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The Fate of Duel of Champions

Dla wersji polskiej przejdź tutaj: Losy Duel of Champions
Duel of Champions was a free-to-play (with micro-transaction options) trading card game set in the Might & Magic world. Released in 2012, it gained a lot of popularity not only with M&M fans, but also with many players who were new to the franchise. It was expanded with multiple add-ons containing hundreds of new cards and many new gameplay modes. However only after two years, in 2014 its development was heavily slowed down and a year later - completely halted. To help us understand the fate of Duel of Champions, including not previously known plans for its further development, we got in touch with Théo Gallego, Might & Magic Game Director at Ubisoft. We thank Théo for this Q&A made especially for Acid Cave.

DoC was very popular in Poland around 2013-14, as it was around the world. People were looking forward to its further development. What happened?

DoC was developed by Ubisoft Quebec. At the peak of DoC popularity, most of the initial team had already moved on to work on Assassin´s Creed Syndicate, which was the biggest project for Ubisoft Quebec. This is something that happens all the time in the industry, and the "live" team that remained was cut short of people so they weren´t able to produce as much content as before. Additionally, the TCG (Trading Card Game) market became very tough because of HearthStone (notably) and DoC development became less strategic for Ubisoft.

In the early days of development one of the authors asked about the total planned number of factions said that it would be "greater than 5, less than 12". However only one more faction was added - the Academy. Were there plans for more?

Well, there were 6 factions so he was technically right ;). When you want to add a faction to DoC, that requires creating something like 100 new cards, new mechanisms, a lot of artworks, it really required a lot of development. So the team made the choice to release "small" content often and not major updates with a new faction. And as I explained earlier, at some point it became impossible to let the game run for months without any update.

Are there or were there any plans for a sequel?

The Might & Magic team proposed a plan for a sequel or, at least, a reboot of DoC early 2015. The analysis of what could be better in DoC had been made beforehand and so we immediately went to work. We were a team of 3 people and our mandate was to have a DoC 2.0 as fast as possible. The team members were: Victor Malineau as Producer; Sandra de Gréef as 2D/UI Artist and myself as Lead Game Designer. The project was cancelled mid-2015. The reasons behind it were multiple. The TCG market was very crowded and more games were scheduled. Additionally, no studio was available for this kind of project at that time and we needed developers to start the actual game.

Can you tell us what was the storyline going to be about? Was there a storyline at all?

The focus wasn´t on the story but more on refining DoC mechanisms. So the plan was to have the same DoC story (not even at launch because we had to rework all the fights to integrate the new cards), maybe enhanced by a better UI. Then we would have released one new "chapter" with each new faction (see below).

Which factions did you plan for DoC 2?

The plan was to have, at launch, Haven, Inferno, Necropolis, Stronghold, Academy, Sanctuary (which is my favorite faction!) and, cherry on the cake, the Sylvans! After that, we intended to add the Dungeon for the launch of Heroes 7 and then the Fortress faction for the add-on!

What were the most significant differences planned between DoC and DoC 2? Any new game mechanics or features?

We had changed a whole lot of things so I´ll only go with the main ones here!
First and foremost we had removed the whole Fortune statistic and cards. I know this sounds harsh but Fortune cards had been a nightmare ever since the beginning and we felt they weren´t "necessary" to DoC. We also removed Buildings and Events cards (I can hear screams of rage already, I was prepared for that :). Some of the Fortune cards were switched to a new "Magic" school that was called "Warfare".
We also changed the resource point system. Basically, Might & Magic stats were now resources. At the beginning of your turn, you decided whether you augmented Might or Magic and then you spent your points.
So, as an example, if you had 5 Might and 3 Magic, you could play one creature that cost 3 Might and another one that cost 2 Might. At that point you had 3 Magic points remaining which allowed you to cast a spell worth 3! Some (powerful) cards required both Might & Magic to be spent.

Another very big change is that we drastically reduced the number of faction cards. We felt that, in DoC, neutral cards were, most of the time, useless. So, I greatly improved their capacities and reduced the numbers of faction cards. The faction cards remained the "core" of the deck, working very well with any hero of the faction, but now you could expand your ideas with all the neutral cards and create some crazy decks. That also allowed us to create factions much more easily than in DoC1 since that would only require a few cards to be created.
In the same vein, you would have been able to use any Magic School minus one. For instance, Necropolis heroes couldn´t use Light spells but were able to use all the other!

And then quickly: new economic system (closer to HearthStone), modifications of the keywords, better UI, retaliation would be the value same as the attack one, etc...

Exactly how many cards would be strictly "faction cards" for a single faction in DoC 2?

At launch, there would have been 13 factions cards per faction (including two heroes). This number would have grown with time of course but I was planning on 2 or 3 new faction cards per release. Each faction had one super strong legendary creature though ;). It was a very big difference compared to DoC, First of His Name, but there were a lot of advantages to this. First the production cost of a new faction. And then, it "forced" the players to search for neutral cards that had synergies with their hero, creating more diversity in the game.

Is there any chance we will see a DoC 2 or another Might & Magic card game in the future?

This is definitely a possibility and I´d be very excited about it. I hope you like the direction we were going :).

interview done by Acid Dragon in autumn 2016.
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