Hearthstone Beta: First Impressions

First impressions from the Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft beta.

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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.

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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).

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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

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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.

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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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About The Author

Amunet, also fondly known as Memtron, is an organic life form best known for its ongoing obsession with Blizzard Entertainment's numerous properties. To that end, Amu has authored hundreds (thousands?) of the most popular World of Warcraft guides, editorials, and Top 10 lists on the planet. When not gaming and writing, Amu is busy chasing after her three children in a perpetual loop of ongoing disaster.

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