The iPad version of Blizzard's all-conquering card-'em-up has just arrived on Apple's US and UK App Stores, having already been soft launched in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. You can get it by clicking here (opens in new tab) . But is the mobile version any good? And why, as PC gamers, should you care?
In short: yes, and for two reasons. Firstly, the fact you can port across all your progress—custom decks, card collection—using your existing PC Battle.net account, is definitely good news. Maybe you want to continue tearing up Ranked Mode while on holiday. (Or sat on the toilet at work.) If so, then the mobile version is, well, more mobile.
Perhaps more interestingly, PC gamers and iPad owners will be able to play each other. In fact, you won't even know which type of player you're playing. So, what's likely to be a sudden and substantial influx of new players may have interesting implications for Hearthstone's 'meta' game.
Will currently unpopular heroes and deck builds suddenly become trendy? Will these new finger-swiping players get mown down by seasoned mouse wielders? Probably not if Blizzard's matchmaking algorithms have anything to say about it, but we're certainly expecting the community to grow fast.
One point of order worth noting about the iPad version is that, like the PC game, it requires a constant internet connection. So you can't browse your cards, create decks, or practice against the AI offline. Presumably because Blizzard wants to be tracking your stats (and selling you new packs) at all times, but that feels like a misstep for the iPad version. You can see managing editor Cory Banks and I discussing the differences, and the implications for PC players, in the video above.
Essentially, this is very much the Hearthstone you know and, in my case, have developed a worrying addiction to. It soon becomes apparent that the game was built from the ground-up with touchscreen interfaces in mind. The UI is full of fat buttons, and dragging cards around the board is easy enough. Only once has my greasy fingered slipped and played the wrong move.
We've got more Hearthstone guide coverage on the way, but in the meantime I previously wrote about how Blizzard needed to do more (opens in new tab) to keep players interested in the game. And, as if by magic, they are, with the forthcoming release of a single player mode, which was just announced (opens in new tab) at PAX East.(opens in new tab)