Have been working on this for a while. The concept is still very much a Work In Progress. Will be edited in the future, either fixing the cards that are already here or releasing a new expansion’s worth, revising the lore or changing core mechanics/thematics entirely, conceptualizing visuals etc. etc.
The goal of this project is to design a full faction that will be so detailed and interesting that it will appear to be real. Please, throw any comments/criticism at me as bluntly as you must. If you like the lore but hate the designs or love the designs but hate the lore, tell me all the crazy changes you would make so we can collaborate to improve this faction.
The U’ami Coven
The U’ami are a coalition of secluded mages and outcasts, hailing from various city states across the entirety of Mythron.
During the Age of Decay, wherein the planet showed the first signs of its descent into chaos, an enigmatic Aestari Archmage revealed her intention to abandon the continent to her coven. A’u’ala insisted to her peers that Mythron was already doomed to collapse by Draug’s greed, and that the only alternative was to join her own personal city state, one that could sustain itself indefinitely and survive whatever environmental threat would manifest in the coming years. The Counsel rejected with her designs, but a select few mages joined A’u’ala in constructing the floating city of Ala’i, an independent biosphere powered by whatever crystals her coven could secret away from the new crystal mandates. They worked for one year in secrecy until Draug’s inquisitors caught wind of their efforts, at which point A’u’ala propelled the unfinished project into the sea. She, her allies, and the common folk who lept at the prospect of starting anew piloted the mobile city across open water, evading Draug’s warships until the Consular’s influence was far behind them.
The first generation of U’ami would not set foot on land for another fifty years, living off of the livestock and produce that the city could produce. Food was never too little, thanks to the tireless study and adjustments made by A’u’ala and her Coven of Nine. Magic also returned to the lives of the common Aestari, who relearned the truth of their race’s arcane proficiency under A’u’ala’s supervision. Even in the face of the ever growing storms, A’u’ala’s magic stood strong and turned chaos away without issue. The research of the Archmages continued as they pored through A’u’ala’s extensive libraries, and without ever touching the shore they founded two more floating cities, Solace and Syr. Floating free from the shackles of Aestaria, the U’ami studied the arcane arts, voyaged to all seven continents, and even descended to the ocean floor, discovering unclaimed petals of the Great Tree of Eyos and deadly creatures such as the enormous horned Kalkalan. Wherever they made land, new spirits would join their ranks, seeking the life of unbridled exploration on the high seas.
Though she lived to the age of one hundred and fifty seven, artificial life extension could only sustain A’u’ala for so long, as she was but a mortal being. In her place, sons and daughters of the original Coven of Nine were left to govern the fleet of floating cities. Among them were architects, sages, artists, and mages, all committed to the same path of study and seclusion. However, among these children were also Generals, who knew the use of combat proficiency and military tact. And once the Bloodbound emerged amongst them, the U’ami understood that their existence could not be forever spent as fugitives from the continent…
A long removed descendant of the Songhai Empire and genius military commander. The potency of her storm magic is only rivalled by her deadly precision on the battlefield.
Bloodbound Spell - Stormcrafting: Deal 2 damage to ANY joined unit.
A long removed descendant of the Lyonar Kingdom and expert naval tactician. Subtle manipulations of water currents allow his troops to outmaneuver any enemy on the high seas.
Bloodbound Spell - Tideweaving: Move an enemy minion 1 space.
Lore + Art Direction
A sketch I made of what Solace and Syr might look like now, as Mythron enters the age of anti-entropic fields and floating citadels. Though they are no longer strictly bound to the turbulent ocean below, the U’ami still associate closely with water. Water pools at the bottom of the arcane biosphere in a floating sea, then is filtered, collected, and reused once more. The reliance on crystals has concerned many of the Coven of Nine, who debate the appropriate environmental mandates to reduce the need to participate in Duelyst.
Note the design inspirations from Lyonar and Vetruvian architecture, as the cities themselves were founded out of respect for these empires’ great accomplishments in the arcane. The U’ami have become increasingly diverse over the years, recruiting apprentice mages, free thinkers and common folk from the nations they pay visit to. Some form smaller, segmented communities within the U’ami cities, such as the Thunderpoint Clan of Ala’i, comprised primarily of rogue electromancers from Xaan.
An early art direction for Kahako Shockmage, Prismarine Assistant, and Xaanborn Thunderpoint. Turtle shells and Nautiluses play into the water theme of the U’ami, while balls of Lightning and pink highlights demonstrate their arcane inclinations. We already talked about the Thunderpoint Clan, who draw plenty of influence from their Songhai brethren, so let’s discuss the Prismarine Harvesters.
The U’ami’s most prosperous age, immediately after the founding of Solace, began with the discovery of the Prismarine Spires at the bottom of the Restless Sea. These natural formations were simultaneously smooth as marble, hard as steel, and bright as the sun, emitting enough light to illuminate an entire ecosystem on the deep sea floor. Prismarine would serve the U’ami as a useful material for aspiring architects, sculptors, and artificers, as well as an excellent resonant for magical energy. The central tower of Ala’i in particular is commonly described as “overrun” by Prismarine constructs, carrying messages between researchers in the various wings and archives.
The city of Ala’i, pictured with two curious sea serpents. While the cities Solace and Syr, lighter and more experimental, adapted easily to the advent of anti-entropic levitation fields, Ala’i was slower in taking to the skies. Still, the seas grew more turbulent, and the people of Ala’i were increasingly taxed by the effort of diverting arcane storms. The Coven mage Ulu’ala devised a solution: to submerge the city below the thermocline, where the storms could no longer affect the city’s barriers at all. Deep in the ocean, Ala’i could devote less crystals and less manpower to maintaining their barriers, instead relying on Ulu’ala’s anti-entropic designs to protect the city from the undersea pressures.
Today, Ala’i cruises along the sea floor most of the time, allowing researchers easy access to arcanobiological phenomena and the Vents of Eyos. This, along with the fact that the central tower houses some of the deepest and most revered tomes in its massive libraries, makes Ala’i a veritable mage’s paradise. It is a heavy decision to abandon natural sunlight, but many immigrate to Ala’i in pursuit of the most prestigious academic institutions the Coven has to offer. When the city must ascend to make contact with the world above, the central tower of Ala’i activates a process known as Breach and breaks the surface with the speed of a charging Hippokamp. The city Breaches once a month on a strict schedule, rising into the air to join directly with Solace and Syr, passing information and people back and forth.
One of many sea monsters attacking a lowtech tradeship. The seas of Mythron have devolved into madness, making them unsafe for nearly all intruders. Manastorms tear through most materials with arcane lightning, striking with what seems like malicious intent and setting unfortunate naval vessels ablaze. The water itself moves in unpredictable, impossible ways, befuddling navigators until they finally pilot themselves into a swirling vortex. Finally, the creatures that dwell in the seas will prey on any adventurer who can successfully bypass all other obstacles. Kalkalan and Ala’ian Rake are among the smallest, while Dagona and Gulpers such as the one pictured above come in larger variants.
The U’ami are comprised of many different people from all factions, which inevitably results in stark cultural boundaries being drawn. These distinctions are blurrier within academic institutions, but within the markets and industrial districts one can easily distinguish Lyonar neighborhoods from Songhai and Abyssian. Architecture, cuisine, and customs may vary wildly from region to region, along with clothing and beliefs. Mixing of cultures, however, is extremely common, creating strange combinations of tradition only seen in the enlightened halls of the U’ami.
Many cultural societies exist within the three U’ami cities, providing a beacon for others of their heritage. The Xaanborn and Windcliffe societies are most prominent in the universities of Solace, training students in meteorology, naval combat, and diplomacy. The Kaeran and Magaari are well established in the artificer’s guilds of Syr, crafting the strongest tools and most precise arcane instruments Mythron has ever witnessed. The Shartouched, who are most accustomed to darkness, have the strongest following in the city of Ala’i, refining the art of elemental manashaping to the point of godliness.
Notes on Theme
When designing this new faction concept, I put a lot of thought into what thematic niche could be filled in Duelyst that had not been filled before. We already had sun knights, desert robots, fire ninjas, nature dinosaurs, shadow monsters, and ice barbarians. What element/archetype wasn’t explored? There were angels, cowboys, and aliens, but none of them felt truly unique from the existing factions. It was honestly pretty annoying: there weren’t even any simple color palettes available (the main 6 have all primary and secondary colors already).
I figured Water was a good element to start from, and just extrapolated from there. I played around with Pirates (an idea I’d already done before) and Scientists (an idea I’d seen before), but always considered both ideas to be too tropey. Duelyst’s factions are all about classic archetypes “with a twist”. Then it hit me: I could just combine the two. Sprinkle a little Pacific Islander theming into the mix, and it started looking like a real faction! Seafaring Magic Scientists with a water attribute and deep sea knowledge: what a concept
Oh, and for colors, I decided a pink/teal combination would be expressive enough for Duelyst and unique enough from the other factions, if only just to fill some design space in my mind.
You might notice that a lot of minion names are made with the Hawaiian alphabet in mind, though they’re mostly gibberish or puns (example: Pa’ua = Power). Some are also corruptions on words from other languages (example: Hippokamp = Hippocampus, Kalkalan = Karkadann)
All the names are still subject to change, especially some of the more basic ones (Kahako Shockmage feels a little forced)
Conceal: This minion cannot be targeted by attacks or spells until the end of your next turn or until attacking. This minion cannot have Provoke while it has Conceal.
- A revolutionary, anti-removal ability that may be properly restricted and controlled by limiting it to one faction.
Flow: Whenever a nearby friendly unit moves or is moved, this minion moves the same way, if possible. Will not follow Flying minions or teleport effects.
- A positioning based ability that supplies very high mobility without outright giving Flying. Allows you to play minions out of range of enemies, once again playing into the theme of hiding away your resources until the correct time to strike.
To clarify, when an effect reads, “Do X to all joined units,” it affects all units joined to your General by other units. If it is more specific, for example “all joined enemy minions,” it will affect all units joined to your General by that specific type of unit. On a spell, the effect starts from your General unless otherwise specified.
Path of Pa’ua / Basic Spell / 1 Mana
Move ANY minion in a straight line, but not through units.
- Synergizing with Flow, this spell allows you to move a whole group of minions at once across the board.
Riptide / Basic Spell / 2 Mana
Deal 2 damage to all enemy minions nearby your General.
- A positioning based aoe to fend off surround swarming. Does not push face damage, but does help the “big aoe, big swarms” theme of the U’Ami. May be the token “above average” spell for this faction.
Seal Away / Basic Spell / 2 Mana
Stun and dispel a minion for 2 turns.
- Basically remove a minion from the game for 2 turns, after which it rejoins reality. Great for ruining your opponent’s tempo, especially against long range value minions like Shadowdancer or 4winds.
Bouncing Beam / Basic Spell / 4 Mana
Deal 3 damage to all joined enemies.
- A basic mass removal spell, like Frostburn but cheaper and more conditional. The U’Ami are all about Joined minion effects, this being the first of many. Your opponent is highly encouraged to spread out, as if constantly battling a live Thunderhorn.
Strength of Many / Basic Spell / 5 Mana
Give a friendly minion +2/+2 for each joined friendly unit.
- The U’Ami needed a finisher, and I thought of Vespyrian Might as an example for a game ender. If you let the U’Ami build their army too quickly, they’ll pull you under.
Memoriam Locket / Basic Artifact / 0 Mana
When this Artifact is destroyed, draw a card.
- A cantripping Artifact, which temporarily reduces your hand size but thins your deck very effectively.
Aquaveil Clerk / Basic Minion / 2 Mana / 3/1
- A 2 mana opening minion that can trade up into most minions. Is only removable via aoe, so its wisest to play a 1/4 or some similar minion into this opener.
Tritonite Racer / Basic Minion / 3 Mana / 5/3
- An overstatted, hyper mobile damage dealer. Great intro to Flow as a mechanic: try to move the Bloodshard Golem into the best possible position!
Swashwater Guard / Basic Minion / 5 Mana / 4/4
Opening Gambit: Summon a copy of this minion nearby.
- Great for Joined minion effects, and a solid ball of stats.
Daze / Common Spell / 1 Mana
Reduce the enemy General’s attack to 0 this turn.
- For a faction all about swarming, sidestepping the enemy General’s attack value is paramount. Use this before going face with your huge army.
Waterweave / Common Spell / 2 Mana
Give a friendly minion Conceal. Draw a card.
- Great for protecting valuable, expensive minions or messing with Conceal synergies. Great future enabler.
Windspeaker’s Blessing / Common Spell / 1 Mana
Give a friendly minion +1/+1 for each time it moved or was moved this turn.
- A strong buff for a Flow based deck, combo potential at the cost of card disadvantage.
A’u’ala Tempest / Common Spell / 6 Mana
Destroy all minions joined to your General.
- A big clearing spell, and one of my favorite concepts thus far. The almost-plasma storm that clears entire boards, but its in a clunky mana slot.
Wayfarer / Common Minion / 2 Mana / 0/1
Flow, Whenever this minion is moved, gain +1/+1.
- A Chakri Avatar for movement tricks and Flow shenanigans.
Polluted Nymph / Common Minion / 3 Mana / 3/2
Opening Gambit: Give all joined enemy minions -1 Attack.
- A weakening spell-on-legs to soften up your opponent’s swarm.
Deep Meditator / Common Minion / 4 Mana / 6/6
Flow, Cannot move.
- “Cannot move” does not mean “Cannot be moved”. Overstatted minion that can easily be manipulated around with smart movements.
Forgotten Kalkalan / Common Minion / 6 Mana / 10/5
- Big minions wear conceal best, as they are the ones most vulnerable to removal. This one in particular is a potential game ender.
Veil Breaching / Rare Spell / 3 Mana
Give a Concealed minion +2 Attack. Conceal it at the end of your turn.
- A conceal-specific assassin skill. Excellent for protecting powerful Conceal minions.
Dual Imbue / Rare Spell / 3 Mana
Give 2 friendly minions +2 Attack and Flow.
- A now we begin the dance of death… get two minions to partner up and dance their way to aggro range. Gives massive reach to your bigger minions.
Aether Absorb / Rare Spell / 5 Mana
Destroy an enemy minion. Your General gains Forcefield until the end of your turn.
- Unconditional removal and trading potential, a great way for your General to tango on the front lines and continue moving your Flow minions/enable your big aoe spells.
Prismarine Assistant / Rare Minion / 1 Mana / 0/3
- A Flow enabler, is helpful for shuffling your Flow minions around.
Kahako Shockmage / Rare Minion / 3 Mana / 2/3
- Frenzy minions are always removed too quickly. This here is a Frenzy minion who will almost always survive to attack.
Charging Hippokamp / Rare Minion / 4 Mana / 4/5
Opening Gambit: Move this minion and all units in front of it forward 2 spaces, if possible.
- A mass repositioning spell-on-legs, especially useful since it can move Generals.
Foresight / Epic Spell / 2 Mana
At the start of your next turn, all friendly minions gain +2 Attack until the end of your turn.
- Prepare for a big face damage turn, particularly with multiple concealed minions on the board.
Rainsprite Visit / Epic Spell / 1 Mana
Your opponent summons a 0/2 Rainsprite with “Dying Wish: Your opponent draws a card.”
- Chain together larger groups of Joined enemies for use with your big aoe spells, then use the Dying Wish to refuel.
Voracious Knowledge / Epic Spell / 5 Mana
Draw 6 cards. Deal 3 damage to your General for each card you overdraw.
- Hand refill for when you’ve dumped your whole hand into board advantage and face damage.
Prismarine Lodestone / Epic Artifact / 1 Mana
Your General has Flow.
- This is the card that gives the U’Ami the most General mobility in the game. Great playful Artifact for messing around with.
Spirit Guard / Epic Minion / 1 Mana / 4/5
At the start of your turn, destroy this minion and draw a card.
- A bodyblocker and cantrip minion.
Ghost Frigate / Epic Minion / 5 Mana / 4/5
Conceal, At the start of your turn, gain Conceal.
- An eternally untouchable, untargetable wall.
Manashaping Experiment / Legendary Spell / 3 Mana
Place a 3/3 Experimental Archon in your action bar with the abilities of all friendly minions.
- The Archon is basically a 6 Mana minion, but when you play it onto a board of Zyx and Ash Mephyt you’ll find his body more than passable.
Seclusion / Legendary Spell / 5 Mana
Grant all friendly minions Conceal. Draw a card.
- Conceal is so strong it really does deserve this kind of mana cost.
A’u’ala’s Prod / Legendary Artifact / 3 Mana
At the end of your turn, deal 2 damage to all joined enemies.
- Coldbiter for joined circuits of minions.
Silent Curator / Legendary Minion / 3 Mana / 1/3
Conceal, The first minion you summon from your Action Bar each turn gains Conceal.
- Old Vindicator for Conceal, again, such a strong ability.
Tide Brother Pa’ua / Legendary Minion / 4 Mana / 1/5
Flow, When a friendly unit Flows, grant it +2 Attack until the end of your turn.
- The “Sister” card for this faction. One of the main finishers for a Flow based deck.
Xaanborn Thunderpoint / Legendary Minion / 7 Mana / 7/7
When a friendly unit attacks the enemy General, grant it +2/+2.
- Go face, your minions will barely get hurt anyway! This is a game ender in most cases.
The U’ami (according to what I can put together) fall into 3 basic archetypes: Conceal Control, Midrange Swarm and Aggro Flow.
Aggro Flow functions like a semi-combo archetype revolving around building a big enough board presence to acheive lethal with Flow shenanigans. Pa’ua and Windspeaker’s Blessing are powerful yet cheap finishers which will challenge your positioning skills and run down your opponent, while Warfarer can dominate the early game. From there on, you can load the deck with the best aggro tools: Dual Imbue will turn even the simplest Primus Fist or Flameblood Warlock into a killing machine, especially with the aforementioned Windspeaker’s and Pa’ua. As a bonus combo piece, one might equip a Prismarine Lodestone: if you have a Pa’ua on the field, even your General can become a 10 damage threat.
Midrange Swarm is a terrifying beast to face when up against the U’ami. Aquaveil Clerk and Swashwater Guard are star players when it comes to tossing heavy board states at your opponent, along with the standard Zyx and neutral 2 drops. Eventually your opponent will run out of aoe and you’ll overrun them with the card advantage from Voracious Knowledge, making them easy targets for Strength of Many as a finisher. Dual Imbue and Xaanborn Thunderpoint also make appearances as secondary finishers. Even without these finishers, a good turn with Daze will allow you to push massive face damage for few repercussions.
Conceal Control is a monstrous deck that takes full advantage of the Conceal mechanic’s ability to stow away expensive minions. Spirit Guard, Seal Away, and Memoriam Locket deter early aggression, allowing you to deploy the Ghost Frigates and A’u’ala’s Tempests. Late game onwards, the U’ami can play Silent Curator into 2 consecutive value minions, allowing them to build stronger board states than any other faction can in the cutthroat, remove-or-die meta of the ladder. Waterweave and Veil Breaching continue to be key players through all stages of the game, and Path of Pa’ua gives a surprising amount of mobility to heavy bodied Neutral threats. If all else fails, Forgotten Kalkalan will make your opponent tear their hair out trying to get rid of it.
Million Manashapers is a jank deck based on the abuse of certain Opening Gambits. Consider the following turn: Ash Mephyt -> Zyx -> Manashaping Experiment. The following turn, you play the Archon, giving you 9 3/3s for 3 Mana. It gets even more hilarious if you have a Silent Curator, Ghost Frigate, Wayfarer or otherwise value oriented minion out. Imagine: 9 3/3s that summon 3/3 Ghost Wolves with random effects.
- Dual Imbue: 2 Mana -> 3 Mana
- Foresight: 0 Mana -> 2 Mana
- Spirit Guard: 5/5 -> 4/5
- Tideweaving (Triton Wakeworth’s BBS): Move an enemy minion 2 spaces. -> Move an enemy minion 1 space.
- Both BBS now have names (and are no longer labeled as Bloodborn spells, oops!)
- Stormcrafting (Yoana Lahahana’s BBS): Deal 2 damage to a joined enemy. -> Deal 2 damage to ANY joined unit.
Seeing that the following cards were attracting concern, I looked over potential reworks and realized that the iterations I had were simply… uninteresting. As it stood, they were rehashes of other cards already in the game, so I had 2 reasons to change them. I hope these new cards really help define the U’ami faction and set it apart from the rest.
- Blue Eyes Trident removed. (5 Mana / Your General gains +6 Attack.)
- Veil Emergence removed. (2 Mana / Give a Concealed minion +3 Attack. It takes no damage this turn.)
- New Basic Artifact: Memoriam Locket (0 Mana / When this Artifact is destroyed, draw a card.)
- New Rare Spell: Veil Breaching (3 Mana / Give a Concealed minion +2 Attack. Conceal it at the end of your turn.)
- Polluted Nymph: Opening Gambit: Give all joined enemy minions -1/-1. -> Opening Gambit: Give all joined enemy minions -1 Attack.
- Waterweave: 1 Mana -> 2 Mana