Tag Archives: Hearthstone

Blizzard and Free to Play

This is my 3rd post for Blaugust.

It’s been a year now since I quit World of Warcraft. For a while I thought I was done with Blizzard games forever, but apparently not quite. First there was Hearthstone, with which I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship ever since the alpha. And now there’s my new go-to game, Heroes of the Storm. In the 9 years I played WoW – between monthly subs, expansion costs, server transfers, and race changes – I’ve put quite a bit of money in Blizzard’s pocket. So, since I quit, I decided I was done giving them money. I would only play for free.

What I’ve noticed is that the FTP experience is completely different in HotS than it is in Hearthstone.  Last week, there were two good articles on Hearthstone that touched on the FTP aspects. On Polygon, the thought was that Hearthstone, now multiple expansions in, is becoming less friendly to new players. Steve at Multiball! is of the opinion that being a non-paying Hearthstone player and earning cards slowly isn’t the worst thing in the world, and is actually making him a better player. As someone who played Hearthstone quite a bit in Beta (and spent some money on packs at that time), then stopped playing until after 2 expansions had come out, I found the huge increase of new cards a bit overwhelming. While Naxx only introduced 30 new cards (along with a bunch of solo content), the Goblin xpac introduced 143 new cards. Going up against all these cards I had never seen before, never had a chance to play, made games difficult. The only decks I had luck with were budget, rush-type decks (which, incidentally, a lot of people look down their noses at). I got to work doing my dailies for gold and I think I was able to get the first 2 wings of Naxx, along with the cards that came with them. I was also able to craft some cards with dust, but I definitely still felt at a disadvantage. Plus, having to make the choice between spending my meager gold on the Naxx content vs. packs that would net me more cards and options, wasn’t really fun. Even arena mode, which doesn’t rely on crafted decks costs at least 2-3 dailies worth of gold. I got tired of it, and uninstalled. Again. Now that The Grand Tournament is coming out, with another 132+ new cards, it’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t be going back to Hearthstone. While the slow and steady approach to card collecting is certainly viable for some, I don’t find the rewards for the time and effort put in are enough for me.

Heroes of the Storm shop

So what about Heroes of the Storm? This is another FTP game that’s full of things you can spend money on, but you don’t really have to. Heroes need to be purchased, for either in-game gold, or real money, though there is a free rotation that you can play each week. There are also many ridiculously overpriced skins and mounts that can be purchased for real money only (for the most part), but since these have zero effect on gameplay I don’t consider these something I’m missing out on by not spending any money. Heroes is nice in that there are a few ways to earn gold. First, just completing the tutorial gives you 1000g, to help get you on your way. You also get a nominal amount of gold for each game completed (more if you win). There are also daily quests, which give between 200-800g each, when you reach level 5 on any hero you get 500g, and as you level up from 1-40 there’s another 16k gold to be had. So it’s much easier to gain currency, especially in the beginning, in HotS than it is in Hearthstone. There’s really only one type of content that is gated, which can be overcome with money or gold, and that’s ranked mode. You need to own 10 heroes before you can play that. The reason why I don’t mind this gating is that it makes sense. Due to the drafting process, you need 10 heroes in case the worst happens and every hero you like gets taken before you get to pick. It really makes sense that you need to own the heroes because then, ostensibly, you should know how to play them. This being a team game, you don’t want people trying out new characters in ranked mode.

Heroes of the Storm is a game I feel satisfied about not spending any money on. I don’t feel like it’s holding me back, or that the people who throw money at the game are having more fun or outperforming me because they spent money. My one concern, for the future of HotS, is that too many heroes get added. Right now there are 39 heroes which seems like a reasonable number. What I don’t want to see is over 100 heroes in the game, like LoL has. One of the strengths of HotS is the low barrier to entry, and adding dozens more heroes would negate this. In order to be really good at the game, you need to not only know how to play your own hero, but have at least an idea of the abilities of the heroes you’re up against, or playing with. 

What do you think? Do you play either of these games? How do you feel spending real money impacts them?

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 😛

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