Hearthstone, the online trading card game from Blizzard, simply kicks ass. There I said it. Done.
Never have I been as hooked to a game (since the World of Warcraft) as I have been to Hearthstone. It brings me back to when I was first introduced to Magic the Gathering and the countless hours spent with friends developing strategies and building decks.
When it comes to quality games, I don’t think there’ll be too many detractors when I say that Blizzard is one of the best in the business. Well known for its Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo franchises, the game giant broke the mold when it unleashed World of Warcraft–the most successful Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) the world has seen. Now with Hearthstone, it might just have a unleashed a beast that might change the way we approach trading card and mobile gaming (somewhat).
Back in the day I used to be quite big on Magic the Gathering. My friends and I used to hunt down cards at collector haunts like ‘World of JJ’ and save pcoket money to purchase the said hunted down cards just to be able to make a decent deck that doesn’t get your ass handed to you every time–boy I sure had a couple of gems. But then a new expansion comes out and most of the stuff you’ve got is no longer tournament approved and it’s going to cost quite a bit to make a new tourney ready deck. The best cards were also (more or less) a privilege for those that could afford the booster packs–most that could afford it would buy boxes that would set you back about $150–which would get you some decent cards.
Here’s where the free-to-play Hearthstone comes in and changes the game. Card collecting still has an element of luck to it–you purchase packs using in-game gold or real money. However, unlike a physical TCG where you can trade cards, you can’t do that in Hearthstone. But you can still get the cards by disenchanting your duplicates for ‘dust’ and then crafting the cards you need. This one feature alone goes a long way to leveling the playing field. As a free game you can still build amazing decks without spending real world money–decks strong enough to win tourneys–just that it takes longer.
Initially, there weren’t all that many cards and opponents would be using more or less similar decks. But since then there have been card additions from the Naxxramas solo adventures that added a ton of cards that made use of the ‘Deathrattle feature’ to the first official expansion ‘Goblins vs Gnomes’ where they’ve introduced a whole new line of ‘mech cards’. With more than 600 cards, that’s quite a bit of variation that you can bring to your decks.
I also love the fact that true to it’s Warcraft roots, there are tons of pop culture references such as Harrison Jones and Dr. Boom and his Boom Bots!
While still not available for phones, my favourite feature of Hearthstone is the cross-platform gaming. You can play against players on the PC, Mac, iPad and now Android devices seamlessly–to a point you don’t even know (or feel the difference) what platform your opponent is using. This means that I can enjoy the full experience at home and on the go.
In addition, if you’re playing other Blizzard games, there’s cross-game goodies as well such as a Hearthsteed for the World of Warcraft. However, this comes at a price–when the Blizzard servers are down for maintenance (most Tuesday evenings) chances are Hearthstone is down as well.
All in all, Hearthstone is a winner in my book–now if they only had it on the iPhone.