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Torchwood Archives
6Oct/14Off

iPad games to play when PC is away

There are times when it's not possible to access the gaming PC, be it a hardware failure, summer vacation or a trip to family. In my case, the last two weeks was house repairs, which means the PC was hidden deep under furniture from the other rooms.

How to play EVE Online in such a case? Well, if you have a laptop with a separate video card, then you're lucky. But what if you're only left with an iPad?

Well, you won't be able to play EVE on it yet, but there surely are some other great AAA titles available.

First game I've played when my PC was unavailable was...

World of Tanks: Blitz

That's right, Wargaming made an excellent port of their flag game, World of Tanks for Apple iOS. It plays great and while it's easy to learn, it is very hard to master. It's worth mentioning, that the game is not an exact 1-to-1 port from PC. Game rules and the content are a little different.

First, there is only a Random Battle game mode, where during a seven minute match, two 7-player teams try to blow the other team up, or conquer "the base", whichever comes first.

Visuals are a little different, too. WoT: Blitz looks much like older PC version of WoT, but considering this game is  running on iPhone or iPad, visuals are simply excellent.

Unfortunately for PC WoT players, all the progress that you've made on PC will not transfer to your tablet, mainly because there are only three Tech Trees: German, Soviet and US. The amount of available tanks is smaller, too.

World of Tanks: Blitz is free to play, just like it's PC counterpart, so in order to start playing, you don't have to pay. If you are willing to support Wargaming devs for their hard work, you can choose between buying premium tanks (which are usually faster, but weaker than their free counterparts), adding premium time (+50% to exp and rewards), or converting experience points earned by premium tanks to so called "free experience" that can be used to unlock more "free" tanks on the Tech Tree. If you don't want to pay, that's ok, you don't have to.

To sum up, you get a great quick fix PVP tank game, that looks much like it's PC counterpart, that you can play when your gaming rig is inaccessible.

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What was the other game? You've guessed it right, it's...

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone is a digital Collectible Card Game by Blizzard, set in the Warcraft universe. This game is a complete port of the PC version. The cards you bought or unlocked on your PC will wait for you on your tablet. The same applies to progress and stats. When playing the game online, you play against both tablet and PC players.

Visuals are amazing and besides some textures being in a slightly lower resolution, the game looks exactly identical to the PC original.

The game has several playing modes, but all of them, even single player, require a network connection. You can test your deck and level the basic cards by playing against AI, you can play against other players in Casual mode, or in Ranked mode, where each win gives you a "star" (and a set of stars make a rank), and each loss above rank 20 takes a star from you. The last mode is "The Arena" which is nothing else, but a draft tournament. You choose your cards from a random pool and compete against other players.

Hearthstone is free to play, and you can buy additional cards either completely free by using in-game "gold" or with real money. The same applies to Arena entrance fee (150 gold or 1,79 EUR).

Is Hearthstone fun? Is it challenging? 20 Million players think it is.

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Wrapping up

As you can see, tablet games are already catching up to what's available on the PC. I hope a mobile client for EVE becomes available at some point (even with reduced set of things that a pilot can do).

27Oct/13Off

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft beta review

Initially I wanted to review Hearthstone the same boring way as I usually do. Instead, I will take you on a guided tour, so you can see for yourself. Ready? Let's go!

Hearthstone loginOnce you've crossed that door, there is no coming back: the game is great and won't let you go easily! The main menu is rather simplistic:

main-screen

 

The top window starts different game modes (Play against a random battle.net opponent, Practice against AI or enter The Arena). Just below the window there is a row of icons. Store allows you to spend in game gold (or RL money) to buy booster packs, Quests, that will pay you gold for completing them, booster opening table - this is where you go after you've got some boosters. The last button is your collection window, which allows you to browse through all your cards. Of course this is where you make custom decks as well. But we will get to that. Let's start a game, shall we?

If you don't like your starting hand, you can choose any of the cards to be mulliganned.

starting-handOnce you've accepted the starting hand, the game will start. Starting player is randomly chosen by "The Coin". Coin becomes a single use source of 1 mana and is given to the second player (as a compenstation for not starting the game).

game-1

As you can see, the game is VERY simple. Each player has a hero, one of 9 available classes (yes, these are the same classes that are in World of Warcraft). In the center there is a battle zone. There is no grid or rows, which gives players a lot of freedom. To summon minions or play spells player needs mana. Each turn player is granted one mana crystal (up to ten), and all already existing crystals are recharged. This means you will not be starved for resources as you would in Magic, when you can't get enough lands. As you've noticed, the playing board has some decorations - and you've guessed it, they contain some easter eggs. Click around and you shall find them 😉

Let's have a closer look at the cards:

game-3In the top left corner there is the card mana cost. You need at least this much charged mana crystals to play that card. In the middle there is rules or abilities. Don't worry, there is only a few of them to remember. Bottom right corner shows the attack strength: this is how much damage can this minion cause to enemy hero or his minions. The bottom right corner shows how much health that minion has. It can only take as much damage, and afterwards it will be destroyed. It's also worth noting that minions don't regenerate at the end of turn like they would in Magic for example. It's not possible to block incoming attacks like in other CCGs, unless a minon has Taunt. If any minion has Taunt ability, it must be attacked first. Otherwise players can freely choose the target for their minions, be it enemy hero or his creatures.

Different Hero classes are unlocked by defeating them in Practice mode against AI.

After each match, Hero is granted some experience points. Leveling your hero grants some rewards (that means new cards):

rewardsSpeaking of new cards, there are two more ways to get them. As I've already mentioned, it's possible to buy boosters for in-game currency or for real money from the in-game shop.

buy-cardsOnce you've got  some boosters, it's time to open them and see the goodies inside. Each booster contains 5 cards, one of which is guaranteed to be a rare. Once opened, the cards will go to your collection:

open-pack

cards

 

This is also the place where decks are built. A deck in Hearthstone has 30 cards. It's worth noting, that each card can be used in multiple decks, but identical cards are limited to only two per deck. What happens if you have more than two? You can disechant them! Hearthstone has a crafting system thatallows you to disenchant cards that you don't need (or have more than two copies of), and create new cards that you'd like for your deck. Disenchatning cards grants you a resource - Arcane Dust - that will be used to create new cards. The better the card you'd like to create, the more Dust it costs.

craftingAs you can see, Hearthstone is one of the CCGs that are very easy to learn, and give players a lot of freedom. This also means they are inherently hard to master, because there instead of concentrating on the rules you have to focus on strategy. The game has beautiful artwork and is very well designed (but this is typical for Blizzard). It is certainly worth a try, especially that the final version is supposed to be free to play (and will be released for iPad as well).

24Oct/13Off

Hearthstone Beta finally in Europe!

This morning my mailbox has greeted me with the following message (on the right):hearthstone

The Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft closed beta has been running in the US for quite a while already, and EU players got their beta invitation codes only recently. While I am not a big World of Warcraft fan (tried the game briefly in 2007 and 2009), I was waiting impatiently to try Hearthstone out, mainly because I enjoy card games a lot and because a card game from Blizzard will be an A-grade game. The company has also confirmed a tablet release coming after the PC version, which is a very good news for me. I'm on the move a lot, so I will play much more often on my tablet than on the PC.

I have played several other e-CCGs already, most notably:

  • MTG: DotP 2012-2014
  • M&M DoC
  • O&C Duels

This means I will be looking at Hearthstone from an already established perspective. You can expect an initial review coming in shortly 😉

EDIT: As promised, initial review can be found here.

Some Guy (formerly Poetic Stanziel) got his beta code recently as well. Make sure to read his initial thoughts about Hearthstone on his blog @NerdSoliloquy.