Hearthstone is the surprisingly successful online trading card game published and developed by Blizzard. Built around the characters and lore of Blizzards flagship Warcraft franchise, Hearthstone is a competitive trading card game that plays similar to Magic: The Gathering and similar entries to the genre. Released in March 2014, the game has reached new levels of success for video games in the TCG (trading card game) genre.
While TCGs have been popular for decades now, only in recent years have they seen an earnest amount of representation in the video game world. There have been traditional and established TCGs like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! making the jump to digital representations as well as brand new TCGs that were created digital from the ground up. Hearthstone is one of these games, and that gives it an advantage as it doesn’t have to follow gameplay rules restricted by the real-life version of the game.
As a free-to-play game (Blizzards only FTP game) Heathstone attracted a healthy amount of players right off the bat. The game that greeted them was slightly easier to pick up compared to the more complex systems of Magic or Hex: Shards of Fate. What also greeted them was the usual Blizzard polish, making for one of the prettiest and intuitive TCGs out there. Hearthstone features a full suite of digital cards categorized and separated in to 9 traditional Warcraft classes (eg: Warrior, Rogue, Mage) plus a neutral card category available to all. One of the main draws of the game is creating your deck and opening booster packs with currency received from playing matches.
The gameplay itself is set up as a duel between two players and their shuffled decks, which should be familiar to anyone who has played a TCG before. Hearthstone does have a unique and fun draft mode where you create a deck picking one card at a time from a random selection of 3. In this draft mode, after your deck is complete, you compete against other users who created their deck in the same way, and the more wins you rack up without losing 3 times the more likely you are to unlock a rare prize. This mode is a nice alternative to the usual game and really tests your knowledge of what makes a good deck.
Hearthstone is the type of addictive fun where you can’t help but jump in and get a quick game in. Although most times that quick game turns in to a quick seven games, and then in to “just a few more and I’ll have enough for another booster pack”, and on and on. As stated before, the game is completely free-to-play, so if you are getting the TCG itch that many of us know all too well, do your self a favor and check out Hearthstone. Or if you like to watch, there is certainly no shortage of streamers you can frequent and learn more about the game.