Mulligan Phase: Making Hearthstone Better In 2018
Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to another installment of ”Mulligan phase”, the article series where I cover just about everything regarding Hearthstone that has nothing to do with the gameplay itself. A new set rotation, a new standard, is upon us. In only three months we will say goodbye to Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan and Mean Streets of Rotated At Last. New standard year is the perfect time to implement some drastic game design changes, some of which could improve the game by a large margin, and today I will present some of my ideas on how Hearthstone can be made better in 2018. These are, as always, only my opinions and they might differ from yours. Please, keep the discussion in the comment section as civil as possible. I’m going to do my best here to please everyone, both money spending players and free to play players, competitive and casual player, wild and standard players (but not arena players because I don’t know jack about arena), and we will see how that goes
With all that out of the way, sit back, relax and let’s just jump into this
Log In Rewards
I’m still baffled as to why we don’t have any log in rewards? Many digital games have those. Pokemon TCGO, the most free to play friendly digital card game on the market, has those and there they work great. Our only daily log in ”reward” is the daily quest, something that is a normal part of the game, not a reward for logging in. Some might argue that it is entitled of us to believe that we should get some form of reward for logging into the game every day but I would argue against that. Most players would log in to play anyways, regardless of a daily log in rewards. Daily log in rewards are slowly becoming a standard in online multiplayer games so I don’t think that it is outlandish, by any margin, to expect of Blizzard to hold up to that standard. While I do wholeheartedly believe that Ben Brode and the development team want to implement a daily log in system, and probably already have some plans for it, it is ultimately not their call. Finances department is responsible for balancing the gap between earning ingame currency and spending real life money so if you’re going to be angry at anyone then be angry at them. Regardless, log in rewards would benefit both sides. Players would have a greater incentive to log in each day, if not to play the game then to get their log in reward, and Blizzard would get a higher number of daily log ins to show to their shareholders. Everybody wins that way!
What would I make the log in rewards like? I would make them a small amount of gold, 10 gold one day and 20 gold another day, a small amount of dust, 20 dust one day and 20 dust another day (enough to craft a common), a golden common card on the fifth day, an arena ticket on the sixth day and a single pack from the latest set on the seventh day. There are certainly better rewards that this but this is what I came up on the fly while writing this article 😛
Player Progression Tracking
Why hasn’t this been implemented yet?!
It is weird because, from what I’ve seen, the demand for this is pretty high. Our current profile page is an embarrassment. It tracks the games won in every format, which would be great if they weren’t added together and you could tell the actual difference, it shows us our hero level which becomes meaningless after some time, it shows us our current rank which we can already see in multiple other places (and only the highest current rank!) and it shows us our daily quests. What can improved here? Actually, quite a lot. How about instead of showing us our highest current rank the profile page allows us to scroll through our highest ranks from each season so far? How about instead of adding wins the page separates them by both ranked formats and both casual formats? That would be pretty sweet. How about we get some winrate tracking? Because people often change decks and make new ones we can have a rule that basically says ”win 10 games with this deck in ranked and its winrate will be tracked this season”. It shouldn’t be that hard to implement and it would improve the quality of life by quite a lot. You don’t need to give us replays, just give us this instead.
For crying out loud, where are the achievements? Why aren’t they here already?
If you’ve just recently got into Hearthstone then the wait hasn’t been that bad for you but this has been one of the single most requested implementations since beta. Diablo has achievements (for some reason). World of Warcraft has achievements. I’m not sure if Starcraft has achievements too because I don’t play it but it wouldn’t surprise me if it had. Yet Hearthstone, a game with so many possibilities, doesn’t have them? This makes me really sad. You know, putting achievements into the game would encourage people to try out various decks and work on their deck building skills. There can be simple achievements like playing 50 weapons or getting to a certain rank but there can also be more complicated achievements like ”Doomsday is canceled” where you need to steal your opponent’s minion and kill their Doomsayer with it. That would be cool and a bit challenging to preform. We don’t even need rewards for those achievements. The achievements themselves are their own reward, in my opinion (I’m an achievement freak, you should see my steam library) but if the players demand for a reward they could always give us a small amount of gold or dust (like, 5 per achievement) and a cardback if we collect all of them. That would be pretty sweet, right? I really, really hope that 2018 is the year when we finally get achievements in Hearthstone. I will grind like crazy if we do 😛
”I love the idea of a heroic tavern brawl.” – EternalHS’ last words as he get dragged through mud and crucified by an angry mob.
Now, now, lets be reasonable here. Heroic tavern brawls are not for everyone. They were designed not to be for everyone and that is fine. They are meant to cater to those highly competitive Hearthstone players and streamers and there is nothing wrong with that. Casual players get to have a normal tavern brawls so making an exception two-three weeks per year to make competitive players happy should not be a big deal, but many players, usually out of jealousy because they either don’t have the necessary gold or skill, constantly try to drag this mode through dirt under the excuse that it is taking a slot of their normal tavern brawl. Well, maybe it is finally time to implement a way to switch between those two brawls. Three times a year, when we get heroic tavern brawl, there should be an icon on the brawl UI, an icon similar to format switching one, that allows players to choose which brawl do they want to play; regular or heroic. This way no one is left out. Casual players get their 40 dust and competitive players get what is closest to a tournament mode in Hearthstone. I sincerely hope that this will be implemented by the time the next heroic tavern brawl comes around.
Also, fix the reward system, it is trash.
More Support For Wild
Ben Brode had promised that we will be getting more wild support in 2017 and nothing happened. There was a tournament, a heroic tavern brawl and that was it.
In 2018 we should see some greater support for this format. I understand that they want to keep the spotlight on the standard format but giving the players more options to get into the wild format would support the format greatly. You know that I’m primarily a wild format player, almost exclusively (I check out standard here and there), and I’m honestly bothered by the lack of support for the format. Why am I bothered by this? Because the lack of card accessibility results in people coming over with standard decks into the wild format and more often than not it feels like I’m playing standard. If you’ve played wild before I’m sure that you’ve experienced this as well. There is some support in the form of being able to buy wild packs and adventures but there are two huge problems with that. One, they can be bought only with money. Two, they can be bought only from battlenet shop. There is no indication in the game itself, none whatsoever, that lets a player know that he or she can actually buy wild packs and adventures. It is disgraceful that a player needs to research the pack accessibility on their own on the internet, find out where he or she can buy the packs, go to the battlenet store INSTEAD of the in game shop and buy the packs and/or adventures. I know that Blizzard wants to make money from those packs, that is completely understandable, but at least implement them into the ingame store so that players can find them easily.
What I want for my favorite Hearthstone format in 2018 is to see balance changes to cards that are going to be wild exclusive for now one. Yes, Razakus priest is rotating into the wild format in 3 months, but that doesn’t mean that it should be allowed to plague that format simply because it is no longer causing trouble in standard. I would also want to see what I’ve just mentioned and that is to show players, in the ingame store, that they can buy wild packs and/or adventures. It is a simple nod that can to great things for the format.
Faster Format Rotation
Ok, now we get to the very controversial one.
What I want to see, starting next standard year, is a faster standard format rotation. Whenever a new set rotates into the format, the oldest one rotates out. This type of rotation would replace the rotation that we currently have. Here is an example:
Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night In Karazhan and Patches and Company rotate out in April.
Titans Are Finally In The Game set rotates in April. No additional sets rotate out because the new rotation is not yet implemented and players should have more time to prepare for it.
Black Temple, at last in August. Journey to Un’Goro rotates out.
Before you crucify me for suggesting this, please hear me out.
If this rotation was implemented with the Year of the Mammoth it would have been a complete disaster. Players would have a very limited card pool and the game would have felt more pay2win than ever. However, although it is important to keep new players in mind (c’mon, honestly, this game has 70 million players. How many more can you realistically expect?) we need to keep the freshness of the supposed ”fresh” format in mind as well. Faster rotations guarantee that standard won’t become stale. Instead of getting improvements for decks that have been around for over a year and no other cards from the new set seeing any play at all, suddenly that old deck is not viable anymore (or has rotated out) and players have all these fresh new cards to experiment with without being hindered by older decks.
Another fair point that I want to mention is balancing the game. This would make the game easier to balance without having to resort to nerfs. If there is a deck that is really strong and oppressive but is rotating in 4 months then it suddenly isn’t that much of a big deal. Imagine if Razakus priest had lost Raza the Chained due to set rotation in December? Wouldn’t that make the standard metagame feel more fresh? Yes, it would. This also allows the developers to play fast and loose with experimentation. They have an idea for a monk class but they fear that it might be too powerful at the moment given certain cards in the format. However, if some of those cards are rotating out in 4 months, this is suddenly less of a problem and, if monks turn out to be too powerful, simply don’t print additional support for them. The last positive thing about this is that it allows the developers to boost a certain deck that is not doing well for a period of 4 months, see how it goes and maybe try to make something like that in the future. Taunt druid is meh right now but imagine if it suddenly got a huge boost with the next expansions and is a tier 1 deck. Then, 4 months later, key cards rotate out. You can now play that deck in the wild format but, more importantly, the developers have gathered important data on how to improve the archetype in the future (or not improve it).
That is it. We’ve reached the end of yet another article
What changes would you like to see in 2018? Are there any things that I’ve left out and you believe should be implemented with the next year of standard? How do you feel about the idea of a faster rotating standard format? Do you think that it will solve balance and staleness problems that standard is experiencing, or more honestly, has been experiencing ever since it was implemented or do you believe that it will cause even more problems for the game, such as harming the free 2 play community or encouraging the developers to play too loosely with experimentation because they know that cards will rotate out in 4 months? Maybe you believe that it will ruin the wild format, which is a genuine concern that I’m having? Leave your comments in the comment section below. As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can!