ESL Africa Championship: What is Hearthstone?

Charlie Fripp Digital Games Fripp
By now you should have seen the very exciting news that Kwesé has partnered with the biggest eSports company in the world, ESL, to host the ESL African Championship across the continent.

With a total prize pool of R2 million, the Championship revolves around two games: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Blizzard’s mobile game Hearthstone.

But what exactly is Hearthstone, and why has it been so popular?

What is it?

For starters, you need to understand that Hearthstone is a free, mobile, card-based, one-vs-one, strategy game. The term mobile refers to the player’s ability to play matches online against other players on phones, tablets and even on desktop. It’s a simple free app download.

In developer Blizzard’s own words: “Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital strategy card game that anyone can enjoy. Players choose one of nine epic Warcraft heroes to play as, and then take turns playing cards from their customizable decks to cast potent spells, use heroic weapons or abilities, or summon powerful minions to crush their opponent.”

If you are still a little bit confused, just have a look at the trailer below:


While the characters and cards are based on the hugely-popular Warcraft title, Blizzard assures that you don’t need to know anything about it in order to play Hearthstone.

“We’ve designed Hearthstone so that anyone can get into it regardless of how familiar they are with the Warcraft universe or collectible card games in general. The game will teach you everything you need to know as you play it,” it explains.

There is obviously a lot of tactics and strategy involved, but in short your goal is to defeat your opponent by using the set amount of cards in your created deck – together with some luck and wit.

Some cards are used for simple attacks, but others cast spells while some can cause an exorbitant amount of damage when used at the right time.

It boils down to strategy, the strength of the cards in the deck, and some tactics.

How do I get it?

The beauty of Hearthstone is that it can be played for free on Windows, Mac, iPad, Android and Windows 8 tablets, and iOS and Android mobile phones. And all of those platforms can play against each other.

The only requirement for you to start playing, is that you create a European Blizzard account through Blizzard.com. From there, you need to sign in to the service and download the game. On mobile devices, you can download the game through the respective marketplaces, and then create a Battle.net account.

Another crucial aspect of playing Hearthstone is an internet connection. Games against others are played online, so without an internet connection the game simply won’t work. But with that said, the game can be played over WiFi or 3G (mobile data).

Hearthstone also has a major benefit to other online games where players have ample time to make their move. Thus removing the low latency requirements for most fast, twitch based online titles.

How to play

Hearthstone can get rather complex, but luckily it is pretty easy to master the basics. If you have a decent understanding of what certain cards do, you are already on your way to becoming a champion. But don’t worry, a card’s ability is written on them, so all you actually have to do is just read the description.

“The match begins with a coin toss to determine who goes first, followed by both players drawing their starting hands: three cards for the coin toss winner, four for the other player. And because going first does offer a slight strategic advantage, the loser of the coin toss also gets The Coin: a special zero cost card that temporarily increases your mana by one,” the developer explains.

Blizzard has a very in-depth explanation of how games are played, and flesh out everything much better than we ever can. So, just head to the official ‘How To Play’ section on the website and have a look at the beginner basics.


Armed with the knowledge of how everything falls into place for Hearthstone, do you think you have what it takes to be crowned a champion?

If you do, we would like to see you enter ESL African Championship by signing up on the official ESL Africa page.

And who knows, you might just be the next African Hearthstone champion with a lot of money in your pocket!

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