Hearthstone is a free-to-play online digital collectible card game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. Originally subtitled Heroes of Warcraft, Hearthstone builds upon the existing lore of the Warcraft series by using the same elements, characters, and relics. It was first released for Microsoft Windows and macOS in March 2014, with ports for iOS and Android releasing later that year. The game features cross-platform play, allowing players on any supported device to compete with one another, restricted only by geographical region account limits.

Gameplay

In Hearthstone, your goal is to reduce the enemy’s hero health bar from 30 to 0. To achieve this you have to pick your hero and then build a deck of exactly 30 cards, before starting a duel. When the duel starts, the game will decide randomly which of the two players will play first. The duelist that gets to play second will have one extra card and one Coin card, which gives +1 mana the turn that you play it, for compensation. You can end your turns manually, otherwise they will automatically end in 90 seconds.

Each player will also have a Mana Bar indicating how much mana he has. This bar fully refills every round and it cannot exceed 10 mana. In the first round the bar will have only one mana crystal but it will increase by one, until it hits 10, when the next round comes. Mana is the main resource of this game because every card and hero ability has only a mana requirement. In the first round you will also get a chance to replace as many of your starting cards as you want.

There are four categories of cards, units, weapons, heroes and spells. Both of these types have a mana cost in the upper left corner, a rarity gem (Common, Rare, Epic, Legendary) in the middle and a text below the gem stating what are the special effects of this card (if it has any). Special effects include Battlecries that activate when you play the card, Deathrattles that activate when the card dies, Taunts that forces your opponent to target this card and many more. Units also have an attack and health icon in the bottom left and bottom right corner respectively.

At this moment, there are 10 available heroes and they are all inspired from the vanilla classes of World of Warcraft (Warrior, Paladin, Shaman, Hunter, Rogue, Druid, Mage, Warlock, Priest and Demon Hunter). Every hero has a unique passive spell that fits the class (for example Rogues can equip a 1 / 2 Dagger and Warlocks can Life Tap giving life in order to draw a card). This passive costs originally 2 mana and can be used one time per round. In addition, each hero has a unique collection of cards that can be used only with decks of that class. For example Mages will have Blizzard, Water Elementals, Jaina etc.

Online Features

Hearthstone has a Casual Mode, a Ranked Mode, Arena, Adventures, Brawl and now Battlegrounds. In Arena you build a draft deck of 30 cards and then compete until you hit 12 victories or 3 loses. Adventures is more like a PVE deck-building mode with some pretty interesting mechanics in the bosses and scenarios. Brawl changes each week and it’s a random fun mode made by Blizzard. Finally Battlegrounds, added to the game the last year, form a huge chapter in Hearthstone and we will discuss about them in another article.

Graphics / Sound

The cartoon-ish graphics are satisfying just like every Blizzard game and cards are well designed down to the last detail. There is also a more expensive unique collection of animated (Golden) cards with awesome effects and colors. Hearthstone’s sound imitates the ambient noise inside a Warcraft medieval inn. The only downside are the combat sound effects that are mediocre for a game of that caliber.

Unique Features

One of the first deck-building PC games that attracted an enormous number of players and generally engraved the road for online card games, a genre very popular nowadays. It also offers the Battleground selection, a unique mode that involves a battle royale with 8 different heroes.

Pros

  • Cards inspired from the Warcraft universe

  • Battlegrounds unique feature

  • Well designed PVE system

  • Frequent patches to improve cards

Cons

  • Sometimes RNG plays a huge part in a duel

  • Combat sound effects have a great room for improvement

Rating (8.6/10)

  • Online: 9/10

  • Gameplay: 9/10

  • Graphics: 8.7/10

  • Sound: 7.7/10

  • Uniqueness: 8.5/10

Primary Version Tested: PC

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