MMOs and card games

Wilhelm has a post on Hearthstone and a recent quote from SoE’s John Smedley that the Legends of Norrath (LoN) card game has untapped potential.

The blog post notes the pattern of SoE starting something (EQ style MMOs, collectible card games based on MMO lore) and then Blizzard taking the idea and making it massively popular. Naturally that hasn’t happened with Hearthstone yet, but then I know more people wanting to play Hearthstone than those who want to play LoN and Hearthstone is only just in open beta.

I’ll admit I’ve barely even looked at LoN, I loaded it once and claimed some free booster packs but beyond that I haven’t tried to learn the rules. I have a very long association with collectible card games (CCGs), I started playing Magic the Gathering in 1997 (a whole ten years before I started on MMO gaming!). I have also tried the Pokemon CCG, Shadowrun CCG, Battletech CCG and Killer Bunnies. MTG is the only CCG I’ve played with any regularity or collected beyond a few starter packs however.

So for me Hearthstone is of zero interest despite the Azeroth tie-in. I enjoy the gameplay depth of MTG, I like the lore of the multi-planar setting of the game and I have a ton of money sunk in collected cards. These days we only play the physical card game at family gatherings, but we do play the Playstation 3 game Duel of the Planeswalker (2011 and now 2014). That’s a great game to play with a remote friend on occasion despite the limit of playing with pre-built (but customisable) decks. It lacks the collection element of the game but then that’s probably a good thing for my wallet.

The irony of this situation is that for once, Blizzard do not, in my mind, automatically win the “highest polish and slickest presentation” award with Hearthstone. Although World of Warcraft is the giant of the MMO sphere, in card gaming (even online) MTG is still dominant and for once Blizzard’s offering is the upstart.

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