Monday, 9 December 2013

Hearthstone, Heroes of Warcraft

This Thursday I finally got into Hearthstone Beta. Some people might say, who cares, but those are probably already in the beta themselves. I say finally, because I have probably watched Hearthstone matches on youtube for a, damn it is a couple of months truth be told. And I wished to be there, playing the game for myself. So I would stop judging others for making stupid mistakes.

And indeed, my wish came true, when I checked my email, and there was this shiny beta key. Evil laughter aside and the vision of total dominance over the field of battle that went through my head in that moment, I patiently downloaded the game, that came in package with new interface. A necessary evil I guess. It is not an evil to be sure, it actually helps keeping all the games on the same place. I think of it is Blizzard's version of Steam, with a difference that there will always be only Blizzard games I own.

As I started through the tutorial, they slowly introduced the key mechanics of the game. My opponents, were what I believe otherwise are just legendary cards. Lorewalker Cho, Illidan, King Mukla, I do not remember the rest. I think there was five or six opponents before I was done with tutorial and playing the Mage. At least at that point. Mage is the first and only class you get to play with in tutorial, and because of that the first class you can use to unlock others.

I wasted no time, and went forth into battle against Uther. I wanted my Paladin deck. As I quickly dealt with Uther, I used my newly acquired Paladin deck to unlock all other decks. I was set to try my luck in Arena as soon as possible. And for that to happen, you need to unlock all other decks. When I was done with that I entered the Arena.

I drafted a Hunter deck, had I the choice, I would make a Paladin deck, but the Hunter deck proved to be quite fun, and worth its time. I always underestimated the use of Misdirection, a secret available to Hunters. After my arena run with it in a deck, I think it is a brilliant card to have in a deck. It saved my skin on numerous occasions, and it did so in a very entertaining manner as well. My opponents must have been banging their heads pretty hard over the amounts of stupidity and entertainment this one card allowed in one go.

It is quite something when you see how one big creature kills another, when your enemy thought he had you. It is quite something when he does not have any other cards left to counter you, because his big guns just shot each other. But all in all, it was not really a successful run. It ended with 4/3. I think I should not have taken the screenshot while I was ahead, but let us leave superstition aside.

After that painful defeat I went licking my wounds in ranked. I am glad to report, that I felt like wolf among sheep. With only a basic deck I was able to climb the ladder up to Platinum three star. I am quite proud of myself, although I am starting to notice the trend that sometimes giving your best is just not enough. Sometimes an opponent has a better deck, because he played for greater length of time, and because of that has more options.

At times like that I switch to my Hunter deck. And play in a style that could be described as run and gun. A Blitzkrieg. I disregard the defence and focus only on the offence. I apply the pressure on the opponent that he has no time dealing the damage to me, because he has to kill all my minions first. This style of play I noticed is much more suited for a Hunter than a Paladin. But it might be that I like to use heals in my Paladin deck instead of a few more heavy hitters.

What I am worried a bit, is the amount of gold you get from quest and victories. At times, it feels as insufficient. You get 40 gold for a completed quest, and 10 gold for every three games you win. This can feel underwhelming if you get caught in a losing streak. You can have as much as 50 gold in about half an hour, or as much as nothing in an hour and a half.

This worries me because at times it feels like eternity before you get to open the new pack of cards, or enter the arena. Arena costs 150 gold, one pack of cards costs 100 gold. But you can always opt to buy with your real money as well. And while I understand Hearthstone is free to play game, I also know of the game that is free to play, but does not make you feel as if you are being put into a waiting queue if you do not show some money.

I think the model of League of Legends could be held as an example. For starters, award some small amount of gold even if the game is lost. And I mean lost, not surrendered. If one surrenders a game, no gold for him. It would be too easy to abuse the system. Also, award the gold for individual victory, not a cluster of three. You can give five gold per victory, and two gold coins for defeat. Sure, the amount of gold is greater, but it is also manageable. You could also limit the amount of gold you get by losing the game. Thus encouraging good plays.

All in all, I love Hearthstone. It is fun, entertaining, and often games end quickly. I cannot wait to finally get the cards I really want, and build my Paladin deck I was intent of having from the very start. There are some cards I need though. Primarily the ones with Divine Shield. I really hope it lives up to what I think it would be. Very annoying and very hard deck to deal with.

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