I want to share my view on Blizzard‘s Hearthstone in Summer 2017. In this post I assume You, the reader, know the game already so I won’t be explaining the core mechanics or any basic stuff. It’s free-to-play so just try the game and come back to read about it!
I admit it right at the start: I’m a Blizz fan boy. Not nearly the most fanatic there is but I pretty much love every game they have made so far and am proud to own a few collector’s editions of them. I have played WoW since the launch so it was easy for me to get into Hearthstone’s lore. Also Magic The Gathering has been pulsing in the long list of games I have been playing since 1994 so the CCG (collectible card game) setting was pretty much there to begin with.
I’ve been a semi-active Hearthstone player since the launch and witnessed the ups and downs where there surely has been a lot of them both. The 0 cost Hunter's Mark and Soulfire, 3/2 Knife Juggler, 2 cost Starving Buzzard + Unleash the Hounds, Dr. Boom… Yeah, there have been more design flaws than there are Murlocs in a standard paladin deck.
While the game is fully digital the mistakes are easy to fix with a simple patch so no mistake is undoable. Designers can’t possibly foresee all the possible combos that may break the game when the card count reaches a critical mass and let’s be honest: Blizzard is no Wizards of The Coast with it’s experience in making card games. They still have an excellent dev team that actually listens the player community to a good extent. Hearthstone keeps evolving and is a high quality entertainment product for sure.
Climbing the ladder is a lot more enjoyable now after the patch when the rank can’t drop in intervals of five. This makes testing experimental off-meta decks in a real ladder environment much more fun when not getting punished by a massive rank drop if and when the experiments don’t play out as intended. I play standard ladder only so I can’t comment on the wild version. The concept of freedom to play anything and everything surely seems imbalanced, chaotic and fun though.
Other thing that pops into mind is the latest update on Arena that increases the amount of rare, epic and legendary cards you get to draft. In the first arena game after the patch I had a deck containing 2 legendaries, 5 epics plus a random amount of rares. To get that kind of deck pre-patch was like a one-in-a-billion chance. I cheered to get that many nice cards and praised my luck for a sure 12-win deck. Little did I know (well, I missed the memo about the update for one) that everybody else had super pimped decks as well and were on par with me so the final score was something like 2-3. So yeah, it was a bit anti-climactic. The next arena draft contained no legendaries so the mega lucky draws were really random it seems.
The arena update follows pretty much the general Blizz game refreshing recipe: make epics great again. This happened most obviously in Diablo 3 patch somewhere in 2015 when the drop rate for legendary items went through the roof and everybody was in full purple/green/orange gear in no time. If I’m not mistaken, soon after that or about at the same time World of Warcraft had the same type of item boost done with Hearthstone shortly after that.
Even though it doesn’t feel that exclusive acquiring those legendary items anymore when it happens so often, it still gives a firm rush of good feels and a wide smirk in the face when those orange gems shine for your eyes. So those extremely rare happy moments replaced by often happy moments isn’t after all that bad trade off. Plus you can’t get double legendaries any longer before you have them all so it’s a load of potential frustration off.
This just means that it is more standard to get and have legendary cards in your deck which in sequence means less gold/money spent on buying packs. So in the end it is actually quite a big handout for the players by Blizz. I told you, I’m a fan boy!
PS. Heya. This is my first blog post here. I’ll be writing occasionally about Hearthstone and perhaps something else as well. Take care!