The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 30, 2014

PRESS START: 5 reasons to give Blizzard’s Hearthstone beta a shot

By Eric Pehowic
The Daily Item

Hearthstone, an online collectible card game developed by Blizzard Entertainment, is as fun and addictive as it is challenging.

The game is a virtual love letter to Blizzard’s epic massive multiplayer online role playing game World of Warcraft and the real-time strategy Warcrafts all based in the fictional world of Azeroth.

But take it from someone who hasn’t logged much time in the world -- and who hasn’t ever gone deep down the collectible card game rabbit hole -- Hearthstone's hooks are strong.

Here are five reasons why you should sign up for the beta right now:

1. Hearthstone is free

That’s right. There’s no cost to play the base game and unlock a large number of cards. If it’s not for you, then just delete it from your hard drive and move on. In-game successes and challenges give you gold which can be used for entry into the Arena or for buying card packs. But if this game is for you, then prepare to be tempted to use real money to buy entry into the arena mode or to buy packs in search of legendary cards.

2. Hearthstone is a deep strategy game

Visit YouTube and watch some gameplay commentaries of players employing a legendary card in all 30 slots of their deck. Although a deck like that has an advantage, there's no guaranteed victory. Playing the right minion, spell or buff depending on your draw and your opponent’s actions are critical to success.

3. Hearthstone is also a casual game

Like with other forms of entertainment, consumers can go as deep or as shallow as they want. There are lot of strategies out there for winning decks and clearing boards. But if you want to just build a deck full of pirates, owls and Leeroy Jenkins, you can have as much fun as a player who analyzes their mana curve on spreadsheets and knows what cards their opponent could play for a one-turn kill every turn.

4. Hearthstone is a card game with punch

One of the most boring parts about card games is that cards have cool designs and affects, but in the end they are pieces of cardboard and/or plastic with a coating of ink. In digital form, Blizzard has crafted cards you want to own – the designs and animations of the gold cards and legendaries will encourage more than a few people to buy packs with real money. The in-game animations and sounds are also incredibly fun (Remember "Taz'dingo," friends). From character spells to just placing certain characters on the board, it’s obvious a developer with Blizzard’s pedigree is behind the design. My favorite part: When a character strikes another character there’s a comic book-like smash sound and starburst flash. When a character strikes for a significant amount of damage, the animations are ratcheted up and the board rattles. Oh, and the in-game tunes are enjoyable too.

5. Hearthstone will explode once it goes live

It seems everything Blizzard creates is golden. They created the most popular game of all time in WoW and the most popular real-time strategy franchise of all-time in StarCraft. Once it goes live, Hearthstone will be one of those games everyone is talking about. There will be eSports tournaments and, likely, endless expansion packs. Get in some time now. Blizzard’s other franchises helped create a number of job descriptions that had never been considered before, including pro gamers, game-streamers, gamecasters. They also created the national sport of a country – StarCraft, in Korea.