Take the addictive gameplay of a great trading card game and the charming character of Warcraft and you get Blizzard‘s latest video game — Hearthstone.
Hearthstone is a competitive, online card game featuring characters, spells and setting of Warcraft. The game recently entered open beta, which means anyone with a computer can join in for FREE right now.
Hearthstone looks as good as it plays. (Credit: Hearthstone website)
Players control one of nine character classes — including mage, warrior and rogue — and create decks of cards to whittle their opponents life points to zero. It’s standard fare for anyone who’s played a trading card game before, but for TCG virgins there’s a tutorial to ease players into the game’s intricacies.
The game starts with the mage deck and from there a player must defeat a class to unlock its deck. As you play through the decks you unlock a handful of class-specific cards.
After that cards are unlocked through randomized boosters that players can purchase with either in-game gold or real cash.
There’s never a need to actually buy cards as the game doles out daily quests that reward a player with gold upon completion. Although, players that spend money during the beta will unlock a exclusive card. (Gotta keep the lights on somehow).
The amount of varying strategy is staggering. Each class has its own specific cards in addition to an open pool of minions. Classes also have unique, character-fitting powers such as the mage’s fireball or the Warlock’s life tap, which allows him to draw a card at the cost of life points.
The starter decks are viable early on, but being able to unlock cards and create your own combos and builds is the heart of the game. It’s thrilling to lay into your opponent with a combo you created, or build a deck that freezes an enemy’s strong minions turn after turn.
If the card play doesn’t make you say “Wow,” the game’s polish will.
Meet the all powerful Angry Chicken (Credit: Hearthstone website)
While players who have dabbled in the world of Warcraft will get an extra kick seeing memorable characters or hearing, “Job’s done” after completing a turn, the game’s overall tone is inviting and not excluding to newcomers.
The game’s card art is varied and stunning. The board features environments that you can click and interact with, which is especially useful if an opponent is taking forever on their turn. Spell effects dazzle and more powerful cards carry weight.
Drop a strong minion and the board beneath it fractures and the cards around it launch into the air for a brief second.
The game is still in development so there are bugs here and there, but the gameplay is so good it’s easy to forgive when cards appear stuck on the board.
Currently there are three play modes: Practice, Play and Arena, with a fourth solo adventure mode coming.
Practice allows players to play with AI bots and Play puts player against player in either casual or ranked games. Most of my time has been spent in Arena, where you build a deck by choosing from randomly generated cards.
Arena games cost gold to enter but winning and winning plenty means better prizes. The counter to glorious loot is three loses ends the journey.
The developer is working on iPad support, but if you’ve been looking for something to play join me and grab Hearthstone.
Have you been playing Hearthstone? Share your thoughts, favorite classes and deck builds below.