Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fixing Hearthstone 3a: Fixes That Fix Nothing

By now you have seen or played the new and “improved” Unleash the Hounds.  For the uninitiated, the cost of Unleash was raised from 2 to 3.  This change, as it turns out, does have a couple of tangible effects:  First, it slows down the terrible Leeroy Jenkins combos that continue to stand in defiance of the Card Balance Philosophy document Ben Brode posted in January by one turn; second, it slows down the card draw engine of Starving Buzzard and Unleash the Hounds used in combination by one turn.

Now ordinarily, this would be the place where I’d make a joke that literacy is optional in the Hearthstone design department; however, I cannot make such a joke because it is too obvious and I wouldn’t want to disparage any of the Hearthstone design team’s reading tutors.  I’m sure the tutors are working very hard.

The reality is the change to Unleash the Hounds doesn’t actually fix anything.  Terrible Leeroy Jenkins-based combos are still in the game, contrary to a design standard that was written almost half a year ago.  The standard for single turn damage output that was set by the arbitrary nerf to Pyroblast is still being violated by those combos.  The base set still has gaping holes in it; the feature set is still criminally inadequate in Friendly and Casual play, all while Ben Brode is changing the changes of the changing meta that is changing every week and will increase the flux of changes with the release of Naxxramas! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psq83bosG60)

The base set design is still way too Legendary centric at the high end of the mana range, and low mana cost minions are way too powerful.  I realize the business sense of creating an environment where F2P players feel like they have an even chance against paying players while providing the carrot of the Power 6 to induce players to over spend on card packs.  That said, the goal of the community and the design team should be to make the best possible game for all players, not just the top .001% of players that are going to get invites to Blizzcon, or that get 5000+ views on Twitch.

The Hearthstone community is clamoring for earnest change that affects the game in a positive way.  While a change like this to UTH might placate the most vocal forum whiners, some number of which know virtually nothing about Hearthstone or CCGs in general, those of us with any experience whatsoever are still waiting for the Hearthstone design team to set aside its collective hubris, read the Card Balance Philosophy document for comprehension, understand what Casual CCG play really is, and finally get Hearthstone out of the Alpha development phase.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. Granted i really don't play this as much anymore. The overwhelming kicking of my Arse was a bit much and I felt better time served in Minecraft.