Hearthstone – Game Good, Meta-Game Bad

The basic game play in Hearthstone is phenomenal and in general is fun.  I have started to read the Battle.net forums for Hearthstone and from my conversations with Lissanna about it once you get all 9 classes to level 10 has me concerned.  Fortunately it is still in BETA and hopefully some/many of these will be addressed in the future.

I have also been playing another Card-like game ironically by Square Enix.  I say ironically because I, in the past couple of months stopped playing World of Warcraft and have been playing mostly in Final Fantasy XIV:ARR.

Now there are 4 aspects to their Card-like game Guardian Cross.

  1. Hunting Guardians – Both normally to get new cards and eventually quests to capture a specific number of a specific guardian.
  2. Story Line Progression – There is a rough story to the game and you get pieces of it after you progress for different levels of combat against computer opponents.
  3. Side Quest Dungeon Delving – There are dungeon crawl quests that send you into dungeons and is somewhat reminiscent of early Wizardry games just with no RP or Puzzles.
  4. Dueling Coliseum – This mode is the closest in-game play to Arena/Ranked Play in Hearthstone.

Now the important parts of the Dueling Coliseum is constructing your card hand, leveling your Guardians to max level, and further enhancing them using magic stones.  You then throw your group of Guardians at another Players group and the game handles everything else.  So while fun and quick there is not any real depth to game play.  Some may consider there to be some depth but it is all number crunching and random numbers so no real skill or interactivity involved.

Still a fun game and somewhat addicting, the real skill is the hunting part but since it has nothing to do with what I want to discuss for Hearthstone I am leaving it out for now.

So why is the Coliseum addicting and interesting? Simple each round of combat last for a week and players are ranked by the number of points they gain from defeating other players and get added bonus points for various length winning streaks.

Now some of the brackets in the Coliseum have special requirements for entry into that bracket.  Some are player level restricted but most are construction limited.  I.E. you can only have X number of Legendary Guardians and no repeats of Guardians in your hand, other brackets have had in the past requiring only Water Elemental type Guardians.  So this style of play is going to be crucial to Hearthstone’s longevity.

To sum it all up here are the items I think Hearthstone will need to implement either for live or early in its existence.  I will have a separate post eventually discussing rewards.

  • A separate Ranking per Deck Class, i.e. Mage, Warrior, Druid, ect…., in the General Ranked Play Mode
  • An overall Player Ranking for Arena
  • Special Play modes that impose additional deck construction limitations that are part of weekly week-long tournaments.
  • Add Player Leveling and not just Deck Level as an additional metric to differentiate players, so new players can tell if they are going up against someone who has been around a while or someone new like themselves.
  • Never let it be Pay to Win, it may feel like that initially as those that pay more will have card selection benefits early one but it has to be made such that they will be naturally gravitate to playing against others who have spent or earned similar construction benefits.
  • There should be many times more general daily quests than Class specific ones.  Also rewards for daily quests should vary based upon the amount of effort required to complete them.  I will go into greater detail on the rewards post but as a quick rule at least 10 gold per victory, and at least 15 per victory on a particular class.
  • Allow each day 2 options for a daily quest and let the player choose which of the 2 they want to add to their quest log.
  • Allow players to remove quests from the log if the end up not wanting to deal with the quests they have.

That is enough for now, I will most likely make another post about other features in the future.

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