One of the biggest complaints about Hearthstone (other than the increasing levels of RNG) is the lack of space for new decks. The game shipped with 9 slots for customized decks, and hasn’t increased in nearly two years. That’s changing. In fact, today Blizzard announced that a lot is changing in the world of Hearthstone and, unlike new deck slots, it’s not all cosmetic.
Blizzard is adding “Formats” to Hearthstone, both Standard format and Wild format. The Wild format is exactly how Hearthstone plays today: make your decks out of every card that’s ever been released. The Standard format narrows things down a bit, limiting your deck building options to only cards released in the current and last calendar year. You’ll also have a handful of Basic/Classic cards that will always be available in Standard mode as well.
The purpose behind the change is to balance the metagame, but also make designing new expansions a bit easier for the crew at Team 5. This way, they’ll have fewer cards to balance any new cards against.
There will be separate Ranked and Casual play for both Wild and Standard, so if you prefer to use every card you purchased, there’s still a ladder for you to climb. When Standard format arrives this spring, you’ll be able to play in Standard mode using cards from Basic, Classic, Blackrock Mountain, Grand Tournament, League of Explorers and the new expansion coming this spring as well. Note the lack of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes cards.
Personally, I think this is great as one of the reasons I’ve stopped playing Hearthstone is the bloat. There are just too many damn cards that, unless you stayed on top of everything all the time, it’s nearly impossible to craft a decent deck. Then again, that might just be because I’m notoriously shitty at CCGs.
After the break watch Ben Brode tell us why this is a good idea, and if you havne’t played Hearthstone yet, pick it up now for iOS Universal or Android.
There was a time when Puzzle Quest was one of the best, most innovative games around. It was the first game I can remember which combined a puzzle game with a more traditional RPG, and it worked great. Puzzle Quest 2 continued the trend, giving us overland encounters but, when swords were drawn, switching to a match-3 battlefield in which you could cast spells and use equipment. Since then, there have been other Puzzle Quest games, namely Marvel Puzzle Quest which took the basic premise and added superheroes. It also added some freemium nonsense. Not enough to ruin the game, but enough to make sure you didn’t forget you were playing a freemium game. Today, Puzzle Quest is back with a new IP, this one near and dear to gamers’ hearts, Magic: The Gathering.
Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest combines the match-3 mechanism with deck building and other CCG tropes. You will choose a Planeswalker and a deck–more like a hand–of cards. These are kept off-screen via a pull out window, but you can access them and rearrange their order which is important as only the card at the top will be cast, with the others then sliding up, conveyor belt style. As you match-3, you build up mana and when you have enough, the top card in your deck is played to the battlefield. The color of mana doesn’t seem to matter, but each Planeswalker will have mana they prefer. For example, Nissa gives you extra mana if you match green, but less mana if you match black. Unlike Magic, where you decide attackers and blockers, each creature is listed as one or the other. Attackers will automatically attack your opponent or their creatures at the end of your turn. Defenders will automatically block your opponent’s attacks. There are also support cards, spells cards, and individual Planeswalkers can level up as they progress.
It’s still free-to-play, and there’s an annoying Facebook login when you first open the app (you can choose to not use the Facebook login, with the only downside being that your progress will not carry over between devices). That said, it’s pretty damn fun so far. Sure, I’m still just floundering my way through the tutorials, but I’m digging what I’m seeing. Is there a paywall up ahead? Most definitely, but I have no idea how high it is at this point. If it’s like Magic, Hearthstone or other CCGs and you can buy and/or earn booster packs of new cards, it might be the greatest thing since sliced bread. If it ends up having timers and other freemium nonsense…well, I reserve the right to change my opinion at any time.
You can pick up Magic: The Gathering-Puzzle Quest for iOS Universal and Android. Then head after the break to watch the release trailer.
Magic Duels is one of those apps that should be in constant rotation on my iPad yet, for some reason, I haven’t touched it in months. Honestly, I’m not sure why. I enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering, and really like the concept they introduced this year of playing through each Planeswalker’s history in a story mode. I even remember it being pretty slick when I first loaded it up this summer. Maybe this will get me rolling: it appears that the Battle for Zendikar expansion is set to hit the app tomorrow.
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise, the Zendikar expansion has been available for awhile on Steam. What it brings to the table are 150 new cards, a new story mode, and new skill quests. Pretty much everything you’d expect in a massive Magic expansion.
Magic Duels is available for iOS Universal and is free to download. Check out the Battle for Zendikar trailer after the break to see what’s in store.
There are a slew of deck building games on the App Store, with the genre containing some of the most popular board game ports on mobile. Games like Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, Tanto Cuore, and Star Realms are a few of the better ones. We even had the granddaddy of all deck-builders, Dominion, enter the fray earlier this week. The biggest digital CCG out there, Hearthstone, has had a deck building component probably since it was just a gleam in Team 5’s eye. Of course, that deck building always took place outside of the battlefield. This week, Blizzard has made deck building the main mechanic in-game as well by making it the core gimmick in this week’s Tavern Brawl.
Tavern Brawl is a free to enter mode of play in Hearthstone in which the rules are bent and you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get. When you enter a Brawl today through Saturday, you’ll be asked to pick your hero type and will then be shuttled off to a battlefield in which your deck consists of only a few cards: 1/1 chickens and mana coins. On your turn you’ll be presented with three random cards from which you can choose one. That card is added to your hand, and your turn progresses as normal. At the end of your turn, however, your hand is discarded and you draw a completely new hand, just like any tabletop deck-builder. Any creatures you summon that are killed are also placed back into your deck, ensuring that your deck will grow as the match continues.
I’ve managed to lose a couple Brawls now, but it’s a fun way to play Hearthstone and definitely worth a look if you like the deck building mechanic or just haven’t played around with Hearthstone for a bit.
There is no shortage of collectible card games on the App Store, but most of them are firmly entrenched in the fantasy genre. Sure, every now and then there’s a sci-fi one, but that’s not a major leap. Last week saw the release of World of Tanks Generals which is based on a decidedly not-fantasy genre, World War 2.
WoT Generals is a standard one-on-one matchup in which each side is trying to destroy the other’s HQ. You can select your nation from the US, Germany, and the Soviets and then build your deck from over 200 different cards. I don’t totally understand how the card system works, yet. It seems that each HQ card has its own number of cards associated with it, but those appear to be basic cards. Or something. Gameplay occurs on a grid upon which your tanks can maneuver and attack your opponent. Instead of mana, the game gives you fuel which you replenish each turn. Adding cards to the battlefield increases the amount of fuel you get each turn, thus preventing your opponent from adding new units can really cripple them.
Like all CCGs, WoT Generals is free to download. The game has a currency, gold bars, that you can buy with real cash. The big question is how often you’ll need to drop real money to compete with the whales. You can collect a second currency by completing missions, which are similar to Hearthstone’s quests. You can also spend a different currency, experience, to research and upgrade your existing cards. In all there are three different in-game currencies which, at first glance, looks to make things more complicated than they need to be.
You can pick up World of Tanks Generals for iPad here or you can play in your browser. The game is fully cross-platform, so it doesn’t matter which way you want to play it.
After it’s downloaded, head after the break to watch the release trailer. The CGI on those generals is pretty incredible. I’d almost swear they were real.
It’s been a while since we’ve had any Hearthstone news, so it seems weird having two Hearthstone stories in the same week. Then again, Blizzard‘s annual convention, BlizzCon, began today so if we’re going to have a lot of Hearthstone news, this is the week for it.
Today, Blizzard announced the next expansion for Hearthstone called The League of Explorers. It’s an adventure expansion, which means it follows in the footsteps of Curse of Naxxramas and Blackrock Mountain. Like those, it’s a solo adventure in which you’ll unlock cards as you battle against opponents from the Warcraft universe in matches that break all the rules of Hearthstone. The adventures play more like a puzzle game than traditional Hearthstone, as you try to figure out the correct combination of cards and strategy to bring these baddies down. Unlike traditional expansions that add hundreds of cards which you get from buying or earning booster packs, all 45 new cards in The League of Explorers can be gotten through beating the individual bosses or other challenges. That’s not to say they’re free, the LoE will be introduced over the course of five weeks, with one new adventure opening each week with a break for Thanksgiving. That means you’ll get 4 new adventures and each one will cost you $7. You can (and why wouldn’t you) opt to buy all four adventures for a package price of $20.
The 45 new cards will include a new keywords as well, Discover. The Discover keyword allows you to dig for treasure which, in game terms, means you’re presented with three class cards and get to pick one to add to your hand.
In a very un-Blizzard-like move, we won’t have to wait for League of Explorers to hit our iPads. The first wing will be going live next Thursday. If you don’t want to pay for the adventure, you can still play with the new cards in Arena mode. They will be available for everyone as each new adventure is unlocked.
As great as Hearthstone is, I haven’t played it in months. That’s not Blizzard‘s fault, it stems from the fact that the phone with my Blizzard authenticator on it somehow made it’s way through the laundry and hasn’t worked since late August. New phone has been acquired, but I’m just too damn lazy to contact Blizz and get the authenticator situation sorted out so I can log in and play again. That might change this week.
Yesterday, Blizzard announced that this week’s Tavern Brawl–the weekly PvP battle that breaks the rules of regular Hearthstone–would be doing something that we’ve never seen in Hearthstone: allowing cooperative play. Instead of each player trying to destroy their opponent, here they must work together to destroy Gearmaster Mechazod, a mob that begins the game with 95 health. He will move back and forth between the players, and if either player is dragged to zero health, Mechazod wins.
Good to see that Blizzard is trying new stuff, and perhaps we’ll get even more Hearthstone innovation revealed during this weekend’s BlizzCon?
Hearthstone is available for both Android and iOS Universal and, while it’s free to download, will undoubtedly cost you some money down the road. No trailer for this week’s Tavern Brawl, so instead check out the teaser for the upcoming trailer for next year’s Warcraft movie which has only the most tenuous ties to Hearthstone, but at least it’s something.
Mavenfall is an upcoming card battler that we previewed back in September right after it soft launched in Ireland and New Zealand. I’m guessing that the soft launch went rather well, because it’s only a month later and today we received an official worldwide release date: November 5.
Mavenfall is a card battler/CCG, so it’s competing with games like Hearthstone, SolForge, and Magic Duels. Unlike those games, however, this one has a spatial element in which your little critters actually show up on a little battlefield and it’s hella adorable. How deep is it? I have no idea, but it looks like it could be a bit of fun and the devs have announced some cool features that you won’t find in many other new releases. They have integrated iOS9’s ReplayKit into the game, so you can use your camera and microphone to record games with your lovely visage and narration and send them to friends or upload them to YouTube without ever leaving the app. Also, it’s one of the first apps to take advantage of 3D touch. When you touch a card it will zoom on that card, showing its text, but if you push a bit harder, the card dissolves and you can see what creatures will be affected via visual indicators on the battlefield. While recording myself while playing a game is right below hitting myself with a hammer on my bucket list, the use of 3D touch is pretty darn cool.
Mavenfall will be, primarily, a PvP experience but there is a solo portion of the game as well, mainly for trying out new strategies vs. an AI. The game will be free-to-download, but that’s standard for all digital CCGs. How it implements the earning of new cards will be huge in determining if it has staying power. They promise “Monetization that respects the player”, but I don’t know what that means other than maybe the game will buy me breakfast?
Mavenfall will launch next week for iOS Universal with an Android version coming a little later. Check out a new trailer which shows off the new features of Mavenfall, mainly ReplayKit and 3D touch, as well as talk about how they’ve added complexity to the cards as the soft launch moved forward.