Hearthstone, Blizzard’s Magic-like card game was released on iOS recently and like any good gamer, listened to what our Blizzardvision overloads said and gave it try. And very quickly I realized that I can’t review the game.
Make love, not Warcraft
I can’t review Hearthstone because these games really bug me but I have no good reason…well, maybe that’s not entirely true. Hearthstone is based in the World of Warcraft universe so right there I’m odd man out because I don’t play WoW. I had no emotional ties to any of the races, classes or cameos that appear in Hearthstone (assuming there are some). So to me it’s just a fantasy battle card game, which is fine, I suppose but playing through only the beginner tutorial reminded me that I don’t like battle card games either.
The comparisons to Magic: The Gathering are immediately once you see how Hearthstone is organized and presented. I’ve tried playing the real Magic card game and found it too complicated and involved. So I tried the digital version thinking it would streamline things, but it did not. I gave Magic a fair shake over the years but it never sticks so I just gave up, accepting that it’s not my type of game.
Having read about Hearthstone for a few months and how it was going to revolutionize the genre and usher in a new era of micropayments had me interested. Maybe Hearthstone would be my gateway into battle card games? Then again, maybe not.
Second verse, same as the first
Right off the bat Hearthstone felt a little easier to dive into, so point to Blizzard on that one. There seemed to be less rules and math involved, specifically when attacking but I quickly found that Hearthstone isn’t any different than Magic. You have a deck of cards, you strategize between attack, defense and surprise, and you compete against others in what ends up being a dust cloud of frustration.
There’s way too much to keep track of and card types/styles to pay attention too. Like Magic, it always feels like the game boils down to counting cards and I just can’t do that. It’s not a matter of ethics, I just can’t keep track of someone else’s cards while I’m trying to manage my own.
I’m sure Hearthstone is a great game that will appeal to card players. It looks good and the gameplay interactions are easy to use. And I’m sure before too long there will be two distinct camps of players, the Magic players and the Hearthstone players. They’ll argue the merits of each with fanboy fervor refusing to abdicate on any point.
Yet for now, I’ll be removing Hearthstone from my iPad, but not because the game isn’t fun or because it was poorly made…no, simply because I don’t enjoy these types of games. Hey, just because you’re a gamer doesn’t mean you have to like every genre.