Minion Masters: Forced to Duel is the newest game developed by BetaDwarf who have worked on the FORCED series up until now. This card based strategy game has you defending your base from attack as both sides of the battlefield spend mana to summon monsters, knights and defences. In a slight combination of games like Hearthstone and real-time strategy games, Minion Masters boasts a unique yet easy to understand battle system.
Minion Masters currently has 3 game modes, Solo, Online and Draft. The Solo mode as you fight your way through the tutorial, teaching you how to play, and then through a set path of NPC enemies. Making your way out of the tutorial you will face Intro battles, Hard and then Expert, getting rewarded when you complete each path.
Online mode has you facing off against another player, the winner is rewarded experience, gold and rank points. As you continue to win you will gain a higher rank and get set up against higher rank opponents. Draft is a mode that forces you to create a deck from random cards, putting you into a survival mode, with this random deck you will gain better rewards the longer your win streak. There are plans for 2on2 battles and even guilds.
As of this preview, the solo mode is rather short, completing it within a couple of hours, although the game seems set up more for online battles. As you play through the game, and level up, you will gain better cards to use in battle and better champions. Starting off can be quite difficult as players can purchase Rubies to improve their decks, with premium players gaining double exp among other rewards.
The game is rather straightforward, going for an easy to learn but hard to master approach to gameplay. When a battle starts you will begin with 4 Mana, which is used to summon units from your cards. You can hold 4 cards in your hand, when 1 is used you will draw a new one from your deck, which cycles through its cards as the game goes on. Each card summons a different unit, from swarms of units, bigger units or even towers to shoot down approaching units.
In the middle of the map there are 2 control zones, which give the player who controls them xp, which will power up their champion in battle. As you gain xp you will unlock 3 abilities, from allowing your champion to shoot at enemies or to summon an extra unit whenever you use a summoning card.
A match is won when one player reaches 0 from 3000 hp of their champion. It is a very simple concept and refines a bit on the already established card systems at hand with other games. However, this simplicity can also be seen as a downfall, the game itself becomes stale and repetitive after 4 matches, however you will still find matches where the winner is not decided until the very end, against matches where the winner can be decided within the first minute.
The game features a rock-paper-scissors balance, swarms of units can deal with slower singular units, ranged can take out flying units and flying units can do wonders against those that lack ranged abilities. This system can be thrown out though, with plenty of better cards on offer from random draws that allow players an edge. Legendary cards and those that require crafting will put you further ahead of the game, allowing you to completely dominate newer players.
Overall thoughts and feelings
Sadly the soundtrack at hand for Minion Masters is very lacklustre, while it is fantasy based, the drums and tribal sounds become mish-mashed and unenjoyable. With 2 tracks playing on loop for the menu and the battles, the music will become another tiresome, repetitive aspect to the game. If there was more variety in the soundtrack this wouldn’t be such a major concern, but I found myself sticking my own music on after 5 hours of listening to the same track over and over.
Minion Masters asks for a lot from its player base, in its early-access stage it asks for £3.99, giving you a bonus pack in-game. However on full-release this game will be free-to-play, which is really in your face with the amount of pay-to-win that goes on through its rubies and card drawing system. Since the 1st November 2016, the game has had 25 updates, while some people argue they improved the game others have said they have ruined its playability.
As it stands, Minion Masters isn’t worth the purchase, as it will become free-to-play later on, with even more features besides its roadmap. The matchmaking isn’t great, as I have been put up against players much higher than myself. Sadly, as the move towards more pay-to-win and premium currency over a purchased game, this game deserves to land on mobiles rather than PC. Fans of Hearthstone or Clash Royale may find some enjoyment here, but find the more in-depth mechanics and polished state of those games better than Minion Masters.