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.
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:
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.
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.
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.