Yesterday Blizzard Entertainment snuck a game launch into the unsuspecting gaming community. Two days after ending their Test Season 4, Blizzard gave us all a delightful surprise by launching Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft earlier than expected. They must have a card or two up their sleeve because features are still missing from the game, namely a way to view your achievements.
And speaking of achievements, those that play Hearthstone and win three games will get access to the Hearthsteed, and World of Warcraft ingame mount. Now that the game is live, it might take some time to win a game with all the people flooding the servers, but if you're concerned you'll get trounced by epic beta players as you push through the Ranked mode, don't: Blizzard implemented a new Bonus Star system with their latest patch that bumps those who achieved rankings in previous seasons up a couple of tiers. I ended up starting at level 23 this season, which was a nice little reward for all my hard work in the previous seasons -- and my hard work I mean losing so very, often.
To celebrate the launch of the game, Blizzard will be hosting a whole slew of social media tie-in events on Friday, March 14th. First they'll be asking people to Vine their best murloc impressions with the tag #HearthstoneDay. Next they'll be looking for Instagram photos of people reacting to their best pack opening moment with the same hashtag. And finally they'll be hosting a Google Hangout Q&A with the team on Friday from 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM.
For those that haven't played Hearthstone, I highly recommend you jump in and try it. It's the first card game I've really enjoyed, and that's largely because of the Blizzard sense of humor. Plus, this is a great example of Free to Play done right, and that always should be celebrated. Head on over to the Hearthstone site and download the game, and hit me up (Mandifesto#1577) if you want someone to completely annihilate in matches and boost your ego.