Blizzard offering freebie to Hearthstone players who meet up IRL

Tim Clark

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One of the best things about Hearthstone is that when you do this to your opponent, you don't have to listen to them whine about it. Likewise, you don't have to suffer them being smug when you're on the end of a big beating. The in-game's chat system is limited to a handful of stock phrases, the worst of which is "that was a mistake!", which means that any trolling is of the most mild, passive aggressive kind.

However, starting on 26 April Blizzard is hoping to foster a greater sense of community in the game by encouraging players to congregate in the actual real you-can-touch-each-other-and-everything world. Dubbed 'Fireside Meetings' , the hope is that players will use these meet-ups to swap strategies, run tournaments, and gawp at each other's OP Warlock zoo decks .

In order to help tempt you out of your gated Xanadu, Blizzard is also offering a unique new backing for your cards (pictured left) as a reward. In order to unlock it, there'll need to be at least three players present, and you'll need to play each other using the 'Player Near Me' function (essentially you have to be on the same subnet, as explained here ). You can find more info about Fireside Gatherings here , including a list of major ones planned so far, and the resources for creating your own poster. Which seems adorable. Although maybe less so when someone uses Mind Control on your Ragnaros The Firelord and you have to go upside their head with your laptop.

There's little doubt in my mind that Hearthstone's enforced anonymity is a large part of the game's success, but for such an otherwise popular game, it's probably also had a chilling effect on the more fun community aspects of online play. (Although it should be noted there are still some great resource sites, like Hearthstone Players , Hearthpwn , and Don't Kick My Robot .) It'll be interesting to see whether these events take off, or whether, like me, you fear meeting new people as you do a bullet with your own name on it.

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