Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Overview
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a a new TCG brought to you by Blizzard. You choose to craft a deck based off of one of the nine original classes in World of Warcraft. You can then challenge other players for fun, and for the chance to win powerful new cards, which can then be added to your arsenal. The game promises to be quick to learn, but difficult to master, and comes with a variety of heroes, equipment, spells and abilities, and more.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Screenshots
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Featured Video
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft – First Look
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Review
By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Card Games 2: Electric Boogaloo
I feel fortunate to be able to cover two card games. My very first article here was Solforge, a card game by Richard Garfield. So if you are curious about my card game history, that would probably be the place to read up on it! Hearthstone is a creation of Blizzard in response to their failed earlier card game. I also played the World of Warcraft card game (and have several of the raid decks still), and it was a very interesting concept. Hearthstone takes a few of the base concepts, and turns it into an all-new game. Like the WoW TCG, Hearthstone has character classes instead of factions, and does not require “Mana” like its predecessor, Magic: the Gathering. Each turn, players are given an item called a “Mana Crystal.” These are used to play spells based on their casting cost. There are pre-constructed decks, in which you unlock cards by winning games and leveling up (akin to Magic: the Gathering: Duel of the Planeswalkers), but you can also complete quests to acquire gold. Gold can be used to purchase decks. More on this later, though.
My initial thoughts were admittedly quite mixed. I loved the original card game (and actually turned a profit with a few loot cards on the amount of money I spent building decks) and while I’m used to the idea of class-themed decks, I was a little less than thrilled with being forced to use certain characters. Maybe it’s because I’m such a big loremonger as far as Warcraft is concerned, but I could think of several other characters I’d rather see! I’d like to see a Mage deck using the Lich, Kel’thuzad, or perhaps instead of Garrosh Hellscream, maybe his father, the legendary blademaster Grom Hellscream. There are so many options, and I feel like perhaps Blizzard took some pretty easy roads. Perhaps more character choices will become a thing they add (if you’re reading this, Blizzard, take note!). If they do, I’m sure they’ll find a way to make a buck. That is perhaps one of my greatest qualms with Blizzard: everything has a price. I understand they’re trying to make money as a business, but look at the amount of players that play their games! Throw us a bone once in a while! I’d also like to take the time to thank Colton “Solanias” Leighton, Smitty “Smitty” Smitty, Eric “Biral” Marsh and Nelia ‘Nelianelly’ Gibson-Tremblay for providing me with additional images of this game!
LF 1 ICC Heroic
Each class in Hearthstone is represented by a Hero, and each has their own unique ability which can be activated once on your turn for two mana crystals. The ultimate goal is to take the hero that your opponent has chosen from full health to zero by any means at your disposal. Each hero’s ability can provide a little insight on to how they can possibly play. The classes also have their own unique spells that cannot be used by their friends or foes, much like Hearthstone’s predecessor. There are, of course, options. You are not bound to the abilities that your class offers, and using the neutral creatures (minions) can really adjust the gameplay. Minions have a variety of abilities that they come with, such as Taunt (you cannot target the hero until the minion is dealt with), Charge (this creature can attack the moment it comes into play), and others that are even more deadly.
Not all minions are created equal, though. You only start with so many neutral minions, none that are especially overpowering. That leads us to the part that nobody wants to talk about. Is this game “Pay to Win?” To that I say yes and no. The game offers you several ways daily to acquire packs of cards, in the form of quests. Examples are “Win three times with a Paladin or Priest,” or “Win three times with a Hunter,” and other similar situations. A few of these quests can lead easily to 100 gold, which can purchase a pack of cards that contains five random cards. These could be anything from a simple 1 attack 1 health Murloc, all the way to one of the Elite Tauren Chieftains or the Defias Gang Leader. Now on to the part that isn’t fun. You can spend real money on better “Expert” packs. These come with more rares and better cards on the whole. If you are just playing casually against the computer, or against friends who are doing the same, I think you can have a great time. If you are seeking to play ranked matches constantly in hopes to see some sort of competitive Hearthstone community, I would not at all recommend only relying on quests for deck improvement.
Separate but Similar
As someone who has played a great many card games, I can see a lot of similarities and differences between Hearthstone and the card games that have come before it. It has a resource like Magic, but unlike Magic, you acquire mana gems every turn. Only one deck so far has the ability to “ramp” or increase the count of mana it has, temporarily or permanently, and that is the Druid deck. Similar to its predecessor WoW: TCG, it uses a deck leader system that focuses the win condition solely upon them, but unlike the other, you only have a deck of 30 cards, and two of a card instead of four. The community for this card game took off as things on the internet tend to do, and there are already a host of well-documented, successful decks. There are a whole horde (no pun intended, I swear) of websites that show off what decks are winning, which are not, and what cards they contain.
In a roundabout way, I think this will lead to Blizzard making heaps more money off of this game! Now that people know what works and what does not, those who wish to be competitive will spend the money they have to on packs, since individual cards cannot be bought. This is smarter for them than Wizards of the Coast, who cannot control individual card sales per se’, and so they do not make money off of the sale of them. Used video games do not generate profit for the game developers, but only for the stores that sell them. In this, we see that Blizzard would do well to keep these sites going since the spirit of competition will only provide more for the coffers of the titan responsible for World of Warcraft.
Balance Spec, Frost Spec, Muti Spec
Balance is a funny topic for card games. It is my opinion that in Magic: the Gathering there is an answer to every combo. If someone is running Hypergenesis creature overrun, there is a way to deal with it. If someone is running Channel-Fireball, there is a solution, several solutions. But in a fresh, new card game, there is not quite as much time to balance or fine-tune. Granted, this is now an open beta, so many players can test the game and give Blizzard information on what is overpowered or undertuned. Though I fear that, given Blizzard’s track record of “balancing,” that some of these incredibly powerful deck concepts will not see weakening anytime soon. I will admit, some of the Mage combos and spells did get weakened during the closed beta, I did not much else in the way of balancing during my tenure in the closed beta.
Few card games can be seen as balanced. In every new set of cards, new combos get used. Some are used often, some are used less frequently. There is always a tier-list, of which classes or deck archetypes are better than others. These will no doubt see more use than others. At the time of writing, I believe Rogue is the top class. There are several very powerful combos to come out of the Rogue archetype such as Defias Leader Combo, where you play a series of very cheap spells from your hand, and combo Defias at the end, flooding the field with free minions. Or you could just opt for Mage, and keep the field controlled and wiped, with a host of frozen minions, unable to attack. My personal favorite is one of the “lower” tier classes, but I do well enough with it, without having to spend money. Do I have any intent on spending a bunch of money on this game? No, lord no. Do I think people should? If you enjoy it, then absolutely. I’m of the opinion that if you enjoy a game, spend a little money on it if it’s free. Whether it’s buying skins on League, items on Dota2, or buying a few packs here and there in the game, there’s no harm in that. Just remember: Moderation. Moderation is the key to enjoying anything.
Quest Complete: 3/5 Good
This one is certainly up in the air. I love card games, and while I think this might be a little bit of a bias, I certainly enjoyed Hearthstone. While I do not enjoy the luck factor opening packs and getting the cards you want, it is still fun for casual play. It is certainly a title that can and will go far, and no doubt Blizzard will make piles upon piles of money with it, but until I can purchase individual cards for a deck, I do not really feel I will spend much on it at all. I will of course play it. Again, see where I said I love card games? It’s a fact! It’s got a great atmosphere and an interesting concept. It is not the best card game I’ve played, but certainly far from the worst.
The graphics, while similar to WoW, are very static. But, I gave it a 3 because there are lots of little, subtle things about the graphics that I frankly enjoyed. The stages always have an interactive set of items in the corners for you to mess with while you wait for your turn to come up. For someone who is easily distracted, this could be a bad thing! But I doubt it. It’s more of the same, but I do not think this is necessarily bad.
The controls are very smooth for a card game on a PC. I cannot ask for much more than easy access to cards, easy zoom in on enemy cards, and for things to move when I click on them. There were some pretty horrendous control schemes in other card games I have played on the PC (such as Duel of the Planeswalkers), but the controls were very solid for.
There are not a lot of extra features for this game. It does not necessarily need them, but that does not mean there cannot be more. There is the Arena, where you can do battle with random players for packs of cards, ranked and casual matches, and practice mode. That is pretty much it. Kind of short on stuff to do, but at least the quests give you something to push for, in that they can get you more packs of cards.
Normally, I love the music that Blizzard produces. The music really fits the setting, in that it is a sort of tavern or inn, and the bright, cheery music really goes with the feel of the game. But it can become very tedious very fast. The sounds and feels of the game were interesting, and really draw you in as a player, but the sounds of the cards that are played, and the limited heroes and sounds can become monotonous. Which is unfortunate, because they sound terrific.
It would have been very difficult to have missed hearing about Hearthstone these past few weeks for those that check up on games on a daily basis whether it be through news or simply tuning into live streams. As of now, Hearthstone is the second most viewed game on Twitch TV. Blizzard has left it up to the community to market their game and spread the word. All the popular streamers and community members have been given invites, causing their fans to go crazy over this game.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a casual but addictive trading card game. It features many of the traditional aspects of trading card games but offers enough new content to keep players interested and coming back for more. I have spent many hours playing this game and due to its casual play style, I can continue to play the game while carrying out other tasks.
The aim of the game is simple, deplete the enemy hero’s health points to win the match. However, Hearthstone offers many different approaches when it comes to how you will deplete your enemy’s health points. You can choose to build a spell deck, taunt deck, minions deck, and so on. There is a lot of room for creativity to create your own unique play style.
The game uses a hero system where aside from your played cards, your hero or player character also has abilities and may attack with weapon equips. There are currently nine different heroes to choose between each offering unique abilities such as the Mage’s ability to deal damage with a fireball or the Warlocks ability to hurt himself in order to draw a card. Nine hero choices keep the game interesting as different strategies need to be employed against certain heroes.
You can only chat using the given options.
While there may be many strategies employed by players, all the cards are very simple to understand, allowing even those that have never played a card game before to easily jump in and have fun. All cards are played using a basic mana system. Every card has a set mana cost and each turn you gain more maximum mana. You begin with 1 mana on the first turn and gain one additional crystal every turn with the end of the turn fully replenishing your mana pool. This system leads to very fast paced battles as by the time you reach 8-10 turns, players are able to play multiple cards in one go and there is little need to manage your mana pool.
For this reason the matches are very short, averaging around 10 minutes for most matches. Even powerful cards can easily be killed off and countered. Hearthstone plays out with as much action as the Yugioh cartoon series, primarily because the choice to attack your opponent’s hero directly when not taunted can put pressure on them even if you’re losing.
This style of gameplay also means that deck sizes are very small, allowing players to have higher chances to draw the cards they need. With only 30 cards in your deck, the luck factor has been reduced.
The main issue I have with the cards in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is that despite its genre being TCG (Trading Card Game), you cannot actually trade. I personally enjoyed the trading aspect of all card games as you would work with the community to help each other build the deck of their dreams. The system to acquire cards is still being tested but I do not see it changing drastically.
The smooth animations are what make this game amazing!
In the closed beta stages, players are able to purchase booster packs containing random cards with at least one guaranteed rare with either the in-game currency (gold) or real money. The pricing seems to be reasonable but due to the low cost for booster packs and the addictive nature of the game, it can be very easy to spend lots of money building your deck.
To remedy the issue of allowing no trading between players, Blizzard has incorporated a crafting system. Any of your duplicate cards may be salvaged into crafting currency which can then be used to create any card. Depending on the rarity of the cards, the costs will vary. This system does allow you to discard and make use of any unwanted cards but I would still like to see a trading option. The game is still in closed beta so we might see trading options in the future but as of now Blizzard does not seem in favour of the idea of player trading.
Moving on to match making, players have the option to simply play against other opponents of their level or take part in the Arena. The regular match making uses a system similar to that in place in Starcraft II. Players start out in the lower leagues (Bronze) and move up to higher leagues such as Masters based on their performance. There does not seem to be any detailed stats available to players at the moment but I would be surprised to not see more stats available after release.
The Arena is a very fun and competitive way to play the game. Players must pay a fee to enter and will then be given a semi random hero and deck. You will be given options between three cards until your deck is complete. This leads to forcing players to try out new builds and play competitively to ensure their buy in money has not gone to waste. Depending on your performance, players will be awarded rewards. Arena is tons of fun but can be quite expensive to buy in.
Arena may seem expensive, but the rewards are great!
Players will earn in-game currency for every 5 wins but most of your in-game currency will be made by completing daily quests. These random quests can give simple tasks such as winning with a certain class or destroying a certain amount of minions and reward successful completion with a large sum of gold.
Current State: Great
In conclusion, I am having a blast playing Hearthstone. Even in the closed beta the gameplay is very smooth and animations are amazing. I’ve only encountered a bug once and even that was nominal. A tablet version is set to launch after release, meaning that my daily commute is about to become much more tolerable. I could easily see myself spending hours upon hours playing Hearthstone on my tablet during my commute or kicking back in bed.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to get into the closed beta at the moment. Keep an eye on any websites or streamers giving out invites. As always, keep an eye on OnRPG for any news on beta invites or transition into open beta.
A full review will be posted upon release of the game. This is not a game you want to miss playing!
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Videos
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Cinematic Trailer
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft – First Look
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Links
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft System Requirements
Coming Soon. . .
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Articles
- Blizzard Gear Store Re-Opens - Posted on February 3, 2014
Blizzard's branded products store (Blizzard Gear) has re-opened today with a wide variety of items.
- Hearthstone Review - Posted on January 28, 2014
MMOHuts reviews Hearthstone, Blizzard Entertainment's free-to-play collectible card game.
- Hearthstone Enters Open Beta in North America - Posted on January 21, 2014
Blizzard's F2P TCG Hearthstone is now available for testing to anyone in North America.
- 2014 MMO Predictions – Let Gamers Be Heard - Posted on January 16, 2014
Proxzor takes a stand that 2014 is the year the Gamer's voice is heard loudest in his MMO Industry prediction for the year.
- Shotgun News 12/20: Everquest Next Landmark, Hearthstone, Defiance, and Much More! - Posted on December 20, 2013
The last Shotgun News of 2013 with news from Everquest Next Landmark, Defiance, Hearthstone, and more.
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