HearthStone – Blizzards try at Free To Play
If you have played MTG (Magic The Gathering) you will feel right at home, almost, and I will soon tell you why. For you those who don’t know what MTG is, it’s one of the oldest and most popular card games out there and Hearthstone is based on this card game. What is Hearthstone? It’s a card game that is free to play with the available option to buy more cards from Blizzards in game store. You can pick from different factions and every faction has their own ability and special cards, then you challenge other payers online and you need to get their life to zero and win, hurray! You do this by playing monsters and spells against your opponent. You receive mana each turn with which you pay for these monsters and spells, 1 mana the first turn, 2 mana the second and so on until you reach 10 mana.
It’s a wonderful game, the art has a great Warcraft feel to it, yes, and you can think of World of Warcraft, yes, I’m old fashioned. Hearthstone has a simple design when you are clicking around in the menu and it looks great and it is easy to use, less is more, simply. When you are playing the game you will see the well designed cards with a lot of details and you may recognize many from the Warcraft series. On the cards there is also a description of what the card does, which is kept to a minimum and it works really well. I have never liked cards with a lot of text.
There are 9 factions which include everything from a Warrior to a Mage. Some of the portraits show too much cleavage for my liking, I know Blizzard can do much better than this based on the Diablo, StarCraft and Warcraft series. World of Warcraft has a bit to much cleavage for my liking.
A really neat thing is that when you attack with one of your monsters with high attack power, the whole board shakes which is really great and you can feel the power rumble through your speakers.
The main mechanics are really basic, but Blizzard makes it work really well; everything runs really smoothly, it’s very easy to understand what to do and it’s fun playing around. What do I mean by playing around? I’m not only talking about killing off your opponent, I’m talking about when your opponent is afraid of you and needs to think for a really long time, Blizzard has added the ability to play around in the arenas. For example, one has a catapult you can fire off and another one has some lights you can turn off and on. Every arena has a couple of things that you can do and it’s a great small touch to the overall game experience.
The only way of communicating with your opponent is by right clicking on your character portrait and then you can say things like: Greetings, thank you etc. Meaning, you can’t spam them with 1000s of things and be an annoying 14 year old and it becomes all about the game. Sure, you can’t really make new friends all around the world, which sucks and maybe they will change that, we will see.
You get daily quest from the game, which can be anything from winning X times with Faction Y to dealing X amount of damage to your opponent. Completing a daily quest gets you gold that you can spend on more cards or use to go into the arena. The arena is a place where more or less everyone starts off the same; you are doing something called drafting. You get 30 rounds of cards, every round is 5 cards and you pick one from every round and you build your deck this way, meaning, everyone in the arena has the “same” chance of winning, depending on how good you are.
One thing I’m missing is that Blizzard usually have when you are clicking on a unit it makes a comment and I would love to see that on your portrait. It’s understandable that they don’t have it on all the cards, but come on, add some fun on the portraits, more then “talking” to your opponent. Talking about sound, the sound experience is amazing! It’s hard to describe, everything flows really well and the sound is of a really high quality, as always with Blizzard games.
There is currently a lack of combos, although not many cards have been released and I can’t wait to have more cards out. It’s still a very simple game, which I don’t mind. The game is easy to play with friends or just for a couple of rounds. Sure, you can buy tons off cards and win easier, but if I’m playing against someone like that, I don’t mind because it’s great to see their cards and if I’m able to give the guy a hard time, I’m pleased. Overall, it’s a great game. Good work Blizzard, now… I wonder how you will add cool cinematics to this…