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What's wrong with Hearthstone


While my colleagues have been busy writing deck building guides and articles on synergy, as well as detailing the reasoning behind spending $150 on cards in a beta, I've been having a bit less of a fun time. Don't get me wrong, there are aspects of the game that I enjoy, but larger aspects which I find frustrating.

In the interest of utter clarity, a lot of my problems definitely stem from my novice status. I have played one CCG before, Order and Chaos Duels, on Android, and I really enjoy it. I have never played Magic, online or otherwise, nor anything similar. So yes, I am a noob. But guess what? Blizzard isn't making this game to catch exclusively the hardcore Magic crowd. Nor is it pointed entirely at CCG experts of any other flavor. Blizzard has specifically said on many, many occasions that their general motto is "easy to learn, hard to master" and a lot of my Hearthstone gripes relate to what I perceive to be a failing on the first half of that idea. Hearthstone should be fun for everyone, whether they've played a CCG before or not.

Tutorial tribulations

Diving straight in, the tutorials. Tutorials? Why is there an S on the end of that? There's only the one tutorial that teaches you the game's actual mechanics, how to cast spells, how to use minions, and so on. And that's pretty much precisely the gripe I have with Hearthstone right now. You could be forgiven, as a novice, for completely misunderstanding the importance of deck-building. As a friend of mine said, playing the game without building decks is like playing an FPS without using guns.

And there is no guidance whatsoever on how to get started. If it were the case that the default decks were good enough to carry you for a while, it would be fine, but I'm informed, though I can't pretend to judge this for myself, that certain standard decks are really not well put together, not to mention rather imbalanced.

I've been playing a fair amount, and leveled up half the heroes to the point where the full basic deck is unlocked, as well as doing a good number of the daily quests, which I'll come back to later, and therefore opened several packs, although far fewer than if I had been actually putting real money into the game. And the collection of cards I have at my disposal seems daunting. How do I know how to make a deck? Where should I even start? The in-game deck-building assistant is, well, counter-intuitive at best. And, according to my more learned friends, it doesn't make great deck-building decisions on your behalf once you've worked out how to get it to auto-complete your deck (just hit "done").

Bringing back the learning ease

So what should change? What would make life easier for us noobs, and perhaps increase our understanding and enjoyment of the deck-building aspect of the game?

What's wrong with Hearthstone right now
First up, let's have a deck-building tutorial. The one in the game at the moment, pictured above, is woefully inadequate. There's no explanation at all behind what you're doing, no feedback on your choices, you're basically led blind into picking between what seems to be three fairly arbitrarily chosen cards. A tutorial that explained how minions should be chosen, the basics of synergy, of mana consumption, of spells, that would help a huge amount. Someone new to the CCG genre simply might not understand how all this works. And yes, that is where the community comes in, but it's certainly not the case that every novice thinking they might give the game a go will know where to look for help.

Secondly, let's have a somewhat improved version of the standard decks to modify. The standard decks need a little work, sure, but how Order and Chaos Duels works with deckbuilding is that it starts you off with the standard deck they built for you and allows you to add and remove cards at your leisure. This is far less daunting than starting with a completely empty deck. And yes, for the more experienced players who want to build a deck from scratch, you could have a single button click to remove all cards, or the option to start with an empty deck. That way, when you get a cool card, you add it into your deck right away, and the game should prompt you to do so, at least initially.

Controlling the collection

The Collection is the book-style system where all your cards live. Once you start building a deck, it will filter itself down to only display the cards you can use, so the class specific cards for your class, as well as any neutral cards. You can see this for the hunter deck image above. But when you're not in the deckbuilding area for a specific hero, the collection's layout is rather unwieldy, If you look to the lower mid-right of the picture above, you can see the "My Cards" and "All Cards" tabs. These open up sub-menus, which slowly reduce the cards down into ever-smaller categories, but it's really easy to get lost or confused, and working out how to get to the specific group you're after is unintuitive at best.

Far better, in fact, is the search field that allows you to do things like type "charge" and reveal all the cards with "charge" in their text. To me at least, it would make more sense to offer different tab sets, so you could choose to display by class, then all the taunt cards available, or all the charge cards available, all the spells, all the minions, and so on, sorted by mana cost or by name. That's how I might rearrange the collection, but what do you think?

Quest request

People who have read my articles in the past are likely already starting to cringe, here, knowing my vehement dislike of WoW's daily quests. But fear not, friends, for Hearthstone is quite a different kettle of fish. Right now at least, with how incredibly slow it is to earn gold by any other method, and where I'm still learning how different classes work, being pushed from class to class is great. I'm enjoying the dailies. But I know that many others are unhappy with feeling that they have to play a class they hate.
What's wrong with Hearthstone right now
The problem is that the quest log currently only holds three quests, so if you don't complete any of those three, you won't get any more. This was confirmed by the devs at Gamescom, too, in case you were wondering. So, if you have the quests as shown above, and do the 3 victories one on a priest, the hunter one and the rogue one will remain, and you'll get one more. If that's a paladin quest, and you don't want to play any of those three, you won't get any more quests until you do them. Simply adding an "abandon quest" option would fix this issue, with an "are you sure?" button to foolproof the method.

Yes, people might just hunt through the quests, discarding every quest until they got to a more efficient one than the class-specific ones, or maybe just wait for their favorite class to appear, but why does that matter? They're just missing out on gold.

And speaking of gold, my final Hearthstone gripe is the gold award for winning a match. One gold? One? One single gold? Make it five, please.

But I have to say that, having got my head around the deck building a bit more with help from friends, I'm starting to really like this little game. I think it could be brilliant, with just a few nips and tucks here and there. What are your Hearthstone gripes? Anyone who moans about beta keys will be glared at, very sternly. You'll all be able to play it soon!

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