GREAT NEWS, everyone: Hearthstone is now available on iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPoop)!
While many of us are rolling our eyes at the fact that this is a soft launch in test markets and the Android app is still months away, those who happen to have a Crapple device can now enjoy Hearthstone on the can.. See what I did there? We are going to share how you can join in on the action while also looking at some upcoming features, tips and tricks, and other goodies.
First and foremost, there are two ways you can get the Hearthstone app on your iPhone and iPad. The easy way is to live in Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. The hard way is moving there just to get your Hearthstone fix wherever you go.
No worries – there is a third way to get Hearthstone on your iPoop device!
What you want to do is switch your Apple App Store region to Canada and trick your device into thinking you are there. I’m not sure if you have to even have to change your address but this is what I tested successfully:
- Go into Settings then iTunes / App Store and tap your Apple ID.
- Click View Apple ID and then change your region to Canada.
- Agree to the terms then edit your profile.
- Choose “none” for payment.
- Copy and paste a Canada address from a public listing (i.e. apartment listings).
- Choose “none” for payment.
- Open up the App Store and download Hearthstone.
- Launch Hearthstone and play a match or two – ENJOY!
- Receive your FREE “expert pack” after playing one match.
After you test that Hearthstone has successfully installed, you can revert back to your original settings. The trickiest part is finding an address that is publicly listed. I recommend using something buried in the search engine results so we’re not all living in the same place (LOL). Apartment listings, retail stores, and bank addresses are all public domain so it should not take long to find. The specific steps thereof may vary if you have not upgraded to iOS 7.x yet but it is very easy to figure this out.
There are two big reasons why the iOS test launch of the Hearthstone app are huge news:
- This means the bigger updates are right around the corner.
- Deckbuilding games lend themselves well to mobile devices.
I know lots of you geeks and gamers out there have been holding out for Hearthstone to come out on their preferred mobile devices. Some are just waiting for Blizzard to polish the game further and balance everything out. Blizzard opted to do a rather soft launch for Hearthstone but I reckon now may be the best time to jump in, unless you rather wait a two or three months for the Android app.
If you are hesitant about trying out Hearthstone, perhaps some thoughts from our own Stan Faryna may provide some perspective for TCG/CCG newbies:
Assuming the average fight takes 10 minutes…
If you win on average one out of 20 times, that’s 3.3 hours to get one win. And not necessarily any gold in that time with the exception of possible quests and level-ups.
Where’s the “good” game play for the free player? If you win on average one out of six times, that’s one hour to get to a win. You are unlikely to make gold to buy a pack of cards (or do the arena) with two or three hours of play.Where’s the “good” game play for the casual player?What kind of game play should a free player expect?What kind of game play should a casual player expect?
Hearthstone is without a doubt the TCG (Tradeable Card Game) for non-TCG/CCG players. Is there a pay-to-win element? Sure but what free-to-play game doesn’t have that (the answer is NONE)? Are there balancing issues? Absolutely but online games are almost always works in progress. A look at the development road map may help you appreciate just how much Blizzard is committed to casual and hardcore gamers alike.
Let’s look at a few key points here. I want to sell you on Hearthstone so we can have Geeky Antics / HorsePLAY! game nights. Please keep an open mind…
Blizzard Has Mastered Mass Appeal
Between the familiarity of their intellectual property, the mythos and universe they have weaved for over two decades, and their accessible (not watered-down) game mechanics, Blizzard has mastered creating mass appeal for their properties. Virtually everyone has heard of Blizzard, even if they’re not a gamer.. Or they’ve at least heard of World of Warcraft.. Remember that game?
Hearthstone is already becoming quite pervasive. Even before we lucky gamers got into the closed beta, the game was teased in World of Warcraft. That was back in 2012 and Hearthstone is popping up in more and more conversations.
What’s amazing is how people that would otherwise make fun of deckbuilding games or actively avoid them are enjoying Hearthstone. For some, it’s the lore and mythos behind the game but, for everyone, it’s the balance and relative ease that makes Hearthstone appealing.
Blizzard has had a fantastic track record bringing niche genres into the forefront and pioneering fresh video game concepts. Starcraft and Warcraft made RTS games more mainstream than ever, paving the way for eSports. Diablo made hack-and-slash lootfests a thing. World of Warcraft got everyone on the MMO bandwagon and introduced billions of gamers to the Warcraft universe. Now, Hearthstone is bringing TCGs to a much wider audience than Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic The Gathering combined. Let’s not forget Heroes Of The Storm, which is positioned to make the MOBA/ARTS genre even more of a mainstream activity.
You Don’t Have To Do PvP
Expert Mode bot battles should be coming back. During the Hearthstone beta, you could battle more difficult bots for better rewards. For some reason, Blizzard gave this feature the axe but there is still Practice mode if you really hate losing or just don’t like PvP. I get it: no one likes to lose all the time.
Adventure Mode will change things up quite a bit by providing a story-driven single-player experience. According to the Gamepedia unofficial Hearthstone development wiki, the first installment/episode is set to follow the iOS app release. Assuming the test launch does not count, we should be about six weeks away from this, likely sooner.
My recommendation is that any new player avoid any PvP matchmaking and stick to friendly duels with friends and Practice mode. You want to at least grasp the core mechanics and unlock the basic cards for your heroes of choice before diving into more competitive play. Doing otherwise will lead to unfair expectations and quick judgements.
There are plenty of players out there that do strategy streams, podcasts, and videos. I am also more than happy to coach new players. Add me – my BattleTag is Yogizilla#1722. Hearthstone is definitely meant to be enjoyed with friends. The community as a whole is friendly so it’s a great place to connect with new geeks!
Learn the basics and the game suddenly becomes more fun.. And you lose less, regardless of the cards.
If you jump straight into human matches, you’re just asking for trouble. The forced tutorial does a good job of introducing the board layout and basics but a little practice makes PvP much more fun. You want to at least unlock most of the heroes and core decks before you can find your sweet spot and WIN!
Wait.. Is Hearthstone A Pay-To-Win Game?!
Hellz to da NO!
Certainly, the pay-to-win element is there. I have to reiterate that this is just how free-to-play has to be. The 20% or so will always make it possible for the rest of us to play for free or on the cheap. Let’s not forget that video games have business interest and have to make money like everyone else. It’s only when the pursuit of financial interest over-powers player skill and fun that I would say a game is truly pay-to-win.
We’ll be highlighting EP17 of HorsePLAY! LIVE here on Geeky Antics to dig deeper into the issues of pay-to-win, pesky paywalls, and weak core mechanics. For now, suffice to say that Blizzard has balanced Hearthstone quite well. They’ve made it so that skill and fun are still the focus, though paying with time and/or money still give you an edge.
I would say that, compared to other deckbuilding games, Hearthstone has the most diverse meta. I’ve seen tons of different types of decks and combos. More importantly, every player has a fighting chance if they are patient and learn the strategies behind it all.
Now, there is the matter of legendary cards. In some deckbuilding games, expensive and uber-rare cards are almost auto-wins and insta-adds for any deck. I don’t find that is the case in Hearthstone, though they help without a doubt.
I have not spent any real money on Hearthstone (yet) and I have beaten plenty of uber decks. I slacked quite a bit during the beta and it’s only now that Season 1 started that I am really doing my time – in a good way! In my case, I am familiar with the game mechanics of deckbuilding games as a whole so that helps but I have brought new players into Hearthstone and they picked up the game rather quickly. That proves that it’s not about the cards you own or even how much time you put in.
To me, any game that requires too much investment of time or money is not fun. You should be able to pick up a game and enjoy it right off the bat. If it’s a competitive game, time spent mastering the game should be rewarded but new players should also have the opportunity to compete in a fair and balanced environment.
Arena Gives You Bang For Your Buck
I totally recommend this game to anyone curious about what makes a deckbuilding game fun. I will say that it is best to stick to Practice and friendly matches. Once you unlock the basic cards (one per hero level for a total of 10 unlocks), your deckbuilding options really open up and you’ll be able to try out new strategies.
I would say after at least a week or 12 hours of solid gameplay, you may want to try out Arena Mode. If you can win at least three matches, you’ll usually get a better deal than buying just one so-called “expert pack”. The buy-in for Arena is currently 150 gold whereas a card pack costs 100 gold, both around or under $2 USD. To put this into perspective, you can earn around 300 gold daily in a reasonable amount of time without it feeling like a total grind.
Arena is essentially a survival mode where you duel random players until you lose three times. You can have these matches at your leisure and retire whenever. Each run can last up to a maximum of ten wins, as you can see by the keys in the image above. Realistically, you can expect to win two matches at most when you are just starting off. To date, I have only won about four matches at most on Arena and I am a fairly competent player.
Overall, I think Hearthstone is great right now and will only get better. This is one of those games I want to play with my friends and our Geeky Antics community. I have no reservations recommending this game but I do hope this mini guide helps you get started the right way. Give it a try and look us up. We’d love to play with you!