Can I preach for a minute here? Good.
If you weren't aware there is a little game making waves in the eSports community known as Hearthstone. It is in the same vein as such classics as Magic: The Gathering but sporting that famous notion of easy to pick up but far harder to master that Blizzard is known for. The beta was an entire event unto itself and live release has seen many more players than I think even the developers could have imagined.
It is a game of luck, as card games tend to be, but also of skill. Whether you approach the game from a constructed standpoint (building decks and fighting for rank) or put your fate in the hands of the Gods (Arena) there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from so relatively little. Twitch streaming of the game has been steadily rising with each passing month and numerous professionals within the ranks easily have 20,000 to 30,000 people watching them at any given time day or night. The upside of the game, from an eSports standpoint is huge (with only another Blizzard title, Heroes of the Storm, maybe having a little more). It is creating an entirely new crop of players from the ranks of Starcraft, League of Legends and the like but also those new to the community as well.
It wasn't until it came out on iPad that my life felt far more complete, however. It had been teased for some time now with internal development taking quite a while. Blizzcon 2013 allowed its attendees to play on large touch-screens but it was still far from ready for public release in that form. Now it has made its way to the App Store (Android is coming soon) and is Number 1 in over 40 countries. It plays remarkably well in tablet form and requires Battle.Net account sign-in just like its desktop counterpart. It also, for in-app purchases, makes use of your iTunes account as opposed to the method of payment tied to your Battle.Net account. Everything you have carries (in terms of cards, stats, gold, etc.) to the tablet version and I must say it feels right. It'll also make its way to iPhone and other such devices soon as well.
Great example. I tend to hit the gym and slog through at least 45 minutes of cardio per session. I fired up Hearthstone before and started tossing out damage with my aggressive Paladin deck. 30 minutes was gone in a flash and then another 20 right after that. I've found myself slipping in games whenever I can now. Work? Nah I think I'll craft a new control Druid deck instead.
I've found myself getting more and more lost in the minutiae of the game than I ever did before. If I was addicted before now I'm bordering on full-on withdrawals when I don't get to fling spells at my opponent. I know I'm not alone here either as millions of others are becoming hooked on cards just like me. This is definitely yet another bullet in Blizzard's revolver that is pointed directly at me. GO AHEAD AND DO IT, METZEN. DO IT.
Sorry. I just really like cards, guys. PAX East 2014 also brought more news regarding the future of the game with Adventure Mode. Players will soon be able to embark on a new set of quests to vanquish Heigan the Unclean on a new game-board inspired by the wings of Naxxramas (a rather fantastic raid dungeon from World of Warcraft). All of that plus individual class challenge quests, new cards and another way to make gold that isn't Arena or grinding out currency via the Ranked climb. We get new cards! 30 to be exact but so far we've gotten but a taste of whats to come.
There will also be new cards for classes acquired via Adventure Mode and the aforementioned class quests. Do I wish it were more cards, sure, but I can see this is going to be a rather steady way to build up the card catalogue in a much more engaging way than just releasing an expansion pack for some set dollar amount. The first "wing" will be free and the rest can be acquired via in-game Gold or by purchasing it like usual. This summer shall be a big one for Hearthstone.
The Scrivener shall continue to play as often as he can. If you want, feel free to add me to your Battle.Net friends list. Battle Tag: Granak#1369. I'll gladly challenge you, maggot!* I might even be putting together a Fireside Gathering here locally for all us card nerds. Much like Barcraft before it the time has come to start building this community further.
If you're looking for great resources about the game, need tips on building decks and strategy discussion? Feel free to check out places like LiquidHearth, Hearthpwn and the very VERY useful Hearthstone subReddit.
*The Scrivener doesn't think you're an actual maggot. You're great. You're wonderful. Also he will try to thoroughly destroy you with his sweet sweet cards. He will totally dance with joy when he beats you though and/or call you names. You've been warned.