When I first picked up Hearthstone, developed by Blizzard Entertainment, I thought I’d just play every once in a while when I wanted to take a break from schoolwork. Now, more than a year after its release, I still find myself popping in every day to do my daily quests and participate in the game’s impressive Arena mode. All in all, I’m still having fun. Hearthstone, for those who don’t know, is an online Collectible Card Game, or CCG. Blizzard is renowned for releasing games that are not only incredibly successful but that also have staying power well after their release through patches and a plethora of free updates. Hearthstone is a free, downloadable game that has microtransactions built in. I use real money in the game every once ina while as a way to show the developer I enjoy their product … and to get good cards.
To dive into this game, one must understand CCGs. These games are based on building a deck with different types of cards to fight other people who, like yourself, have also built a specialized deck. Deck types are called Heroes. There are nine Heroes, each incredibly well-crafted to deliver a satisfying experience, whatever the player’s style may be. Different Heroes determine different special abilities and access to special cards. Gamers can play cards by spending mana crystals. With each turn, participants have access to one more until you cap out at 10. Cards, depending on their power or use, will cost more or fewer gems.
Hearthstone is an incredibly well-balanced game. Unlike in traditional physical CCG’s, the developers of Hearthstone can monitor the game based on players’ choices. There are multiple ways for Hearthstone players to get the cards they want. Buying packs is a very common method of obtaining cards; packs can be purchased either with in-game currency or real money. However, real money isn’t an essential part of the game. Blizzard worked a clever system into the game to allow players who can’t afford to throw cash away on a video game access to similar opportunities by completing daily quests. Every day, participants randomly receive a handful of quests to complete. One person can have three quests at a time; completing quests earns players a sum of gold. Combined with the gold earnings that result from winning three matches, players can quickly save enough for packs or for what might be my favorite feature: arena mode.
The arena is an aspect of Hearthstone that really separates it from other competitors in the online space. In this mode, using either gold or money, players select one of three Heroes presented to them randomly. After that, gamers construct decks from random cards that they receive three at a time. This well-designed system allows players who might not have bought the most packs to still earn rewards and play with cards they might not normally be able to receive. The player receives a reward equivalent to how many victories they achieved. Getting even one victory gives players at least a pack, and going further gives the player enough gold to continue playing in this mode, in theory, forever without having to worry about money or gold.
Hearthstone will appeal to everyone. It is designed so the casual player can pick up the game whenever they have time and participate in a quick 10 to 20-minute match. For hardcore players, satisfying deck building will take time to master. Considering the recent release to phones that allows everyone to play on the go, Hearthstone is a fantastic game that deserves the reputation it has gained.