An In Depth Review of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Hearthstone: HEROES OF WARCRAFT is an online card game created by Blizzard Entertainment that launched into open beta during January of 2014. It has since then grown into one of the most popular card games ever created and regularly has an audience of 30,000+ viewers on Twitch.Tv (usually second or third in stream audience only to League of Legends and Dota 2 or Minecraft).
It is themed after the ever popular World of Warcraft, another of Blizzard's very successful games and is FREE to play which makes it very attractive to kids and other hobbyists that are just looking for some fun and don't want to spend money.
Although Hearthstone is free to play, there are plenty of things that you can do or buy in the game that will require cash or the accumulation of gold (in game currency) such as buy additional packs of cards to build decks from, upgrade your cards to look fancier with a gold boarder and an enhanced picture, or play in the Arena.
Hearthstone is a 1 vs 1, turned based, fast paced game that only takes about 12 minutes which was one of the biggest sellers for me. I could play 3-4 games of Hearthstone in the amount of time it took to play 1 game of League of Legends (heck sometimes I could even play a game during the loading screen =p).
There appears to be enough skill in the game to make it competitive, yet a little luck in terms of card draws and other randomly generated events that the game is not "too serious" for most which really helps make it more fun for everyone.
In order to play Hearthstone all you have to do is download it from battle.net, play through and beat the tutorial which not only teaches you the basics of the game quickly and efficiently, but it also starts you off with some cards for your first hero class the "Mage".
Once you finish the tutorial you are free to play games with your friends, games against random enemies, or play in the arena which is a really fun draft mode of the game.
The absolute basics of the game are that there are 30 cards in your deck, 4 options for games to play which are arena, normal, ranked, and normal vs a friend (soon there will be 5 with questing games coming later in the year), 9 different classes each with unique cards and hero powers you can use in combat which are Warrior, Paladin, Shaman, Druid, Mage, Rogue, Hunter, Warlock, and Priest.
Each day you are given a quest which you can complete to earn gold and you also receive gold for playing the the arena or for winning 3 games in normal or ranked mode.
You are given basic decks for each class that you can use, or you can custom build your own decks out of around 400 possible cards that can be unlocked by playing the game or buy purchasing packs from the in game store, as well as by taking other cards you have and trading them in for dust which can be used to "craft" additional cards.
A Review of Hearthstone Game Play
Hearthstone is one of the most balanced games I have ever played. For the level of complexity involved with the possible card combinations and choices, I have found that every single class out of the 9 has specific strengths and weaknesses that allow it to overcome certain foes, and sets them at a considerable disadvantage towards other classes. This is wonderful because in Hearthstone ranked play you never know for sure what class you will be up against, so it makes for a very diverse play experience since the meta is always shifting. For example, if one class becomes the dominant and most popular class, it will not take long for people to start adapting to play the countering class to that style deck and then others play something that sort of counters both of them but loses hard to some less common class or deck. As more players play those then others adapt to counter those and so on for ever and ever.
The play is always quick with a maximum of 30 seconds per turn. From my experience most turns take less than 15 seconds which really makes for a fun and exciting play experience.
One of the most interesting things that Hearthstone has down was to balance the first player to take his turn vs the second player very well by not only allowing the second player an additional starting card, but also by giving him 1 extra spell which he can cast for 0 cost to give himself 1 additional mana to help offset the advantage that first player would normally have otherwise. Both players are allowed to redraw any of their starting cards one time which makes it a little less luck based which is also nice.
There are also weapons that you can cast on your heroes that they can use to deal damage, and secrets which are spells you cast on your hero that activate when a certain condition is met. It is important to note that secrets are only active during your opponents turn to prevent you from taking advantage of your own secrets. They were designed to always be activated by the opponent, so in an effort to make this the case Hearthstone designers decided to only have them active during enemy turns.
Hearthstone's Hunter Class
The Hunter is typically played one of two ways since it specializes in damage as well as combinations of beast cards. The hero power for the Hunter lets you deal 2 damage to your opponent which is the most powerful damage dealing hero power there is.
The hunter will either try to setup beast combinations, simply try to out damage the opposing hero, or will do some combination of both. The additional benefits to being hunter are that you also have access to secrets and weapons that you can play on your hero.
Hearthstone's Warrior Class
The Warrior is a class in Hearthstone that is very versatile. It can be played high damage or can be played high defense and controlling. The reason for this is that the hero power for the Warrior is the add two armor to your champion which makes him harder to kill. Most of the cards for the Warrior are designed for dealing damage or adding armor which is great because you can play the class a few different ways and still have it be very effective. I prefer to stack armor on the Warrior because there are so many classes that try to rush you down early and if you stack armor and live through the early game you tend to crush them later on.
The Warrior has the best weapons in the game and because of the armor you can get he can swing them without taking too much damage even if you decide to hit minions with them. The warrior also has a few good spells to remove or destroy enemy minions, so overall he is a pretty strong class.
Hearthstone's Warlock Class
The Warlock in Hearthstone is the class that I see played the most. This is because the hero ability of the Warlock allows you to pay two health to draw an additional card into your hand. This is a big deal because it can be used in rush decks to out rush your opponent, and in control decks to get a card advantage and dictate the pace of the game. Also, you never have to worry about running out of cards with Warlock which can be a big issue for other classes.
Warlock has no weapons or secrets, but it has lots of unique spells and minions that are really strong, but come with a penalty. Such as "Soulfire", a cost 0 card that deals 4 damage to a target which is amazing for building an early advantage, the downside is that when you play it you must also discard a random card from your hand.
Hearthstone's Paladin Class
The Paladin is one of the most awkward classes in Hearthstone to me because it is very 1 dimensional compared the the other classes. The Paladin's hero power is to pay 2 mana to summon a 1/1 minion. This is great for building up a minion advantage, but aside from that it just isn't super useful compared the all of the other hero powers. The Paladin can use weapons and is sort of a mix between Warrior and Priest because he can both heal and swing weapons, but I haven't quite found a perfect use for him yet.
He can use secrets which is really nice and is something that neither Priest nor Warlock has, so that is a bonus, but his kit just seems like it is all based on controlling the board and yet lacks single target minion removal... So, he is very good in certain cases, but otherwise awkward and clumsy to play.
Hearthstone's Priest Class
The Priest class is one of the most underrated Hearthstone hero classes right now. The reason for this is that the Priest is a more defensive late game hero typically and people get tired of playing both with and against him because he makes the games 20 minutes long. His hero power is pay two mana to restore 2 health. This can be used on himself as well as minions, so it is exceptionally annoying.
The Priest has lots of healing cards, and can even use spells to turn your own cards against you in many different ways, so he is a very strong late game class. The issue really is that a lot of times Priest can get controlled early and die during the mid game which is why he is so underrated right now. The priest can be very fun, but a lot of the time will make for a longer game.
Hearthstone's Rogue Class
The Rogue class in Hearthstone is the most combo driven class in the game. If you do not combo your cards you will not win with Rogue in most cases. The Rogue is typically played in a rush fashion where you try to rush your opponent down and kill him before he gets too strong to where he overpowers and kills you. This is because Rogue while using combos has a very strong early and mid game. The Rogue's hero power is to pay two mana to equip a 1/2 weapon which is good for using weapon combos and dealing damage directly with your hero.
Late game, Rogue really has nothing going for it and if you have used your combos properly you should really be out of things to do by late game anyway, so if it goes to really late game like against priest or Warrior, you are usually dead in the water with Rogue. They are one of the strongest classes though because their combos are deadly and they can draw tons of cards into the mid game.
Hearthstone's Mage Class
The Mage is the first class everyone learns in Hearthstone and it is one of the more enjoyable classes because it can do most things well. It is capable of being played rush, it has secrets, it is capable of playing for late game and control, it has removal, and direct damage, as well as multiple ways to control and clear the board of minions.
The Mage is a class that is just plain fun, the hero power is deal 1 damage to any target (even you own minions so you can set off abilities that trigger on your minions taking damage which is really fun). You can freeze people, turn them into sheep, and do all sorts of awesome stuff which makes the Mage my #1 class to play in Hearthstone.
Hearthstone's Shaman Class
The Shaman is a really unique class in Hearthstone because it is just plain crazy. Your hero ability is to summon a random totem which costs two mana. The totems range from 1/1 basic creatures to 0/2 totems with taunt or other amazing abilities. Shaman has weapons, they deal good damage, and they have another unique aspects to their cards called overload.
The Shaman can use cards with overload to get extra things done right now that he pays for next turn by having his mana partially locked from use. For example he can use a card that costs 1 mana which would usually cost more for any other class, but it will also lock up one of his mana for the following turn. This is important because it allows him to really dictate the pace of the game at times.
Shaman is a great class, but they are hard to figure out, so don't be surprised if it takes you awhile to get the hang of them, I know it did for me.
Hearthstone's Druid Class
The Druid class in Hearthstone is a class with more options than most. I say that only becuase literally their cards a lot of the time have options for you to choose from. For example one of the cards says that you can either restore 5 health or draw two cards. It is these options that make Druid so adaptable and dominant in many cases.
Druid's hero power is pay two mana to give your hero 1 attack this turn and 1 armor. This is a great power and is very good at staving off rush decks. The other really amazing thing about Druid is that you have wild growth and innervate which are probably the best spells in the game. Wild growth allows you to pay two mana to permanently gain a mana crystal (so basically you get +1 mana per turn all game) and innervate allows you to pay 0 to get +2 mana this turn only which is great for getting ahead of your opponent. Druid is very solid and has lots of options which is why a lot of people play them.