Hearthstone Review from a Magic the Gathering Player
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been playing competitive Magic the Gathering since the game first came out. Up until a few years ago, that was fine. I had plenty of time and money to spend on the game, and I enjoyed it. Then I got married and had a kid. Reality set in, and now I have real priorities that push gaming way to the bottom of the list.
So what can a lifetime card flipping addict like me do to scratch that itch? Plain and simple, I had to quit playing Magic competitively. I may be able to catch a draft every once in a blue moon, or play some other form of the game on my Playstation etc…but the days of staying up into wee hours of night playing Magic Online tournaments are gone.
Enter Hearthstone – My Magic The Gathering Replacement
As a long time geek gamer, you might have also guessed that I’ve played World of Warcraft. You guessed right. That had to stop too, due to the same issues of not having time to play games for hours.
I was already looking for other card games that could be played faster and easier. So when I heard that there was a card game based on WoW, that was one of the first few I tried. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get hooked immediately… but after a few weeks, when I started getting good at it, I started to like it more.
Hearthstone Pros and Cons
PRO 1 – Fast Games
What I like most about Hearthstone is the games are fast. I’m a dad and a husband, and I work two jobs… I just don’t have the time to sit and play 3 to 5+ hour Magic tournaments anymore. PTQ’s are just not happening anymore. However I can play a few games of Hearthstone, on my phone, before bed or on my lunch break. This is not possible with Magic. The tournaments are draft style, but not really drafts. So you can play against different opponents anytime, you aren’t restricted to a draft pod like you are with MTG. This is nice because I can play an Arena match or two, then live my life and come back later that night, or two days later and continue the same Arena tournament.
PRO 2 – Can be played on cell phone
I’m already carrying my smartphone with me everywhere I go. So to have a decent game on there is pretty nice. I couldn’t imagine trying to play Magic on my phone, but Blizzard did a pretty good job of making their game playable on my Samsung Galaxy. It’s nice to know that if I want to I can play basically anytime, as long as there is WiFi.
PRO 3 – Rewards Galore
While they don’t just give you every card to play with from the start, which they could have done… it does give you
a reason to keep playing the game and some excitement I guess from opening packs. They give out free packs often, and there are various rewards for progress on each class. This is something Magic doesn’t really do, but is a nice incentive to keep playing.
PRO 4 – Much Cheaper than Magic
It is cheaper than Magic. You can spend money on packs if you want to, or you can play for free buying packs of cards with gold you win from the tournaments etc. You have to be more resourceful with your decks when playing for free, but you can still play. If you want to play more competitively, you can either “dust” your unwanted cards to build a deck you want, or spend a fraction of the cost of a competitive magic deck to buy a bunch of booster packs. It’s also kind of refreshing for me, not to have to look at every card and consider it’s monetary value.
PRO 5 – No Chat
One thing about Magic Online that would annoy me is the chat box. Or I should say, the opponents trash talk area. I don’t know if it was just me, but I would always face the most douchey and rude opponents. So I’d ignore the chat box. That being said, even in Hearthstone players can emote in jerky ways, so thankfully there is an option to “squelch” them so you at least don’t have to be annoyed with their commentary.
CON 1 – Dominant Decks
At times it seems like there are one or two decks that completely dominate the game, are basically unbeatable, and everyone you go up against in the player vs player ranked matches seems to be playing those decks. If you aren’t playing those one to 3 “net decks” you probably will lose. This is always an issue with card games, since players have the internet it’s hard to stop them from building and sharing the most broken decks. Blizzard is somewhat quick to respond with card nerfs, but still allow some to stay in.
CON 2 – Low Rotation Cycles
Cards that are released stick around for 2 full years before they go into “Wild” mode. Say you really hate a particular card, like oh say Reno Jackson for example. You are stuck playing against it for 2 full years. People were waiting and waiting for stupid Reno to rotate out, it was so horrible.
CON 3 – Not Much of a Competitive Outlet
Sure they have Arena Mode, and there is some kind of major tournament that takes place in a faraway land once or twice a year… but unlike magic there are not PTQ’s, there are no local gaming shops hosting Hearthstone tournaments that I’m aware of. This is sad for some people who really get into the competitive aspect of the game, it’s just not there for Hearthstone. Which I find a bit odd – Blizzard is a pretty big company and could easily host a pro tour type of thing if they wanted to.
Con 4 – No Trading
While I admit I was never much of a fan of trading, I do realize that trading is an important part of Magic that a lot of people do enjoy. That’s the main reason I’m listing this as a con here. You cannot trade with other players in Hearthstone, but they do allow you to “dust” your cards to the game. Then you can use that dust to “create” the cards you want. The thing is, dusting a card is always a losing trade. You dust something for a fraction of what it costs to create a card of the same rarity. So unlike Magic where you are trying to trade for equal or better value, you will never get that kind of deal with Hearthstone.
TO SUM IT UP
Well that’s it for now, I may add to this list as the game goes on, but I stand by my pros and cons at this point. I feel like Hearthstone is a fine Magic replacement for gamers that find themselves limited on time and money. If you haven’t tried it yet, why not go to your app store and give it a shot? It’s free to play and unless you really want to build the best decks to compete in ranked mode, you don’t need to spend any money. You can play it on about any decent smartphone or tablet, and the games or tournaments don’t require you to sit down playing for hours at a time.
All in all I’m glad I found Hearthstone I think I would have ended up very depressed and missing my Magic the Gathering gaming if I had just quit and not found another game.