Hearthstone the Third

So, this is going to be my last post on Hearthstone.  I’ve uninstalled the game, which REALLY says something about it when I still have Rift on my desktop and I haven’t played that in 6 months.

Raptr says I have 10 hours put in.  I’ve completed games in less time and normally I have a solid feel after 2.  I had rather high expectations from this game and the previous 2 posts sort of alluded to that.  I won’t lie to you, the game isn’t so much a disappointment as much as my expectations.

There appears to be two games within Hearthstone.  The first, the free to play version.  Similar to the older facebook games, where you had a limited amount of energy before you had to stop, this game is really only good in small bites.  Once you’ve completed your daily quests, there is absolutely no reason to keep playing.  This game lasts for as long as it takes for you to get your first legendary card (or epic/rares to compete).  This can take a month or more in the F2P game or….

The second game is the one supported by real world cash.  This gets you WELL ahead of the curve and also dictates the class you’re going to play.  These cards are so powerful that they completely shift the rest of the game.  I don’t mean a little bit either.  The difference between a basic set and having just a few rares is the difference between losing in the 3rd round and winning in the 2nd.  In fact, I am of the opinion now that most games are set by the 4th round and the rest is just finishing stuff up, with a few stragglers taking longer.  If you’re still playing at 10 mana, something is likely gone wrong.

Now, this might seems like it’s a bad thing and that’s not really the point. The goal of these posts is to give people some idea of what Hearthstone actually is, and to help set expectations.  I read a fair bit about the game before but I didn’t really grasp the whole card acquisition portion.  Without dumping a significant amount of money, there’s just no game.

The type of F2P game that I enjoy is one where the money buys you fluff or cosmetics.  I typically spend $30-50 dollars on those games (Neverwinter, Marvel Heroes, Rift, etc…) and it makes the game more fun.  Hearthstone has zero fluff.  Every penny you put in has a direct impact on your power.  That is not a business model that I enjoy or one I want to put more time into.

That being said, Zynga made bajillions on this business model and I don’t see why Blizzard can’t do the same.

8 thoughts on “Hearthstone the Third

  1. thanks for the alternative hearthstone viewpoint. Everyone is going crazy over it like it’s the most amazing card game ever but I just don’t see it, guess my suspicions were right


    • I felt the same the way you did and when I got the beta invite, I thought is was going to be a great night. Maybe I’ve just been living in the past too much with Blizzard but their recent forays into gaming have been well below expectations.


  2. Although I like Hearthstone, I can confirm that quality Blizzard games went downhill since merger with Activision (probably ~5 years ago or so). WoW Burning Crusade was my favorite game and with each new WoW addon it just got worse and worse…..

    Not to mention Diablo 3.. (okay SC2 is kick ass, I give them that).

    Hearthstone is fun, but yes, without great cards and a balanced deck you will suck.. big time. And it takes crazy amount of time to farm the gold/cards/dust – not fun.

    I’m curious about their latest game – Heroes of The Storm. I liked the initial presentation.


  3. I understand that your impressions are informed by your personal experience, but since by the sound of it you barely made it out of the beginner set for one or two classes, saying that your impressions are “how it actually is” is extremely misleading.

    I do take offence at the claim that there is no skill involved, it is pure luck of the draw. That is just completely wrong, and while you might feel that your experience justifies the claim, it is actually the fact that you simply did not have the skill and knowledge needed to have any control over the outcome. This is not a slight, you have little skill and knowledge at it purely because you were so new to the game. A large part of the skill comes from building the deck, and to build the deck well, you need to know what you are likely to face. What situations you need to deal with. I can assure you that going with the murloc option so soon was just a bad design decision – I know, because I tried it too. There are vital pieces missing that prevent it from being a viable strategy.

    So in order to start winning regularly (ie at least half the time) you have to learn the cards – not just what you have, but what others are playing. Get ideas on what nice synergies there are, by having them played against you. Learn what your class and current card pool is capable of doing. Learn what tools other classes have that could counter your strategy (for example, putting out a lot of small guys against a mage is just asking for a board wipe). I have not been playing long – a week or so – but I have had plenty of success with my druid deck with only a couple of crafted cards, which I paid for by disenchanting a single card (you get some free dust the first time you DE a card). It is a control deck, so most of my games go well past turn 10 whether I win or lose. I have no epics or legendaries, I bought my first and only 2 packs today (and promptly started losing games, hehe) and have received no useful cards for my deck. I win a fair bit, but I lose plenty too.

    Sometimes it is true that you get stomped by someone who has paid for a lot of packs to get the really powerful cards. More often, though, it is that you either make a mistake, or your deck’s strategy is weak against their deck/class. In this game, you are matched against people of your skill level, so the chances of coming up against a player who has bought a ton of cards is minimal. While you probably can’t compete at the higher ranks with the basic cards, you can certainly compete at the lower ranks, and once you start completing the dailies, you should be able to get a free pack every 2 days, which is how it is supposed to work.

    As with ALL collectible card games, the only way to get better results is by collecting the cards you need. If you aren’t willing to pay for them, then it isn’t in Blizzard’s interest to give them to you quickly. I’m not sure what kind of fluff you could be thinking of to buy for this game, the whole game is centred around the acquisition of cards, so the business model should not be at all surprising. It is way cheaper and more accessible than something like Magic: The Gathering Online, where you have to buy each and every card.

    I’m not saying that you are wrong to dislike Hearthstone, or that you should give it a second chance, or even that it is a decent game. As a Magic player, it is rather simplistic, but I still enjoy it. I just wanted to offer reasons why your assessment was misleading, and it mostly comes down to not playing very far past the tutorial. You did not put in the time or effort to learn the cards or strategies, and that had a major impact on the quality of your experience. It’s okay to be turned off the game based on that experience, but please don’t claim that that is how “it actually is”.


    • I’m uncertain if you read all the posts or just the third, so I’ll add some clarity.

      Hearthstone lacks balance. It’s beta, that’s ok. Deck building is RNG with the starter cards until you craft. I understand synergy, I’ve built decks before. Synergy is damn near impossible until you craft/buy cards.

      My gripe with the game is that it should not be free, it should have a cost and give you more cards to play with. Then have an additional cost for additional cards.

      I did summarize it all by saying the game is not for me but will make money. There are plenty of people who will enjoy it and I am clearly not one of them for all the reasons I posted. It has high production values, low cost to entry compared to other CCGs and a very simple meta compared to them as well. All key to make money. Just not mine.


      • My fundamental disagreement is that second paragraph. Deck building with the basic cards is not at all RNG, there are plenty of viable strategies that can be made for each class with just those starter neutrals and the basics you unlock for your class by level 10. Synergy is actually pretty easy to achieve with that card pool – it won’t be as powerful as it can be with the expert cards, but it is still there, and (usually) stronger than throwing random cards together.

        I understand how it can look to a new player when they are limited to the absolute basic card pool and are being crushed by those who have only been playing a few days longer but have bought a few packs – or have been fairly lucky with the couple of packs they earned through dailies. The jump in power is fairly abrupt, and in that sense it does seem unbalanced, I agree. But it is not necessarily a pay to win issue, since as far as deck building goes, the RNG is in the packs you open. Your solution might work to help new players find more viable strategies, but it also is a barrier to entry that I don’t think Blizzard wants.

        Did you post in the forums about your assessment? It might not be strictly true for people who have the experience with similar games to see the synergies available, but Blizzard has always been careful to take into consideration perceptions of difficulty as well. Your feedback could prompt them to expand the starting basic card pool, which as I understand it would address a large part of your concerns with the early game.


      • I get the disagreement because it reads as an absolute. Here’s the thing. A standard deck is, and you point this out, pretty crappy. A custom deck of basic cards is better and likely has some level of synergy within, perhaps a combo or two. A custom deck with just 5 crafted cards is going to beat either deck most of the time. A fully custom deck would only lose to RNG.

        My issues are with the power curve, in that it’s non-linear. And that the starter experience/deck is so poorly explained/variant that it acts as a deterrent for emergent gameplay.

        I’m getting sidetracked on a “live beta” topic now, but that is one of my underlying gripes.

        To sum, can you play with basic cards? Yes. Can you win? Against the PC and another basic deck, yes. The power curve of the actual cards (e.g., Shattered Sun Cleric) is a giant paywall to me. If I could buy a specific card, instead of gamble to get a card, maybe I’d be happier.

        I did post about it on the forums. On one the many that point out similar issues about the starter experience. Some people have solid suggestions too.


  4. Pingback: Hearthstone – Other Comments | Leo's Life

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