Blizzard has a *lock* on Grinder games. To whit: Diablo and WoW. Diablo is a complex loot-aggregation simulator, and you know you've gathered enough loot when you can survive the next level of the dungeon, and you know you've won when there are no more levels to go. Of WoW, it's said that the game doesn't even *begin* until you've maxed out your level, and the whole way up is one epic grind.

Enter Hearthstone. The game itself is not super interesting - it's simpler than Pokemon, and not in an awesome way. There is some strategy involved, but I've not found any of the matches to reward too much thinking. This is another grinding game from Blizzard, which by itself is not a complaint. I've played grinders before. Sometimes they're entertaining. Other times, they're Hearthstone.

So, heres how the grind works in Hearthstone: you play against other opponents to earn gold. You use gold to either buy packs of cards, or to buy entrance to the Arena. It's important to note that you *cannot* use your own cards in the Arena; you are drafting a new deck from random cards every time. So you can either spend your gold getting cards, or using a whole mode of gameplay that is otherwise inaccessible and which also rewards you with new cards; it's not exactly a tough decision.

While you're doing all this, your selected "hero" is gaining levels that don't matter in the Arena and which barely matter outside of it. You're also earning a rank as an online player which helps match you up to other opponents, so grinding for gold always stays about the same level of difficulty no matter what you do.

To recap: your online matches get you gold for access to the Arena, but don't change anything therein. The Arena lets you win cards for your non-arena deck, but which don't actually make it easier to grind for gold - it just changes the caliber of player you're matched against. Nothing you do in any part of the game helps you anywhere else. It's a perfect symmetry of pointlessness.

So, why did they call it Hearthstone? Simple: in WoW, you grind your way to the top-level raids; in Diablo, you grind your way to the bottom of the dungeon. In Hearthstone, no matter how much you grind, you will find yourself dumped right back to where you started - which is exactly what a Hearthstone does.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/08/2014 at 01:44pm

I enjoyed Hearthstone for about two hours. I used to be quite the MtG fan but never cared for the video games for some reason. It seemed something was lost when moving it to digital. But MtG is a very strategy-heavy game. When Hearthstone came out I was hoping for a balance of strategy that would work well as a digital card game.

Unfortunately I didn't find that. It's like you said, simpler than Pokemon. Every match is basically the same, and while there's a little strategy, it's not enough to keep things interesting.

I at least hope it's a good intro to trading card games for those who haven't played them.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/08/2014 at 10:00pm

Sounds like you guys are not huge fans of Hearthstone :D

I think the game is fun, but then again I haven't played it a ton myself. I like the quick pace of the games and think it's a strength of the game. Keeping things simple means the game is a bit more accessible and ... quicker. The free to play aspect means anyone can play it, which is nice in a way but, like you mention makes it grindy.

Travis   Admin wrote on 02/08/2014 at 11:20pm

You're right in all cases @jdodson. It is fun, it's fast, it's easy to pick up and play, it's accessible, but then it never goes anywhere. It's a game that I can imagine picking up and playing a few rounds every few months, kinda like I do with Super Meat Boy (but for entirely different reasons). I was just hoping Hearthstone would give me a new Blizzard obsession. I wanted it to be MtG good.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/08/2014 at 11:26pm

Fair enough. I guess it hasn't been compelling enough for me to pick back up either BUT it is installed and I might play it again in the future but it's less compelling than a FTL or heading back to FEZ again.

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