I received a key for the Hearthstone beta and decided to give it a try.  The game reminds me of Magic the Gathering (which I haven’t played in years).  It’s all about building the best deck possible and hoping that the random shuffle goes your way.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is made by Blizzard Entertainment, which also makes World of Warcraft (WoW). People who play WoW will immediately recognize the characters that appear in Hearthstone.  Some are on the cards.  Others show up as non-player characters (NPCs) that you have to play against.   It is not necessary to have played WoW in order to play Hearthstone.

I haven’t put very much time into the Hearthstone beta (yet).  It’s fun, and I like the artwork.  What’s keeping me from playing?  It comes down to time management.  I also play Diablo III and WoW and some games not made by Blizzard.  Oh, and there’s this little thing called “work” that takes up some time, too.

The game starts with a tutorial. You are automatically given a default deck – a Mage deck that is personified by Jaina Proudmore.  Using this deck, you must complete six “missions”.  Helpful instructions are given along the way.  I think this was a nice way to ease new players into the game.

First, you have to defeat Hogger.  I found this to be really easy to do.  At the end of a match, the game displays either a “Victory” banner or a somewhat battered “Defeat” banner (depending on if you won or lost.)

When you win a battle in the tutorial, you are given a couple of new cards.  They are automatically added to your deck.

Here are the cards I got after defeating Hogger.

Next, you have to defeat Millhouse Manastorm.  If I remember correctly, the instructions you are given are something like “Crush this annoying Gnome!”  One of my characters in WoW is a Gnome.  I like Gnomes.  That being said, Millhouse Manastorm is really annoying.  He makes you want to crush him.

He isn’t too difficult to defeat.  I earned a couple more cards after defeating him.

Your next mission is to defeat Lorewalker Cho. He is a Pandaren, and very zen.  Jaina, and whoever she is playing against, talk to each other while you play.  Hogger and Millhouse Manastorm mostly engaged in “smack talk”.

Lorewalker Cho, on the other hand, was encouraging.  It is as though he was your teacher who wanted to test your skill.  It took me more than one try to defeat him.  When you do, he seems rather proud of you.  I got a few more cards after defeating Lorewalker Cho.

Three missions down, three more to go!  Next up is Hemet Nesingwary.  In WoW, this Dwarf is a famous hunter (or infamous, depending on which NPC you ask).  In Hearthstone, he is using a Hunter deck.

This match was not easy!  Before the match starts, the game suggests that you focus on attacking his minions.  I learned that ignoring that advice results in a quick defeat due to the minions overtaking you.

I can’t remember what cards I earned after defeating Hemet Nesingwary (because I forgot to take a screenshot of them).  The next mission is to defeat King Mukla.  He is a giant gorilla, and he throws barrels.  Immediately, I thought of Donkey Kong.  Seems I failed to take a screenshot of the cards I earned after defeating King Mukla.

The last of the six missions puts you up against Illidan Stormrage.  How difficult could that be?

This fight is totally not fair.  Blame the terrible game designers.

Hearthstone contains quite a bit of humor!  The warning wasn’t entirely for giggles, though.  It turned out that “totally not fair” was an apt description of the match against Illidan Stormrage.   I lost, repeatedly, and got really frustrated after a while.

Here comes Illidan, to smash Jaina’s face, again.

The best advice I have about how to defeat Illidan Stormrage is to keep trying.  Eventually, the random shuffle of decks will come up in your favor.  Don’t give up!

For me, it was well worth the effort to keep trying to defeat Illidan.  Defeating him means you have completed all six missions and have finished the tutorial.  Next, you get to try unlocking a bunch of different decks by playing against more NPCs and defeating them.

For me, the best part of defeating Illidan was what happened after the victory.  The game unlocked a very special card that does not automatically appear in the Hearthstone beta.  Those who attended Blizzcon 2013 were given a code that unlocked the “Elite Tauren Chieftain” card.

It is a Soulbound card.  The video below shows what happens when you play the “Elite Tauren Chieftain” card.  It also features the three different cards that you can get from “Elite Tauren Chieftain”.

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