Blizzard releases Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a collectible card strategy game, as an open beta for PC and Mac.
Description Type: Virtual collectible card game
Platform: Windows and Mac, with iPad, iPhone and Android releases forthcoming
Game Time: 5-20 minutes per match
Developer or Designer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Simplistic yet addictive gameplay
Great balance between the free and pay options
Great selection in cards, spells, weapons and special abilities
Nine different types of decks to build and play
Internet connection required
Quests cannot be completed when playing against friends
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is like Magic: the Gathering but Blizzardized… Yup, I just made that word up, that’s the kind of game Hearthstone is, it requires its own vocabulary! In Hearthstone, players choose one of Azeroth’s nine heroes, create decks based on cards that hero can use, and then battle other players. Each hero has an array of special cards and abilities, and are pretty evenly matched against one another. Even better, is that the game only pits players of equal level/skill against one another, making each match a challenge to both players. Hearthstone is exactly what Blizzard promised it would be: simple, fast-paced, addictive and fun.
Players can bring out multiple minion to fight for them
Players start off with only one hero, Jaina, who is a mage with a limited deck. New cards are added to Jaina’s deck and new heroes are made available as players progress through the training stages of the game.
Each Hearthstone hero also represents a player class in World of Warcraft
Players can jump between playing AI and real people as often as they want. Each time a hero is unlocked, the player gets the ten basic cards that come with that hero. Ten more basic cards can be unlocked as that hero levels up. Additional cards can be purchased in the shop or won in the Arena.
Quests and The Hearthstone Shop
Quests are a major part of the World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone developers wanted to bring that aspect of WoW into their card game. Players can have up to three active quests at a time, each with a gold value that they receive upon completion.
A new quest is added each day unless the player's quest log is full
One hundred gold will buy players a new pack of five random cards, with one card guaranteed to be more rare or powerful. Unfortunately, quests can only be completed in Play or Arena modes. This means that if a player only wants to play their friends, then they must either play with only basic cards, or spend real-world money to buy additional cards. Each card received in the pack can be specific to one hero class, or they can all be neutral, usable by any hero. Players may also choose to purchase packs with real-world money with prices ranging on from $2.99 to $49.99.
A Hearthstone pack has 5 cards in it, with one being a rare or super-rare card
Play and Arena Modes
There are three ways to play matches in Hearthstone. Players may challenge people on a their friends list to a match. Players may also enter Play mode, where they are randomly pitted against players of the same skill level. Lastly, there is the Arena mode, where players choose a hero and then build a deck based on random cards before playing a match. A player can use their randomized deck until they lose three matches.
Players are given a prize key when they win a match in the Arena, with each win the key gets upgraded, making the prize bigger. At three losses, the player is awarded their prize and kicked out of the Arena. To enter the Arena costs either 150 gold or $1.99.
Hearthstone is a great game and is currently available as an open-beta on PC and Mac with iOS and Android version on the way. In the meantime, mobile gamers might want to check out Elemental Kingdoms, by MMO developer Perfect World. Blizzard is also beta testing Heroes of the Storm, but unlike Hearthstone, it’s a closed beta. You can still get in to try it, here’s how.