I had been hoping that dipping into the world of video games with Portal 2 would help spark a trend, but then Pokémon Duel came out. Best laid plans of mice and 'Mon and all that...
In short, Duel is a clever and highly addictive merging of draughts, capture the flag and Magic the Gathering. You build a deck of figures and ability cards to battle other players, with the end goal of either taking your opponents goal space or forcing them into a stalemate. The actual board is very simple, with relatively few possible moves that can be made. The strategy, then, comes in the deck you build. By selecting complimentary Pokémon and boosting them using specific cards at opportune moments you can tailor each game to match your own play style. With pretty much all of the Pokémon known to date available to unlock, some of whom even have alternate models with slightly different abilities, there's a huge degree of flexibility possible in building a deck that works for you.
So far, you may be wondering why this is a Pokémon game. In large part, the Pokémon brand has been applied to make Duel easier to market and utilise an already existing fan base, but the core concepts of Pokémon are all maintained. Rather than catching monsters you unlock them through battling or completing specific missions. You can also buy them directly from the shop using the in-game 'Gems' currency. Pokémon don't gain experience from battling, like in the main series games, but instead can be trained and levelled up through 'Fusion'. Fusion works by effectively converting spare/unwanted Pokémon into experience (a little like Pokémon Go's Stardust system) or through the application of fusion material, which is unlocked in the same way as figures. There are no real stats involved, but each Pokémon has a specific set of abilities that effectively grant them high speed, offensive or defensive skills. These abilities can be slightly trained up as well, again through Fusion, but doing so only results in minute gains.
Those abilities are where the most Pokémon-like element of the game comes into play: battling. Whilst in a duel you can pit your figures against one another to try and activate abilities or capture board spaces from your opponent. These interactions are largely controlled by RNG, though through training your Pokémon or using certain cards you can effectively weight the dice in your favour. There are no type advantages, probably to make game balance simpler, though many Pokémon have specific always-on abilities that are related to their type. For example, many Fire types cannot be frozen (yes, status effects do exist and form a large part of certain strategies) and certain flying types can leap-frog other figures. The creators of Duel also occasionally put on Gym events that comprise of special boards, which only last a week or so, but often give certain Pokémon types distinct advantages.
The combination of all these factors means that Duel has a surprising degree of depth to the gameplay. The initial learning curve could be a little off putting for some, as the in-game tutorials are not particularly useful, but once you get the hand of the basic tactics you will find increasingly advanced strategies just begin to click into place. There are issues with some figures being slightly OP, leading to a certain staleness to the meta (*cough*Shuppet*cough*) but the developers are good at releasing monthly patches to balance out play styles and every Pokémon I've come across has had at least one hard counter.
Really, the only issue I've found with Duel is that there is an element of 'pay-to-play' that becomes increasingly apparent as you rank up. As someone who has played for two months, unlocked hundreds of critters and built several solid decks, all without paying a single penny, it does get a little discouraging playing in ranked games. Once you enter that arena, you can pretty much guarantee every opponent you play against will have a full deck of legendary or top-tier Pokémon. With that much firepower, RNG becomes an irritation, as no amount of training will level the playing field between a Bulbasaur and a Mewtwo. It is possible to unlock these big-hitting monsters for free by earning Gems from missions, but Gems can only purchase Booster Packs, which also rely on RNG. It is definitely more effective to simply buy top-tier figures with real money, and you can tell that this is the route a lot of players have taken. That said, Duel's strength is in the flexibility of gameplay, so by adjusting my play style to one which relies on battling as little as possible I have been able to achieve a decent rank and routinely place in the top 10,000 players during Gym events. It would just be really nice to roll a Mew sometime soon, please?