Hearthstone: Wake up, roll dice, return to nap

If you’re like most people, well actually if you are like most people you aren’t playing Hearthstone. But if you are among the select few who found the game way, way down in the app store somehow, I’m sure by now you are really annoyed at the games biggest flaw; sometimes when you are awake-enough to notice what is happening, you are very, very occasionally forced to make a decision that might actually effect the outcome of the game. Super frustrating right? Give me dice or give me death! Player decisions and skill are for weirdos and such game never succeed to attract the masses! (please ignore the fact that many of the top games today are heavily skill based, please!)

But fear not fellow fans of Candyland, Blizzard is set to fix this horrible problem shortly! Check out all of the wonderful new cards coming. Now count up the number of times you see the word “random”. Or just stop after the count of 50, no need to spend half a day here. Awesome right?

Random weapon for BOTH players, random minion summoning, random damage cards being put into your deck, minions going back into your deck randomly, 50% chance to attack something randomly (this is a whole new monster skill line, which is almost too sad to mock. Almost), summon a random LEGENDARY monster, random skills to your minions, random random random…

I love that New Blizzard is trying to fix Hearthstone being a shallow, sleep-inducing title not by expanding the cards to add more depth, but by going in the exact opposite direction and just making even more things random and further removing the impact of player actions. I’m honestly surprised one of the cards isn’t “50% chance to reduce your opponent to zero health, 50% to reduce you to zero”. Oh what a fun silly goblin card that would be, wheee!

Can’t wait to watch the next world championship played out between two dice cups sitting at a table. Heavily leaning towards betting on the blue cup, his dice seem to have that ‘it’ factor.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in iPhone, Random, Rant, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Hearthstone: Wake up, roll dice, return to nap

  1. Trego says:

    You’re going way overboard with the HS hate. There was already some random abilities in the game, and in a goblin themed expansion of course there would be more; that is beyond obvious. You are reading way too much into this. HS is a fine game…is it CoC? No, but what did you expect from 2013 Blizzard? When are you going to finally stop expecting greatness from the interns, and ranting like this when they continue to not deliver it? If some other company had released this game, you’d have tried it out, decided it was ok but a bit simple, and moved on without a second thought.

    • SynCaine says:

      “If some other company had released this game, you’d have tried it out, decided it was ok but a bit simple, and moved on without a second thought.”

      This is correct.

      And has also been one of the core themes of the blog since 2007. The beatings will continue.

      Also using “its a goblin expansion” as an excuse to further randomize an already obnoxiously random game is terribly weak IMO.

    • Trego says:

      It’s a core theme of the blog since 2007, but the people who work at blizzard aren’t the same people as in 2007, so it’s not actually the same core theme as it used to be. If the name of a company means that much to you, though, then you’re crushing it.

      “Also using “its a goblin expansion” as an excuse to further randomize an already obnoxiously random game is terribly weak IMO.”

      Using the term ‘excuse’ is just obnoxious rhetoric, sticking to the flavor of their lore has been a Core theme of Blizzard since long before 2007; so it is clearly a reason, not an excuse. :)

      As regards randomness, what matters to players is not whether cards have random abilities, but whether playing the game feels like a dice roll, or an exercise of strategy. You are conflating the two types of randomness, without any foundation of trying the new card set out to justify your claim.

      E.g. the most commonly used ‘random’ card in classic Hearthstone was Rag. At the end of your turn, he dealt 8 damage to a random opponent. This randomness was indeed game-changing, I’ve played many games where he hit a minion while I was under 8 health, allowing me to win the game next turn. But it wasn’t obnoxiously random, he was an expensive late game finisher, that would usually win the game for someone getting him out; with a side element of randomness as to how long he would take to finish the opponent. Overpowered early game combos, which don’t involve any randomness in their abilities, still involve much randomness in drawing them early and together. These ‘feel’ much more random in actual gameplay. The ‘meat’ of the new set is clearly the cards that have an effect when you draw them, or which change properties while still in your hand according to actions in the game. Focusing on cards which have random abilities, and not on how random gameplay will be going forward, is both simply incorrect, and is also focusing on flavor and ignoring the substance.

      One last point: Each individual game of HS tends towards the simplistic, with a high degree of randomness. This is true; however, each game is quick, and if you played someone best of 15, it would not be very random. At that level of repetition, skill would have much more chance to win out. Even still , it’s not that complex, but the retort to that criticism is two-fold: A. Incredibly complex games already exist, and we see from them that excess complexity limits the audience as much as too little does. Is LoL so popular because of its depth, or is it because it’s still fun while one is playing at a lower level? I would argue that both are part of Riot’s formula; so using that analysis, where is HS falling short? The problem with HS is that the complexity doesn’t increase that much to keep pace with player skill/knowledge. So much of advanced strategy in HS consists of being able to deduce what the other person has in his hand/secrets, which is something that takes time to master, but it is somehow not a rewarding type of learning. B. due to the above facts, determining whether this new set will solve or exacerbate these problems is not reasonably possible from merely glancing at the new cards, without taking a naive and unuseful approach.

      • SynCaine says:

        The repetition thing is basically why poker works; any one hand a lesser player might win, over 1000 hands the better player walks away with the money.

        But where with poker it takes a very long time to become a master, and there are a great many levels between amateur and profession, Hearthstone is shallow. If you know the cards and the basic meta of each deck (not hard, and certainly not a challenge), and have a VERY basic understanding of how to play your deck (dirt simple for a lot of popular and highly effective decks), you are basically maxed out with the game. That’s why the world championship was such a joke, because you didn’t see anything special, just dice rolls and game imbalance on display, with two people going through the motions.

        Hearthstones version of counterspell is a perfect example. It’s mostly a luck card. You play it on your turn, and on your opponents turn you hope that his next card is an important one. The opponent can, if they have a card, play a safe bait, and if the secret didn’t trigger, they 100% know a counterspell isn’t possible. That’s incredibly lame and shallow.

        By comparison, in MtG counterspell is mini-poker. At any time both players know it might be held, and things become a cat and mouse game of baiting it out, or making a move that looks like a bait but really isn’t. What land is untapped is a factor, just to name one. It becomes a game of actually playing against the other person, and not about finishing your turn and hoping the dice are in your favor.

        Hearthstone needs more cards and systems to add depth and give people a reason to play beyond learning the absolute basics and then tossing dice; this expansion goes in the opposite direction by further emphasizing dice rolls.

        To go to your example; does anyone feel good about winning or losing because the Rag dice did or didn’t kill you? It’s like someone perfectly playing a dominant hand in poker, correctly predicting what the sucker has, and then that person hitting runner runner. In poker its accepted because its rare. In Hearthstone its the norm. It also isn’t the norm in MtG (a game that has a shitty online presence, but that is still wildly popular overall).

        As for the goblin theme; randomization isn’t the only characteristic of the race in the ever-growing and hyper-important lore that is Warcraft (spacegoats). Blizzard wasn’t force to add a bunch of hyper-randomized cards into Hearthstone because of goblins; they are using goblins as part of the justification.

      • Trego says:

        “Hearthstone needs more cards and systems to add depth and give people a reason to play beyond learning the absolute basics and then tossing dice; this expansion goes in the opposite direction by further emphasizing dice rolls.”

        Honestly, if Blizzard wants to make a deeper online CCG, they should completely start over. What you are describing would be an absolute kludge, a bunch of extra systems layered on top of a basic architecture intended to be extremely simple. The “can’t do anything on your opponent’s turn” which you correctly note limits many of the best elements of M:tg from being included was clearly a specific design goal to limit slowplay griefing. I played M:TG in the pro tour circuit in the mid-90’s, at that level, taking one single turn involved your opponent passing on his ‘chance to possibly interrupt’ possibly as many as twenty times. If your opponent gets 30 seconds to think it over at each of these twenty times, then he’s just extended YOUR turn by up to 10 minutes. Imagine how long he could make HIS turn. So, Blizzard had the choice–allow absolutely interminable slow play griefing, or cut out those 20 opportunities. There are other systems they could have implemented, but they went the way they went; and the result is a very fast game, which is predictably simple, and where slowplay griefing is unproductive. This is just one example of all the different choices they have made, which can not easily be unmade, and which make completely starting over a better option for anyone trying to design an online CCG that looks like the one you clearly are looking for.

        That said, I’m not convinced HS is going more simple with this expansion overall, as I think the other new mechanics will overpower the effect of the random cards; but I haven’t tried it, or played HS at all in weeks–I’ll get back to you with specific examples when I get around to trying it, which I’m sure I eventually will. It just doesn’t matter that much anyway. You can put lipstick on a pig, but you can’t make it into a pekka.

        • SynCaine says:

          Agree, the lack of actions during the opponents turn absolutely kills a lot of what makes games like MtG deep and worth playing for longer than it takes to learn the basics. I also don’t remember turn griefing being a big deal in MtG:O. Maybe I’m just forgetting it now (think I played in early 2000s?), but even so there are (IMO better) ways of dealing with it than to just outright completely neuter your game into something that isn’t nearly as successful as it should be (around top 50 grossing apps isn’t where a Blizzard produced, Warcraft IP-fueled, MtG-clone app should be. Being anything outside the top 10 is a pretty big failure IMO, because its not like cracking the top 10 means overcoming some major players. The freaking Kim K game is still around top 10…)

        • Trego says:

          I didn’t play MTG:O. I agree that there are better ways to combat turn griefing; and that was just one example of the choices Blizzard has made to simplify the game. I don’t know how the app-comparison works; does that include revenue from Blizzard’s standalone desktop PC client?

        • SynCaine says:

          It doesn’t that I’m aware of, but Hearthstone is a mobile app porter to PC (the UI is pretty meh for a PC game, because its a straight port of the mobile UI).

        • Delpez says:

          MtG:O uses a timing system like chess. Whenever you have priority your timer is running until you pass priority. Each player has 25 minutes to complete the match (best out of 3), and if your time runs out you lose; regardless of the match standing. So there is absolutely no point in grieving while you still have a chance to win, as you’re just spiting yourself. Sometimes (very seldom) someone will turn grieve, but you also lose if you don’t do something within certain a time limit. All in all, I think it’s a fair and well implemented system. In fact, I wish it was possible to use something similar in real MtG, as it completely eliminates players stalling for draws or wins.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The title basically summarizes my feelings on this game. I logged in to see about this new stuff, played one arena and then it hit me: the game I left because there was too much RNG involved just got an expansion that has RNG as one of the main themes. I don’t think I’ll be coming back again.

    • Delpez says:

      To be fair, not many of those random cards will make it into competitive decks. As with MtG, only a very small percentage of the cards in each expansion has an impact on the top decks. Which brings me to a significant difference between MtG and HS – the casual scene. I often throw together a fun Magic deck for casual play with my friends. The Commander format is particularly conducive for using fun cards and strange strategies in a relaxed social environment. So below all those MtG pros and tournament grinders lies s a huge scene of social players around kitchen tables using house rules (they’re like archetypal basement dwelling computer nerds!) . This adds to the diversity of an already deep and diverse game; to be able to hard-cast Darksteel Colossus on Wednesday night while running your fine-tuned tier 1 net deck into a PTQ gauntlet over the weekend. Unfortunately this causal scene does not exist in HS or any other online card game, meaning your chances of using all those wacky cards effectively is basically zero.

  3. Alleji says:

    I already hated Mad Bomber and Mind Control Tech, now there are another 10+ cards that do similar levels of ridiculous game-swinging bullshit.

    I saw it coming from the previewed cards, but wanted to stay optimistic and try the game out… maybe all this stuff, added at higher rarities won’t make as much of an impact on arena? Nope. Optimism didn’t pay off. Played arena for most of the day yesterday and it is as bad as it looks – probably enough for me to stop playing.

    That sucks because I actually enjoyed the game before.

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