We have another “Why you should try:” article for you this week from Team Rankstar in partnership with Inked Gaming. This week we will be talking about a game you have probably heard of once or twice before: Hearthstone. I am Tyrant, the current Hearthstone team captain for Team Rankstar and an active competitor in the Esports scene.
Starting off with that statement like that it shows I’m a little biased towards Hearthstone. It’s been my primary focus for entertainment, creativity, and competition for over 5 years now. That’s not where I started with CCGs, however. I was an avid Magic: The Gathering player for over a decade and played at a competitive level. I was skeptical when I picked up Hearthstone then, and it was the best thing I have done in my gaming career. Today I’m going to talk to you about why Hearthstone is still the most popular digital card game out there to this day and why you should give it a try, even with all the competition that has emerged in recent years. With that said, let’s dive in.
Why you should try Hearthstone: A game that is easy to learn but hard to master
Hearthstone’s design is brilliant because it walks the line at being easy (for a card game) to follow and learn as a beginner, while also having, in my experience, the highest skill cap of any card game available. Hearthstone’s design focuses on being available on the mobile market (which I’ll touch on later), but because of this they made sure that the game is easy to pick up. Limiting minions available on the board at a time and only being able to play cards on your turn simplifies the game mechanics and makes it a much easier game to pick up and enjoy. One thing that always stuck with me is how many people who never played a card game before downloaded and fell in love with Hearthstone. This isn’t just a card game for card game players, this is a card game for everyone, and it showed.
On the flip side, the seemingly simplistic design can be a turn off for some expert card slingers. As a magic player for over a decade, not having a way to play spells on my opponent’s turn was annoying. Then I learned how to use that to my advantage. Anticipating plays is crucial in Hearthstone. Knowing breakpoints for everything that can be done by your opponent creates a laundry list of situations, and you have 90 seconds to find the optimal line. Hearthstone rewards you for card knowledge like few other games do. In most other card games, you can read the card then respond if you want to, but Hearthstone at a high level forces you to anticipate plays and create the most advantageous situation for that scenario. Hearthstone is one of the easiest card games to learn the basics of and get started, while also always having ways to improve and gain a competitive edge within the game.
Accessibility: Don’t you guys have phones?
Hearthstone isn’t the only card game available on the mobile market anymore, but it is certainly the most polished and well designed for that platform. Being able to reach in my pocket and play a quick game of Hearthstone is one of the most endearing parts of the game. Everything looks clear, and it doesn’t feel like a forced port from PC. The average game in Hearthstone is also fairly short (as long as you stay away from warrior), so if you have a 10-15-minute bus ride getting a game in on your commute is an easy task. Like most digital card games, Hearthstone is free to play and has a limited game mode called Arena. So, you can start playing without investing, and it’s a great way to learn the basics about tempo and board control within the game.
Another beneficial aspect to newer players, or inconsistent players, is the concept of an evergreen set. Like most card games that have been around for a while, Hearthstone has a rotation system for their standard format. However, the original classic and basic cards are ALWAYS available for competitive play. These cards tend to really define each of the classes’ identity, and as a bonus you will always have these cards available to you, even if it’s your first time back in years.
Lore, art, and the Blizzard polish
Some of you may not be familiar with Blizzard if you aren’t PC gamers, but to give a quick background on Blizzard, they’ve been making games a long time. Over twenty-five years long. During that time, they have made some of the most well-known IP’s and lore that people still treasure. None are more popular than Warcraft. The characters are memorable, colorful and truly brought to life in this card game. I say with confidence that no digital card game looks nearly as good, nor as memorable as Hearthstone. Hearthstone brings a lighthearted tone to a memorable action-packed universe. The sound effects and spell effects are top notch and give some of the heavy hitters in the game their own identity. Some even have different voice lines depending on the class your opponent is playing or other minions that are on the field. It’s the little things that stand out, and Blizzard covered those bases in spades. They will bring back nostalgic memories for any long time Blizzard fans or create new ones with friends. You’ll never forget your first King Krush or Leeroy Jenkins.
Single player content
This is huge for any casual card game player out there. What most card games lack is a good way to play the game by yourself, or at least a way that has replay potential. Hearthstone really hit the ball out of the park with their Dungeon Run system, which has been improved upon in the newest rendition with Dalaran Heist. These modes are single player rogue-like deck building modes. You fight AI bosses and each one you win you’re rewarded with options of new cards to add to your deck, and sometimes incredibly powerful treasures or passive abilities to help you along your way. Many casual players will play these modes constantly. There are literally endless possibilities and experiences you can have with these modes. No run will ever be the same. You’ll also be able to unlock different starting decks and Hero Powers as you progress. So, the more you play the more you have access to! These modes are literally a game in themselves and have dozens of hours of content alone.
Community: Everyone is welcome to the Hearthstone tavern
This holds true for many games, and although I have bounced around in ccgs and other games alike, I’ve never felt as welcome or enjoyed interacting with a community as much as the Hearthstone one. When I stopped playing magic competitively, it wasn’t because I was tired of the game, but I moved away from my community. I tried joining new local ones, but it never felt the same. Even though I met nearly everyone online first and I’ve only met some in person over time, I’ve created lasting relationships through Hearthstone. The audience is so passionate and want nothing more than for Hearthstone to reach its fullest potential. There is an unyielding amount of community created content. Podcasts, streams, videos, articles and more. People love playing Hearthstone, and if there is one thing the community might enjoy doing even more it’s talking about Hearthstone.
I hope inspired some of you to give Hearthstone a try. I think most card game players will appreciate its charm, and people new to the genre will find it inviting and not as intimidating as other options. I look forward to seeing new faces in the tavern soon. Pull up a chair by the hearth, there’s always room for another.