World Of Warcraft (WoW) changed the world of video games and developer Blizzard Entertainment has expanded the franchise into several spin-offs. Hearthstone is a turn-based collectible card game with characters from WoW.
Hearthstone is almost a definition of the word “geeky”—a fantasy world of druids, gnomes, and princesses, condensed into a turn-by-turn strategy game, with your brain doing quick math calculations to win. But it never feels geeky once you start playing it. In fact, it’s just another enjoyable video game, and that is probably Blizzard’s greatest accomplishment here.
Going Beyond Geeks: Few Things to Know
- Hearthstone is completely free to download and play. Some features are locked unless you pay, but you can still enjoy most of the game for free, safely doing away with in-app purchases.
- You don’t need to have played World Of Warcraft or be familiar with any of its characters. Newcomers won’t miss out on anything. If you are a WoW fan, you’ll get kicks out of the characters involved.
- You don’t need to have played a turn-based strategy card game before this. Hearthstone puts you through the paces in a quick tutorial which makes the game easy to understand. And you’ll pick up other tricks as you keep playing.
- You will need an active Internet connection at all times, even if you are playing a single-player quest.
- A match lasts about 10-15 minutes, on average. It’s a fantastic game to play if you have that much time to kill. If you have less time than that, don’t start a new multiplayer game—you won’t finish it and you’ll end up losing.
What’s Hearthstone All About?
Explaining all of Hearthstone would take a book, not the confines of a simple article. So here’s what you need to know if you are new to the game…
Your “hero” player and the opponent’s have 30 health points when you start a match. Whoever kills their opponent first, wins.
Each card has attack and health points, as well as a mana cost required to play the card. You start off with one mana and three cards. In each turn, you will get a new card from your deck and gain one more mana. The deck has 30 cards. You can use preset decks, or create your own deck with the cards you have unlocked. In fact, there are three amazing free-to-play decks you should check out.
When you “play” a card, you place it on the table. When it’s the opponent’s turn, they can choose to attack your card or your hero, using their own cards or hero.
As you progress, the types of cards change too. For example, you get “Taunt” cards, which have to be attacked before any other card or hero. You also get “Charger” cards, which can attack in the first turn. Then there are “Spells”, that do things such as replenishing your health, adding taunt to other cards, attacking the enemy hero directly, getting two turns with one card, replicating one of the opponent’s current cards, and so on. The variety in the cards is what makes the game enjoyable and interesting. And there are some useful and fun tricks hidden in Hearthstone that you can discover along the way.
Wins give you gold, with which you can buy decks or expansion packs in the store. You could spend real-world money too, but you’d be better off using tips to get more gold, cards and dust.
The attack and defense points, the number of cards played so far, and the best moves based on your mana, are where the math comes in. It never gets complex, but you do have a limited amount of time in each turn, so you need to figure out the best play quickly.
Don’t Worry, It’s Easy… And Addictive!
If all of this seems complex, relax. The touch controls are easy to understand. Tap on your current hand to see all the cards you have; press and hold any card to read it in detail. Place a card on the table by swiping it from your hand to the table.
To attack, tap and drag from your card to the opponent’s card or hero that you want to slay. Spell cards are activated just like placing a card on the table. And there’s a helpful arrow to make sure you don’t accidentally activate the wrong card. It’s all pretty simple and it just works.
Plus, not only will the tutorials get you used to the gameplay, but the algorithms make sure you aren’t ever out of your depth.
You have a player ranking, as do all your characters. When you pick a character and choose to play against an online opponent, Hearthstone makes sure it matches you against someone of similar rank and skill. It actually works splendidly, and most of the matches I had were closely fought affairs. Given that there are 25 million active Hearthstone users, it’s no surprise that the game can usually find someone to match you against.
Since you are matched up against players of similar skill, you get to learn how to play the game as you go along. It is never frustrating—unless what you thought was a perfect move turns into an error because you didn’t foresee your opponent having a certain card that negates your genius. Ah well, live and learn!
In fact, the game’s easy learning curve ends up getting you hooked. You always think that you’re one game away from beating the good guys. “I think I’ve got it now, let’s just play one more,” my brain kept telling me, as my editor waited for this article. Once you’re hooked and want to get really good at it, there are these seven websites to make you a better Hearthstone player.
Should I Download Hearthstone?
Short answer: Yes! It’s free, you don’t need to spend any money to keep playing and enjoy the game, and the gameplay is quite addictive.
When you do download it, make sure you set aside some time for the first play. You should also know these five tips before you start. This isn’t like Flappy Bird or Crossy Road, where you start playing endlessly as soon as you download it. You need to invest about half an hour in understanding the game. But once you do, the reward is totally worth it!
Download: Hearthstone for iPhone (Free)
Download: Hearthstone for Android phones (Free)
PC vs. Tablet vs. Mobile
Hearthstone is available for all platforms, but as with anything else, there’s already a platform war brewing. Which is your favorite version of Hearthstone: Windows and OS X, iPad and Android tablets, or iPhone and Android smartphones?