Written By Rob Bonnell
Trading card games have been around for as long as I can remember, for me it started with the ever famous Pokemon, and after that there were some others that came to light but only because there were cartoons made about them like Pokemon. Pokemon trended and still does for years because of the cartoon that we all grew up loving.
Then came along Yu-Ghi-Oh and such others. The longest that I know being Magic The Gathering. In which I was surprised to find out that after over 20 years of being around 12 million people around the world still play it so I had to join in with them and bought my own starter deck and currently in the process of learning the game.
When I say learning I do mean failing at it!
Anyway these trading card games(a.k.a – TCG’s) that have been around — I have only mentioned a small percentage of them — have started a craze of bringing the trading cards scene to many platforms that all us gamers use. Pokemon is still regarded as the most popular with there continuing and growing Nintendo series.
Magic have entered the fold too, with there first platform release of Magic The Gathering – Duels Of The Planeswalkers 2013, back in 2012. They have also since released 2014 and 2015 since.
The one that I will be talking about, which was the second card game I have ever played and being the first on a gaming platform, is Hearthstone – Heroes Of Warcraft. This wonderfully colourful, yet free to play, cheeky card game, has been spawned out of the ever growing popular World Of Warcraft games, where some of the characters featured in W.O.W, have been used as the classes for different card decks.
You can download the game by getting the Blizzards Battlenet app and installing it after you have created an account.
To begin with your tasked to play with one class, the sexy illustrious looking Jaina Proudmoore who is a skilled mage.
In order to unlock the other characters though you have to defeat them in a match up, and you only have a limited set of cards in your deck until you unlock more. The cheaty way of course to unlock all the characters if you really want to, is to get a friend you know who plays the game and get them to play as a character you haven’t unlocked yet and get them to concede the match. Once they have done this with all the characters – providing your friend has them all unlocked first – you will have them unlocked as well.
However this doesn’t help you learn to play the game. There are a number of things to take in with a card game, the first being its not like other games, there is a huge element of strategy involved in playing any trading card game.
When you start a game you are presented with a well designed and minutely interactive game board at the bottom end is your character and the other end is your opponent.
You start off with a deck of 30 cards, and life points of 30.
The aim of the game is simple enough, reduce your opponents life points to 0.
There are a number of ways to do this and the primary way is to use your minions. Theses are cards that have varying health and attack damage to attack your opponent with, some of them even have abilities that can be used to help you get your opponents health down faster. You can also use some of them in conjunction with other minions and on rare occasions with your character. As well as the minions you also have spell cards that will be used and discarded once they have done what there used for. All of these cards are at your disposal for use to defeat your opponent, hence the strategy because your opponent is also trying to out think what your doing.
The game has a few features that are designed to make you feel like your playing a physical card game, like being able to purchase booster packs using the in game currency, which of course you can buy more with your own actual hard earned money. In fact there is really no point in calling free to play games free to play when there created with in game micro purchase system to entice you to spend your money on something that with a little hard work you can unlock anyway.
Aside from the booster packs they have made all the battle arenas semi interactive, by this I mean you can use your mouse to click on several places in the arena, and if you click some of them repeatedly you can even break parts of the scenery while you wait for your opponent to make his final battle winning decision. They have also incorporated a very basic communication system. If you right click on your characters portrait you are able to communicate with your opponents with pre determined dialogue for each speech bubble pressed, and you can even right click your opponents portrait.
Now the cards! Each character, 9 in total have there own standard basic card set of 20 individual cards which you can unlock by levelling up which ever character your playing at the time. By the time you reach level 10 with each character you should have there respective 20 cards unlocked, the boosters are there to give your character more uncommon and rarer cards to hopefully give you an advantage in your matches. You can customise your characters decks to suit your play style, much the same as you would if playing a real card game like Magic The Gathering. Being able to choose your cards opens up many possibilities and you will have to tweak your chosen deck a bit to fine tune. Taking out cards that didn’t work so well and replacing them with new ones to try out.
The newly released single player story mode comes in 4 ‘Quarters’ with three battles a ‘Quarter’ that get progressivly harder forcing you to change your deck and play style. Blizzard graciously give us the first one for free then after that you have to either pay with real cash or all your hard earned gold from in game daily rewards to unlock the other ‘Quarters’ of the game, again this so called free to play game asks you to spend your own money because they insist on making you play hundreds of games for pittance in gold.
Hearthstone does do a great job of introducing you to a new type of game and even makes it fun for all ages, the greeting at the start of the menu is warm and welcoming, the daily tasks box is easy to decipher giving you little side missions for gold to achieve in game. The soundtrack is well composed to give you that RPG feel while playing. The character dialogue is well voice acted as well.
Give the game a try after all it is free and you may like its simplicity. If your feeling like your not getting what you want out of the game you could always try a physical card game, go back to your childhood roots and dig out that long forgotten Pokemon collection.