Hearthstone Closed Beta Preview

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is an upcoming online trading card game by developer Blizzard, borrowing from the Warcraft Universe and offering a quick but entertaining ride with each play. Players must collect decks and battle against iconic characters and players.

Blizzard is a true iconic developer when it comes to the world of mmorpg’s. World of Warcraft has been around for ages and still there is still no mmorpg that can truly match it. With Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard go’s out of its way to come up with a totally different iteration from within the World of Warcraft Universe. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a massive multiplayer online trading card game.

We are all familiar with the pc and console game Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalker, one of the first successful trading card games ever. Slowly several more MMOTCG ‘s emerged, and the best known mmotcg at the moment would be Rise of Mythos . That is going to change very soon with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft if you ask me.

I am going to kick off right away by saying that this game, even though it is still ‘under construction’, is good…period. Not only does it keep you inside the universe of World of Warcraft, it is also very easy to learn, and unbelievably addictive.

When you have installed game, the graphics are immediately apparent. It won’t blow your mind away, thats for sure, but it is so WoW that you feel right at home. In Hearthstone it is all about your deck of cards. This is what’s keeping you alive, or will brutally lead you into a massive slaughter by the hands of your opponent. The funny thing is; you are the one to blame or congratulate.

I am getting ahead of myself here; first you must choose your class. You can choose one out of nine different classes, all ‘stolen’ from WoW and each class has its own specialty. You can choose a Paladin, Druid, Hunter, Warlock etc. etc.

The game lets you unlock all these classes right at the beginning of the game, just defeat them in a one-on-one match and they are yours to command. Each class can be leveled to a cap of 60, but that will definitely change.

So you’ve picked your class, now it is your turn to pick your cards. Each class has unique cards, only available to themselves, and of course the general cards which anyone can use. New cards can be obtained by winning matches, completing challenges or buy them with in-game gold or real money. Did we already mention that this is a free-to-play game?

Well the first thing which comes to mind when hearing about buying cards is…Pay-To-Win!! Don’t you worry about that though; Blizzard has told us that players with lots of rare card’s, will never compete against a player with lesser cards. And in their defense…they didn’t lie about that at all; matchmaking in this game is smooth and honest.

Putting together your deck is the most important part of the game. It is up to you to create a deck which is balanced, both in offense as in defense. So a good balance between your tactics and the cards in your deck is vital. Whenever you create a deck, you will have to try it out for several matches before you will know if it has the right balance. What could be a nice deck in your perspective might be a total disappointment when playing the game.

Playing a card costs mana. Mana builds up slowly during a match; the first turn you’ll get one mana, the second turn 2, and so on. A normal simple card will cost you little Mana, and is therefore easy to play early on in the game. A better card will cost you more mana, and therefore won’t be playable until the latter rounds of a match.

Before I was going to set foot in the online arena, it seemed important to practice a little first; get to know my cards and their abilities. Obviously the AI seems very easy at first, letting you off the hook when clearly they could have wiped you out. But that is a good thing, because it will let you see your mistake, without having to start all over again.

The AI will be this easy up until you unlock all nine classes, after which you’ll find the option to play against expert opponents. These opponents won’t go easy on you, make a mistake and they’ll make you pay dearly for it. After several matches against the AI, it was time for me to enter the online battle arena.

So I had my custom deck ready, my nerves in check and I started an online match. Finding a so-called skill matched opponent, was so problem at all. “This will be tough…” I say to myself seeing that my opponent is a Mage. A Mage has the opportunity to heal itself with two points, costing two mana each time. With me playing as a hunter, i have the ability to do two damage to my opponent. But since my character is an offense based player, I dread the fact that he can cancel out my hero power.

Within a blink of an eye, opponent has 5 minions on the field and I only have one. You can direct attacks on the player’s minions or at the player directly. We started the match with 30HP each, but after a few rounds the score is 15-23. Time to turn things around; since I had lots of cards that cost a lot of mana, i had to sacrifice my HP. But now it is my turn to put some cards on the table, and soon my opponent sees all of his minions getting wiped out.

The table has turned, my opponent had about 5 minions on the field, but i reduced that number to just one. Meanwhile my army has grown stronger and I have now got 5. I put out an all-out attack and after only two turns the score reads 15-9 to my advantage. My opponent attacks and destroys one of my minions, but that also means the end of his turn. Quite obviously he was hoping for a game-changing card, because when i put my next card on the field…he leaves the game. Victory is mine…although it’s a shame the player left early. Fortunately you will get the XP and the victory although the player left the game.

Make no mistake: the game is not easy when playing against real players. You will certainly find yourself on the losing side quite often, but the feeling of winning a game is just super. In the beginning you will come across players that leave the game early when you’re winning, but once you win yourself out of the lower levels of the game (the more you win, the better your cards, the better your opponents), you should be fine.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is, as of yet, a very fun, smooth and good game. Lots of sounds and graphics come directly from World of Warcraft, and that contributes to the fact of making you feel right at home. Although the game uses only one kind of mana for all cards, it does not make the game shallow. It actually contributes to the tactical gameplay, since you have to worry about all your cards instead of just a single group.

Managing your deck is fun, takes a lot of time and is very rewarding. Putting a deck together is not the hard part; it is tweaking your deck that consumes time…but time well spent. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will cost you about 15 minutes per match; nice, quick and ideal if you just want to play a match during lunch break or something. Do take in mind that this game is in Beta so lots of stuff will be added and changed. We are looking forward to the launch of this game, and in the meanwhile we will keep on playing this wonderful game.

To find out more about Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, visit the official site.

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