Monday, March 17, 2014

Postpone - Hearthstone Review

   Hearthstone is a virtual collectible card game (CCG) developed and hosted by Blizzard, and planned to be available on iOS and Android devices.

Totally staged screenshot, I'll admit it.
   There are currently nine heroes, each of which has a special skill they can use once per turn along with a set of cards unique to them. Pick a hero, make a deck, draw your cards, and destroy your enemy as efficiently as possible. Hearthstone has the same premise as most TCGs, whoever reaches zero health first loses, but is designed to be more accessible to new and casual players. There are less phases and steps than you may be used to and games are short, but there are some extra features to keep you playing time after time.

   Simplicity: Right On
   Hearthstone is very easy to start playing, as gameplay is almost excessively simple. At the bottom right of the board are your mana crystals, needed for playing your cards. The number of crystals is increased by one and refilled every turn. You can play any card as long as you have the mana for it, but you can only play cards during your turn. That's it. You now know how to play Hearthstone. This might be a turn-off if you're used to more complicated card games, but the extra flashy graphics will deter you from judging the game too harshly without giving it a proper try.

   Progression: Quick
   You get better as you play the game and acquire more cards, and so does your hero. You level up heroes by using them, unlocking new cards as you go. To get non-hero cards, you can either unlock them by buying Expert Packs or crafting the card you want specifically.

Craft or just read all the cool flavor text.
   If you're willing to spend a little time fighting bots, you can build up a good deck surprisingly fast. Crafting cards is done with "Arcane Dust", which can be acquired either through Arena or by destroying any cards you don't want. The ability to set up a viable and competitive deck without relying much on cash or luck sets this game apart from the rest.

   Arena: Interesting
   There are just three game modes, but they cover all of the basics. "Play" mode which encompasses normal and ranked PvP games, "Practice" mode where you fight against bots, and "Arena" mode. This mode is unlocked after you have unlocked every hero through playing Practice mode. Arena mode requires an entrance fee of either cash or 150 gold and allows you to fight other players on an equal playing field using semi-randomly created decks and heroes. Once you lose three times, you receive a reward based on how many wins you received. As long as you can win three times, you get more than your invested gold back in goods. And even if you get zero wins, you still get an Expert Pack.

Just be careful.
   Once you gain entrance, you are presented with a selection of three random heroes. You pick one. Then you are presented with a selection of three random cards. Pick one. Do this 29 more times and there is your deck. It's a slow process, but it ensures that no one in Arena is using a deck that they are familiar with. This mode can be demoralizing if you happened to make a bad deck and lost three times with no wins, but you can always recoup your losses and try again. There is no time limit on the deck creation process but you can't go back to redo it if you made a bad deck, so if you need any extra help, try this link.

   Progression: Stop and Go
   The smooth leveling speed is great only for the first hero you play. Once you decide to branch out to another class, you remember the cards that can only be unlocked through leveling. Quite a few of these cards are essential to the success of the given hero's main strategy. This means that every time you decide to learn a new class you may find yourself losing a lot of PvP matches, so your best bet is to go back to Practice just for leveling the hero before going back to normal play. Reverting to Practice mode when you are used to crushing foes in normal or ranked games can be frustrating.

   Tutorial: Good But...
   The in-game tutorial is enjoyable and informational. It's also over 30 minutes long and mandatory. When you first start, you have to go through a series of six battles laden with funny dialogue and characters. None of which can be skipped nor repeated.

Don't have too much fun, okay?
   Spells: Sigh
   There are four types of cards. Minions, Traps, Weapons, and Spells. Minions fight the enemy, traps go off under certain conditions, weapons allow your hero to attack, and spells do this:

Totally staged animal abuse.
   Decks that are heavily spell-based can work well in Hearthstone since they tend to be used for "Removals". This term is lingo for any card whose sole job is to remove a minion off of the field. Particularly powerful minions can win a game quickly if they are left alone, which is why they almost always die on the first turn they are put on the field. This can be really annoying if you are wanting to make a deck that focuses on strong monsters, since it likely won't be too effective. Instead of games being won with a superior army, armies are used to stall while you work on superior spell combos or timing. You may accept this as just how the game works, but when you put out a particularly powerful monster and it is instantly wiped from the field, you may be more than a little angry.

   Final Score: 4 out of 5

   For what the game does, it does it very well. It has its ups and downs but overall, its a very fun game. If you like TCGs, you should consider giving this game a try. It may seem geared towards casual players, but there is an element of mastery that even pros can enjoy.

Bonus! Make sure to mouse over the activity ticker on the left to see what's going on.
   Extra Things to Know
   - Beat all characters in Practice mode to unlock Expert practice, with harder bots.
   - Gold is earned a bit slowly. Do daily quests to earn more.
   - Daily quests can't be completed in Practice mode or in duels with friends.
   - You get 95 arcane dust the first time you disenchant a card. Get what you really need!
   - You have 90 seconds to take your turn. If you use up that whole time, you get less time next turn.
   - Your first failure in Arena is free. Use it as a learning experience!
   - Win 500 ranked games with a hero and you get their golden version...
   - Only 7 minions can be in play at max on your side, and only 10 cards can be in your hand.
   - Challenge friends to duels! You still level heroes by doing this, but you can chat and there is no time limit.
   - The stuff on the four corners of the map is interactive. Taptaptap!
   - Right-click your hero in order to use canned phrases
   - Who goes first is decided by a coin flip. Whoever goes second gets an extra card and the coin, which allows you an extra mana crystal for one turn.
   - Ranked is based on wins. You start at rank 25, and each win gains a star towards the next rank up. Losing doesn't matter until rank 20, where losing will cause you to lose stars.
   - Minion health doesn't come back on it's own. Be careful.
   - Beware of Goldshire Footman. If you see him, you are likely going to win.
   - This game may make you want to play World of Warcraft.

No comments:

Post a Comment