Hearthstone is a free to play, collectible card game from Blizzard. It’s fast paced, and you can earn new cards by winning in the arena, levelling up your hero or buying cards with money or coins you earn from completing quests, or winning against other players. It’s pretty fun, and I’ve been enjoying it. As it’s free to play, and the games are pretty quick, I’d recommend giving it a try if you enjoy strategy card games.

Image from: us.battle.net/hearthstone/en

You start each game by choosing a hero. There are a total of 9 to unlock, and you start with Jaina Proudmoore, the Mage. You unlock new heroes by defeating them in battle (practice, play against other players, or the arena). Each hero has a hero ability – the mage can do 1 damage to any minion or hero, the shaman can summon a random totem, the priest can heal and so on. The heroes also have cards specific to their class – the mage has a lot of spell cards, the hunter a lot of beast cards etc. There are also neutral cards you can use in any class. As you play you’ll level up your hero and earn more of the basic cards for them – up to level 10 when you’ll have earned all the basic cards. Expert cards you need to get from card packs, which you can get from winning in the arena or buying. The heroes all play pretty differently, and you’ll probably find a few you like more than others. It’s a good idea to get familiar with them all though, as in the arena you only pick out of 3 random heroes, and the quests generally involve winning a match with a specific class.

Now, onto the gameplay. You play cards using mana crystals. Every turn you get an extra one and they all refill (i.e., turn 1 = 1 mana crystal, turn 3 = 3 crystals). As the crystals refill each turn you don’t need to conserve your mana, so you can play your high-cost cards as soon as you have enough mana. This keeps the game moving fast. You play minion cards, which can attack or defend (using taunt, which forces the other minions to attack them), and spell cards, weapons, enhancements and secrets. A lot of minions have special abilities, like increasing spell damage (very useful for the Mage hero), increasing the attack of other minions, healing, and others. Weapons allow your hero to attack, and secrets are hidden cards which are activated when your opponent does something specific (i.e, one secret gives your hero 8 armour when attacked). There’s a lot of variation in the cards, and they all look great. The fights are generally varied, and they move pretty fast.

From: battlenet/hearthstone/en

The game looks and sounds pretty good, particularly considering its free. The artwork looks great, and the rarer cards look pretty special. The spells all have nice animation, and the minions all say say something (or growl) when you play them. There are a couple different fields to play on, and you can click on various aspects to break windows, open doors or set off catapaults. It’s something to amuse you while you wait for the other player to finish their turn. I found as I got more into the game however, that I focussed more on my next move and didn’t have to click on various things in the field to keep myself entertained. The turns are timed, but you won’t really notice unless you’re taking a really long time to finish. I’ve never run out of time on a turn. The game loads a little slowly, and it can take a little while to find an opponent sometimes (I’m talking under 2 minutes though – I’m quite impatient).

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There are 3 different modes to play – practice against the computer, play ranked or casual against other players, and arena mode (a single player adventure mode is apparently coming soon). Arena mode lets you make a deck from random cards (so it doesn’t matter what cards you have in your collection) and play against another player. You can play until your lose 3 times, and you’ll win cards packs and coins depending on how well you did. Even if you don’t win any games, you’ll still win a card pack. The arena is a fun way to test your skills and play with powerful cards you might not have in your deck.

Overall, it’s a very fun free card game that looks and sounds pretty good. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t generally like games with micro-transactions as I feel I might too easily spend more money than I’d planned. If you don’t mind spending money, you can buy new cards and entry into the arena. If you don’t want to spend much, you can still enjoy it, and earn coins to buy new cards from completing quests and winning against other players. There are a variety of heroes to choose from, that all play pretty differently, and a few different play modes to try out. I’m still enjoying it quite a bit, and if you like these sorts of strategy card games, you should give it a go and see if you like it.

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