Hearthstone (Updated)

Hearthstone is a free to play online card game that has been around for over 2 years now. It was not very popular in its beta version but has become very popular now. It consists of nine basic classes, the mage, warrior, druid, shaman, hunter, rogue,priest, paladin and warlock. There are also bonus characters like Lady Liadrin and Medivh but they are just skins for the class.

Over the years hearthstone has gone through a lot of different changes updates and patches, this resulted in some cards too powerful or too odd. At first, Blizzard just removed these cards but now there is a game mode called wild that allows those cards to be used.

There are some expansions in this game like The Grand Tournament and Mean Streets of Karazhan.  So how are these different from the classic cards? Well each of the expansion has a theme and is you want a certain card from an expansion, you would have to buy a pack from the expansion.

The main objective of the game is to lower the opponent’s health from 30 to 0. Damage can be dealt using spells or minions. Spells are one use only (most of the time) and minions can deal damage as long as they are alive and do not have abilities are effects that prevent them from damaging.

Some minions, in fact most have special abilities like spell damage, which increases damage of spells. Some abilities are conditional and will only trigger if the condition is met like: if you have a dragon in your hand, deal 3 damage to a character.

Every game you start with 3 or 4 cards depending on who starts first (the person who goes second gets a extra card and a coin which grands an extra mana crystal that turn only.) and you draw a card every turn. There are also abilites of minions and spells that allow you to draw more cards, but be careful not to draw too many, as one can only have up to a maximum of 10 cards in hand. The extra cards that you draw will be burnt( removed in that match) and if your deck of thirty cards has been all used, you will receive fatigue damage.Fatigue starts off at 1 damage but will keep increasing the more you draw.

There are several gamemodes in this game, tavern brawl,arena,standard and practice.

There is a different tavern brawl every week but some brawl will be repeated, and every brawl lasts a few days.The brawl has a unique set of rules and are all fun and challenging.

Arena is where players make a deck out of the cards they choose and 3 losses or 12 wins means that your arena game is over and you will receive rewards depending on how many wins you get.

Standard is where you fight with other players with the cards you collected made into a deck of 30 cards.

Practise is where you can face off against bots for experience or if you have not unlocked a certain class.

Most cards can be obtained through packs but basic cards can only be obtained by leveling up your class, there is also adventure cards that can only be obtained if you beat the adventure. However each adventure has multiple levels which take 700 coins to unlock. In comparison  arena needs 150 gold to enter and a pack costs 100 gold.

Even though this game in my opinion, is very fun and addictive, it does has its flaws. It is very rng(random number generator) based sometimes. You may lose the game because of extreme bad luck or win a game because of it. In fact, a Hearthstone Tournament Champion won largely because of luck.

Overall I would recommend this game to my friends and family, despite its flaws.

Photo Courtesy of:

http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/

Bazza

Overwatch

Overwatch is the first orginal IP by Blizzard in 17 years. Released on the 24th of May this year, it was really good as it killed all other competitors when it was released for a while. The class-based first person shooter is out on the XBox One, Playstation 4 and PC.

First and foremost, the gameplay is really smooth, it is unbelievably easy to pick up any hero in the game. It is easy to get used to a certain hero but really hard to master him or her with a few exceptions. There are 4 multiplayer modes, Quick Play, a multiplayer match with a bunch of people around your skill level, vs AI, a multiplayer match against AI bots, Competitive, where everyone is playing their best against you and Arcade, where there is a special theme for every week.

Unlike the tactical shooter Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch has all 22 playable characters unlocked at the start. Each character is very unique to their core, in short Bastion and Widowmaker are polar opposites, though they are defenders. Since everyone has unique abilities, certain heroes mixed with others create a deadly duo or trio. For example, Bastion and Reinhardt is a lethal pair. Bastion mows down enemies effectively while Reinhardt soaks up all damage with his Barrier Shield. That said, every hero has a counter too. Bastion with a minigun might shred your team apart, but Genji’s deflect is a good way to kill a Bastion. That said, some matches are an endless game of rock paper scissors as both teams keeps on swapping heroes to counter the other team.

The maps are really distinct from each other. Dorado and Route 66 may be Payload maps, but they play really differently, Route 66 is more ‘sniper-friendly’ with all the high ledges while Dorado has many routes to ambush or flank. Each map is hand-crafted till the point that playing Payload on Hanamura feels odd. Each map is well crafted, with secret ledges and pathways for both sides to utilise to their potential. Blizzard also pays lots of attention to intricate details. On the last point in Hanamura, you can see Hanzo’s arrows and Genji’s shurikens all over the place, Junkrat’s grenade launcher has a flap that bounces around while moving.

That said, Overwatch is strictly multiplayer only with a handful of modes on a few maps. Yes it is fun to watch jaw-dropping Play of the Games and surprise everyone with a comeback, but if you play long enough, it becomes really boring. To earn boxes to customise whichever character you have picked up is really slow too, you earn these Loot Boxes everytime you level up, at higher levels, it becomes an endless grind to look good with your ‘main’.

All in all, Overwatch is a masterpiece when it comes to meeting the requirements of a multiplayer first person shooter, excelling at the balacing the characters. However, the Origins Edition is not worth it if you are on PC and do not play any other games, which costs you around 80SGD.

Photo Courtesy

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is the sequel to the hit game Starcraft back in 1998 made by Blizzard Entertainment. Starcraft II is a real-time strategy game which takes place in the 25th Century. In the game, you get to play as 3 different races, the Terran which are humans, the Zerg which are arthropodal aliens and the Protoss which are technologically advanced humanoid aliens.

In the story of Starcraft, around the year of 2229, the Earth fell under control of the United Powers League, a new government which is against anyone who had undergone genetic engineering or used non-essential cybernetic equipment. Government forces also cracked down on criminals, religious people, political activists and other “dissidents”. About 40 years after, thousands of such people were placed in “super-carriers” as a colonisation project. The project went out of plan and would soon form 3 colonies on 3 different planets. The three planets were called, Tarsonis, Moria and Umoja. Tarsonis was the most powerful colony and formed the Terran Confederacy. The Confederacy was a corrupt government and would mistreat its colonists. This led to many rebellions to take them down. This is the quick explanation of the lore of the game.

In Starcraft II, the Confederacy was taken down by Arcturus Mengsk and formed a far more powerful and corrupt government called the Dominion. You play as Jim Raynor, who was part of the Sons of Korhal which was led by Arcturus Mengsk before the Confederacy was taken down and later betrayed by Mengsk. After 4 years of the Dominion taking over, you start with Jim Raynor in a bar on the planet of Mar Sara and listening to a news on television where Mengsk was branding Jim as a terrorist. Jim started his rebellion against the dominion which is your first campaign mission.

Like any other real-time strategy games, you play the  game from a top-down view and have the basic functions like clicking and dragging from one point to another to form a box to select your units. The HUD is well organised and is easy to access the menus of what the units can do.

In the game, the most important unit are your workers, for the terrans, they’re called SCVs. They are used to collect resources like minerals and vespene gas, this is important as a stable economy is required to train stronger units. To train SCVs, you get them from the command centre, which is your starting building and it should be of up most priority to keep it alive. Your SCVs can also construct buildings like supply depots, which increases your max unit space up to 200, as the more advanced the unit is, the more space it requires.

Hotkeys are also necessary as this game is micro-management heavy, it can be bound from 1-0 keys to easily access different types of units. It also allows you to construct buildings much faster instead of using your mouse which wastes time.

Hotkeys of a worker

Each unit also has its strengths and weaknesses, for example, the marine which is the first offensive unit you can train as terran is a biological unit and is easily killed by other units that deal extra damage to biological units. So it is important to know what units your enemy is training to counter it.

The campaign story is fairly decent although some parts are rather cliché and cheesy and some missions could get repetitive like one mission where you have to mine a certain amount of minerals to accomplish it. However, most of the missions are still entertaining and could get you addicted to them.

Starcraft II on the competitive side is where most new players should stay away from at first. One should learn the basics and get the hang of using hotkeys and having quick reaction times. This is because, the really good players could easily outnumber you very easily and you don’t have enough time to react to it. Starcraft II has a ranking system so most likely, you would play against players of your skill level. Bronze is the lowest rank while Grand Masters is the highest.

Ranks from bronze to diamond

The graphics are very detailed and pleasant to look at. The game is quite optimised so players would not require very needy specifications to play it. Most people who play the game competitively put the graphics at low as the environment could sometimes be distracting for them.

Game on Ultra Settings

In my opinion, this game is a great choice for people who are interested in real-time strategy games and competitive play. The campaign is about 18 hours long so it would take a fairly long amount of time to complete which is great for the people who want to enjoy it. The game is priced at around S$49 at retail price which is a decent price for an AAA game.

Photo courtesy of:

http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/sc2-strategy/377148-protoss-hotkeys-101

http://www.starcraft-replay.com/guides/starcraft-2-terran-strategy-best-counters-vs-terran-units.php

http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/blog/2494686/season-1-milestones-3-21-2011

http://www.notebookcheck.net/StarCraft-II-Heart-of-the-Swarm-Benchmarked.89920.0.html

http://learningsc2.com/tag/hotkeys/

http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/StarCraft_II