Penultimate Hearthstone thoughts

How can I say these are my penultimate Hearthstone thoughts when the game is not even out of a closed-ish beta? Well I’m kind of over it. I’m only saying penultimate because I will post something when it “launches” properly, but I don’t think it will change my impressions.

The short version: HearthStone is not for me. I don’t hate it, I just don’t particularly like it either. I’d rather play something else.

I was essentially bored within 10-15 games, and was proceeding through the rest of the games because I thought there was something I was missing. There is more, far more.

The execution of the game is solid, the gameplay is probably great if you like that sort of thing, and it was as complete in beta as many other games are launch. Kudos Blizzard. Not for me though.

click here for TCG grinding

The longer version.

As a “pull a random card deck game”, I find that degree of random intolerable. Therefore a huge amount of other games I’m sure I should stay away from. I’m happy to have spent the time in a very well polished and completed game like HearthStone to reaffirm it is the game-play I do not like, rather than the implementation of the game style. That is important, its not the game as much as my distaste for the style. I am making that generalisation on TCGs because it is where my ire rises.

Not having a good response card in hand because of bad luck is not fun. Ever. I can say “such is life, maybe next time”, except that next time is so rare that it becomes a race to loose quickly rather than an attempt to win. If you’re going to loose then better than it be quick.

I am also surprised by how weak some cards are in comparison with others of the same “cost to play”. There are numerous 2 mana cards which are basic beasts, and then there are better two mana cards with identical stats but additional reasonable effects. No way in hell you want a base creature when a boosted one can be mixed in your deck. But they are there and they are frustrating. Especially when the opposition seems to have them in hand all the time, and you do not. The same goes for 3, 4, 5 mana cards. There are variations that are clearly better, but the basic deck is there for the use. It is an imbalance.

It seems a flawed design, except that I bet all the players want the better cards (duh), and getting beaten is a good driver for buying cards (doh). Yes, you can get a better deck slowly by grind up cards, but that is a long pathway and very far from entertaining to me. So it is designed imbalance.

The competitive gameplay against other players is a much needed core in the game, and I really think that if you are not playing against others then you’re not playing the game in the manner intended. You’ll need a good humour and a well packed wallet.

In a “pay to win” game every player can expect these types of levers to be applied against them until they either outlast and grind enough to get to a competitive position, or they spend money. Blizzard want a heap of players to take both approaches.

  • If you sit and grind you provide a valuable resource to the wider game as a slightly more beatable player in the roster. More wins for somebody is good.
  • If you pay then you supply revenue.

It has been about two weeks since I last played and I do not miss it at all. I did try to login to HearthStone again, but when I found myself at the Blizzard launcher staring at options I always went for something else. Heck, I even installed the SC2 for something I might do instead of playing HearthStone.

Nothing about that game is better than grinding rep in Wow, or playing minesweeper, or any other repetitive task, especially one where luck is the only true measure of how you’ll perform. So to hell with it as a game. I’ll pass. I did appreciate the experience though, and think it is well executed.

I have read a huge amount about how the balance is still in flux in the game and that makes a lot of sense too. Some classes are downright tough to beat, especially if they they get a good run at the right phase if the game. Such is the game. Embrace it.

No foul though to the guys that love it, it is horses for courses. Happy carding to you. I’ll probably spend my time watching Dr Who, leveling an Alt, or killing boring monsters for Ordos Rep.

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