Heroes of Hearthstone – Card Based MOBAfication

Over the last two years I’ve found myself getting (a little too much) into MOBAs. DOTA2 has mainly been my game of choice, but I dabble quite a bit in Heroes of the Storm and League of Legends. What I find really interesting about them is that each game you start from scratch, rapidly levelling and building in different ways. Whether you’ve played 1000 hours or you’re just beginning, each match serves as a fresh start – a trait shared with most board games.

This is kind of where my idea came from. It started as a joke – how could you translate the metagame and complexity of a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena into a simple board or card game, but the more I played with this idea the more I found it an interesting path to venture down.

I’ve also recently gotten back into Hearthstone and love the rapid game time and simplicity it holds. Other recent card game successes like Gwent have factored into the development of my as yet unnamed independent game project – a multiplayer card battler where players take on different roles to buff heroes or minions and deal damage to the opponents stronghold.

The Hearthstone Playing Field

The game takes place in a cyberpunk future, creating a lot of really interesting dynamics for character design, minions and abilities. Rather than going a fantasy route or full sci-fi, a cyberpunk setting allows for all sorts of interesting human & tech combinations, each bringing their own style to the battleground. My biggest design inspirations are media like Blade Runner, Shadowrun (which has some truly kickass genre bends) and Netrunner.

Currently the game is set to take the form of a physical card game with set decks that can be expanded and user-built in later iterations. Three main classes means three players per team, with a total of six players for a standard game. Depending on design iterations a game mat may help shape the game, but ultimately the aim is to keep it board free if players so desire.

The standard MOBA triple lane set up

The game’s basic mechanics involve attempting to destroy your enemy’s defensive structures and final server base, just like in a MOBA. Three ‘lanes’  bridge the two opposing strongholds, one belonging to each of the players. This is where they deploy minions and abilities to gain an edge over their foe. By defeating the three structures guarding the enemy base a team can gain access to the win condition, provided they can defeat the minions and abilities thrown at them by defending hero characters.

I’m still not 100% sure on how the clashes will play out as yet. While turn based, there are a lot of options for combat – singular ‘actions’ per turn, plants vs zombie style minion clashes, etc. Personally I’m enjoying exploring this minion wave style since it’s familiar to a lot of people plus it ties well into my MOBA pitch.

The three core classes players will assume are:

Support – Low attack role with the aim to buff heroes and minions while keeping the base alive. Variety will offer healing style characters or more enhancement based ones.

Tank – High damage role with the aim of soaking up damage from foes/minions while dispatching heavier foes. Will have ranged or melee option that changes character dynamics (risk v reward).

Specialist – Wildcard role that relies heavily on teamwork. An example would be a sniper, effective at a long range but susceptible to heavy damage at close range if not careful.


There’s still a lot to flesh out and explore, but these are the ideas I’m working on developing so far. Next time, audience, marketing, costs and further ideas!

TLDR; It’s a cyberpunk class based team card game with MOBA stylings and plants vs zombies combat. How’s that for a pitch?


  1. I already love the concept Jayden. Coming from a similar game background to yourself (many, many hours sunk into both MOBAs and card games) I love this remediation of the two game types. I remember commenting on another classmate’s post in which they were hoping to translate MOBA’s into a type of board game, and in my mind I also thought that a card-based game would be the best way to present an analogue version of a MOBA.

    My biggest question would be “how would players interact with one-another?”. I’m interested in this idea of a card game that is a 3v3 setup, representing the lanes played, but I feel this will be mechanically tricky and overly complex to develop, particularly if this is to be an analogue card game. I can see potential for this to work, and work well mind you, if this were in a digital format. I’m concerned about two main aspects if you were to run this 3v3 setup using physical cards; finding 5 players (aside from yourself) to play the game (particularly since it’d be a small fish in a relatively crowded market), and how the game would pan out (if it’s turn based, it could be too long, and the first “team/player” will have a huge advantage, but if it’s simultaneous, it becomes chaotic in an analogue format). On a digital platform, using the internet to find multiple players online is too easy, and simultaneous play is containable as you all have your own “screens” to play on.

    Best of luck though, I’m hoping for great success in your project!


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