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Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

is a free-to-play digital collectible card game (CCG) developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Announced at the Penny Arcade Expo in March 2013, the game entered open beta in... read more

6.2
Genres Card Game
Platforms MacPCiPhoneiPad
Themes Fantasy
Engines
Status: Released
Release: 11-Mar-2014

Clans

is a free-to-play digital collectible card game (CCG) developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Announced at the Penny Arcade Expo in March 2013, the game entered open beta in January 2014, and was released in March 2014. Hearthstone is available on the Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems and on iPad and Windows 8 Touch devices. iPhone and Android tablet platform releases are planned for the second half of 2014.

As of March 2014, Hearthstone has more than 10 million player accounts registered worldwide.

Game details

Hearthstone is a collectible card game that revolves around turn-based matches between two opponents, operated through Blizzard'sBattle.net. Players can choose from a number of game modes, with each offering a slightly different experience. Players start the game with a substantial collection of 'basic' cards, but can gain rarer and more powerful cards through purchasing packs of additional cards, or as reward for competing in the Arena. Players can also disenchant unwanted cards, destroying them in exchange for arcane dust, a resource which can be used to create new cards. Card packs and entry to the Arena can be purchased with gold, an in-game currency rewarded for completing randomized daily quests and winning matches, or by using real money in the in-game store.

Hearthstone is set within the Warcraft universe, with its characters, cards and locations drawing from existing lore.

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Matches

Each Hearthstone battle is a 1vs1 match between two opponents. Gameplay in Hearthstone is turn-based, with players taking turns to play cards from their hand, casting spells, equipping weapons, or summoning 'minions' to do battle on their behalf. Play may be between two human players, or one player and a computer-controlled opponent.

Each player is represented by their chosen 'hero', an important character from Warcraft lore. Each hero represents a particular class, determining the special cards and unique hero power available to them. Each hero has 30 Health - if that number is reduced to zero, the hero is destroyed, and the controlling player has lost the game. The available heroes and classes are Mage (Jaina Proudmoore), Priest (Anduin Wrynn), Warlock (Gul'dan), Paladin (Uther the Lightbringer), Warrior (Garrosh Hellscream), Druid (Malfurion Stormrage), Hunter (Rexxar), Rogue (Valeera Sanguinar), and Shaman (Thrall).

At the start of each turn, the player draws a new card from their deck - a collection of 30 cards selected before starting a game. Players can choose to play using one of several pre-assembled 'basic' decks, or one of their own custom-made decks. While most cards are available to heroes of any class, a substantial portion are limited to a specific class, giving each hero their own strengths and unique possibilities.

During their turn, each player can choose to play any of their cards, use their hero power, command their minions to attack targets, or attack directly using their hero, if they have a weapon equipped. However, which actions the player is able to take is partly determined by their mana, a resource pool which is refreshed at the start of each turn. Each player starts the game with 0 mana crystals, and gains one at the start of each turn up to a maximum of 10. Each card and hero power requires the player to expend a specific amount of mana in order to play it, strategically limiting each player's actions. In addition, the larger mana pools in later rounds allow players to play increasingly expensive cards, opening the game up to more powerful minions and abilities.

A match is concluded when one or both players has reached zero health, or chooses to concede. Completing a battle will grant each player hero experience (winning earns additional experience) and granting them access to additional cards up to level 10 or golden versions of basic cards past level 10.

Each match takes place on a randomly selected battlefield, representing the board on which the game is played. There are four possible battlefields: Stormwind, Orgrimmar, Pandaria and Stranglethorn, and additional battlefields from Curse of Naxxramas will be added in the future. Each battlefield features its own design and numerous interactive elements, but gameplay is in no way affected or determined by battlefield selection.

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Cards

Cards are the main substance of Hearthstone, representing the abilities, characters and effects which each player is able to make use of during the match. There are currently 412 collectible cards in the game, with more planned to be added to the game later through the introduction of expansion packs and 'adventures'. The first adventure mode,Curse of Naxxramas, added 30 cards in total.

In all game modes except Arena, the player does battle using a deck of 30 cards, constructed from cards in the player's collection. Each deck can only feature two of each card, and only one of each legendary card. Arena play features no such limitations, but requires players to play using a new deck chosen from a series of randomly provided selections. For either type of deck, the construction of a player's deck is a key strategic element in the game, determining which cards are available to them during the course of a match.

Each player starts the game with a wide selection of basic cards. Cards of higher rarity can be obtained by purchasing card packs, or as rewards from Arena mode. Card packs and entry to the Arena can be purchased using real money, or gold earned through completing special 'quests', such as winning a certain number of matches, or dealing a certain amount of damage. Each card pack consists of five random cards, including at least one rare card. Obtaining new cards allows the player to add them to their decks, opening up new possibilities for play and strategy.

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Players can also use the crafting system to create new cards. The system uses arcane dust to craft specific cards. Arcane dust can be obtained as an Arena reward, or by destroying existing cards, allowing players to convert unwanted or surplus cards into more desirable options. The crafting system was created as an alternative to the player card trading prevalent in trading card games such as Magic: The Gathering, with no plans for cards to be traded between players.

Similar to the foils found in physical collectible card games, Hearthstone features golden cards, special versions of regular cards featuring a golden border and unique animations. These cards are far harder to obtain than their regular versions, and cost more arcane dust to craft. Golden cards differ from their regular counterparts purely cosmetically, and are designed to allow players to show off their accomplishments.

Game modes

Five game modes are available to play in Hearthstone.

  • In Practice mode, players play against a computer opponent referred to as 'The Innkeeper'. Players can learn the basics of the game against 'basic' opponents that only use basic cards in their decks, or can play against 'expert' opponents that use a larger pool of cards. Players can also choose which class to play against.

  • Play mode matches players against other human players of similar skill. Players can choose to play casual 'friendly' games, or take part in ranked play, earning medals to reflect their skill and standing within the community. Ranked play features a 26-tier rank system, with wins allowing the player to progress to higher ranks, and losses causing them to descend in rank. The highest rank is called Legend. This rank cannot be lost until the season ends and the rank features the exact ranking in your region. All ranks are reduced substantially at the end of each season, with each season lasting for about one month. Participation in Ranked play can also earn players special cosmetic rewards, including alternative card back designs and animated golden hero portraits.

  • Arena mode costs gold or real money to play, and lets the player draft a deck of 30 cards by choosing between 3 random cards at a time. Players use their drafted deck to compete in a series of games against other arena players. Each arena run lasts until the player has reached three losses or twelve wins, or chooses to retire their deck, at which point they are granted a number of rewards determined by the total number of games won. While constructed decks have limits on the number of copies of the same card, arena decks have no such limits.

  • Duels, sometimes referred to as "Friendly Play", allow players to challenge players on their friends list in unranked matches. Duels offer no rewards, but allow players to play games outside of the other game modes.

  • Adventure mode is a single-player mode that has the player attempting to defeat bosses in order to unlock new cards. The encounters feature dialogue elements. The content of the first adventure, Curse of Naxxramas, is divided into five 'wings' released over the course of several weeks, with each wing based on a location in the adventure. The first wing is free during the first one month after launch, and the second through fifth wings are purchasable as one-time transactions for gold or real money. To access a wing, the previous wing must be completed.

The game also features a tutorial, a limited starting experience designed to introduce players to Hearthstone, in which the player is pitched against a series of character opponents, with substantial dialogue elements. The tutorial can be played once by each account in each region.

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Global play

Hearthstone offers play in four different geographical regions: Americas, Europe, Asia and China. Players can only compete and communicate with other players within the same region. While each player is by default assigned to a region loosely corresponding to their registered country of residence, players are able to switch regions within the Battle.net launcher, allowing them to play against those of other regions if they wish, although players from other regions are currently unable to select the China region for play. However, each region holds a separate profile for each player, and it is not possible to transfer cards, gold, friends lists or other details between regions. Players wishing to try a new region therefore have to begin the game from scratch, including replaying the tutorial.

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Development

From the beginning, the game was designed to be played solely online and to mimic the feel of physical cards; the game starts with the player opening a box, during gameplay the cards waver and move while in their hand, and cards when played slam down on the board. When attacking, cards leap across the board to strike the target; when a massive spike of damage is dealt, the board shakes; when a massive creature is summoned, an unseen audience gasps in awe. Hearthstone also offers interactive boards. The boards on which the cards played can be interacted with in various ways, although the feature is purely for entertainment and has no effect upon gameplay.

Hearthstone is a free to play game supported by micropayments for boosterpack, Arena Mode entries and Adventure Mode access. Furthermore, unlike other card games, Hearthstone does not use a trading card system and instead allows players to 'disenchant' cards into an 'arcane dust' resource, which can then be used to 'craft' cards of the player's choice.

Blizzard had experimented with cross-platform play, having successfully played a game on PC against a player on an iPad; however, it was not a feature at launch. Cross-platform play was added in April 2014. The developers have also revealed that they are working on 'adventures', new single-player game modes featuring "boss" fights. Adventures will offer rewards in the form of new cards, with each adventure introducing 20-30 new cards to the game. Expansion packs are also planned for the future, featuring 100-200 new cards, as well as serving to introduce new features.

Sound

The soundtrack was composed by Peter McConnell and trailer music by Jason Hayes.

Some of the music soundtrack from Warcraft II is reused during loading screens (with a vintage effect), as well as the Warcraft III Peasant's "Job's done" soundbite to indicate when a player has no further actions available that turn.

Release

Hearthstone was first announced at Penny Arcade Expo in March 2013 for Windows, Mac, and iPad, with a release date of the same year. In August 2013, the game went into closed beta, to which over 1 million players had been invited as of November 8, 2013, with plans to enter open beta in December. Blizzard later announced that it would continue closed beta into 2014 despite their original estimation. Blizzard announced open beta for North America on January 21, 2014. Open beta was announced for Europe on January 22, 2014and on January 23, 2014 it was made available in all regions.

Plans to release on Android and iPhone were announced in November 2013, with a release date sometime in the second half of 2014. Plans to release the game on Windows 8tablets are announced as well.

The game was fully released on March 11, 2014, available on Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems. On April 2, 2014, the game was released for iPad in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. On April 16, 2014 it was released globally, supporting all iPads except the first iPad. On August 6, 2014, support for Windows 8 Touch devices was added to the game, although not for Windows RT devices.

On July 22, 2014, the game's first Adventure, Curse of Naxxramas, was released. The Adventure includes 30 new cards and an exclusive card back if all heroic bosses are defeated.

Competition

Despite the designers' focus on accessibility and fast-paced gameplay, Hearthstone has already been the focus of a number of tournaments. Blizzard themselves hosted an exhibition tournament in November 2013 called "The Innkeeper's Invitational", featuring several well-known gamers such as Dan "Artosis" Stemkoski, Octavian "Kripparrian" Morosan, Jeffrey "TrumpSC" Shih and popular streamer and World of Warcraft multiple Arena season winner Byron "Reckful" Bernstein. In December 2013 2P Entertainment hosted a huge tournament with a prize pool of 30,000 RMB (about 4,841 US dollars) featuring the best players of the Chinese server versus the best players of the American server. In March 2014 The eSports Association (TeSPA) announced the Collegiate Hearthstone Open, a free-to-enter tournament open to all North American college students, featuring 5,000 USD in scholarships. Major League Gaming, ESL and the ZOTAC Cup all continue to regularly host minor Hearthstone leagues in the North American and European territories with small or no prizepools aimed at everyday players.

In April 2014, Blizzard announced the first Hearthstone World Championship that is an official tournament to be held at BlizzCon on November 7-8 of that year. The tournament will feature players from each of the game's four regions, with each region holding its own regional qualifying tournament. The 4 most successful participants of each region's qualifiers will go through to the World Championship itself, for a total of 16 players in total. The Americas and Europe regions' qualifiers will feature 160 players each, and will determine half of those players from actual in-game performance in Ranked play during the April–August seasons. The Hearthstone World Championship will feature a total prize pool of $250,000 USD, with the winner receiving $100,000.

Hearthstone was the focus of a number of tournaments during its closed beta, including those hosted by Major League Gaming and ESL. Blizzard "were a little surprised, in a good way" with the game's success as an eSport during its closed beta.

At DreamHack Summer 2014 in Sweden (with a USD $25,000 prize pool), Hearthstone became the subject of an eSport controversy when, in the finals of the playoffs between players Jason 'Amaz' Chan and Dima 'RDU' Radu, Radu was messaged with information about Chan's "Hunter's Mark" card which may or may not have affected his play choices in the game. After the message, play resumed after both parties deleted their friend lists so that no further messages could be received, and the match was not replayed. Though Radu received support from the tournament organizers and was defended by Chan, many fans thought mistakes were made on the part of the tournament organizers. This event led to increased demand for Blizzard to introduce a 'Do-Not-Disturb mode' for the game that would prevent such situations in the future.

Promotion

To mark the release of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard released the Hearthsteed mount for World of Warcraft. The mount is obtained through winning three games in Arena or Play mode. Widely advertised on various World of Warcraft websites, this promotion encourages World of Warcraft players to try Hearthstone, and marks the first significant cross-over implemented between the two games.

Those who bought the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls expansion pack received expert card packs for use within Hearthstone, with the deluxe and collector's editions granting additional packs.

Reception

Highly anticipated ever since its announcement, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has received generally favorable reviews upon its release, holding a score of 87.57% on Game Rankings and 88 on Metacritic based on a dozen reviews by major video game critics. The game was praised for its simplicity, gameplay pace, and attention to detail along with being free-to-play, while the lack of actual card trading between players and any form of tournament mode were pointed out as the major shortcomings.Eurogamer gave the game the perfect score of 10 and remarked that the game is "overflowing with character and imagination, feeds off and fuels a vibrant community of players and performers, and it only stands to improve as Blizzard introduces new features, an iPad version and expansions." IGN and Game Informer both gave the game a slightly lower grade of 9/10, with IGN's Justin Davis praising the game for its "elegant simplicity of rules" and "impressive attention to detail and personality, and the true viability of playing completely for free make it easy to fall under its spell and get blissfully lost in the depths of its strategic possibilities." GameSpot gave the game a score of 8/10, praising the game for its depth and complexity. The only major drawback noted was that the "absence of extra features hampers long-term appeal".




This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which isreleased under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.


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