Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft now in Open Beta

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Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now finally in open beta and if you ever played Warcraft or Magic: the Gathering go play this game now.  This is a free-to-play digital collectible card game developed by Blizzard so you know this will have amazing quality. I was lucky enough to be invited into the closed beta so I can talk in detail about this great game.

Growing up I actually played trading card games owning Pokemon cards and even Yu Gi Oh! cards.  I actually still have my Yu Gi Oh! deck somewhere at my parents house a sentiment of my childhood.  Even as a kid though I never actually played too much since my deck was always inferior the kids at my school since I didn’t have the funds to build a good deck.

Hearthstone changes all that by allowing the ease of access to people to to card games. First since it is free you don’t have to buy a deck and by just playing you unlock gold which you can use to get even more cards.The game is also very easy to understand even for those that never played card games like Magic: the Gathering.

The basic setup you build a deck and use the cards to try to bring your opponent’s health to zero. Cards cost mana to play and each turn your mana will increase by one. You have to build a balanced of low and high costing mana cards. Since you draw cards at random from your deck you have to use probability to make sure you have cards you can play early in the game.

You also select a hero that has an ability and cards that they can only build into their deck.  The Priest will have the ability to heal and cards that benefit from healing while the Warlock can use his health to to draw a card with some of his cards being able to steal life.  There are nine classes in total with all useful abilities and cards that give them unique strategies.

Learning what cards to have in your deck and how to use them just takes practice.  Many cards have special abilities but they are all explained on the cards.  When you first play the game the tutorial goes over all the basic knowledge you will need to to play the game.  The deck that they give you will be good to learning the basics.  Mastering the game is a whole different level.

Matches go by fairly quick not lasting too long.  Designed with short match times make this game ideal for mobile devices which Blizzard has announced they will eventually release on both Android and iOS in the future. For now you will only be able to play on your computer. Even though matches are quick they are addicting and time will quickly pass you by.

Building a deck requires gold which can be earned from winning matches or by completing quests.  You will be given daily quests such as destroy a certain amount of minions or win with a certain class.  Completing these quests will give you much more gold than by just winning matches. Gold can get you booster packs which give you at least one rare card.

There are three game modes that you can test your skill in.  Practice mode matches you up against AI and is a recommended to learn which class you like the best and level them up.  By leveling them up to level 10 you unlock many powerful cards that you can use to customize your own deck. After that you will need to unlock cards from booster packs.

After you are familiar with the game you can go online and battle opponents from the online community. Just like any other online game with the exception of the inability to chat with your opponent.  You will be able to use a selected few emote commands to communicate with your opponent such as greetings, thank, and well done.

The last game mode offered is Arena you pay an entry fee with gold and use a randomly built deck. You build a deck from randomly selected cards with a certain amount of rare, epic, and legendary cards to battle against other opponents. This mode is especially challenging since you will need solid understanding of the mechanics of the game but the payoff can be huge.

Since their is an entry fee to even play Arena there is a reward at the end. The more matches you win the better the reward.  You are only allowed three losses and you will lose the deck that you built. This adds a level of excitement since you are encouraged to do really well since you might be able to not only get your entry fee back but more than one booster pack.

Mastering Hearthstone can be quite difficult though. Unlike most games where you make a mistake and it will be noticeable quickly, the mistakes you make in Hearthstone can many times go unnoticed. The reason why you lost a game could have been a decision you made several turns ago. Luckily there plenty of broadcasters on Twitch more than willing to give advice.

There are so many strategies to discover in this game.  As you unlock more cards you will get more variety when creating your deck. You can build a deck that is great at getting board control so your opponent can never get his minions out or one with a ton of spells that wipe the board clean.

Since this game is free-to-play I highly recommend anyone regardless if they ever played Warcraft games or card games in general. You will be addicted in no time and that will be before they release the mobile version of the game. Once this game gets released on mobile devices I expect a lot of my train rides will be looking over strangers shoulders playing this game.

Victory