I was fortunate enough to get a Hearthstone Beta key earlier this week. A completely new experience for the Bear household!
I’ve never played a collectible card game before, and neither has my son. We’ve both seen Pokemon cartoons though, so we know what they’re ALL about, amiright?
So, enter Hearthstone, our first ever foray into the world of collectible card games, and without even needing physical cards.
This is my first report on our experiences.
I installed the game on my computer and account, and started it up. Nice opening cinematic.
I started the tutorial, played the first two battles, and then noticed I had a quest progression bar at the bottom of the screen, and realized that I was ‘unlocking’ new cards each time I had a victory on the starter character, the Mage Jaina.
From the beginning, I had expected Hearthstone to be something the Cub would enjoy doing more than me. I had only intended to mess around for a bit and get a feel for what it was before letting him have at it… and you kinda need a tutorial to learn the rules of a brand new game system.
I checked it out, I dithered for a few days. It turns out that no, you cannot ever replay the opening tutorial sequence. It introduces you to each concept, and then you can learn it more in depth when playing the Practise game to unlock all the character decks.
But I get ahead of myself.
I played the first two tutorial card battles, and I couldn’t go back. Those missions unlock new cards, and those cards go into your deck. There is currently no option to replay the tutorial missions, with pacing and explanation, over again.
I would like to see that added some day in the future. Include an option to replay tutorial battle sequence with the XP gain and card unlocks removed. It would be a great way to introduce the game to a friend of yours over for a visit. Let them sit down at your computer, and have them play the tutorial missions with your unlocked cards turned off, so it was clean as the first time.
We don’t have that option, so I could either continue to play through, then teach Alex directly. Or I could do what Cassie suggested, and find a Youtube or Twitch channel where someone filmed/recorded the entire sequence.
I decided to play the rest of the tutorial and then sit down with Alex and coach him on it afterwards.
I played through the Mage quests, and then took on two or three battles in the Practise section to try and unlock other character decks.
I also spent $10 in the store on the 7 expert deck combo, to lock in my own Beta bonus legendary card, Gelbin Mekkatorque.
In the practise room, you can play with either their basic decks or your own custom decks. I stuck with basics for my three fights… and I got my butt handed to me. So, I learned how to play by the tutorial, but I clearly didn’t really know what I was doing yet.
Good enough to bring Alex into it? Sure, why not. Can’t do worse than I was already, and as long as I didn’t try to teach him my mistakes or shoddy thinking we’d be good.Llet him develop his own understanding of the mechanics and I t should be fine.
Last night I interrupted his Minecraft Youtube video watching marathon to ask if he’d like to try Blizzard’s brand new digital card game. He didn’t seem all that excited about it, but I had it up on my computer already, so he could just plop his butt down and play.
I made it too convenient to blow off in favor of videos. Heh, this is a big deal! He doesn’t really play WoW anymore, he’s too busy playing Minecraft for a half hour, then watches Minecraft videos for a half hour, then asks for a mod or map he saw and plays Minecraft again.
Side note, the Minecraft 1.6.2 mod “The Aether II” is incredibly awesome. So is Galacticraft. If you like Minecraft, check them out, true winners.
He wanted to watch me play it through, see what it was like.
I went into a Practise battle with the Mage, who remained the only deck I unlocked, and I narrated what was going on while I did it and let him make decisions for me and asked his opinion.
Imagine his shock when I got my butt handed to me, and he learned that yes, in fact, that was normal for me and that I had yet to win a single real Practise battle.
Would he like to try? Why yes, yes he would in fact like to give it a go, thank you very much. He had found excitement in leading the way, so he could then teach me.
I sat with him while he did some battles. First one was against Garrosh, and he got his butt handed to him. Health and attack power were concepts easily picked up, it was the Mana Crystal and card cost concepts that had the learning curve.
He kept getting so excited at what HE was going to do next he forgot that once his Crystals were gone his turn was done. Understandable, right?
His next battle was against the Rogue. That was an excellent introduction to strategy.
Against the Rogue, he got the joy of having a big minion card in his deck, one of those big Mana Crystal cost minions with 6 attack power AND 6 health kind of thing. Wow, this is going to rock!
And as soon as he plays it, the Rogue casts Assassinate and insta-gibs it.
It happened again later in the match, fielded a super powerful minion expecting it to distract long enough to do something else, and on the next turn it was instantly Assassinated.
I explained that you could only have two of any card in your hand. In that battle, he at least now knew that the Rogue couldn’t do it to him again. And if he had another big card like a Legendary, he could’ve fielded it without worrying about Assassination because he’d already scared them both out of the Rogues hand.
I saw the wheels turning.
I showed him the collection tab, where you can browse through all of your cards. I showed him how each character deck had special ‘class only’ cards, and then there was a minions tab that could be drawn on by everyone.
And I showed him how, when I purchased my $10 batch o’ cards, I’d been lucky enough to get a Legendary, Ysera. So we had two Legendary minions in our deck.
Immediately he wanted to know how you make your own decks. I hadn’t done that, but I’d seen where the option was so I showed him, and showed him how you could build your own Mage deck by picking up to 30 cards.
Then I left him to it and walked away to talk with Cassie about how much fun he was having.
I came back about a half hour later, to find Alex had built his own Mage deck, making absolutely sure to include both legendaries in his deck.
Here was the shocker.
He used a lot of 1 Mana Crystal cards, at least six or seven. He made sure to include like 5 taunt/tank cards after the way he got crushed by the enemy using taunts. And he had almost no 2 or 3 point cards. Lots of 1s, a couple fours and a ton of 5s and up.
And he’d already defeated the Rogue and the Warlock.
As I watched, he finished kicking holy hell out of Anduin.
Mind you, this was before he’d reached level 7 and unlocked more basic mage deck cards. Yes, he had the cards we got from my $10 purchase to draw on (knyuck, knyuck) but still.
Um, yeah. Okay. So, time for me to get my son to teach me how to play.
He ended the night jubilant and wanting to keep at it forever.
My ending thoughts on this.
First, the beta key is tied to my account. For the Cub to play, he will have to log in through Battle.net on the computer using my account.
I have found out, YES, you can have two computers both logged into the same Battle.net account at the same time as long as the GAMES you eventually log into are two different games. This might be why you can’t transmit chat from within the Battle.net interface, only from within a game. We had Battle.net on with my login on two computers. He logged into Hearthstone on his computer, I logged into World of Warcraft.
When he took a break before bed to change to Starcraft II, he closed Hearthstone, started Battle.net and logged into Starcraft II, all on my account, and all while I was in WoW. No problems.
The flip side to this is, until we get another beta key or the game goes live, he and I will not be able to play against each other, and all of his efforts are, yes, going into building decks on MY account. Heh.
So, when the game goes live he’ll get the wonderful opportunity to play through that tutorial he missed the first time…
And then when he’s ready to play, I’ll get to CRUSH him with the decks he built! Woot!
The Cub had the day off from school today, one of those whatever things schools do to make sure working parents who DARE not to stay home all day to play happy homemaker get screwed.
I was very helpful. I left the login name and password, and my authenticator, right there on his computer so if, oh, he felt like playing Hearthstone, he could do so with ease.
it’s okay. It’s safe. He won’t delete my characters, and he’s got more gold than I do, so it’s not like he can loot me blind.
What’s the worse that can happen?