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Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

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Joined: 30 Jun 2011
PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:57 pm 
Post subject: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
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When I heard that Blizzard was releasing a Collectible Card Game (CCG), I was curious. I am a huge blizzard fanboy, but can Blizzard make a CCG that is both fun, challenging, and not a total copy of Magic the Gathering (a.k.a. The Holy Grail of Card Games).


Is Hearthstone better than Magic? No it isn't. However Magic has years and a larger library of cards to help it along. Before I compare the two and talk about the issues that plague Hearthstone I want to give a quick introduction to the gameplay.

In Hearthstone (HS) you play an opponent with 30 card decks based off one of the nine original World of Warcraft classes, in either the Constructed or Arena (think draft) game modes. Each turn you draw one card, and gain one mana crystal and have all used mana crystals replenished. Your maximum amount of mana crystals every turn is 10, however there are cards that can extend that for that turn only. The player to goes first starts with three cards and then draws another, second player gets four cards and then draws another. The player to go second also gets a 0 casting card that will give him one free mana crystal for that turn. At the start of the game, you will see your opening hand and you can mulligan away any amount of cards, but once a card gets replaced that is it.

Cards in hearthstone come in three different flavors:

Neutral creatures: Which are cards that can go in any deck, and only come in creature flavor.
Class creatures: Which can only go into the deck for that specific class.
Class Spells: Which are one time use spells that can gain life, do damage, kill creatures, draw cards, or summon tokens. They can only be used by that specific class.

Each class also has a hero power for 2 mana crystals that can be used once a turn. There are cards that can change the hero power to something else.

Every card in hearthstone has a mana crystal cost, an attack, a health, and sometimes an affix. These can be as diverse as when summoned, on death, prevent the first instance of damage, or this creature must be attacked and killed before anything else. Some cards will have an ability they use at the end of every turn. If you look at Ragnaros: User-posted image

You will see he is an 8 mana crystal 8 attack, 8 health that at the end of turn will randomly deal 8 damage to an enemy.

The rules of Hearthstone are simple. You can only play cards during your turn, and you can only activate effects during your turn unless they are an on-death effect or a secret spell (think trap cards from yu-gi-oh). You can attack minions or players, but if a minion has the Taunt mechanic you have to attack it before anything else. You can have at max two of each card or one of each legendary in your 30 card deck, but in Arena those rules are ignored.

Game modes:

Contructed comes in casual or ranked play. The opponents you play in casual are based of your ranked MMR so it is currently better to just play ranked. Ranked works with having you start at rank 25 0 stars, you need to gain 2 stars to rank up and then one more to rank up. At rank 20 it goes to 3 stars, rank 15 to 4, rank 10 to 5, and so on until legendary rank which is top 1000 in the region. You will also get win-streak bonuses which give 2 stars instead of one per win, but this stops at rank 5.

Arena play is the draft mode. It currently costs 1.99 or 150 gold to play, and you get your choice of one of three classes and then you are presented with 30 sets of 3 cards, which you can pick one to go into your deck. You can play your games at any point and you will keep going until you have 3 losses total, or 12 wins at which point you will get your reward. (7 wins is the break even point).

Hearthstone is completely free to play, but you can use money to buy booster packs. You cannot trade cards, but you can destroy any extras you have into dust to make the cards you want.

Hearthstone does have it's own problems. The arena mode is completely random, and not every card you get will synergy with your deck. On many occasions I have had to choose between the lesser of evils. Though, I do suspect this is a fault of the low amount of cards currently available. The classes are not balanced very well, with many relying on gimmicks or pigeon-holed into one archetype. At the moment the Hunter class is the worst in the game, with it's only successful but gimmicky deck nerfed.

There are also game breaking bugs, but as the game is still in beta it is something I can live with.

I do suspect that many of these issues can be fixed with releases of expansion sets. Blizzard is actively working on the game, and have revealed plans for a spectator mode, and solo-scenarios where your decks are pitted against bosses in order to win unique cards.

The unique thing about Hearthstone is due to the game being 100% digital it is easier to change or completely rework a card than in Magic. Examples include increasing mana cost, lowering health, or a complete change of the card involved. If Blizzard does do a change, they give you a two week period to destroy the card for a 100% refund of dust.

Should you try Hearthstone? Absolutely! It is free to play and great fun. However if you are coming in with the mentality that it must be close to or better than other Card Games that have had expansions under their belt you will be surely disappointed.
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