Full disclaimer – I am not big on card games. Actually, to be more clear – fantasy hard games. I didn’t play Magic: The Gathering, or Pokémon, or any of those fine pastimes. Pull my nerd card if you have to. I did play quite a bit of Texas Hold’em and other traditional card games so I understand basic concepts on how cards work. Card tricks are also fun to watch.
When I was invited to the Hearthstone beta I thought it could be a fun way to enter into the fantasy card space. Blizzard has a history of ease of entry and since it is all digitized I wouldn’t have to worry about spilling my beer over any actual cards. This could work!
The nutshell review: Fun game, but completely pay to win. Saying that, you may say “duh, its a fantasy card game!” and they all revolve around what cards you have and how much you spend. The obligatory analogy here is playing Texas Hold’em but depending on how much your opponents spent, they may have 10 aces available in their deck and you only have 4.
As soon as the playing field isn’t level to start you don’t have a game of skill, you have a game of chance – but one heavily influenced by how much money you have invested in your “chance”. I will agree with you that Poker is also a game of chance but it is one where all players know what cards are in deck.
You can also not spend and still grow your deck but cold hard cash skips over any effort. You might get one pack of cards a day, every day, if you play a couple of hours. Or, you could get 100 packs in 5 seconds. Up to you.
That being said, I am still going to continue to play it in the beta – I am having some fun while learning and because I haven’t anything personal invested in it (except some time) I don’t mind that it is built around the frustrating aspect of most PVP that its 81.93% “blowout” 18.07% “close”. There isn’t a lot of evenly matched because you have several random aspects. 1, the skill/experience of your opponent. 2, how much they have spent on their decks.3, how they have built their decks and 4, what random drawing order of the cards has occurred. I suppose you should add a 5, the random drawing of your own cards (and I will assume at this point your own skill isn’t random.. right?). There are a few extra chance and pay to win elements there that aren’t available in traditional card games.
Perhaps the ‘fantasy cards’ industry is built around this and everyone is accepting and understanding of this. As an outsider just dipping his toe into the space it is a bit of a turnoff.