Gaming Spotlight – Hearthstone

Hello ladies and gents,

So this weeks Gaming Spotlight comes from an already established and well known games developer, Blizzard Entertainment. That’s right the huge guys behind such blockbuster gaming series as Diablo and World of Warcraft (often lovingly referred to as WoW). Hearthstone is the company’s latest creation; a blend of the much loved characters and graphic style of WoW, with the strategic thinking and patience of a trading card game. Yes, I know this is yet another card related game but I promise it is more in depth and along the lines of a video game than the previous ones, so bear with me……again.

Gameplay

The aim of this turn-based game is to defeat your opponent (either human or A.I.) by depleting their heroes health, while defending yourself using a varying array of cards.  The players selection of hero can shape the way in which they handle their card strategy, the hero’s represent the varied classes available in the pre-existing Warcraft lore and determine what special cards and ability the player receives in-game. The current classes available are:

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The match starts with both players drawing a new card from their deck – this is a collection of 30 cards selected before starting a game. The choice of deck can either be a pre-assembled ‘basic’ pack, or can be designed and customised by the player for strategic plays. The cards available to players can vary between class specific and general cards, this means each hero has their own strengths and weakness’.

Each turn the player can choose to play any of the cards from their hand, use hero powers, command summoned minions to attack, or attack the opponents hero directly if their hero is equipped to do so. Sounds simple enough, until you realise you’re actions are limited by a mana supply, this resource pool is refreshed at the start of each turn. Each player starts with 0 mana crystals and gains one every new turn up to a maximum of 10. Each card and hero ability requires the player to spend a certain amount of mana crystals in order to play it, this is where the strategy and patience comes in! Often throughout gameplay the more mana crystals a player has the stronger and more impressive cards are revealed, opening the game up to more possibilities. The cards within a players deck can have a range of abilities that the player must use offensively and in defence. Some notable abilities are:

  • Taunt – When played this card draws all attacks from your opponent and must be defeated before any damage can be done to the rest of your active cards.
  • Battlecry – The card will carryout a specified action as soon as it is played, an example of this could be adding +2 attack to a friendly minion or healing the player for a stated amount.
  • Deathrattle – When this card dies it’s effect will activate, this could be summoning another minion, or damaging the enemy hero.

As you might be able to guess a players ability to manage their cards abilities and plan the order in which cards are released is key in becoming the victor.

Guide to the Hearthstone UI
Guide to the Hearthstone UI

Graphics

The visual style of this game is graphic, goofy, and beautifully created. Each card has its own artwork, and appeals to the lover of graphic novels inside me. The purpose, health, attack, and mana cost of each card are clearly shown and integrated into the card designs without sacrificing the overall style.  Reading through a few articles about Hearthstone, some reviewers considered the artwork too childish and in turn fear that the game would only appeal to younger audiences.  I can appreciate this viewpoint, but I do not think that a graphic style alone can limit a game to a specific age group, the graphics are fun and remind me of the years I spent as a child collecting and battling Pokemon cards (I wasn’t a huge collector, but it was the thing to do back then).

One of my favourite things about Hearthstone is their attention to detail to the game board itself.  There are 4 possible game boards available to play on, each of which has its own interactive areas. While waiting for their opponent to decide on what cards they are going to play, players can find various objects to click on, activating fun and unique events. Some of my favourites include loading and firing a catapult, smashing a chapels windows, and annoying a nesting gryphon. Although this may not seem like a thrilling addition to the game, it keeps me entertained between turns.

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Final Thoughts

Hearthstone is an addictive card game that features fluid animations, quirky graphics and engaging gameplay. Don’t let the games link to the WoW series put you off playing this game, personally I have only dipped my toe into the pool that is the Warcraft world and I have not found it to be a disadvantage.  The cards are all easy to understand and I am always learning new strategies and techniques with each match I play. Overall if you have ever had an interest in trading card games or fancied pitting your strategic mind against likeminded gamers, this is the game for you. Hearthstone is available on both PC and Mac, and is currently free to download and play.

So that’s it for this Gaming Spotlight, let me know if you found this review helpful, and your thoughts on Blizzard’s latest release. If you have any suggestions of games you think I should have a look at or just want to say hey, please feel free to send me a message on any of the social media links below.

Catch you later.

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Disclaimer: Images courtesy of Blizzard Press Kits

Most Used Apps

Hello there,

So I’ll lay it out on the table for you all; I’ve become attached.  Attached to my phone and iPad that is, to be more precise the Apps that I use.  I’m sure in this age of smartphones and tablets we all have apps that pretty much run (or in some cases ruin) our lives.  Let’s face it there are apps for pretty much everything; from calorie counters to crushing candies, so I thought I’d give you glimpse into the gaming apps that keep me glued to my devices.

Smash Hit (created by Mediocre)

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This is the most recent addition to my App catalogue, and it is by far one of the most addicting games to date.  The game is simple; throw balls towards oncoming obstacles to clear your path.  I know it doesn’t sound as exciting or thrilling as an action game but trust me give it a chance.  You only possess a limited supply of silver balls so the player must rely on good timing and aim to be able progress through the levels.  The graphic style is minimal but futuristic, which is always a soft spot for me.  The sound design mirrors that of the visuals, background audio provides a fantastic ambience but is contrasted by the shattering of crystal blockades and structures.  Smash Hit is available on both iOS and Android systems and is currently free (a £1.49 Premium version is available, allowing access to Cloud saving, Stats, and restarting from checkpoints).

Magic Piano (created by Smule)

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This app appeals to the musician in me, and if you are a fan of games like Guitar Hero then this game is worth a try.  Magic Piano allows you to play along to thousand of tracks by simply following dots on the screen.  As the song begins the player must tap the screen as the coloured dots reach the highlighted area, the difficulty of each song can be chosen at the start.  The difficulty challenges the player from using two finger commands (Easy) up to four finger responses (Hard).  This game has been on my tablet for about a year now and I have yet to become tired of it.  The choice of musical genres and the ever present urge to 100% complete a song is irresistible to me.  The choice of songs and instruments to choose from are limited at the start but more are unlocked as you progress in levels, or they can be purchased for both in-game and real currency.  Smule have a number of musically orientated apps, but this is the most addictive in my opinion.  Magic Piano is currently available on both iOS and Android systems and is currently free to purchase.

QuizUp (created by Plain Vanilla)

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This is for all you pub quizzers out there! The aim of the game here is to quite literally be the the know-it all of a desired area of study both academic and entertainment. Once you have downloaded the app (and created a profile, allowing you to track your progress/wins and losses/other fun stats), the player chooses a topic, of which there are quite literally hundreds of, and a contender is found.  The contestants then battle it out in seven rounds of multiple choice questions, of which the points scored are determined by how fast the correct response is selected. This is not a gladiator-esque affair though I’m afraid, both parties are awarded with points toward their progress in the selected category; the victor getting a sizeable amount more than their now humiliated opponent. QuizUp is a great way to test your knowledge and in turn learn things you had no idea about.  The app allows for users to add friends, chat to other players about your recent battle of minds, and discussion boards to talk about topic suggestions. As with all the other apps, QuizUp is free on all operating systems.

Honorable Mention: Evil Apples (created by Evil Studios)

I won’t spend long going into this app, for a simple reason; it is an application based on a game I recently posted a Gaming Spotlight on.  The aim of Evil Apples is the same as that of Cards Against Humanity (of which you can read my full review here). Users are pitted against each other to provide the funniest answer they can from a hand of randomly generated cards.  It is then down to the card tsar to choose the best response, in this case the winner of the hand is awarded five coins. The overall champion is the player who is awarded seven winning hands. It must be said and made clear that this application has no affiliation with the creators of Cards Against Humanity. The only flaw I have with this app is that it limits the amount of games you can play (against strangers, against your friends is free). Each game costs one slice of in-app cake, slices of cake can be purchased for real life money or they are awarded daily. The app itself is free and is fun for just filling a few minutes, but obviously your enjoyment is limited due to the cake issue, funny really cake being the killer of enjoyment!

So ladies and gentlemen of the smartphone world, those were the four main applications that are currently sapping away my life and phone battery at present.  I hope you have enjoyed reading this little summary of games that I play while out and about, please do get in touch if you think there’s an app that I should be checking out!

Gotta run, some wise-guy thinks he can outsmart me in the topic of the Marvel Universe Movies.

Wish me luck x

 

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