Return of the Cardigal Son
I started with Hearthstone when it first launched and then abandoned it completely. I only recently I started playing again. The resurgence came from when my son came back from camp this summer. Camp has a very strict ‘no electronics’ policy and the kids were there for two weeks – a great unplugging for their young minds. Of course, one kid brought a bunch of Magic : The Gathering cards and it was a great way to spend evenings in their cabins and rainy afternoons. He came home very interested in the game and we bought some decks and started learning the game. I then of course checked to see if they had a phone app – which they do, but it is absolutely terrible and unplayable. This in turn reminded me of how slick and smooth the Hearthstone app is and I reloaded it to show my son. I have been playing it ever since.
When I last played it was at launch and I was really far behind – solo games, a few expansions, and tons and tons of cards that I hadn’t seen before. It is a great game for me because it has a daily goal – beat the quest – which gives you coins which in turn you exchange for packs. I had little desire for the PvE component and started playing 1-5 games a day to earn new decks. This gave me some comfort and practice with learning what was out there. I started getting new cards, new decks, and even found one that I really enjoy playing and have had interesting success with some Priest decks. I say “interesting”, because I am not nuanced enough in the game to know if it is a good deck or not. My playtime with it is odd – multiple wins in a row (sometimes as high as 5 or 6) followed by by multiple losses (sometimes as high as 5 or 6). It is either an amazing deck that gets hit with bouts of bad luck, or a terrible deck with consistent good luck. I haven’t quite sorted out if it is the most balanced card game (EVER!! <cued ridiculous claim) or if the game is solely based on luck. I am definitely not a top player as I bounce between a player ranking of 18-20.
Usually the daily quests are ‘win X games with Y class’ and this was always a fun way to play a class you weren’t used to. Lately, however, I have seen mostly ‘Play Y class cards’ and the efficient player in me just loads up on all low to mid class cards of the daily quest (along with cards that get you more cards) and I focus less on winning and more on playing as many class cards and surviving as long as I can (to play more cards). There isn’t any incentive to win here – if I can lose and play 50 class cards in two games that is more time efficient than having to win four times to play 50 class cards. Since they aren’t my best decks often (random class) I do not play ranked anyway. I appreciate they are trying to mix it up a bit but having incentives that may be contrary to the primary game’s purpose (winning) can make the game less fun for everyone. I can tell when I play someone on a similar quest by the odd chance that they quit early along after they have met the quest goal. Often I will be playing someone who is clearly beating me (because I am trying to play the most cards I can, not win) who suddenly quits mid play after laying down what was obviously the last class card he needed to.
Pay to Win?
Hearthstone did get $20 out of me, well deserved too with the amount of games I have played as of late. It was so I could get a single card, one that seems like a must have for standard play. Every time I faced this card I would lose. The card is Prince Malchezaar – a 5 point card that gives you 5 random legendary cards. It is ridiculously powerful. Everyday when I opened my cards I was hoping for it to stay in the game, to be competitive. Then I took the time to google which deck it came from in case I was choosing the wrong packs, and learned that it was from a PVE only deck Karazahn.
To get this card, all you had to do was beat Karazahn. To beat Karazahn you had to have Karazahn, which cost $20. Is that a good example of the term ‘paywall’? Funny thing is, once I got the card I actually started losing more because the C’Thun deck I was using now had to compete with 5 other normally high level cards in the deck – delaying when I would get my C’Thun and also increasing the chances I would start with too many higher level cards and not get enough early plays to stay in the game. I will have to sort through that. I will, eventually.
It remains a fun and easy game to play. I do wish Magic TG had a more slick app that was easy to play. I would like to explore those complexities at some point. With daily quests to do, and an expansion on the Horizon I forsee keeping this loaded on my phone for when a break is called for. It remains a nice distraction. Hopefully at some point I figure out if I am any good at it or not.