Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard’s crack at a collectible card game, has received rave reviews since its inception. The game was designed with the mobile platform in mind, and after months of open beta on the PC, Blizzard released the game on the iPad on Wednesday. In less than a week, Hearthstone has already become the most downloaded game on the iPad in the United States and 15 other regions globally, expanding Blizzard’s already successful resume.
Blizzard has always been about in-depth gameplay, starting way back in its early days as a developer with the games Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. Their first attempt at a card game is no different. Blizzard has put smooth animation, voice acting, and surprisingly complex gameplay in Hearthstone. With nine classes and almost 400 individual cards, all based off the lore of Blizzard’s Warcraft world, players are given plenty of options on how to build a deck that can compete in whichever game mode they choose to play in. At the moment, there are four modes available: Practice, Play, Arena and Duel.
Practice mode allows the player to play against a computer AI opponent, choosing not only their own deck, but the class that the computer plays as well. Play mode pits a player against similarly skilled human opponents, either for casual play or globally ranked matches. Arena mode cost the player either in-game currency or real money to enter. Arena has the player craft a constructed deck, one card at a time, from the limited card choices the game provides. Finally, there is the Duel mode, which allows the player directly challenge players on their friend list in unranked matches.
Additional in-depth content includes the ability to destroy surplus cards, turning them into arcane dust. That dust can then be used to craft rare and unique cards in the crafting menu. Blizzard believes the crafting system serves as a viable alternative to in-game trading for cards between players, a feature they claim they have no plans to implement. According to their website, the market-driven aspect of a trading-card game (as opposed to a collectible-card game) turns players off, as it devalues the more common cards to near worthless aspect.
Blizzard has released Hearthstone on the iPad, but it has not abandoned the game on the PC. There are already plans for a fifth game mode to be released, a single player Adventure mode, which includes some role-playing elements. It is believed that the first part of this mode will be free, but future parts will only be purchasable through In-App Purchases (IAP), turning their card game into one of the many “freemium” games that top the App Store. While it has not grossed the amount needed to displace App Store classics like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga, in its first week, Blizzard’s new card game has made an impact. After the success Hearthstone has had on the PC, and the early praise of the game on the iPad, it is believed that Blizzard has added yet another classic game to their already impressive resume.
Opinion by Jonathan Gardner