Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone Brings Warcraft TCG Fun to Mobile Gaming!

There are certain aspects of discovery in a new game - particularly a game encountered within the mobile platforms like Android and iOS - that have more impact than others - one of which is the eyeball splash for a studio that is instantly recognized because it is freaking famous.

When the icon and name “Blizzard Entertainment” splashes across the screen and you get a mini-cut-scene in which action is interlaced with the sort of imagery that instantly communicates both the genre and the thrust (no pun intended) for the obvious contents of the game, well, hey, that is good reason to get excited!

The proper title for Hearthstone is “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” and if you happen to have played Warcraft the MMO that will instantly deliver one specific sort of mental and emotional image.



If on the other hand you are a gamer who is old enough to have been around and have experienced what Warcraft used to be - the massive and epic battles between Orcs and Humans that took place in what were some of the best single-player games available on the PC back when Microsoft DOS was what happened when you flipped the power switch...

It has been a long time - in fact a lifetime for many of you - since those days, but we are happy to say that even though the game play in Hearthstone is different and not the same as those original games that basically established the series, it has retained the energy and the excitement that they offered players, so in that respect you are in for a treat!

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-download and free-to-play video game version of the traditional card-based strategy games that were solidly lodged in the popular imagination thanks to epic games like Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, and Summoner Wars.

When these physical table-top games made the transition to video game they became something different that has a new name: Digital Trading Card Games (TCG).

To put this in perspective for you, despite the new-seeming presence this genre of game has been around for a LONG time. Back in the days when the Star Wars MMO was still around it had its own TCG, and other MMOs did too - Everquest 2 has Legends of Norrath to name one.



The important thing to understand here is that the basic economics between the traditional table-top version and the TCG video game is very similar! In both versions the player starts their adventure by building a good deck - and to do that you have to buy cards.

That process usually begins with the purchase of a starter pack - a set of cards that contains way more than the simple deck that is required to actually play the game, offering a variety of cards in it so that the player can, once they learn HOW, build their own custom deck within certain limitations.

To augment that basic collection the player will purchase Booster Packs - usually a small packet of 12 random cards in which they hope they will find one of the rarer and more valuable (both in terms of money and strategy) cards. Many Booster Packs have been opened just to break the heart of the player, while a much smaller number have been opened to change the fate of the player. Just saying!

During the fist tutorial mission the player learns the basic of play - but these games are so intuitive and the presence of the value and move details on each card so simple that the learning curve is shallow indeed. Fun, therefore, is quickly at hand!

The game play mechanics are similar to every TCG in that the player has a deck that they start with that they either created or, in the case of the tutorial, were provided with.



From that deck they draw and play cards - either minion cards which are the foot soldiers who take up position on the battlefield and who are directed in combat by the player either to attack the minions of the enemy - or the enemy themselves.

There are also spell cards that, if the player has sufficient mana in their mana pool, can be used to deal direct damage either at the enemy themselves or at their minions.

Both the player and the enemy have a pool of life points - and each attack can potentially reduce that pool. If it reaches zero, the game ends with a loss. Of course if you cause the enemy to drop to zero life points then the game ends in Victory - that is always nice, so yeah, let's do that instead!

The early stages of a game tend to be made up of holding actions in which you trade lower-level minions in order to kill the same that belong to your opponent - you do this to fill in the actions while you wait to gain and increase the size of your mana pool so that you can then make more strategic and effective actions and attacks.

This game play mechanic ensures that an exciting and entertaining game play experience is not only present but yours to command.

What is better than that is the fact that the battles tend to come in the bite-sized chunk of time and play that is perfectly ideal for the platform and format.

The graphics and sound effects in the game combine to present an element that instantly adds to the entertainment value of the game.



For the most part the depth of the graphics are such that the player literally obtains the measure of eye impression that is consistent with having the actual physical cards before them - which is the idea - but the added benefits of course are that special effects - both graphical and sound - are also present.

The result of that is that when the player sends a fireball card at their opponent they not only deal the six points of damage, but send a FIREBALL at their opponent! With sound effects. How cool is that?!

On the sound side of things the underlying musical score that sets the mood for the game is complimented by a very nicely cast set of character voices to deliver an added level of entertainment... In fact with some of the “characters” you come up against in the tutorial I swear they have been based on real people I have played Magic and Pokemon with. Right down to the smack-talk!

The animation and unique care that was taken to have the sound effects contribute to the suspension of disbelief and player immersion add an entire new layer to game play and entertainment, and certainly helped the game in achieving the high score that it does.

If you happen to be a fan of the TCG genre already you are in for a treat - but if you have never played in that genre before, and Hearthstone is your first foray and experience there, you are in for an epic treat!



We gave Hearthstone a serious workout, we played it hard and heavy, we tried to make it squeal like a little girl, and in the end? In the end we walked away impressed, addicted, and quite the fan!

Hearthstone earned the perfect five stars that we awarded it, and a place in our regular game play rotation - now if we can just figure out a way to get our sub-editor to authorize additional funds to purchase booster packs, all will be right in the world.
5.0 / 5.0
 
review by CMBF | Jan 12th 2015


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