Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Activision Blizzard | Activision Blizzard | PC, iOS, Android | Free-to-Play
Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital card game from Blizzard Entertainment, the same company behind World of Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, and Overwatch. Hearthstone is centered around, features characters, and settings from the Warcraft universe. While there are microtransactions to obtain card packs, unlock various Adventure modes, and obtain new heroes, the game does not require any money up-front and between missions and Arena mode, money only has to be spent on Adventures, which are optional.
The game is a lot of fun to play and includes a tutorial for new players (and new accounts) that does a real good job at teaching people how to play, too. The tutorial is unskippable, too, so make sure you play it on the right account. Having the Blizzard App, while required, is a good way to avoid this. Though it makes account hopping, if you do that, nearly impossible.
By playing as various heroes, you level them up and unlock some cards. Because of that, you need to play as each hero, so you unlock all the cards. Fortunately, you don’t have to play against real people to unlock cards or gain your first few levels due to the game’s AI opponents. If you level up each hero, you can play against Heroic opponents, who are also AI but harder.
Like most competitive card games, the core gameplay mechanic involves you playing minions and spells to reduce your opponent’s health to 0. Before the game, you choose which hero you will play as and then enter battle. Each hero represents a different class from World of Warcraft. The class you choose each has a different Hero Power and some cards. Most cards, however, can be used by any class. The hero type is required, though. This is especially true when building a custom deck. Most heroes only have 25 health, so it requires a bit of strategy to keep your hero safe.
The game offers a lot of different gameplay options. For solo players, Hearthstone offers Adventures through Naxxramas and Gadgetzan and various modes against the AI. In the Adventure modes, the player goes against various computer-controlled opponents in the standard sort of game to unlock new cards that are exclusive to the Adventure mode you’re currently playing. Also, you go up against opponents that you won’t face in any other mode. Full Adventures do require real money, but you can test your skills – or your deck – for free.
When it comes to cards, you can build your deck like you would in a traditional card game, but Hearthstone does offer a few options that are digital-only, such as the crafting system. Card Crafting, or something the game has had since launch, is the ability to use Arcane Dust to fill gaps in your collection and/or get cards you really need by creating them. Cards with higher rarity – such as Uncommon or Legendary – require more dust to make than Common cards do.
Above all else, this is a game you play against other people. While you can play against friends, the bulk of the game requires playing against random strangers. The primary mode of the game – known simply in-game as “Play” – requires you to take your deck, or one of the starter decks, up against some other player. The starter decks are 9 decks built under each hero and only featuring Common free cards, so you have to complete enough games and levels to unlock them. This mode is also where most quests can be completed.
Once you gain enough personal experience, you can try The Arena, where you have to build a deck from a series of three random cards. Once you build a complete 30 card deck, you want to get 12 wins before you get three losses. Depending on how many wins you get, you unlock keys that can be used to give you rewards. The more wins increases the amount and rarity of the rewards, including packs, gold, and golden cards. Most players play in this mode. It requires spending real world money or gold, which is an in-game currency you earn from most quests and arena runs. Gold can also be spent on card packs.
This game feels like a Blizzard game. There’s a lot of little things, such as the way the cards move, the fuse timer spark, the way you can kick up dust by clicking the ground, and the little things you can do on each map. Not only that, but the game sounds good, too. From the Scottish accent of The Innkeeper, who serves as your narrator to the various voice packs for each of the heroes, not to mention the brilliant music that permeates every corner of the game
Like any card game, Hearthstone is made for nearly anyone to enjoy. The game is easy to play with one hand and it doesn’t seem to limit anything to people who may be limited. The only disability that would negatively affect your Hearthstone experience is anything cognitive. The ability to critically and strategically think is critical to this and any card game. I’m lucky enough to only have a physical disability. Those who have a mental disability will find this game hard to enjoy. Also, if you have any severe vision impairment, you may find Hearthstone – and any card game – hard to play. Like most card games, this game is dependent on your ability to read.
OVERALL: 93% (not an average)
I can safely recommend this game to most people. Of course, if you fall into either of the above categories, or if you simply hate card games like this, then it’s not for you. However, because this game is free-to-play, there’s no penalty (aside from the download) to try this out. Many people may be in a rehabilitation center or a long-term care facility with slow, shared wireless internet, so downloading a game the size of this one could come at a premium. Hearthstone is an excellent game and worth sinking a few bucks into if you enjoy it.