Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital collectible card game based on the popular game “World of Warcraft”. The game itself is fairly simple to play but has a lot of strategic depth which has made it quite popular as a competitive game. Running a tournament for Hearthstone may at first seem like a daunting challenge but is actually rather accessible for even the least experienced of tournament organizers and can be done for little to no cost at all.
Preparing the Space
When planning any tournament you will first want to dedicate a space for holding the event. Ideally, a library should be able to provide computers for the players to use, but it is not strictly required. If the library is planning on allowing players to use library-owned computers, be sure to download the Hearthstone game client well in advance of the tournament. The game can be downloaded for free here. Hearthstone can be played cross-platform on either PC, iOS, or Android devices. Keep in mind that all players should be using their own private accounts in order to play their matches. As long as every entrant has access to at least one of these devices, play should run smoothly. Of particular importance, make sure the provided space offers Wi-Fi internet access and plenty of power outlets so that players may charge their personal devices.
Promoting the Event
A great way to start promoting your Hearthstone tournament or get together is through the official Hearthstone Fireside Gathering website. The company responsible for Hearthstone has set up a great online calendar that allows organizers to promote and even support their events with free in-game digital goodies. Many local schools and universities also have student-run eSports organizations that you can reach out to for both support and potential participants. Finally posting flyers, creating Facebook event pages, and sending out email blasts are also great ways to spread the word about your upcoming event!
Establish the Rules
The next step in planning is to establish a basic rule set. Having a well-written rule set posted in advance will eliminate a lot of headaches on tournament day. First and foremost you will want to decide which style of bracket you would like to run. A single elimination bracket will allow for a maximum number of entrants to participate as it takes the least amount of time to complete. The one major drawback to a single elimination bracket, however, is that nearly half of all entrants will only be allowed a chance to play in one game before being eliminated. A double elimination bracket is a far superior choice to a single elimination bracket in that it guarantees that all participants are allowed to play at least two complete matches before being eliminated. However, the increase in the number of games played can significantly increase the time needed to complete the event. Most rounds of the tournament will take about 45 minutes to complete so be sure to allow the players ample time to complete the entire event whether you choose a single or double elimination bracket. No matter what style you choose, Challonge.com is a valuable free resource for both generating a bracket and keeping track of tournament results. You can use this link to help you begin generating your free tournament bracket.
When laying out a basic rule set you will also need guidelines for how individual matches themselves should be played. The most common format for match play is the official Hearthstone “conquest” format played in either a best of five or best of three setting. In a best of five format, each player brings five decks and must win three out of five games to be awarded a match victory. For a more abbreviated and faster play format, players can be required to bring three different decks and win two out of the three games to be declared the victor. In either case, once a player has won a game with a particular deck they are no longer allowed to use that deck in that match. A losing player may continue using the same deck or attempt to switch to a different deck of his/her choice. In order to ensure that players are not changing their decks between games, or rounds, each player should be required to submit an official deck registration sheet prior to the start of the tournament. It is highly advisable to allow players the chance to complete their deck sheet prior to coming to the event. If a player is caught playing any modified deck at any point during the tournament they should be subject to either a game or match forfeiture, up to the tournament organizer’s discretion.
For a more in-depth and comprehensive guide, check out the official Hearthstone Innkeepers Guide for a complete breakdown of all things related to hosting your own event!