Cultural Phenomenon 2014: Hearthstone


Check out our game of the year awards 2014 page to find out how the awards were decided.

Tim Clark: I think it only sunk in how deep Hearthstone had its hooks in me when I found myself ignoring the World Cup in Brazil in favour of watching DreamHack Summer on my laptop. Watching Tidesoftime had become more exciting to me than watching James Rodriguez with a giant insect on his arm. Of course by that point I’d already sunk hundreds of hours, plus a frightening amount of actual folding money, into completing my card collection.

No other game has gone from not being a thing to being a Really Quite Big Thing so fast or so spectacularly in 2014. It’s testament to a design ethos that always tries to keep things simple and rewards players with something fun in every match.

Hearthstone’s detractors, and our own review, will tell you that this is a game in which luck of the draw and RNG rolls are hugely important determining factors. And both are right. But knowing this has never lessened the thrill for me. Even if those gorgeous interactive boards, and my gloriously daft collection of creatures and spells, are essentially one big Technicolor Skinner Box, there’s still no better feeling for me than Black Knighting a Taunted Ancient of War and almost being able to taste the other player’s salt.

Actually there is: it’s that one time I used Thoughtsteal to nab a Paladin’s Equality- Wild Pyromancer combo and clear his entire board from nowhere. That was my favourite gaming moment of this, and indeed most other years. Hell, while the new Curse of Naxxramas cards were being rolled out, the whole Hearthstone scene felt like one month-long party, the metagame lurching crazily from one week to the next.

Samuel Roberts: My own obsession spluttered out, but only because I got hurt so badly by the game’s brutal ranking system. I have never been interested in card games before, but the simplicity and generosity of Hearthstone made me sink about 40 hours into it without spending a penny. Millions of players, like me, were drawn in by the accessibility and the lovely presentation, and I wouldn’t take back a second.

Playfire wide

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