By Kyle Haward
Hearthstone, Blizzard’s free-to-play online trading card game which draws upon the famous lore of the World of Warcraft universe is colourful, quirky and addictive game. With possibilities of launching rocks at your opponent from a horde catapult on the interactive map to summoning dragons on the board the game doesn’t lack the appeal of the Warcraft franchise.
Blizzard in recent memory has almost always been about good stories, good games, amazing cutscenes and the possibility of competitive play (StarCraft II, Warcraft III). Hearthstone departs from telling a story or having a number of amazing cut scenes (it only has 1) and has a casual appeal while still being a game that allows for competitive play.
There are currently 9 heroes available in Hearthstone to play as and each represents a different class. Each class can make a deck with neutral cards that can be used in any deck as well as class specific cards. Each deck consists of 30 cards which are used to play out the game. Each card has a specific mana cost to play and each turn grants you access to one more mana till a maximum of 10 mana is reached.
All 9 of the heroes that you can play as in this game do not just act as avatars but can actually have an effect upon the game, and this is not just limited to what cards your deck can contain. These effects range from the mage being able to cast a fireblast or the paladin summoning soldiers to almost all of them being able to wield powerful weapons or in the warlock’s case being replaced by an Eredar demon lord.
As far as card games go it appears to be pretty simple and it is very easy to understand and get into. The tutorial guides you on all the basics of how to play in an easy to understand method while progressing slowly enough to let you pick it up if you have not played anything similar before. It ends on a relatively hard match up for you to put to use all of the different skills and effects that you picked up in the earlier parts of the tutorial.
There are 3 game modes, namely: Play, Practice and Arena. Play allows you to play against other people with either pre-built or custom made decks in rated or unrated matches. Practice allows you to use decks against the computer with an unlockable level of improved AI’s to face.
Arena is possibly the most fun aspect of the game where you pay a fee (either a cash transaction or a gold fee) to enter an arena set of games. First you get to choose from three champions and then create a deck from the cards the game provides you with. You then take that deck against other players who have also created a deck and try to reach 9 wins before you take 3 losses. Once either occurs you will receive a reward based upon how well you performed.
It appears that it would be possible to unlock everything in the game if enough time was put in without spending money on it, but micro-transactions are a part of the game for those that do not want to put in the time or are too impatient to grind it out. The game has an interesting system of rewards and quests for more casual players to be able to acquire gold to allow them access to the arena and unlock packs of cards.
After I gained access to the beta for this game I found myself playing every chance I had and was constantly drawn to play again and again, only stopping when I noticed that it was 3am… possibly more than once. Blizzard has blown in to town with a new, fun and addictive game