Hearthstone: Heroes Of Warcraft
Blizzard has been kind to insomnia sufferers over the years. Between StarCraft, Diablo and World Of Warcraft sleep has never seemed so much like an annoying obstacle keeping folks from their favourite games. Now they've added another game to the list, Hearthstone: Heroes Of Warcraft.
I've never been much of a fan of card games so I definitely wasn't ready for just how simple and addictive Hearthstone actually is.
Hearthstone is very simple to learn. Each card's requirements and abilities are clearly and simply laid out on their faces offering players a quick and easy reference point on how best to employ them.
Using cards cost mana which players get an increasing amount of each consecutive turn up to a cap of ten. They come in two different types, minions and magical powers. Minions can be used to attack your opponent or their minions with some imbued with secondary abilities. These abilities range from shielding your player from direct attack or enhancing the other minions on the board to summoning enemies or healing.
Magical powers can range from allowing the drawing of additional cards to powerful attacks to enabling you player to make direct attacks on the opponent and his minions.
It's actually all very simple and, with the right combination of cards, games can be over in minutes, especially if you're lucky enough to draw a good combination of cards from your deck.
Each game begins with a coin toss with the winner going first and the loser gaining an additional card from their deck and a bonus card that provides an extra unit of mana when played. At the beginning of each players' turn they draw one card from their deck and choose what to play.
There are nine classes of player, each based on a character from the Warcraft universe. Each also has a unique pool of special cards that offer them their own tactical options over an above the pool of class-neutral cards that are available.
The game begins with a short campaign of single player battles playing as the mage class to get you familiar with the basics of Hearthstone and begin to level up your first character. Once these are over you have access to the multiplayer matches and practice matches against computer controlled opponents.
To unlock the other classes of player you must defeat them either in online battles or in the practice arena.
Battle is surprisingly nuanced and while it's easy to learn there is a lot of depth to it with the opportunity to experiment with different combinations to take down your opponents. This is made more accessible by the custom deck creation tool.
As you play and level up your character you unlock more cards and earn gold so that you can buy Elite packs of cards to enhance your specialist decks. Levelling up is assisted by daily challenges that offer bonus experience and gold for acheiving different goals.
Hearthstone is quite possibly one of the finest free-to-play games that is available out there just now. The iPad version has been carefully optimized for the touch-screen interface as well whihc makes it every bit as playable as the PC and Mac version.
Now that Hearthstone is out there in the public domain it's clear that it is a game that verges on addiction and it's one that will be of great benefit to gaming insomniac and may very well create some more in the process.
Hearthstone is available to download for free on PC and Mac from Battle.net and iTunes for the iPad. An Android version is also on the way.