Today Blizzard released Hearthstone on iOS and Android phones making the game previously released on PCs, iPads, Kindles, and Android tablets even more mobile than ever. While some folks (including myself) had some concerns with how the game would translate to such a small screen size, having played a few games this evening I can attest that at least for an iPhone 6 with a 4.7″ screen it plays just fine. Several changes were made to the main menu, the game board, and the way players interact with cards to make up for the reduction in real estate.
First there is the difference on the main menu screen. The top image is from the iPhone version of hearthstone, the second is a screenshot captured from the PC. I actually prefer the simplicity and symmetry of the iPhone menu. The game box fills the screen and the four tabs along the bottom left and right sides are a much clearer presentation of the various sub-menu options. I especially like the now (or soon to be) iconic Hearthstone card pack image labeling the menu for opening newly purchased or won cards. I would not be surprised if this doesn’t become the default menu for other devices, including the PC in the near future.
Speaking of opening cards, above you can see an image of what it looks like when you open a pack on the iPhone. When you play a game for the first time on a new device you receive a free card pack, the phone release was no exception. I’ve been able to snag three free packs so far, one each for an iPad, Kindle, and now the iPhone. What’s unique about the iPhone version is that the cards are displayed in a single row and you are able to pan back and forth over them all, turning them each over one at a time. For the PC version of the game, cards are arranged over the entire screen in a more or less circular pattern as can also be seen above. I still think the experience of opening a pack on the PC version is far more gratifying than on the iPhone but for the screen size I’m glad they chose to make the changes they did. Otherwise the cards would have been teeny, tiny baby cards and turning them over would have been “cute” instead of EPIC!!!1!!1!
Next we have the menu for crafting and building decks. The iPhone version has a dropdown menu for the classes which opens up a small window at the top of the screen with the nine class icons rather than tabs visible in the PC version and allows you to scroll up and down through your decks on the right hand side rather than having them all fit on the screen at once. The filter button opens up another small window at the top where you can sift through your collection by mana cost and descriptive words just like on the PC. Again, I like the much cleaner, simpler design of the iPhone version. Having the filters and class tabs hidden until required streamlines the appearance without reducing accessibility or functionality.
Lastly, we have the game board itself. If you are a fan of all the little clickables in the four corners you will be disappointed, otherwise once you adapt to the minor changes in how you view and play cards, the design works quite well. The first two images above are from the iPhone. The first image is how the game board looks by default. When you’re ready to exam your cards and play your hand, you simply tap the cards in the bottom right corner and the screen changes to look like the middle image. From here you are able to select a card and play it. If you want to read the card text for your own hand or an opponents, holding your finger down on the desired card will expand it to a larger version with all the information at your finger tips.
At your fingertips? Get it? Fingertips. (I’m here all week, folks).
The bottom image is of the standard board as it is on the PC and tablets. I have no preference here, both versions of the game function appropriately for the devices being used. Without any tutorial I quickly realized how the new design worked on the iPhone and in three games was able to lose each time without a single misclick.
If you have been playing Hearthstone or were waiting for the phone version, I would highly recommend downloading the app for your phone if you have the specifications necessary to run the game. The extremely talented devs and designers working on this game if anything have improved upon their own, previous iterations. Unfortunately the improvements and changes to the game for iOS and Android phones have not made me a better player.