Let me be perfectly clear – I suck at trading card games and have zero interest in Warcraft. However, after years of waiving Blizzard’s free-to-play license to print money, a good friend of mine has finally convinced me to give Hearthstone a go.
God bless his heart, the game is astonishingly well thought out and, well, just plain fun.
Blizzard has managed to build a solid fanbase that’s extraordinarily dedicated to their favorite digital card app. Even after your first dozen online matches, you can immediately spot low-level players striving to climb up the rankings ladder by way of collecting and straight out buying their way to early glories. That is probably Hearthstone’s less than ideal structural play loop – even if you’re just learning the ropes, there is nothing but your wallet stopping you from sending a ton of money Blizzard’s way by purchasing card packs loaded with way more powerful cards than those in a standard beginners deck.
So, how did Blizzard manage to refrain most players from using the dreaded freemium terminology to describe its prime card game, you ask? Well, the in-game currency is used and implemented masterfully in Hearthstone. This piece is but a newbie’s play log, mind you, but I have played enough hours to know you do not need to spend a dime to have fun whilst playing this Warcraft-inspired title. Again, you will most definitely have a competitive edge if you choose to do so, especially earlier on, but you will be fine either way.
The most fascinating aspect of Hearthstone, however, is how it invites you into its home and never lets you go. The game eases you into its deceptively simple yet accessible battle system with one of the finest, smartest tutorials I have played in years. Hearthstone refuses to simply show, it demands to be experimented with as you commence learning as soon as you launch the app. You will instinctively try and use a card that seems appropriate as the game promptly steers you in the right direction. Ten minutes in, you know almost everything there is to know about its mechanics and overall tone.
For such a deep and captivating game, that is pretty much incredible.
From that point on, you will certainly understand there is but a simple question you might want to ask yourself regarding Hearthstone – how much time are you willing to invest in Blizzard’s game? You will learn, get better at it, earn your first online trophies, eventually obtain better and more effective cards and muster powerful decks that you can attach to your favorite heroes from the Warcraft universe. Should you think about strategies and card effects even when you are not playing the game, like I do, understand you will lend Hearthstone potentially tens, if not hundreds of hours.
But the whole thing is so fun! Do yourself a favor and at least try it. I never cared for it either, but once the game clicks, it becomes part of your routine.
See you online. Spoilers: I will beat you.