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How Hearthstone won over a skeptical Magic veteran

New Hearthstone card backs
I started playing Magic: The Gathering in 1995. I've loved the game ever since a friend introduced me to it. I've played both face to face and online, in one-on-one tournaments and in 12-player free-for-alls. It's the only collectible card game I've ever committed myself to playing.

Then along came Hearthstone. I received an invitation to the closed beta. I gave it a few hours and then I dismissed it. I had a long list of reasons. The game was too simple. I felt helpless during my opponent's turn. I couldn't protect my most valuable creatures by keeping them out of combat. I didn't have enough interesting cards to develop the quirky strategies that I prefer in Magic.

A few weeks ago, on the advice of a fellow Magic player who had been playing Hearthstone nonstop since open beta, I gave it another shot. I tried to approach the game without my Magic prejudices. I soon discovered that Hearthstone has a lot more to offer than I first thought.

Here's how Blizzard won me over.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Hearthstone Insider

The future of the ingame Darkmoon Faire

Larisa over at the Pink Pigtail Inn misunderstood the news we posted the other day about the Darkmoon Faire live event in France being canceled, and instead thought that the actual ingame event had been shut down for good. And that brought up an interesting question to her: so what if it was? The original Faire was an interesting idea, a way to bring the fun of a regular holiday (along with the usual quests, special items, and even a reputation to grind) around every month or so. But just like having Christmas every month would get old after a while, the Faire has sort of worn out its welcome -- players really only go there for following some arcane questline, and when they do get there, they're undoubtedly disappointed by how barren the place is.

So what to do? Larisa suggests that the Cataclysm might just claim the whole thing -- Azeroth gets rocked, and no more Darkmoon Faire. I'd actually like to see the story go the other way: if there's a traveling group of performers with vast magical powers that's allowed to move at will between Horde and Alliance lands, wouldn't it be great if they were actually part of a secret society that had bigger interests rise to the top in a disaster situation? I'm sure Blizzard has more than enough on their plate for the next few content patches, but the Faire itself is due for an update, too, and it'd be nice to see it included in the larger storyline somehow.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Lore, NPCs, Cataclysm

Blizzard working to fix graphics issues on Macs

Reader Catsby sent along news of an issue that's apparently plaguing Mac users. Blizzard has confirmed that people using Macs with Nvidia 7300GT and 7600GT graphics cards in them (you can see what you've got by going to the Apple, "About this Mac," and then hitting more info) are having issues with framerates, especially around water and during boss fights (which is exactly when you want the graphics to mess up, right?)

Unfortunately, there's no fix yet -- Blizzard says the issue is known and reproducible, and they're working to put a fix in "the next patch" (originally they say it'll be in a PTR patch 3.2.2 build, but a hint at the end of the thread suggests we may see it even sooner than that). So if your Mac has one of those graphics cards installed and you're having this issue, just sit tight -- Blizzard is working as fast as they can to get a fix out to you.

Filed under: Patches, Bugs, Blizzard, Hardware

Enter to win some loot cards from and

Is it just me, or have we had lots of EU-only contests lately? First, Lesley gives away some loot cards for the EU, and then Turpster gives away some more. This is July 4th, and it's about time we served the North American side of the globe! (Canada, we missed Canada Day, so we'll throw you in the mix, too). Courtesy of our good friends over at (be sure to visit them if you need to know anything about the TCG Loot cards), let's give away some loot codes!

We've got 10 in total that we'll give away to ten random commenters on this post before tomorrow night, Sunday July 5th, at midnight. There's an Epic Purple Shirt, two Sandbox Tigers, three Papa Hummel's Pet Biscuits, and four Party Grenades up for grabs -- to enter, just leave a comment on this post, and since it's Independence Day, how about telling us what your favorite kind of firework is. I was always partial to the black snakes -- most people though they were boring, but I knew how the big ones blew up, and I never really understood just how those darned snakes worked.

One comment per person in the US and Canada only, please, and do be sure to use a real email address when you comment (that you check often) so we can get in touch with you ASAP if you win. Good luck to everyone, and happy Independence Day!

Filed under: Items, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Odds and ends, Contests, Humor

WoW TCG: Arena Grand Melee expansion released

The World of Warcraft Trading Card game has released its latest expansion, but it's a little bit different than what's come before. It's called Arena Grand Melee, and it actually changes the gameplay of the TCG just a little bit, including some very different mechanics than those players have seen before. For instance, there's a card called "For the Fallen" that will grant additional cards to players when they act out their melee strikes in real-life. Another card called "Steamwheedle Casino" has players playing a quick game of Blackjack with their WoW TCG cards to win an extra card. Arena Grand Melee sounds it puts a very strange twist on the current TCG game.

The WoW TCG site has been highlighting some of the new cards in the game -- there's a new ability called Preparation, which allows you to use a card twice in quick succession, and there are cards that boost your hand size and beef up your allies, as well as cards that offer up some other new heroes and abilities. It sounds like an interesting addition to the game, but on the other hand, this doesn't seem like a pack for newbies -- experienced players will get the best thrill from these twists. Pick up the eighty card sets in either of the Horde or Alliance versions at your local gaming store.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Talents, WoW TCG, Arena

More tasty WoW cakes

We got quite a few new cakes come across the tipline since we posted that caketop the other day, including this scary little bit of confectionary groomicide, thanks to another WoW-playing laptop. Lumpey of Arathor sent this one in, and says his mom made it for his wife's bridal shower, after he joked about bringing his laptop on the honeymoon so he could play WoW. We just want to know: mother or mother-in-law? The two messages might be very different, depending. But it does look like a great cake!

We've added this one to the gallery, along with two others we were sent. One is from Bubber, who put an edible guild picture on a regular cake he picked up (but it still looks pretty good), and the other is from Patrick S., whose wife made him another cake laptop for his birthday last year. That one actually has edible ricepaper TCG cards on it, and a great little World of Warcraft logo on the bottom. Very awesome, everybody, thanks for sending those in.

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Cooking, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Humor, Galleries

Breakfast Topic: Sorry about your nerf

I like Trixter's "silly idea" over on WoW Ladies. She says she came home the other day to a boyfriend bummed out by the Curse of Tongues nerf, and wished she had a greeting card for the occasion. Something, we'd guess, like "Sorry about your nerf. Hope you pwn soon." Funny. Which got us thinking: what other kinds of greeting cards might come in handy for WoW players?

"It's a proto-drake! Congrats on your new mount!"

"Our condolences on your recent ninja attack. Here's wishing you all the best loot in the future."

"Thanks for all your help with the raid-leading! You're the best!"

"Will you BEE our Tank?" (And there's a picture of a bee on it.)

Ok, so those aren't that great. But what other ideas might Hallmark be interested in if they were designing a new line of greeting cards for you to give out to fellow players afflicted by what happens in Azeroth?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Breakfast Topics, Humor

Upper Deck giving away Drums of War packs

Our friends at Upper Deck have decided to break out a series of contests for free cards from the WoW TCG. Over on their forums, they've posted a Card Caption contest -- they'd like you to come up with a caption for the Ryno the Short card (because Gnomes and short jokes are always funny -- and probably because the card bears a striking resemblence to Ryan O'Connor, the WoW TCG content manager), and in return, they're giving away free stuff: 12 packs of the Drums of War expansion for the first place winner (which means it's almost guaranteed that you'll pick up a dance grenade at least), and six packs each for a second and third place.

So if you've already honed your caption making skills on our caption contests, head on over there and try your luck. You've got to enter before Sunday night, but the good news is that you can apparently enter as much as you want, so go crazy.

And keep checking in over there on their forums -- we're told that they'll have new contests with new prizes every Monday. And we all know that while the WoW TCG is fun, the best way to play it is with free cards.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Contests, Fan art, WoW TCG

Not at BlizzCon? Enter to win a Tabard of Flame anyway

Everyone going to BlizzCon has already left, right? And there's no Internet access for people in Anaheim, right? Good, because we wanted to talk just to you folks who aren't going. Sure the next few days are going to be full of fun Blizzard news and galleries full of nerds dressed like Night Elves, but we wanted to make sure those of you at home aren't left out. While we've got tons of giveaways to pass out at our reader meetup later this evening, we're not forgetting about you forlorn souls: thanks to the good folks at WoWTCGLoot, we've got a tabard code to offer you.

That's right, leave a comment on this post during BlizzCon (that is, before Saturday night, October 11th, at midnight Eastern), and you'll be entered in a contest to randomly win a code for a Tabard of Flame. We'll pick one random winner (and you can use the code on the US or EU realms), and help them make up for missing out on BlizzCon by putting them in some sweet tabard threads. Please note: you may only enter once, by leaving a comment on this post, and please use a real email so we can contact the winner afterwards.

We just wanted to make sure the weekend wasn't a complete wash -- thanks to WoWTCGLoot for helping us out with this (and make sure to visit them if you want any info about all the loot from the TCG). Good luck to everyone, whether you're at BlizzCon or not.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Contests, BlizzCon, WoW TCG

Upper Deck announces new "Drums of War" TCG loot cards

The latest WoW TCG expansion pack, the Drums of War, hits stores in late October (the 28th, to be exact), and Upper Deck has revealed three new loot cards that will come along with it. These are pretty wild.
  • Slashdance is a super common card that will give you a party G.R.E.N.A.D.E. that, when thrown, will explode into a dance party on any unsuspecting characters who happen to be standing around.
  • Owned! Flag is probably my favorite -- it lets you plant a flag, Emissary of Hate style, with a "thumbs down" flag in your conquered opponent.
  • And The Red Bearon will give folks who missed out on the War Bear another chance -- it's a black battle bear mount.
All very cool (still not quite worth paying for by themselves, in my opinion, but that's up to you). If nothing else, folks playing the TCG will have a nice chance at some cool loot.

But that Owned! flag is nuts. Hopefully that's not the only flag we get to stab into corpses in the future -- even if the" thumbs down" stays TCG only, I'd be a big fan of stabbing someone with a Horde flag.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Contests, WoW TCG

Penny Arcade plays cards at the Darkmoon Faire

As expected, Penny Arcade did show up at the Seattle Darkmoon Faire last weekend, and also as expected, Tycho did bring a raid deck. He also, surprisingly, dressed up for the role -- apparently he worse the cape they'd depicted in the comic while running the Molten Core game (though he couldn't find a skull pin to go with it). Sounds like a lot of fun. Upper Deck has coverage of the event, though we couldn't find any mention of the Penny Arcade guys.

Another thing Tycho mentions (and that makes it into the comic today, NSFW) is that even for people familiar but not fanatic about the game like them, entering these tournaments can be really tough -- there are tons of solid decks and strategies out there, and if you haven't done the research, someone who has can very easily trounce you. They even mention a "three card infinite damage combo" that players can use. Unfortunately, that's way too far over my TCG strategy head to actually tell you what it is (maybe commenters can help), but it seems like for new players especially, these formal TCG events might be a little tough to get into.

Still, the Darkmoon Faire events are fun, even if you're not playing at the top of the heap. UDE has lots more news about upcoming events on their website.

Filed under: Cheats, Events, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, WoW TCG

Upper Deck starts "Road to Worlds"

Upper Deck has announced the series of tournaments that will bring them down the road to the World Championships for the WoW trading card game -- "The Road to Worlds," they're calling them -- and the events began this past weekend. You can check on their website right now to see what's going down where -- odds are that if you're near a metropolitan area, there's something happening near you. These events aren't that big themselves (the prizes are a few art pieces and some extra cards, including this awesome Robotic Chicken quest card), but the big deal here is that the top two from each event move on, and eventually will try for a chance to compete in the World Championships later this year.

Good luck if you do go, and as always, bring your camera and let us know if you get pictures of the events. This is the small end of Upper Deck's tournament year (things will get much bigger later on as they move towards the big Championships), but all the same, every time they show up somewhere to play cards, there's a lot of fun to be had.

Filed under: Events, News items, Features, WoW TCG

60-day cards for $20 at Circuit City

Back in the day, you could get 60 day playtime cards for $20 at Amazon, all the time. This appears to be the resurrection of that deal: the same cards are currently available for $20 at Circuit City. This is, as they say, a $30 value, assuming you normally pay the single-month rate of $15 per month. The cards are sold out online, but available for in-store pickup; click over to the site and enter your ZIP code to see if they're available in your store.

Personally, I'm not going for it, because the closest Circuit City is about 15 minutes away, and also because I like to pay for a month at a time and then cancel my account. That way, if I happen not to be able to play for some amount of time after my subscription is up, it doesn't renew until I need it and go renew it manually (which takes all of two minutes), and so I save a few bucks. But for those with more regular play schedules, this looks like a good deal.
[via the Bronze Kettle]

Filed under: Tips

New York Toy Faire previews the WoW mini game

The WoW Minis Game has a bit to go before it sees release in Fall 2008, but has some news fresh from the New York Toy Fair to whet your appetite, including a few pictures. The miniatures themselves especially look pretty awesome, and I can see a lot of non-players buying sets just for display purposes, especially if they haven't managed to get their hands on a Figureprint.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, WoW TCG

Upper Deck announces new booster set and Spectral Safari details

Two big pieces of news today from Upper Deck about the WoW TCG-- first of all, they've announced details about their latest booster set, called Servants of the Betrayer, and available this coming April. The set will have new sub-factions, new ally types, and heretofore unreleased abilities for your deck. Additionally, the booster packs will continue the trend set in the last expansion, and contain 19 cards per pack, with those extra loot consumable cards showing up more often.

Second, Upper Deck has also revealed details of the Spectral Safari, a series of events at local card stores at which players will be able to win the Spectral Tiger Mount card. The contests will take place on March 1st at selected retail locations, and the winner of each contest will take home a Spectral Tiger Mount, while a Robotic Homing Chicken will be given away as a door prize, and Upper Deck will give out other prizes to winners as well.

So mark your calendars for March 1st if you plan to attend one of the tournaments, and look out for Servants of the Betrayer in stores in April (that's the booster set, not actual servants of Illidan).

Filed under: Items, Odds and ends, Contests, WoW TCG

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