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Trading Card Games

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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The Stream Team: Counting cards in the Hearthstone arena

Fantasy, Video, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Livestream, The Stream Team, Hearthstone

Have you heard the news? Mages got hit with the nerf bat this week in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. While they still have copious amounts of direct damage removal spells, their major freeze spells (Cone of Cold, Blizzard, Frost Nova) all got bumped up in mana, cost giving opponents some breathing room. Join Massively's Richie live at 10:00 a.m. EST as he constructs a brand-new arena deck and seeks the thrill of victory.

Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Host: Richie "Bog Otter" Procopio
Date: Friday, December 20th, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Avoiding Mages in the Hearthstone arena

Fantasy, Video, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Livestream, The Stream Team, Hearthstone

The Become a Legend patch went live for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft this week and with it came a bevvy of card nerfs, adjustments to ranked play, and some tweaks to how the arena works. Massively's Richie released an overview video of the major changes in this update, which surprisingly left the powerful (and overly-prevalent) Mage class alone. Join him live at 10:00 a.m. EST as he crafts a deck and lunges into the Hearthstone arena.

Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Host: Richie "Bog Otter" Procopio
Date: Friday, December 13th, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Ask Massively: New hires, HEX, and the problem with rogues

Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Trading Card Games, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous, MMORPG

The Massively staff is not made up of Rogues. It turns out that a curiously high percentage of us play Shamans, but that's neither here nor there. The point is today we have questions about Rogue classes in MMOs and the shiny new hires soon to be added to our roster, and there's no good way to smush these topics into a coherent introduction. I maintain that this is entirely your fault.

Soldack asked, Do you cover the HEX TCG that is going to also have a full fledged MMO? And do you have any interest in hiring a writer/streamer to cover it?

Yep, we do cover it as a sort of pseudo-MMO. We got our grubby paws all over it at this past E3 and after the Kickstarter was announced, and we keep track of it in our crowdfunding column as it continues to develop. But we have no plans to hire a new journalist to focus on it or other MMOTCGs/MMOCCGs (like Hearthstone) exclusively right now, nope. If that changes, rest assured that we'll be putting up a hiring notice!

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The Stream Team: Drafting decks in the Hearthstone arena

Fantasy, Video, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Livestream, The Stream Team, Hearthstone

Have you ever played a game that infests your brain like a benevolent mental parasite that stays with you long after you get up from the computer chair? Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is one of those games that permeates your thoughts as you eat lunch, commute, and walk the dog. It even greets you as you drift into the blissful rest of unconsciousness, filling your dreams with summoned creatures and conjured fireballs. Join Massively's Richie as he delves into his latest obsession and drafts an arena deck live at 10:00 a.m. EST.

Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Host: Richie "Bog Otter" Procopio
Date: Friday, December 6th, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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MMObility: Elemental Kingdoms is almost a unique game

Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Trading Card Games, Casual, MMORTS, First Impressions, MMObility

Elemental Kingdoms screenshot
We've all had our share of trading card games. It's a popular genre, and there are always new titles popping up. Frankly, it's hard to tell many of them apart. That's sort of the point, I guess. The fact is that the basic design is so successful because it can be so fun to play with. Tweak the formula a little bit and you might have a very fun game that is easy to get into yet hard to master.

It's also possible that you'll have yet another boring trading card game. I tried Perfect World's Elemental Kingdoms this week and found a very familiar title that sits a bit apart from the rest of the pack but still has plenty of issues. It attempts to be too many games at once and still does not go far enough as it's asking you to gather cards, craft decks, enhance cards, and fight enemies.

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The Stream Team: Slinging cards in the Hearthstone arena

Fantasy, Video, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Livestream, The Stream Team, Hearthstone

Hearthstone Screenshot
The open beta for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft draws near, and the slew of upcoming changes will alter how arenas work going forward. Instead of capping out and reaping rewards at nine wins, players will scramble to reach a cool dozen victories before they accrue three losses and get unceremoniously tossed from the arena. Are you curious to see the Hearthstone arena in action? Join Massively's Richie as he hones his arena deck-building skills live at 10:00 a.m. EST.

Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Host: Richie "Bog Otter" Procopio
Date: Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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MMObility: Combat Monsters still needs some tweaking

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, MMObility

Combat Monsters screenshot
Combat Monsters is made by the folks at Rubicon, the same people who brought us the cute Great Little War Game and others. This made me almost immediately happy as I've spent a lot of time playing some of those titles and loved the way the developers kept things simple to play yet hard to master. Combat Monsters is supposed to be a multiplayer, turn-based, card-based, arena-style combat game with optional in-game purchases. I found it to be most of those things, but I also found that it still needed more time in the oven.

You start off in a tutorial that does a relatively good job of explaining how everything works. You have a card deck with a limited number of cards, mojo for card creation that's earned every round, and several different types of cards that do different things during a round. It's all pretty straightforward... until the frustration kicks in.

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