Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is an interactive, turn-based card game similar to Magic the Gathering or Yugioh. The premise of the game is by using minions and spells, you reduce your opponent’s health to zero. Currently, Hearthstone is available on Windows, Macintosh, and the Ipad.

There are several characteristics which differentiate Hearthstone from other card games, which help make it unique. Unlike many other types of games online, Hearthstone is one hundred percent free to play. It’s unique system of pack opening using its in-game currency, allows you to unlock the hundreds of cards to fully enjoy Hearthstone. The only transactions you’ll have to make are for using real money to buy packs, or to use money to purchase an arena run (further explained below).

Game objective

As Hearthstone is a 1v1 format, either against an AI or a human opponent; there are no teams, no outside assistance, it’s just you versus your opponent. Each character starts the game with 30 health, as your health decreases my from either spells or minions, it’s fairly obvious the person who reaches 0 first loses.

How Hearthstone is Played

Classes

As of today, there are currently 9 classes to choose from (with another classed planned for the future). Outside of the 9 selectable classes, there are plenty more to play against in the newly released expansion: Curse of Naxxramas.

If you are also familiar with World of Warcraft, some of these names should be fairly recognizable to you. The classes currently are:

  1. Druid – Malfurion Stormrage
  2. Hunter – Rexxar
  3. Paladin – Uther Lightbringer
  4. Rogue – Valeera Sanguinar
  5. Warlock – Gul’dan
  6. Mage – Jaina Proudmoore
  7. Priest – Anduin Wrynn
  8. Warrior- Garrosh Hellscream
  9. Shaman – Thrall

Cards

Cards are the components that make up the game of Hearthstone. Each card represents an action that the player can take by playing that card. There are currently three main types of cards: spell, weapon and minion. Custom decks are composed of 30 cards that the player must choose from within his collection.

As of the date of release on the expansion, Curse of Naxxramas, there are currently 500 playable cards, of which 412 can be collected and used by the player. The cards themselves are separated into different classes based on rarity; common, rare, epic, and legendary. Each ward has a mana value shown at the top left, it’s picture art, a gem at the bottom indicating its rarity, and in the textbox it’s effect if any at all. Adding to that, each class has specific class cards only available for that class, while neutral cards that exist are playable for with any class.

Minions Cards are the type of card that you play directly onto the board. These differ from spell and weapons cards as the minions have health. There are various effects that the minion can have, such as taunt, battlecry, death-rattle, or even nothing at all. Minions are controlled directly by the player who summoned them and can attack either enemy minions, or the opposing hero.

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Spell Cards are cards that once played, immediately have an impact on the field. Whether doing direct damage or an enemy minion, or turning a minion into a toad. A wide diversity of spells allow for an infinite amount of possibilities.

Weapon Cards are special cards equipped directly to the hero, this allows for you to gain an attack value and allows you to either attack a minion or the opposing hero. Only specific classes posses weapon cards, this being the warrior, paladin, rogue, shaman, and hunter.

Mechanics

Obviously the most important part of any game, this is what makes each game different. At the start of each game, the system decides my a coin toss to decide who has the first turn. Each player then has the option to mulligan their starting hand of 3 or 4 cards, replacing cards you don’t want and hopefully replacing with something better.

While a player goes first, to compensate for this effect the second player receives an extra card and something called ‘’The Coin.’’

Hearthstone has a system where each player begins with a mana crystal, this is also known as the resource bar. Every card has a mana value and in-order to play a certain card, you must possess the prerequisite amount of mana first. Each turn, you gain an additional mana crystal and draw another card.

‘’The Coin’’ has the effect of when you play it, you gain an additional mana crystal; this allows for strategic play and could lead to something your opponent won’t expect. With Hearthstone having a diverse amount of cards, there are spells which allow you to gain additional mana crystals when being player.

Game Modes

Currently in Hearthstone, there are 4 types of game modes to do in the game. Casual Ladder, Ranked Ladder, Arena, and Adventures, with each being unique, there is a ton of things to do in Hearthstone.

Casual Ladder is exactly what it sounds like, a mode where there is no stakes, no pressure, no ladder ranking at stake. This is the place where you would test new decks, or just mess around for fun.

Ranked Ladder: Starting at Rank 25, you work your way down until you hit Rank 1. This is where you would take the game seriously, as obviously the better your ranking the more you get to brag to your friends. This game mode rewards you for consistent play, as win streaks exists. Each win or wins you get varying amounts of stars depending on a varying amounts of factors. Moving up to a new rank requires you to reach  a certain amount of stars. After Rank 1, you reach legend, where ultimate bragging rights exist. As the esports scene expands, the top 16 players in the ladder are now being invited to various tournaments.

Arena: This is the mode where limitations don’t exist, after paying an entry fee of 150 gold or $1.50 US; you get to choose your class and select 30 cards to battle for rewards. Each win in arena bags you greater rewards, with each win you also face people who have the same amount of wins as you. This often showcases your skills as a deck builder and player in general, only the best or incredibly lucky will reach that fabled 12 wins. Something to consider is to recoup your arena entry, a minimum of 6 wins will guarantee that.

Adventures: With the first adventure: Curse of Naxxramas just released, this is exciting new gameplay for the newcomers and experienced veterans. These adventures are always faced against the AI, generally you’ll be facing bosses that have various power ups to make your life incredibly difficult. Expect multiple tries and deck adjustments, in order to receive the loot in each of the wings.

Hearthstone is a nice change of pace from the frantic sort of games I normally play, things such as League of Legends and Dota 2 are things that come to mind. Overall, this game is easy to learn and pick up, but like anything else in life; true mastery comes from hours upon hours of experience. I hope you enjoyed this guide on Hearthstone and I hope to see you guys around on the site in the future when I cover professional Hearthstone tournaments and take you through Hearthstone betting.

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