Hearthstone has just arrived on the iPad, making it an excellent time to start playing the game. For the uninitiated, Heartstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a collectible card game (CCG) played entirely online. Like every other CCG, it involves building decks from randomly obtained cards. Those familiar with Magic: the Gathering will have an idea of how this works; for everyone else, here is a primer on getting your feet into Blizzards version of the CCG.
The game mechanics of Hearthstone are simple and straightforward. While the tutorial explains how to play in great detail, it won’t take long for anyone to pick up how things work. Essentially, you have a pool of mana that increases by one every turn. You spend that mana to cast spells, summon creatures, and activate your hero’s special ability.
Aside from the basics of the game, there are some other things you can do to make the whole experience a little more enjoyable.
First of all, Hearthstone is possibly the only CCG that allows people to play without spending money. The game provides players with the option to earn in-game gold, and use it to enter the Arena or buy packs of cards. Real world money can be spent, but it isn’t necessary. However, like with most MMO games, grinding for gold takes quite a bit of effort.
To make things a little easier at the beginning, players should be aware of Unique quests. These quests earn 100 gold upon completion, but remain hidden until the conditions are met. There is no indication that these quests even exists, which is a problem for new players. Fortunately, the Hearthstone wiki has a list of the quests and their conditions. Be warned that because this is still technically a Warcraft game, some of the quests are rather difficult to achieve.
New players should consider starting on the iPad version. Blizzard is providing anyone who plays Hearthstone on the iPad with a bonus pack of cards, and it’s really nice to get extra cards for no reason.
Each class should be tried in Practice mode against the AI. At least until unlocking all the basic cards. These cards are reasonably powerful, especially those for the Paladin, and provide a good place to start building your own deck.
More importantly, having experience with each class will prepare you to face opponents by keeping you informed about their playstyles and capabilities. Unlike other CCGs which are played with opponents in the room, Hearthstone lacks the choice of watching your opponents; so the more information you have about what they can play the better.
Hearthstone features a crafting system as a method of obtaining rare cards; as an alternative to hoping for the best when buying packs. Essentially, all cards can be disenchanted and turned into dust. That dust can then be used to make better cards.
It is not recommended that you immediately start disenchanting cards as a newbie. In fact, it is not recommended that you disenchant anything; unless you receive a third copy of a card. This is just in case you decide that you wanted to use that particular card after for a new gameplan. Decks may only use two copies of any card; which is why it is safe to get rid of those extras and turn them into dust.
Playing in the Arena is a good way to get cards, gold, and magic dust. In fact, it is generally considered to provide better rewards for your effort than the other options. Of course, the Arena uses a randomised draft format which means it is a matter of hoping the random number generator is in your favour. On a good day, the Arena can net several hundred gold and pays for future entrances back into the Arena.
For those who want to play with customised decks and test their skills against similar minded people there are the two options to either play in a ranked or unranked game. Contrary to popular belief, it is the unranked option that presents the more difficult of the two.
Many players want to play the game, but do not want to risk losing ranks while testing new deck ideas. Thus, the unranked games become a testing ground for the better players. This presents a challenge for new players who are expecting to practice their games before joining the ranked games. In this case, it becomes a situation where ranked games become friendlier and more welcoming for newbies. Therefore, those who are getting frustrated with the game might want to try switching over for a while and seeing if things get better.
Knowing these basics of Hearthstone will potentially make for a better gaming experience. It is also helpful to know that Blizzard is also promoting real life meetups in the form of Fireside Gatherings. If you decide to play the game seriously, Blizzard has announced the Hearthstone World Championships to be held at BlizzCon this year.
Hearthstone is a great way to get a low cost fix for your CCG addiction; especially if you are suffering from World of Warcraft TCG withdrawl. It’s also free so there is no reason to avoid giving it a try. As a popular gaming spot in Malaysia likes to say, “majulah gaming untuk Negara”.