OK, I'm Addicted To Hearthstone

OK, I'm Addicted To Hearthstone

Oh, Blizzard. Over the past two decades, no company has consistently gotten me hooked on video games the way you have. Just how do you do it?

Yesterday, I picked up Hearthstone, the free-to-play card game set in the Warcraft universe, which came out for iPad earlier this month. Blizzard first released Hearthstone for PC, but something about playing this kind of game on a tablet just feels nicer — the touchscreen works perfectly for sliding tiles and selecting creatures, and the portability makes it easier to play whenever I have a few spare minutes at home.

I started playing yesterday afternoon. I can't figure out how to stop.

Hearthstone, unlike many collectible card games, is super-streamlined. It's a simple game, easy to pick up and jump into. The concept is as straightforward as these things get: use creatures and magic spells to slaughter your opponent before they can kill you. The closest comparison is probably Magic: The Gathering, though Blizzard has wisely stripped out Magic's resources — lands — in favour of a simpler gem system that gives you the opportunity to make at least one move every turn. This trades a little depth for quicker matches, and it's nice to have a multiplayer game that you know you can finish within 15 minutes.

And where Magic has colours, Hearthstone has heroes: you can play as one of nine different Warcraft-themed classes, like mage or druid, each of which comes with its own special ability and cards. I haven't spent enough time with the game to really master the nuances of these classes, but I can conclusively say that playing as a mage owns.

What's really great about Hearthstone is that it's low-maintenance — at least at the beginner to intermediate level, matches rarely last longer than 15 minutes, which is perfect for those of us with rather busy schedules, and families, and chores. (Speaking of which: Hearthstone on iPad is the perfect game to prop up in your kitchen while cooking dinner. Note: Kotaku takes no responsibility for Hearthstone-related accidents or grease fires.)

In other words, this is the CCG that casual players have been craving for years.

So when I started yesterday, after going through a few basic tutorial missions, it was pretty easy to hop on battle.net and start crushing fools. From what I understand, Blizzard has spent a great deal of time and energy on balance over the past few months, and I have no complaints yet. (I'm sure this will change as I get deeper into the world of deck-building and high-level ranked play.)

Also, I haven't spent a dime.

I can't imagine ever sinking my life into Hearthstone like I once did to World of Warcraft many years ago, but I can totally imagine picking up the iPad every day or two for a couple of quick matches. There's nothing like that endorphin rush you get when you take down an enemy player. And there's really nothing like losing to a friend and immediately promising to take your revenge.


Comments

    I've somehow become hooked on Hearthstone as well.

    As a recovering MtG player and aspiring Android: Netrunner player (seriously, someone play with me!), it feels like a terribly dull and stripped out game. There's just so little to do and during your opponent's turn you literally have the option of clicking on things on the screen or not.

    Yet I've played it for over 10 hours in a single sitting.

      So is Android: Netrunner only on android devices or all devices? And more to the point what the heck is it?

        It's a living card game, with real cards.

        The difference between it and MtG is that you just buy all the cards outright instead of getting boosters with random cards. They release new packs monthly and it's all relatively easy to keep up with.

        As for the game itself, it's an asymmetrical game. Players face off against each other as the Runner and the Corp. Runners try to get into servers and steal agendas for points, Corps try to build up impenetrable servers to hide agendas in (so that they can be advanced and scored).

        There's a really interesting metagame and lots of deckbuilding potential. There are three different runner factions (anarch, criminal and shaper) and four different corps (NBN, Weyland, Jinteki and HB). Each faction/corp has their own playstyles and within that there are also different identities for all of them that give you even more options on how to build your deck.

          I picked up Netrunner a few months ago and still haven't played it. The rulebook does my head in, and it quickly became evident it was not a game for my girlfriend to enjoy. Awww.

          So on a scale of one to table flipped how hard to understand/learn is this?

            It's not that bad but learning by yourself is rough. The rulebook is a mess. Best to have someone show you how to play.

              Do I have to play this in person? Because if I do I'm screwed!

                That's pretty much how card games work. Particularly the bit about being screwed.

                  Aww now I have to find people who play cards!

      It's my current "what do?" game for when I can't decide what to play.

      Annnnnnnd it's time to go to bed.

        I think the mindlessness of it helps. You can't decide what to play so it's very easy to just bust out for a game or two. Then the obscenely strong "just one more game" factor kicks in.

      Does it have a single player against bots. Internet is hard to come by ATM.

        Yep.

          Guess what I'm playing while "watching" endless and all the same Chinese reality TV tonight.

    Also, I haven’t spent a dime.

    Just you wait.

    Glad I'm not the only one! I don't get some of the rage aimed at HS - Sure there's definite Pay 2 Win potential here, but I've only come up against one or two opponents who've dropped legendary stuff on me (Onyxia... *shudder*) and the most have been fairly evenly matched. Definitely the best structured F2P game I've come across, but from Blizzard I wouldn't expect much less - compare it to the Adventure Time CCG game with it's big up-front purchase price, timers restricting how many games you can play at a time and heavy focus on the cash store. In comparison Hearthstone comes out miles in front.

      Most of the legendaries are VERY situational. The 'dragons' even more so. Against aggro decks you're unlikely to get to late game and have the chance to use them. Any late game decks will generally be running counters for them (silence spells/minions, Polymorphs, Hex, Aldor Peacekeeper, Mind Control).

      The only ones you will commonly see is Leeroy Jenkins in aggro decks and Cairne Bloodhoof in midrange decks. Other ones are generally class specific ones in their respective decks (Miracle Rouge/Control Warrior).

      Multiple decks have even gotten to legendary ranks running only "cheap" cards. There's a deck that Trump ran that got to legendary thats rarest card was a Faceless Manipulator:

      http://www.hearthpwn.com/decks/33140-trumps-free-mage

      As a hunter who likes to play the buzzard/hounds combo, I fully endorse Onyxia. Or even better I'll respond to your onyxia with my Leeroy. Got whelps? :)

    Ive been playing since the Beta on PC, and having the ipad version is great for mobility.

    Play on the train to and from work

    The Single player exp also sounds pretty good

    Hehehe... I got Onyxia yesterday in a pack bought from my dailies....

      Sorry to say, but that's one of the legendaries that is more fun to open than it is to try and use :P. In this meta, the game is usually all but over by turn 9, not to mention the legendary dragons are all overcosted anyway (except Ysera).

      If you really want to build a deck around it, I would suggest a ramp-style Druid (like this one: http://www.hearthpwn.com/decks/38013-low-budget-ramp-druid-with-upgrade-tips), throw in Onyxia for one of the Starfires, and hope to queue into Druids that aren't running Big Game Hunters :P

        yeah I play a ramp Druid currently.... Haven't got to the point where I can use onyxia yet.

    Game is way too random. Arena decks are wildly random. Its too frustrating when your sitting there being outdrawn from turn one.

      Closing in on 1000 Arena wins with a 65% win rate, and i've felt that frustration dozens of times over, however, drafting to accommodate those possibilities is part of the skill of the arena. Random systems are, by definition, fair to everyone, and to be successful, you have to deal with the randomness better than the other player does.

        I've found arena being anything but random lately. I seem to be coming up against people that seem to have very structured "random" arena decks. So much so I feel like it's slipping in a few construct people to make sure matches are found quickly...

        ... but thats purely paranoia....

    Great game! I've been addicted since open beta, one of Blizzard's best

    Annoyed with the iPad version. Really doesn't accept connection drop outs at all.

    Surely when it loses connection it can pause the game for the duration of a turn then call defeat. So sick of reconnecting only to see it kept going and my minions wiped out.

    Between this and the Pokemon TCG Online starting to stabilise itself - I'm a happy TGC gamer.

    I've had a similar experience with Hearthstone recently as well, started following matches of it on Twitch after all the press it for being released on iPad and then started playing it and got hooked. Each class really does feel very different and seem to sport their own personality?

    As always Blizzard have mastered creating a competitive online game that's going to keep their fans coming back for more.

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