Thursday, December 24, 2015


I’ve become vaguely aware of the way some in the poker world -- especially those in the hardcore online crowd -- are now taking up another game called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

Saw something last month about Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier getting signed as a “Hearthstone Pro” for something called Team Liquid. Then yesterday an item came over the transom that Full Tilt had partnered up with G2 eSports’ Hearthstone team, further suggesting a kind of link between poker and this relatively new card-based game. (Or perhaps furthering the disassociation of Full Tilt from poker, the site having dropped the third word of its original name some time ago.)

Still in the dark about it, I went to Wikipedia to find out a little about the history behind Hearthstone and an introduction to how it is played. Got quickly bogged down, I’ll confess, by the second paragraph of the section on game play, which begins as follows:

Hearthstone is supported by micropayments for booster packs, Arena Mode entries, Adventure Mode wing access and alternate hero skins. Unlike other card games, Hearthstone does not use a trading card system and instead allows players to ‘disenchant’ unwanted cards into ‘arcane dust’ resource, which can then be used to ‘craft’ new cards of the player’s choice.”

One reason why I couldn’t get much further along in my introduction to the game was the fact that I found these sentences so intrinsically humorous to read, with the scare quotes around those key words adding greatly to my amusement. And my disorientation, the effort needed to imagine the “Hearthstone universe” almost verging on the hallucinatory.

I believe there are a total of eight items in these two sentences for which I have almost zero idea what they signify, although for each I know I could speculate down a path that would surely lead me to an erroneous conclusion about each -- a conclusion that would likely seem just as humorous to the knowlegeable Hearthstone player.

I suspect an acquaintance with Magic: The Gathering or other similar games would likely make Hearthstone seem less opaque to the novice. Would also help to have both an intellectual capacity for such games and an inclination to learn them. As you might guess, I’m limited in both respects, so I have to confess that I’m still pretty clueless about all of the different game modes, how matches work, and the game’s 698 different collectible cards (!).

That passage above made me think about how just about every game has its own set of lingo, rules, scoring, etiquette, and other elements that seem like utterly alien bits of arcana -- or “arcane dust” -- to the uninitiated. Poker is certainly like that. Even games like tennis or baseball can be hard to explain to those without any prior acquaintance either as an observer or player.

Anyhow, looking forward to my next game of 2-7 triple draw when I plan to disenchant unwanted cards into the arcane dust before crafting new ones to add to my hand.

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