7 Wishes for Hearthstone in 2017
Last year (or well, 2 weeks ago) one of the Hearthstone devs – Iksar – has asked us about our wishlist for 2017 on Twitter. I know that it’s 2017 already, but we have about 11 months and 3 weeks more to go, so I’ve decided to share my own wishlist.
I doubt that multiple of those will happen this year. Actually, I have slight doubts that ANY of those will happen this year. But that’s just the way of wishes – they rarely are very realistic.
While I would like to share more, I won’t be too greedy and just stick with 7. Some are about balance, some are about competitive play and some are just about more fun stuff. I think that we can all agree that those would be good additions to the game – maybe not exactly in a form I present, but hey, I’m not the game designer – let’s leave all the details to them!
1. More frequent updates
As someone who plays the game for way over 3 years already (time sure flies), I have seen the game change in multiple ways. However, most of those changes were… slow. Besides adventure and expansion packs, we have almost no new features ever since the game left beta. That’s 3 years ago. And we’ve got, hm, Tavern Brawls, alternate Hero skins (not for every Hero, of course), deck recipes (which should be a feature in the game right away), spectator mode (which DEFINITELY should be in the game right away and is still very buggy after 3 years), introduction of Standard/Wild format.. aaand, that’s it? Two things that should be in the game right after the release, cosmetic Hero Portraits… Tavern Brawls and Standard/Wild format were the only big new additions, but only the Tavern Brawl adds something really new.
I mean, we also had some balance patches, right? Right. We had like 5 or 6 of those in 3 years. That’s one per 6 months on average. Because who wants a balanced ladder anyway, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for a balance update every week, but if something is clearly broken (like Midrange Shaman for the last few months), a few tweaks wouldn’t be bad at all. Everyone would be happy. Casual players wouldn’t care and more dedicated players would love such a patch.
And not only balance stuff – we need new things. The game gets boring after a while if you do the same thing over and over again. Right now the only time when the game feels really fresh is a start of new expansion. So yeah, more frequent updates with more stuff added to the game. That’s a general thing.
2. Tournament Mode
Probably the feature that was asked for most, ever, just after the deck slots (which have been added successfully). In-game tournament mode. A mode when you can feel like you’re participating in a real tournament – adjusted to your level, of course. You get to test your skills and try to go for a big prize – similarly to the Arena.
The closest thing we had was Heroic Tavern Brawl. Which was pretty fun, but really flawed at the same time. The entry prize was way too high, the payouts were concentrated between 10 and 12 wins (mostly at EXACTLY 12 wins) and it was a more hardcore experience than something that everyone can play.
The tournament mode I’d love to see in game should have a way lower entry barrier, the prizes that are distributed more evenly and a MMR – the last part is important. It would mean that new players could also enter in and compete with other players of similar level.
It would be really fun to take your favorite deck to a more competitive environment, but without feeling that much pressure. I mean, you can participate in one of the smaller tournaments, there are many, but it’s an option for more dedicated players – big part of the casual playerbase doesn’t even know that such tournaments exist. That’s why introducing them in the client would be a great change.
3. Changes to the ladder
Ladder grind is the biggest and most important part of Hearthstone… and it’s dull at the same time. It makes no sense at all. I don’t play the game as much as a lot of you would expect (probably 1-2h per day on average) and I hit Legend every season, so I’m not complaining about the time it takes to hit Legend. My point is that the experience is boring and repetitive. After all, you do the same thing over and over again every month.
There are multiple problems with the ladder now. First of all – seasons length. While best players can hit Legend on the 2nd day of the season (if they try really, really hard), A LOT of the players don’t even try because of how much time it takes. They’re happy with a rank 5, even though they have enough skill to hit Legend, it’s hard to pass the grind.
Next thing are the resets. Legend players go all the way back to rank 17. Why? To prove that they can win at rank 17? It just makes the early season experience terrible for everyone. Legend players don’t like grinding all the way back and players that were lower (let’s say got back to rank 19-20) have really hard time getting few rank ups in the first days, because of how many Legend players they face.
Then, there is a problem with Legend itself. The rank isn’t “prestigious” if even bots with close to 50% win rate can hit it after enough time. Right now, while obviously skill matters most, mindless grind can achieve almost the same result – in a way longer time, of course, but still. Someone who has ~52% win rate through ranks 5 to Legend isn’t an exceptional player. It takes him over 400 games to get to Legend. Someone who has 65% win rate – only about 80 games. Yet both can get into Legend, the first one just needs to grind and grind and grind whole month. I think that Legend should be something that only the best players can get, not the best players AND average players that grind A LOT. Legend should be a show of skill, not of grind.
There are some problems with high Legend ladder too, where hitting top monthly ranks is not about the best performance over the month, but about a good win streak by the end of the month. Due to the matchmaking, luck is a huge factor there and it shouldn’t be – one unlucky match against a counter matchup when your opponent is sitting at rank 4k can throw you out of top 100 really easily.
It’s not only that – there are way more things about the ladder that are problematic. I’d love to see a total revamp of the ladder system, because the current one clearly doesn’t work well.
4. More love to the Arena
Arena was my main mode back in the day. I remember having around 1k Constructed wins with ~2k Arena wins. Right now the numbers are completely flipped and I have 3 times as many Constructed wins, but I still play Arena from time to time. And it’s really sad how forgotten this mode is by the devs. I know that the Constructed balance is more important, but let’s be honest – we can balance one without affecting the second.
Why not make a separate balance to Arena and to Constructed? I mean, right now they don’t even balance Constructed well enough, but in a perfect world we could have some problematic cards altered and some completely removed – they’ve already shown that second thing is possible. But didn’t do ANYTHING more after the initial changes. For example, let’s say that Mage is a problematic class, because Firelands Portal is too strong. How about reducing the showing rate of Firelands Portal by 50%? It would, on average, make the class weaker and maybe in line with the others. Yes, there would be some extreme drafts of someone still getting 4 copies after the showing rate has been reduced, but it would be minority. Overall balance would be improved by a series of changes like that.
There are a lot of Arena experts who clearly know which cards are problematic, which cards lead to the unwanted higher win rates of certain classes etc. And you know what, I have to say that the Arena balance is in a decent state right now. But it doesn’t mean that it will always be – every expansion shakes things up.
Also, I had an idea to make another Arena mode with “fun” rules. You could still play the normal one if you wouldn’t like it, but we could have set of different rules rotating weekly. Those rules could be, for example, “only Standard cards are available this week” – now players wouldn’t be able to draft cards from GvG or Naxx. Maybe “offering rate of dragons goes up by 200%” – this would make dragon decks much more popular and easier to build. Or, I don’t know, a highlander week – “you can’t pick more than one copy of a single card, every deck starts with a Reno Jackson” – people would have to build their decks around it with this restriction. There are a lot, A LOT of things they could come up with and after they run out of ideas, they could recycle the most popular ones, like they do with Tavern Brawls. And like I’ve said, if someone wouldn’t like it, they could still play the old Arena. Wouldn’t it be fun?
5. Improvements to already implemented functions
There are some functions that are just crucial for the game. But a lot of them are very, very flawed. I’m talking about things like reconnect system. People with unstable connections should know what I’m talking about. When you dc, it’s like a lottery – sometimes you will reconnect, sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you will go back to the game, sometimes you will go back straight to the main menu, even though the game is still going (yes, it happened to me multiple times). Function like that should work flawlessly.
Then, a better spectator mode. We have one. And that’s it. It’s constantly crashing, it’s bugged, often freezes when some card is played etc. And since we rely on the spectator mode in most of the tournaments, it looks really poorly production-wise. Switching PoVs, having “breaks” when players still play, but we can’t see it, because spectator mode needs to be restarted.
Even the UI in general is… lacking. It was good way back, but there were no improvements made at all. Collection management isn’t the best experience, search function doesn’t always work properly, some things (like shop in my case) work pretty slowly. I think that getting a completely remade and polished client would be a great thing, but probably close to impossible.
6. Achievements & Stats
Right now the game doesn’t present almost ANY stats. We know how many Constructed/Arena wins we have (WINS, not even games), we know how many games we have to win until gold portrait of each class, we know our levels… that’s it? Really? We know that more stats are registered – after all, we get some fun infographic from Blizzard once in a blue moon. But I would love to have way more of them available to every player. Starting with the match history – why don’t we have such a basic feature in this game? Then, stats of each deck or at least each class. Of the classes we face. Right now to track our performance or the meta, we need to use third party tools and what’s the point in that if those stats could be just displayed in game? I’ve read somewhere that not displaying of the stats is targeted at the new/casual players that lose a lot and they don’t want to see that their win rate is 25% or something. I mean… if that’s really it, then they really treat us like morons. If someone is winning only every fourth game, he knows that really well. It’s not like seeing 1 win and 3 loses makes him think that he’s the best player ever with 80% win rate.
Then, the achievements. Okay, this is more of a fun thing. It’s not necessary from the gameplay perspective, but it adds another goal, another thing to do. Achievements, when done right, are pretty fun. I’m the type of person that LOVES getting them. Doing some things that I wouldn’t normally do just to get some points. There could be some rewards added too – cosmetic ones. Like a card back after unlocking X achievement points, or maybe even an alternate Hero skin? It would reward the players that really try without affecting anyone else’s experience. And by achievements I don’t mean the grindy ones – “kill 10,000 minions” – it’s stupid. I would instead prefer to see a more innovative things that can’t be just grinded down. For example, “deal 30 damage to the opponent’s player in a single turn”. Now, maybe someone will do this achievement eventually without even realizing, but someone who is an achievement hunter will try to build a deck to maximize his chances at doing so (let’s say Malygos Freeze Mage!). Or, for example, win the game by using a deck with no minions (30 spells deck). There could also be some easier ones, but I would prefer them to look like “clear 7 enemy minions with one spell” instead of “play 500 spells” – grind achievements are meh.
I can’t get my head around that we still don’t have a replay function in the game. Hearthstone, from the average viewer’s perspective, is all about highlights. Hearthstone reddit is full of highlights every day. There are dedicated YouTube channels that make highlight compilations from pro players. Yet, an average player, someone who doesn’t stream or record his games (so majority of playerbase) can’t share their highlights, because there is simply no way to. For example, Overwatch players can share their best moments from each match easily and now not only pro highlights get popular, but also those of an average player.
It would also create a stronger community – people would want to share their best moments and discuss those, so they would be more involved. Maybe add a way to share those in-game too, then have a ranking of top scoring highlights and/or full replays of the day, week, month.
I mean, this isn’t something necessary, but it would definitely add more depth to the average player’s experience. They would feel that them making a good play or playing a fun deck with unexpected win condition matters more, because they can share it with the others very easily.
P.S. Some third party software offers the replay function (like presented on the screenshot), but it’s… pretty poor. It’s good if you want to go through one of your games to look for something, but it’s not great to post anywhere.
So, those are my wishes for 2017. I don’t ask for much – I hope that at least one of them becomes reality. What is your Heathstone wishlist for 2017?
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!