Final round: fight!

Hearthstone vs. MTGA – Part 4: The Final Round

Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas

Remember those guys? (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment.)

MTGA and Hearthstone have been duking it out for a few weeks here on EarlyGame and it’s about time we finish the duel with a spectacular ending. Today we’re comparing the final ingredient that makes the two games distinct and special: the x-factor!

Call it the x-factor, the wow-effect, the extra mile, the je ne sais quoi, or any other name you desire. You know it when you see it. The little thing that turns a card game into a worldwide phenomenon. The little something-something. Both games have tons of little details that make them absolutely awesome, but today we’ve picked just one of each game so we can end this debate once and for all. Let’s rumble!


Hearthstone is all about polish and style. Blizzard is a stellar studio and true masters of the craft of game making, but if there’s something they always go above and beyond in all their products, that would be polish. Their games are pretty, snappy, responsive, and full of character, and Hearthstone here is no exception. There are multiple examples of little details that didn’t need to be there for the game to work, but we are more than happy they are.

So, without further ado, here comes the Hearthstone x-factor: THE DAMN CARDS TALK!

Not only do they talk, they often bring a piece of the Warcraft soundtrack with them! (Video credit: 신진원 via YouTube)

Seriously, how simple is that, and at the same time how brilliant? We are used to hearing heroes exchanging quick taunts before battle or engaging in the occasional mid-fight banter in pretty much every multiplayer game we play, but Hearthstone takes the concept and cranks it to 11.

Every minion in Hearthstone has something witty, funny, or sometimes terrifying to say when it is summoned when it attacks and when it dies. That’s a prime example of a game overdelivering and being awesome for it.

Magic: The Gathering Arena

Magic also has tons of little things that make it a genius game and we don’t say this lightly. After all, there is a good reason for Magic to be the first, and still most popular collectible card game in history. So let’s not beat around the bush and spill the beans already: what Magic does best is masterful story-to-gameplay connection.

Sure, Hearthstone likes to draw parallels between the world and the gameplay with your Deathrattle zombies and whatnot, but Magic takes this concept and skyrockets it to high heaven.

Almost every card in MTG has a deeper meaning hidden somewhere in its name – flavor text, mechanics, and especially artwork. You might totally miss it if you haven’t read the lore (which, by the way, you have no excuse for – you’re reading EarlyGame!), but if you are even vaguely familiar with the worlds, characters, and storylines, the parallels between card text and the game’s story are mind-bogglingly good!

Take for example the card Gideon’s Sacrifice from the relatively recent set War of the Spark. In the picture, it has some dude holding a lady by the shoulder and the card essentially allows you to save your life total by sending the damage over to a creature or planeswalker. But in actuality, both the name, card art and gameplay effect perfectly capture one of the most dramatic moments from the War of the Spark’s story and the death of a beloved character. That’s just a beautiful display of a game caring about its story and, y’know, putting it inside the game itself.

An integration of lore and mechanics so smooth is something only Wizards of the Coast could achieve.

And the winner is…


Well fought, both of you!


But it was a close one, so for more card game content, be it MGTA or Hearthstone, stay tuned to EarlyGame! Also check out our YouTube channel for amazing videos and more content!

Nikola Petrov

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