With an expansion out this week and a friend new to the game, I have been rediscovering Hearthstone and finding there is a whole lot more to it than before.
Being a massive World of Warcraft fan naturally Hearthstone piqued my interest from the beginning. Those initial arena runs, matches against mates and nice little forays into ranked were a ton of fun. Though not the best player to slap down a card I found it damn enjoyable, despite the occasional soul crushing loss and RNG slap in the face.
Over the years it had become a pleasant game to dip into from time to time, particularly with the addition of every new expansion. However there was a drop off point.
Some time has passed
The last expansion that sucked me in was the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. With a playful mobster vibe and plenty of Gnomish and Goblin shenanigans it was my kind of expansion .
After that other games came and wrestled me away, including Blizz’s very own Overwatch. Since then Journey to Un’Goro and Knights of the Frozen Throne have dropped. Not only that but Kobolds and Catacombs has come out this week.
When Blizzcon came around and the opening ceremony showed off this new expansion I couldn’t help but fire up the game again. Luckily at the same time a mate from work needed a new game for her phone. A day later and we are duelling at lunch, so yeah it was a good suggestion.
She is having a blast discovering the game and making rad decks. For myself, it’s brilliant trying cool new cards and having a mate to duel. In addition to the wonderful arena, competitive and tavern brawl gameplay.
Blizzard also quickly got me back in the swing of things with the Returning player experience. Basically it serves as a mini tutorial to get you back up and running, plus chucks a few classic card packs your way. It was a great re-introduction but also got me hankering for adventures. A while ago they were paid for, but lo and behold Icecrown was open to all!
Wow, what a neat feature!
Creeping inside Icecrown Citadel you are first faced with Lord Marrowgar. The Bonestorm merchant himself was damn tough, and boy did he kick my arse. There is no denying it, the dude was hard as nails. This is where I found one of the coolest features of the game, and how well it works with the community.
Fresh from defeat obviously the next step was to look up some guides and decks. Flicking up the deck builder the laborious card dragging process began. Though noticeably there was a string of characters next to each deck in the guide. Turns out all you have to do is copy that to your clipboard then go into your collection and it will endeavour to assemble that deck. This blew my mind. One simple move and you have a brand new deck, well if you have all the cards. If you don’t it will show the blank spots and suggest alternatives.
It captivated me so much I actually tweeted Bob Fitch to see how it was done. Bob is Engineering Director at Blizzard and one of the many talented folks making Hearthstone a reality.
The card IDs are concatenated and represented as a text string by turning the hash into ASCII. The client accesses the clipboard and reverses the array encoding to get the IDs back out. It then loops through the IDs and inserts those into a new deck.
— Bob Fitch (@BlizzardFitch) December 2, 2017
There you go, that’s the explanation from the man himself. Pretty clever and easily one of the coolest features in such a polished game. Also, what a neat way to incentive easy deck sharing and experimentation in the community.
This new technique and plenty of playing around with decks strengthened my crusade in the Citadel. In fact every boss was slain on the way to Arthas himself. The head honcho is currently undefeated but the Lich King will fall, mark my words! Crucially, playing familiar faces like Sindragosa and Professor Putricide was not only a lovely blast of nostalgia but a refreshing way to learn new tactics.
Icecrown has armed myself with new tactical knowledge, a deck copying technique and a decent selection of new cards.
Playing with a mate who has just nabbed the game has been fantastic and refreshing. Talking over different cards that are new to both of us as well as sneaking in a cheeky match at work remind you just how great card games are with friends.
Rediscovering Hearthstone has shown me that this game has so much more to offer. Aside from proving you are the best in competitive or arena, you can have a thrilling solo adventure or just have a laugh with a friend. Boy am I glad I fired up this game again and can’t wait to really dig into the new expansion.
Having fun with Hearthstone? Have you also rediscovered a game and found so much more than you found originally? Share your thoughts below.