Blizzard’s PAX Surprise Is Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Card Game

Blizzard Entertainment laid its virtual cards on the table today with the unveiling of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a new cross-platform free-to-play game for Windows, Macintosh, and iPad.

In Hearthstone, players build card decks centered around one of nine Warcraft character classes and duel each other for fun, glory, and the chance to win new cards. PAX East attendees are able to go hands-on with Hearthstone this weekend, and Blizzard will begin beta testing for the game “very soon.”

“We’ve always loved collectible card games at Blizzard, so it’s been exciting to bring everything we love about the genre to life in Hearthstone,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re putting a lot of focus into creating a fun new game that’s easy to pick up and play, but also has a lot of depth. We can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Blizzard promised that Hearthstone will be instantly accessible to players regardless of their familiarity with Warcraft or collectible card games.

In addition to honing their skills in practice matches against the computer and taking on their buddies via their Battle.net friends list, players can challenge each other in two competitive game modes. “Play Mode” features traditional head-to-head battles, with players facing off for a chance to increase their medal ranking and earn card packs along the way. And for a different type of challenge, players can enter “The Forge,” where they start each match by building a deck from a new set of cards, and then use that deck to duel other Forge participants.

Aside from winning new cards, players will be able to round out their collections by purchasing new card packs or disenchanting some of their existing cards to craft the ones they’re missing.

Earlier this month, Blizzard promised to announce “a little something” that is “not a sequel, expansion or that rumored next-gen MMO.” Technically, Hearthstone meets that definition but we still feel cheated.

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