Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Windows, OS X
Having played collectible card games for two decades, the challenge and fun no longer lies in finding formidable opponents, rather it’s in finding a game that builds on years of strategy and mechanics while throwing in a few surprises. Blizzard’s digital collectible card game does little to revolutionize the genre’s mechanics, but it may be the best example to date of how to do collectible card games online. Blizzard smartly stole much of what they learned from Cryptozoic’s successful World of Warcraft-licensed trading card game, and then added their infamous balance between WoW races—represented here by hero-specific decks. Starter decks and clear-cut tutorials guide newcomers, while close to 400 cards offer experienced players opportunities to create custom decks. The free-to-play model works well, allowing gamers to earn new cards through challenges and wins—though you may also squelch the insatiable allure of opening new packs by throwing money at your computer. From the sound effects and voice characterization, to the art and interactive environments (which give you something to do during your opponent’s turn), the experience is a great substitute for Mountain Dew-fueled tournaments in the back room of your local comic store.