Monday, April 20, 2015

A Whole New Kind of Magic

I've always loved games.  One game that always particularly appealed to me is Magic, partially because I love the art.  The problem is that it's not the kind of game that is played among my friends, and the online version isn't simple or convenient.  But then came Hearthstone.

Hearthstone is my current obsession, so I've given it a lot of thought.  It's obviously "inspired by" Magic.  Originally I thought was that it looked like a ripoff.  It seems to have more in common that it does different.  The truth is, those subtle differences change more than you'd think, and it is definitely a worthy competitor.  I suppose we shouldn't expect any less from Blizzard at this point.

Magic is centered around the physical cards, and leads to personal contact.  Hearthstone is designed around online play which allows people to fit in into their lives anytime they have fifteen minutes, and a cell phone.  Both games are complicated, so I'll just hit the high points for me.

The biggest plus for me is that they fixed Mana.  In both games, the cards you play cost Mana, and in Magic you need to hope you draw exactly the right amount.  To much, and you don't have anything to spend the Mana on.  To little, and you have no Mana to spend on your spells and creatures.  In Hearthstone you start with one, and get one more each turn until you have ten.

The biggest negative is that they have complete control of the cards.  You can't buy and sell the cards you have.  You can't even trade them, and you can only get them directly from Blizzard.  The game only exists online, and they control everything.  Now to be fair, you might say it's free to play, so you can hardly blame them for controlling the free cards.  In reality, every few months they have a few great cards that are hard to get without paying for the single player games they release.

And one last thing that's really a matter of opinion.  Magic takes itself serious, and Hearthstone does not.  Hearthstone has some silly cards, with silly art, and silly voice acting.  Magic has only the art, and it's beautiful.  Someone made a Magic that's accessible to me, and it just doesn't have the card art that drew me in.

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