It looks like free-to-play digital collectible card games will be the trend of 2014. MTG is not doing well on the digital front, and people need something to rely on. That’s where Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft comes into play. Blizzards squeezed the best from offline collectible card games, added a bunch of unique online-only features and spiced it all with some decent visuals, and viola Hearthstone is a very popular even in the beta state.
One of the most interesting game modes is the Arena mode. Each session costs in-game gold or real money to play. For this price you can build a deck by choosing among the three cards until you pick 30. With this deck you face another arena player until you have three losses or twelve wins. Arena is pretty popular in Hearthstone, but will this formula work for all games? Let’s find out what Arena stands for, shall we.
Easy to get, hard to master
Hearthstone is a game with simple rules. You can become decent in Arena quite fast. Usually you can win from three to five games easily. But after this point you will play with pros, and here all the details matter. And Hearthstone has a million and one nuance to master.
Once you came into Arena territory the game becomes different. It’s a challenge now, it’s a competition. Blizzard created the place where you can put your skill into a test with other experienced players. You need a lot of skilled guys to make it work.
Strategy and tactics
Deck building is your strategy phase. You will rarely receive all the cards you’d like in a draft. You should adapt your strategy, prioritize some cards over the others to maximize your chances to win. The game is you tactics phase. Now you should use your resource wisely. Each card matters. Order matters. Mind games matter. Arena is a battlefield for your mind.
There should be something unique. Something should highlight the Arena. In Hearthstone it is the deck building limitation. Arena doesn’t have them. The amount of the same card in your deck is not limited. You can build a lot of crazy things in the Arena because of that.
After each Arena run you gain a reward. It might be gold to start a new run. It might be a pack of cards for your cards collection. It might be dust or a specific card. But the break-even point in the Arena is the seventh win. Once you win your seventh game in a session, you will have enough gold to play Arena one more time. At the end of the day only the best players play for free.
Hearthstone is a well rounded game for anyone who loves challenges. But what really highlights Hearthstone is the Arena mode. So if you have an easy to get, hard to master game with a lot of random elements, maybe you should implement some sort of the Arena mode, shouldn’t you?