Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Review
By Nehemiah Roome
So here we are, my very first video game review. Are you ready?
…What?! You want more? Fine! Starting over.
Hearthstone is a whimsical, light hearted, and polished Card Collecting Game (CCG) that won me over in about the same time it took me to write my above game review. Its lore and characters come from Warcraft, a game I haven’t played. While I don’t know any specifics of the source material, it wasn’t a barrier to enjoying the game and its exaggerated characters. It feels like a light hearted spin on The Lord of the Rings in a Pixar-made world. The feel of the game is important – there is no story or cut scenes aside from the opening one, so all the detail around the board game ends up making a lasting impression. In this case, a good one.
The game starts out simple enough in the tutorial. They give you a hero, the Mage, to start out. You play 5 or 6 quick games that teach you the basics of the game. You are trying to play minions and attack your opponent and his minions with the goal of reducing your opposing hero’s life total to zero from a starting 30. While it’s an easy to play and learn game, it is more complicated than something like Uno or even Skip-bo. However, they manage to ease the player into it without much trouble.
Speaking of heroes, this is a fun aspect of the game play. As you play you will earn new cards and heroes to use for a deck that you can customize and tweak. The heroes all have special abilities that often play well into their deck synergy. One lets you draw extra cards, but at the cost of life, while another can heal himself or his minions. The cards themselves are cast using mana crystals that you unlock at the start of each turn. You gain one each turn and it is a permanent increase to your mana pool. So a card that cost 3 normally couldn’t be cast until your third turn. It’s very easy to understand once you play a few games.
After you get the hang of playing the game itself, you then have the fun and challenging task of building a deck yourself using the cards you have unlocked. Each deck needs to have exactly 30 cards with no more then two of a kind in it. It won’t take long to learn some general rule of thumb lessons such as keeping a good “mana curve”. The mana curve is the basic idea of balancing the mana cost of all the cards in your deck so you aren’t clogged at specific mana cost. For instance, if you only put cards in your deck that cost 6 mana, you wouldn’t be able to play your first card until your 6th turn by which you are probably already dead to your opponent’s cheaper minions who have free run of the board.
After you have built a deck and are starting to beat the computer on a regular basis, I would suggest testing your skill vs a human opponent online. I played several matches and it never felt unbalanced. They do a good job of pairing you with someone of similar skill and deck strength. As you play, win or lose, you will unlock gold that can be used to buy more packs of cards. It costs 100 gold for a pack of 5 cards. You can also pay real life money for a couple packs for $2.99. While it would speed up your increasing deck quality, it would just match you with stronger opponents to balance it. I would recommend just playing the game gaining gold from matches played, and daily quests they offer to increase you digital gold bank account.
The one complaint I have is that as of right now you can’t play vs a friend of your choice. Even if it would be unbalance in some cases, it would be fun to be able to take your favorite deck and challenge a personal friend to a duel to the death. Even if it didn’t give gold, playing for pride would be enough. Even when you play normal games vs random people it would be something to look forward to when creating and testing a deck. Who knows, they might be able to add that in later.
The game is currently in open beta and is free. Right now it’s on PC and Mac, but has plans to come to iOS and Android. The neat thing is, they have announced that all your progression will carry over to new platforms when they are released.
All in all, Hearthstone is a well made polished game that I could recommend to anyone. It has just the right amount of skill, luck, fun, and charm that it could appeal to anyone who gives it a shot. Games do not last long so it’s a great bite sized game that can be fun in short bursts or long vegetable sessions (don’t judge me!). It isn’t a perfect game, but with room to grown with more card expansions, updates, and player feed back this could be a game that’s only gets stronger and crisper as time goes on. Check it out.
9.3 out of 10