Hearthstone Just Made Me Want to Play Magic

If you like simplistic games that are collectible-heavy, this one may be for you.
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I’m not impressed with Hearthstone.

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After seeing the excitement around it, watching my friends play, and finally getting in to the beta last week, I find that Hearthstone leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t think this opinion is unpopular, either.

Hearthstone is simple, which is one of the main aspects that attracts so many users. Unlike other card games, the mechanics are easy to learn and understand, where a game like Magic: The Gathering can take awhile to master. I wonder, though, if the effort put in to Magic makes the game itself more rewarding than something as basic as Hearthstone.

It’s too simple

Even for someone who is fine with playing solitaire for a few hours (Faerie Solitaire on Steam, to be specific), I was bored of Hearthstone within an hour of playing it. Sure, the game is crisp and clear, easy to understand, and fairly interactive, but it’s not at all challenging. With most matches being based purely on the luck of the draw, you’re left with no way to really defend yourself if you’re drawn a shitty hand–there’s no real mechanism for recovery, unlike in a match of Magic.

Without the ability to assign blockers or deal instants, if you haven’t drawn an Assassinate or a taunt creature (this has happened to me multiple times, even with a deck maxed on these cards), there’s no real way to recover from a poorly drawn hand in the first few turns; and if you sink too soon, the chances of recovering to a win are slim.

In Magic, for example, assigning blockers is a key function in combat–it gives you the option of sacrificing a creature to survive one more turn and hopefully pull a better draw. The fact that Hearthstone doesn’t even give the hint of this option is baffling to me, and I think the single thing I hate most.

It’s a one-trick pony

There’s no appeal to Hearthstone for me anymore. I figured, “Once I play through and unlock a few more classes, I’m sure it’ll pick up and become more interesting.” Well, it never did. It feels like every match is the same, with very slight variations–and that’s even if you win. If you’ve played one match, you’ve played them all, even after unlocking multiple classes.

Without the added bonus of something like instants, the matches become repetitive, boring, and even predictable in some cases. I found myself alt-tabbing more than I should have been because the game was just too… well, basic. I can’t do anything on my opponent’s turn but look at my cards, and if you’re drawing like crap, well, it’s pretty unpleasant.

You can’t mix and matches classes like you can with colors in Magic. The gameplay is extremely limiting, meaning you’ve only got nine decks to choose from when it comes to class cards. Normal cards are available to all decks, but some of those Warrior cards are pretty boss–too bad you can’t throw them in to a Rogue or Priest deck.

Why do I only have ten mana?

This irritates me almost as much as the inability to assign blockers. Resource management is nonexistent, as mana is just given to me each turn. There’s no way to get a leg up on an opponent because they were flustered and forgot to play mana–it just magically appears.

Likewise, why am I only allowed ten mana? This limits a lot of the things I could do during my turn; sure, I can play a lot of small creatures, but if I want to get big creatures out quickly, it’s almost impossible. Especially when I can’t defend them from a sorcery on my opponent’s turn.

I wanted more

I wanted, and expected, a card game out of Hearthstone. What I feel like I received was hand-holding, pay-to-play… kid’s game. Not to mention the fact you have to buy your way in to the Arena leaves a super sour taste in my mouth. Pay real money for packs, when they only have five cards in them? In beta?

Maybe I’m just bitter and old. Magic has engaging play that really feels like even if your hand is in the toilet, you can pull a win out of it if you play smart. This option doesn’t exist in Hearthstone, and ultimately, after everyone is done collecting all of the cards, they’ll get bored and play something else.

Like Magic.

Hearthstone Just Made Me Want to Play Magic
If you like simplistic games that are collectible-heavy, this one may be for you.

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Katy Hollingsworth
whale biologist.