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Game Info:

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Developed By: Blizzard Entertainment
Published By: Blizzard Entertainment
Released: March 11, 2014
Available On: PC, iOS, and Android
Genre: Collectible Card Game
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 2 Online
Price: Free to Play

From the ingenious minds behind the World of Warcraft and StarCraft franchises, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft brings together almost all the characters from Warcraft’s past and present to a tavern for some strategy goodness next to a burning hearth. This game blends styles of popular trading card games like Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh to bring together a fast paced, very strategic game that almost anyone can pick up and play. 

When you first start up the game you’re greeted with a story-like tutorial, teaching you everything about how to play as well as how the mechanics like Hero Powers work. Afterwards you’re given your first few basic cards for the mage class and it’ll be your job to take those cards, build a deck with them and beat other classes with them in order to unlock their classes with their own respective cards and hero powers. After you win a few matches with each class you unlock all of their basic cards; only then will you really get into the strategy aspect as you start to learn about other mechanics like Secrets, which are similar to the Trap Cards of Yu-Gi-Oh, Battlecries and Deathrattles, amongst other things. Thankfully, the game explains it easily through little tooltips that appear whenever you rollover a card in a match. The mechanics are easily one of the neatest things about Hearthstone, but we’re just getting started.

When you’ve got all your cards ready, you can build a deck of up to 30 cards including spells and minions. These minions range from weak 0 mana cost creatures to the heavy hitting legendaries that are 7 mana cost or higher, each of them with their own respective card text, art, and sounds. Each card can only be used in a single deck twice except for Legendaries. You can make up to 9 decks, one for each class, and then experiment to see which deck fits your type of strategy and play style. When you feel your deck is ready for online, there are 2 modes that’ll be in the PLAY mode waiting for you. The first one is Casual in which you face an online opponent without having to worry about running into professional players and getting utterly decimated with super strong decks. The other is Ranked mode where you’ll put your deck to the test against many strong opponents. As you face tougher opponents, if you make it to rank 20 for that month you’ll get a card back, some dust to craft new cards, as well as a golden card which I will discuss more about later. However, as you face even tougher opponents not only do they get more difficult, the rewards get bigger and bigger. The highest rank you can achieve in Hearthstone is the Legend rank and there’s where a lot of the pro players are. Make it there and you’ll get a special Legend card back, as well as a massive reward at the end of the month.  At the end of the day, the better you play, the better your reward will be.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Highlights:

Strong Points: Easy to learn, games go by quickly, and the animations look gorgeous.
Weak Points: Some of the micro transactions can be a bit expensive and there’s a bit too much Random Number Generation.
Moral Warnings: Aside from the alcohol references, magic is part of the game. Plus a couple of cards in the Warlock class are a bit on the sexual side.

As far as the cards themselves are concerned they’re divided into different rarities, each of them sporting a gem in the center of the card:

• Common: Easy to get from booster packs. Identified by a white gem.

• Rare: Less easy to get from booster packs. Identified by a blue gem.

• Epic: Difficult to get from booster packs. Identified by a purple gem.

• Legendary. The most difficult to get from booster packs. Identified by an orange gem.

Another thing with the cards is that each card has a golden version and they are rarer than their regular counterpart. They are similar to foil cards, like what you’d see in a physical card game, except these cards are animated and they look gorgeous. You can, however, craft the card you want if you have the arcane dust (the material for crafting cards in the game) to do so. My only gripe with this is that for those who don’t want to spend money on this game and grind to get 100 gold (the in game currency) just to buy a booster pack they get less of a chance to get a legendary card than someone who buys packs on a regular basis. This can turn off a lot of people from playing the game as they could feel like their efforts are wasted because they’re not getting the legendary card they want for their deck. But if you’re willing to grind it out for the booster pack, the game does give you some quests to complete every day to get you to that 100 gold to buy it. 

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 74%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 7.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

If you’re wondering about the game having any expansions, they’ve already been releasing some as of late, though the way they’re released is different from what you’d expect. Expansions like “Curse of Naxxramas”, “Blackrock Mountain”, and “The League of Explorers” are known as Solo Adventures and for those cards you must go through a gauntlet of raid bosses based off of the original World of Warcraft. Each boss will give you a set of cards and at the end of each level you’ll get a legendary card. These expansions range from $20-$40 but you can buy them with gold if you want. Other expansions like “Goblins VS Gnomes” and “The Grand Tournament” can be bought in the form of booster packs in the in game shop. 

The game also has a mode that was released recently called “Tavern Brawl”, where the developers create different rules for players to duel in. At one moment you create a deck where all your spells summon you free minions, another you could be teaming up with a friend or a random stranger to take down an on-field boss where if one of you dies, you both lose. The brawl is available to play until around Sunday night to Monday morning, in which a new Tavern Brawl will be decided and playable on the following Wednesday. As far as modes to play with are concerned, Hearthstone’s got something for everyone.

When it comes to morality aside from the use of magic, there’s a class that involves the use of demons and demonic spells. I’m talking of course of the Warlock class. That class has a lot of demon inspired spells and minions, as well as a couple of cards that are sexually suggestive. Plus it takes place in a tavern so there's going to be references to alcohol in there.

Hearthstone is a fun collectible card game with memorable characters from World of Warcraft. The mechanics are easy to learn, take a bit of time to master, and it’s all wrapped up in a great looking little package. Plus, with their recent ports to iOS and Android, you can take the game with you wherever you go, along with your cards you’ve collected and decks you’ve made. If you’re willing to overlook the alcohol references, as well as the warlock class entirely, I’d say definitely give this game a shot; it’s free.

-Miguel Ortiz

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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