The World of Warcraft is expansive offering the definitive MMORPG, and now a tiny portion of the Warcraft world has come to the iPad. Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft delivers a card battling game where the heroes you battle with, and the cards that are used are sourced from the Warcraft universe. Card battling games are a relatively niche genre, but Blizzard has done an excellent job in making Hearthstone as accessible as possible. The game begins with six targeted battles that introduce the nuances that build upon a very solid, and self-explanatory base. Most of the game in this genre require lengthy explanation documents, and over bearing details, but not Hearthstone.
You’re given a turn based set-up where you have a limited amount of mana to use per turn. Each card requires a certain amount of mana, so you have to use quite a bit of strategy in balancing your early turns, while stock piling valuable cards. There are a number of decisions that can be made on every turn thanks to three card types of either minions, boosts, or hero abilities. The ultimate goal is to destroy the enemy hero, but there’s a round-about way of getting to that point with all of the other card types that can be played. The minions are set out in front of each hero with their own attack abilities, and minions can do battle on each other where an attack hurts both parties. The math is extremely simple, and it’s easy to see how a minion with five attack, and four health will do by going against a minion with four health, and four attack, with the result being both minions cleared off the board with each attack score working in one battle.
The main game offers an online multiplayer set-up allowing you to play in real time against others around the world. There’s also a single player component allowing you to practice your skills as well as unlock new heroes. There are nine heroes to play as, with each one offering their own set of unique cards, as well as special abilities to be activated by the draw of the cards. Even though there are simple beginnings to Hearthstone, there’s a whole lot of strategy in balancing when to use specific cards, when to focus on minions, and when to focus on the opposing hero, all while trying to stay ahead of an opponent deciding the same things. It’s great to see a match unfold where a lot of skill is involved despite the inherent randomness in the cards that you get. You can keep trying out different strategies, and heroes since there’s so many experimenting possibilities.
There’s just a whole lot to like, as Hearthstone delivers an extremely engaging card battling experience that delicately balances depth, and accessibility. There are also design flourishes to watch each card battle take place in varied arenas, and it’s all very well done. One problem is that the online multiplayer only supports real time matches against random players, so there’s no way to play against particular friends, or try an asynchronous match. Real time does make sense, and the game does employ an intelligent match make system, so each match is well balanced, but it would still be nice to play against people you know. The game is also free to play with in-app purchases tied to new card packs, but you can also earn cards just by playing the game with each match contributing to your card deck. You also can’t buy an advantage, since the matching system would pit you against other players who have bought new cards.
Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft (Free, iPad) is an excellent crafted card battling game that is made for everyone to enjoy and is well worth your time.