Trying out: Hearthstone

artwork5-fullHearthstone: The Heroes of Warcraft is a collectible “card game” played on computer or tablet. I just installed it on my iPad and tried it out. And by saying “tried it out” I started fours hours ago and are still playing. As advertised it is insanely addictive. At least for someone who has been playing Magic: the Gathering for several years.

I started just to get the feeling for it and quite possibly try it out against fellow Guild members. Weirdly it didn’t let me search for familiar opponents from the beginning but guided me through the simple enough tutorials. The tutorials while informing took quite long to finish and even after that I had to challenge all possible “heroes” to get the whole thing open. But once I did that I got the hang of the game and opened all the options for the game.

I won’t go into details of how the game works as it is very much alike MtG. You build your deck (30 cards, 2 same unless it’s unique) and battle against opponents as ranked by the game system. The budget to cast spells comes in the form of mana rocksYou gain one rock per turn up to 10 rocks. Mana is universal (so it is not tied to any of the classes) and it seems to be quite nicely balanced system.

The most annoying thing for me was to wait for the opponent to do the most apparent choices. The game has a running clock and I think it allows you 30sec. to go through your turn at the tops. This is an important addition for I encountered at least one opponent who was trying to get wins by opponents conceding because of he always took the maximum amount of time to do things.

The most annoying thing for me was to wait for the opponent to do the most apparent choices. The game has a running clock and I think it allows you 30sec. to go through your turn at the tops. This is an important addition for I encountered at least one opponent who was trying to get wins by opponents conceding because of he always took the maximum amount of time to do things.

Having any experience of MtG is actually quite valuable for a beginner. Understanding mana curve helps you design a deck – though weirdly you can only see statistics for the decks curve in “draft” format. I went for a weenie/control deck with the Wizard archetype and it has been very successful. The main reasons for the deck to loose a match have been me not paying enough attention and just plain bad draw.

The player gets new cards by playing (a lot) games against actual opponents or NPCs. You can (naturally) spend actual money to get more “booster packs” and new adventures but at least for now the free stuff seems to be enough for me.

It’s actually quite hard to say what I found most entertaining in the game. In “The Arena” you challenge live opponents in draft. The better you play the bigger rewards you get. As with any other solid marketing product the first time is free but after that you have to pay for each draft with the game currency (which you can naturally buy with actual currency). Arena was fun because you had random cards and could only choose from three different heroes. The opponents I faced were actually great matches. They gave me hard time but were not too over powerful.

In the “Play” mode you can play “casual” games as well as “ranked” matches against random opponents with the custom decks you have built. Winning and losing grant you some stuff but mainly you are aiming for the “quest” as in “achievements” that usually give you gold (to buy boosters of Arena passes). At these first levels the games weren’t that interesting. Either I went against someone who was just working his/her way up the ranking ladder quite casually or crushed apparent beginners with ease. At lower levels you cannot loose your ranking but I guess that’s an outcome at the higher levels.

What was weird (for me) was that there are no possibilities to personalise your account. You can’t change the name of your hero or his portrait. I understand that that it’s not a problem for most of the users but I still would have liked to have this opportunity.

All-in-all I liked the game but maybe not enough to actually see it as a challenger for actual live MtG games. I’m not that much into the “playing” per se but more to the social aspect of these kinds of games. All I can say that if you haven’t tried it out yet, you should at least give it a chance.

If you think you have the free time to be absolutely possessed by it.

Before trying the Hearthstone I played Might & Magic: Duel of Champions for about an hour and I have to say that it was much more into my liking in terms of fluff and strategy. But still I got more hooked to play “just one more match” with Hearthstone. At least for now. We are going on a holiday trip during the turn of the month and I think I’ll be giving the M&M:DoC a second look then.

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