If it isn’t your cup of tea, or you just plain missed the announcement yesterday, you might not know that the digital TCG (is what I’m calling it) “Hearthstone” went Open Beta yesterday. Mrs. Amateur has been playing it in closed Beta for some time and thoroughly enjoying it. I know other bloggers who can say the same. Me? I just downloaded it overnight and got a taste of it today. Having recently played the actual WoW TCG, I had an idea of how the game worked and to be honest it wasn’t far off. Heck, even the artwork is taken from the cards.
When you first fire up the game, you’re tutorial bound. This consists of several matchups against various decks including Hemet Nesingwary and Hogger. They’re really just meant to help you see some of the mechanics and strategies, as well as simply how to actually play the game. Each match is a little bit longer, and tends to introduce 1-2 new mechanics. Finally you go up against Illidan in a fight to put your new knowledge to a test. The developers are beyond honest as you get ready to duel it out with The Betrayer.
Early on, it really does seem like that’s true. You want to cry shenanigans, but if you play your cards right (no pun intended), you can take him down. I think the design of this fight was to show you that even if your opponent gets a solid start, you still stand a chance.
I rolled through the six missions in about an hour, but that included some distractions and stepping away from the computer. It’s a bit long I suppose, but it really shows you how to play the game without accounting for how a real person might play. After all is said and done, you have a shiny -yet basic- Mage deck. If you want the others, you need to go into the Practice area and defeat each respective “hero” to unlock the other eight decks (sorry kids, no Monks or Death Knights). I figured I should probably get them all to give me options, so I went for the Rogue deck first after humming it over. Didn’t take long for me to get humbled.
Yeah, it wasn’t even close. Valeera still had more than half her health. But, I learned some stuff in the process and that’s why it’s called practice. The next game I did a much better job and beat her down soundly. Two decks owned, seven to go.
So what are my thoughts? Well, I prefer playing with the cards in hand, much in the same way I like a hard copy of a book. If the choice is there, I will pick the non-digital option. But having said that, Hearthstone is a seemingly great transition to a digital model and I can see me plopping down to it from time to time -particularly as I know more and more friends that are playing. I’m sure once I hit the “real world” and not just practice mode that I will be thoroughly trounced, but games like this have never been about winning for me. I just play them to have fun, and I think there’s a lot of fun to be had from Hearthstone.