Hearthstone Beta: First Impressions

By Jason Bechdel -

Hearthstone Header

Unless you have been living in deep space or under the proverbial rock, you are probably aware that the Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft closed beta is upon us. That's right ladies and gentleman, Blizzard's bouncing new baby is ready to have players take it out for a test spin. With that in mind, guess who they decided to let in to break in the beta? This guy!

Unfortunately, not all of those who want to play this game have received beta keys. A total bummer for sure. While I can't replace the awesomeness that you would experience with a beta key of your own, I can give you a glimpse of my first impressions of Hearthstone. Now that I've had several days to get my bearings in the game and test out most of the features (or at least the more basic forms of them) I think it is the perfect time. So keep on reading for my first impressions of Hearthstone, both good and bad. Enjoy!

Hearthstone Learning Curve

So the first thing that happens when you log into Hearthstone all brand new and fresh (after you get past the pretty videos and such) is a tutorial. This tutorial is pretty to the point and will walk you through your first few battles in the game. There seems to be no way to skip it, however, it provides loads of useful information that you wouldn't want to miss out on anyway. This initial run through only seems to happen once, so there is never a need to skip over it multiple times after you have already played through it. The last battle is a little skewed, but at least the developers are honest about it.

Hearthstone Terrible Design

While the tutorial may walk you through the basics of battle it leaves a little to be desired. Once the tutorial ends you are plunged directly into the game and pretty much left on your own. There is no in-game explanation on how to build a deck, what the Arena is, or why you can only use the Mage hero at first. Despite this, most players will do just fine. The game is easy enough to figure out. The layout is simple and easy to navigate. Just some clicking around will teach you most of what you need to know. After a few test runs of the various features, most of them will feel like second nature.

Building a Deck

I know one of the things I was most interested in was building my very own deck. So as soon as I got through the tutorial and started really playing I tried to create my own deck. Please note the word “tried” in the last sentence. I am afraid I was not very successful in the deck building business.

Building a deck takes a lot of thought and a lot of time. I would almost call it an art form. I am sure in time I will have some really wise and deep things to say about deck building, but right now all I can say is; if at first you don't succeed try, try again. My only advice would be when you finally get to build your own deck play to your strengths and personal play style. Try things out, mix it up, and don't be afraid to make changes. You will get frustrated and you might even hate it for awhile, but it will come to you and me (hopefully).

Hearthstone Buld A Deck

No Chat, No Problem

One of the first things I noticed when I hopped into the game and started playing against other players was that there is no way to chat with them. No way to shoot off a quick GG or anything. At first I was really puzzled and a little annoyed by this. With that being said, after some serious thought I think the inability to chat is one of the greatest things about Hearthstone.

You see, while most players are just out to congratulate an opponent or ask a question, others are not. I am so glad that there is no way for another player to call me names, make cruel remarks, or accuse me of cheating. The silence between you and your opponent means you go in there, you play the game, and you either win or lose without running the risk of ever hearing from one of the many trolls that reside on the internet.

Friends? What Friends?

While I am totally on board with the no chat thing, I do wish that I could play with my friends. Back in the day a small group of friends and I would spend the day playing Magic: The Gathering. It was great fun and we all had a good time. Hearthstone currently has no option for anyone to play against a chosen opponent. Sure you can play against all the randomly chosen opponents you want and they just might turn out to be your friend, but it is highly unlikely.

While I guess some players might fall into only playing with friends, I feel this would not be the norm. In this writer's opinion we should have the option to go head to head with our friends. Perhaps restrict it to so many matches a day, but still give the option. I know I was looking forward to facing off against my buddies (and my wife) and now it seems I may never get the chance.

Hearthstone Friends List

Glitches and Bugs

You all may be wondering what glitches and bugs I have experienced so far inside this beta. The answer would be, surprisingly, none. The only issue I have had in game was a brief period of time when I lost sound. This “glitch” of course happened during the tutorial and made me have a small meltdown in which I was positive that I was missing vital information and would never be able to play the game correctly.

Of course, as noted in the Learning Curve section above, learning how to navigate around Hearthstone is pretty easy and it all turned out fine. However, due to the fact that my children like to pull, poke, prod, and even chew on various cords around the house, I am left unsure if this was an in-game glitch or my headphones were protesting their rough treatment.

Fun, Fun, Fun

So what do I think of the game overall? Hearthstone is more than I could have ever imagined. I have been playing the game pretty much non-stop since I got my beta key...except to throw some cereal on the floor for the kids from time to time. The card game feel is there, with some cool graphics to add some vibrant life to what some might otherwise consider boring. Not to mention that there aren't going to be masses of cards lying about your house and you won't have to search desperately for others to play with you.

Hearthstone Battle

To put it into words, Blizzard has taken the best of a card game and gotten rid of many of the aspects that people often find unappealing. This means that even gamers who weren't previously into the card game thing can fall in love with Hearthstone. I know I have. Hearthstone is fun, fast paced, and has some series long term fun appeal.

For those of you that have had the chance to try the Hearthstone beta, what are your first impressions of it? What have you learned about the game so far? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!

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