Hearthstone: The WoW Gateway Drug


Many fans of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft know very little about the universe that spawned it. Many probably don’t care. Others are interested in the background to this tavern game. Players of Warcraft or World of Warcraft shouldn’t fault these newcomers either way. After all, numerous hardcore raiders can’t tell their Watcher from an Elemental Lord or an Old God from a Hindu God. That’s fine too. Not everyone needs to be a lore junky. That’s our job.

Yet, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was sold, at least in part, as a gateway drug to World of Warcraft. The theory went that players of the card game would be inclined to check out the free-to-play opening of World of Warcraft. At this point, Blizzard Entertainment knows how many of the 30 million+ players of Hearthstone have played WoW as a result of the digital card game, and vice versa, despite never sharing the numbers. Oddly enough, the lore of Azeroth (et cetera) doesn’t hold a deep interest for many card hoarders, as evidenced by the failure of alternate heroes. What better way to engage the untapped (maybe?) audience than to force WoW upon them? Enter Lady Liadrin, the latest alternate hero since the feature was introduced so many moons ago. Her addition has resulted in hilariousness not seen since Madden “Dudebros” joined the ranks of teabagging Call of Duty “brahs.”

Hearthstone players have been entering the living world of Azeroth in droves since the announcement that getting to level 20 will award them the Horde Paladin alternate portrait. Many of them have joined the MMORPG ranks for the first time. This is a genre with, arguably, 20 years of its own history, lingo and etiquette. One that’s grown up with the internet, in all its horror and glory, itself. Forget the drastic differences in parlance. A dialectic hamstring as ruinous as Grim Patrons with a Bouncing Blade. The flood of mostly inexperienced MMORPG players has been both heartwarming and predictable.

Hearthstone players have been saved from the general vitriol of the larger intertubes by virtue of the handful of macros they can use to communicate. Without explicilty opting into communication by way of Battle.net invites it’s impossible to harass anyone behind a few taunts, trolling on the timer or the last few moves before a kill (admittedly, I love doing the latter). It’s, effectively, a utopian society to anyone that has immersed themselves in online games for the past, well, forever. They’ve brought this…humanity…to WoW. I mean, look at the Hearthstone players politely lining up for a quest like they are British!

“Hey, no butts!”

What really put me in stitches was the next shot I saw. One that had newbies, a derisive term, wandering around waiting for spiders to spawn. Why was I in stitches? Simple, the juxtaposition. The players were willing to politely wait in line having already murdered dozens of “sentient” beings and hundreds of critters.

The last laugh? All this effort for a freaking Horde Paladin hero. They don’t even realize the retcon infraction they’re supporting!

How many of your friends have been sucked back in, if only for a moment?

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