I was first introduced to trading card games by my father when I was about 10 years old. The game was Magic: The Gathering, and while I was only a young kid who didn’t quite know the highest of grand strategy, I embraced it with gusto, and thoroughly enjoyed playing with my dad or watching him get beat in tournaments. When I got into middle school, I revisited the game with a group of friends where we’d face each other’s decks during lunch hour. Throughout the years, I’ve found myself embracing the new genre of deck-building games, as well, which may be thanks in part to my early introduction to Magic: The Gathering.
While the nostalgic days of playing Magic among friends during lunch hour are gone, the genre has fully embraced the digital age. Magic the Gathering can now be found on the PC, consoles, and phone/tablet devices, and has an impressive following despite the age of the game. In fact, the audience for card games is vast enough that Blizzard has turned its eyes on the genre.
|There won’t be any tapping of Mana in this game!|
Blizzard’s new take on the card game genre comes in the form of Hearthstone, a digital-only card game with the World of Warcraft theme. While the power curve in Magic the Gathering can be erratic, based on how well you draw your hand, Hearthstone solves that problem by giving both players an equal rise in resources as the game progresses. This system creates a masterful increase in tempo, which makes each game increasingly exciting as the stakes get higher and higher.
As usual, Blizzard’s attention to detail is staggering; the art, animations, music, and sound effects are top notch. Despite being a card game, Hearthstone manages to make you feel like you’re actually in an Inn enjoying a friendly card game against a rival. This is only enhanced by how the cards and tiles collide and animate, making it a treat to watch your strategically-placed fireball take out a minion, or when your heavy-hitting minion slams your opponent directly, causing the table to rumble.
Blizzard has also placed progression hooks into their new card game. Every corresponding class from World of Warcraft has their own deck, which allows you to build a deck with specific class cards. For example, only a Warrior deck can have cards such as Slam and Cleave. As you play a particular class, you will gain experience in your chosen class, and unlock basic class-specific cards. Ideally, as the game proceeds through beta, other fun rewards will be added to unlock as you progress, as well.
|There are nine class decks to choose from|
In addition to leveling up certain class decks, Blizzard has added gold currency to the game, which you may earn through daily quests, achievements, and just from simply playing against other players. With this gold you can either buy booster packs to further build up your deck, or gamble it in the arena, which is sort of a randomized deck-build where you win as many as you can before reaching three losses. You are rewarded based on your performance, so sometimes it can pay off to do arena instead of buying the pack outright.
There is a catch to all of this progression, though. As a free to play game, Hearthstone must make a profit somehow, thus, the game makes this profit through micro transactions. While you can play the game unhindered, without spending a dime of your own money, it may be a bit rocky for you, at first. Granted, Hearthstone is still very much in beta, and Blizzard is still balancing the game; however, I became a bit concerned with the ability to purchase booster packs with real money. Many a time, I faced an opponent whom has far superior cards than I did, and could easily counter my strategy with those cards. With the ability to purchase these booster packs, this creates a ‘pay to win’ feeling until you manage to build up your booster cards. Despite my doubts, I am confident that Blizzard will solve this problem and find a way to even the playing field to an acceptable level.
|Eventually Hearthstone will be coming to Android and IOS Devices!|