Garry Kasparov may be the best chess player in history, but it turns out he's partial to throwing down in Hearthstone's tavern, where he of course faces considerably more RNG than during the day job. The former world champion recently spoke to PC Gamer to promote the launch of his new masterclass on Kasparovchess.com and, during our chat, talk turned to his intense dislike of the sneaky Rogue class. Kasparov also told us about dabbling in other Blizzard games, like Warcraft.
PCGamer: You mentioned Hearthstone: Do you play?
Garry Kasparov: Yeah! I was a part of a new campaign for it but yes, I do play Hearthstone. Diamond five!
Unfortunately no! To go to the legend rank you need to spend more time. I don't have more time but I have many, many decks. Because yeah you have to be fully concentrated. If I make a push I can go to legend rank but diamond five I get fairly easily.
What do you play? Are you a Rogue?
No Rogue, no Mage! I think the Rogue is probably the strongest deck as of now because you know, it could basically kill you on turn seven from hand. So this is 30+ plus damage if the combination comes up. But it's something that requires your work. So this is my play: It's a Libram Paladin, yeah I play Libram, or a Taunt Druid. So there's those two, though I did try my own, you know, customised my Priest... just try to play some interesting builds but again, it's at a fairly primitive level. So sure: Libram and Druid. I tried Pirate, the Pirate Warrior, but somehow I think it's not good, it didn't fit.
[Ed's note: Since we spoke to Kasparov, Hearthstone has seen the release of The Deadmines mini-set, which has boosted the power of Pirate Warrior substantially—partly thanks to the monstrosity that is Mr Smite.]
When did you play Warcraft?
I played when my eldest son, he was at the age of six, seven, eight, so that was 2003-2004 and, yeah, we needed a computer game. So I played, maybe 2005, we played WarCraft 3 and Frozen Throne. So I remember just you know, I told him okay, you you don't play on that [without me]. That's the rule! [laughs] So we did a few campaigns, and I think his favourite was the orcs, that's what he used anyway. I think my favourite was alliance but I'm not sure. Yes, it was a long time ago.
But again, those are the games that require, you know, speed. It's dexterity of hands. So that's why I like games like Hearthstone better because it's more strategic and you still have a time limit. But it's just about strategies, about making calculations and about understanding connections. And again, what I like is this unbalanced value, so that's why just, you know, you change things and you can have endless combinations that could give you a chance to beat even a strong opponent.
What's your favourite video game?
I don't have a favourite! [laughs] I just, look, I guess it's right now like this: I play Hearthstone. I found it, I discovered it in doing this commercial with Blizzard, and that's what I play now.
You can check out the full masterclass at kasparovchess.com, and can read our longer interview with Kasparov about his history with computers and chess here.