Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft
Gameplay - 9
Creativity - 8
Presentation - 8
Lifespan - 9
Being a free-to-play game, investing in packs will be appealing to some player’s, especially those concerned with making the best and strongest decks, while those more causally invested in the game will still have challenging matches with other players of their level.
With Hearthstone, Blizzard Entertainment merges the lore of the Warcraft universe to create a fun, fast-paced, strategy card game. The game shares an obvious similarity to the rest of Blizzard’s collection in the sense that is also extremely addicting. The accessibility of this game is the result of the simplified design, especially when compared to the overwhelming development of Magic the Gathering. Like any strategy game, accessible does not necessarily mean exhaustible as the element of probability will vary each game, while the infinite card interactions appeal to both intermediate and highly experienced players, which even the MTG players will find charming.
How To Play
At its core, Hearthstone is a 1v1 battle where a player chooses a hero from one of the nine currently available classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock and Warrior. Each class has a set of hero specific cards to choose from. These cards contribute to developing play-styles unique to each class as they synergize differently with the remaining pool of neutralized cards. Each hero is also distinguished by having their own diversified ability which still adheres to maintaining the game’s balance. The objective of the game is to deplete the opponent’s starting health total from thirty to zero. In order to achieve this goal each player performs a set of actions on his/her turn, whether it is to play a card, use a hero ability, or in some, usually unfortunate cases, simply pass it. At the start of one’s turn a card is drawn and a mana crystal is gained, while mana used on the previous turn is replenished. Mana is used to play creatures, spells or weapons, and the cost can be found at the top left at the card. Mana is only collected at the beginning of the turn, until both players reach ten. There are also cards allowing one to momentarily increase their total. In Hearthstone, the orders of actions taken on a turn do not matter. Cards belonging to a player can only be played on their turn which contributes to the game’s more simplified and accessible design.
Currently the game features two main playable modes. In the first mode, players can make a deck using the cards they collect and play it in unranked or ranked matches. In Arena, my personal favourite, players pay a sum of 150 gold, or real world money, to draft their own deck. In this mode the player chooses one class from a random selection of three. The player is then presented with a series of three different cards, where the goal is to choose one until a deck of thirty cards is created. All cards chosen are part of the final deck and one must choose from the presented selection, therefore, some drafts can better or worse than others. The objective is to play the deck in a series of matches until the player loses three games and is then eliminated. The maximum number of wins that can be obtained is 12, which also corresponds to the maximum amount of rewards, while a different reward is acquired based on the final number of wins. Both game modes are distinguished by a different type of strategy, as cards that are strong in arena may not necessarily be as strong in regular deck building practices.
Based on personal experience, making efficient trades is one of the most important elements of each game. In Hearthstone, if a creature takes damage, that damage is permanently inflicted on it, therefore reducing its health until it is healed. An example such as, trading two 1/1s for a 5/2 is beneficial because it negates the potential of taking five damage a turn, or allows one to play bigger creatures without losing them. They key is to utilize your cards for an exchange that is in one’s favour. Another easy way to measure the success of a turn is based on the cards used to gain a result. Using one card that deals damage to all opponents’ creatures and hypothetically removing four creatures (or in other words, using four cards to one card) is considered a beneficial exchange. In addition, it is oftentimes a mistake to allow the opponent’s creatures to remain on the board. Failing to exchange a 6/6 for a 6/6 becomes detrimental when the turn is passed and the enemy kills all of the competitor’s creatures, leaving his or herself with the only creature on the board. It is also possible to increase the damage and toughness of creatures who survive. The simplest advice to new players is to make efficient trades until the upper hand is gained. For instance, a situation where one player is playing by the draw and is creature-less compared to a player with four or five cards in hand and three creatures in play favours the second player. Likewise, against certain classes, like the Mage who has lot of board wipes, it is not beneficial to play every creature in hand. They key is to force the opponent to use their cards and while not wasting one’s own.
Like any card game, the more cards available, the more room for creativity and fun. Of course more cards can seem overwhelming to newer players but by being matched with players on the same level, it becomes easy to familiarize one’s self with the different cards and their individual abilities. As the game has only recently been released in open beta, it is a perfect time to get acquainted with the straightforward mechanics and smaller card pool. As repetitively stated, the game is very simple, but it is also a lot of fun. By completing the quests or having by a successful arena run, players are rewarded with gold and/or packs of cards. Opening packs is exciting, and supported by the game’s detailed presentation. Different mechanics have different visuals, and individuals can even interact with the game board, while the different abilities are explained coherently on every card. Another way of obtaining cards is through crafting. To craft, one needs dust which is gained as an arena reward or by disenchanting cards.