World of Warcraft creators Blizzard Entertainment have officially launched their popular free-to-play card gameHearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
The card game had been under an “open beta” testing phase since January, allowing players to download the game for PCs and Macs and battle in one-on-one matches.
Similar to card-based games such as Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone features nine classes players choose from, using mana earned between turns to summon powerful minions or cast spells.
Blizzard production director Jason Chayes says the team behind Hearthstone was first assembled more than two years ago, as they sought to create a card collectible game connected to the hit massively multiplayer online game WoW.
“One of our big goals from the very beginning was to make a more accessible version of a collectible card game,” says Chayes.
Players participate in online duels, creating themed decks featuring one of nine classes, each of which boasts a special ability. For example, a Warrior can add armor for a greater defense. Players take turns drawing cards and building a pool of mana. Cards cost a set amount of mana, as players cast minions and spells to whittle down their opponents’ health and win.
Players earn cards for free by completing challenges and winning gold to buy packs. They can also enter an Arena mode, where they build random decks and try to notch as many wins for a larger bounty.
Users can pay with real money as well, but it’s not required. Chayes notes one player who moved up to the max Legend rank without spending a dime.
Hearthstone is available for PC and Mac, but a version for the iPad is in the works. Chayes also says Blizzard plans releasing traditional expansions as well as introduce an adventures mode where players can tackle larger enemies to win additional cards.
“We’ve been super overwhelmed and really happy with the level of response and how many people have picked it up since we went to open beta,” says Chayes.