Duels were introduced in the Oops, You Did It Again set. Unlike most of the other Mechanics, Duels aren't added material such as cards or counters. Duels are started by card abilities through the "duel" keyword and when it happens, two minions face off, the minion with the higher power winning the duel for its controller. However, their respective controllers have the opportunity to play one action in order to change the outcome. The consequences of a duel depend on the card that started it.
- Main article: Rules
- Challenger or challenging player: The player who played/invoked the ability that started the duel.
- Challenged player: The controller of the opposing minion, chosen by the challenger.
- Dueling cards: The cards placed face down on the table when a duel is first resolved. Those cards are not "buried"; they aren't placed face down on a base and revealing them does not count as an uncovering. They aren't in play, in hand, in deck or in discard pile either and so they can't be targeted by abilities while face down.
- Effect of a duel: After a duel ends normally, i.e. with both minions still in play and on the same base, the ability that started the duel will specify what the effects of that duel are. It can be beneficial to the winning minion and/or harmful to the losing minion.
- In a duel: A minion is "in a duel" if it's one of the two minions designated at the start of the duel. Being in a duel doesn't count as affecting either minion.
- Losing minion: The minion in a duel with the lower power at the end of that duel. In case of a tie, both minions are losing minions (as well as winning minions).
- Winner or winning minion: The minion in a duel with the higher power at the end of that duel. It's also said that that minion "wins the duel". In case of a tie, both minions are winning minions (as well as losing minions).
How to Start a Duel
When a player plays a card or uses an ability that has the "duel" keyword, that player must designate two minions in play, usually with some restrictions, that will duel. The player who initiates the duel is referred to as the "challenger".
Being "in a duel" doesn't count as affecting either minion. However, cards that are played during the duel and the effects of the duel may affect them.
A duel always involves two different players, each one being the controller of one of the minions at the start of the duel.
- Sheriff - Its controller can make it duel another player's minion on its base before the base scores.
- Honorable Combat - The player who plays it must choose one of their minions and one of the minions on the same base controlled by another player who has more total power there. The two minions duel.
- So-So Corral - A player who plays a minion there can make it duel another player's minion on the same base.
Resolving the Duel
While a duel is happening, because you are actually in the middle of resolving the ability of a card, Talent and "on your turn" abilities cannot be invoked. Similarly, while resolving the duel, you cannot play your regular cards or spend any extra card plays "banked" prior to the duel.
Note that this is not a special rule about duels, it's just a normal rule of Smash Up: you cannot play cards or invoke abilities while in the middle of resolving an ability unless explicitly allowed by the interrupting card.
The only cards you'll be able to play and the only abilities you'll be able to invoke are the "dueling cards", card plays granted during the duel and cards triggered by the duel itself or by the cards involved in the duel.
- Deputy - Its ability can be invoked "during a duel involving your minion".
- Pinkerton - Its ability can be invoked "when one of your minions here is in a duel".
Once the two minions of the duel are determined, here's how to resolve the duel:
Step 1. The challenger may place one of the cards from their hand face down on the table. That card is referred to as a "dueling card".
Step 2. The challenged player may place one of the cards from their hand face down on the table. That card is also referred to as a "dueling card".
Step 3. If they chose a card in step 1, the challenger must reveal their dueling card first. If it is an action, they must play it immediately as an extra action. Otherwise, the card is just returned to their hand.
Step 4. If they chose a card in step 2, the challenged player must reveal their dueling card next. If it is an action, they must play it immediately as an extra action. Otherwise, the card is just returned to their hand.
Step 5. If the two minions of the duel are still in play and on the same base (not necessarily the same base as the one where the duel started), then the highest-power minion wins and the other loses. In case of a tie, both minions are considered as the winning and the losing minions.
- If the dueling cards or any card abilities resulting from them can affect minions, there is no obligation to affect any of the minions involved in the duel.
- If the dueling cards or any card abilities resulting from them immediately start a duel, that duel is ignored.
- If a dueling card is an action whose entire effect cannot be done (e.g. there are no eligible target, or its condition for play isn't met), then it is discarded.
- During step 5, if the two minions are on two different bases or if one or both minions are out of play, then the duel ends without further resolution and none of the effects of the duel are resolved.
- Note that if one or both dueling cards cause a minion to leave play and be replayed (e.g. Do Over!), then it counts as if the previous minion is out of play, which will cause the duel to end without resolution. Replaying it actually counts as if you played a new minion, even though it's physically the same.
- If one or both minions change controllers, it doesn't stop the duel. It could however change how the effects of the duel are resolved. For example, if an effect refers to the "controller of the winning minion", it will be the winning minion's current controller, not the controller it had at the start of the duel!
Effects of a Duel
Once the duel ends normally, i.e. the two minions involved in the duel are still in play and on the same base as each other, the card that started the duel details what the reward and/or punishment are for the winning minion and/or the losing minion.
If the duel didn't end normally, none of the effects are resolved.
If the duel ended in a tie between the two minions, both minions are considered the winning minions and the losing minions at the same time and so both get the same reward and/or punishment.
- Gunfighter - The losing minion is destroyed by Gunfighter's controller. In case of a tie, both minions are destroyed by Gunfighter's controller.
- Honorable Combat - The wining minion's controller gains 1 VP. In case of a tie, both controllers gain 1 VP each.
- High Noon - The losing minion is destroyed by High Noon's player and, if High Noon's player controls the winning minion at the end of the duel, they get an extra minion play. In case of a tie, both minions are destroyed by High Noon's player and, if High Noon's player's minion is actually destroyed, they don't get an extra minion play.
Dealing with duels
While duels are largely implemented in the Oops, You Did It Again set, most notably in the Cowboys and Samurai factions, not owning any of those two factions doesn't mean you have a severe disadvantage when one of your minions is in a duel. Here are a few tips:
- Actions that can increase a minion's power are key to winning duels and several factions have a few of them.
- Actions that can decrease a minion's power are great as well since if you can't win by boosting your minion, you can still win by lowering your opponent's minion's power.
- Actions that move minions are a great way to simply cancel the whole duel, so if you think you can't win it, just separate the two minions and you'll deny your opponent any reward from the duel or avoid any punishing effects to your minion.
- Actions that remove a minion from play. Plain and simple, get rid of your opponent's minion or return your minion to your hand to put an end to the duel and deny any reward to your opponent or avoid any punishment to your minion.
- Actions that take control of a minion. More situational, if you take control of your opponent's minion, you're certain to get the reward of the duel.
- Just playing an extra action. If you know you'll lose the duel no matter what, why not exploit the fact that you're getting an extra action play? If you have an action that will benefit you for that turn or a future turn, you could consider playing one just because you can.
Questions on duels
Q: I start a duel. I don't see it anywhere on the card but I suppose the losing minion is destroyed just like all other duel cards, righ?
A: No, it doesn't end in any minion's destruction. When dueling, check the card that started the duel. That card will actually say what happens at the end of the duel. And no, a duel doesn't necessarily mean that the losing minion will be destroyed. If it's the case, the card will actually say it. If it doesn't say it, then it's not the case.
Q: What's the order of when to place and when to resolve the face-down cards?
A: First, the player who initiated the duel decides if they want to place a face-down card. Then the other player does so as well. Second the player who initiated the duel reveals their face-down card and resolves it immediately as appropriate. Then the other player does so as well.
Q: I start a duel with another player's minion. I choose not to place a card face down. My opponent chooses to place one. Can I change my mind and place a card after all?
A: No, you already decided not to place one and cannot go back on that decision.
Q: I start a duel or I'm challenged to a duel. If I choose to place an action face down as my dueling card, do I have to choose an action that can affect a card?
A: No, you can choose any card from your hand as your dueling card. And if you choose an action, it can be any action, even one that cannot affect any card in play, or one that can affect cards not involved in the duel.
Q: I start a duel with another player's minion. After resolving the dueling cards I realize I won't win the duel. I have unspent card plays (e.g. a regular card play or a banked extra card play). Can I use them to play an extra card? Likewise, if there are talents I have yet to use.
A: No. Since you are resolving a duel, you are in the middle resolving a card's ability. As such, you cannot freely play a regular card, spend a banked extra card play or use a talent. You must first finish the full resolution of the card (including the reactions) and then when you're free to act, that's when you can play cards or use talents. You cannot do those in the middle of resolving an ability.
Rule: During a duel no other cards may be played or invoked, unless they are allowed by the duel’s actions (or by the cards allowed by the actions, etc.) or they are triggered by the duel or the cards involved in it.
Q: As my dueling card, I choose an action that can affect a minion. Do I have to affect either minion involved in the duel?
A: No, there is no such limitation mentioned in the rulebook. In fact, it just says that the action is played "normally". On the other hand, uncovering a card has this kind of explicit limitation mentioned in the rulebook, but playing a dueling card is different from uncovering a buried card. So it is safe to say you can choose to resolve your dueling action's ability however you want.
Q: As my dueling card, I choose an action that can temporarily increase/decrease a minion's power. Does that temporary change stop as soon as the duel ends?
A: No, the ability is applied normally so it will stop as soon as its specific deadline is met, even though it is the duel that allowed you to play that action.
Q: As my dueling card, I choose an action whose ability starts a duel (e.g. High Noon), or allows me to play an extra minion and I choose to immediately play a minion whose ability starts a duel (e.g. Gunfighter). Do I have to wait until the current duel is finished to start a new duel, or is the current duel put on hold while we resolve the new duel?
A: Actually, you simply ignore the new duel, as well as any of its effects because no duel can be initiated while a duel is being resolved.
Q: As my dueling card, I choose an action whose ability allows me to play an extra minion and I choose to immediately play the minion on a base that starts a duel after a minion is played there (e.g. Shogun’s Palace). I suppose that second duel is ignored, right?
A: No, this is not a case of a duel happening during another duel. The second duel here will happen after the current duel (and any other cards in the middle of resolution) is fully resolved. So there's no concurrency.
Q: I start a duel or I'm challenged to a duel. For my dueling card, I choose an action that can destroy a minion and I choose to destroy my opponent's minion, so I win the duel, right?
A: No, if at the end of the duel either one or both of the two minions aren't in play anymore, then the duel ends without resolution and there is no winner or loser.
Q: I'm challenged to a duel. Both my challenger and I chose to place a dueling card on the table. My challenger plays their dueling card first and weakens my minion by a lot, so much that playing my dueling card would do me no good. Can I choose not to play it and return it to my hand?
A: No, you chose to have a dueling card, so you must reveal it and if it is an action, you must play it. Also, remember that you can play your action however you want so if using it on your minion would do you no good, you can use it on another minion if you want.
Q: One of my minions is involved in a duel. As my dueling action, I play an action that grants me an extra minion play. Can I play it or because it's a duel any minion I want to play will return to my hand?
A: You can of course play it. The check to return a minion card is only for the dueling card. Here, your dueling card is an action, so you get to play it and since you're allowed to play it, it is resolved normally.
Q: One of my minions is involved in a duel. As my dueling action, I play an action that grants me an extra minion play. So I play the extra minion. If my extra minion allows me to increase the power of a minion, can I choose increase the power of my minion in a duel if it can help me win? Or am I only allowed to affect the minions in a duel with the dueling action?
A: You resolve all the cards you're allowed to play normally, so you can do whatever you want with them. There's no such restriction that only dueling actions are able to affect the dueling minions. And by the way, there's no obligation to affect the dueling minions either with any card either.
Q: One of my minions is involved in a duel. As my dueling action, I choose a Special action whose condition isn't met, e.g. Hidden Ninja when no base is scoring. Am I still allowed to use its effect? If not, is the action returned to my hand like if it was a minion?
A: You are not allowed to use the effect of the Special action since its play condition isn't met, so the card is discarded instead. It doesn't return to your hand as per the rules of the duel because it is not a minion and returning to hand is only done by the rules of the duel if you chose a minion as your dueling card.
Q: Can I duel a monster?
A: It depends. Currently, all the duel abilities have one of your minions duel "another player's minion", i.e. a minion controlled by another player. If you wish to duel an uncontrolled monster, then you can't because no player is controlling it. If another player does control the monster (e.g. because of Make Contact, Muffin, Charm, etc.), then you can duel it.
Q: I place my dueling card face down on Star Portal. Do I draw a card? It's placed face down so it's buried, right?
A: No and actually, you don't place your dueling card on any base. It's simply place on the table and isn't considered as placed on the playing field. Also, placing a dueling card face down is different from burying it. The two mechanics actually don't have any direct connection to each other.
Q: I have a Pharaoh in play. During a duel, the two players reveal their face down cards. Do I draw two cards? The dueling cards are flipped over so it counts as uncovering them, right?
A: No, placing a dueling card face down doesn't count as burying it and so revealing it is different from uncovering a buried card because the card is a buried one in the first place.
Q: I'm challenged to a duel. As a dueling card, the challenger plays an action that destroys my minion (e.g. Seeing Stars), but as my dueling card, I replay the destroyed minion (e.g. They Keep Coming). Does the duel still stop?
A: Yes, replaying a card is treated as playing a new card. So the minion that was involved in the duel is treated as having left play.
Q: I start a duel or I'm challenged to a duel. As a dueling card, I replace my dueling minion with another (e.g. Evolution, Radioactive Exposure). If the new minion has the higher power, I suppose I win the duel, right?
A: No, the duel actually ends without resolution. That's because when you carry out those actions' abilities, the first minion is destroyed, which means it left play. Playing a new minion in its stead won't transferring its involvement in the duel to the new minion. They are treated as two different minions.