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Hearthstone is easy to start playing, but the game is full of hidden little tricks that you might not notice. Some of them are important for playing the game or accessing hidden options that should be in the menu, while others are just for fun — but that’s the point of playing a game, isn’t it?
Blizzard’s Hearthstone is an excellent free-to-play game, and is available now in open beta for Windows and Mac. iPad, iPhone, and Android apps will arrive in the future.
Enable Full-Screen Windowed Mode
Unlike other Blizzard games, Hearthstone only offers a full-screen mode and a windowed mode. Full-screen mode often isn’t ideal because you can’t easily Alt+Tab out of the game — and, if you do, you’ll often see graphical errors when you return to the game. Windowed mode isn’t ideal because it doesn’t take up your entire screen. Full-screen windowed mode would allow you to easily Alt+Tab and use your entire screen, but Blizzard hasn’t implemented it yet.
Luckily, there’s a trick to enabling full-screen windowed mode in Hearthstone. First, click the gear button at the bottom-right corner of the Hearthstone window, click Options, and uncheck Fullscreen.
The game will now be in windowed mode, but the Hearthstone window won’t let you resize or maximize it. We’ll need the Task Manager for this — right-click the taskbar and click Start Task Manager to open it. Right-click Hearthstone in the list of applications and select Maximize — the game window will maximize and take up most of your screen, even covering your taskbar. The only difference between this and real full-screen windowed mode is that you’ll still see the window’s title bar at the top of your screen. You’ll also have to maximize Hearthstone from here each time you launch the game.
Click the Interactive Boards
Hearthstone’s game boards are interactive, so you can click them and see what happens. The game never really tells you about this, allowing you to explore on your own. For example, there’s a gryphon that roars when you click it, a gong that clangs, a campfire you can light, and a catapult you can put rocks in to launch at your opponent. And no, the catapult doesn’t actually do any damage!
Your opponent can’t see you doing these things. They serve a valuable purpose, giving you something to fiddle around with when your opponent is taking too long.
If you’ve been playing for a while, you probably already know about this, but you probably haven’t noticed everything. Have you ever noticed that the clock tower at the bottom-right corner of the Stormwind board displays the actual, real-world time?
View Card Flavor Text
Collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering often have “flavor text.” This text appears on cards and doesn’t actually affect gameplay in any way, but offers a quote or additional description that adds more “flavor” to the cards. Every single one of Hearthstone’s cards has such text, but it’s hidden. None of it text is really serious; it’s all silly jokes that often reference the Warcraft universe.
You can only view flavor text from the My Collection list, not while playing a game. To view it, head to the collections view that lists your cards and right-click any card in the book. You’ll see a larger image along with flavor text. You can even view the it for cards you don’t own yet. Click the Crafting Mode button in My Collection to view all the cards in the game, and then right-click any one of them.
Concede When You Know You’ll Lose
Start playing against other people and you’ll notice that they regularly concede if they’re about to lose next turn. If you know you’re going to lose in a minute or two and there’s nothing you can do, why bother watching your opponent smash your face when you can just concede, give them a victory, and move on to the next game? To concede, click the gear icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen — you’ll find a Concede option here while playing a game.
Hearthstone lets players communicate using emotes. There’s no text chat feature when you’re playing with people who aren’t on your friends list. This ensures you’re not constantly being insulted by gamers with a bad attitude while playing. It also means people playing Hearthstone on tablets can fully participate without keyboards.
To perform an emote, right-click your hero’s portrait and select a chat bubble. Your opponent will hear the emote you select. If your opponent is using a lot of emotes and you don’t want to listen to them, you can right-click the opponent’s portrait and select Squelch. You won’t hear any emotes your opponent clicks, although you will hear the “automatic” emotes like “Hmm, let me see…” when your opponent is taking a while to plan their next move.
Challenge Your Friends
Hearthstone unfortunately doesn’t allow you to complete quests or gain gold while playing against your friends. People would play against their friends and lose on purpose (sometimes called boosting). However, you can still play against your friends just for fun. To challenge a friend to a match, click the Friends button in the bottom-left corner of the screen and click the sword-shaped challenge button next to a friend. You’ll only see the challenge button if they’re online, in Hearthstone, and on the menu — not while they’re playing a game.
To add a friend to this list, add their BattleTag. These are made up of a player’s name and a unique number. They appear at the top of the in-game friends list, so just ask your friend what theirs looks like on the friends list.
While playing against a friend, you can use a real chat feature instead of emotes — just press Enter to start chatting. You can also chat with your online friends from within Hearthstone, even while you’re not playing against them — again, just press Enter.
You can also toggle the Enable Challenging Nearby Players – Friend List option in Hearthstone’s options menu. Players on the same local network will appear on your friends list so you can challenge them.
Right-Click a Card When Constructing a Deck
When building a deck, you can right-click a card in the list of cards in your deck and the book of cards will instantly flip to that card. So, if you have a single copy of a card in your deck and want an additional copy, you don’t have to flip through the book or search for the card. Just right-click the card in your deck list, and you’ll be taken to the card in the book, where you can click it to add another copy to your deck.
Hearthstone has that polish that Blizzard — love ’em or hate ’em — has traditionally slathered onto their games. There are probably other fun little tricks and useful hidden features in the game, too. Have you found any others? Leave a comment below!