Trading card games have been popular for quite some time. Magic the Gathering is the most widely known trading card game, but it’s far from the only one to gain popularity. Blizzard released a World of Warcraft trading card game in the past, but the company decided to try its hand at a digital trading card game this year. The result was Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which is currently available for the PC, iPad and Android tablets, with an iPhone and Android phone release planned for early 2015.
Hearthstone does what most trading card games strive to do, but generally fail at. Blizzard made the game accessible to the masses by making it free-to-play. In fact, while you can spend real cash to purchase card packs, the game isn’t pay-to-win. Buying packs of cards only guarantees you one card of Rare or higher classification. In order of rarity, the cards you can find in packs are Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary. Getting one Rare card in a pack doesn’t help you win all that much, but there are rare occasions when you’ll find an Epic or Legendary card, or even two of more cards of Rare classification or above.
Of course, finding these rare cards still doesn’t mean you’ll be able to wipe the floor with the competition. There are nine classes in the game: Hunter, Warrior, Warlock, Druid, Rogue, Paladin, Mage, Priest and Shaman. A good number of cards are exclusive to a specific class, so if you find a Legendary and an Epic in a card pack, but both are for classes you don’t play, they’re of no help to you. Luckily you can play any class at any time, and there are plenty of common cards of all classifications, so the more cards you have in your inventory, the better off you are.
You can collect cards and card packs without spending any money. The in-game currency is gold. You earn gold by completing daily quests. You get one new quest a day, and can have up to three active quests at a time. Each quest will net you between 40 and 100 gold. In addition, you can spend gold on packs (100 gold each) or an Arena run (150 gold).
Arena is a mode of play in which you are given a choice between three random classes. Once you’ve selected your class, you must build a 30-card deck from a random series of cards. You’re presented with three random cards at a time and you must choose one before a new set of three random cards is presented. Once you have a full deck, you play against opponents until you reach 12 wins or three losses, whichever comes first. No matter how well you do in Arena, you always get at least one pack of cards. The more wins you get the bigger the prizes.
All of this means that Hearthstone is an extremely accessible game that almost anyone can get into. It doesn’t cost any money, and spending cash on the game won’t necessarily net you more wins. In fact, the only negative aspects of Hearthstone is the strong randomness of the card draw that is an issue with many trading card games, and the bad manners of many people who play the game. However, you can’t blame the game for people being people.
Once you’ve learned the basics of the game through the tutorial, check out Prima’s tips on how to build an Arena deck, how to form Voltron, and how to get through the Curse of Naxxramas solo adventure.