Better late than never they say!
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft never stood a chance. Or so I though because my natural instinct was to side with the one trading card game (TCG) I’ve known for years. But the more I heard of this game, the more I wanted to play. Days later, I downloaded my free copy. I quickly learned that Hearthstone is the most natural free-to-play games out there, and not to spoil the end of this review, but I love it.
It is just absurd how fun this game is. Hearthstone’s presentation is very colorful, it gives the game that World of Warcraft look that some players can relate to, but it isn’t for everyone. The cute houses and the pretty waterfalls that decorate the perimeter of the battlefield (or board) can make Hearthstone look like a child’s book. Granted, this is done to achieve that WoW look and feel, but some gamers may avoid it like a plague.
If you look pass Hearthstone’s style, you begin to understand why the developers chose it instead Blizzard’s other games like StarCraft or Diablo. This is a friendly, approachable game that everyone can come into and have fun. The game doesn’t even take itself seriously. At one point, it will be making fun of its own shenanigans. It’s quite funny, actually.
When you first start the game, you’re dropped into a rather lengthy tutorial, but it feels nothing like one. The guys at Blizzard have done an amazing job at teaching you the rules of the game without holding your hand every step of the way.
By playing the tutorial you’ll begin to appreciate the simplicity of Hearthstone’s gameplay. The fast-paced commotion going on all over you as cards take effect gives you a thrilling, twitchy feeling that can’t be matched by other TCG video games. This game is fast, simple, but strategy is at its core, and you can certainly make a comeback with a few well-placed strategic moves.
Don’t judge the game based on the first few stages of the tutorial because after it, the playground is opened wide and the level of strategic planning can get quite deep. Once in a while, though, it will come down to the luck of the draw. Drawing that one card you needed to turn the table at the very last second can completely change the match.
Once the tutorial ends, Hearthstone’s game modes open up. They are shallow, but since it’s a trading card game, I won’t hold it against it. Play mode has you duel with another person online on either ranked or unranked matches that earn you levels, in-game currency and sometimes you also get new card packs. Practice mode is basically your single player experience where you can hone your skills, earn a few levels and new cards along the way. Duel mode is the mode where you can challenge your friends within BattleNet.
Then there is Arena, Arena is Hearthstone’s very unique risk/reward mode where you have to pay with in-game money or real money in order to participate. The mode has you construct a deck from a random pile of cards and play with that deck for a series of duels. If you successfully accomplish this feat, you’ll earn gold, Arcane Dust, special cards, and golden heroes.
Arena showcases one of Hearthstone’s great uses of the free-to-play model. You can play Practice mode and Play mode for free as many times as you want, but you can buy new card packs and other items with in-game currency or real-world money. This is a smart and natural way to tackle the Free-to-Play model because in the real world, you would also buy extra card packs, decks, and so on. The only concern is that they keep things balanced between the new cards and your standard starting deck.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a solid TCG that triumphs over the competition by offering a fun, fast, simple, and progressively intricate experience. While there is not much to buy on the game’s store at this moment, Blizzard will most certainly support the game for years to come, giving us a vast variety of goodies. At the end of the day, Hearthstone will give you an endless fix to your TCG cravings.