Hearthstone, originally known as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, is a free-to-play online collectible card video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment.
Developer(s) Blizzard Entertainment Publisher(s) Global: Blizzard Entertainment
Mainland China: NetEase
Director(s) Ben Brode
Eric Dodds (former)
Designer(s) Derek Sakamoto
Composer(s) Peter McConnell Series(s) Engine Unity Genre(s) Collectible card game Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Having been released worldwide on March 11, 2014, Hearthstone builds upon the already existing lore of the Warcraft series by using the same elements, characters, and relics. It was first released for Microsoft Windows and macOS, with support for iOS and Android devices being added later. The game features cross-platform play, allowing players on any device to compete with each other, restricted only by geographical region account limits.
The game is a turn-based card game between two opponents, using constructed decks of thirty cards along with a selected hero with a unique power. Players use their limited mana crystals to cast spells or summon minions to attack the opponent, with the goal to reduce the opponent’s health to zero. Winning matches can earn in-game gold, rewards in the form of new cards, and other in-game prizes. Players can then buy packs of new cards through gold or microtransactions to customize and improve their decks. The game features several modes of play, including casual and ranked matches, as well as daily quests to help players earn gold and cards. New content for the game involves the addition of new card sets and gameplay, taking the form of either expansion packs or single-player adventures that reward the player with collectible cards upon completion.
In contrast to other games developed by Blizzard, Hearthstone was an experimental game developed by a smaller team based on the appreciation of collectible card games at the company. The game was designed to avoid pitfalls of other digital collectible card games by eliminating any possible plays from an opponent during a player’s turn and by replicating the feel of a physical card game within the game’s user interface. Many of the concepts as well as art assets were based on those previously published in the physical World of Warcraft Trading Card Game.
The game has been favorably reviewed by critics and is financially successful for Blizzard, estimated to bring in about $20 million per month as of 2015. As of May 2017, Blizzard has reported more than 70 million Hearthstone players. The game has become popular as an eSport, with cash prize tournaments hosted by Blizzard and other organizers.
An example of gameplay in Hearthstone. Players use cards from their hand, such as minions and spells, to interact with the game board
Hearthstone is a digital-only collectible card game that revolves around turn-based matches between two opponents (player vs. player or player vs. computer opponent) using pre-made decks of cards from their collection. In matches, players use their card deck, representing summonable minions, spells, and other actions, along with their selected Hero’s unique power, to try to defeat their opponent by reducing their health to zero before the opponent can do the same to them. Players can choose from a number of game modes, with each offering a slightly different experience. Players start the free-to-play game with a limited collection of basic cards but can gain rarer and more powerful cards through purchasing packs of cards through micropayments or as rewards from specific game modes. Blizzard has added new cards sets through Expansions and Adventures, roughly three times a year, to increase the pool of available cards. To help newer players remain competitive with experienced ones while also keeping the metagame dynamic, Blizzard has implemented two different styles of gameplay; Standard which uses only the basic set of cards plus those of the most recent expansions, and Wild, which allows any cards to be used.
Hearthstone is set within the Warcraft universe, with its characters, spells and locations drawing from existing lore. Each player is represented by a ‘hero’, a character from Warcraft lore representing one of nine specific classes. The classes are defined by their unique hero power that can be used during a player’s turn, and the selection of class-specific cards that the player uses to construct the hero’s deck.
The game features several modes of gameplay. The standard Play mode allows players to challenge other players or computer opponents. Players can compete with other players or the computer in casual matches, or in ranked play against human opponents to rise up a tier-ladder system within each month-long season, earning in-game rewards for higher placement. Solo Adventures allow players to complete challenges against computer opponents, often with unique conditions, cards, or powers, to earn cards. The boss encounters feature unique dialogue elements. Arena mode allows the player to draft a deck, selecting one of three random cards until they reach thirty, and then challenge other players until either they lose three times or win twelve times, earning in-game rewards based on the win-loss record. Tavern Brawls are challenges that change weekly, that may offer unique heroes, cards, rules, or limits on deck construction; winning a weekly challenge also earns the player in-game rewards. Atop these modes in the game there are up to three randomly-selected quests which generally can only be completed within Play or Arena modes against human opponents; completing these quests earns the player in-game gold or other rewards; a random quest is added daily.
See also: Gameplay of Hearthstone § Expansions
The following table lists the card releases by their type or expansion name, their North American date of release (with the release in other regions typically within a day afterward), the date of the expansion’s transfer to the Wild format, and the distribution of cards within that release. Blizzard has announced there will be three expansions of about 130 cards each in 2017.
Blizzard has adopted a “Year” moniker to identify when expansions have been retired from Standard format; the first, “Year of the Kraken”, lasting from April 2016 to March 2017, retired the Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes expansions, while the “Year of the Mammoth”, starting in April 2017, retired the Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers sets. Initially, retired expansions were not available to purchase, but in July 2017, players were able to purchase these and all future expansions that are retired from Standard on Blizzard’s website. In the “Year of the Mammoth”, Standard moved some Classic cards to the “Hall of Fame” set that is not playable in Standard but still can be obtained and available to play in Wild format.
|Set (abbreviation)||Release type||Release date||Removal date
from Standard format
|Basic||Core||March 11, 2014||N/A||133||N/A|
|Classic||Core||March 11, 2014||N/A||239||91||80||37||31|
|Reward||Core||March 11, 2014||April 26, 2016||0||0||0||0||0|
|Curse of Naxxramas (Naxx)||Adventure||July 22, 2014||April 26, 2016||30||18||4||2||6|
|Goblins vs. Gnomes (GvG)||Expansion||December 8, 2014||April 26, 2016||123||40||37||26||20|
|Blackrock Mountain (BRM)||Adventure||April 2, 2015||April 6, 2017||31||15||11||0||5|
|The Grand Tournament (TGT)||Expansion||August 24, 2015||April 6, 2017||132||49||36||27||20|
|League of Explorers (LoE)||Adventure||November 12, 2015||April 6, 2017||45||25||13||2||5|
|Whispers of the Old Gods (WOG)||Expansion||April 26, 2016||TBA 2018||134||50||36||27||21|
|One Night in Karazhan (Kara)||Adventure||August 11, 2016||TBA 2018||45||27||12||1||5|
|Mean Streets of Gadgetzan (MSG)||Expansion||December 1, 2016||TBA 2018||132||49||36||27||20|
|Hall of Fame||Core||April 6, 2017||April 6, 2017||10||3||1||1||5|
|Journey to Un’Goro (Un’goro)||Expansion||April 6, 2017||TBA 2019||135||49||36||27||23|
|Knights of the Frozen Throne (KFT)||Expansion||August 10, 2017||TBA 2019||135||49||36||27||23|
|All released cards||1324||465||338||204||184|