Apparently I’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, because I missed a very popular game released by Blizzard Entertainment. called Hearthstone. Hearthstone is a change from Blizzard’s usual games, as it is an online Strategy Card Game. Designed to be easy to learn and difficult to master, it is probably one of the most interesting games they have come out with for awhile. It’s not designed for their traditional MMO crowd, though there are elements in it that’ll appeal to them.
Let me explain.
The game’s fairly simple. There are two sides that are going head-to-head. Each side draws one card when it is their turn. The card can give any sorts of benefits, including attacking, healing, drawing additional cards, or what can only be described as status effects on either your or your opponent’s cards. Each card has two stats on it, one to show attack power and one to show how much damage that can be absorbed. In the first round, the player gets one mana point, so they can use cards that requires one point. In the second round, the player gets two mana points. This continues increasing up to the tenth round.
Each side has a hero. Each hero has their own unique cards, allowing for different styles of gameplay with each different general. Each general starts with 30 hit points. The object of the game is to knock your opponent’s general down to 0 hp.
The game rewards winning and losing. The player will receive experience. As the character levels up, the player unlocks more cards for additional play. There’s also the option for customizable decks and cards for more experienced players.
Overall, Blizzard created a very intuitive game. The one difficulty that I had with the game is how losing is treated. When losing, additional cards seem to be unlocked just the same as winning. It ended up feeling like the loser was getting some sort of booby prize rather than earning something. While it is true that everyone has to start somewhere and that losing is part of any game, it hits a strange point when a player (this happened to me) loses about nine or ten times in a row before getting enough cards in order to advance to the next battle, only to lose again. These weren’t normal losses (at least to me). These losses were fairly one-sided, where the opponent ended up fairly undamaged or had plenty of hp left. This probably isn’t a concern for most people who play card games, as this is part of the reality of playing them. But for an outsider to the world of card games, losing that many times detracts from the fun.
The sound was an unexpected treat. Hearthstone had a soundtrack that was fantasy based, giving the feeling of being within a world like WoW. It was very well done. Also, each general had his or her unique voice. While it may get a touch repetitive after awhile, the voice gave each general their own personality to go along with their own unique cards. It really added to the experience.
A lot of the art used for the cards came from the WoW trading card game. For the heroes, the art used had a nice fantasy feel, conveying a sense of wonder, power, and mystery. Each card looked unique, clearly taking the artist time to make. They were exceptional. Nothing more really needs to be said outside of that
There were graphics demonstrating the attacks done as well. Fire, magic missiles, and the like were used. It was a nice touch, creating the fantasy of battle while keeping the card game feel going.
Because the game rewarded losing as much as winning, it naturally encouraged people to replay the game to see what comes next. This was sort of instant gratification, trying to reward the player for playing the game rather than for what they achieved while playing the game. It was easy to see how some players would enjoy this and want to continue playing to see what else they could get. As strategies does for rewarding players, it was one of the most effective.
Card games appeal to the competitive nature in us all. So for that alone, this game has a lot of replay value. Blizzard made a very good card game that should be quite a bit of fun for many to play and replay.
My only problem with the game, one that was mentioned earlier, was the amount of times that I had to lose in order to get enough cards to win. After awhile, it felt like an exercise in futility. I found it disheartening after awhile, one loss after another after another kept on building up. That, in combination with the booby prizes, made the game damn frustrating for me. This probably isn’t a problem for those who are used to games like this. But for me, it detracted from the entire experience. Hard to have fun and get crushed at the same time. Even worse when after you get crushed and are told that it wasn’t that bad.
If you’re looking for a good card game, you can’t go wrong with Hearthstone. I assume anyone who would play it is already familiar with these types of games and knows what to expect. The graphics and sound adds quite a bit to the entire experience, helped give that extra touch.
If this is your first card game you’re playing, just be ready to lose a lot in the beginning. But if this isn’t your first card game, you should get a huge kick out of it.