Battle of the TCG Betas: Hearthstone Vs Infinity Wars
Welcome to a David and Goliath story in this review of online TCGs, Infinity Wars, created by Australian based Lightmare versus Heartstone: Heroes of Warcraft, created by Blizzard.
Let's begin with our Goliath: Hearthstone
Hearthstone, based off of Blizzard's well known trading card game World of Warcraft, which is based off of their MMORPG of the same name... which is based off of their RTS series (whew, that's a mouthful) is currently one of the highest demanded closed beta games on the net.
The high demand for beta access is not surprising due to the well established tournament scene and the fact that Blizzard has been developing the same characters and game play for twenty years.
Meet David: Infinity Wars
In contrast, Infinity Wars backer-only closed beta, has produced something new with fully animated decks, a 3D transformable battlefield and mobile versions for Android and iOS devices coming soon!
Infinity Wars is made by crowd-funded, game development academy based studio, known as Lightmare.
Hearthstone: The good, the bad, and the innovative
Out of respect to our elders let's start with Hearthstone: a well polished, simplistic approach to online TCG. Once you get started (and play a few practice games) you can select between 9 different classes:
Mage the starting class which focuses on spell power to quickly burn down the opponent
Warrior which uses creatures, weapons and armor to Tank and smash through people
Paladin who creates minions to serve and uses holy magic to smash evil doers
Hunters use beasts and traps to snare the opponent and finish them off with big baddies
Shamans use totems and elemental fury to stack the odds in their favor
Druid class is by far the most versatile with the option to use spells, creatures or their own claws to tear through other players
Rogues are the tricky ones to watch out for, they use stealth mechanics (makes creatures untargetable until they attack) to surprise you then combo your life until little is left
Warlocks are the oddball in this game, they can sacrifice their own life to draw cards and summon a host of demons and dark magic to clear the board
Priests in my time playing as and against priests I've learned one thing, they are the most annoying class to play against, with the ability to heal and damage at the same time, this class just seems broken in half.
For actual game play, the transition between picking your deck, finding an opponent and playing are all extremely simple and effective.
Most of my casual games were over in less than ten minutes. The biggest strain on the brain was knowing which card to play, when to play it and hoping the computer didn't fill your opening hand with late game cards. Since your starting hand is 3-4 cards, having 6 - 7 cost cards can be rather devastating to your early game.
The really, really, really cool thing about Hearthstone is how you can get your cards.
Each time you play a game of Hearthstone you are actually fulfilling hidden daily quests. Some of these range from play X number of games in a day or kill X number of minions, do X number of damage to an opponent... You get the drift. The problem is after you do the dailies your gold flow dries up instantly. After your dailies, if your account isn't bugged where you don't have access to them like mine =), you get 10 gold for every 3 games your play. Each pack costs 100 gold for 5 cards, so 30 games for 5 new cards means you're going to grind, grind, grind and grind some more.
Grinding is a horrible thing unless you're into Korean MMORPG's so, Blizzard will allow you to buy a pack ($2.99 for two). Or you can save your hard earned cash (or gold) and play in the Arena, where you can gain access to even better rewards for good play and deck building skills. The arena uses random cards and costs 150 gold or $1.99 per entry so, good luck. Some of the prizes in the arena are gold, packs and enchantment dust.
But wait, what is enchantment?
Yes that's right YOU can create the cards, this is probably the most innovative thing about Hearthstone
Enchantment is the saving grace of the game, if you have duplicates of any card you own (max is 2 per deck so you get a decent amount of duplicates) you can disenchant them and create your own cards! Yes that's right YOU can create the cards, this is probably the most innovative thing about Hearthstone and probably the main reason its getting high marks in this review.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a decent game with good polish and a good tournament scene. That being said, in my experience it has been a bug infested grind-fest from hell to level each character and hope and pray that the 100 gold i just spent 30 wins getting will produce a pack with just one mage card I need for my deck not to mention the fact that the card pool is insanely limited to just about 100 cards.
3 out of 5. Can't wait to see it after they fix their issues.
Infinity Wars: TCG Done Better
Infinity Wars on the other hand is a very standardized TCG that focuses on strong deck building skills and tough play mechanics. In all honesty, challenging card strategy is what I'm looking for in a TCG anyways. Now, lets break down those factions:
- First we have the Warpath, these guys are literally a bunch of beasts out looking for blood, and breeding *bow-chica-wow-wow*, the cool thing about these guys is since they are animals already they don't mind getting down and dirty, both on the battlefield or in the fields to create offspring that will leave you wondering why no one has called in a hunting season on these guys.
- Next we have the Flame Dawn, there are hundreds of these guys and most of their mechanics revolve around militaristic might and swarm tactics of their infantry.
- Genesis Industries. . . their name says it all, supercorp, death robots crazy researches and scientist, and holy crap their basic minion's rez each other, these guys just don't stop coming.
- The Cult of Verore is the magic users in this game and they love nothing more to watch the world burn, for each minion that dies on their opponent's side of the field, they just get stronger and stronger till nothing you can do will save you.
- Descendants of the Dragon are the defense force in this game, they all focus on perfecting themselves and outlasting siege after siege after siege, hell they can win a game by doing nothing but defending until the enemy morale is broken.
- The Sleepers of Avarrach are the ZOMBIES of this game, graveyard manipulation and more zombies than you've seen in Resident Evil awaits you with these guys.
- The Exiles, what can I say about these odd guys other than they run a lot of demons and sacrifice their own creatures to create big 8/8 beatsticks.
For the game play in Infinity Wars, the objective in the game is bring down the health of the opposing fortress to 0 or completely break the morale of the opposing force.
On the map there are two different fields of battle, and assault zone and a defense zone, your objective is to break through the enemy defense (which deals damage to the fortress) or stop the enemy's assault (which lowers the moral for each enemy you kill in the assault zone) all in all the most fun you'll have is the "Merged" deck play style where you mix and match from different factions to create your own unique battle force not to mention the cards are all animated which is very cool and impressive.
Here is where Blizzard can learn a thing or two.
I've been running a Genesis/Flame Dawn deck and I got to say merged is the way to go (think dual color decks for you MTG players). Getting the cards isn't terrible in Infinity Wars. They have an in game resource called IP which is gained by winning or losing games, and you get a decent amount (about 100 per match). You can also buy LP with cash and be able to get the packs with said LP. Another way to get your hands on those hard to find rares is by completing daily AND weekly quests for cards that are actually what you would want or need for that dream deck of yours.
All in all, Infinity Wars is a great game that is just starting out and will soon be available for open beta and Steam Greenlight.
A lot of polish is still needed and they are adding in new cards weekly so the amount of combinations is well...Infinite. Did I mention that the cards are all animated?
4 out of 5. Looking forward to seeing what the game will become once it is finally done.
So guys, with a 3 out of 5 for Hearthstone and a 4 out of 5 for Infinity Wars, my choice is clear cut. It seems the world has a thing for underdog stories. My recommendation is Infinity Wars.