Penultimate Hearthstone thoughts

How can I say these are my penultimate Hearthstone thoughts when the game is not even out of a closed-ish beta? Well I’m kind of over it. I’m only saying penultimate because I will post something when it “launches” properly, but I don’t think it will change my impressions.

The short version: HearthStone is not for me. I don’t hate it, I just don’t particularly like it either. I’d rather play something else.

I was essentially bored within 10-15 games, and was proceeding through the rest of the games because I thought there was something I was missing. There is more, far more.

The execution of the game is solid, the gameplay is probably great if you like that sort of thing, and it was as complete in beta as many other games are launch. Kudos Blizzard. Not for me though.

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Panoramas and Banners for fantasy themed blogs

Aside

As a blogger I never seem to have the “right” image, and get tempted to hike images from anywhere. Well, shamefully I do admittedly hike them, but I try to grab my own, or take them from folk who are willing to give freely.

I found that “The Other Tank” Blog has compiled a batch of images which are perfect for bloggers to use for wow-related banners and panoramas. Even better he has supplied a batch of these in zip file shared via DropBox for anyone to grab. Darn fine work sir!

serpents-heart

Happy Killing, TyphoonAndrew.

HearthStone, Impressions so far

A week ago I downloaded and started playing HearthStone. For a beta it is solid.There were no graphical glitches, error 37s, or other strange config things going on to hamper getting in straight away to play.

Overall – I’ve now been reminded why I hate “Draw a Card” based games and why I just stayed away from MtG when it was repeatedly offered at game stores and roleplaying tables. The degree of “random” in what powers can be used when is a key issue for how the game plays. That might be a cornerstone of this style of game and a known factor to many players, but for me it is farcical.

The darn game could be renamed “The Frustration of RNG”.

hstoneBannerKnowing that a deck contains a few handy abilities to your current situation and not getting them for turn after turn is way too frustrating. Twelve or so games into the normal Practice modes where you try to unlock the other classes and I was almost screaming at the screen. I certainly thumped the table. I am also consistently frustrated by how often the NPCs is able to pull the “right” move. Kill a taunt empowered card and the NPC drops another straight down. For pity’s sake. The NPCs seem to always have the right card as follow-up. Screw this.

One battle my “Heroic” Mage drew no extra minion cards for 5x rounds – in a game based upon using minions and specials to win! In another game which came down to both heroes being on less that 5 HP at the last turn I’d never seen a Fireball card (4pts cost inflicting 6 damage). ON A MAGE!

I also noticed that there is a certain strategy in not just using cards because you can deploy them. The NPCs in Practice mode seem to hold cards early and then swamp the board later. The NPCs in the tutorial games are softer and seem to have worse luck with cards. I’d like to know if the NPCs are at the same “level” as my hero or am I being challenged by level 10 opponents while tooling around on a level 1-3.

That aside…

  • Too many “click to proceed” things from the time you open the app to the time you are actually about to play. Animations are slow (on my laptop). I think that is by design in HearthStone as WoW plays fine on the same laptop and it cannot be using much in the way of a 3d engine.
  • Overall I’d like it to “play quicker”. Show cards quicker, etc.
  • The initial training fights have the odd “Grom Dar!”, “You will burn”, and other character based emotes and actions, and its funny now but after a few games I started wondering how old that will get.

After the training five or so fights, the player is tasked with defeating the other classes. Some classes seem already freaking cool, and others disadvantaged.

The Mage (starter) has a 2pt special power which delivers 1x damage, and it can be used every turn if you wish. By contrast the Hunter has a 2pt ability which inflicts 2x damage. Why? I note that the Mage can always ping 1pt, but the hunter can sometimes not, but that is a trivial limitation on a game where we usually have other uses for those points.

So far I’ve unlocked the Warrior, Shaman, and Priest so far, and find the Warlocks, Hunters, and Druids darn tough to beat. I’ve heard that Rogues are tough to content with, but both my matches have been down to the wire although I’ve lost both too.

The Warlock’s draw a card power is fantastic, and I am repeatedly fighting and getting trounced by the Warlock because I think that ability will suit how I like to play. Sure it might cost a few health, but a Card per 2pts is trivial if you have only a few cards left in your hand. The Druid being able to directly attack is great. It might only be useful periodically, but it seems hardy and appropriate to the class.

The Monk and Death Knight are not present as classes and I can forgive that given how much diversity there is already in the class mix.

Late-ish into the HearthStone beta

Yehaw! Some emails are just plain exciting to get. As I download, play, and get all mushy (hopefully) about HearthStone, I’ll post follow-up. I’ll also have to read the T&Cs to see what I’m allowed to say, in case any caveats are still in place (ahem).

As a person who generally has no time for physical collect-a-card based games (like Magic TG) I am looking forward to how this game makes me feel. I’d go as far as to say I’m a collectable card game hater. I am a keen gamer though and I can see this game as real avenue where casual based play would entice players to spend real money on cards.

That is the spin for HearthStone from what I understand now, the cash you spend will get you bonuses far faster, far better decks, which in turn (I assume) gives far more leverage to the win-loss ration which I read is a key metric for rewards. A game with a pay-to-win from the outset isn’t something that I’d first accept as a casual player, bu then perhaps it make a huge difference because it is isolated and set from the get-go.

So this should be interesting. I’ll certainly have to get my ipad back, as that type of interface is very likely where I’ll do all my testing.

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