Monday, September 30, 2013

Play Hearthstone Overview & First Thoughts - A Guest Post

Today I present to you an excellent guest post submitted by TheRuling from  He has been in the Hearthstone Beta now for about a month and he shares his first impressions on Blizzard's new Collectible Card Game.

Play Hearthstone Overview & Thoughts

Hearthstone Impressions & Thoughts

If I had one statement to describe Hearthstone I would say that it was made to be played on a tablet. Everything from the design choices with the size of elements on the screen to the cost structure is perfectly suited for a mobile game. If they don’t launch with an iPad version I think they are sorely mistaken in their strategy.

Now that is out of the way I will take the liberty of being long winded. Before I get into my various thoughts I’ll preface with some information. I have had Hearthstone beta for almost a month. I spent time in ‘Play’ mode without having bought packs; I have completed around 7 Arenas, and then did buy ~$16 in packs. I haven’t played enough to get a single character into level 30+ but do think I have a solid basis for opinion without having drained myself of the gameplay before it even comes out. I will try to limit comparisons with tabletop card games to the areas of game flow and design while areas relevant to the format will mostly be compared to MTG: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 which I believe is the closest ‘competitive match’ to Hearthstone.

First Experience:

Immediately upon entering the game you are forced into the tutorial which uses the Mage class hero. I would have liked to be able to pick which class you start with as some people are very attached to their ‘favorite’ class. Tweaking the tutorial slightly to integrate different class cards would not have been difficult, but since the head start you get is small anyway this isn’t a big issue. The tutorial itself is adequate for teaching the basis of how the game progresses. After the initial matches further instruction takes the form of various voiced pop ups explaining game elements and directing you to what the game wants you to try next. Here I do wish that they did a better job at directing people through the ‘My Collection’ area where you build decks and create or disenchant cards (which is a system in which you destroy unwanted cards to get ‘dust’ used to create new ones).


You get three modes of play; Play, Practice, Arena. I suggest anyone start by reading something like Cold’s Hearthstone Gold Grinding post or you are going to start at a major disadvantage in certain modes. Practice will unlock all your heroes while introducing you to their powers and basic cards. My one wish here is that there was a ‘Master’ difficulty where the AI had great decks and made better decisions so you could use Practice mode to actually practice new deck ideas. Currently even on ‘Expert’ the AI is some of the worst I’ve seen. MTG:2014 I think gets the right balance here where some of their AI scenarios really keep you on your toes so moving between the games I can see the difference.

Play is your basic player vs. player (PvP) mode where you take either the base decks or custom ones you’ve created from a selection of basic cards and ones you’ve unlocked and it randomly matches you against an opponent. You can play unranked or ranked but at the moment in beta there is really no reason at all to play ranked matches. All ‘rank’ does is count your wins (not losses) and give you a medal at a certain number of wins that doesn’t influence the game beyond matching. There are daily ‘quests’ which are little challenges to for example win 2 games as a certain class and these do not even require playing in ranked mode.

Arena is a ‘draft’ style mode where you are given specific heroes to choose from and must construct a deck only out of randomly generated card choices that it provides you. Your first Arena entry is free and
beyond that will cost you a little more than the price of a booster pack to join in either gold or cash. You play matches until you either win 9 times or lose 3 times and are given a reward based on how many wins you had including packs, gold, dust, and special ‘golden’ cards. This mode is a real treat as it best tests your ability to construct decks effectively and respond to uncommon card choices and combos. While not on par with real draft style formats in tabletop card games I will go out on a limb and say I enjoy it better than the sealed format of MTG:2014, mainly due to the range of available cards where you do not see the same things every match.


So is the card game actually fun to play? Let me explain how it is different from other games in good and bad ways. Your resource for casting cards is fixed. You do not waste room in your deck on resource cards eliminating the struggle MTG has of getting potentially too many or too little resources. In probably the largest move it has eliminated interaction totally. What I mean is there are no responses or playing of cards during your opponent’s turn. You do have ‘Secrets’ which play like Trap cards in Yi-Gi-Oh but you don’t choose the trigger it just triggers off the next action described on the card (such as when the opponent attacks). You basically just set back and watch what they do and try to think of how you’ll respond on your turn. As a plus you do not have structured ‘phases’ to your turn so you can attack or play cards in any order you like which is nice. It does take a strategic layer out of the gameplay I think though.

All of the next paragraph is subject to change especially with the first balancing patch coming soon, but right now whichever player sets the tempo in I’d say the first 3 turns is usually going to win which has left a couple of classes that excel in board control, lead mainly by the Rogue, as the top dogs. Two drop minions define the game with powerhouses like Knife Juggler, Pint-Sized Summoner, and Defias Ringleader. There is also so much drawing power for some classes (example: Starving Buzzard) compared to other card games that classes that lack it like the Warrior are often left at a card disadvantage. There are many cards that are under cost for what they do as well. This isn’t simply due to rarity either as many of the legendary cards (the top rarity) are fairly useless flavor cards.

The elephant in the room is obviously whether the game is ‘play to win’ or not. They have given you a method of obtaining any card you want through the disenchant system but do not be fooled as it will take forever to assemble a range of fun decks to try like this. If you pour all of your resources into one class you can get a wide array to choose from fairly quickly but at the cost of gimping every other class for a very long time which not only isn’t very fun but will bite you with the hero class specific daily quests. I would not however call it completely pay to win as some classes perform nicely with few rare cards and there is Arena mode which if you are good enough can be completed on end with little to no cash investment. Paying the money out buys you mostly time and variety of play. This can be a problem itself though…

Final Thoughts:

The problem I am experiencing with Hearthstone and from listening many seem to be is that there isn’t enough to keep the average person signed into the game. Blizzard needs that casual person as they will be the ones periodically paying little micro transactions and if they aren’t logging in to the game they aren’t being tempted into paying. My first suggestion was achievements. I was very surprised that they did not have a loaded and fully functioning achievement system yet. They are easy to implement and they know
from WoW and other games that people go crazy for completing as many achievements as possible. This is a perfect way to tease someone into the transactions. Example, you need to play in say 5 Arenas and just need one more and have no gold you are very likely to just pay $2 to get in instant gratification style. As I mentioned at the top getting this game onto tablets ASAP must be a priority as the stop and go simplicity and shorter matches are perfectly niche for that market.

To keep someone that is into card games and to provide that extra something for others I hope that expansion sets bring varied gameplay mechanics and new modes would set it above the competition. People have mentioned easy tournament interfaces as a possibility for a new mode and I like this idea.
If you are interested in anything else I have to say about Hearthstone, MTG: 2014, or anything in general follow me on Twitter @Formerruling


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Friday, September 27, 2013

Gifts For Gamers - Warcraft Trivial Pursuit

GIFTS FOR GAMERS - A column at Cold's Gold Factory that focuses on bringing you some of the coolest gifts for gamers of all types. Remember to check back here for ideas for Gamer Birthday Gifts, Stocking Stuffers for Gamers, and Gamer Christmas Ideas.

Trivial Pursuit Board Game Warcraft CE
World of Warcraft Trivial Pursuit

Gifts For Gamers - Warcraft Trivial Pursuit

WOW Trivial Pursuit Board Game ContentsWoW!  The demand for the newly released Official World of Warcraft Collector's Edition of Trivial Pursuit has been amazing!  Having only been available for a couple of days, the Warcraft Trivial Pursuit has already moved into the #1 selling board game slot on Amazon!  I've always been a fan of Trivial Pursuit games and the Warcraft release would make a great gift for any Warcraft fan, something both current and past players can enjoy.

Current and past World of Warcraft players can test their knowledge of the World of Warcraft universe with this Warcraft Collector's Edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Warcraft Trivial Pursuit Game Board
The game includes 600 Trivial Pursuit questions divided into the following categories:

  1. Geography (Locations within the game)
  2. Player Characters
  3. Lore
  4. Loot (Items within the Warcraft game)
  5. Enemies
  6. Encounters

The game even includes custom baby Murloc counters for moving around the board.  The Warcraft version of Trivial Pursuit will make a great gift for any Warcraft fans and will provide countless hours of replay value.

Order Your Copy Of Warcraft Trivial Pursuit Today!


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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hearthstone Starter Mage Deck | Basic Cards Only Mage Deck

Hearthstone Basic Mage Aggro Deck -
Basic Cards Only Mage Deck

Since I've been playing in the Hearthstone Beta since the release, I've been trying to share some of the tips and tricks I've learned for Hearthstone.  I understand a lot of you do not have Hearthstone Beta keys yet and this information will be of good use to you once you get into the Hearthstone Beta or the game goes into Open-Beta (which may be sooner than we thought).

In the first article I've written about Grinding For Gold & Boosters In Hearthstone, I had mentioned:

If you want to Grind Gold in Play Mode: 

I recommend building a speed deck.  Pick one of the faster decks that can bring out a quick force of minions and then support those minions with your own creature control, direct damage, and removal spells to clear the way for your minions to attack quickly.  In my opinion the 3 fastest decks for this strategy are Mage, Rogue, & Hunter.  All 3 have direct damage dealing Class Abilities and Class Spells that include plenty of creature control options.  You should build a deck with small cheap creatures, lots of removal, and some direct damage spells.

In the comments of that post, I was asked "what would you include in a speed deck for Mage, Rogue, & Hunter?"  I promised a few sample deck builds for Hearthstone beginner decks as examples of what I was recommending be used for grinding matches quickly.  This post is the first of 3 example decks made completely from Basic Hearthstone Cards only.  The Basic Cards are unlocked by leveling the decks, which you advance in experience regardless of win or loss record, so everyone has easy access to unlock these cards.  The Mage deck is forced on you in the tutorial, so you will already have many of the Mage Basic Cards unlocked, which makes it the easiest transition from the tutorial to constructed play.

Basic Mage Deck Strategy

The goal with this Basic Cards Only Constructed Mage Deck is pure aggression.  In the earlier article I recommended a quick deck that would turn over matches quickly, a deck that would either win or lose quickly.  If you are grinding for gold, then you want quick matches to increase your games played per hour.  Long lasting games that you lose are crippling to your gold per hour grinding earning potential, and long lasting games that you do win aren't worth the time required.  You are better off getting more matches in.  More matches means more chances to win.

Hearthstone Starter Deck Build for Mage Deck
Mana Curve of This Basic Mage Deck
This deck thrives on efficient minions, direct damage, and removal spells.  You goal is to kill the opponent as quickly as possible, mainly with your minions.  You use the direct damage and removal spells to clear the way for your minions to keep attacking.  Creatures with taunt should be your prime targets for removal spells.  This deck is purely offensive, with removal to keep the offense pushing forward.  Direct damage can be used to clear threats and taunters or be turned directly against the opponent to finish them off.  The Mage's ability to shoot anything for 1 point of damage is very helpful in clearing threats, since the 1 point can be coupled with another spell that deals damage.  The constant ability to do an additional point of damage per turn late game can also be all you need to finish off an opponent that barely survives your swarm.

Basic Cards Only Hearthstone Mage Deck List:

Play Hearthstone Beginner's Mage Deck Build
Basic Only Mage Aggro Deck

Make sure to use your Elven Archers intelligently.  I've seen way too many players cast a first turn Elven Archer and shoot me for 1 damage.  That's just horrible play.  Hold onto your Elven Archer and cast him when you can use the 1 point of damage to kill another minion.  That way you've not only added a threat onto the battlefield, but you've also removed one of your opponent's threats.

Reckless Rocketeer is a great mid to late game finisher.  The Reckless Rocketeer is also what I call a "tank buster".  The Rocketeer can be summoned and then it's Charge ability allows you to ram a minion with taunt to clear the way for your other minions to continue with the beatdown.  I love blasting Lord of the Arena and other big taunters with a Reckless Rocketeer to clear the way for my minions to keep up the full press.

There is only a single Flamestrike in this Mage Deck because you will usually have the match close to over by the time you could play it and you definately don't want to get stuck with two in your hand.  I did include 1 because it can be such a game changer in the later-mid game and it will grant you victories.  The primary goal is to never make it that late into the game, thus only 1 is needed.

Getting down a few early creatures (Murloc Tidehunter & Razorfen Hunter are great for this) and then buffing them up with a Raid Leader can be overwhelming for an opponent lacking speed or early creature removal.

Remember, when you only have access to the Basic Cards, you aren't going to be as competitive until you can unlock some of the booster packs and get better cards.  So get your grind on and get to earning gold and unlocking those Hearthstone booster packs.

Happy Hearthstone Grinding!

You are welcome to share this post, but please link back to the original article here at Cold's Gold Factory.

Once you unlock some more Expert level cards, you should try out my Priest Card Draw Deck.

Hearthstone- Guide To Earning More XP per Game


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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hearthstone Beta Tips For Efficient Gold Grinding

Hearthstone Beta Gold Grinding

Grinding For Gold In Hearthstone

Having been given one of the first rounds of Hearthstone Beta Keys because of my Warcraft community influence as a WoW podcast host on The Eviscerated Gaming Podcast, I've had a lot of time to dig into Blizzards upcoming CCG, Hearthstone.  In this post on Grinding Gold In Hearthstone, I will share some of the tips and tricks I have discovered while being a Hearthstone Beta Tester.

Getting Gold In Hearthstone

Gold is the currency that can be earned in game from completing daily quests, completing achievements, and winning matches against random opponents.  You can then spend the gold you've earned on either booster packs (for 100 gold each) or on Arena Entries (150 gold each).  I understand that the goal for many new players will be to grind as much gold as possible in Hearthstone to unlock booster packs without having to spend money on the game.  That's why I am writing this guide on earning gold in Hearthstone.

Sources of Gold in Hearthstone:

  1. Daily Quests - Mosts award 40-60 gold, but 1 awards 100 gold.
  2. Completion Rewards - Completing certain objectives and achievements can award gold.
  3. Winning Matches - Beating other players in Play mode or Arena matches awards 5 gold per 5 wins 10 gold for every 3 wins.
Earn Hearthstone Gold From Daily Quests

You can have up to a total of 3 active daily quests in your quest log.  You must complete one to make room for a new quest as 3 is the maximum number of quests you can have active at one time.  Here is a table with each quest and their respective gold rewards:

Druid VictoryWin 2 Games with a Druid40 Gold
Hunter VictoryWin 2 Games with a Hunter40 Gold
Mage VictoryWin 2 Games with a Mage40 Gold
Paladin VictoryWin 2 Games with a Paladin40 Gold
Priest VictoryWin 2 Games with a Priest40 Gold
Rogue VictoryWin 2 Games with a Rogue40 Gold
Shaman VictoryWin 2 Games with a Shaman40 Gold
Warlock VictoryWin 2 Games with a Warlock40 Gold
Warrior VictoryWin 2 Games with a Warrior40 Gold
Druid DominanceWin 5 Games with a Druid60 Gold
Hunter DominanceWin 5 Games with a Hunter60 Gold
Mage DominanceWin 5 Games with a Mage60 Gold
Paladin DominanceWin 5 Games with a Paladin60 Gold
Priest DominanceWin 5 Games with a Priest60 Gold
Rogue DominanceWin 5 Games with a Rogue60 Gold
Shaman DominanceWin 5 Games with a Shaman60 Gold
Warlock DominanceWin 5 Games with a Warlock60 Gold
Warrior DominanceWin 5 Games with a Warrior60 Gold
Destroy Them All!Destroy 40 Minions40 Gold
Only the MightyPlay 20 Minions that cost 5 or more40 Gold
The Meek shall InheritPlay 40 Minions that cost 2 or less40 Gold
Spell MasterPlay 40 Spells40 Gold
Beat DownDeal 100 damage to enemy heroes40 Gold
Total DominanceWin 7 games in any mode100 Gold
3 Victories!Win 3 Games with any Class40 Gold

Earning Hearthstone Gold & Packs From Completion Awards

Collect All Basic CardsGet Every Hero to Level 10100 Gold
Crushed Them AllBeat Every AI Hero At Expert Level100 Gold
Chicken Dinner100 Wins In Any Mode300 Gold
Big Winner1000 Wins In Any Mode300 Gold
First BloodPlay Once in Play Mode1 Pack
Enter The ArenaFirst Arena Entry Is Free1 Pack+
Level UpGet a Class to Level 101 Pack

Winning Matches For Gold In Hearthstone

In the Hearthstone Closed Beta you earn 5 gold for every 5 10 gold for every 3 matches you win against randomly paired opponents.  These awards are cumulative along with the daily quests so, let's say your Daily Quest is to win two games as the druid, those 2 wins will also count towards your next 5 win 5 gold 10 gold for 3 wins payout.

One thing to be aware of is that the 5 gold for 5 wins  - 10 gold for 3 wins -only counts if you are playing random opponents.  

NOTE:  Since the major Hearthstone Patch & Wipe, the gold earned from Play Mode wins has thankfully been increased to 10 gold per 3 wins.  This makes grinding for gold in Hearthstone much easier and greatly speeds up the rate at which you can earn gold as a F2P player.

You cannot earn gold or complete quests when playing against your friends; the matches must be against random opponents.

Hearthstone Costume Jewelry Bracelet Keychain
Glow in the Dark Hearthstone Bracelets / Keychains

Gold Farming Strategy & Tips for Beginners

The first things you should focus on as a new Hearthstone player are:

  1. Get your Mage Deck to Level 10 - Earn 1 Booster Pack
  2. Unlock all other Class Decks (By beating each of them in Practice Mode) - Earn 100 gold
  3. Get all Class Decks to Level 10 - Earn 100 gold
  4. Defeat each Deck once in Expert AI Mode - Earn 100 gold
  5. Grind your daily quests - Earn 40 gold per day
  6. Use MyPoints Rewards For Free Card Packs
I would strongly advise that you do not play ranked matches until you have unlocked all decks, have all of those decks' basic cards unlocked, and have beaten every AI class on Expert Mode.  The way the ranking system works, you will rank up as you win matches, so unlocking all of the cards first against either the AI or in unranked PvP matches will be the best option.  This way you have all of your basic cards unlocked and can build better custom decks before starting to earn wins and rank up, which will lead you to face tougher opponents.  This will also help you each day on your daily quests because you will be playing with every class deck.  You don't want to pick your favorite deck, get a bunch of ranked wins, and then get stuck playing against high ranked opponents with your weak alternate class decks that don't have cards unlocked on the days those daily quests come up.  Trust me!  Unlock all decks and those decks' cards before playing ranked matches and advancing in rank.

Then once you have the above objectives completed:
  1. Play 1 ranked match - Earn 1 Booster Pack
  2. Play 1 Arena Match - Earn 1 Booster Pack plus extra Gold, Dust, and possible Golden Cards depending on how well you do.  The first Arena Entry is free, so that is why you get at least 1 free booster from trying out the Arena Mode.

Those are the easy ways to earn gold and free Hearthstone booster packs.  From there on you will be working towards your 100 Wins to get 300 gold and then 1000 total Wins to earn another 300 gold.  To get those wins you have 2 choices:  Play Arena, or Grind Gold against random PvP opponents.  The good thing is that the wins in Arena also count towards your Daily Quests, 5 gold for 5 Wins, and Achievements.

If you want to Grind Gold in Play Mode

I recommend building a speed deck.  Pick one of the faster decks that can bring out a quick force of minions and then support those minions with your own creature control, direct damage, and removal spells to clear the way for your minions to attack quickly.  In my opinion the 3 fastest decks for this strategy are Mage, Rogue, & Hunter.  All 3 have direct damage dealing Class Abilities and Class Spells that include plenty of creature control options.  You should build a deck with small cheap creatures, lots of removal, and some direct damage spells.

Here as an example: Hearthstone Mage Deck w Basic Cards Only.

The goal is to either win or lose quickly, since the more matches you play the more chances you have of increasing your potential gold per hour.  Win fast or lose fast.  If you win, then great.  If not, move on to the next match as quickly as possible.  If your goal is to grind gold for free booster packs, then you want speed wins and quick losses.  You do not want to be playing a deck that thrives in the mid to late game and takes a long time to determine the match's outcome.  If you are grinding for gold, you are much better off playing a speed deck and turning over opponents quickly.

You can play in Ranked or Unranked matches, so Unranked is the better choice because you when you rank up you cannot descend in rank.  As you get higher in rank, you will face tougher opponents.

If you want to Play Arena Mode For Gold & Packs:

I really enjoy Arena Mode.  Arena Mode costs 150 gold (or $1.99) to enter, but what you can win is determined by how well you perform with your deck.

When you play Arena Mode you build your deck from randomly selected cards.  You are given 3 card options and get to pick 1 that will go directly into your deck.  You repeat this selection process 30 times to build your 30 card deck.  You then duel random opponents until you get to 3 losses.

Every Arena Entry will award you with 1 Booster Pack and then dust, gold, and golden cards based on your final record.  Your break even is around 5 wins (I've hit in 4 wins as well) per Arena Entry if you are using the 150 gold entry fee.  Since you get a Booster Pack which costs 100 gold, you only need to make up 50 gold in your bonus prizes in order to break even.  If you can win over 5 matches you will earn slightly more gold and dust, but the real goal should be to hit 7 or more wins each time you play Arena Mode.  At 7 wins the awards get much better and you can start to earn back your entire 150 gold entry fee in addition to the booster pack, dust, and golden cards.  For example, I had an 8-3 record and was awarded: a Booster Pack, 55 Dust, a Golden "Flare" Hunter card, and 170 gold!  So I made a profit on that round of the Arena.

Unlocking all of the other decks and playing them to unlock all of the decks' cards is great training for learning the other classes and their decks, because you will be using various classes on the arena because you have to choose from a random set of 3 classes each time you play in Arena Mode.

Arena mode is a bit of a gamble with its extra 50 gold entry fee, but once you get the hang of the game it can be very rewarding.  Arena Mode requires a different set of skills, since you are building your decks from random cards, but it is also a lot of fun too.  And once you get good at Arena, you have the chance to keep playing for free if you can get to 7 or 8 wins each time and recoup your entry fee as well as your booster pack and other rewards.  Good luck in there!

Other Tips For Playing Hearthstone Efficiently

  1. Don't Play Ranked Matches Early On - Unlock all basic cards first.
  2. Daily Quests - Always complete them each day.
  3. When Gold Grinding For Wins - Always use a speed deck.  Fast wins & losses are better than drawn out wins or losses.
  4. Conceding Is Good - If you've lost, Concede.  Conceding moves you to a new opponenets faster and increases your potential gold per hour earnings.
  5. Do Not Disenchant & Craft Cards If You Plan To Buy Packs - Wait until you have bought your packs before doing any crafting.  The worst thing you can do is waste a bunch of dust to craft a card and then find it in a booster pack you open.
  6. Playing Ranked Matches Is Optional - You can still earn gold for wins and complete daily quests for gold while playing in Unranked Mode.
NOTE:  Crushed Them All quest is currently bugged and will sometimes not be awarded once you beat all of the AI decks on expert mode.  This happened to me post-wipe, but all you need to do is go back through and beat them all over again until you get credit for the quest (and the wins that didn't get counted the first time).  Annoying, but it's worth doubling back through the game just to get the pack and you can use a second deck and unlock extra basic cards while you complete the Crushed Them All Achievement.

I hope this Starter's Guide For Grinding Gold In Hearthstone is a big help to you.  Enjoy your time in Hearthstone and look out.  I'll be coming for you!

Be sure to also read: Hearthstone: How To Earn More Experience Per Match


Update:  Post-Patch & Wipe, I've been having a rather easy time farming gold and winning ranked matches using my current Top Hearthstone Deck: Priest Card Draw Control.

I've also started a series on Common Mistakes Hearthstone Players Make.

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