Hearthstone, You Made Me Love You

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor January 24, 2014

I didn't mean to play Hearthstone. Really I didn't. I never even signed up for a closed beta key. I only started playing a couple of days ago, once open beta hit, and I can't... stop... thinking about it.

That isn't the same as saying I can't stop playing. I do still play other games and do other stuff. But the other night, as I lay in bed, I thought about my hunter deck and how I could maybe improve the mana curve... and what tomorrow's daily would be... and hey, shaman looks like fun, maybe I'll put a deck together for that...

No! Stop! Bad Jason! Write article!

I've maintained from the start that Hearthstone isn't a revolutionary game. It's Magic: The Gathering with a few extra wrinkles and a World of Warcraft skin. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it's what pretty much every modern CCG has to do to be successful – mimic Magic and apply a recognizable IP – and there have been some major successes that followed that exact formula, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Cryptozoic Entertainment's World of Warcraft TCG being obvious examples.

What Hearthstone has going for it is the same thing World of Warcraft had going for it, the primary factor that escalated it to heights previously deemed unthinkable: accessibility.

First, there's the game itself, which is a simple take on the creatures-and-spells gameplay pioneered by Magic. Cards have relatively little text – mostly keywords – and there's no real resource management, akin to Magic's lands. After watching a few streams, I knew pretty much everything I needed to play, and I'd imagine even someone without extensive background in CCGs could pick up the concepts quickly.

Then there's the interface and client itself. The tutorial is engaging and entertaining and gets you used to how the game works from a software standpoint. Building and modifying decks is a snap, and finding an opponent requires just a couple mouse clicks of big, shiny buttons.

Oh, and it's free-to-play, which makes anything more accessible.

I haven't played a CCG with any regularity since I left my last CCG-related job six and a half years ago. I consider myself pretty much done with the genre. But Hearthstone is luring me back in, despite my misgivings. Maybe it's the daily quests and achievements. Maybe it's the gloss and shine. Maybe it's because I don't have to talk to my opponent, who might be a jerk in real life. Maybe it's the matching system, which pits me against people of my own skill and collection level so I don't feel outplayed by the proverbial “Mr. Suitcase.”

That last point was always a big deal for me. After its first couple of years, Magic did a better job than some of the other hundred-odd CCGs I played at limiting the power of rare cards, but it was still depressing getting curbstomped by a deck that was worth more than the monthly rent on my apartment. CCGs are the original pay-to-win PvP games.

Now, though? The matching system seems fair, and even if I do get torn to shreds someday by a rare-heavy deck, it's easy to just click Play again and move on. Hearthstone makes it easy to forget about the last game. I care about progress in the sense that I like that I get gold and free packs every now and then, but I don't feel that intense need to buy new cards and radically change my deck to keep up with the latest metagame.

I don't think I'll get into Hearthstone on the level I did back in my heavy CCG-playing days, but I'll keep it on my desktop pretty much forever and, even after the initial thrill has worn away, will probably load it up for an odd hour every now and then.

What about you? Is Hearthstone an obsession for you or just your latest side game?

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (27)

Irish 7 years ago
Just desire to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is just great and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

chefmadness 8 years ago
So I ben playing & I don’t get why they just didn’t they make the WarCraft card game for PC. Hearthstone is basically the same thing just named different. 30 cards is not enough for a deck. Also I would like to point out it is fun for like 5 hours then it gets lame. Magic the gathering is way better!!! & hearthstone is totally pay to win!!!! No way you can move up with F2P.

View 1 reply
Bud 8 years ago
Crap game for asshole people.

Roderick 8 years ago
I play Rise of Mythos and its pure pay to win, and even knowing that i prefer it than play hearthstone.. didn't like it too much :/

Hikitsu Sama 8 years ago
I don't like Hearthstone, It emphases too much on "Chance" than "Skill".

View 1 reply
Bloom 8 years ago
After watching Kripp and Trump stream for months, and to no avail obtaining a beta key. I was so happy when I woke up and got online to find out the game had gone into open beta. Ever since I have been playing every day doing my quests...opening packs. My first arena I went 3-3 (lol) and I sucked but I do better in regular ranked. As my first TCG, I am glad to say I play Hearthstone. AND I thank Blizzard for not making it pay to play.

View 2 replies
ioulios 8 years ago
this game feels so bad if u have played Duels of Champions....thats the real game cant even compare to this

Name (Required) 8 years ago
laughing at all the arena bads. it's not hard to go 7+ wins and perpetually make gold, dust, and packs. even when i get no epics or legendaries I still manage to do well because arena is a whole different beast than constructed. cards you think would suck are MVPs in arena. you just gotta know how to think outside the box (something many of you lack judging from the above comments).

if you can't think for yourself and make your own decks in constructed, then you deserve to lose. netdecking all the FOTMs is what makes the game bad. being innovative and thoughtful is what will put you ahead of everyone else.

stop complaining and learn how to play the damn game ffs. you god damn entitlement generation make me sick.

View 3 replies
ChrisHateZ 8 years ago
It's a very fun game, love the mechanics. It's quite simple and yet it requires you to think about every move you make and to try and predict every move enemy will make.

Matchmaking could be improved however. In casual and ranked I either get matched with bad players and newbies which I beat with such an ease it's not even fun or I get matched against a guy with rares and overpowered legendaries and then I have no chance at all.

Fighting against a rares-filled deck isn't even such a big deal, and I still win against decent amount of those players. But when you get to fight an enemy that has few legendaries in his deck you're doomed.

Arena seems awesome in theory but it's too random and feels a bit unfair. You'll often get bad cards to pick from, and in some cases you might get good ones but in that case they wont have almost any synergy and it'll be a mess. I'd rather have a deck of average cards with good synergy then a deck of good cards with no synergy at all, and in arena it's really all about luck.

Paying 150 gold or real money to enter arena just to lose if enemy had more luck getting a better deck kinda sucks.

qwe 8 years ago
no not every tcg or ccg is a copy of magic except for hex

View 1 reply
removalmitt 8 years ago
I concur, although it may pay be due to the fact I'm waiting for a decent ftp mmorpg to play

View 1 reply
Gimzy 8 years ago
It started off as an obsession, but after playing for a couple of months, it's now just a matter of who has better draws and guessing your opponents hand. Once you know what all the cards do and have enough legendary cards to compete in higher ranks, all it really is, is luck. Everyone plays the same legendary cards so you just have to bait them or play yours smarter. Turns into a snooze fest seeing the same decks over and over and over again.

View 1 reply
sponki 8 years ago

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