Blizzard’s entry into the online card game market is one of glory and prosperity. HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft takes characters from the uber popular franchise, and turns them into heroes battling in a card game of skill, strategy and plenty of luck.
The premise of the game is simple: build the best 30-card deck you can, take it to the arena to battle against other heroes and try to knock your opponent’s health from 30 to zero before the same is done to you.
New players get the opportunity to get a feel for the game, and learn their craft by taking on each of the different characters who require you to play differently each time. The games, which run anywhere from 5-30 minutes, may seem overwhelming at first, but the friendly UI and the easy-to-understand card descriptions help new players jump right in.
Once you get through the first run of comp-battle tutorials, the high simplicity of the game goes right out the window.
While it’s not a hard game to learn by any stretch of the imagination, players won’t win this game by randomly playing cards and hoping your opponent doesn’t hit the jackpot on the draw. Players have to know how to properly combo their cards to get the best effect, and not give opponents the chance to get too far ahead.
As far as modes available, HearthStone offers casual and ranked “play” modes that allow you to take a custom built deck against random players online or friends you meet in your time. You can also hone your skills against A.I. opponents that get harder as you beat them in the practice field. Once you’ve had your fix in the practice field, it’s time to test your might in the Arena.
In the Arena, players pay an entry fee of either cash or in-game currency to build a 30-card deck out of a random set of cards; players get to choose one of three possible cards with each pick. Players then take these cards to battle until they either win 12 games or lose 3 – whichever happens to come first.
Players have the ability to leave the Arena whenever they choose without penalty – unless it’s in a game, of course. In the Arena, you have the option of drafting your deck and leaving for a few days before even starting your first match. It’s a game mode that Blizzard allowed its players to go at their own pace which turned out to be the best decision they could’ve made.
Players then use the gold they earn from matches, or completing the stackable daily quests, to buy new card packs that come with five cards per pack or jump right back into the Arena for more drafting action.
The lack of overall game modes takes away from the replay value of HearthStone a bit. The aforementioned arena mode is nice, and the standard play modes are fun, but the lack of an actual tournament mode is still kind of disappointing.
It would be nice to have tournaments where you can build your deck, buy in with in-game gold and play to win a pot. Hopefully that’s a mode that comes in a later update.
Ultimately, HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft is a game that plays exactly how a digital card-battle game should play. With nearly 400 cards currently available at launch and even more to come as the game ages, HearthStone is one title that will have longevity simply for the wide array of deck styles you can build with cards they have in place right now. The best part of it all is that the game requires absolutely no money in order to enjoy its full wonders.