I’m doing some play testing for the Closed Beta and I want to share with you a review. First, however, let me answer to you..
What is Hearthstone?
In a simple description Hearthstone is a FREE(ish)online strategy card game made by Blizzard, the same company that brought you World of Warcraft. You can take a prebuilt deck, or build one yourself if you can collect the cards (more on collecting the cards a bit later in this review). You start off with playing as Jaina and play a prebuilt deck through what is called Practice mode.
Once you have bested a opponent (you are playing vs the computer at this point) you will unlock that specific character and will be able to use them.
You start off with 30 life; you must knock your opponent down to zero to win. You may be able to deck them (make them run out of cards in their 30 card deck – but I’ve not been able to do this yet, so I’m not sure if it’s possible) to win.
It breaks down like this; there are 9 classes to play, and each one can customize their own deck (or as mentioned earlier you can use the prebuilt deck). As you win you gain levels (complete with the familiar fanfare music from World of Warcraft). As you gain levels you are given more cards which in turn can be used to make your own custom deck.
Let’s get into a little more detail.
As you begin the game you will see the Today’s Quests followed by the Entry Screen.
Each day there are new Quests that will pop up; could be that you need to win 2 battles with your Priest deck; or dish out 100 damage to minions. There are several quests out there, but when you complete one you will be rewarded with gold.
Gold can be used to purchase 5 card decks (per 100g) or entry into the Arena (150g) More on the Arena in the next section.
On the entry screen you will see:
This mode allows you to play against other online players. Here you choose which character you want to play as and go “into battle”. You can choose to play with the premade basic deck or one that you have customized.
As you gain levels here you also can earn “Ranks” or “Medals”. I’ve got all of my characters up to at least level 10; but I’ve not seen anything different happen. Upon going up in level you gain all of the base cards and by level 10 you have all of the base cards for that character.
This mode lets you test out your decks against the AI. Since I started playing, I only used this mode for the first few battles; the rest I just went against other players. I really don’t see much of a need to use Practice Mode since there is not much of a difference between Practice mode and Play Mode (and in Play Mode you get ranked, so why not just play in Play Mode anyways?).
Arena Mode lets you build a deck on the fly and battle other players. I’ll describe the Arena Mode in the next section.
You can also access the Store (I’ll detail that a bit later in this review), Open Packs, and view your cards in My Collection. You can also view your Quest Log – this shows you your progress in the game. You can also see how much Gold you have collected up.
There are several ways to get new cards:
You gain a base set of cards by gaining levels. As mentioned above once you hit level 10 you should now have all of the base cards for that corresponding class.
You can go into the Arena and play (this costs real world money $1.99 – or you can purchase entry with gold 150g, HOWEVER, the 1st time you go into the Arena it’s free). In Arena Mode you are given 3 cards at random and pull one card to build a deck with. You do this 30 times. Then you go up against someone else who has done the same and play.
If you lose, you can try two more times.
If you win, you keep going until you lose for a total of 3 times.
You use the same deck each time you play during that session.
The more you win the more prizes you get; should you lose you are compensated with ONE 5-card pack.
I’ve only payed to play once and won 15 Arcane Dust (more on Arcane Dust a bit later in this review), 1 pack of cards and 5 gold.
If you lose all 3 times you get 1 pack of cards.
You can also purchase 5-card packs. You can spend 100g to get 1 pack, $2.99 for 2 packs, $9.99 for 7 packs, $19.99 for 15 packs, and $49.99 for 40 packs.
This lets you disenchant Expert Cards to create other cards. Expert Cards are, basically, and card that is not a basic card (i.e. if it has a little gem in it it’s an expert card: White (diamond = common), Blue (sapphire = rare), Purple (amethyst = epic), Orange (amber = legendary) (although Legendary cards cannot be disenchanted or crafter).
Classes and Characters:
Confused yet? Let’s go on to Classes and Characters.
Unlike World of Warcraft, you don’t create your own class and character here in Hearthstone. The name of the game is; Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft for a reason. As mentioned earlier there are 9 classes to choose from (and thus 9 characters).
Anduin Wrynn is the Priest. His Hero Power lets you restore 2 Health.
Jaina Proudmore is the Mage. Her Hero Power lets you deal 1 damage to anything.
Gul’dan is the Warlock. His Hero Power lets you draw a card but you also take 2 damage.
Malfurion Stormrage is the Druid. His Hero Power gives you +1 Attack for the turn and +1 Armor (Armor stays with you until it is broken).
Rexxar is the Hunter. His Hero Power lets you do 2 damage to the enemy hero.
Uther Lightbringer is the Paladin. His Hero Power lets you summon a 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit.
Valeera Sanguinar is the Rogue. Her Hero Power lets you equip a ½ Dagger or give your weapon a +1 Attack for that one turn.
Thrall is the Shaman. His Hero Power lets you summon a random Totem.
Garrosh Hellscream is the Warrior. His Hero Power lets you gain 2 Armor.
That’s the very basics of the mechanics of the game.
Once in the game and playing either against the computer or a player you will be dealt your hand. You can either keep the initial draw or toss one of the cards (or all of them) and get new ones. You are stuck with the new one(s), however.
There are several battlegrounds you will play on; Stormwind, Orgimmar, Pandaria, Stranglethorn Vale.
Right now you can play it on PC and Mac. Eventually it will be available on the iPad and Android tablets (though some crafty folk have already figured out how to get it on those tablet devices).
It’s silly simple to figure out. It’s not a complex game by any stretch of the imagination. Remember how simple Pokemon was back in the day? Yeah, it’s stupid simple like that. However, there is a depth to it that kept me coming back for about two weeks. I say two weeks only because.. well.. I’m getting a little bored with it now. I’d like to get more cards but no way am I going to start shelling out hard cold cash for virtual cards. Yeah, I can play the game and earn gold and get packs with gold that way; but that takes a while to add up.
I’m running into players that seem to have deep pockets, which means they just dump cash into the game and get pack after pack which allows them to build a kick-ass deck. Remember Magic: the Gathering? I would get one or two packs a month, but a friend of mine would get one or two boxes a month. Guess who was able to build the better deck much faster? You can still have fun with it though; I’m just grumpy at always being broke I suppose.
The AI needs a little work. There are a few times when I’ve been down to 3 or 4 life; I’ve wiped out all but one of the computer’s minions and then the computer will pull a card that does: Deal 5 damage to an enemy hero or give one of your minions a +1 attack. And it gives the +1 attack to his only minion and does not attack with it; allowing me to win on my next turn. Maybe it’s just being nice to me though, I really do like the ego boost too.
I’m a bit curious to see where the game takes us as we move into the future. I wonder if it will be integrated with World of Warcraft at all (it does remind me a bit of the Pet Battle system in game – and as a side note.. when is Blizzard going to give us an app game of the Pet Battle system to play on iPads or on Android tablets??? I digress..).
Things in Closed Beta are changing a little each week; but for the most part everything listed up above seems to be fairly stable.
Once Closed Beta is over all cards are wiped out. Don’t fret if you did spend your money on the game; you will get the equivalent back in gold so you can “re-purchase” those packs.
All in all, it’s a fun little game. Not a huge download, and you can generally play a game in about 7 minutes or so. It even works great for those of us on mega-slow internet connections like satellite internet.
- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft®
- ©2013 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a trademark, and World of Warcraft, Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
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