Set within the Warcraft universe, Hearthstone is a digital-only, turn-based collectible card game which pits two opponents against each other. There are nine classes: Warrior, Shaman, Rogue, Paladin, Hunter, Druid, Warlock, Mage, and Priest. All classes have unique cards and abilities, known as hero powers, which help define class archetypes. Each player uses a deck of cards from their collection with the end goal being to reduce the opponent's health to zero. There are four different types of cards: minions, spells, weapons, and hero cards. Quests are a type of spell exclusive to the Journey to Un'Goro expansion. These cards are ordered by rarity, with Legendary cards being the rarest, followed by Epic, Rare, Common, and Basic.Blizzard releases expansions of additional cards every four months to increase the variety in the metagame. The game uses a freemium model of revenue, meaning players can play for free or pay to acquire additional card packs or content.
All cards cost a certain amount of "mana", a budget each player must abide by which increases by one each turn with a maximum of ten. This invokes strategy as the player must plan ahead, taking into account what cards can and cannot be played. Minions and spells are unique. Minions will be placed directly onto the board on play and may carry special effects like Charge or Deathrattle, allowing the minion to attack instantly or making the minion do something special upon death, respectively. Spells have distinctive effects and affect the board in various ways. Cards can be obtained through opening card packs or by crafting them with Arcane Dust.
There are various game modes with the most prevalent being Standard and Wild. Standard mode only includes the Basic and Classic sets alongside the expansions from the last two years. Once an expansion rotates out of Standard, it can only be played in the Wild format. The Wild game mode allows for any card to be played. These two game modes are divided into Casual and Ranked modes. Players can climb the tiered ranking system in Ranked, while Casual allows for a more relaxed play-style. At the end of each month the Ranked season ends, rewarding players with in-game items depending on their performance. Arena and Tavern Brawl are the other multiplayer modes. Arena has the player draft a deck of thirty cards from choices of three. Tavern Brawls are challenges that change weekly and may impose unusual deck-building guidelines. In addition to these multiplayer modes, there are solo adventures. These adventures offer alternative ways to play and are designed specifically.
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