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

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HearthStone, Impressions so far

A week ago I downloaded and started playing HearthStone. For a beta it is solid.There were no graphical glitches, error 37s, or other strange config things going on to hamper getting in straight away to play.

Overall – I’ve now been reminded why I hate “Draw a Card” based games and why I just stayed away from MtG when it was repeatedly offered at game stores and roleplaying tables. The degree of “random” in what powers can be used when is a key issue for how the game plays. That might be a cornerstone of this style of game and a known factor to many players, but for me it is farcical.

The darn game could be renamed “The Frustration of RNG”.

hstoneBannerKnowing that a deck contains a few handy abilities to your current situation and not getting them for turn after turn is way too frustrating. Twelve or so games into the normal Practice modes where you try to unlock the other classes and I was almost screaming at the screen. I certainly thumped the table. I am also consistently frustrated by how often the NPCs is able to pull the “right” move. Kill a taunt empowered card and the NPC drops another straight down. For pity’s sake. The NPCs seem to always have the right card as follow-up. Screw this.

One battle my “Heroic” Mage drew no extra minion cards for 5x rounds – in a game based upon using minions and specials to win! In another game which came down to both heroes being on less that 5 HP at the last turn I’d never seen a Fireball card (4pts cost inflicting 6 damage). ON A MAGE!

I also noticed that there is a certain strategy in not just using cards because you can deploy them. The NPCs in Practice mode seem to hold cards early and then swamp the board later. The NPCs in the tutorial games are softer and seem to have worse luck with cards. I’d like to know if the NPCs are at the same “level” as my hero or am I being challenged by level 10 opponents while tooling around on a level 1-3.

That aside…

  • Too many “click to proceed” things from the time you open the app to the time you are actually about to play. Animations are slow (on my laptop). I think that is by design in HearthStone as WoW plays fine on the same laptop and it cannot be using much in the way of a 3d engine.
  • Overall I’d like it to “play quicker”. Show cards quicker, etc.
  • The initial training fights have the odd “Grom Dar!”, “You will burn”, and other character based emotes and actions, and its funny now but after a few games I started wondering how old that will get.

After the training five or so fights, the player is tasked with defeating the other classes. Some classes seem already freaking cool, and others disadvantaged.

The Mage (starter) has a 2pt special power which delivers 1x damage, and it can be used every turn if you wish. By contrast the Hunter has a 2pt ability which inflicts 2x damage. Why? I note that the Mage can always ping 1pt, but the hunter can sometimes not, but that is a trivial limitation on a game where we usually have other uses for those points.

So far I’ve unlocked the Warrior, Shaman, and Priest so far, and find the Warlocks, Hunters, and Druids darn tough to beat. I’ve heard that Rogues are tough to content with, but both my matches have been down to the wire although I’ve lost both too.

The Warlock’s draw a card power is fantastic, and I am repeatedly fighting and getting trounced by the Warlock because I think that ability will suit how I like to play. Sure it might cost a few health, but a Card per 2pts is trivial if you have only a few cards left in your hand. The Druid being able to directly attack is great. It might only be useful periodically, but it seems hardy and appropriate to the class.

The Monk and Death Knight are not present as classes and I can forgive that given how much diversity there is already in the class mix.

Late-ish into the HearthStone beta

Yehaw! Some emails are just plain exciting to get. As I download, play, and get all mushy (hopefully) about HearthStone, I’ll post follow-up. I’ll also have to read the T&Cs to see what I’m allowed to say, in case any caveats are still in place (ahem).

As a person who generally has no time for physical collect-a-card based games (like Magic TG) I am looking forward to how this game makes me feel. I’d go as far as to say I’m a collectable card game hater. I am a keen gamer though and I can see this game as real avenue where casual based play would entice players to spend real money on cards.

That is the spin for HearthStone from what I understand now, the cash you spend will get you bonuses far faster, far better decks, which in turn (I assume) gives far more leverage to the win-loss ration which I read is a key metric for rewards. A game with a pay-to-win from the outset isn’t something that I’d first accept as a casual player, bu then perhaps it make a huge difference because it is isolated and set from the get-go.

So this should be interesting. I’ll certainly have to get my ipad back, as that type of interface is very likely where I’ll do all my testing.

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WoW p5.3 this week, highlights include

Patch 5.3 notes are out, for the Prod drop on May 21st. Ref: MMO-Champion – Patch 5.3 Live This Week for a full summary. I expect downtime to be bigish, with the downloader churning away. This means the cycle is less than three months between patches, and if the next patch comes quickly we might see a staggeringly fast end to the Pandaria story-lines. Blizzard’s website also has a nice prep summary.

garrosh Hellscream image from Blizzard's website

I’m pondering the amount of ilevel 500+ gear which is being made available in one time rewards, and perhaps it is time to consider the offset as a priority.

A few highlights for me are:

  • the return of the Item Upgrades, via that vendor. Yes, we can again decide if an existing upgrade is better than buying off-loot (” items upgraded with Valor will now cost 250 Valor Points to upgrade per 4 Item Levels, for a total of 500 Valor for 8 Item Levels per item “). Cool. Mr Robot and others will have their systems ready too if what I read is true.
  • the ilevel 600 cloaks from the Wrathion quest chain. ilevel 600 is huge, and worth it for everyone. I want it, and want three of them.
  • the Heroic Scenarios is a boon I’m looking forward to, not because I want to see that older content again, but because of the chance for the ilevel 516 gear. Including a quest that has a reward of a 516 built in. Wowhead has a comment which lists the rewards by armour type. Why on earth are these using the Pandarian models for blue and green loot? Lazy. A re-colour at least might have been nice – all emeralds and ruby.
  • the Heroic scenarios need item level 480 to enter, and use a pre-made team of three. Still hopefully should be not too hard at ilevel 510.
  • the new scenarios for the lead up lore/story to the Siege of Orgrimmar. Assuming that is the big deal in patch 5.4, this should get all the players happy with killing Orcs and agreeing that the War Chief is a bad guy, not a good-bad guy.
  • a quest has been added that reveals the final Sha and some ilevel 502 boots. Nice upgrade for the slow and unlucky guys like me. Shamefully I’m planning on getting better than this, so I might just take the Tanking option instead of the Dps option.
  • I know I should try the brawlers guild soon.
  • the Darkspear Rebellion Quartermaster will sell re-colour of popular old Tier gear, upgrades to ilevel 489 which is nice for the alts and new main toons. I don’t mind at all they the stuff is available in a different way. They’ve chosen some nice sets, and as a DK I had access to my set anyway.
  • we can now transmog from the Bank and Void Storage directly. Good. Nice change.
  • the Heirloom Shields are in. Great news for alts. I’ve been saving the odd Justice Point for this.
  • Lastly – I’d love a Hearthstone Beta. I’ve ripped on it recently as a distraction, but I am curious. HINT. Too strong? Nah. HINT HINT.

King Wyrnn and a Panda, they all look alike

Overall I’m looking forward to the 5.3 patch. It is not a huge patch for content, rather is a prep patch. It is a great patch for gearing your toons. The folk who don’t get much are those who are already geared up beyond 522 or higher. Sorry guys, only the cloak for you.

I did not finish collecting the Wrathion tokens from boss kills in patch 5.2, but will get there soon. I also don’t run the downloader often, so I’m going to kick that off before bed tonight.

Happy Killing, TyphoonAndrew

Pet Battles and HearthStone are distractions

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I think Pet Battles and HearthStone are distractions. Darn good, but distractions. I’d try and play these games on my iphone or ipad, but can’t take it seriously while actually in World of Warcraft.

I will certainly try HearthStone when it is live, and perhaps when this expansion is ending I’ll try a pet battle too.

I have a fair pool of pets all of whom are level one and never been used. It seems a waste in a way to have some rare stuff but never use them in game. Alas time online actually playing my main is rare enough for me, so spending that time swapping cards or poking pets is not justified.

But on a portable device while I wait for a late trains or have a quick lunch? Ohhhh yeah, I’ve got time for that. I know HearthStone is going to be delivered to portable devices, and I’d think that Pet battles could be valuable there too.

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Hearthstone looks interesting

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The new thing from Blizzard is a digital card game named Hearthstone. I think it is great to see effort by Blizzard to expand their breadth of game styles into new areas. These type of games do attract players with different needs and this is especially attractive as it is both free to play, and will run on many platforms including the iPad. This is a good strategy in my opinion for diverging their interests, which on the whole will help keep the company stronger (as long as it is a good game).

Be warned the promo video does not demonstrate the gameplay, for that check out the main website or the MMO Champion link below. Continue reading