I've always been a fan of collectible card games. I was able to jump into Magic: The Gathering early (with the release of Ice Age). Over the years other games like Overpower, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Ani-Mayhem have also captured my attention and money, even if only fleetingly.
I've always been a fan of Blizzard Entertainment games. I was able to jump into Warcraft early (with the release of Orcs & Humans). Over the years other games like Star Craft, Diablo, and World Of Warcraft have also captured my attention and money, even if only fleetingly.
Chocolate meet Peanut Butter...(Hit Read More To Continue)
When Hearthstone, a CCG existing in and based off of the World Of Warcraft was announced it piqued my interest for a hot second before I thought about how cyclical I am with devoting time to the two time sinks that lead to this games existence. So I chose to not really research into it, after all I had the same approach to another recently announced game: Heroes Of The Storm, the Blizzard Entertainment MOBA. I had WoW Guildmates that were playing Hearthstone who tried to get me to play it, as I shot down their invites saying "no, I can't pay more money for something that I'll only play sporadically". Then cue Paul who started playing and actually informed me that the game was free to play, with microtransactions. Somehow this piece of information was left out of any other conversation I had about the game prior.
With literally no buy in cost, I decided to give the game a shot. With nine basic decks (mirroring the nine original classes of WoW) with unlockable cards available, there would be enough there to give me a feel for actual gameplay. Playing against other people and completing daily quests (a staple of WoW) rewards gold which can be used to buy Advanced Packs containing five random cards to help customize and round out decks. Simple. Of course there's always the ability to buy extra packs with actual currency, but I made a promise to myself that I was going to go the free to play route alone.
Which I soon learned was a hard promise to keep. It turns out I had decided to start playing shortly after Hearthstone had seen the release of a Solo Adventure and an Expansion: Goblins Vs Gnomes. As a player of other CCG's the idea of expansions wasn't foreign to me, and luckily the GvG packs could be purchased using the same 100 Gold I'd be using to buy the regular Advanced Packs, now called Classic Packs. But what was going to get me was the first Solo Adventure: Curse Of Naxxramas. Based off of the Naxxramas raid from World Of Warcraft . The Adventure was spread across five wings, released weekly. Each wing containing Raid Bosses from the Raid proper who fight using specialized decks and Hero Powers that give them the edge. Victory over these bosses rewards players with special cards that are only available in the Adventure and not from either Classic or Goblins Vs. Gnomes Packs. Also included are two Class Challenges per wing which work almost as a puzzle solving exercise. You are presented with a pre-constructed deck that has a little bit of a gimmick to it. You then use the deck to defeat one of the Raid Bosses and are then rewarded with a special class specific card.
This is all well and good and helped keep me interested in the game (I'm not the biggest fan of other game modes Ladder and Arena, but that's a separate article), but the downside was the fact that each wing would cost 700 gold or $7. So I was presented with the question of whether to put my hard earned gold towards the Adventure wings or towards more packs to help with deck building. I ultimately decided to keep putting the gold towards packs and that I would be ok with paying the real money for Adventure wings. I'm already alright with buying episodic games like those from Tell Tale, so this is no different. The amount of gameplay and the cards rewarded are worth the $7, where spending that same money on packs may just net me doubles or cards for classes I don't play as. Logic.
After a couple months of playing Hearthstone I'm still in the process of collecting all the cards. The slow grind of wins in casual mode to earn gold to buy packs is daunting. But here with the release of the final wing of Blackrock Mountain, the newest Solo Adventure, I'm reminded of the fun of earning and unlocking new cards. With my previous experience in Curse of Naxxramas, I played long after the wings and cards had already been released. The best combos and potential of all the the cards had been discovered and explored and was readily available online. Netdecking. It's sounds so dirty to say out loud or type. But in an environment where people play carbon copy decks that are proven to win, it's sometimes necessary to slog through the gutters and play in kind.
Blackrock Mountain is changing that though. With 32 new cards out there are new combos to discover and new decks to create and old ones to tweak. It's an exciting time not just for the game but for the metagame as well. On top of all that, it makes me want to scratch that WoW itch again.
About the Author
When not spending his time doing stuff for Bagged And Bored, Chris works towards his dream of becoming a modified shovel racer. Let him know his dream is dead: email@example.com