Jan 022014

Hearthstone logo
EDIT: I’m republishing this post from September, as it still serves as a good intro. I’ve gone through and made a few edits. I’ll have an original post going up on Friday with some analysis on how to get started with Hearthstone.

So, I’ve been absolutely slammed with work at my new job – this last weekend was the first time that I could sit down and say “hey, I have an hour or two to just PLAY something.” Lo and behold, what do I get but a Hearthstone beta invite! Having checked it out when it was announced (and then promptly having forgot about it again), I really didn’t have any expectations except that it looked kinda fun. (For the record, I’m familiar with the rules of Magic: The Gathering, and spent a good bit of time playing a flash CCG called Elements, but wouldn’t consider myself “advanced” at all.) Here’s what I think.

Initial Impressions

Increasingly, games have to pass the “first 5 minutes” test with me. As I reach a stage of my life where time has replaced money as my primary limiting resource, I don’t want to deal with any non-fun crap right off the bat. Hearthstone easily passes this test As soon as you start the game for the first time, you get thrown into a series of tutorial battles against prominent WoW villains, which gradually teach you the elements of the game. Even if you’ve never played Magic or another CCG in your life, by the time you finish this tutorial series, you’ll be ready to battle other players (or continue to battle the AI, if you choose).

The big thing that sucks you in, though, is how well they evoke WoW in the card game itself. All of the creature and spell cards are patterned after their in-game equivalents, in both art and (most crucially) sound. Put down a murloc, and get the classic gurgle. Cast a fireball, and you get the whoosh-crack and glowy effect. Even the non-WoW sounds are done well; a small hit rewards a small “thunk” sound, while a large hit rewards a large “crack,” complete with applause, rubble, and screen shake. If you get bored during your opponent’s turn, all the game boards are fully interactable and have the classic Warcraft trope of doing something funny when clicked repeatedly.


Win or lose, your selected class will get XP. Yes, there are classes in a card game; if you’re familiar with MTG, then think of the nine classes as analogous to MTG’s colors, as they represent a pool of cards to choose your deck from. Unlike MTG, however, you only get one class choice; your deck is built from a combination of class-specific cards and a pool of neutral cards that are available to all classes.

Mechanics-wise, things are simple: many complex mechanics present in other CCG’s have been removed. There are only two major types of cards: spells and creatures (minions). There’s a few subtypes – some creatures are “weapons,” which cannot typically be attacked, and some spells are “secrets,” which are hidden when cast and execute automatically when their condition is met. There’s no lands, no artifacts, no differentiation in spell speeds, etc. While this lack of complexity may prove a detriment to the long-term health of the game, it greatly helps the casual player. The one new mechanic is called “hero power,” where each class (hero) can pay 2 mana once per turn to activate a special ability unique to that class. These abilities are fairly weak, but they’re always available, and knowing when to use them is critical to Hearthstone success.

Deckbuilding is also relatively painless. It’s pretty hard to make a truly “bad” deck unless you’re trying to, and if you’re completely lost, an ingenious “Suggest a Card” feature will recommend one of the current cards you own, based on your current deck’s current composition.

Game modes are pretty sparse at the moment – the only options are “Practice” (vs. AI, you pick the class and basic/advanced deck), “Play” (single game against random human opponent, ranked and casual modes) and “Arena,” which is the most compelling mode. In the Arena, everyone starts from scratch – you get to pick one of three randomly-determined classes, then pick one of three randomly-determined cards 30 times. You then take that fresh deck and match it against other fresh decks. Once you lose 3 times or win 12, you “finish” your Arena streak and get rewarded according to your number of wins…which leads us to the less savory bits of Hearthstone.

Hearthstone druid deck

Free-2-Play…or Lose

Hearthstone is free-to-play, but the amount of cards you get to start is very low. Off the bat, you get the “Basic Set,” which is 43 neutral cards, plus 45 class-specific cards, 5 for each class. Leveling a class to level 10 (relatively painless, since you gain a level when you win, and half that when you lose) will reward an additional 5 cards. That’s…it. The other ~400 neutral + class-specific cards are rewarded in packs – 5 cards in a pack. (Note: the Basic Set gives you card 2-packs, but cards earned from packs/crafting are singletons.)

Now, you get a couple one-time packs and some starter gold, but after that, the only realistic way to make gold is by a once-per-day quest, which rewards 40-100 gold. Winning a  match against another player  rewards a measly ~3 gold. (10 per 3 wins.)  You can also make gold from success in the Arena, the other Hearthstone play mode which features randomized card drafting.  It costs 150 gold to enter the Arena, but you receive a free pack when you finish, so the actual cost is about 50 gold…and if you can consistently go at least 4-3, you’ll make back that 50.

If you can’t, though, you’ll quickly find yourself gold-poor. At this point, you have two options. You can either pay real money ($3 for 2 card packs with quantity discounts for buying more, or $2 for 1 Arena entry + 1 card pack). Failing that, you can also do the single daily quest for 40-60 gold, grind out some play-mode wins, and slowly pick up new packs. It’s a pretty fair model, I find, and much less expensive then other online CCG’s.

Choose your hero

Thoughts on Classes

Druid – Focused on high-cost cards; minor themes include mana acceleration and “choose one” cards, where you can pick between one of two choices. Arguably best late-game class.

Hunter – Focused on beasts and traps (aka secrets). Very much a rush-type deck; currently underpowered due to some overzealous nerfs.

Mage – Focused on direct-damage cards and spells. Strongest all-round class in the game.

Paladin – Focused on buffs and pumping up creatures minions, with a little bit of healing and direct damage. Very solid class.

Priest – Focused on healing, obviously. Was once very strong, but has fallen back significantly after the nerf to Mind Control.

Rogue – Focused on using LOTS of low-damage minions and abilities, with card abilities called “combos” that trigger if another card is played before it.

Shaman – Focused on “overload” cycles; cards that are overpowered for their cost, but hit the mana pool over 2 successive turns.

Warlock – Focused on an odd niche – cards and abilities with both benefits and drawbacks. Very strong rush deck at the moment due to Warlock’s hero ability, which draws a card for 2 mana/2 health.

Warrior – Focused on weapons and minions that charge (activate immediately without requiring a turn), not terribly subtle class.

Overall, I’d say Rogue/Mage/Hunter seem to be the strongest at the moment, though it’s beta so who the hell knows what’ll happen tomorrow. Fun game, and I’ll likely be getting in a few matches a day.



 Posted by at 1:40 am

  42 Responses to “Hearthstone: First thoughts on the game and all classes”

  1. You can play for free, but it sure is a whole lot faster and easier to be able to play with the non-basic cards that you can only get from booster packs. My win percentage in Ranked mode went from about 20% to 72% (tracked the first 100 matches – and I won 72 of them) after I bought 40 booster packs.

    I’ve been in the Hearthstone Beta since Day One and I’ve written an article about how to unlock packs and grind gold as a beginner. I hope it helps new players to get on the right path to be efficient and not waste time and effort like I did originally when I went blindly into the beta.

    Check out the full article here:


  2. For new players, leveling each class up to 10 in practice mode is really, really important. First, this unlocks really crucial cards for the class that are absolutely essential to performing well in PVP situations. Second, this allows time to get used to the mechanics of how the cards play. Trying to jump into PVP without all your basic cards unlocked is likely to cause problems, no matter how much money you spend on cards. ;)

  3. 602101 3244Hey! Excellent stuff, do tell us when you finally post something like this! 267071

  4. 609003 296568Hello! Good post! Please do keep us posted when we can see a follow up! 227083

  5. 269496 576283Does your blog have a contact page? Im having a tough time locating it but, Id like to send you an e-mail. Ive got some suggestions for your blog you may be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time. 68052

  6. 933237 124358Well written articles like yours renews my faith in todays writers. Youve written data I can finally agree on and use. Thank you for sharing. 478323

  7. 45648 190787Right after study several with the blog articles for your internet site now, and i also genuinely such as your strategy for blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark internet site list and are checking back soon. Pls take a look at my internet page in addition and tell me what you believe. 347631

  8. I just want to mention I am just new to blogging and definitely liked this page. Almost certainly I’m going to bookmark your site . You surely have superb article content. Bless you for revealing your web page.

  9. Congratulations on having One of the most sophisticated blogs Ive come throughout in a few time! Its just incredible how much you can remove from some thing thanks to how visually beautiful it’s. Youve put collectively an awesome blog space -great graphics, videos, layout. This can be undoubtedly a must-see weblog!

  10. 532627 763107I like the way you conduct your posts. Have a good Thursday! 629105

  11. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  12. I will devices this review in direction of 2 products of us citizens: latest Zune home owners who are thinking about an update, and people making an attempt to come to a decision amongst a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players value thinking about out there, which includes the Sony Walkman X, yet I assume this provides yourself plenty of facts to create an aware option of the Zune vs gamers other than the iPod line as perfectly.)

  13. Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover somebody who truly knows what they’re discussing on the net. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular given that you most certainly have the gift.

  14. Well I like what you said,As a junior i want some suggestion. Check my video.Thanks http://ceesty.com/wmofVm

  15. hello!,I like your writing very much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to see you.

  16. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  17. I was looking through some of your articles on this internet site and I conceive this site is real instructive! Keep putting up.

  18. I’ll products this examine toward Two versions of americans: recent Zune householders who are thinking about an upgrade, and people hoping to determine in between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other avid gamers great importance thinking about out there, like the Sony Walkman X, still I assume this features oneself more than enough facts toward make an conscious final decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  19. Quality blog brings quality monitoring and changes mind of intelects.A small donation you may be interested. http://corneey.com/wm6Zo9

  20. 447325 945837Hi there, i just thought i would publish and now let you know your sites style is genuinely smudged within the K-Melon browser. Anyhow maintain within the quite great function. 396728

  21. Thank you for writing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Twitter. Thanks again for a great article!

  22. Zune and iPod: Utmost individuals assess the Zune in direction of the Touch, nevertheless when seeing how slim and surprisingly small and mild it is, I consider it toward be a pretty exclusive hybrid that brings together traits of both of those the Touch and the Nano. It can be exceptionally colourful and lovely OLED exhibit is a bit scaled-down than the touch screen, nevertheless the participant by itself feels quite a little bit scaled-down and lighter. It weighs over 2/3 as a lot, and is drastically lesser inside width and peak, When currently being simply a hair thicker.

  23. Amongst me and my partner we’ve owned further more MP3 gamers higher than the years than I can depend, together with Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, and so forth. But, the closing couple a long time I’ve resolved down in direction of a single line of players. Why? Considering the fact that I was satisfied in the direction of take a look at how well-designed and exciting in direction of seek the services of the underappreciated (and commonly mocked) Zunes are.

  24. Sorry for the huge examine, nonetheless I am truly loving the fresh Zune, and assume this, as very well as the Fantastic critiques some other americans contain prepared, will support your self decide if it’s the straight determination for yourself.

  25. I am going to products this research toward 2 designs of folks: existing Zune property owners who are contemplating an improve, and These hoping toward decide concerning a Zune and an iPod. (There are other gamers worth thinking about out there, which includes the Sony Walkman X, yet I anticipate this gives you ample facts toward generate an conscious final decision of the Zune vs avid gamers other than the iPod line as very well.)

  26. The refreshing Zune browser is remarkably positive, yet not as beneficial as the iPod’s. It operates well, yet is just not as fast as Safari, and includes a clunkier interface. If oneself at times program on utilizing the net browser that is not an issue, however if you happen to be building to read through the net alot towards your PMP then the iPod’s more substantial exhibit and superior browser may be vital.

  27. Ha, here from yahoo, this is what i was browsing for.

  28. Hands down, Apple’s app retail outlet wins through a mile. It is really a enormous preference of all sorts of applications vs a as an alternative unsatisfied choice of a handful for Zune. Microsoft contains courses, in particular inside of the realm of games, but I’m not sure I might need to bet on the future if this component is necessary to your self. The iPod is a much greater determination within that situation.

  29. 672166 704221Soon after study some with the blog posts within your web site now, and i genuinely such as your technique for blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site list and are checking back soon. Pls appear into my internet web site likewise and make me aware what you consider. 894542

  30. I like this site because so much useful stuff on here : D.

  31. You are my intake , I own few blogs and infrequently run out from to brand.I think this web site holds some really superb info for everyone. “To be able to be caught up into the world of thought — that is being educated.” by Edith Hamilton.

  32. Palms down, Apple’s application retail outlet wins through a mile. It is really a significant number of all varieties of programs vs a very not happy amount of a handful for Zune. Microsoft includes Options, specifically inside of the realm of games, yet I am not confident I would have to have towards wager on the potential if this portion is important to oneself. The iPod is a significantly better alternative within just that situation.

  33. Found this on google and I’m happy I did. Well written site.

  34. I am glad to be one of the visitors on this great website (:, appreciate it for posting .

  35. I just have to reveal to you that I am new to blog posting and genuinely enjoyed your site. Very possible I am prone to bookmark your blog post . You absolutely have stunning article content. Be Grateful For it for expressing with us your very own blog webpage

  36. Needed to compose you this very little note to help thank you so much again with your magnificent pointers you have provided above. It was really remarkably open-handed of you to present easily exactly what many of us could have supplied as an e-book in making some cash on their own, especially now that you could possibly have done it if you considered necessary. These strategies also worked like a great way to understand that most people have a similar dreams similar to my personal own to see a little more on the topic of this condition. I think there are numerous more pleasurable periods up front for folks who look into your site.

  37. Heya there, just became aware of your blog through Yahoo and bing, and realized that it is truly good. I will be grateful for should you continue on this informative article.

  38. Faytech North America is a touch screen Manufacturer of both monitors and pcs. They specialize in the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Capacitive touch screen, Resistive touch screen, Industrial touch screen, IP65 touch screen, touchscreen monitors and integrated touchscreen PCs. Contact them at http://www.faytech.us, 121 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013, +1 646 205 3214

  39. Varick Street Litho , VSL Print is one of the top printing company in NYC to provide the best Digital Printing, Offset Printing and Large Format Printing in New York. Their printing services in NYC adopts state of the art digital printing services and offset digital printing for products postcards, business cards, catalogs, brochures, stickers, flyers, large format posters, banners and more for business in NYC. For more information on their digital printing nyc, visit http://www.vslprint.com/ or http://www.vslprint.com/printing at 121 Varick St, New York, NY 10013, US. Or contact +1 646 843 0800

  40. I like what you guys are up also. Such intelligent work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website :).

  41. Palms down, Apple’s app retailer wins by a mile. It really is a massive alternative of all styles of purposes vs a alternatively sad decision of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has Strategies, primarily within the realm of games, however I’m not sure I would need to have in direction of wager upon the long run if this attribute is necessary toward on your own. The iPod is a a lot greater choice within just that case.

 Leave a Reply