I Uninstalled Hearthstone Today

Hearthstone is a card game that I have had some great enjoyment with. The pace of the expansion packs has felt really rushed and clearly in the past three months they have been pumping out “I win” cards with each. This is somewhat understandable in a free to play format where they want to get paid. I do believe that you need breathing room for the playerbase to earn these cards “the old fashioned way” so they feel they can still play and be competitive with the whales.

Historically, the expansions have came out (in average) every 241 days – but not the new one. Pushed by declining revenues (my guess) they released the latest in half the timeframe – 126 days. I was just starting to feel good about competing with Gadgetzan decks. Now a whole new expansion is out, with new win conditions. I played a game last night that finally made me decide to stop playing. I was playing my C’thun Priest, a not very popular deck but a fun one if you can keep the game going a long time. With this deck I have been as high as rank 16 (the top 25% of Hearthstone players are rank 15 or above) so on that bubble of not being entirely terrible not really great either. I don’t play the meta-decks, I don’t play “competitively”, but I was having fun.

Last night I hit a warrior – I normally don’t like warriors to begin with – their “hero” power works (+2 armor) even if there is nothing on the board, where a priest needs damage against to effectively use the hero power. Turn 1, he plays this:

I have never even heard of that card, but it rewards this:

And that card is basically an “I win” card. I am also playing an “I win” card deck (C’Thun), but really, I need to get to the 15th round or later for the most part to make it happen – and I have to dig it out of a deck of 30, so it’s a late play. How many rounds could it take for them to get to their “I win” condition?

Six. Six rounds. There are so many taunt cards, and even more low taunt cards that he was able to play 7 taunt minions in 6 rounds.  IF it was possible to do enough damage (with an aggro deck, or whatnot) then maybe there would be an effective counter. Except they are all taunt cards, which means you have to clear them before doing damage to the player. You have to have a specific deck able to clear faster than he can play taunt cards before hitting his I win condition. In six rounds.

(Granted, six rounds is probably not normal, but it was still my experience so others are probably having it as well). Soon as he hit it, that early, and seeing what I had in my hand I knew the game was over. I just looked at the board and my hand, saw what was going on and realized there wasn’t a possible way for me to win. Not even if I was completely lucky. The kinds of cards that could help me in that situation (Reno, Brann, Sylvanus) were “retired” from standard play with the new expansion. I realized that this game is pushing too hard on revenue and not hard enough on preserving the experience or value of existing decks. This was somewhat obvious on the Gadgetzan expansion, but completely clear with Un’Goro.

It’s a shame – I paid over $60 for the game this year as I was having that much fun, so now they lose my long term, steady stream of revenue for the short term big sprints. I would have paid more if I had felt they were focused on improving the game. I like paying and supporting companies who earn my gaming dollars.

Seems I am not the only one.

Can anyone recommend a good, other card game to play on my phone when I drink port and smoke cigars in my garage? Hearthstone expanded itself right into an uninstall.

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I did wonder about the pace of expansions. I have played Hearthstone on occasion, however even to call me “casual” probably insults actual casuals. But even I have a sense that every expansion must be throwing the current meta in the air if only to force the hardcore to buy into (literally and figuratively) whatever the next expansion is pitching. You can only do that so often before it wears down even your most loyal customers.

    1. I initially hated the Gadgetzahn expansion because they literally made 3 decks, that each of the 9 classes were slot into one of 3, and they were all balanced against each other (for the most part). So as long as you had one of those three decks you could be competitive. I refused – but by tweaking my existing deck with some new (and older) cards I was able to build a deck I felt competitive with. That is the fun part of the deck genre, building your own deck and not just being crammed into a very narrow focus. Now, finally figuring THAT out, and here we are again with new cards and mechanics that seem to just be better in almost every way from old ones. Ah well, it was a slick game in presentation and worked great as an app (I tried MAGIC:TG but the app on phones stinks) so I’ll just have to try a different style of card game. Forces me to go try something else – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  2. Why don’t you just play the Wild format, where all cards are available? Learning the Wild meta is never wasted, because the cards are available for all time (assuming no shennanigans from Blizzard). You just build on it every expansion, and the massive variety of cards means you can craft decks and counter decks to your heart’s content. If the new cards made them king of wild too I would be cranky, but early play suggests that is not the case at all.

    I don’t play seriously but enjoy being a spoiler in Standard metagaming – I’ll craft a deck specifically to counter the current power deck and just be the gristle that these players have to swallow while they work up the ladder. In the case of the warrior deck in question I find aggro decks with high minion counts screws them up big time. Deathrattle decks are also great, because the random hero power breaks open the minions for you. It’s not unbeatable – it just beats your Cthun deck unfortunately. We all have decks we get attached to, and when the meta makes them mediocre it does get the old blood boiling. I favor change over stagnation though, so accepting new metas that may make decks redundant is a part of that. And there’s always Wild, where the retired decks can mix it up with past metas for surprising results.

    For me Standard always requires relearning, but I find that aspect of the game enjoyable. I also don’t feel like I’m being forced to spend money – I have so much gold just from doing dailies that I will never have to spend any real money ever on this game again. Not only that, I can beat these new decks using aggro decks made up of old cards – when the xpac dropped it immediately invalidated most of my decks except for my aggro warrior and aggro pallie (both cheap, old decks), and since I didn’t have the time to craft new decks I just played with my old aggro stuff and did fine (currently 10 at Standard and 10 at Wild). Having the new cards is not a prerequisite for winning. It may force you to use a deck you don’t like and abandon a deck you once enjoyed, but that’s part of the cycle of CCG.

    1. I think it stems from “death from a thousand cuts”. I was playing less and less as I enjoyed it less and less (as the competition decks became less and less familiar). So it was less of a knee jerk reaction to this one card as it was a gradual, slippery slope that has been eating away at me. And in my own defence my C’Thun deck was hardly standard – there have been 10 standard cards in it (C’Thun and builders) but the other 20 were always mixed and matched to counter whatever was going on out there. I did enjoy that part of it.

      There has been a clear movement to shorter games from what I have seen in the higher brackets (16-20) and I enjoy a slower, longer game with more cards in play and more outcomes. I feel like there is deeper strategy there. Again, just my opinion. I did have a Shaman deck that wrecked people fast (but was unfun to play – let alone, play against, I would suspect).

      All in all the decision was one that was a long time coming for me. I think if they kept the 8-9 months per expansion instead of 4-5 that gave more time to adapt and feel good about it. The rush makes me think there is already another one on the way, and that is a feeling of helplessness that makes me not want to continue.

  3. Elder Scrolls Legends just launched, so it might be a good time to get in on the ground floor.

    Also, there’s Gwen (I think it’s called) which is a spin-off from the Witcher 3. I think it was actually the in-game card game, and might be in BETA.

    And there are tons of lower profile CCGs on Steam. Ones that come to top of mind are Hex, and the Runescape one, which might also be called Legends, or perhaps Chronicles.

    1. Unfortunately ESO Scrolls isn’t currently available on my Android device, but that is definitely one I will keep my eye on. I also didn’t get into the Witcher games (didn’t like the control/combat schemes). If only there was Starwars card game or some other IP – I find them easier to play if you have a vested interest / understanding. I’ll try some out.

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