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Hearthstone mobile launched – But will it affect the meta?

Seth Barton
15 Apr 2015
Hearthstone mobile
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New players, dodgy connections, more games played - is Hearthstone going to change?

Hearthstone has finally been officially launched in its mobile incarnations for both iPhone and Android users. It was possible to hack the tablet version on Android phones before, but the unsuitable interface and the need to manually update the app would have put off most.

That means the game can now expect a flood of new players, those without tablets who would never think to download and install a PC game, who do all their game playing on their phone and will undoubtedly be attracted by the games slick production values.

We've given the mobile version a quick test and were pretty impressed. The connection held up well on our train commute into work, and when it did drop the signal, which you can see in the top right corner it managed to pick it up again and carry on without any major problems.


Hearthstone mobile main menu

^ Blizzard has done a good job of making everything fit, while feeling familiar

The interface is good, but it takes a bit longer to play cards as you have to tap your hand in the bottom-right corner to bring it up before dragging cards out to play. Also, while that menu is open, your weapon, hero power and health are obscured, so you sometimes find you need to put your hand away to double-check something. If you've ever been irked by the lack of precision and speed in the tablet version, compared to the desktop game, then this is another step down from that. It's playable but you may struggle in the most complex turns if you don't think very quickly indeed.

Hearthstone mobile - hand open

^ The new interface is really rather good, but desktop players will have a slim advantage

Finally, existing players will probably be playing more Hearthstone than ever before. The ability to fit in a quick game here and there should boost the number of games that most of us will play.

So will the new players, slightly slower interface, and greater number of games, change the way the game is played and how?

CHANGING META                                                               

To date, Hearthstone's meta has changed largely on the discovery of new strategies and the release of new cards, but the new mobile version might shake things up in more subtle and long-lasting ways.

For starters, all those extra players are going to be looking for cheap, easy to play decks. You might start to see a lot more players rocking classic cards such as Sen'jin and Chillwind Yeti. Now, the matchmaking system shouldn't mean that long-term players will see such novice opponents often, but if you're playing up through low rankings they will be present.

As they move beyond the early stages expect to see more fast and simple decks, Mage is always popular with new players and Zoo is bound to feature heavily. Any deck where your strategy is pretty straight forward is bound to appeal to these new players who are also fighting a slower interface.

This will be exacerbated by the flakiness of many mobile connections. Yes some games will be played at home on good Wi-Fi connections – though thankfully there's no emote for 'I'm playing you while on the toilet' – but many more will be played on the move. If there's a small chance that your game might be interrupted by a dropped connection, or that something might come up that you need to deal with, you're more likely to play an Aggro Hunter than a Fatigue Mage, as long game times will always have an inherent risk.

Hearthstone mobile deck builder

^ We imagine that new players will struggle with the limited space and truncuated card names in the deck builder

The combination of more novice players, using usually faster decks as they lack the big end game legendaries, and all mobile players preferring shorter games can't help skew the meta in our opinion. With more fast decks, and greater effort being put into refining them, the game will speed up, with more Aggro and mid-range decks, and with control being sidelined in terms of the percentage of people playing it.

Most of the extra games, for the reasons given above, will likely happen in Casual mode, as new players and those using a slower interface might feel that Ranked play isn't worthwhile. However, there are bound to be those who persists against the odds and more games played means more people hitting at least Rank 5 where the game stops giving out winstreak bonuses. With occasional players finding the time to play more games and rank more highly (as ranking up to 5 is an inevitability if you're an average player and put in enough time), better players should find it easier to rank up too, as the quality of the competition will actually fall in the higher ranks - though getting from 5 to Legend shouldn't change.

So in our humble opinion Hearthstone is set to get faster, simpler and maybe a little easier. Whether that bothers you or not enjoy your free pack for your first game!

Hearthstone mobile free pack