Hearthstone

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Although this product has been released, it remains under active development - information may change frequently and could be outdated or irrelevant.
Hearthstone
Hearthstone cover
Developers
Blizzard Entertainment
Engines
Former Unity 5[Note 1]
Unity 2018[Note 2]
Release dates
Windows March 11, 2014
macOS (OS X) March 11, 2014
Reception
Metacritic 88
OpenCritic 87
IGDB 88
Taxonomy
Monetization Free-to-play
Microtransactions Cosmetic, Free-to-grind, Infinite spend, Loot box, Unlock
Pacing Turn-based
Perspectives Top-down view
Controls Point and select
Genres CCG
Themes Fantasy
Series Warcraft
Hearthstone on HowLongToBeat
Hearthstone on IGDB
Hearthstone guide on StrategyWiki
Hearthstone on MobyGames
Hearthstone on Wikipedia
Warcraft
Warcraft: Orcs & Humans 1994
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness 1995
Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans Cancelled
Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition 1999
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos 2002
World of Warcraft 2004
Hearthstone 2014
Warcraft III: Reforged 2020

Warnings

This game requires a constant internet connection for all game modes.

Key points

Available for free.

General information

Official forums
Official technical support forum (EU)
HSReplay - an invaluable source of statistical data about what cards are being played and how they are performing, made possible by the deck tracker software available from the same site which provides various helpful features on an overlay (Windows only) and automatically collects match data as you play to add to HSReplay's databases. Optional paid subscription unlocks more detailed data and more granular options to sort through it all, but the freely available stuff is more than enough to help you figure out what cards and decks are dominating the ladder meta. It even scans your collection so you can search for decks you have all or most of the cards for already, a huge help to anyone who doesn't drop a lot of money to maintain a full collection.
Wowpedia - A huge wiki mainly for World of Warcraft, but also handles anything Warcraft universe related
/r/hearthstone's Resources page - A compilation of links to various websites, guides, and community databases
Hearthstone Players - A community resource site for the game
HearthPwn - Another community resource site for the game

Availability[edit]

Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Battle.net
Icon overlay.png
Always online (requires a constant internet connection to play)
Windows
macOS (OS X)
All desktop versions require Battle.net DRM and a constant internet connection for all game modes, as well as a free Battle.net account.
Also available on mobile (iOS and Android, via their respective official storefronts), fully cross-platform and with full feature parity between platforms, aside from differences in UI and graphics settings. Still always online and the mobile client sometimes becomes briefly unavailable if Apple or Google are slow to approve an update, but Blizzard typically waits for the update to go live on mobile to push it to PC players so this has become much less common.
For a complete and up-to-date list of expansions, see the Hearthstone community wiki page. See also: this list of Adventures from the now defunct adventure pack system (the existing content is still available but more recent sets make the single player content free (but you don't get all the new cards, just a couple free packs typically), and the idea of a "mini expansion" has stuck around but they have been reworked so the new cards are added into the most recent full expansion's card pool and obtainable through packs of that set from then on (or as a one time purchase for a limited time after launch).
All expansions and Adventure packs (excluding Heroes) can be purchased with in-game gold, making them effectively "free" (700 gold per Adventure pack "wing", with each Adventure pack containing 4-5 wings)
Individual cards from all released decks can be made via the in-game crafting system (including cards from Wild-only expansions and Adventure cards).
With the release of Forged in the Barrens on March 30, 2021, the old Basic and Classic sets were rotated out of Standard and the Core set was added to replace them. Core is a rotating set that changes with the annual Standard rotation upon the launch of each year's first new set, and contains a mix of older existing cards and newly designed ones. It is about a third smaller than Basic and Classic, but with a much higher power level than the latter sets which had become largely filler due to power creep over the years of expansions.
The entire Core set is obtained for free by leveling each class to 10 (the same requirement as Basic card unlocks previously). Golden copies can be earned through gameplay as well. There are fewer total cards than Basic+Classic combined but due to much higher average card quality the number of cards that actually see competitive play is higher. The number of free cards to get new players started in constructed has nearly doubled, and the quality of those cards has increased dramatically.
Some of the most popular formats, such as Battlegrounds and Arena, do not depend on the player's collection at all. The only disadvantage new players are at is due to their lack of game knowledge and skill/practice. Arena costs gold to enter but rewards gold, gems, and at least one guaranteed pack per run; Battlegrounds is entirely free to play but offers fewer rewards (just exp for reward track progress, and the ability to complete some daily and weekly quests for more reward track progress). Battlegrounds is inspired by titles such as Dota Underlords and AutoChess, and despite being aimed initially at more casual play has fostered a very active competitive scene (in part due to its distinction as the only Hearthstone format that both uses MMR-based matchmaking and shows your MMR to you directly).
Wild format, and to a lesser extent the Duels game mode, is extremely expensive for new players to get into due to the large number of older sets that the top decks draw from. It's not quite to the level of trying to assemble a Power Nine set for M:tG's evergreen format but if you expect to be competitive in the format as a newcomer you'd better have some very deep pockets.
Battlegrounds has a paid Perks option, which confers gameplay advantages (mainly the increase from 2 random hero choices at the start of each match to 4, significantly reducing your odds of getting stuck with all bad/underpowered options; but also the 2 week exclusivity for newly added heroes who historically are far more likely to be overtuned than under) and unlike every other paid feature in the game offers no permanent bonuses; the perks expire with a new expansion's release and you're left with nothing to show for it. BG is very much playable without them, and you can obtain the perks with gold earned through in-game activities instead of real money - but that gold could have been spent on card packs instead, so it's effectively slowing your permanent progression in exchange for a mix of gameplay and cosmetic bonuses in Battlegrounds. To be clear, the only gameplay-affecting bonuses are the extra hero choices at the start of each match and new heroes being unlocked early. Once the match proper starts the only benefit that actively applies is the ability to emote to other players which is purely a social/cosmetic feature.
There is no casual/free-to-play version of Arena, the game's booster draft-esque limited format. The rewards are generally well worth the entry price in gold, but until you learn the ropes you will likely have to either spend real money or play other game modes as you wait to earn enough gold for your next Arena run if that's the mode you're most interested in.
Card releases come out at a pretty good and consistent pace, and due to its popularity Battlegrounds has gotten pretty regular content updates and balance patches, but some secondary formats have much more sporadic updates. Arena stands out in particular as feeling so neglected it's easy to forget it exists.
Accounts, and thus card collections, ranking, cosmetic purchases, etc., are region-specific. You can play in a region other than the one you're physically in, but you can't transfer progress or content between regions, so if you know you wanna play with a friend who lives in another country and already plays the game, make sure you set up a Blizz account on their region from the start so all your progress can be in one place.

Monetization[edit]

Type Notes
Expansion pack The game offers many expansions packs which introduce new cards and no mechanics and change the metagame significantly.
Free-to-play Basic game is free-to-play.

Microtransactions[edit]

Type Notes
Cosmetic Different purchasable hero avatars and voices are available.
Currency In game currency is purchasable for via real money transactions.
Free-to-grind In game currency can be obtained by playing the game.
Infinite spend There is no limit on the amount of money you can spend on packs, and some formats ban and retire certain cards, eroding the value of what you've already bought.
Loot box Trading card packs are the original lootboxes.
Time-limited Certain formats have cards which are usable for only a limited amount of time.
Unlock Some cards are used by other players against you and locked until you obtain them either by buying enough packs, or via other means, depending on the format.

Game data[edit]

Configuration file(s) location[edit]

System Location
Windows %LOCALAPPDATA%\Blizzard\Hearthstone\options.txt
macOS (OS X) ~/Applications/Hearthstone/client.config

Video[edit]

In-game options menu.
In-game options menu.

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
Multi-monitor
Ultra-widescreen
No 21:9 resolutions available.[citation needed]
4K Ultra HD
Field of view (FOV)
Windowed
Borderless fullscreen windowed
The "full screen" option in-game is borderless by default. There is no normal full screen.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Anti-aliasing (AA)
Vertical sync (Vsync)
Add "vsync=1" or "vsync=0" to the configuration file to turn it ON or OFF.
60 FPS and 120+ FPS
Add "targetframerate=60" to the configuration file, or Set Quality to High.[4][5]
High dynamic range display (HDR)
See the glossary page for potential alternatives.
The game engine may allow for manual configuration of the game via its variables. See the Unity page for more details.

Input[edit]

Audio[edit]

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Master and music.
Surround sound
Subtitles
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
Labeled as "Sound In Background".
Royalty free audio

Localizations

Language UI Audio Sub Notes
English
Can switch between US and UK English.
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
French
German
Italian
Korean
Polish
Portuguese
Russian
Spanish
Latin American Spanish
Thai

Network[edit]

Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
LAN play
Online play
2 Versus
Supports crossplay with iOS and Android

Connection types

Ports

Protocol Port(s) and/or port range(s)
TCP 1119, 3724
UDP 1119, 3724
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) support status is unknown.

Other information[edit]

API[edit]

Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 9.0c, 11
OpenGL 2 OS X only.[citation needed]
Shader Model support 3
Executable 32-bit 64-bit Notes
Windows
macOS (OS X)

Middleware[edit]

Middleware Notes
Multiplayer Battle.net

System requirements[edit]

Windows
Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 7, 8
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium D
AMD Athlon 64 X2
System memory (RAM) 3 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 3 GB
Video card (GPU) Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT
ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT
Other 1024x768 resolution
A 64-bit system is recommended.
macOS (OS X)
Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 10.12
Processor (CPU) Intel Core 2 Duo
System memory (RAM) 2 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 3 GB
Video card (GPU) Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT
ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro
Other 1024x768 resolution

Notes

  1. Unity engine build: 5.6.5p4[1][2]
  2. Unity engine build: 2018.4.0f1[3]

References