Hearthstone: Open Beta Review

Engaging in card battles

It turns out that recently the beta test of Hearthstone has entered the open stage.

Somehow, it happened that the only source of this information for me turned out to be the Battle.net client with its joyful advertising banner, which I almost never pay attention to in a hurry to launch Hearthstone itself. But the party leadership did not let me, a fool, completely miss the event. They say I have to write, because it turns out to be a big hit.

It is impossible to argue with either the first or the second statement, so here it is.

For those who are still not aware: Hearthstone is a greatly simplified, fully digital version of Magic: the Gathering by Blizzard Entertainment. In simpler terms, it is a card game about orcs and elves from “Warcraft”, with the Blizzard project’s shine. And if the same MTG is an entertainment mainly accessible to serious enthusiasts, then a couple of hours of relaxed practice is enough to grasp the fundamental laws of Hearthstone.

The local deck is built like this: first, one of the (currently) nine hero classes is chosen. All of them are familiar characters from Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft with their traditional specializations. For example, mages – you won’t believe it – abuse spells, and warriors – another cool twist – like to take some hit points, armor, and personally wield a more powerful axe. Each class has its own unique collection of cards, and each of the nine heroes can take available cards from a healthy set of neutral units.

Choosing your deck

There are two and a half different game modes in the game. The first one and a half is duels with decks collected from collections. You can play “ranked” or just for fun. The second mode is called Arena, a magical place where you are first given a choice of one of three random classes, and then, in the same way, through 30 runs with a choice of one card out of three offered, you build a deck. After that, the player is sent to fight against decks collected in the same way until they have three losses or achieve the coveted 12 wins.

Dueling is fun in both the first and second modes. The second mode is more exciting, but you can’t just play it for fun. One entry to the arena costs either 150 in-game gold or $3.

Yes, 3$. The catch is that at the end of the matches, the player receives different prizes depending on the success of the run, and among them, there will always be one booster pack of five cards. These same 150 gold outside of the Arena can be earned in about two to three days of calm matches. In other words, overall, there is no extortion, despite such an “entrance fee”.

A game of Hearthstone, unlike most other card games, usually takes a few minutes. Or even less. It is not possible to dance around the enemy hero for half an hour, as often happens in other card games. If the same unit stays on the “board” for more than three turns, it means that either it has been turned into a useless nothingness, or one of the duelists has very serious problems. The local orc-gnomes-crocodiles live on average for about one and a half turns, managing to do all their business in that time.

Plus, the maximum (also standard) deck size is 30 cards instead of the classic stacks of 50-100. It is quickly assembled, quickly played, and quickly ends. However, even under these conditions, there is room for tactical genius to unfold.

Intense card warfare

There is no balance in HS, that’s true. Well, to seriously talk about “equality”, it doesn’t exist. Some classes with certain patches are stronger, while others usually wait for their moment, sharpen their teeth, and collect decks of non-traditional combat orientation. On the other hand, the fast pace of matches, the extreme simplicity of everything, and the randomness somewhat level the overall picture.

By the way, the randomness deserves a separate paragraph. I must admit that in this case, my Russian language is not capable of succinctly conveying what can happen in HS duels. There is, however, the English word bullshit – it fits perfectly, and you can get your fill of this bullshit in just half an hour of playing. There are games where everything is logical, well-known combinations are played out, both sides get normal cards, and it seems that it will always be like this. But on the next attempt, you want to scream “WHAT NONSENSE” through the card and curse something. Sometimes the deck will turn inside out, sometimes the opponent will completely exhaust all 30 hero hit points by the sixth turn, sometimes crucial cards for the game – intentionally put two of them in the set! – will only come into play on the 25th turn.

…for some reason, after such games, you just want to play even more.

Building a powerful deck

Blizzard really made an effort to make the game accessible to everyone. And it’s not just about being free-to-play, but rather that the project can appeal to any type of gamer. If you can or want to dedicate a lot of time to Hearthstone, go ahead, the game is deep enough to spend hundreds of hours on it. If you have little time, you can easily play a few intense matches in just 30 minutes. If you’re at home, play on your PC, if you’re at a café, play on your tablet. If you like hardcore gaming, there will always be worthy opponents at the top of the ladder, and if not, you can just play for fun without worrying about rankings. If you want to invest money in a deck, you can, but if not, you can regularly treat yourself with in-game gold. It’s beautiful.

Of course, without investing real money, it will take some time to build a really powerful deck. After all, how else would Blizzard make money from the project? Hearthstone is not like “Warcraft” or “Starcraft,” where skill is the only thing that matters. Well, when you have a more or less complete collection of virtual cards, the game starts to resemble fair competition, but don’t expect it right after installation. But that’s the charm of Hearthstone.

And the overall collection in Hearthstone is still relatively small. Plus, only a few cards are currently excluded from the general rotation. Whether Blizzard can maintain the balance of the game with the addition of new cards, heroes, and other elements remains to be seen. So far, the developers are doing a great job overall.

10 f2p points out of 10
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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