Hearthstone – one of the best games you shouldn't play

When it emerged from open beta eight years ago, Hearthstone was a titan. Developed on a modest budget by a rotating team of less than 20 people, Hearthstone took the time-tested collectible card game blueprint from Magic the Gathering, distilled it to its essence, polished it to a shine, and conquered the world. It made millions of dollars. It paved the way for 101 other ‘free-to-play’ CCGs including Gwent, Legends of Runeterra, Shadowverse, and Valve’s ill-fated Artifact. It was among the yearly top 10 most viewed games on Twitch for five years after launch. And it showed us that a successful esport needn’t revolve around hair-trigger reflexes or high APMs.

Thirty-odd card sets and almost a decade later, the development team has ballooned to over 150. Hearthstone now has several new game modes, a revamped economy, an achievement system, a whole new playable class and new generation of streamers and esports casters and competitors. Twitch viewers and player counts have levelled off since the glory days. But, as Hearthstone remains a giant among live service games despite its vintage, how is it really holding up? And, critically, is it still worth playing?

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