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Hearthstone in The Guardian

The British daily newspaper has a solid write up of Hearthstone. It doesn’t describe much beta-players and close watchers won’t already know but it’s a good read regardless. The author, Rich Stanton, has some good quotes from Eric Dodds and Jason Chaynes about Hearthstone’s simple game mechanics as compared to other CCGs and the difficulties of playing those games online.

Dodds also mentions that the kinect feedback for Hearthstone was very important. “…when we started working on the online game we wanted to keep the soul of [physical cards] which is why we made the box, and the cards in the way they sway as you’re moving them through the environment, and the buttons that feel and respond like physical buttons.”

Staton also comments on the paradoxical fun of the Arena. He, like many, enjoys the Arena the most but finds the gold flow too slow for regular runs. Blizzard is walking a tight rope to find the proper balance between earning money from Hearthstone and opening up all the play modes easily.

The other major highlights? There’s one more patch coming before the game is launched, which is still slated for this year. The beta-less shouldn’t fret too terribly – everyday brings the game’s official launch closer and closer.

Staton’s article is available here.

BlizzCon 2013 Virtual Goodies

BlizzCon goodies incoming! Not attending? Snag these in-game bonuses with a Virtual Ticket! Don’t forget to buy your tickets here: http://us.battle.net/blizzcon/en/virtual-ticket/#goodies

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World of Warcraft Pet: Murkalot
StarCraft II Portrait & Decal: Tearin’ Stitches & Stitches’ Hook
Diablo III Banner: Mark of Death
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Card: Mystery Minion

For people wondering who Stitches is.. He is from Blizzard All-Stars.. Looks like Blizzard’s MOBA will be releasing soon.

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Ben Brode Doesn’t Flip Coins

Well, he probably does. Who doesn’t? But he’s careful and doesn’t leave the construction of Hearthstone to chance and whimsy. In a previous column I discussed the issues with the coin that most players are stirred up about. It’s a hot button issue – the coin has proponents and detractors. Hearthstone’s forums are brimming with threads discussing, at length, the impact of that little card.

But none carry as much weight as the words of Mr. Brode. In a post on the Hearthstone forums Brode details the history behind its inception, the logic for its purpose, and the hard numbers of the coin’s actual significance in games. With Hearthstone’s systems closely monitored by developers the figures aren’t amorphous, specific samples from a handful of games but rather a complete and exhaustive data set. And they provide some incredible insight into the coin’s impact.

Across all leagues, 52.2% of wins are for the player who goes first. In master league, where the giants fight, that imbalance shrinks to 50.4%. The advantage of going first isn’t insurmountable and the coin seems to be fulfilling its role as a field leveler. The passionate responses it stirs may be more related to its potential for momentum shifting: dropping a heavy minion a turn before it’s expected or delivering a powerful combo attack (as has been done to me with frustrating regularity).

Arena statistics aren’t provided, but further in the thread a player asks and Mr. Brode answers. The results are similar to standard mode, a slight advantage to going first but it isn’t significant. The coin is here to stay. I’m happy the developers provided numbers about the coin’s use and impact during a game rather than simply stating a position and expecting the players to live with it. The statistics and comments may not convince everyone but it convinces me. It’s not a game breaker, just a light touch on the scale.

Hearthstone Beta – Crazy Game

I had some free time in the afternoon, so I did a quick match in Hearthstone Beta… and whoa.. I didn’t expect things to get this crazy.

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If you can’t see properly, Click on the picture. If not:  Here

Yes that’s 23 Attack / 15 Defense on a creature. I still won though, he had only 3 health left and his creature couldn’t attack my hero. Had one taunt creature, he had to force himself to attack it, then on my turn just used Arcane Shot & Steady Shot to get the win!

 

Patch 5.4: Siege of Orgrimmar Trailer Released

SoO

Blizzard has just released the trailer for Patch 5.4: Siege of Orgrimmar and it is amazing! Probably my favorite patch trailer they’ve ever done. We see exactly how the Vale of Eternal Blossoms became corrupted, and a showdown between Taran Zhu and Garrosh that’s been a long time coming. Let’s just say it doesn’t end too well for one of them.

 

Now that you’ve watched it, lets discuss something I found interesting about this trailer: Garrosh’s reason for destroying the Vale. He claims “the heart thirsts”, and this along with several quotes datamined from the actual Garrosh fight allows us to draw the conclusion that the heart of Y’Shaarj is directly telling Garrosh what to do. This of course opens a can of worms in regards to what is really going on here, and who exactly is in charge. Dave Kosak has been adamant that Garrosh is not corrupted, he is fully in control of his actions here, and yet the heart is giving him directions.

What can we take from this? There is of course the idea that yes, Garrosh is corrupted if he’s taking instructions from an old god, but there’s another, perhaps more chilling idea. Could Garrosh be listening to Y’Shaarj and fulfilling the hearts will for his own gain, of his own free will? In other words, is he the one controlling Y’Shaarj? Y’Shaarj is in a state of existence we haven’t seen any old gods in before, a “dead dead” state according to Blizzard. Perhaps he is weaker, unable to corrupt someone as strong-willed as Garrosh, allowing the Warchief to use an old god as a tool. The idea of a mere mortal controlling an old god is a tantalizing one, and assuming this is what Blizzard was going for, I’d love to see it explored further.

Hearthstone at Gamescom 2013

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Anxious to play Hearthstone yourself? Are the Twitch specials and Fireside duels not satisfying your curiosity and anticipation? If you’re able to attend Gamescom this year, you’re in luck.

Blizzard and the Hearthstone developers will be hosting the first public playable versions of the game in Germany this year. Blizzard will host several sessions of Hearthstone during the trade fair. Hearthstone’s lead artist Ben Thompson will also be showing off his artistic talents with live drawing and sketching. There are also quizzes, Q&As, developer signings, and a Warcraft dance contest.

Check Blizzards’ complete schedule to find the events that pique your interest: Schedule for Gamescom 2013.

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