Monday, August 18, 2014

Fixing Hearthstone 5: Daxxarri is Ancient Orcish for, “We don’t know anything about CCGs.”

I like to see how the intellectually dishonest, abusive, Blizzard apologist set lives, so this week I was hanging around the Hearthstone General forum when I saw a post from Daxxarri titled Fair Play is at the Heart of Hearthstone.  My first thought was that Daxxarri had played a completely different game than I played since Hearthstone went public Alpha in March. 
Then a different part of me remembered that Blizzard had a bunch of job requisitions opened for Hearthstone design and balance.  Even though all those reqs had a requirement of 75 bazillion hours experience in 1 v. 1, netdeck v. netdeck, coin flip fake sports, there was always hope that someone in Irvine woke up and realized that CCGs are more than just 1 v. 1 games against strangers and netdecking Hearthstone Ranked as a full-time job.  So, with cautious optimism, I opened the post expecting to see multiple paragraphs about missing CCG variants being added to Friendly play, a statement about strict adherence to the Card Balance Philosophy, and statements about fixes to the base set commensurate with the Card Balance Philosophy.  The post we got was three sentences.  I’m going to deconstruct it sentence by sentence, and in some cases, word by word. Daxxarri’s words will be in italics:

A fun, fair, and competitive environment is at the very heart of the Hearthstone experience.

No it isn’t, but let’s look into why:

A fun environment is at the very heart of the Hearthstone experience.

Impossible given Hearthstone is missing every casual, fun CCG variant in favor of trying to jam every player into the Ranked hole on the Fisher-Price Workbench, regardless of how ill-fitting they are for Ranked play.

A fair environment is at the very heart of the Hearthstone experience.

Leeroy Jenkins combos, the Power 6, Zoo, and Naxx slightly shifting degenerate deck archetypes all say otherwise, but I suppose one could self-deceive that perpetually netdecking the FotM (Flavor of the Metagame) against strangers who are also perpetually netdecking the FotM is “fair”.

A competitive environment is at the very heart of the Hearthstone experience.

Here’s the lone nugget of reality in the first sentence. Blizzard, in fact, created a system where the entire point is to scratch and claw your way to either Rank 20, Legend Rank, or Top 16 of Legend Rank.  Everything else is worthless, so if I can come up with a way to do that while doing anything more productive or more fun, then it would be to my benefit to do so.

This is a reminder that we take fair play very seriously…

If this were true, the base set design would have been fixed months ago, but it hasn’t, so no, Daxx, your design team can’t be bothered to care about fair play.

…and that making use of third party programs that automate gameplay (also known as ‘bots’ or ‘botting’) is a violation of our Terms of Use. Accounts that are found to be making use of ‘bots’ are subject to penalties, up to and including permanent suspension.

Oh, this is just toothless, PR, CYA, nonsense so Blizzard can say with a straight face that they are doing something about botting to quell forum complaints.  Banning accounts is irrelevant in a F2P game. If weenie rush wasn’t a dominant deck archetype, botting would be much harder.  If Hearthstone had depth, botting would be much harder. If Hearthstone was interactive, botting would be much harder.  If there were real casual alternatives for players to play their friends instead of feeling forced to play Ranked all the time against strangers, botting would be less prevalent.

So if I’m understanding fully: The feature set, core game design, core set design, willful ignorance of cards and combos that violate the Card Balance Philosophy, and an expansion that did almost nothing to the metagame are all fully and solely the responsibility of Blizzard; players have subsequently rejected some or all of these things and employed a way around having to subject themselves to Hearthstone’s myriad shortcomings.  Blizzard’s response to that rejection is not to fix their game, but to dump the responsibility for “fair play” solely on the shoulders of the players?

They really don’t know anything about CCGs, do they?

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