“Deceptively Simple. Insanely Fun” – that’s how Blizzard describes its new game. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a collectible card game with settings and characters based on the ever-popular World of Warcraft game. While the game was released in March 2014, the extended beta-testing period made sure the game was highly anticipated by Blizzard fans worldwide. Nowadays, the game can be downloaded and played for free at Battle.Net and is available in PC, Mac, and iPad. Personally, I found the game challenging and mentally stimulating as it requires me to think ahead and anticipate the opponent’s move. You will understand what I mean when you start playing the game and you consider its objective, hero classes, game cards, and game play.
Objective of the Game
Unlike in WoW where you can play with multiple players at a time, Hearthstone is a head-to-head, turn-based strategy game. Each player begins with 30 health and with a deck composed of 30 cards. The objective of the game is simple: drain the opponent’s health to zero before the opponent drains yours. To do this, you will need to choose your hero class, and with each class comes unique hero power, minions, and spells. For me, the interactions of these three factors make the game very interesting.
Heroes and Classes
Malfurion Stormrage (Druid) – Malfurion’s specialty comes from spells that enchant and improve minions’ attack and health. The Druid’s power is Shapeshift, giving Malfurion +1 attack and +1 armor until the end of turn.
Rexxar (Hunter) – Rexxar uses beasts as his primary form of damage while using traps and secrets to counter enemy minions. His Steady Shot deals two damage to enemy hero.
Jaina Proudmoore (Mage) – I like Jaina because of her array of spells that can be used to damage enemy hero or eliminate enemy minions. She uses Fireblast to deal one damage to a chosen minion or to enemy hero.
Uther the Lightbringer (Paladin) – Uther has a host of strong minions, and he uses spells to limit the opponent’s minion on the board. For his hero power, Uther can summon a 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit every turn.
Aduin Wrynn (Priest) – I am not fond of playing against Anduin because of his healing and direct damage spells. Don’t ever think the game is over with Anduin because he can always use his Lesser Heal power to restore two health points to a minion or to himself.
Valeera Sanguinar (Rogue) – I found that Rogues are difficult to deal with early in the game because of cheap mana spells and minions. The combination of the two along with her Dagger Mastery that equips a 1/2 weapon makes her a formidable foe.
Thrall (Shaman) – Thrall uses totems as his hero power; these totems can either have a certain skill or can affect minions in play. Be wary of Thrall’s access to cards with Overload as it allows him to cast powerful spells at a lower cost at the expense of reduced available mana next turn.
Gu’ldan (Warlock) – I always have my guard up when battling against Gu’ldan because of cheap minions with Battlecry ability and powerful direct damage spells. His hero power, Life Tap, is unique, allowing him to draw a card and take two damage.
Garrosh Hellscream (Warrior) – Garrosh is my favorite because I am never out of the game with his Armor Up! hero power. This skill gives Garrosh two armor each turn that can be stacked indefinitely. With his armor in place, Garrosh uses weapons and quick to attack minions to directly damage enemy hero or minions.
Minions – Minions are the creatures of the game that can be summoned on the board. At the top left side of the card is the minion’s casting cost. You can find the minion’s attack at the bottom left corner of the card while its health at the bottom right corner. A minion’s attack is the damage dealt while its health indicates the damage it can take. For example, I have chosen to use a 2/2 Raid Leader to attack a 1/2 Goldshire Footman. In this skirmish, the Goldshire Footman is buried while my Raid Leader gets to live to see another turn.
There are minions that possess certain skills that can affect the dynamics of the game. Skills like Battlecry, Charge, Taunt, Summon, etc. make the game challenging and interesting at the same time.
Spells – Spell cards are powerful, game-changing cards that can only be used once. Spells differ for each class; each spell may bring about unique effects, deal direct damage, or both.
At the beginning of the game, the computer randomly chooses who goes first. The one who goes first starts with three cards. The other player is awarded the Coin which grants one free mana for one turn along with four other cards. Each player begins with one mana crystal, and all the initial cards drawn can be replaced.
At the beginning of a new turn, mana crystals are refilled and increased by one. Once a player fills the bar with ten mana crystals, no more mana crystals can be added. Simultaneous with the refilling of mana crystals, a player draws one card from the deck. After this phase, the player is free to cast spells, summon minions, and attack the opponent until the end of turn. This process is repeated until one hero loses all health or decides to concede. Although I have never experienced it, there’s a possibility for a game to end in a draw.
From the looks of it, the game is deceptively simple but until you have actually played and learned the game, you will never know how insanely fun it can be. I have my own share of nights spent playing Hearthstone, and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon. The game’s objective, hero classes, game cards, and game play all contribute in making the game challenging and mentally stimulating.