Just over a month after Blizzard officially launched “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft,” its digital monster card game similar to “Magic the Gathering,” for the PC and Mac, the Irvine, Calif.-based company has brought its newest game to the mobile platform. Hearthstone became available for free on the iPad Wednesday.
The iPad version is exactly like the PC and Mac counterparts, and is completely free to play. User accounts sync across multiple platforms so players can use the same card deck on either the desktop version or the iOS version; this means current players won’t have to start over from scratch if they move to the iPad for their gameplay. The game requires an internet connection to for multiplayer matches, so be aware of your mobile data plan. However, Hearthstone offers a single player practice mode and a single player campaign mode called Curse of Naxxramas was announced on April 11 at PAX East.
The game works like most monster card games. Each game involves two players with 30 health points in a one on one battle. Each player has a deck of cards filled with either monster cards, called minions, or spell cards, both of which require resource magic called mana to play. At the beginning of the match, each player starts with zero mana crystals, meaning they can only draw cards. Every turn adds one mana crystal to the player’s mana pool, up to a maximum of ten crystals. When the player has enough mana, they can play a card, either a minion or a spell, attacking the other player. Each card has a specific attack number, which correlates to the amount of health the attack will take. The game continues until one of the players loses all of their health. Pretty simple.
While Hearthstone is free to play, it does make use of in game microtransactions, but Blizzard has made strides to make sure users are only paying for what they want. “We feel like if you are going to add microtransactions, you want to add something valuable and people really want to give you money. The free-to-play games that are really successful do that really well.” Rob Pardo, Blizzard’s Chief Creative Officer, said.
Either in-game currency, called gold, or real money can be spent on microtransactions. Players can purchase additional randomized card pack, similar to how physical card games work, or entry into the Arena section of the game. While additional card packs will give players a slight advantage as players can obtain rare cards, spending money doesn’t guarantee better game play or access to higher levels.
Blizzard relies on the accessibility of the game to attract newer players. While the game is based on the heroes and baddies of Blizzard’s massively successful World of Warcraft, it doesn’t require new players to understand the lore. The iPad version has a fairly intuitive UI, possibly making the touch controls the optimal way to get started on the game. The game is available on iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation), iPad (4th generation), iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina. iPhone and Android versions are in the works, coming later this year.