March 25, 2014
A Look At Hearthstone
I missed the collectable card game craze back in high school, but I did pick it up in college. I tried many of them, but the one that stuck with me was Magic: The Gathering by Wizards of the Coast, the same people behind Dungeons & Dragons. The game was a lot of fun, and to this day I still have two of my favorite decks sitting in my room in case the urge to play ever hits me, but I never got into it as much as many others did. This made playing the game often difficult, as I did not invest the same amount of time and money into the hobby, which made my decks vastly inferior. Enter Hearthstone, a new free-to-play online collectable card game from Blizzard, the creators of World of Warcraft and Diablo. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is their online version of Magic: The Gathering. Like Magic, it is a lot of fun and has recently captured my interest thanks to some friends recommending I give it a try. Considering it lacks a cost-of-entry, I figured I would give it a shot.
Hearthstone is relatively fast to learn and easy to play. Players are given a choice of nine different Heroes, each with their own special ability and cards unique to them, and face off against other players from around the world. Wins and daily objectives award you with gold, which is in-game currency that can be used to purchase additional packs of cards to add to your collection. Unused/unwanted/excess cards are “disenchanted” into “dust” which can be used to create specific cards, mitigating the random draw of packs. Gold can also buy your way into the Arena, in which you create a deck from a random selection of cards and play against other players for much greater rewards.
Where the game differs from many collectable card-games I have played is in their recourse system. In Hearthstone, each player is given one mana-crystal each turn, up to ten, and each turn all used mana-crystals are recharged. In games like Magic: The Gathering, players had mana cards they could play, which were shuffled into the deck with all the others. This could result in either a drought or flood of mana, which would often result in a much less enjoyable game for both parties. Personally, I prefer Hearthstone’s method.
While not nearly as “pay-to-win” heavy as I found Magic: The Gathering to be, there is still an element of “pay-to-win” found in the ability to purchase packs of cards with real world money. Nothing in the game cannot be earned purely in game, but real-world money allows you access to things faster. Rather than win dozens and dozens of games and complete daily objectives to earn gold, you can simply buy packs of cards or a session of the Arena. It is often quite easy to tell when you are playing against someone who as invested a great deal of money into the game, as you will occasionally find yourself facing off against an opponent with phenomenal cards but no real knowledge of just how to use them. More than once have I faced players who might have two or three Legendary-rank cards on the field, but not realize the best way to use them.
Overall, I quite like Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and would recommend it to anyone who has even the slightest interest in that sort of game. It is free-to-play, so there is nothing to lose, save for time. If you find you enjoy it, then do so to your heart’s content. If not, it’s just a quick uninstall away from being forgotten.
Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.