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Trading Card Games

Hands-on with Hearthstone for iPad

Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
While I was part of the early beta crowd for Hearthstone last year, I haven't played it in quite some time. It wasn't because I became disenfranchised with the game but rather because I felt it truly belonged on a tablet -- and playing it on a PC just felt wrong somehow. So I've been waiting for Hearthstone to finally make the leap to the iPad, and when that happened yesterday, I was all over it like a murloc swarm on a noobie.

In many ways, Hearthstone is absolutely tailor-fit for mobile gaming. It requires minimal manipulation; poking, holding, and the occasional swipe is about as complex as the physical mechanics get. It's a turn-based thinker's game that gives you ample time to plot your strategy and get a few other things done between moves. On an iPad, that's pretty easy; I would read a book while my opponent took his/her/its turn.

The game actually kept me up past my bedtime because of the "just one more match" temptation, which tells me that the magic that fueled my interest in this game in beta is roaring more now than ever. But how does it actually handle on Apple's devices?

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Hearthstone comes to iPad

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Launches, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
After a soft launch in a few countries, Hearthstone is now available to iPad owners worldwide.

Blizzard announced today that Hearthstone is on the app store as an alternative to the PC version. The title is available on iPads 2 and newer as well as the iPad minis. New and returning players will be treated to a free card pack as part of this release.

Hearthstone has a funny trailer for the Apple release, which you can watch after the jump.

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Jukebox Heroes: Talking to HEX Composer Michael Shapiro

Fantasy, Interviews, Trading Card Games, Jukebox Heroes, Music, HEX

HEX
Massively: On today's column we have the composer of the upcoming TCG MMO, HEX. Now that's a lot of capital letters all in a row, so take a deep breath, get over it, and please welcome composer Michael Gordon Shapiro. Mike, can you give us a bit of your background in music?

Michael Gordon Shapiro: When I started my career I was only interested in film music. Game audio was just starting to emerge from the low-tech era, and there was a kind of stigma associated with it, much as there used to be with television music. As fate would have it, I was offered an in-house composer position at a game studio and was pleasantly surprised to find myself recording the same kind of live orchestral music that I loved doing for film. I also came to appreciate the high artistic effort going into both console and PC game scores.

So from that point, the stigma dissolved in my mind and my artistic palette widened. Today I love doing both film and game music, for both overlapping and complementary reasons.

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PAX East 2014: Hearthstone reveals Naxxramas single-player adventure

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
Hearthstone is planning to revisit one of Azeroth's most notorious locations in the card game's first single-player adventure: Curse of Naxxramas.

Blizzard announced at PAX East that a new single-player mode for the game will be coming "soon" starting with a romp through the necropolis of Naxxramas. In it, players will journey through five wings of a dungeon, accumulate new cards, and fight bosses with their own unique abilities. Thirty new cards and nine class challenges will come with the adventure as well as a Naxxramas-themed game board.

Once it's released, Curse of Naxxramas will slowly unlock its wings over the course of five weeks. The first wing will be free, with the remaining four requiring purchase. It will release on all platforms simultaneously.

Massively's on the ground in Boston during the weekend of April 11th to 13th, bringing you all the best news from PAX East 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about WildStar, Landmark, or any MMO in between, we aim to have it covered!

Pox Nora transferred from SOE to original developers

MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games

Pox Nora
Desert Owl Games has announced it has taken control of Pox Nora from Sony Online Entertainment, a transition that's been months in the planning.

"It's unprecedented to have a big game studio return a title to the original creators. Sony Online Entertainment could have easily gone the more common route: stopped producing content and letting Pox Nora fade away. Instead, they chose to do what is best for the players! It's amazing, and we are so excited to continue to support such a great game," said Art Griffith, CEO of Desert Owl Games.

Pox Nora is a free-to-play, collectible digital miniatures game that was first launched in 2006 but was officially transferred to its new owner last month. It was developed by many of the same people who make up Desert Owl Games today, including the three founding members of the new indie studio.

Be sure to visit this page for more information on transferring your existing SOE account, and keep an eye on the Desert Owl Games forums for the latest updates.

[Source: SOE press release]

Jukebox Heroes: Hearthstone's soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
A new Blizzard game is a reason for soundtrack lovers everywhere to celebrate because if there's one thing this studio does well (other than take goofy races very seriously), it's creating incredible scores for its games. Even though Hearthstone is a smaller title with a smaller score, I welcomed it nevertheless.

Composers Peter McConnell, Jason Hayes, and Eric Dodds clearly had a lot of fun creating the whimsical, relaxing score for this game, and I must say that the music is perfectly ideal for the material. It hearkens back to the many tavern themes from World of Warcraft without being a complete copycat.

You can actually download the entire soundtrack for free on the Hearthstone official site, but before you do that, why not listen to my favorite picks from the score?

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Ten things to do in Free Realms before it's gone

Fantasy, Screenshots, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Virtual Worlds, Free Realms, Family, Guides, Sunsets

Free Realms
Free Realms is set to close down at the end of this month, and despite the fact that the game is aimed toward players much younger than I am, I'm going to miss it.

When the game first launched, my two oldest daughters and I played religiously. It was an easy way for us to interact and play together when I was away, and they spent a sizable chunk of their allowances on pets, mounts, and housing items over the years.

So I've decided to honor Free Realms with this article detailing a few things you can do in the game before it's gone forever.

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Hearthstone launches, offers players a way to earn a special World of Warcraft mount

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Promotions, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
Whoa, this sneaked up on us unexpectedly! Blizzard abruptly announced today that Hearthstone has officially launched and updated to the new 1.0.0.4944 patch.

The free-to-play card game has been widely available for some time now, but now it's all there for keeps. Today's patch includes golden hero and special card backing visuals as rewards for ranked play. Other changes include balance tweaks, a reconnect feature, access to multiple regions, and a whole lotta bug fixes.

Players can also earn a Hearthstone mount for World of Warcraft by winning three games in play or arena mode.

Not So Massively: D3's loot revamp, PoE's mini-expansion, and DayZ's cooking skill

Betas, Trailers, New Titles, Patches, War, Trading Card Games, Consoles, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA

NSM
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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Hearthstone and Destiny expected to show Activision the money

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Trading Card Games, MMOFPS, Destiny, MMORPG, Hearthstone

After reporting earnings that beat expectations for last year, analysts are expecting Activision to have an even better 2014 monetarily thanks to Hearthstone and Destiny. Although Blizzard's Hearthstone hasn't released yet, players have been able to purchase card packs in beta, and while Bungie's Destiny isn't even in beta, it's already doing well with preorders. The company's eggs aren't in any one basket, either; add in all the other games and it looks to be a banner year. Doug Creuts, an analyst at Cowen & Company, noted to investors:
"We believe Activision Blizzard is the best-managed company in the video game sector. We also believe that Blizzard is the single best, most consistent content-creation asset in our coverage universe. We also expect current cornerstone franchises Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Skylanders to continue generating strong revenue and operating profits for the next several years."

Hearthstone will have an official spectator mode

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
Blizzard confirmed that a spectator mode is coming to Hearthstone, allowing players to sit in on others' play sessions.

The news comes from BlizzPro, which talked with e-Sports Manager Kim Phan about upcoming plans for the game. Phan said that Blizzard is starting to take the e-Sports potential of Hearthstone a lot more seriously these days and has a list of features that it would like to put into the game, including a spectator mode. This mode won't be in the game by launch but should be put in "shortly after."

Hearthstone is currently in open beta.

Hearthstone enters open beta testing

Betas, Fantasy, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Casual, Hearthstone

Hearthstone open beta announcement banner
Blizzard die-hards and CCG fans alike have reason to celebrate today because the Hearthstone open beta is officially live. Plenty of players have been dabbling in the game since it entered closed beta testing in August of last year, but now anyone can jump right in and get started with Blizzard's latest money machine.

As long as you've got an active Battle.net account, you can just head on over to the Hearthstone official site and join the fun. The official announcement post assures players that no further wipes are planned, so from here on out, you're playing for keeps.

Hearthstone promises fewer card changes in open beta

Betas, Fantasy, Trading Card Games, Family, Dev Diaries, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
All CCG and TCG players fear "the big nerf" that will change a beloved card, and in turn, an entire deck. However, such changes and tweaks are part of any card game, and in a blog post today, Lead Designer Eric Dodds explained the team's philosophy behind keeping Hearthstone balanced.

Dodds said that such changes need to be made when cards cause non-interactive games, are frustrating to play against, are causing confusion, aren't intuitive enough, are too strong compared to other cards with a similar cost, or are too weak. "Hearthstone is at its most fun when you're solving an interesting puzzle each turn," he wrote. "Your opponent's minions, your minions, and the cards in your hand are all pieces to this puzzle, and when your opponent removes parts of the puzzle, it can be less fun to play."

Even with these reasons, Dodds promised that the team plans to make "very few card changes" when Hearthstone goes into open beta. "Giving you confidence in your cards and the play environment is very important to us, and each card change we make potentially undermines that confidence," he said.

Perfect Ten: Online collectible card games that will tap your heart

Opinion, Trading Card Games, Humor, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, HEX, Hearthstone

Card Hunter
While it might be a stretch to put collectible (or trading) card games in the same family as MMORPGs, it's hard to deny that their audiences are pretty similar and quite open to a little crossover between genres. Massively has made mention of TCGs as their numbers and popularity seems to be on the rise online. That led up to the day that my editor came into my office, smacked an Elmer Fudd Pez dispenser out of my hand, and told me that I better do a top 10 list on card games "or else."

"Or else what?" I chirped before thinking.

"Or else you'll be our full-time Darkfall columnist," my editor said.

So hey! We're talking about card games today! How about, I don't know, 10 of them?

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War of Omens CCG strives to cross Kickstarter finish line

Betas, Fantasy, Video, New Titles, Trading Card Games, Crowdfunding

War of Omens
War of Omens, a deck-building CCG by Fifth Column Games, is making an attempt to meet its Kickstarter funding goal by January 13th.

The game is set in a dark fantasy world and has three factions to which you can pledge loyalty and undying devotion. The devs describe War of Omens a hybrid between deck-building games like Dominion and traditional collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering. Players will purchase cards during play that will then be shuffled into their inventory for future rotation. There are also resources to collect and use during the course of a match.

Fifth Column is asking for $30,000 in funding to finish the title. As added incentive to donate, all those who chip in $10 or more will be given an early access beta key. You can get a look at how a battle works after the break.

[Thanks to Mike for the tip!]

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