I did a post a while back about Bizzard’s foray into the CCG (collectible card game) market…..called Hearthstone. I said it looked pretty cool and, now, I know for sure that it does.
How do I know that, you ask?
Because I finally got into the beta! Woohooo!!!! [horns toot as fireworks go off]
Now, I won’t gripe and complain about how long it took for my beta invite ahem ….no…instead, I’ll just focus on just how cool this game is.
If you’ve ever played Magic:The Gathering, you’ll find quite a few of the same game mechanics in Hearthstone. For example, creatures have ‘summoning sickness’ when played (meaning they cannot attack until the turn after you lay them down) unless they have an ability called “Charge”. This lets them attack right away and comes in handy quite often.
Some of the other card abilities are:
- Taunt: If the other side attacks you, with a minion (their name for a ‘creature’) or if the Hero wants to attack, they must attack this minion.
- Windfury: This minion can attack twice in one round.
- Deathrattle: When this minion dies, it causes another effect (damage, etc.) to go off.
- Battlecry: When a minion is played, a special effect goes off.
- Divine Shield: A minion ignores the next damaging attack.
- Enrage: The minion gets attack bonuses if it is damaged.
These are just a few of the minion abilities, there are more and each adds to the overall strategy of gameplay.
Another variation from M:TG is that the player or, in this case, the Hero can attack as well….equipping weapons, doing damage, etc.
This brings up the Hearthstone Heroes……or the role you take on, depending on which deck you decide to battle with. You can play any of the nine classes, each represented with an iconic World of Warcraft character.
- Warrior: Garrosh Hellscream
- Shaman: Thrall
- Rogue: Valeera Sanguinar
- Paladin: Uther the Lightbringer
- Hunter: Rexxar
- Druid: Malfurion Stormrage
- Warlock: Gul’dan
- Mage: Jaina Proudmore
- Priest: Anduin Wrynn
If you’re a WoW player, you probably notice the conspicuous absence of the Monk and Death Knight class as well as the Pandaren race. I’m guessing these may show up in future expansions.
Each hero has a different “hero power” corresponding to how their class works. For example, Gul’dan can draw a card, at the cost of two life…such is the price of being a Warlock, Anduin can heal two points, Thrall can drop a random totem every round (provided you have two mana to spare), each with different abilities.
The fuel for powering these abilities, as well as casting spells, dropping minions, things like that is something else that should be familiar to Magic:TG fans. It’s called mana. though it doesn’t quite work the same way as it does in M:TG. You start off with just one mana point (don’t worry, there are some decent cards that only cost this amount) and gain one each round, up to ten. After you spend your mana, it refreshes at the beginning of each new round.
Gameplay is pretty simple. On your turn you lay down minions, cast spells, use effects, or whatever else you can do that costs mana. You also get a chance to attack either the opposing hero or their minions, depending on your strategy. Even if you’ve never played a collectible card game before, the tool tips, in-game, pretty much spell everything out for you. After just a couple of games you’ll start coming up with some strategies of your own, depending on which Hero you’re going with.
As you play, your character ‘levels up’ and you get access to more powerful cards. You also earn gold by doing quests, such as “do 100 points of damage to enemy minions” or “win two games against another player with a Rogue deck”. You can use this gold or real world money,if you’re behind on your questing, to purchase more cards. Now, since everything is digital, I’m not sure how/if you’ll be able to trade/sell cards or things like that.
Of course, this post is only scratching the surface of the ‘simple complexity’ this game offers and we have to remember that, since this is still a ‘beta test’, some things can (and probably will) change.
I will say, though, that this is probably one of the most polished beta games that I’ve yet to see. So far, I’ve only seen one ‘bug’ (involving missing letters in tooltips) that was gone the next day.
All in all, this is a very fun game…..easy to learn, but with enough facets and dimensions to keep it challenging. I’m really looking forward to the final product and know what I may be doing with some of my free time when it comes out.
Until next time….