Implayed Special (Episode 23): Hearthstone

title-special-ep23

Note: I missed yesterday. To compensate, here’s a special edition of Implayed. I’ll call it special because it’s not in the usual Steam list. Hearthstone’s not on Steam at all.

The announcement of Hearthstone a while ago came as a big surprise – Blizzard has been known for just having their 3 separate franchises for almost 20 years now, and save for Warcraft’s departure genre-wise from the original strategic roots, none of the other games that they planned to do this with came to fruition (Warcraft Adventures and Starcraft Ghost). But then we got the news that we would get Hearthstone, a CCG (collectible card game) on multiple platforms, including PC and tablets, and that it would be soon. Not Blizzard Soon™, but actual soon, with the beta of it coming in less than a year. The time has come and gone and the beta of the game has been out for a while now, but it hasn’t really taken the world by storm yet. Don’t get me wrong, many people wanted to play it, but there just weren’t enough beta keys given away to get people playing. Heck, not even now.

But I got one.

Opening packs is very satisfying.

Opening packs is very satisfying.

To start with, I’ve got to say that the beta for Hearthstone is the most polished I’ve seen in a long time now. I’ve played it for a few hours, and I couldn’t find any real bugs at all. There were some in the earlier version, but that seems to have been patched out since. It oozes polish out of every pore of its painterly being, feeling both utterly Warcraft but also new and improved. Each and every one of your actions on the playing field feels like it has some sort of weight to it – the table is made in such a way to give you things to click on when you have idle time, and even the field on which the cards are played gives you a satisfying thump and a puff of dust whenever you click it.

It’s obvious the game is designed for tablets too – you only need the mouse to do everything in the game, and it’s intuitive and easy to pick up and play to the point that everyone could do it in minutes. The tutorial consists of 5 missions of increasing difficulty, each of which teaches you the basics of the game. As you go through them all, all you’d need to still find out is how all the different cards and classes work. Every deck has a limit of 30 cards, and each class has class-specific cards you are wont to learn if you want to get to the core of the gameplay.

Close games happen often.

Beating up your opponent rewards you with blowing his title card up and experience with the current class.

Like every other Blizzard game, it’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. While you won’t need APM or constant perspective over what’s happening in the game to actually get good at Hearthstone, learning how the cards work and the different tactics you can create and combat will take you a long way into beating the more competitive Arena mode, in which you are to buy into with gold or real money. Once you enter, you’ll have to construct your deck by selecting one of three random cards 30 times, taking it into battle until you either win 9 times or lose 3. The more times you win before you lose your 3 games, the better the rewards you get.

There’s a lot to the game, and there will probably be a lot more as it keeps evolving, but I like to keep it short.

Hearthstone is an awesome free-to-play card game from Blizzard. It’s currently in closed beta and you can opt-in here. Enjoy.

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