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Six Reasons You Should Be Playing Hearthstone
While technically still in Open Beta, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft comfortably resides at that infamous Blizzard-level polish that many games never reach even after final release. Playing like a simplified version of Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone successfully boils down the best components of a Collectible Card Game into a fast-paced, deceptively simple but hard-to-master competition.
And I’m completely addicted.
Read on for why Hearthstone might be one of the best games you’ll play in 2014 and why you need to jump onto the Digital Collectible Card Game bandwagon.
1) It’s Fast
For veterans of M:TG and other CCGs, the most apparent difference in firing up Hearthstone is just how fast the entire game plays. By eliminating resource cards you can focus on the action at hand, and the gradual power creep leads to an average match length of less than 10 minutes. Many cards’ abilities activate automatically upon fulfilling certain requirements – battlecries, death rattles, etc, streamlining the entire process. Furthermore, there’s no active countering or cards to be played on an opponent’s turn, leaving both players to play out and plan their next moves quickly.
2) It’s Friendly
Competitive games can be an understandable hurdle for many gamers due to the almost universally accepted application of verbal abuse and taunts from your opponent (or even teammates in team-based games like MOBAs). Blizzard actually took a page out of Nintendo by only giving each player a set amount of phrases they can speak to each other – a friendly taunt, a greeting, a “Good Game,” a thanks, etc. Suddenly most opponents I’ve played use Well Played (Hearthstone’s equivalent of GG) not just at the end of a match but throughout – like just after I play a particularly great combo, and I often find myself returning the mutual respect. It’s a simple change but incredibly refreshing and makes playing the game less about what your opponent plans to do with your mother and more about the game itself.
3) It’s Flashy
I don’t mean it was made with Flash (do check out our Flash Game of the Week series though!) – Hearthstone has that classic bright, exaggerated comic style that’s become synonymous with Blizzard’s Warcraft series. It’s not just the fun art style on the cards; large creatures slam onto the board, crackling the sandy ground underneath them, creatures hurl themselves at each other and at heroes, and the crowd oohs and ahhs after a particularly devastating attack. Arcane Missiles launch pink bolts of death at your enemies, the Hunter’s bow twangs an arrow right into your opponent’s face, and my first ever Legendary card, Ysera, opens a giant portal on the battlefield with which to draw her special Dream cards. Hearthstone injects some much needed heart and soul into the genre, and makes the game as entertaining to watch as it is to play.
4) Daily Quests
Playing competitive games just to win and be the best is certainly a viable angle, but I get a huge amount of enjoyment in completing daily quests, opening new packs, and constructing new deck ideas around the cards I get. Every day you get a new random quest to complete; these can range from winning with certain classes to defeating 40 minions or doing 100 damage to heroes. None are designed to be unobtainable and all provide motivation to keep playing random folks in Constructed Play. As if great CCGs weren’t addicting already, leave it to Blizzard to devise a brilliant scheme to literally keep you coming back every day.
5) The Arena
If you enjoy the thrill of building decks, Hearthstone has its own version of the classic Sealed Deck Draft in the Arena. For 150 gold you’re given a choice of three heroes, followed by 30 rounds of card selection from a choice of three randomized cards. Forced to build a deck on the fly is equal parts maddening and exhilarating, and results in a very trial-by-fire manner to learn new cards you’ve never even seen before. You can keep playing this deck until you reach three losses, at which point your reward depends on how many wins you achieved. Thankfully you’re guaranteed a card pack (100 gold cost) even if you go 0-3. If you can hit three wins you’ve about broken even on the cost of entry while more wins result in substantial rewards in cards, arcane dust (for crafting individual cards) and gold, making Arena both a fun and economical way to play the game.
6) It’s Free
Free games often have a justifiably negative connotation in the gaming industry, ranging from shallow browser-based games to insidious money-gouging mobile games. Digital CCGs can fall into this category quite neatly by providing a low cost of entry but charge to purchase the critical booster packs for additional cards. Hearthstone successfully minimizes the blow by offering a single booster pack for 100 gold, which is easily obtainable by completing a few Daily Quests or finishing a successful Arena run. Even if you’ve completed all your Daily Quests, every three wins in Play mode nets you 10 gold, so you’re always able to work your way toward earning another card pack. Spending real money allows you to buy as many booster packs as you like to get a jump start on your career in Constructed Play, but the Arena’s drafting mechanics make it the great equalizer for everyone.
Are you already a Hearthstone addict? Share in the comments and let us be your support group.