Hearthstone and the Language of WoW

I finally got to try Hearthstone for myself last night thanks to an extra invite from Newbie Blogger The Jazz Panda. I say “finally” because although the game is still in closed beta from what I can tell literally every other person in the world got an invite before I did*. It’s an interesting phenomenon to feel behind in a game before it’s even out of closed beta.

Anyway, I’ve heard great things about Hearthstone and I was eager to play it, but I had some reservations because despite my best efforts “Collectible Card Games” just haven’t stuck with me. I made a pretty solid effort to get into Magic: The Gathering a few years ago, and while friends helped me put together a couple of decks I found the number of options and my complete newbie status to be overwhelming. I didn’t even know what was in the realm of possibility much less what had synergy.

The sheer amount of information I’d need to play at a reasonable level stressed me out to the point where I decided to not bother at all. (This is also the way I feel about League of Legends and to a lesser extent DOTA 2, with their walls of champions and items.)

To be fair, my brief foray into the world of Magic definitely helped me understand the basic principles of Hearthstone. There’s a resource that renews with each turn, there are creatures with a damage number and a health number, and cards can work together to do funky things. But the real reason I feel comfortable taking on Hearthstone is because through WoW I already natively understand many of the mechanics.
FrostNova Hearthstone and the Language of WoW
For example, last night I was playing against Thrall, the shaman NPC, for the first time. He dropped a windfury totem and my first reaction was, “Oh crap, I bet something is gonna hit me twice now,” which is indeed exactly what happened. I already know that the Frost Nova card is going to freeze everything in place. I can guess without looking that Innervate is going to give back some mana crystals. The Priest deck is going to have a lot of healing, the Warrior deck is probably going to have a lot of charging.

LifeTap Hearthstone and the Language of WoW

Coming into the game already having a basic understanding of card mechanics has made a huge difference in how much I enjoy deck building. In the current digital trading card game boom, having this additional accessability I think will be a huge marketplace advantage for Hearthstone.

A lot of people have suggested that Hearthstone was a pretty sneaky way to get people back into WoW, but I think that works both ways. One of the neat things about WoW is that it historically brought people into MMOs who didn’t play before, like women and older grown-up folks. This audience is also traditionally not into the CCG scene, but by using WoW language in Hearthstone I think Blizzard has quite cleverly made the genre more welcoming to a larger crowd than ever before.

 

* This may in fact not be literal.

Author: Jessica Cook

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6 Comments

  1. I freaking love how beautifully WoW’s signature class aspects have been transposed into Hearthstone.

    I’d noticed how deliberately simple the rules of Hearthstone are on the surface, especially the basic turn system (compared to Magic’s phases and responses and declaring), but I guess I’ve been immersed in WoW for so long that I didn’t consciously notice that the “language” hadn’t changed between games.

    It’s a smart move, not just considering how many WoW players there are right now, but also how many ex-WoW players there are– for whom this game would be instantly understandable, and would probably press some really effective nostalgia buttons too.

    That’s some damn effective franchise-leveraging there.
    Coreus´s last post: Hearthstone

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  2. If you ever wanted to try getting into Magic again, one of the best ways to jump in is to try a sealed deck tournament at a prerelease event! All you need is a familiarity with the basic mechanics.

    Everyone gets six booster packs, and then you build a 40-card deck out of whatever random cards you have. It really limits your options so you don’t have a huge pool of cards to choose from, and it’s similar to the Arena mode in Hearthstone.
    seth´s last post: FF14: Cinema Showcase

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  3. Agreeing with Seth on getting into Magic via Sealed play. Drafting is nice, too, but it requires a bit better understanding of the set as a whole. One of the best parts about any of the Limited environments is that the mental footprint is quite a bit smaller. There are far fewer cards to learn, and less things to be aware of. This is even easier during a core set, where the mechanics are intentionally limited and straightforward.

    I think the WoW language in Hearthstone is an interesting choice. The WoW TCG did the same thing, and I think it actually limited its audience a lot. Certainly, it made it easier for WoW players to make the move into TCG/Hearthstone, but it’s also another barrier to getting external interest. A lot of folks who played the TCG found it fun, but my experience was that the WoW-centric nature of it definitely kept a bunch of my non-WoW friends away. They probably saw it as a gateway into WoW, which they were intentionally avoiding.
    Ellyndrial´s last post: Cat Context Episode 37: Beyond: Two Souls, The Wolf Among Us, Are guilds still useful?

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  6. I remember the times when I played Tibia, then it was NPC :P For example: “buy food, “sell potion. Simple but very usful command proved to be ideal :)
    GaryX´s last post: World of Tanks Public Test v9.2

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