Blizzard is probably best known for it’s RPGs World of Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo, among others. Recently, though, they’ve introduced a free to play card game, Hearthstone. It’s a strategy game that players of Magic: The Gathering will probably pick up very quickly. But if you haven’t played those sorts of card games, it’s still pretty easy to pick up. And if you’ve played WoW, you’ll probably recognize a lot of characters featured in the cards.
To begin with, the starter tutorials were top notch. You learn quickly, and unlock more with each step. Once you beat those, you can start playing against other players. I found the pairing algorithms built into the game to be fairly robust as well: when playing in casual play or ranked play, I am nearly always matched against someone at my level, give or take. The arena is a bit more random, but to compensate, no one gets to bring a pre-made deck. I know that may sound like a bit of gibberish to some readers, but just know that with few exceptions, you won’t be playing masters of the game when you’re a beginner. This makes entry into the game pretty easy and less intimidating.
I haven’t used any real money to buy decks, just the gold I win in-game or as rewards for arena play. This has probably slowed my progress a bit (well, that and the fact that I don’t devote hours and hours to this game, the message boards, the strategy guides, etc.). But I have definitely seen improvement over time, which to me, is the mark of a good game.
But for people on the fence, here’s a reason to start ASAP. Sometime in July, Blizzard is releasing an adventure expansion Curse of Naxxramas. This will feature a series of wings that can be unlocked, one week at a time. As players beat each wing and side quests, they will be rewarded with brand new cards. The first wing is free if you play within the first month of release. After that, it, and the remaining wings, will charge for entry (either real money or in-game gold).
Now, the new Naxx cards are bound to change the game, so you might as well jump in while everyone else is learning how to use those cards. Get that first wing free while you can, check it out, and see how you do. Then, while the other wings are released, skip Naxx and build up your decks, get some experience, and save up some gold. When you’re ready to return to Naxx, you can then buy individual wings or all of them at once.
Like other Blizzard games, Hearthstone is fun, funny, frustrating, and potentially addictive. I keep coming back to satisfy daily quests, get my gold, and chalk up a few wins (and losses). If you start playing and want to find me, you can add me to your friend list. I’m ImpishGrin#1369. But be warned, I’m a below average player. So don’t expect too much should you challenge me.