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.
As well all know, the App Store is flush with CCGs. Not as flush as Warhammer stuff, but still pretty darn flush. [Achievement unlocked: use word flush 3+ times in one post. -ed.] A new one, Mavenfall, has just entered the fray by soft launching in both New Zealand and Ireland. The developers are calling it a cross between Hearthstone and Final Fantasy and the trailer they released seems to back this claim.
Mavenfall allows you to hire “mavens” who seem to be your standard RPG classes. Each class has it’s own set of cards with which to deck build and each of your mavens is placed, miniature style, on a play field which resembles a turn-based, tactical battler. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate, really.
The game focuses on PvP battles which are shorter than most other CCGs, each lasting only 5-10 minutes. Unlike Hearthstone, Mavenfall will come with the ability to record and view your games later, and even share them with others. As far as price on this one, we can expect the usual CCG model with the base game being free to play and extra cards coming either through grinding or cold, hard cash. How that’s going to play out is anyone’s guess at this point.
While available now in New Zealand and Ireland for iOS Universal, the world-wide release will also include Android devices and is expected later in 2015. Check out the trailer after the break.
If your Monday needs a change in ambience, I think you’ll find the video below quite handy.
There’s a card in the new Hearthstone Grand Tournament expansion (did our friend Peter Whalen work on that, I wonder?) called Dreadsteed. The card in question is a moderate-mana but low-HP card with a rather unusual trick: when you kill it, it summons a duplicate of itself. Now there’s an older card in the game called Knife Juggler that randomly damages an enemy every time you play another card to the board. I’ll bet you can see where this is going.
Naturally, a YouTube scamp called The Optimistic Brit has set up a Dreadsteed vs Knife Juggler confrontation that goes on for 15 minutes in a sort of highway-hypnosis-meets-whale-music lullaby. This interplay required a bit of machination to set up, so the chances of seeing this in a live Hearthstone match you might play in are small. But nerfing this might end up on Blizzard’s to-do list right quick.
The last big expansion for Hearthstone was Goblins vs. Gnomes, released last December. Since then there’s been Hearthstone news with the Blackrock Mountain solo expansion as well as the introduction of Tavern Brawl mode. Today, Blizzard announced a new big expansion for Hearthstone called The Grand Tournament and it’s coming this August.
The Grand Tournament will offer over 130 new cards including new murlocs, dragons, pirates, and ogres. Of course, there will be more spells and other characters as well, but it’s good to see some of these card types getting a little more love. Unlike any previous expansion, this one is brining in a new keyword: Inspire. The Inspire trait on a card will trigger if you use your hero power while that card is in play.
Like GvG, cards from The Grand Tournament will appear in Arena mode even if you haven’t purchased any of the cards yourself, and you’ll be able to choose between Tournament, GvG, or classic cards as your Arena rewards. For the first time, Blizzard is also offering the chance to pre-order cards for a discount. Starting next week you can pick up packs of 50 cards for $50.
Check out the Grand Tournament trailer after the break, but be ready for the usual Blizzard trailer silliness.
Wait, is this the new one or last years? Or 2013’s?
Tradition has it that Wednesday is the night when the big releases get together and storm the App Store at midnight. Wizards of the Coast doesn’t believe in tradition, apparently, releasing the new Magic: The Gathering app for iOS Universal this morning. It’s called Magic Duels and, from the little I’ve played so far, doesn’t feel much different than the previous versions of Magic on the iPad. It still has that pseudo-3D, tabletop look which makes the cards pretty damn hard to see and requires a lot of zooming if you’re not super familiar with Magic. Also included are the timers between phases which makes the game seem to crawl. That said, it’s Magic: The Gathering on my iPad, so complaining about it makes me seem like an ungrateful jerk.
The campaigns in Duels involve telling the stories of five Planeswalkers, doing battle and earning cards along the way. There is also a Battle Mode which lets you take on your friends or AI with crafted decks. Wizards is promising continual updates with new cards and other content, but the game already ships with a ton to do. There are quests and achievements to hunt down as well as different play modes, such as Two-headed Giant.
One thing that might come as a surprise are the requirements for this one. It will only run on an iPad Air or later, and if you want to play on a phone you’d better have at least a 5S. I will say that it’s sluggish on my iPad Air, with animations occasionally stuttering, so it was probably a good call.
Does this give anyone else the urge to go play Heroes of Might and Magic?
When you have created one of the seminal video games of all time, I think you’re allowed to have a couple misses. Thus it goes with Minecraft developer, Mojang, who announced this week that their foray into CCGs, Scrolls, is being put down. No new content will be developed for the game and the game servers will remain open until at least July 1, 2016. Any money the game makes between now and then will go towards keeping the servers up longer.
I only played Scrolls a couple times on PC, and it was a pretty good game combining CCG elements with more tactical, board game style play. The only thing holding me back from playing more was the expectation of an iOS version, a version that is almost certainly not going to happen now.
Still, you can pick up Scrolls on your Android device for free if you want to give it a try. Check out the trailer after the break to see what’s going away.