Hearthstone is a free-to-play collectible card game set in the Warcraft universe. The game was previously known as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, this was changed to simply "Hearthstone" in December 2016. Conceptually, the player takes on the role of a Warcraft hero, playing a card game to relax while inside one of that universe's many inns. Using a shuffled deck of 30 cards, players attempt to defeat their opponents either by attacking with an army of minions, casting spells directly at the enemy hero, or a mixture of both.
The game was revealed at PAX East 2013. Hearthstone supports online multiplayer and matchmaking via Battle.Net.
The game comes with nine default, basic decks, but also allows players to construct new decks as they gain new cards. Cards can be obtained by levelling up a hero character (by participating in duels), by completing quests, or by purchasing Expert Packs in the store. There are five levels of card rarity: free, common, rare, epic, and legendary.
Deck construction begins by choosing a hero. The available heroes correspond to classes from the initial launch of World of Warcraft (Death Knights and Monks, the two classes that were added in expansion packs to WoW, are not currently represented in Hearthstone). Each hero has an assortment of cards that are exclusively available to that hero, as well as a unique hero power that is reusable every turn.
These are the currently selectable heroes, alongside the Warcraft character that represent them while playing the game, and their Hero Power.
As of July 2015, 3 new Hero skins have been added to the in-game shop (Magni, Medivh and Alleria). They do not have unique hero powers and as such have no effect on gameplay but come with unique animations and voice-over.
Decks must be 30 cards in size, and no more than two copies of any single card (and only one copy of any legendary card) can be added to a deck. Arena mode is an exception to this. The deck must still contain thirty cards but through the random draw it is possible to use more than two copies of a card.
All Hearthstone matches are duels where one hero fights another. Order of play is determined randomly; the player who is chosen to go second will gain an extra card, known as the Coin, to compensate. When played it gives the player an extra mana crystal on the turn it's played only. Each player begins with three or four cards drawn randomly from their deck. They also each begin with thirty Health, and play continues until one hero loses all of his or her Health.
These are some of the game's core gameplay concepts:
A player may cast as many cards as they wish during a turn, but they will be restricted in their ability to do so by the number of mana crystals that they possess. Each hero begins with one mana crystal, and gains another crystal each turn, up to a maximum of 10. Mana crystals are expended to cast spells or minions, but are refilled every turn. Thus, if a player has 10 mana crystals, they can cast one spell or minion with a cost of 10, or two cards that each cost 5, and so on.
Minions are the most common method of attacking an opponent in Hearthstone. They act similarly to creatures in Magic: The Gathering, in that they have attack and defense ratings, and many of them also possess special abilities, such as Battlecry (performs a special action when the minion comes into play) or Taunt (forces enemy minions to attack the creature before any other target).
Most non-minion cards are spells, which have a wide variety of effects. Some spells will deal direct damage to enemy minions or heroes, some will buff minions or hero, some will grant more mana crystals or card draws, etc.
Each hero has a unique power, listed above, that can be used once per turn at a cost of two mana crystals.
Heroes can equip weapons via hero powers or spells that will grant the hero the ability to attack the enemy hero or minions.
These cards activate based on different conditions the opponent may trigger (playing a minion, attacking a hero, etc). The opponent will see that a secret card has been played, but will not know the triggering conditions or the card effects until the card has activated.
The flavor text of certain cards describes certain types of effects. So on certain spells or minions there are bonus effects that can be achieved besides simply using their base stats. There are multiple of these
Any minion with Taunt has a large border around it. Any minion with taunt must be defeated before hitting a non-taunt minion or the enemy hero directly. The only way around this is to use spells which are not limited by taunt minions, and , after the release of Goblins Vs. Gnomes, the Ogre class - which causes the specific minion (or all minions on the field in Mogor the Ogre's case) to have a 50% chance of hitting the wrong target. This means that it is possible to randomly bypass a taunt with a minion. This is the only way to hit a hero directly when there is a minion with taunt up with one of the minions. Taunts can be silenced.
Minions with stealth are grey shadowed with a thick cloud covering their portrait. Minions with stealth cannot be targeted by enemy minions, spells, or hero powers directly. A minion comes out of stealth when the controlling player decides to attack with it, or if they silence it themselves which has no benefit. The only way to clear a stealth minion which the enemy player refuses to reveal is to use an AoE damage spell like Flame Strike. Stealth cannot be silenced.
Minions with divine shield are encased by a golden circle. The divine shield simply means that the minion gets 1 free hit from anything without taking any damage. It will however be affected by the side effects. Using Frostbolt on a minion with divine shield will result in it not taking damage but it will still be frozen for the next turn. Divine shield does not protect the minion from any instant kill battlecries or spells. Divine shields can be silenced.
Minions with windfury are circled by moving winds. WIndfury gives the minion the ability to attack twice in one turn. Windfury can be silenced.
A minion with charge can attack immediately once they are played.
A minion with a battlecry means that whatever affect they have listed will come into play as soon as the card is played on the field.
A minion with a deathrattle has an effect which comes into play when it dies. Deathrattles can be silenced.
A shaman-only penalty. The Shaman class is based around playing fairly strong cards for fairly low cost. To make up for this many Shaman spells contain overload, as well as one weapon and a couple of minions. Whatever the overload amount listed means that the player loses the use of that many mana crystals their next turn. If something is played with an overload of 2 at turn 5, then on the next turn the player can only use 3 mana.
Enrage is a function on minions which triggers their specific effect when the minion is hit. When a minions enrage is triggered the sides of their portrait turn bright red. A minion getting enraged can have any kind of effect, from giving a weapon additional attack damage to giving the minion itself windfury.
A minion with Inspire has an ability which triggers when the player uses their Hero Power. Inspire is the first new bold card text effect introduced since the game's launch, announced for the Grand Tournament expansion.
In this mode players play against computer AI. New players will only have the Mage class unlocked. Defeating other classes will unlock them for the player. A small selection of class specific cards can also be earned.
Play - Casual
In this mode players play each other online. A random matchmaking mode can be utilised or the player can issue a challenge to players in your friends list.
Play - Ranked
Almost exactly the same as the Casual mode except that wins and losses dictate the player's current rank. The lowest rank is "25 - Angry Chicken" and the highest is "0 - Legend".
This is a challenging mode that rewards players with any combination of gold, arcane dust, individual cards and card packs dependent on performance during the arena run. The fee for entering the Arena is either 150 in-game gold or a real money fee of $1.99/£1.49. Players must pick from one of three randomly selected heroes. They then move on to deck construction. The player must choose one of three cards that have been randomly selected to add it to their deck. This process is repeated until their deck is full. The player is guaranteed at least four sets of cards at rare or higher rarity, but the opportunity to select epic or legendary cards is random and varies in each arena draft. The matchmaking process then selects an opponent for the player to battle against. A new opponent is selected after each match. A player can continue in the Arena until they have either lost three times, won twelve times, or retire of their own will whichever comes first. Once the run is completed the Arena deck is deleted. A key is also rewarded at the end of the player's run which unlocks a chest of rewards. The more victories a player has accrued, the greater the rewards.
It is interesting to note that there are no card limits for arena, except for the fact that players cannot receive class specific cards for a class they are not currently playing. This means that even though the normal limit is a maximum of 1 of any kind of legendary and 2 of any other card in any deck, in Arena a player can get any amount of the same kind of legendary in a deck and can get an unlimited number of any other card as well.
With the introduction of the "Curse of Naxxramas" single player expansion a new tab was added to the main screen. From this screen players could now go practice against the A.I or go into any of their purchased weeks of Naxxramas. Additional weeks can be purchased from this screen as well as seeing the reward cards for each wing.
On June 17, 2015 Blizzard released a new mode called Tavern Brawl. Tavern Brawl is a free admission game mode where the only requirement is to have at least one class at level 20. A Tavern Brawl would last 4 days with a 3 day recovery period, making a new brawl released every week. Each week a new set of rules or all-new cards are added and the player is asked to either make a custom deck with their own collection of cards or to play a pre-made deck following the new ruleset. For winning their first match of the week's Tavern Brawl event players are awarded a booster pack of additional cards.
Players are required to make their own deck for this mode. Every time a minion died the owner would have one of four random banana cards (which have a cost of 1 mana) added to their deck. The 4 different banana cards are:
- Bananas - Give a minion +1/+1
- Big Banana - Give a minion +2/+2
- Deviate Banana - Swap a minions attack and health
- Rotten Banana - Deal 1 damage
Encounter at the Crossroads
In this event, players choose a class and receive a randomly generated deck. Regular restrictions (such as only having 2 of a specific card or 1 in the case of legendaries) do not apply however.
Idols of Azeroth
In this event players decks are composed of only the Raven Idol card, which is a one mana cost card that allows players to either discover a minion or discover a spell.
It's Raining Mana!
Players construct their own decks from any class. The added stipulation to this brawl being that the players receive an extra mana crystal every turn and so ascend to the higher mana pools much more rapidly.
Showdown at Blackrock Mountain
The game is played on the Blackrock Mountain board. Players play one of two characters, Ragnaros or Nefarian with Each character having their own pre-made deck which the player is assigned at random. These decks contain a large amount of cards that are not in the main game. Nefarian starts the game at 5 mana because all of his cards cost 5 at the very least. Both start with heroes have 60 HP.
Spiders, Spiders, EVERYWHERE!
In this event, players choose from any of the nine available classes and are then given a deck consisting of 23 Webspinners (a 1 mana cost beast minion with a deathrattle to randomly add a beast card to the players hand) and 7 class specific spell cards.
The Great Stone of Challenge
This Tavern Brawl has players using custom decks which must be created under some given restrictions. Decks are only allowed to include spells with an even mana cost and minions with odd attack values.
The design mirrors the rules of deck construction in the original Challengestone tournament to which this Brawl pays tribute.
The Great Summoner Competition
In this event, players once again create their own decks and the rule this event goes by is that each time a player casts a spell a random minion with the same cost was summoned.
Too Many Portals!
In this event, players choose from any of the nine available classes and are then given a deck consisting of 23 Unstable Portal spells (which adds a random minion to the players hand which costs 3 less mana to summon) as well as 7 additional class specific spell cards.
In this event, players select 2 cards from any class and the player is then giving a deck consisting of 15 copies of each card.
This in-game currency can be spent on purchasing more card packs or paying the fee to enter the Arena.
This is used to craft cards. Unwanted cards can also be "disenchanted". This destroys the card and issues a small amount of Arcane Dust to the player.
This can be spent to purchase card packs, purchase expansions, pay the Arena fee and purchase additional hero portraits.
Curse of Naxxramas
On April 11, 2014, Blizzard announced its single player Adventure Mode for Hearthstone titled Curse of Naxxramas: A Hearthstone Adventure at PAX East. The expansion will include one new play area, 30 new cards, and some huge bosses to defeat as the player winds her/his way through the five wings of Naxxramas, an ancient necropolis.
The first wing of the necropolis will be free for all users during the first month, but the rest of the dungeon must be purchased with in-game gold or real money. It costs $24.99/£17.49 for all the wings and 700 for a individual wing. The expansion was released on 23rd July 2014 for PC.
Each wing of the necropolis contains 3 bosses. A regular version and a more difficult "Heroic" version. Defeating the regular bosses gives the player some of the new cards in the expansion. While if the player defeats all the heroic bosses in the expansion, he/she will get a new card back. Included in the expansion are class challenges which give the player a specific deck to beat one of the bosses with. Doing so gives the player a card for that class.
Curse of Naxxramas was split up into five wings which were released over the course of five weeks. Each week had three matches which rewarded the player with a series of new cards and 1 new legendary. In addition to the standard three matches each of the weeks had 1 or 2 class challenges where the player has to use a pre-made deck to defeat the boss of that wing. Beating any class challenge gets the player that card for use in constructed decks for that class. At the time of release there was a lot of value placed on the class cards.
Quarter 1 : The Arachnid Quarter
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 4 new cards: Haunted Creeper, Nerub'ar Weblord, Nerubian Egg, and the weekly legendary, Maexxna. The class challenges for week one are for Druid and Rogue.
Quarter 2: The Plague Quarter
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 4 new cards: Stoneskin Gargoyle, Unstable Ghoul, Sludge Belcher, and the weekly legendary, Loatheb. The class challenges for week two are for Mage and Hunter.
Quarter 3: The Military Quarter
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 4 new cards: Dancing Swords, Spectral Knight, and Deathlord, and the weekly legendary, Baron Rivendare. The class challenges for week three are for Shaman and Warlock.
Quarter 4: The Construct Quarter
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 6 new cards: Undertaker, Mad Scientist, Zombie Chow, and Wailing Soul, there are two legendaries this week : Feugen and Stalagg. When played together in a deck where both of them die, the last of the two legendaries to die is replaced by Thaddius, a legendary only playable by these means. The class challenges for week four are for Warrior and Priest.
Quarter 5: Frostwyrm Lair
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 3 new cards: Echoing Ooze and Shade of Naxxramas, and the weekly legendary Kel'Thuzad. This is the only week of Naxxramas to only have one class challenge, which is for Paladin.
Goblins vs Gnomes
Goblins vs Gnomes was announced at Blizzcon 2014 and will contain approximately 120 cards. The new cards will come in a separate card pack and will replace the arena reward packs earned after using an arena key and will retail for the same real money and in game currency (Gold) price as the original packs. Goblins vs Gnomes is slated for release in December 2014.
Goblins vs Gnomes brings a new minion type the "Mech" to the table and emphasizes more cards with random effects and damage distribution to live up to the Goblins and Gnomes explosive tendencies.
The Goblins vs Gnomes expansion was foreshadowed by Blizzard with the announcement of the Goblin card back in November, and will be available at the end of ranked season 8 in time for the new expansion.
On April 2/3, 2015 Blizzard released Blackrock Mountain, the second single player adventure for Hearthstone. Along with a new play area, the expansion includes 31 new cards, 17 bosses and a new challenge for each of the 9 classes.
Blackrock Mountain features 5 wings, which may be purchased individually or as a package with real money or in-game gold. Each wing will cost $6.99/£5.99 (700 gold) or $24.99/£21.99.
Two new card backs could be earned with this release. Players who pre-ordered the expansion unlocked the Molton Core card back. An additional card back is rewarded for defeating each boss in Heroic mode.
Quarter 1 : Blackrock Depths
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 4 new cards: Grim Patron, Gang up, Resurrect and the weekly legendary, Emperor Thaurissan. The class challenges for week one are for Hunter and Mage.
Quarter 2 : Molten Core
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 4 new cards: Druid of the Flame, Blackwing Technician, Imp Gang Boss and the weekly legendary, Majordomo Executus. The class challenges for week two are for Warrior and Shaman.
Quarter 3 : Blackrock Spire
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 4 new cards: Core Rager, Dragon Consort, Dragon Egg and the weekly legendary, Rend Blackhand. The class challenges for week three are for Priest and Druid.
Quarter 4 : Blackwing Lair
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 5 new cards: Revenge, Flamewalker, Hungry Dragon, Fireguard Destroyer and the weekly legendary, Chromaggus. The class challenges for week four are for Warlock and Rogue.
Quarter 5 : The Hidden Laboratory
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 5 new cards: Volcanic Drake, Blackwing Corruptor, Drakonid Crusher, Dragonkin Sorcerer and the weekly legendary, Nefarian. The class challenge for week five is for Paladin.
The Grand Tournament
Announced on June 22nd 2015 and released on August 27th of the same year, The Grand Tournament (TGT) is an expansion comprising of 132 new cards. Based around the Argent Tournament the expansion features a strong focus on Hero Powers, with the Inspire mechanic detailed above being introduced alongside a number of cards that affect Hero Powers in different ways (Increasing or decreasing the mana cost of the power, enabling multiple uses in a turn or even replacing your hero's power with a substantially better one.)
The expansion also introduces the Joust mechanic, although this mechanic does not get it's own key word on cards. When a Joust card is played a minion is drawn from both players' hands and if the minion of the person playing the Joust card has a higher mana cost the effect described on the card is applied.
The League of Explorers
Released on November 12, 2015.The League of Explorers is a new single player adventure mode with the focus on the titular League of Explorers, comprised of adventurers like Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker, Reno Jackson and Sir Finley Mrrglton. The theme of the expansion is notable for being the first in which Blizzard has deviated from the Warcraft source material and created brand new characters. The expansion also introduced the Discover mechanic which offers player a choice between eligible cards to add to their hand when triggered.
The adventure was released in a similar model to the previous solo adventures where the player can pay with either real money or in-game gold. The expansion features 45 new collectible cards. Purchasing the League of Explorers expansion automatically rewards the player with 2 additional new cards: Explorer's Hat and Forgotten Torch.
Quarter 1 : Temple of Orsis
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 10 new cards: Sacred Trial, Rumbling Elemental, Dark Peddler, Obsidian Destroyer, Jeweled Scarab, Ancient Shade, Anubisath Sentinel, Djinni of Zephyrs, Summoning Stone and the weekly legendary, Reno Jackson. The class challenges for week one are for Warrior and Warlock, with the rewards being Obsidian Destroyer and Dark Peddler.
Quarter 2: Uldaman
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 8 new cards: Tunnel Trogg, Ethereal Conjurer, Tomb Spider, Unearthed Raptor, Fierce Monkey, Reliquary Seeker, Excavated Evil and the weekly legendary, Brann Bronzebeard. The class challenges for week two are for Druid and Paladin, with the rewards being Mounted Raptor and Keeper of Uldaman.
Quarter 3: The Ruined City
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 8 new cards: Huge Toad, Gorillabot A-3, Anyfin Can Happen, Murloc Tinyfin, Pit Snake, Naga Sea Witch, Jungle Moonkin and the weekly legendary, Sir Finley Mrrgglton. The class challenges for week three are for Hunter, Shaman, and Priest, with the rewards being Dart Trap, Everyfin is Awesome, and Entomb.
Quarter 4: Hall of Explorers
Beating the standard wing rewards players with 10 new cards: Fossilized Devilsaur, Raven Idol, Cursed Blade, Museum Curator, Curse of Rafaam, Wobbling Runts, Desert Camel, Eerie Statue and two weekly legendaries, Elise Starseeker and Arch-Thief Rafaam. The class challenges for week four are for Rogue and Mage, with the rewards being Tomb Pillager and Animated Armor.
Whispers of the Old Gods
Announced March 11, 2016 with a release date of April 26, 2016. It will feature 134 new cards with the theme of Eldritch horror and corruption.
With the introduction of the new expansion also comes a major change in the how the game is played.
Standard is a new game mode that limits the amount of decks that can be played. Standard is only available as a format in Friendly Challenges, Ranked, and Casual play. Standard will not affect Arena, Solo play, or Adventures. Going forward all official Blizzard tournaments will be in Standard format. To differentiate which decks can be used during a particular time period the developers have decided to rotate decks on a yearly basis. The inaugural standard year will be known as the Year of the Kraken which consists of the following decks in standard:
- Blackrock Mountain
- The Grand Tournament
- The League of Explorers
- Whispers Of The Old Gods
Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes will not be part of Standard. As a new expansion is released each year, every set that wasn't released in the same year or the year prior will cycle out and no longer be part of the Standard format. Adventures and Expansions that are not part of the standard format will no longer be available for purchase in the shop however you can craft and disenchant all cards in all sets. Furthermore, if you purchase at least the first wing of an Adventure before it is cycled out, one will still be able to finish acquiring and playing the remaining wings.
Wild is the game mode that incorporates all the cards in your collection and you'll only be playing other people who are in this format.
You can rank up for both formats however the rewards you collect at the end of the season will be based on the highest rank between the two formats.
One Night In Karazhan
Announced July 29, 2016 with a release date of August 11, 2016 this is the fourth Hearthstone adventure with 45 new cards added to the game.
The adventure will have four wings which will be each be purchasable for 700 gold or $6.99 USD or a discount of $19.99 USD if you buy all 4 wings. All players will receive a free prologue wing.
- Wing 1: The Parlor
- Wing 2: The Opera
- Wing 3: The Menagerie
- Wing 4: The Spire
Similar to previous adventures there will be class challenges as well as a new card backings and game board. Completing a wing will unlock a legendary card.
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan was the fourth full expansion to Hearthstone announced at Blizzcon on November 4, 2016 and released on December 1, 2016. It's theme was the three crime families of Gadgetzan, the Kabal, the Jade Lotus, and the Grimy Goons. It featured 132 new collectible cards.
Journey to Un'Goro
Journey to Un'Goro was the first expansion of 2017, released on April 6, 2017. This expansion is based around an expedition into the primordial Un'Goro Crater and introduces the Quest card mechanic, Elemental as a tribe and Adapt as a mechanic. Maiev Shadowsong was also introduced as a new Rogue class hero portrait.
- OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 (latest service packs)
- CPU: Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 X2
- Video: Nvidia GeForce 6800 (256 MB) or ATI Radeon X1600 Pro (256 MB) or better
- RAM: 2 GB
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Resolution: 1024 x 768
- OS: Mac OS X 10.7 (latest version)
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo
- Video: Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT or ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro
- RAM: 2 GB
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Resolution: 1024 x 768
- OS: iOS 5.0 or later
- Hardware: iPad Air, iPad 2 or later, iPad mini
- OS: Windows 7 / 8 (latest service packs)
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.2GHz) or AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (2.6 GHz) or better
- Video: Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT (512 MB) or ATI Radeon HD 4850 (512 MB) or better
- RAM: 4 GB
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Resolution: 1024 x 768
- OS: Mac OS X 10.8 (latest version)
- CPU: Intel Core i3 or better
- Video: Nvidia GeForce GT 650M or ATI Radeon HD 5670 or better
- RAM: 4 GB
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Resolution: 1024 x 768