“It’s gotta be Blizzard-DOTA. They said it wasn’t anything big, but if it’s enough to make an announcement about I think it’s gotta be that.” I was adamant about the idea. Blizzard had been working on the Starcraft mod for years now, and we had been in the dark for some time.
“Nah, probably something mobile. They don’t have anything like that, and it would make sense.” Brandon also seemed to be sold on his idea of Blizzards first mobile game. “I bet you I’m right.”
“Fine. Whosoever is wrong has to pay for dinner tonight.” We shook and began shuffling into the panel hall.
Lucky for me, Brandon never did ask me to pay for dinner.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, caught myself, as well as several of our fans off guard. A digital TCG? Luckily while at PAX East, the kind folks at Blizzard Entertainment were kind enough to answer some questions, and get some time to play the game (And by time to play the game I mean, Nemesis got the chance to get completely smashed by me).
Hearthstone is a F2P game thats been developed by Blizzard that is planned to follow a sort of “Freemium” model. You can earn cards and play for free, but you can also bust out your wallet and buy some packs as well. So if you have no intention of spending a dime, not a problem. This excites me because I always wanted to get into Magic the Gathering: Online, but didn’t want to have to pay for cards that I already had in real life.
Hearthstone, while has a very Magic: The Gathering feel to it (cards have mana costs, you pay the mana cost to play it), but has a lot of different design choices in it’s creation. Games are meant to be quick so because of this there are no “instant” cast spells like in Magic: The Gathering. The biggest thing this means? No counter magic. Sorry blue mages. In addition minions, monsters or characters you summon to the board, can attack directly at players, so unless a minion has taunt (forces minions to attack it instead of your hero) you can be taking the full brunt of attacks each turn. When speaking with Blizzard they said their target goal isn’t for games to last long, only to around 10 to 15 minutes each.
The game is also meant to be very easy to pick up. If you’ve ever played Magic before you’ll quickly understand the rules and mechanics to the game. Even if you haven’t played Magic the rules of the game are rather straightforward. Each turn you draw cards and use mana to play them. Some cards are spells, others are minions. Mana is replenished as well as your mana capacity (up to 10 mana total) is increased each turn.
One of the things that really surprised me however is the fact that players when building a deck first have to choose a class. As of right now only the nine original classes from World of Warcraft are included into the game. Death Knights and Monks may come later, but at the time there’s no plans for adding them into the game. The class you choose dictates which cards you can use to play the game with. Certain cards are class only, and can only be used by specific classes.
Players also choose a hero that represents that class. Nemesis, choose the Warlock class during our hands on time and got to plays Gul’Dan. I choose Shaman and got to play as Thrall. While we’re not sure what impact the different heroes themselves have upon the game we are looking forward to other famous characters. Classes also have Hero Powers. Instead of playing cards you can pay mana to activate your Hero Power once per turn. For example Uther the Paladin could put into play 1/1 minions each turn; while Guldan could Life tap losing two health, and draw a card.
Deck building is also very simple as well as helpful in the game. Players build decks and can choose to make them however they like. However you can also pick just a few cars, and have the program suggest cards you should put into your deck. You can even just have it build a deck for you all together.
Another great thing about deck building is that duplicate cards don’t go to waste. You can actually “disenchant” cards and use them to build other cards. We saw a video during the panel where the user disenchanted a ton of cards and eventually crafted Deathwing for his deck. So every pack you earn or bought, even if you didn’t get anything you’re still progressing in building your deck.
So far Hearthstone looks to be extremely exciting and I can’t wait to play more of it. The beta is planned to begin this summer, so we’re still far off from getting more time to play. If you are intrested in the beta remember to update your Battle.net account’s beta preferences for a shot at getting a beta key.
If you’d like to see any of the videos Blizzard has so kindly given us, you can check out our Youtube page.