Hearthstone and Sportsmanship

I’ve been playing a fair amount of Hearthstone lately. This is the first trading/collectible card game I’ve ever played. It is a game that is played against real people, however, aside from playing your hand, you have very limited interaction. You can’t talk to your opponent directly. There are 6 emotes you can use or you can Squelch (which I just learned means mute) your opponent. You can also concede the match.

Though interaction with your opponent is very limited, the way you play the game can have an immense effect on how they perceive you and how much they enjoy the match. With no direct communication, we often have to guess or assume our opponent’s motivations. Since the emotes are so vague, they can be interpreted in many different ways. When someone thanks you after you play a card are they being friendly or smarmy? When they say good game after completely destroying you do they mean it, or are they rubbing it in? When they keep using threaten are they being a jackass or just trying to RP Garrosh?

I first realized that sportsmanship in Hearthstone was a contentious issue a while ago on Twitter. I had expressed my irritation about how some people have you beat, but then proceed to play every card they can before striking the killing blow. To me, this is a frustrating waste of my time, in addition to being a real dick move. It’s bad enough I’ve lost, but now I have to watch you fluff your minions before making the final move?

Get on with it, motherfucker.

Get on with it, motherfucker.

A number of people shared my sentiment about putting people out of their misery quickly, but I was quite surprised by the number of people who disagreed. Their argument was that people get enjoyment out of the game in different ways. Whereas I like to quickly move on to the next match if it’s clear I’m about to win/lose, some people might find it fun to build up a minion as much as possible and deal 20 damage to win when only 3 damage is needed. If I didn’t want to wait, they argued, I could just concede.

Conceding is something my opinion has changed on over time. At first, I never did it. I’d rather be taken out by someone else than do it myself. Also, there’s always a small chance your opponent will screw up and you can turn things around. I do it more often now though, as my patience wanes.

As I’ve been getting more into Hearthstone and doing some reading to improve my game, I’ve been seeing that there are even more disputed issues when it comes to sportsmanship. This thread on Hearthhead introduced a few issues that I found surprising.

First, there was the idea that some people might prefer their opponent wait one round before finishing them off even if they can clearly win this round. If someone could clearly win the match in this round and they ended their turn without doing so, I would assume: they made a mistake; they’re dumb, or; they’re an overconfident asshole who wants to waste my time. I personally don’t understand how anyone would be appreciative of being “let to play another round” before getting beat.

The biggest area of contention in the thread was how people felt about conceding. Opinions on that run the gamut. Some feel that not letting your opponent make the killing blow by conceding was poor sportsmanship. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some think it’s rude if the person doesn’t concede if they know they’ve lost.

A Twitter discussion about conceding in Hearthstone

 My thoughts on people conceding are somewhere in the middle. If I’m winning and my opponent concedes, I’m fine with that. I’m also fine with them finishing the game. Mostly I just like to win, I don’t care how it happens.

This did get me thinking about my own play habits and how they could be interpreted by others. I consider myself a good sport. Actually that’s a lie. I’m a terribly sore loser, but no one can hear what I’m saying in Hearthstone, so it’s kind of irrelevant. I am very polite to strangers though and when I play I try to make the game a pleasant experience for everyone. However, going through that thread on Hearthhead makes me realize that some of the things I do (or, more likely, don’t do) might be considered rude by others.

May way's not very sportsmanlike...

My way’s not very sportsmanlike…

For one thing, I almost never use emotes. I find them vague and pointless. I just want to play cards, not socialize, so I usually don’t return peoples Greetings or Well Playeds unless I’m in a really good mood. I’m not trying to be a jerk, I just think emotes are an unnecessary part of the game.

Similarly, I’m sure I consider many things irritating or rude when that is not the intention of my opponent. Things that particularly bother me:

  • Drawing the game out unnecessarily (whether they’re winning or losing).
  • Overuse of emotes. You don’t need to use one after every turn.
  • Emoting Well Played when in fact I played a terrible game.
  • Other people winning :P

What do you think makes a Hearthstone player a good or bad sport?

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7 Responses to Hearthstone and Sportsmanship

  1. So, I was just dealing with this tonight. I don’t really care if people concede or not, however I had someone leave the game (which seems to be different then conceding) on me tonight. I also had someone else start taunting me with the threaten emote. Was that REALLY necessary?

    This is the first card game I’ve ever played. I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy it. But I do. And I’m enjoying learning it. I don’t like to concede because I like to learn from watching what my opponents do while they are beating me, how they play their cards, what combos they put down. I learn from watching them with what cards they have in their deck.

    But, seriously, don’t emote over and over again. That’s just an asshat move. :P And if someone takes one of your minions, don’t quit the game in a huff. It’s an ability, nod and move on. You have to learn to deal with it! Jeezus! :)

  2. Karegina, Squelch is the Hearthstone /ignore (except it doesn’t put them on a list to stop you getting matched against them again). Don’t hesitate to use it.
    Also, I assume from you “take one of your minions” means you are playing Priest. Mind Control has come under a LOT of fire in the forums, I initially found it disgustingly powerful too, but 95% of those who rage about it and leave in a huff are players who are either new to TCGs in general, or not very far into the game. And to be fair, Priest does seem to be very popular because of MC, and when you have played your 47th Priest for the day and lost from MC it can be damned frustrating. The better players, and the more level-headed players, take MC into account when designing their deck and even have strategies to bait you into playing it ineffectively. Just be glad there is no direct chat because you would be getting the most hateful and vicious messages otherwise.

    Getting back to Jasyla’s topic, conceding, I am in the camp of it is never bad sportsmanship to not concede. Forcing your opponent to spend another 10 seconds finishing you off is not by any means an inconvenience.

    I don’t believe it is bad sportsmanship to spend your final turn doing the fancy mega-kill either. Again, it is only another 90 seconds maximum that you have to wait, and as noted, you can always concede if that time is so important to you. Some valid reasons people might have for doing elaborate, seemingly unnecessary final turns are provided by the dailies. When you have to deal X amount of damage to heroes, that overkill attack might just shave off a game or two required. When you have to kill X minions, clearing their board before you go for the kill may be unnecessary but helps get your daily done faster. When you have to summon X minions with mana 2 or less, summoning some more in that last turn is pointless for that game, but gets you your gold that much sooner.

    The only thing I think wanders into bad sportsmanship territory is deliberately running down the clock for several turns. Even that is only annoying to me because they are clearly being a dick – I don’t mind waiting those turns out. The turn clock is a good time, I think, not too long and not too short, so the timewasters don’t really get much leverage to work with. And to be honest, since there IS a hard limit per turn, everyone has the right to use it all if they want to. In other TCG’s (I am a Magic player) deliberate slow play is punishable, but there is no hard time limit per turn so it becomes subjective – some players just need to think about their turns more than others.

    Finally, welcome to the world of Collectable Card Games! I hope it encourages you to try others, perhaps when Hearthstone loses your interest. We need more women in the community!

    • I’ve heard the argument about the daily quests before. Something I’m not sure about – does everyone get the same daily each day? Or are they random? Because I’m almost positive I’ve only seen the kill x minions and do x damage quests twice – as the first quests I got when I started playing, then again after the reset. So I never really consider that a factor.

      Thanks for the welcome! I’m enjoying the game so far. I will enjoy it even more when it comes out on iPad.

  3. I always give a “Well Played” after a win or lose, even if I just played horribly. I’m used to finishing hockey games where we’ve been blown out 8-1 (or have blown out the other team), and everyone still shakes hands and gives a “good game” to the other team.

    So to me, it’s just a sportsmanship thing, but I can understand how it would rub someone the wrong way if they just got wrecked in a few turns because of a bad draw.

  4. Jasy,
    I completely agree with the “fluffing their minions” bit. The response that “some people enjoy the game differently” just doesn’t cut it. If you’re enjoying the game at the expense of your competitor’s time and enjoyment, then you’re a griefer, plain and simple. There’s not much difference between corpse camping and drawing out a game that your opponent cannot win.

    That said, I know there’s a lot of people who feel differently. Some people play games specifically to feel powerful, and fluffing their minions is how they do it. Regardless, I just don’t agree that one could justify it as a “sportsmanlike” move.

  5. Hi,

    As a Magic player, I understand the feeling of wanting to make sure everything is neat and tidy before you swing in for the kill. The reason being is that people can play an Instant or Flash in a creature and that can ruin all of your carefully laid plans.

    But in Hearthstone, where people can only do things on their turn (at least that I’m aware of), that doesn’t make much sense. I admit that I haven’t played too much Hearthstone, but whenever I see an opening to beat the opponent, I take it. There’s no reason not to.

    I also wanted to say that I agree with you completely on the subject of “Good game” and this is something I ranted about in one of my last posts on my WoW blog. I’m of the mind set that the winner should never say “Good game.” Of course they think it was, they won! It is possible to lose and still enjoy yourself and so I feel like it’s more acceptable for the person who lost to make that determination than the person who won.

    It’s nice to have things to talk about with my old WoW comrades, even though I don’t play anymore. Keep up the Hearthstone posts!