I am in love with Blizzard’s online card game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and I am not ashamed to admit it.
For those that are unaware, Hearthstone is a simple-to-learn but hard-to-master card game developed by the same company that creates the MMO World of Warcraft. It is similar in design to Magic the Gathering but is not a carbon-copy and for anyone that does enjoy collecting and playing card games like that, this is the game for you.
It’s not difficult to understand why I love it so much. I enjoyed collecting cards through my youth and doing it all again brings those memories flooding back and the way the tutorial eases you in makes it so accessible to any skill level.
I went on to watch YouTubers such as Trump and Kripparian to help understand the game a little more and that’s when they got me on the hook.
What kept me coming back was their daily quests, which allow the player to earn gold by completing tasks on a day. At the start, you also have other tasks (some against the AI) that means you can access even more gold to get yourself started.
A pack is 100 gold. At a minimum, if you complete all your daily quests, you will get at least 120 gold. That, in very plain terms, means you get a pack a day.
Added to this is Arena Mode, where you draft a deck from set choices and play as many games as you can until you lose three games and you are rewarded with how many wins you accumulate.
Sometimes it’s two, sometimes it’s five and it stops at 12. You are guaranteed a pack (but not of your choice) and despite it costing 150 gold each time, your first entry is free.
Both of those mechanics show the great value in Hearthstone’s free-to-play model. I keep coming back because I know that if I play say 10-12 games that I’ll be rewarded with a pack.
Some might say “well, what if you get a load of cards you already have?” That is where the dust system comes in. You can disenchant any card you have to create dust, of which you can use to craft cards (although this can take a little while) that you do.
It’s an excellent system, it means that you are never really cheated out of playing for a pack and especially in something like Arena (where you can complete another set of daily quests if you have saved them up) that means you play to get more after having already used some earlier saved gold.
That creates an excellent hook, it keeps me coming back for more because it’s entertaining and I am being awarded regularly for my progress without having to dip into my pocket (although you can if you so wish).
Which is an issue at the heart of a lot of games at the moment. They want you to pre-order to get ahead of the game or work a lot harder to earn the same that someone else would have paid for, it’s not as fun and it feels like it is much less of a level playing field.
The way they do earn money is through adventures, that cost 700 gold per wing (a hefty price, with four wings each) but costs just under £15 to buy the whole set. You unlock free cards as you beat challenges created by the dev team that test different skills and add new play styles.
They are always fun, equipped with class challenges and difficult Heroic modes too and it always feels well worth stumping the money up for. You get plenty back, the cards have tended to be pretty good with at least four or five good additions along with a fun solo experience that gives you a good extra hours of entertainment.
All of these combined make it such a quailty game that many people are well invested in. What is also great to see is the investment of time and effort that Blizzard put in, with things such as a new Tavern Brawl every week (that gives you a free pack on your first win each week) as well as regular updates and new content.
Hearthstone to me, like streamer and regular esports player Trump would say, represents value. It keeps bringing me back because I enjoy it so much and they keep adding more to it, which keeps you invested.
If this at all sounds interesting to you, please check it out. Stick Hearthstone into YouTube, watch a couple games from some people and download it free of charge. Even just to try, it’s also available on your phone or tablet devices, it’s one of the best ways to play a game when you only have half-an-hour to spare.
Also, the sound effects are the very best.