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Blizzard based PvP – Opportunity Costs The Missing Element

This topic has been a major grievance of mine with most MMO-games and is also lacking in most Blizzard PvP interactions.  I say most because technically the measly rewards you receive while loosing in Random Battlegrounds could be considered such but is more insulting than useful.

I bring this up now because it was a subject that Lissanna of (Restokin), Wyrmwood of (Wormwood Tea), myself got into about Hearthstone.  The conversation lasted 15-20 minutes before the 3 of us were asked to change the subject by other members of our Friday night Table Top(TT) game.  Wyrmwood has written many and varied TT RPGs and is very familiar with the issues involved with balancing game play and reward mechanics.

This goes back to my earlier post about Hearthstone while the game is fun, after having played it for a week and a half now there are things that I am finding not so fun.  I have 5-6 of the classes to level 10, i.e. I have all the basic free cards that are given to those decks.  To be honest while being a bit of an alt-o-holic in WoW, I am really getting tired of playing new class decks from 1-10.  Especially when I get a new daily quest of win 2 or 5 games playing a class I have not even looked at yet.

On top of that I can not complete the win 2/5 games while playing in the practice league, so I essentially have to go be free cannon fodder with a level 1 class deck in the un-ranked play mode and keep my fingers crossed to win maybe 1 in 5 games before completing the quest which would amount to 10-25 games.

So essentially there are 2-3 major issues brought up here.

  1. Something has to be done with the daily quests so if there are certain ones you don’t want to do you can just be rid of them.
  2. The above is still a problem but less so, IF and ONLY IF (IFF) you can complete the victory quests in practice mode, ONLY WHEN CLASS LVL < 10.  This way you only have to go into the Ranked/Unranked Play Mode (PVP) if you have at least gotten the class to Level 10.  Eventually everyone will be there, maybe just by trying to complete them in practice.
  3. There needs to be better rewards for Loosing, i.e. staying in the game until your character is taken to negative hit points.

I bring this up because it was relevant it occurred before the TT game on Friday and then as stated above became a topic of conversation while we were eating as a group before game.

After a losing streak of 4-6 games on my Priest Deck when trying to complete a daily I really started to question if I even wanted to play the game anymore.  I did take a break from the game for that day because I felt that it was becoming a waste of my time and I was not really getting anything out of loosing, also it was a good reason to go pick up the food for the TT game.

Further more since then I have had a few other Dailies that revolve around class decks that I have not leveled.  So my pattern is to log in play 1 -3 games and then log off if I end up not really making any progress.  Since at this point it has been a couple of days since I started this post my opinion on Opportunity Costs have not changed but I also am now more against the entire daily quest setup than I was before.

So to wrap up here are my suggestions and ultimately some of these could also be carried over into WoW or even Star Craft.

  1. Daily Quests should always be generic and therefore class neutral.  I.E. Complete 5 or 10 games.  Where complete means either you win or you are taken to negative HP, so no Concede workaround.  Even complete-able against players on your list.
  2. Additional forms of play within the 2 major types (Play/Arena).  for example have a type of ranked play that has a deck limitation of no card in the deck can cost more than 4 mana.  Another would be you must have 20 minions in your deck or even a 30 minion deck so no spells.
  3. I really like the looks of what the one fan did by constructing a Raid deck like the current TT CCG for Warcraft.
  4. Maybe even further iterations that allow 2v2 or 3v3 where you play like Emperor style of Magic the Gathering.
  5. Further more a (1v1)^4 or ^5 where you can only attack the player to the left or right of you, last person standing wins.

Now I don’t expect some of these for open Beta or even 1.0 of Hearthstone but it opens up some interesting possibilities for the future.

Back to the subject of Opportunity Costs in then end and it is something that is made plain as the seasons progress in WoW, you need to keep the players that lose in any particular PvP setting interested enough in continuing to lose so that others can win.  PvP in this regard is a zero sum game.  It is one of the reasons in theory I like the Arena but in Beta now it is rough.  If you don’t know every possible card and the best combinations on how to use each choice you will lose because chances are you will be matched up with someone that does.

So in the end if 100x is the total reward that is available from every Hearthstone match then 60x goes to the winner and 40x goes to the loser.  Essentially think of it as for playing in this match you each get 40x and the winner gets a bonus 20x for winning.  In Battlegrounds it use to be 3x to 1x and while on the whole globally it may have kept the win ratio somewhat equal if you were unlucky to get in on a losing streak you that many games times 2 behind anyone that was lucky enough to have the same winning streak.  The 60/40 split keeps not only the victories about even but also the gear/currencies available to the winners and losers about the same.  That is what will keep the game running a long time.

Posted in Hearthstone, World of Warcraft

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 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.

Posted in Hearthstone