It’s time to Du-Du-Du-Duel!
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is the very popular free-to-play card collecting game or (CCG) for short, developed by, yes you guessed it; Blizzard Entertainment, the folks that know a thing or two on how to make a MMORPG, as they bought us the game changing World of Warcraft. Hearthstone with over 25 million registered accounts and being over a year old starting on PC, it pains me that I have only paid attention to the game now that it has been ported to mobile devices.
Hearthstone is fun and super addictive, and the mobile play anywhere and everywhere you go aspect further supports this, I find myself playing Hearthstone on my commute to work, while I’m watching TV or playing console games, I sneak some Hearthstone in at the dinner table, I make sure to have a few games before bed. Hell I play Hearthstone when I’m sitting on the toilet, I know that’s a little disturbing and graphic, you really didn’t need to know that, so lets just say I’m hooked but it feels good.
Jaina Proudmoore, The Mage, One of the 9 Heroes
Gotta Collect Them All!
Hearthstone is many great things but the one that stands out most is it’s accessibility, it’s very kind to newcomers as the tutorial does a fantastic job of walking you through the basics of the game with a few real-time card battles. Although the tutorial is scripted they put you in battle scenarios that you will later face in the full game against tougher A.I opponents or facing off online against other brave challengers. Therefore it’s very important that you take your time and let all the information sink in and practice before you take your deck online otherwise you will get demolished as there is no room for error. As well as being easy to learn, but hard to master another important part of the friendly welcoming game is that you don’t need to know anything about World of Warcraft and its huge daunting lore to play the game, it has no bearing on the game, it doesn’t make you a better player if you’re a World of Warcraft veteran you’ll just have a deeper appreciation for the game and joy of seeing your favourite individual minion cards.
Hearthstone grants players with 9 heroes to choose from, these heroes are the classes in the game and they all each have their own unique hero ability as well as having certain unique exclusive cards that only that hero can use, For example the Priests hero ability is being able to restore 2 health points and the Warlocks ability allows it to draw a card from the card deck at the cost of 2 of your own health points. Now that my sound confusing but it’s all part of a strategy and if used well it can be devastating. There are over 500 cards to collect in Hearthstone which are broken down into 3 different types of card, Weapon, Skill and Minion cards. You start each duel with a deck of 30 cards and the object of the game is to get your opponents health down to zero while trying to defend yourself. Now that might seem easy but that’s far from the truth, the game is about carefully and cleverly outwitting your opponent with mind games, it’s all risk and reward. It’s not as simple as picking all your strongest high cards, chances are that won’t get you very far because each card has a certain mana value to be able to use that card. At the start of all duels you start off with 1 mana point to use, and it increases by 1 each turn. Meaning you need to hit the right balance of low tier, mid tier and high level minion cards that strike fear and damage, but don’t forget cards with the ability taunt as these are some of the most important pieces in the game. They are pretty much the tank and to top all that off you need your deck to consist of a varied amount of spell and weapon cards that will bail you out of trouble countless of times. Soaking in all that information is confusing and hard at first but it becomes natural and of second nature after a few trial and errors.
Valeera Sanguinar, The Rogue, One of the 9 Heroes
Free-to-play vs. Pay-to-play
Now the main talking point with Hearthstone,The free-to-play vs. pay-to-play aspect. Well Hearthstone is free-to-play done the right way, you won’t need to spend any money in order to have fun and stay competitive. As you play more and more of the game you will slowly unlock all of the basic cards for each class as you level up, there’s also the neat crafting mode were you can dissolve your cards in exchange for dust currency which is then saved up and spent to get some of the more unique otherwise unobtainable cards for the class of choice. Of course if you don’t mind going the pay-to-play route you can buy certain card packs, packs of 2, 7,15 and 40 packs are sold and prices vary depending on region, The cards are random and you wont know what’s in the pack until you open it but you are guaranteed 5 cards and at least 1 card of the 5 being a rare card or better. If buying your way to the top isn’t you style you can still purchase card packs using the in-game currency, card packs using in-game currency costs 100 gold pieces, which comes at a reasonable steady rate, you can roughly buy 1 new card pack with gold usually everyday depending how often you play and win and whether or not you do the daily quests which are great for a huge increase in gold. I can’t stress this enough but you don’t need to spend a single penny on the game in order to have fun and a great deal of fair competition.
Malfurion Strormrage, The Druid, One of the 9 Heroes
The goal for the ultimate deck
Hearthstone works so well because Blizzard Entertainment have spent time on the balancing side of the game, it’s so balanced that you don’t think about it whilst playing and you don’t blame your defeats on the game, it’s either your own fault as you made a mistake or didn’t use a certain card at the right time or the opponent had the better plan with a bit of luck on their side. Duels in Hearthstone are unpredictable, you can try to anticipate your opponents moves but you can never be 100% sure what will happen or if they have a trick or two up their sleeves. This means, in the heat of battle things can get tense and mistakes will be made and the tide of battle can change from very good to very bad in mere moments as you look back at where you went wrong. Powerful cards that you have been buffing and building up to use can be wiped out instantly and all that progress is sometimes for nothing, so you can’t go into a situation thinking you will win without a plan B and C. You can have up to 9 custom decks which you will take apart and tinkle with all the time trying to improve it, removing cards you don’t like or no longer think are useful and finding the correct balance of spell, weapon and minion cards is part of the stressful fun.
Hearthstone is dependent on what you seek from the game, it’s accessible to all, and it’s free-to-play so you lose nothing in the long run of simply trying it. Duels with other players usually last around 10-20 minutes so it’s the perfect deep game you can carry in your pocket on your smart phone or tablet on the go, or a fun way to time kill. There’s 2 additional single player adventures available currently to purchase although they aren’t necessary and are quite pricy. Slowly building your deck, watching it grow over time and coming up with interesting plans, tactics and strategies never gets old. You become proud of yourself and your deck and start to form a bond with certain cards. When your back is against the wall and you’re waiting patiently for your turn, the turn which will decide the contest, and the difference between a win and defeat depends on the next card you draw, and you’re praying to the Warcraft gods for the key to the puzzle which will shower you with gold and riches, when that card turns out to be the one that you needed and you land that final soul crushing blow, that feeling is marvelous.