Updated Fri, Aug 30, 2013 by Mem
The Hearthstone beta is live and in action and has been for almost three weeks now. As soon as I received my beta key I immediately started downloading and after a few technical difficulties, began playing. While you may not have received your beta key yet, sometime in the near future a new round of keys will be hitting e-mails everywhere and one of those might just belong to you. In that case it is a pretty good idea to get a taste of what is in store for you when you finally get the chance to head into the beta.
When you first jump into the beta you will be introduced to the game via a tutorial. Don't worry, this tutorial is rather well constructed and is rather short and sweet. Not to mention that it actually manages to teach you a lot of useful things along the way.
Players starting the tutorial will be given the mage deck, no exceptions. Jaina Proudmoore is the hero representing this particular deck and you will be introduced to her by a very distinctive dwarven voice. The tutorial starts us out nice and slow, taking on the infamous Hogger as the first of six opponents you will need to defeat before finishing the tutorial.
As noted above, in this writer's opinion the tutorial in Hearthstone is pretty well constructed. While the game will point out some key points along the way and over all keep you from doing anything too silly, there really is no hand holding going on here. As you progress through the tutorial you will gain new cards that are added to your deck. This reward really helps to make it feel like you are accomplishing something along the way. Sure, you don't get anything really amazing, but a little reward goes a long way in making a player feel like what they are doing is worthwhile.
As mentioned previously, as you work through
the missions in the Hearthstone tutorial you will learn new aspects of the
game play piece by piece. The first lesson players learn is fairly simple,
yet important; how to deal damage. Other tasty tidbits of information
include how to manage your mana, the down period cards have the do not
come equipped with Charge, and how to view the history of every card that
has been played in the match.
Hemet Nesingwary rounds out the easier part of the tutorial and during his battle players will learn how to deal with different types of pesky minions, as well as how to use your hero's abilities. After defeating Hemet and garnering all the knowledge he has to offer, things start to get real pretty fast as players head into the last battle of the tutorial.
In the last battle of the tutorial players will take on the mighty Illidan Stormrage. This battle will take everything you have learned along the way and make you put it into action. It will not be easy, and the development team makes that abundantly clear as you first enter the battle with a message that announces that the fight is totally not fair.
Illidan is a crafty sort and he will throw all sorts of spells and minions and will really put you through the wringer. Thankfully, this is still the tutorial and you will be riddled with nifty little tricks and tips, like to attack Illidan instead of his minions (this guy has A LOT of minions), throughout the match. I will not lie, this match is hard, but not impossible. I struggled with it for more than a few rounds and cursed the developers a time or two but eventually I managed to prevail. Don't expect to get this on the first try and plan on more than a little luck coming into play when you finally do defeat Stormrage.
After defeating Illidan you will be officially
done with the Hearthstone tutorial and you can now head out into the game
proper. Here you will be treated to several options on how to proceed. You
can head into Practice Mode where you will take on AI enemies and unlock
more heroes for play, or if you are content with the mage you can dive
right into the deck builder and create a custom deck.
If neither of these are up your alley you can also choose to head over to the store and purchase card packs, available for real gold as well as in game money. Keep in mind, that any cards purchased here will not carry over to your account once Hearthstone is released to the public. Or if you are feeling spunky you can enter Play mode and find yourself matched up against an opponent of the human variety, a totally different experience after facing AI characters.
No matter what you decide to do you will be well prepared. The Hearthstone tutorial is well put together and provides you with enough of the basics that when you are finally ready to leave the nest you can spread your wings on your own with confidence. This is one tutorial that players will not find themselves exasperated with.