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Official Site: Hearthstone
Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
Launch Date: March 11, 2014
Business Model: F2P (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC, Mac, Mobile

Blizzard teases decks in Hearthstone and characters in Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm

It’s time for a whole lot of new characters to smash into the fray in Blizzard’s various multiplayer offerings. Hearthstone doesn’t have characters, per se, but it does have deck types, and the game’s next expansion is delivering a whole new deck type with Odds & Evens. Yes, that’s where you have an entire deck consisting of cards with odd costs or even costs; you can check out the video below for more elaboration.

Overwatch, of course, does have new characters. Specifically, it has Brigitte, who as it turns out will be arriving in the game on March 20th. If you’ve been looking forward to playing the smashy warrior-healer on the live game, you’ll have your chance very soon.

Last but not least, the Heroes of the Storm team is promising another new hero in the form of Fenix, a character from StarCraft who got killed in the first few missions. Later, he came back in a giant spider robot carrying his dead body. (He was a Dragoon. It makes sense in context.) So that’s also fun, although we warn you that teams might not appreciate you saying “I return to serve” every time you respawn.

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Hearthstone announces The Witchwood expansion with Blair Witch-esque video

Speculate no more: Blizzard just announced Hearthstone’s next expansion right smack on Twitter. It’s called The Witchwood, and it launches in April.

“Be warned, the footage you are about to watch may fill you with fright and leave you with a sense of joy,” the devs tweeted a few minutes ago. “It was recovered from the last known location of three developers who were designing the latest Hearthstone expansion.” Yes, a Blair Witch Project-esque shakycam video is on order, and as always, you should watch the trailer-within-the-trailer part even if you don’t care for Hearthstone because it’s just that good, especially for the twist, which any good World of Warcraft player familiar with the Worgen will see coming. Also it’s worth it to see the devs maintain their conceit for a full seven minutes of card descriptions. Enjoy!

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StarCraft celebrates its 20 year anniversary with celebrations across other games

It’s been 20 years since StarCraft was first released to the world, and as a result, Blizzard is taking the time to celebrate the anniversary. Where? Everywhere. Basically every single title has some sort of anniversary celebration, even World of Warcraft.

Although considering the World of Warcraft celebration just consists of a feat of strength for saluting minipets based off of the game, calling that one a “celebration” might be a bit of a stretch. “Acknowledgement” seems more appropriate.

Overwatch players can pick up a Kerrigan skin for Widowmaker, StarCraft II players can get special UI skins based off of the original game, and even StarCraft Remastered gets a special UI skin. There are also rewards for taking part in a special brawl in Hearthstone and old-school portraits for Heroes of the Storm, so whatever title you play, you can do something to remember the game’s initial launch.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Chaos for the tip!


Hearthstone is planning three expansions for 2018’s Year of the Raven

Watching any Hearthstone video is always a weird experience for me since Blizzard’s Ben Brode looks and sounds and acts exactly like my brother-in-law, but the latest episode of Hearthstone Chat is definitely worth five minutes of your attention. After recapping last year’s releases, Brode announces what Blizzard is calling The Year of the Raven. Past years had their own animal mascot, as well as three expansions, and this year will be no different.

The first of these expansions, Brode says, will be revealed “real soon,” though he shows a teaser image of all three (expect druidy and arcane things in the future, in other words). There’s a new druid hero card on the way for standard format, plus the requisite shift of cards to the hall of fame. Maybe the coolest bit is that Hearthstone is finally adding a custom tournament mode.

“This feature will help players run a Hearthstone tournament from their own home or Fireside Gathering. Players will be able to create a custom tournament and invite friends – all from within the Hearthstone game client. [We] will begin with handling matchmaking and checking decks, but we’ll continue to add new features and functionality over time. We’re planning to launch in-game tournaments as a beta around the middle of this year, but that will just be the beginning as we expand on this early version of the feature.”

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Hearthstone gets wild and woolly this month

It’s hard to keep track of what year it is in Blizzard’s different games, but this much we do know: Hearthstone is kicking off the Year of the Mammoth with the most wild and woolly events the game has seen to date.

The dev team is several “wild” events that are scheduled to start on February 19th. Players can fight in a special arena that deals only with cards that are exclusive to the wild format, after which they can duke it out in the Wild Tavern Brawl or the Wild Brawliseum.

Looking ahead to next month, on March 1st Hearthstone will make some big changes to its ranked play. The gist here is that all future resets will knock players down only four ranks below where they were instead of hinging on stars. Also, the only way that the monthly card can be earned is by winning five games in ranked standard or wild.

Source: Hearthstone, press release


WoW Factor: So Battle for Azeroth is out for pre-order

Well, folks, I hope you’ve made your pre-purchases of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth and started playing your allied races. I found out about the opening of pre-purchases when I was busy being out of the house and unable to buy anything, so I admittedly managed to get a bit of schadenfreude out of the fact that everyone else was equally unable to buy the expansion in the interim. When I actually got home I decided to give it a shot mostly for a lark, at which point it went through without a hitch.

The lesson here is that very mild patience is rewarded, and if that patience is a result of not having any alternatives that’s close enough, I guess.

The opening of pre-purchase brings along with it plenty of fun stuff to discuss, ranging from the actual unlock quests and scenarios to how the release date compares with predictions and existing data. So let’s all put down our moose-cows for a little bit to think about thing in a larger context, and then we can collectively get back to tearing up low-level zones with our allied race alts.

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Hearthstone is planning a huge overhaul for ranked play plus balance nerfs

Have you been annoyed with Hearthstone’s ranked play for a reaaaallly long time? Good news: A big change-up is on the way. Over the weekend, Blizzard’s Ben Brode explained that ranked play currently gives a really different experience depending on where you sit. At the top ranks, there’s too much grinding, while at the bottom, “Some players feel like they’re hitting a wall” and never progress at all.

So Blizzard is working on a big fix. Come the beginning of the March season, everyone will be reset “exactly four ranks,” and all ranks will be flattened out to five stars. “That means that every player gets to feel the same amount of progression each month,” he says. Players also won’t have to make it to rank 20 to get their loot – just win five ranked games.

Additionally, Brode hopes, this’ll affect matchmatching overall, as the best players won’t be crammed into too-low tiers and lower-ranked players will be more spread out according to their actual abilities. The brief explainer video – plus the brand-new dev blog on balance changes coming in 10.2 (and yes that means card nerfs) – is down below.

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Hearthstone has three more free card packs for you

It is hard being you, what with all of the freebies being tossed in your direction by the goblins at Hearthstone. First there were three free card packs handed out earlier this month due as compensation for bugs, and now there are several login rewards to celebrate this Hearthstone World Championship.

So to get these free packs, you’ll need to log into the game once a day for three days in a row. Each day, you will get a free pack from a different recent expansion. Pretty simple stuff.

The HCT World Championship is running from January 18th through the 21st, with a million dollar prize pool that will be distributed amongst the top 16 competitors. This will mark the conclusion of the Hearthstone Championship Tour and the game’s Year of the Mammoth. You can watch the championship live below!

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Michele Morrow calls out BlizzCon gender pay inequality

Michele Morrow, one of the most recognizable faces in gaming thanks to her long career as a show host and actress and World of Warcraft player, has seemingly accused BlizzCon organizers of gender discrimination when it comes to BlizzCon hosting pay. Morrow has hosted Blizzard’s outrageously popular annual convention since 2014, last year with Geoff Keighley Alex Albrecht and Malik Forte. As she began on Twitter,

“Glad the #GoldenGlobes are calling out discrimination. I’d like to point out gender & POC pay disparity happens in gaming, too. This has happened to me. Has it happened to you?”

She followed up her statements by referring to her treatment by BlizzCon organizers specifically, suggesting that she didn’t know ahead of BlizzCon 2017 that she had been paid less than her male co-hosts.

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Blizzard has dispatched free Hearthstone packs as Kobolds and Catacombs dailies bug compensation

Stretch your mind back into last year just a few weeks and you’ll recall that Hearthstone suffered an irritating or blessed bug, depending on your point of you: It wasn’t doling out dailies. How you gonna grind every day without your dailies, I ask you.

Welp, whether or not you were affected, you’re getting compensation now. Blizzard announced this morning that it’s dishing out freebie card packs as previously promised; in fact, those packs have reportedly begun arriving.

“As a celebration of Kobolds and Catacombs and a thank you to affected players for being patient while we worked to fix this issue, we’re sending all Blizzard players three Kobolds & Catacombs card packs, for free, on us!” Blizzard writes. “Your free card packs will arrive via Blizzard Battle.net gifting in early January. To redeem on mobile, just log into Blizzard Battle.net via your favorite browser. If you’re on PC, you can click the gift icon on the upper right next to your Battletag. If your packs don’t appear in-game after you claim them, please try restarting Hearthstone.”

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Hearthstone works on fixing daily quest bug, promises free decks for all

While you may never want to see another daily quest again, Hearthstone’s players are clamoring for the opposite. Ever since the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion released a few weeks back, there has been a nasty bug that’s kept the game from doling out much-needed dailies for some players.

Blizzard acknowledged the issue on the forums and said that it is working on a fix. In the meantime, the studio suggested several workarounds and promised that it would be gifting all players with three free card decks in January as an apology.

Speaking of Kobolds and Catacombs, how about a pair of videos to fuel knowledge and interest in the expansion? Tune in after the break for a video on the dungeon run journey and a look at the current meta of this card game.

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Apple now demands lootbox odds disclosures from Appstore games

No matter what type of mobile device you run as your daily driver, you’re probably going to be surprised to hear that Apple is the one getting out in front of the whole lockbox gambling thing. Turns out the company has updated its app guidelines to demand odds disclosures from games with lockboxes and lootboxes.

“Apps offering ‘loot boxes’ or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase.”

Given how many mobile games use these tactics – Hearthstone is coming immediately to mind – that’s going to make for some interesting spreadsheet crunching in the coming months.

As multiple people have pointed out, Apple rather likes doing business in China, and China is well-known for strictly regulating odds disclosure on gacha games and those similar. Companies like Blizzard and Grinding Gear Games have previously done the same.

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