Hearthstone, originally known as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, is one of the many games produced by Blizzard Entertainment and was released in March of 2014. This game is a free-to-play online collectible card game, but offers in-game purchases to increase your chances of acquiring better cards. I began playing immediately upon release, but was definitely more of a casual player at first. As the game continued to change and evolve with new cards, new ways to play and live competitions I became more interested in playing.
No Ordinary Deck
The game is available for PC and mobile devices(iOS and Android) and is relatively easy to play after you download the client to your desktop or device. When you start playing the game there is a tutorial to walk you through the early paces of the game. Each game is a one on one match versus another opponent in a turn based style of game. Each person chooses a hero to represent them, based on classes found in World of Warcraft. You can choose from either a Hunter, Mage, Warlock, Paladin, Warrior, Priest, Shaman, Druid or Rogue. Each hero class has their own abilities and sets of cards to choose from.
There are also communal cards that every class can use and you have to make a deck consisting of 30 cards. The object is to reduce your opponent to zero health by attacking with your minion cards. Every one starts the game with 30 health each and strategies vary depending on the class you have chosen and of course the class your opponent has chosen.
The popularity of this game has increased exponentially since being released in 2014. Thanks to e-sport gamers and live e-sport tournaments, this game is now available to watch all across the world on YouTube and the streaming service Twitch. The game and players adapt as more and more cards become available through expansions and even in-game stories.
The game began with 382 cards to choose from, which increased to 412 in July of 2014 with the releases of their first in-game adventure, Curse of Naxxramas. In December of 2014 the release of the first expansion, Goblins vs Gnomes, was released and the card total then jumped to 535. Over the course of 2015 there were two adventures, Blackrock Mountain and League of Explorers, and one expansion, The Grand Tournament, released. These three upgrades to the game increased the card total to a massive 743 possible cards. This prompted Blizzard to make a new change in April of 2016.
To make the game more competitive and adaptive Blizzard decided to introduced two styles of play in April of 2016. Blizzard introduced a Wild and Standard format of game play. Wild would be just that, you could use any of the cards released into the game. Standard format however, would mean you would be limited in your choices to the classic, basic and three most recently released expansions or adventure cards. This still puts the number of cards in the 800 – 900 range, but helps with new players joining the game with the new expansions and not really needing the previous expansion cards in order to compete and have fun. Along with these two new styles of play, they introduced the Hearthstone year and called the first Standard play year the Year of the Kraken.
Hearthstone And E-sports
Competitive play has really been a big part of the promotion for the game. E-sport gamers across the world have competed in many tournaments throughout the year. They are broadcast on YouTube and Twitch to millions of viewers. The professional players even stream on Twitch when not in tournaments and have created quite the community. The last three Hearthstone World Champions have been crowned at Blizzard’s pinnacle of conventions, BlizzCon. The tournament features players from all over the world. It’s broken down into four regions: Americas, Europe, Korea/Taiwan and China. The first champion, in 2014, was from the Americas region and is the gamer known as Firebat. The 2015 champion was from Sweden and goes by the gamer name Ostkaka. The current 2016 champion is from Russia and goes by the gamer name Pavel.
With the game changing all the time, it is always so much fun and enjoyable. Since being made available on mobile devices, it is always accessible. I am not good enough to compete professionally, but this is one of those rising e-sport games. There are cash prizes out there for people who are as good as those who keep making the World Championships. My favourite player is from the Netherlands and goes by the name Thijs. He is always streaming on his Twitch channel and keeps things enjoyable and educational. Another streamer and gamer that gives great help to those wanting to learn more about the game is Lifecoach from Germany.
You Really Should Play
Blizzard has really done a great job with this game. It is free-to-play and offers in-game purchases to those who choose to do so. You can also earn gold in the game with wins and completing daily quests. You can also use this gold to purchase packs of cards. I have fun with this game, though at times it can be frustrating because I am so competitive. The fun is there, and with so many variations available, the game is always evolving in to something more. The newest expansion is called Mean Streets of Gadgetzen. It is the first expansion to introduce a card that is usable by three classes.
Have you played the game? What do you like about it? Let us know in the comments below.