Set Phasers to “Update”

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A few days ago, I shared with you the news that Hearthstone Cast would be joining the BlizzPro family and become the official Hearthstone podcast for their site. Last Saturday, Robert and I recorded our first “official” episode together, and it is now live on the new RSS feed.

Meanwhile, I have also started contributing to the Hearthstone site over at BlizzPro.

So we’re in a transition phase; I’m packing my virtual boxes and moving to my new (virtual) office. The goal is to eventually post in just one place, and host the podcast on just one server – and that will be over at BlizzPro.com.

For the short term, there will be some cross-posting, but eventually HearthstoneCast.com will be phased out. I’m hoping that this will give you plenty of “heads up” to change your RSS feed to the new one. Meanwhile, the podcast Twitter account has been renamed to @hearthproshow (if you were a follower before, no need to update anything!).

Thank you so much for supporting Hearthstone Cast, both this blog and the initial podcast! The move to BlizzPro will allow me and other BlizzPro contributors to share far more Hearthstone-related content with you in one single location, and that’s a great thing for everyone.

Cheers,

Rongar

Posted in General Information, New Announcement

HearthPro Ep. 1: Valeera Who?

Hearthstone Cast is relaunching as HearthPro, the official Hearthstone podcast for BlizzPro. Robert Wing, managing editor for BlizzPro, joins the show permanently as co-host! In this episode, Marc and Robert discuss recent blue posts, and talk about how the shaman and rogue deck compare to how the two classes play in World of Warcraft. The shaman deck includes a lot of burst damage and totem minions, while the rogue deck utilizes blade fury and vanishing spells. It’s a focused lightning strike versus death by a thousand cuts. Which deck is better for beginning players?

Get the episode here.

Posted in Blue Posts, Game Play, General Information, Podcast

Card Smart: The Doomguard

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Sure, you can play that winning card and step away from your match the glorious victor. But where is the fun unless you can also drop some lore knowledge on your opponent and add insult to injury? In this column, we don’t worry about card values or strategy – all we care about is that sweet, sweet lore.

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Today, we will be talking about the doomguard, one of the minion cards from the warlock deck. Its flavor text is “Summoning a doomguard is risky. Someone is going to die”, and that holds very much true in doomguard lore as well.

Doomguards are massive, winged creatures with cloven feet that stand over 10 feet tall. They will attack and overpower their enemies through sheer brutality and strength, wielding a sword ablaze in fel fire.

Originally, doomguards were titan creations, policing and punishing the use of any form of arcane magic. They were freed by the fallen titan Sargeras, only to be immediately put in service of Sargeras’ Burning Legion where they would fly over the roaming hordes of demonic creatures to ensure viciously focused destruction. Unlike lesser creatures of the Burning Legion, doomguards are considered to be highly intelligent. They are fluent in Eredun, and other languages of mortals. Doomguards follow their leader with loyalty and without question, though some doomguards also rose in the ranks of the Burning Legion and became powerful and influencial doom lords in their own right.

Many doomguards once served under Archimonde (incidentally an anagram of “archdemon” with the ‘i’ added in), who himself was working in service of Sargeras. Following Archimonde’s death during the Battle for Mounty Hyjal, doomguards in his service began to roam the universe without direction, and now serve anyone who has the power to control them.

They are a summonable minion for warlock classes in World of Warcraft, and a perfect addition to any self-respecting warlock’s Hearthstone deck.

Posted in General Information

Why Hearthstone Matters To Blizzard

With today’s announcement of EverQuest Next, it is becoming clear that the days of World of Warcraft are coming to an end. Of course this won’t happen any time soon: despite the large drop of subscribers, 7.7 million paying players is still an amazing source of revenue that no other MMO can rival at this point. But WoW’s star is fading.

What the EverQuest presentation made clear is that Warcraft is falling farther and farther behind in terms of gaming technology. This is more than just in terms of flashy graphics – it is about the way we will be playing MMOs in the future. Rift, Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: TOR where good looking games, but ultimately they were just marginally different from WoW. At the same time, they were not different enough to win over and hold on to Warcraft players for the long run. Even upcoming games like WildStar and Neverwinter don’t seem to shake up the tried and true MMO formula much.

But here comes EverQuest Next. What this game brings to the table promises to be groundbreaking for the MMO genre. Blizzard, sensing that they had to respond, recently pulled their next generation MMO and went back to the drawing board. Not only will Titan see a significant engine overhaul, the entire model of a second subscription-based MMO from Blizzard seems to be off the table.

So what does this have to do with Hearthstone? It’s a diversification of their portfolio. WoW is still going strong, but the subscriber numbers have been trending in the wrong direction since Wrath of the Lich King. Titan will likely be huge on the strength of Blizzard’s storytelling and focus on delivering quality games, but Titan may be facing stiff competition in EQ Next when that game becomes entrenched in the market first.

This is a concern: Blizzard already allowed League of Legends to capture a market that they could have seized. Now they are playing catch-up with Blizzard ALL STARS. They do not want to be playing catch-up in too many genres and with too many properties.

This is where Hearthstone comes in. Hearthstone is far from unique in the Collectible Card Game market, but it’s main competition, Magic: the Gathering, is primarily a tabletop game. MtG Online isn’t as refined and portable as Hearthstone is shaping up to be. Especially for tablets, there is nothing quite like Hearthstone available, and with portable gaming gaining in popularity, Hearthstone could easily become the World of Warcraft for portable gaming.

The fact that Hearthstone is free to play is its biggest asset: people will pick it up out of curiosity, and then start spending. Free to play has established itself as a huge revenue generator: the profits for SWTOR doubled since going free to play. For the app market, in-game micro purchases now make up for 51% of total portable gaming revenue, or ten times the sales of advertising revenue.

World of Warcraft did well, because it learned from the mistakes of MMOs that came before it. StarCraft and Diablo do well, because they are strong properties with an established fan base. Other markets though may be tougher for Blizzard: League of Legends is the 800 pound gorilla in the MOBA genre, and Titan may be too late to the party to become a runaway success.

Meanwhile, Hearthstone is that highly polished product that will come at the right time to the right market with little to no competition. If Hearthstone does well, we can expect Blizzard to develop more games like it (Pet Battles anyone?). After dropping a fair amount of cash recently, the company needs another strong performer. Hearthstone will be that next big thing for Blizzard.

Posted in General Information

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

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Did you catch this week’s episode with guest Robert Wing, Managing Editor of BlizzPro? Then here’s some exciting news for you (and for me!): I am happy to share with you that going forward Robert will be joining the podcast as co-host. This is tremendous news for the show, because unlike me, Robert actually knows what he is talking about. We’re hoping that tackling future episodes about Hearthstone as dynamic duo (me being Robin to Robert’s Batman) will make for a more entertaining, more informative and more exciting show for you.

But wait, there’s more!™

Going forward, HearthstoneCast will join the BlizzPro family as the game’s official podcast. Please bear with me as we are transitioning the show. For now, I hope you will keep listening, but soon we will be moving to a new RSS feed with BlizzPro handling the hosting duties for the podcast episodes. For the time being, you will be able to catch the show on the usual feed AND on the BlizzPro RSS feed. Eventually, the current RSS feed will become dormant and new shows will be posted on the BlizzPro feed exclusively. We will be sharing the information on the show, and I hope you will make the switch with us as we move officially into our new home. I also look forward to contributing to the BlizzPro Hearthstone site as a writer when possible.

In the meantime, I sneakily changed our Twitter to @HearthProShow (no need to change your feed, but please let new followers know).

But wait, there’s EVEN more!

HearthstoneCast will get a bit of a facelift and re-emerge without wrinkles and a new name: HearthPro, the official Hearthstone podcast of BlizzPro. Look for the latest episode (or episode 1 of HearthPro) next week. And prepare your ears for a new intro created for us by Twizz, host of TwizzCast.

For now, please take a look at hearthstone.blizzpro.com, which officially launched today!

Posted in General Information, Podcast

Episode 8 – Live Stream Recap with Robert Wing of BlizzPro

Robert Wing, blogger and content contributor for BlizzPro.com, joins the show this week. We discuss the Blizzard Hearthstone live streaming event and the Arena play mode, including the latest updates presented by Hearthstone developers Ben Brode and Eric Dodds. Follow Robert on Twitter and on BlizzProDownload Episode 8 here.

Posted in Game Play, General Information, New Announcement, Podcast

Time for Wild Speculations

I’ve already speculated earlier this week about a possible release date for the Hearthstone beta. While I am at it, I might just get myself a ticket on the express train to Speculationville.

As a point of reference, I found that Magic: the Gathering Online had 300,000 active accounts in 2007. Granted, that figure is pretty dated, but it’s still a good benchmark considering that MtGO is going to be Hearthstone’s main competition. They were here first, they have the market, and they will hold serve.

However, I expect Hearthstone to crush MtGO player numbers utterly and completely very early on (note, I don’t expect it to make a dent into trading card community of MtG, but I fully expect Hearthstone player number to quickly overtake the total number of Magic: the Gathering Online players).

Secondly, I expect Hearthstone to be huge for Apple. Once the app releases, we should see a noticeable uptick in iPad and iPad mini sales. There’s nothing quite like Hearthstone available yet for the tablet market, and Hearthstone should quickly become the “killer app” for the iPad. This second phase of the roll-out should push Hearthstone beyond 2 million active accounts by Q1 2014 (possibly later if there are snags in the iOS app roll-out).

Why am I putting all of this nonsense out here? For one, speculating and guessing like this is fun. But I also wanted to have something on record to go back to next year to see how right or wrong I was :)

Posted in General Information
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