For the past few days, Blizzard’s been teasing the reveal of “something big” at PAX East. Well, the secret’s finally out, and whether or not the announcement qualifies as such comes down to personal preference.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a digital-only collectible card game developed by a 15-man team over at Blizzard. The game will be free-to-play, with an initial 300 cards to collect, deck build and battle with. New cards can be unlocked by earning 5-card booster packs, available both by leveling up through normal play or purchasing for $1 each. Cards possess the typical rarity tiers of Common to Legendary.
Though many assets seem to be being reused from the physical version of the World of Warcraft trading card game, it seems that Hearthstone will use its own original cards and set of rules. Each deck is based around a central hero from one of nine Warcraft character classes. Players can play either against the computer or other online players. The game will utilize a matchmaking system similar to the one used in Starcraft II.
As part of an emerging market of digital-only card games, Hearthstone is free of the limitations of a physical game and uses this freedom in a number of interesting ways. Duplicate cards can be disenchanted into arcane dust, which can then be used in crafting new cards. The PAX demo showed a player breaking down several copies of more common cards to craft a very powerful Deathwing card.
Hearthstone is planned to release “soon” this year. A Blizzard rep jokingly clarified during the presentation that this means “IRL soon, not ‘Blizzard soon’”. It will be playable on PC and Mac initially, with an iPad version to follow shortly after. The game is currently playable on the PAX East show floor. The beta begins this summer and can be signed up for right now.