Hello and ZugZug to you! This is a review of Blizzard’s new digital CCG called Hearthstone, available for PC, Mac and iOS. If you ever played Magic or Ascension or any other CCG then this will be easy to pick up and start playing. If you have never touched a card game in your life then after a game or two you will be well on your way. For this article we will be going over the iOS version of the game.
There are 3 modes to the game Play, Practice and The Arena. In Play mode you will be randomly paired up with another player to battle. Practice mode allows you to play against the computer and test out new deck ideas. The Arena is unlocked once you get one Hero to level 10. The Arena is where you will go up against more difficult opponents.
Let’s take a look at Practice mode first. This is the place where you unlock the different classes you can base your around. If you have played World of Warcraft then they will all seem very familiar. The Hero classes are: Warrior, Shaman, Rouge, Paladin, Hunter, Druid, Warlock, Mage and Priest. Sadly, there is currently no Death Knight . Each Hero, as in WoW, has its own specialty that no other Hero has, for example, Hunter has an arrow shot causing 1 damage while the mage has a fireball. The Warrior can give himself armor while the Priest can heal himself.
Another unique aspect for each Hero is that there are no hero specific cards.An example of that is when the Hunter gets Hunter’s Mark which once cast will change another card’s health to 1. Another is when The Paladin gets to use Hammer of Wrath, which does 3 damage, and you get to draw another card. In Practice you must defeat the different Heroes to unlock their decks. While doing this you begin to level up the Hero you are using and unlock unique cards for that hero. Each Hero gets 20 unique cards that can be unlocked. You get 10 of them by defeating the hero for the first time and then you must play to unlock the rest. Practice is also good for deck testing. Each deck is limited to 30 cards. You can choose to have the computer help you pick cards or you can go it alone. If you have never played a card game before I suggest having the computer assist you a few times until you get the hang of it. A helpful hint: Unlock all the Heroes and their unique cards to give you the best card options before diving into playing other people (this helpful hint was courtesy of my friend Britt, thanks Britt!)
Onto Play mode! This is where you are randomly paired up with another player of same level. You can interact with the other player by right clicking or tapping on your Hero picture or theirs with a “greeting” or “sorry” or “well played”. Generally the games are well paced and if you take too long to make a move, you will see a fuse light up in the middle of the screen. Once it reachs the end you lose your turn and the game goes on. The one thing I have noticed so far in this mode compared to practice is the draw is a bit off. I attempted to make a Murlock Rush deck, filling my deck with low cost to cast Murlocks and spells and yet for the first
3-5 turns I only see one of those cards… funny how that doesn’t happen in practice! Also a key part of the Play mode is Blizzard has added quests to keep on the WoW path. Every day you play you are presented with a new quest or two. Such as win 2 matches with a Mage or Druid or win 3 matches with any Hero. For your successful questing you are rewarded with game gold which you can use to buy new packs. (man, there is just something about opening a pack of cards isn’t there? Its like new car smell ) You can also purchase packs for real money at $2.99 a pack. There are packages where if you buy more packs at once its a little cheaper.
Word of caution…I have played on the Mac, PC and on the newly released iPad version. On the computer if your BattleNet account doesn’t have a payment option then it is easy to say “forget it.” However, it is REALLY easy to buy packs on the iPad. So think before you tap that button.
We have all been there with in game purchases…I’m looking at you Simpsons Tap Out and you Clash of Clans! While on the topic of cards there is a feature where you can craft new cards. Basically you destroy or “disenchant” a card to create dust. The amount of dust you get back will depend on the card and the rarity of it. Once you have collected enough dust you are allowed to flip through your book and select a new card to create and… VOILÁ! A new card for you!
Now time for The Arena! In The Arena you must pay an entrance fee of game gold, but the first time is free! You build a deck from random cards the game allows you to pick from and see how long you can last in The Arena. You are then paired up with a player and you are off to battle! The deck lasts for 3 games and the longer you keep winning the better your reward at the end. I have not yet gotten to the end of 3 games, so I cannot say for sure what the prizes are, but I am sure they are worthy prizes.
The board is set up very well and clearly. Each board is a familiar spot from around Azeroth. Your hand is in front of you and your mana pool is clearly marked at the bottom right. Cards that have been used are shown as icons on the left of the screen. Mouse over the icon will show you the card and what it was used against. To your right is your deck and it can tell you how many cards are left.
This game is very easy to play and it is a great experience on the iPad.
I know Blizzard delayed the iPad version to get it right and it was worth the wait because they nailed it. The game is free to play and you can play without purchasing cards. If you do decide to try the iPad version, Blizzard will send you a free pack of cards as a thank you for the download! You even get a free mount in WoW if you win 3 games! I know there are folks saying “this just a simplified version of Magic”but I don’t think Blizzard was going for a “Magic-killer”. If you are into card games or into Warcraft you owe it to yourself give this a try. The only down side, for me, is the $2.99 cost for 5 digital cards, which I believe could have only been $1.99. This game is fun and easy to get into, I give it this game a full D.B.A.H. from me, Synn76.