean Wanderer than additional replace is all that it gets in my example, no stat buffs. And in any case, this is not about specific details on how to change Trials, this is about the concept.

I believe indication is needed, first of all to exclude any guessing and second to remind you that you need to be the aggressor.
Golem package (Metallurgist, Celebrant, Dreamshaper) is played in basically every Vet deck, including aggro/swarm and is not indicative of anything.
Luminous & Gravity Well are used universally and Kara is played so rarely that you never know if opponent is serious or memeing.
Lack of spell removal isn’t obvious and a lot of Titan decks play as regular tempo.
Ooz (spiky snail) is played in aggro Cass as well.
Running to a corner may be Mantra, artifacts, non-Mantra burn or bad draws.


My mistake with the golem package, flameblood, primus and spelljammer are the indicators there. As far as reminding to be the agressor goes, I think the few turns the players are using to prepare the board is enough to know roughly what deck the opponent is playing. The decks in general are not similar enough to not consistently be able to be distinguished from each other, apart from the few uncommon decks people run for fun.

Additionally, providing an indicator nerfes hybrid off-meta decks, that rely on your opponent to not be sure about what exactly you are doing and have multiple wincons (like pulling a Sirocco out of nowhere could easily be the game). Showing your opponent that your deck contains Sirocco, Nose and Tears as wincons can make him just keep some asnwers in hand, whereas if they are not alerted they have to anticipate.

And I may have misunderstood, but did you not say that the destiny in a wanderer deck is active from the first turn? That would just make the tempo unreal and win games before 6 mana.

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Making opponent aware is one of the points. Just like with the current Trials opponents need to know what they are up against.

Again, there is no stat buffs. No tempo.


just play evolutionary apex after they complete their trial.
Summoning the trial card with apex apparently breaks the trial :rofl:


Only works well with Nemeton, Xor and Nose. Hatefurnace and Strategoes are a little bit harder to deny because they get done and summoned more often on the same turn as with the other trials.

Wanderer is really hard because you have to ramp to 7 mana before they have 6 mana and Ox is practically impossible :slight_smile:


yeah, i think i saw a video of you denying a Xor trial.

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Yeah and once I would have denied @snowshot’s Nemeton but he milled my Apex :frowning:

I was so sad about it! It is on my channel too.


Thaaaat’s where I misunderstood. No stat buffs. My mistake.


haha i don’t remember it.

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I mean my own fault with Jammer up and not playing 2 cards per turn. I kinda dislike Jammer in the deck because often it mills something but you need the draw. And it is good after Apex. Not sure…


I dont quite like this critique; it seems to lean on a weird notion of interactivity summed with a hyperbolic reaction to trial completion.

  1. What deck is not a race against the clock? Arcanyst Lilithe fits the points you laid out above- It just plays its arcanysts- Which you “cannot do anything about”- and survives till 8 to drop its bomb, which is like a mythron. Same thing goes to Wizardmar, or LuminousSkorn, a bunch of stuff.
    It doesnt even make these different that these decks can win without completing what I argue is their trial, because so can Strategos, Notion, Wanderer, Ox, maybe Nemeton, or like, probably every trial if you build it right
    There is no hard defined difference between normal decks that inevitably play a big threat and Trial
  2. On top of that, what isnt a conversation? When an opponent ignores your board, that is a statement- They made a choice, and dont believe it to be a threat for some reason, how is that less of a conversation than answering your board? Would you say Wizardmar or old Remove Everything Faie were the most interactive decks of Duelyst?
  3. Trial completion is not an autowin. You can pretty much always buy a couple turns, maybe three or four, before its actually over.

Succinctly, I think a majority of Duelyst decks fall into the parameters you laid out, so you either dislike trial for mostly psychological reasons, or you dislike a majority of decks period.

I am fairly convinced that people only truly notice design in two situations, when it involves randomness, and when it tinkers with their psyche somehow, like how Trials add a counter. What we really care about are the numbers, aka, how good the card is. No one out here saying Araki Headhunter and Rancour should be nerfed because they are infinite value 2drops, just like trials were complained about to be infinite value in this thread
No one complains about Primus Fist, a card whose logic is that it requires setup to an out of hand damage payoff, but they complain about Sunriser, a card whose logic is that it requires setup to an out of hand damage payoff. They are the same card. Guess whats the difference. Fist deals 2 out of hand total and Riser deals like 8 or 12.
Therefore I dont believe trials are a problem in logic, only in numbers. If trials in their logic incentivize “terrible” decks, and I believe in this, then why dont they lose every time? Its not the construction logic, not that it is trial, not the fact that it is “inevitable”, not that its “solitaire”, not that its “race against the clock”, trials are good because they have good numbers. Its always about the numbers never about the logic. Except in the case of random effects. FUck design logic


Well, I believe the main difference is you just can’t destroy most trials when they are completed. You can remove most arcanysts summoned by knell, even all if you have smth like aperion claim. You can destroy titan payoff with emp. You can dispell, e.g. that Lyonar spell which gives +3/+3 to all minions summoned. You can remove Juggernaut.

Ok, now there’s Doom. There’s Obliterate. There’s Variax. There’s Gate. The former 2 are kinda burn. The latter 2 are similar to strategos in the fact that they provide infinite value when they are finished somehow and can’t be denied AFTER they are finished. Do you remember the whine about Variax?

There’s no Variax whine now, so you may have actually nailed it when you talk about the importance of numbers. But what I actually think: the problem is allowing undeniable huge effects which can’t be denied AFTER they are finished. No other counterplay than burn is there. Actually, Trials killed most other non-burn oriented lategame decks. There’s no reason to play big lategame minions when your opponents gets lots of them for free, or his board doesn’t die, or smth. Knell is the example of a rarely played card because of that.


Well, yes, there is one thing on numbers I didn’t mention - mana cost. LuminousSkon is 9, Knell is 8. By Duelyst logic, everything goes if it’s 8 mana+, game is supposed to end by that time. That would be fine, probably, when you lose or win because you reached the point where both players throw answer-or-die bombs and the first to not answer loses. It was like that at some point.

Trials on the other hand are designed to win 2-3 turns earlier, on 6-7 mana, with added possibility of doing it sooner. If want to compare them to existing non-Trial decks, you should consider other decks of that mana range - Artifacts, burn, aggro to an extent.

So, if you wanna talk numbers, Trials are not fine because they make the game shorter. Too short.

Now, on your counterpoints.

  1. Tempo, aggro, control are not race against the clock. You can outtempo, outheal, outaggro them. Game may stall and go well past 9 mana, until someone exhausts their resources.
    Arcanyst Lilithe is slow (8 mana), inconsistent (you need to draw Shroud, Knell, and result is still not guaranteed), it still folds without Owlbeast, it loses to boardclears and dispels. There is a number of things you can do. But again, most importantly the decks you named are not guaranteed to play their wincons even if you reach required mana. Trials are guaranteed.
  2. Talking to someone who isn’t listening is not a conversation, it’s a monologue. They ignore your board not because it’s not threatening but because only your win depends on that board. There are other uninteractive decks, but none of them have any additional, built in, automatic condition which makes the game more favorable to them at some point.
  3. Additional turns mean nothing if it’s just delaying the loss.

Honestly, I’m not sure if there is any point in arguing with you and I’m not even sure what is your own point. At first it seems like you intentionally don’t want to recognize what’s wrong with Trials, then you unnecessary simplify everything to numbers. 2 damage per turn is a small number, 8 damage per turn is a big number. But how much is drawing an additional card? How much is teleporting one space? How much is doing something on your next turn? There is not just numbers, for numbers there’s sudoku and dice. There are interactions, choices, positioning, draws and many other things that make this game something more than just comparing numbers on cards. There is design, good, bad, one that rewards you for anticipating, calculating, being lucky and the one that rewards you unconditionally. And when you try to play a civilized game of chess and you opponent just drops a football on your pieces and says “I win” just because referee allowed them to, there is something to be disappointed about.


I think @alplod’s reply is better than mine. Both shorter and more on point.


I agree with Ryousen. Imho trials was the attempt of CPG to create strong late game cards for control decks. A control deck needs a reliable late game bomb in order to win. Back in the day we had stuff like variax and meltdown and we still have stuff like finality and ice age/ww. Note that all of this requires no set up unlike all trials. At the end off the day what really matters in Duelyst is how good your deck is at keeping tempo and trials struggles a lot in that regard (with the exception of wanderer and guess what is the best trial?). Thats the reason why they are not top tier decks. And at the end thats what mattters

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