Hearthstone – First Impressions

Hearthstone

If you’ve had a hankering for some fast-paced, action-packed card battles featuring your favorite heroes and heroines from the Warcraft franchise, you’re in luck. Blizzard Entertainments first step into the free-to-play market is an unusual, but welcome, tactic from the creators of World of Warcraft, the most critically acclaimed MMORPG in gaming history. Ready your decks, champion, because you’re in for a real contender in the competitive playing card market.

I’ve always been a bit of a Blizzard fan boy, finding myself mesmerized by Warcraft’s rich lore and characters. As I opened up to the game menu for the first time, I was unsurprised at the degree of quality that comprised the smooth video animations and enticing graphics. Many who have played a Warcraft game in the past will immediately feel at home with the iconic cartoonish graphic style that has defined the Warcraft universe.

You begin your conniving card conquest as a Mage, one of nine different heroes. As a level one mage, you might imagine yourself being pretty weak. As you battle on, winning or losing practice matches with different AI or players, you have the opportunity to level up and gain new spells and minions for your deck. I found this system to be very easy to follow, but a little limiting. A new player, for example, would have a hard time combating someone who has been besting baddies and consequently developing their deck.

There is something inexplicably pleasing while you duke it out against a foe in a duel; perhaps it’s the forceful crash of the card as it hits the playing field upon being summoned, or the comical voice overs that will incite nostalgia for those who have spent time in previous Warcraft games. In a world where our attention spans are waning ever so much with every passing day, Blizzard’s fast-paced Hearthstone is incredibly enjoyable. Duels generally do not take much longer than ten minutes, and most actions are completed within seconds. You really don’t need to be worried about taking time, either, as the game was designed for moves to only take a minimal amount of time.

Here’s an idea for how a match might play out: you begin with one mana, and 4 cards; you begin with five if you do not make the first play. Depending on a cards mana requirement, you might not be able to summon on the first move. Higher level creatures and spells require more mana to summon, and your mana recharges every turn. Your mana maxes out at ten by the tenth turn, increasing from one to ten with every sequential turn. Your goal is to take chunks of health out of your rival hero, who has 30 hitpoints. The first to bring the enemy hero to 0 hit points reigns supreme.

Blizzard’s source of revenue from this game is through microtransactions, as players can upgrade their decks through booster packs bought through the in-game store. This form of transaction has been popularized through games such as Nexon’s
MapleStory, or Riot Games’ League of Legends. Both games are free to play and bring in substantial revenue for developers.

There is no doubt that this game will catch fire amongst the gaming community once it breaks beta. It retains Blizzards general penchant for perfection while delving into a competitive genre that is mostly untouched. Check it out if you want something fresh – you won’t be sorry.

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