A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hearthstone is an free-to-play online CCG (Collectible Card Game) similar to games like Magic: The Gathering and Card Wars - Adventure Time. It can be played as a single player (against AI) or multiplayer (against other players) experience; either way, it must be played online. The game contains some scantily-clad female characters and mild references to alcohol. With the ongoing addition of themed expansions and with card collection as a core feature, kids will likely want to spend real money on extra card packs from the in-game store. Players communicate solely through safe, preset phrases unless using a third-party chat add-on.
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What's it about?
HEARTHSTONE is a collectible card game (CCG) set in the colorful fantasy world of Warcraft. Players collect cards which depict characters, spells, and abilities, and use them to build custom decks. Decks are then used to wage turn-based combat against the computer or other players. Different hero classes give players different ways to approach combat, and different game modes provide multiple ways to earn new cards and experience. Casual/Ranked matches, Arena, and Tavern Brawl let players test their mettle against each other, while Solo Adventures let them play through single player storylines. Themed expansions also regularly introduce new cards into the mix.
Is it any good?
Would-be card masters are instantly pulled in by this popular game's presentation, but are further wowed by its heroes, animated game board, and spectacular visuals. Hearthstone players quickly learn the fun of choosing a hero, smashing an opponent, building a deck, and opening new card packs. Practice and patience are required to absorb the hundreds of skills, spells, and abilities, and crafting a game-winning deck takes finesse. But cool graphics and effects make it fun, and since all the cards can be earned, purchases are entirely optional.
Periodically, updates add new content to the game such as the recent expansion, The Witchwood. This spooky expansion introduces new cards and new gameplay mechanics, and its new single-player Monster Hunter mode casts you as one of four unique heroes. Here, the heroes venture into a dangerous forest and fight their way through a gauntlet of increasingly dangerous opponents until they face the nightmare-inducing witch, Hagatha. This entertaining (and challenging) addition injects a range of cool new cards into the game and echoes previous story-rich expansions by tapping into popular Warcraft lore. Mind you, Hearthstone isn't easy. Some single player modes can prove unbeatable for beginning (or even intermediate) players. Still, tenacious players are rewarded with both hilarious narratives and the satisfaction of increased mastery. Even better, short match times (on average, ten to fifteen minutes) mean you can hone your skills a little at a time. The amazing presentation and fun, bite-sized matches are enough on their own, but add to them the game's enthusiastic community -- public Hearthstone meet-ups are frequently held, with lots of free stuff given to attendees -- and you've got a collectible card game you and your kids can feel good about enjoying together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the value of patience. If something's difficult, how much time are you willing to spend to master it?
Think about games, micro-transactions, and immediate gratification. What's your kid's expectation when it comes to buying rewards versus earning them?
Discuss meeting with other Hearthstone players in real life. When, where, and with whom is it OK to attend a meetup?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows, iPhone
- Subjects: Math: addition, numbers, subtraction
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, decision-making, strategy
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release date: March 11, 2014
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- ESRB rating: T for Alcohol Reference, Blood, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: February 26, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.