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Steven Reviews "Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft"

The title screen.
The title screen.Images captured using "Fraps"

In the past I’ve tried playing physical collectible card games like Yu Gi Oh and Magic the Gathering, but I was terrible at them and couldn’t wrap my head around the concepts. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft not only helped me understand what was going on, but it proved much more fun than its physical TCG counterparts. Most of this is due to the fact that players don’t have to keep track of numbers like how much mana or health you have, or the health of your minions. Although players should do a little arithmetic in order to strategize, the computer’s calculations help minimize the more tedious parts of the experience and place more emphasis on the fun!

To summarize, Hearthstone is a one-versus-one digital collectible card game in which you battle other players or practice against the AI. Upon signing up for a Battle.net account you can download this title for free! Launch the game and you’re treated to an interesting cinematic and immediately put into a training mode as Jaina, the Mage, as you battle against several different AI characters in order to get a feel for the game.

Unlike some other digital card games, Hearthstone matches are mostly short and sweet, with battles lasting between three and fifteen minutes. These brief matches allow rewards to come in at a steady pace. Winning is greatly rewarded, but losing a match isn’t so bad, either, as your class still gets XP for trying.

When your chosen class hits level ten, she unlocks all of her “basic” cards. You can acquire more cards by leveling up (to a cap of 60) or by purchasing packs with gold or real money. You can earn gold by completing “quests” of the day, such as winning a few matches or dealing so much damage to an enemy hero.

You can also use the gold you make to enter the Arena, where you choose one of three random classes and build a deck of thirty cards, some of which may be gold or legendary, and see how many matches you can win. You can only lose thrice, but if you win twelve times, you emerge victorious and get substantial rewards, including your entry fee.

Aesthetically, the game board is simple but pleasing, requiring very little resources to run. The board even changes from match to match, and you can interact with some of it while you wait for the other player to play his hand.

The sound is a little repetitive after a while, as playing each card produces only one or two sounds. One of the funnier ones is the “Raid Leader” card, which has a picture of an orc that, when played, says, “Handle it!” or “Hit it very hard!” (a reference to a semi-famous YouTube video involving World of Warcraft raiding).

While this is Blizzard’s first ever free-to-play title, it still fits into Blizzard’s mantra of “easy to get into; hard to master.” Hearthstone welcomes you into the game’s simplicity and keeps you interested as it starts to become more complex. I have a feeling it won’t be long till this game hits the e-sports channels.