In an article a while back I addressed the issues of whether or not Hearthstone was pay-to-win. I am rather fearful that in that particular column it came across that I did not like Blizzard’s new collectable card game. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that at that point I didn’t really like the game, but I also didn’t hate it. The problem was that I was losing an awful lot of matches and I felt like it was mainly to do with the fact that people had some better cards than I did and that it would take me a long time to build up a worthy deck. My conclusion was that Hearthstone was pay-to-win, or pay-to-be-competitive at the least. Whilst I still have yet to prove or disprove that theory, like I said I would in the article, something has definitely changed since then.
Mainly, that I’m really enjoying Hearthstone and that it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite games to play. It’s not because of the card grind, although I do tend to get addicted to silly things like that, or the Arena mode, which is very fun. Instead it’s because I’ve been playing for a while now, and gotten some better cards, and it’s becoming significantly more enjoyable. My newfound enjoyment with the game has also been caused by, to some degree, the lack of time I have to play anything else.
One of the best things that Hearthstone has going for it is that the game is very easy to pick up and put down. Matches are quick and fun, unless you’re getting your butt kicked which can be a bit annoying, allowing you to quickly play the game for fifteen minutes or so before you continue on with your day. This alone makes Blizzard’s latest game incredibly accessible. Sometimes I won’t have the time to play a full forty minute League of Legends match, or maybe I just don’t particularly feel in the mood for one, however I still yearn for something competitive and interesting. This is where Hearthstone comes in. I can play a match, have my fill, and then be satisfied.
This alone is one of the reasons why I’m falling for the game. It’s especially helpful that I don’t have to be invested into the game when playing, unlike LoL or DOTA 2, whereby if I lose focus it can ruin the game for everyone on my team. If someone needs my help for a minute with something else whilst I’m playing Hearthstone then I can leave it for a minute and come back. Indeed, this is the perfect game for a week long family get together (such as Christmas or Easter), a time when you don’t really know if you’ll be needed within the next hour or so but still want to play something fun and competitive to play whilst you wait.
Of course it’s not just the competitive play; another area where Hearthstone succeeds is its customization. I do not think, for a second, that Hearthstone contains anywhere near as much depth as some other games however to say it has no depth, or room for personalization, is a tad silly. Whilst there could certainly be more cards, and more synergy between them, there are enough cards and options that you can make a deck that is unique and can match your own style of play.
Finding what works for you, as well as how to properly build a deck, does take time though. Unfortunately this is where new players will either stick with the game or move onto greener pastures. To be fair though, I do enjoy learning how to play a game, learning the ins and outs of the experience and finding out what works and what doesn’t. I still have an awful lot to learn, and those who love learning every detail about a game will find that there is a lot to be soaked up and enjoyed.
This means that when you do get the hang of the game, and build your first successful rush deck, you’ll feel absolutely amazing. It’s like the first time you get to the Valkurm Dunes in Final Fantasy XI. You feel so full of accomplishment and it feels so darn good. If you want to read more about Final Fantasy I suggest you read this article.
The game’s increasing pull on me is also added by the Arena, which is one of my favorite modes in any video game. Arena requires you to build a deck from scratch, choosing from random cards to make up your deck. Once you’ve done so, you then go against other players who have also made random decks. It’s a great mode because it teaches you a lot about deck composition, as well as what cards are out there and how to use them. Just from playing the mode I’ve come across loads of cards which I didn’t even know existed, as well as deck compositions which I could have never dreamed of.
The mode is at its best when you play as a class which you’re not familiar with. Although this can frequently lead to lost matches, the amount of learning that takes place is astronomical. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve played as a role I didn’t understand only to come out of the Arena full of ideas.
It’s an excellent mode that rewards thoughtful play and imagination, something which few competitive games provide.
The rewards which you obtain from doing well in the mode also provide a big enough incentive to not only keep playing the game, but also boot up the game every day and completing daily quests just so that you can get enough gold to participate in the Arena again. Of course I’ve never really been the most successful player in the Arena, however despite this lack of success it is a mode which I still very much enjoy.
Perhaps one of the things which I love the most about the game is the possibilities that it holds. This is a game with so much potential. A couple of months ago Blizzard sent out a survey asking players what type of content they wanted, with the suggestions including raids and other such multiplayer content. The idea of grouping up with a player or two and going up against some AI bots, or even other players, sends chills down my spine. Hopefully Blizzard is working on a something completely unexpected.
Not only that but the idea of me playing the game on my tablet device, and playing it anywhere with an Internet connection, also leaves me waiting and wanting.
The slowly, but surely, increasing eSports scene around the game, as well as the streaming interest, also gives me such excitement. Clearly there is a very large community interest in Hearthstone and it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. ESL and MLG are already behind the game, and hopefully there be tournaments where the best players participate.
Hearthstone is a game which I cannot wait to see what Blizzard do with, and I can’t wait to be excited and impressed by what they have in store. Of course Hearthstone also stands a chance of being left by the wayside to rot and not really be expanded on but I’m sure, due to the game’s increasing popularity, that this won’t be the case.
Either way, the potential, the gameplay, and the card collection has me sold on Hearthstone with the game being something which I just have to play every day. Having said that, I’m not too sure if the game has hit the addictive status of League of Legends, however if I’m honest that’s something which I don’t really want it to become.
Hearthstone is great because it’s a game you can play on the side, have a little fun with whilst you’re waiting for something else. For it to become a big, addictive, phenomenon would go against the very things which make it so appealing.
Anyway, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Hearthstone and I can’t wait to play it again (which will, truth be told, probably be once I’ve submitted this article). It’s a promising game, and one which deserves to be downloaded and played which you can do right now because the game’s in open beta! So give it a bash and bosh, and see if you like it. If not, what have you lost? Nothing really… well, a bit of your time. But you never know, you might just fall in love with it, like I have.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide about how to play Hearthstone, click here!