Game-Wisdom’s Best of 2014 #10 — Hearthstone

Role-playing survival game is willing to take risks


For #10 this year it is a game that I constantly swing between loving and hating and one that podcast listeners should have an idea about. But despite my mood swings, I can’t deny the amazing game design present.

#10: Hearthstone

It’s amazing how Hearthstone started out as a passing idea from Blizzard to become one of their most popular titles since World of Warcraft. Hearthstone combined both a flexible F2P model while simplifying the complexity and learning curve of CCG design to create a game that has taken over some of my friend’s lives.

The genius of the game is how the different classes really do create different viable strategies and there never are enough spots in your deck for all the cards you want, all the more worst by the recent expansion that added in over 100 extra cards. If Chris Gardiner was writing this, I’m sure he could post a few thousand words on just how much there is to love about the class design.

Hearthstone’s appeal has managed to transcend both casual and hardcore players and is one of the quickest games I’ve seen adopted by the competitive community. It hasn’t even been a year yet and we’ve seen multiple tournaments, how-to guides and two expansions from Blizzard.

So I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m not rating it higher and the reason has to do with the fact that for me, there isn’t enough of a hook to play it constantly. I’m not a competitive player by trade and the arena has no interest to me. As I’ve written multiple times, Hearthstone has a major problem in terms of trying to improve at it and the game really is weighed heavily towards the pay to win side thanks to the popularity of net decks or being able to find competitive ranked decks and buy them.

I know that defenders will say that skill ultimately beats out money; however when you’re dealing with CCG design luck is a huge factor. And the number of great cards in your deck will definitely stack the odds in your favor compared to someone who only has starter cards or bad luck with booster decks. The Naxx expansion that added in single player focused challenges for cards is more up my alley and I would prefer more things to work towards via playing like challenges or rewards.

Again, I’m not a competitive player so just playing Hearthstone for rank purposes doesn’t interest me and maybe that lack of progression is why I took to Gems of War and Marvel Puzzle Quest compared to it where in those games I can work towards goals and improving my strategies. But it stands as a testament to Blizzard’s game design and polish that even though I do not love Hearthstone, I still have to put it on my top ten list.

Up next for #9, we turn to the adventure genre and a dark fairy tale.

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