E-Sports in the inn
What started off a few years ago as a small side-project quickly became arguably the most successful game Blizzard Entertainment have produced. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was developed by 5 programmers (as opposed to over 100 working on other major Blizzard projects) but just about 1 year after the official launch its player base surpassed 30 million.
With second official expansion only a few days away, today Hearthstone is more popular than ever. A few months ago it became available for Android and Apple devices, which made it accessible on the go. Being a trading card game, it is not that intense on graphics or the Internet connection, which makes it particularly suitable for mobile gaming.
But what really contributes to the growing popularity of Hearthstone is the simple and intuitive gameplay.
Naturally, the fact that the game is free to play helps a lot, but it is the quality experience that makes it such a huge success. More and more tournaments are being organized and their broadcasting quality rises each week, which makes Hearthstone one of the most followed online games.
These are some of the things that made us write a few articles on this game. However, the main reason behind our dabbling with the matter is our undying interest in Hearthstone – ever since the open beta decks have been constructed out of dusty clouds and sacrifices to RNGeesus have been made.
We will cover the various modes the game has and we will also touch the world of e-sports in general, however dubious Hearthstone’s entry in the league of competitive gaming might be.
Unlike other trading card games, Hearthstone has only one resource, besides the cards themselves: mana. Each player starts off with 1 mana and gains an additional point every turn until maximum 10 are accumulated.
The goal of the game is to bring down the enemy hero to 0 live points. Each players starts off with 30 points. More often than not, it is the cards on the board that deal the damage to the opponent. Every card which summons a minion on the board – as opposed to a spell – has 3 important elements: mana cost, attack points, live points. Virtually every time one plays a minion s/he has the choice to attack an enemy minion or directly the enemy hero.
Broadly speaking, this could be said to be the cornerstone of any strategy in the game.
As a result, there are two main approaches to Hearthstone. One is the so-called control play, meaning control of the board. Having more and stronger minions than the opponent would allow you to kill off his minions and then drain his live points. The other basic approach is the aggro-play, which involves most spells and more direct damage to the enemy hero, often ignoring the minions s/he plays.
Hearthstone has 9 classes with specific spells and abilities for each one of them. The vast majority of cards in the game are common for all classes, but it is the specific ones that make a class unique and give it advantage in certain situations and matches. This being said, some classes are more adept in controlling the board, whereas others shine when destroying the enemy hero, but more on that later.
There are 5 different modes of play to choose from: practice, Constructed, Arena, Tavern Brawl, solo adventures. In each one of them the player deck is comprised of 30 cards but the player doesn’t always choose the cards in the deck freely.
New cards are acquired generally in two ways: either purchased with in-game / real money or won through Arena runs. The weekly Tavern Brawls are the third way, but they give a single deck per week. Occasionally one gets a daily quest with deck the potential reward.
Daily quests and successful Arena runs are the main source of gold income, whereas a string of unsuccessful runs and buying decks are the main reasons to be broke.
One drawback for new players might be the fact that acquiring enough cards to become a successful player in Constructed mode might take a while without spending real money on decks. Pay-to-win is a typical pitfall for mostly all collectible cards games after all, but the truth is that in Hearthstone Constructed play is only one of the available modes. Not the most entertaining one at that.
Tavern Brawl is a great fun and a fresh addition to the game, while the Arena is the ultimate challenge where skills in trading, deck building, and management of somewhat limited resources truly shine.
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