Just complex enough without sacrificing any accessibility and user friendliness, Hearthstone is a truly engaging time waster.
It is a game that simply oozes efficiency with its clutter free UI and clear card descriptions. Serious confusion probably won’t set in even after starting to tackle the card crafting system, which is a crucial part of the game. The crafting system works fine as does the UI, it’s not a fault, but it is the only part that at first might feel relatively slow and less efficient compared to the rest of the game. If you don’t count waiting on other players to finish their turns, of course. That said, the crafting system might go a bit slow for newcomers, but since it’s so intuitive and easy to master, the entire process speeds up immensely after a very short period of time.
Hearthstone is not an overly innovative title, as collectible card games have existed for a long time. However, it feels like it is not even really trying to compete with Magic and other similar games and beat them in their sometimes obtuse mechanics and complexity. Regardless, it’s a different and far more inviting take on collectible card games than its competition, and it simply excels in its own approach.
There is only a dozen or so deck setups that truly work at any given time in Hearthstone and yes, the RNG system can also determine the outcome of some matchups. But in general, it’s safe to say that player experience is crucial in determining the overall success in one of Hearthstones month long ranked PvP seasons or in its ‘craft your own deck from randomized sets of cards’ Arena mode. As the core of the game is PvP, it’s also worth noting the chat system that’s in place. It allows players to choose from a predetermined set of responses covering greetings, taunts and several other appropriate acknowledgments. Free chat by typing is not available and by that decision, Blizzard has successfully managed to completely remove a huge amount of toxicity that plagues in-game chat of many other competitive games.
The free-to-play system chosen for Hearthstone goes a long way for those who don’t want to fluff Blizzards already full wallet with extra dosh. Simply put, it is possible to achieve the highest rank and experience the full game without ever spending a penny. The Arena mode especially proves to be a pretty efficient way of collecting the dust needed for crafting and gold needed to purchase card packs and secure access to the Arena mode itself. The ranked and non-ranked game modes also feature gold rewards through win streaks and a fun quest system, which also encourages players to try out different classes and slightly step out of their comfort zone. While truly helpful, the ranked and non-ranked rewards are a far cry from the rewards a single successful Arena session can yield. Of course, Quests can also be completed during Arenas and extra card packs and Arena access can be purchased with real currency.
Hearthstone is not only good, it can also be pretty addictive. It is a well thought of and supremely well designed time waster which can not only entertain casual players, but also attract a more hardcore crowd with its core competitive elements. Hearthstone is available on PC, Mac and iPad, with iPhone and Android versions in the works and expected to release by the end of the year.