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Blizzard Entertainment's digital collectible card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is starting to make its way to the iPad as of today, although it's currently only available in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. That could change, though, as the night goes on. Designed by the makers of popular games like World of Warcraft and Diablo III, Hearthstone presents a fun, free-to-play take on the genre probably best known for Magic: The Gathering and, in true Blizzard fashion, it makes it easily accessible for the most novice of players.
"Hearthstone's player base has already grown to more than 10 million registered accounts following the official Windows and Mac release, but we saw that a few people online were holding out for the iPad version," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "Instead of calling those folks up individually, we figured we might as well let everyone know that the global iPad rollout for Hearthstone has begun, and pretty soon it'll be available everywhere. The game is a natural fit for tablets—we encourage everyone to check it out on their couch, in their backyard, in a coffee shop . . . or anywhere else they take their iPads."
Hearthstone may have first appeared on the Mac and PC, but it comes into its own on an iPad. I had the chance to play an early version on an iPad back during BlizzCon last autumn, and even then I marveled at how well Blizzard translated the mouse clicks and movements of the Mac into gestures for Apple's tablet. Like most games in its genre, Hearthstone sees you battling both computer-controlled and live opponents, whittling down the opposing hero's health points with stats from cards in your deck.
Blizzard took the concept and made something surprisingly enjoyable out of it, and it decorated the whole project with the voices and visual trappings of its loved Warcraft series. Packs of new cards start at $1.99, but Blizzard has designed the game so you'll never need to spend a cent if you don't want to. By and large, it's free-to-play done right.
Look for it on the iPad store in the coming days. If you have a iPhone, you'll have to wait.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.