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Blizzard has launched the closed beta test for their free-to-play title Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Players throughout North America can now try out the online collectible card game on both PC and Mac.
"During the closed beta test, we’ll be inviting a range of duelers from our opt-in pool (along with folks from press and fansites) to try their hand at Hearthstone and let us know what they think," Blizzard says of the beta. "There’s no NDA during the beta, and we’d love to hear all about your epic victories, watch your live streamed matches, and see screenshots and videos sharing your experiences with the game. Please note that Hearthstone is still in development, and what you see and play in the beta test isn’t necessarily representative of what to expect in the final game."
In Hearthstone, players battle head-to-head with human or A.I. opponents using magical decks of cards. The center of the player's deck is their hero card. Each hero is based on a character class from World of Warcraft and can access different ability, minion and weapon cards. For example, Garrosh relies on brute strength while Gul'dan summons demons to do his bidding.
Beta testers can purchase cards with real-world money or in-game gold. Either way, player collections will be wiped once during the beta so that Blizzard can rebalance cards. Players who used real-world money to buy cards or Arena entry will be compensated with the equivalent amount of gold. You won't necessarily receive the same cards again in the booster packs you receive, though. When the game officially launches, testers who spent real-world money will get a bonus card.
For a chance at playing the beta, you need to create a Battle.net account. Then, you have to go to the Beta Profile page in your account settings and opt into the Hearthstone test. Blizzard requires you to download and run a System Check tool to verify your system's specs before you're eligible.
If you're selected for the test, Blizzard will send you an email invite. This email will contain all of the instructions necessary to jump into the beta. Whenever beta tests begin, there's typically an uptick in phishing attempts so read any purported invitations very carefully.
"One easy way to ensure your invite is legit is to avoid clicking on links in any invite emails you receive," Blizzard says. "Instead, just log in to your Battle.net account and add the beta key from your invite email to your account."
Blizzard didn't say how many beta keys they've sent out thus far. If you haven't received an invite, you still might receive one. Blizzard will be pulling in additional testers as needed throughout the beta. The exact amount of testers they enlist, and the duration of the test, will depend on how the game is shaping up.
Though the beta is currently limited to North America, other territories will receive their own tests soon. Hearthstone will officially launch worldwide later this year.