Best Free to Play Online Card Game

Let me start this article off with a warning. Some games are quite addictive and can suck up your time. Online card games are effectively the crack of PC games. They are extremely addictive and infinitely replayable.

Currently my favourite online card game is Hearthstone which was created by Blizzard. The game is currently going from closed to open beta. That means you can join and play, but there are still some bugs for them to fix.

Free to Play

Hearthstone is a free to play game, not a free game. What that means is that you can currently unlock all the cards you need, without spending money. Doing so will however take a lot of time, so most players buy digital decks with real money. Even if you intend to spend no money I would still recommend the game.

If you don't like the idea of buying card packs, I recommend going with Scrolls instead of Hearthstone.

Playable warrior

Playable warrior

In my opinion the benchmark for card games is Magic the Gathering. It has been out for a very long time and is both a real world and computer game. The latest computer version is called Magic the Gathering Duels 2014. In my opinion the problem with MTG 2014 is that it is based on a physical game, whereas Hearthstone was a computer game from the start. 

With MTG you draw lands out of your deck that enable you to play cards. The problem is if you don't draw land cards, you can't play the larger cards in your hand conversely if you only draw lands you can't do anything. With Hearthstone you play your cards using mana and your mana increases every turn. This reduces the randomness. I mean there is still plenty of randomness, but it keeps your card draw from just completely ruining a game. MTG minions regain their health completely after each turn, probably because it's too much of an effort to track the minions' damage. However in a computer game like Hearthstone it's easy to track the damage your minions take.

Hearthstone is based on the World of Warcraft universe, so expect elves, orcs, goblins and magic. Drawing from World of Warcraft has been a major benefit for the Blizzard developers. As you can see from the pictures the art is great, the game also has amazing sound and animation.

Hearthstone playable character Mage

Hearthstone playable character Mage

Which is your favourite online card game?



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The best way to get an idea of what Hearthstone is like is to watch one of the YouTube videos about it. Below is a first look at Hearthstone by a talented YouTube personality, Total Biscuit. He goes into a lot of detail and you will be able to watch him play a game. I recommend that you turn the detail level up and watch the video in full screen mode.

Total Biscuit's introduction to the game

When you play a hand you do so as one of 9 classes the mage, warrior, rogue, druid, hunter, paladin, shaman, warlock or priest. You build your deck from common cards that any class can use as well as class specific cards. Additionally each class has a special power that takes 2 mana but doesn't require a card to use. You can also equip your hero with a weapon by using a card or special power. When your hero has a weapon they can use it to directly attack a creature or opposing hero. When you hit a minion with a weapon you take the damage that, that minion is able to do, to your health.

The special powers:

  • The mage throws a 1 damage fireball that can target minions or the opposing hero.
  • The priest heals 2 health to himself or his minions.
  • The shaman summons a totem.
  • The warlock sacrifices 2 hit points and draws a card.
  • The hunter does 2 damage to the opposing player.
  • The warrior ads 2 armor to himself. Armor works the same as health, but it is not limited by your maximum health.
  • The rogue equips a 1 damage weapon that can be used twice or increases the damage of her current weapon by 1.
  • The druid gets 1 armor and can hit for 1 damage that turn.

This setup allows for a great deal of diversity and depth. Playing the different classes delivers very different experiences. In my opinion the setup is too complex for a physical card or board game, but it does work for a PC game.

Hearthstone character Paladin

Hearthstone character Paladin

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