Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a digital card game that, surprisingly of course, is based on the Warcraft universe. With this game Blizzard wants to focus on fans, but newcomers are also very welcome. The latter aspect became immediately clear when I started the (then closed) beta, as I was immediately greeted by an extensive and humorous tutorial. What I experienced next, soon resulted in a new addiction…

A “magical” experience?

Those of us familiar with Magic: The Gathering will immediately draw parallels during the first playing session, as both games work with the use of mana to be able to play cards. However, unlike Magic, Hearthstone has only one type of mana instead of five types. In addition, the way in which you collect this mana is very simple: at the beginning of every turn you automatically receive an extra mana crystal. So this results in one crystal in the first turn, two crystals in the second turn, and so on.

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To create diversity, Hearthstone contains nine different classes, with each class having a unique hero power. In addition, exclusive cards are available for each class, although the majority of the cards consist of neutral variants that can be used for all classes. Basically, the idea is to put together a deck with cards that work well in combination with your favorite hero. Unfortunately, this brings us to a problem that has plagued the game for a while.

Extensive, but not varied

The cards to be played logically consist of monsters and spells, whereby the monsters have attack and life points. In addition, a monster can contain a so-called battle cry, which is activated under specific circumstances. The goal is simply to get your opponent’s 30 life points to zero by taking control of the playing field. An important battlecry here is Taunt, a variant that requires you to be attacked first before you can choose to attack directly.

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As for the monsters, Hearthstone offers enough possibilities to create unique combos with a hero, but the number of effective combos that can be created is very disappointing. After quite a few hours of playing, you will discover the best cards within a class and nine times out of ten you will only use that combination of cards. I therefore hope that Blizzard will add more exclusive cards for the classes in the future, because the neutral cards are too dominant at the moment.

Simple, yet addictive

Although the gameplay is very simple compared to Magic: The Gathering, I will not deny that Hearthstone is very addictive. This is precisely because the game is free-to-play and as far as I’m concerned Blizzard has set a great example of how such a game can be rewarding without having to grind. Currently winning three pots will earn you ten gold and a daily quest will earn you another 40 or 60 gold. A pack of cards costs only 100 gold, so every two days you can get five new cards.

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On the one hand, this is quite slow, because of course you need a lot more cards to put together an ultimate deck. On the other hand, it’s nice to jump online after two or three days to complete multiple quests, so you can sometimes pick up two or three packs at once. In addition, beginners are rewarded with quite a lot of gold, which motivates you to play frequently from the start. It would be nice if Blizzard adds extra quests for the experienced players in the coming months.

Preliminary conclusion

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has so far overwhelmed me with very addictive gameplay. Admittedly, the game isn’t nearly as deep as Magic: The Gathering of Yu-Gi-Oh, but for a free-to-play game there seems to be plenty of entertainment. I hope Blizzard will focus on adding additional content in the form of new maps and new characters during the beta in the coming months. Whether this card game will eventually give me a hard stone can be read in the review later this year.

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