I've played Hearthstone for five months now (and got Legend last month). There are obviously some things I like but also some things I don't like. Rather than just shit on the game, I'd like to offer some suggestions that I feel may improve the game. I'm well aware of this being a kind of an echo in the wind but you never know where that winds blows to.
Note: the proposals below are not asking to just release all the cards for free. Blizzard is a company that wants to make money. They may simply not be interested in opening up any further or may be worried it affects their sales. Keep that in mind, I have.
Try before you buy
Obviously this is a freemium game. And obviously the desire to play a card is part of the model to persuade you to get the card, one way or the other. But what if there was a way to shortly test drive a card before actually crafting it?
If people could test cards before crafting them they may create more interesting decks which helps the eco system as a whole. The system could be a coin sink without being too expensive in terms of wasted dust. This lowers the barrier for people to ultimately craft the card anyways, but at least it's more likely that they'll be happy with their choice. Happy customers spend more.
Add a regret/grace timer which allows you to "undo" the crafting for free. It could expire in an hour after crafting and you would get your full dust back within that hour, no questions asked. And yeah, you could easily add protection to prevent ping pong abuse. For example you don't get this timer again for another day/week/month/ever on the same card or you can't craft it again for some time.
Pay coins to "rent" cards. Pay 10 gold and allow you to play the card for x games or to start a new game with that card for the next hour. You could have different prices for different rarities etc etc.
Alternatively you could say 10 gold allows you to win 3x, breaking even with the gold bonus you get every 3 wins. And what's the point in crafting a card if you're just going to keep on losing with it anyways.
This one! Use TB (or a new mode) to exhibit certain decks. I don't understand why they aren't doing this at all. They should let the last TB before a rotation be one where they open up the new set completely. I mean, it's four days of mayhem and a great way for anyone to go nuts on the new set. Seriously, why don't they have a TB featuring new cards right before a new set is released. It's such a no brainer.
Anyways. There could be a mode that features certain pre-made decks. For example, curated by the top players. Again, these matches would be like casual or TB play and not ladder, just so people can get a taste of what the deck is like.
For example let the top 10 create a curated deck list people can play with for a week, and only in a TB kind of match (so not ladder). This way they can see whether they like the decks to actually build them for the ladder.
Have a single player mode that allows you to play certain cards or decks against an AI even if you don't have them. This AI could be configurable from dumb punchbot to the best of the best and you could use it to playtest a deck.
Of course a coin rate could be introduced for this as well. Money $inkkk.
This is a more classic freemium model. There could be a rotation of "free" legendary cards. "For the next 4 days you can use these 5 legendaries even if you don't own them". This is probably the weakest proposal since it's super arbitrary to just enable n cards.
Play test new decks in real match
A few months ago the new "safe ranks" were introduced where you can't drop a rank once you reach 15, 10, and 5 (same to what 20 and Legend already had). One reason given was to allow players to experiment with new decks without having to worry about losing ranks.
Not a bad idea conceptually but it has led to a super vortex at each 5th rank. I keep thinking of salmon jumping up a waterfall
every time I'm at one of those trenches. It also leads to very try hard decks that try to play on meta curve. I'd love to have a way to play decks versus players of the approximately same skill level but without it affecting my ladder position.
For example, in April I really wanted to switch from pirates to another deck at rank 1 (the meta suddenly seemed to have changed overnight) but the only way to play test another deck was to do it on casual. And I feel bad when I'm testing my perfectly crafted deck and see somebody play a Bloodfen Raptor. A: that person is likely to be a new player and is likely to get utterly crashed, B: that person may get scared off because "no way I can ever beat that", C: I don't get the play test I want because there's probably no real opposition.
I think it would be good to have a way to play a match to test a new deck at your normal level while still have a certain amount of pressure to win without it affecting your rank either way.
Casual play at your level
One way is to segment casual play by your rank, either current rank, best rank of the month, or best rank ever. I suppose a Legend player would want to play other Legend players even at the restart of the ladder.
Ideally a player would play at the current rank as if it were playing for rank but without the actual risk of losing a rank. For testing, that also means not gaining a rank, which is fine. But at that point, there's nothing at stake and it may lead to careless play (kind of what you see at the beginning of every 5 safe ranks now).
So what if you do allow players to play at their regular "position", without the risk to gain or lose a rank, and require players to put up an ante instead? If you lose the match then you lose the ante (the other player does not get it, it won't even know you were playing for ante). If you win you get your ante back and nothing else. So it's not like betting. The ante is only a means to incentivize the player to win without actually risking 2 rank drops just to get used to a new deck. It's also another coin sink. The ante should probably depend on your ladder position (a top 100 Legend player should probably ante more than a rank 16 player).
Reduce price of wild cards
The only way to get wild cards is to craft them from dust. The barrier to entry for wild is pretty high for newer players since they won't have most of the old cards. If the price to craft those wild cards was lower people may be persuaded to craft them anyways which would help with populating the wild ladder. And hey, why not allow people to buy booster packs for wild sets? I don't understand why they are just removed from the store (other than to prevent confusion).
One model is obviously to set a fixed discount rate for wild cards. Another, geared more specifically towards getting newer players to join wild, is to have the discount tied to how many cards that player has in its collection. More cards means less discount.
Buff the quests
The quests are a major addition to gameplay mechanics, yet many of them seem very much not worth it. Why is that?
The quests have four important costs in general:
- Must be fulfilled
This is obvious; you have to do what the card says. Not only is this a cost because often you'll be playing something to finish the quest, something you wouldn't play if there were no quest, but also because you'll have teched your deck with cards just to please the quest, leading to a sub-optimal deck for the actual match.
- Mulligan and hand size
Because the quest is forced to be in your opening hand, you're actually missing out on one card to choose from. Additionally you wouldn't mulligan the quest card which means there are two fewer cards you could use to fish for cards. What if your targeted card would have been the first card in your hand without the quest? Or after the mulligan? That's the cost.
- Loss of your first turn
In most cases the quest will be played first because the first non-quest card to be played is a quest piece. Not playing the quest first means it takes even longer before the quest is completed.
I suppose this is kind of a choice but if nothing else this is still a cost for most quests.
- Deck size
The quest takes up a card slot in your deck. How often do you wonder what card to cut from your deck to replace it with another? Well, the quest is one of those cards. It requires a spot which means you only have 29 cards left to build the deck.
One might argue that this is actually a hidden bonus; to some extend your deck has a more consistent draw similar to how Patches works; assuming you keep the quest you have a pool of 29 cards instead of 30 cards to draw from. Unlike Patches you do actually have to play the card itself, taking up that expensive early game one mana.
In light of these costs, are the quest rewards worth it? Currently, for most of them the answer is really "no".
Druid: No. Only minions in your deck will cost 0. Note that for this quest you must already have summoned (but at least not not "played"...) 5 creatures with 5 or more attack so this isn't something you usually pop on turn 5, even as jade. This means it's likely that many of those expensive minions are already sitting in your hand. And those minions won't become free when playing Barny. At the same time, this is a quest you don't have to play T1. You could even consider mulling the quest.
Hunter: No. The outlined cost does not really affect the quest reward, much. The quest itself is going to penalize the deck by nature. The quest itself is not viable due to lack of draw and minions having no charge.
Mage: Yes? Probably one of the few quests that may be okay. It does make the game super random due to the cards that are required to pop the quest in the first place.
Paladin: No. It's a single minion. If the opponent manages to clear it from the board, directly or indirectly, the quest reward is completely useless and the effort pretty much in vain. You simply cannot prevent certain clears like twisting, doom, brawl, deathwing, etc. Not even "can't be targeted by" or divine shield will save it.
Priest: Probably no. It's a long shot reno. Problem here is that priest has exactly three deathrattle minions. You'll be playing with many neutral cards. At least it's "summon" and not "play", but still I don't get this design. All those deathrattle cards will hamper your actual play and once the quest pops all you have is more health and an 8/8 taunt. One minion probably won't make the difference in killing an opponent if the rest of the deck can't back it up. I haven't seen a single opponent play this quest in April.
Rogue: Yes. The deck seems viable in various formats though very suseptible to aggro. The effect is permanent, irreversible, and doesn't depend on a card on the board.
Shaman: No. The 8/8 is, probably, quickly removed. Your deck is stacked with low damage minions. Your hand will be filled with more low damage minions. Almost none of them will have charge. I still think this quest is the sleeper that has a chance. But for now, I don't think so.
Warlock: I don't know but since I've seen absolutely nobody play this quest I'm going to say "no". The indestructable portal will summon a 3/2 imp at end of turn. They're not likely to be a threat by the time you complete the quest and you'll be out of steam to make use of it. This is a "win more" quest reward, most of the time.
Warrior: Yes. Even if it locks up the game for about 15 turns I'm pretty sure the rewarded hero power is definitely a win condition.
In three cases the quest reward is actually useful to some degree. Some options to buff the card(s);
* costs zero mana
* costs health
* be an extra additional card in your opening hand
* replace a card in your opening hand by your choice
* activate like Patches; make it auto-cast the first time you fulfill a quest condition step (overpowered?)
Blizzard is sitting on a _trove_ of play stats. And while I'd love for Blizzard to open up about these stats I really don't expect them to start doing this now when haven't done so for the past years. But.
I think it would be really helpful if there would be a simple bar or pie-chart that displays the distribution
of classes played at your current rank, or around your current Legend rank. This wouldn't really give away anything about how many players there are, how many matches have been played, or anything (I think) sensitive. It would just be a classes-played distribution that is refreshed every 5 minutes or something like that.
This bar/chart could help players determine slightly better how to play into the meta. If you see a lot of mages, taunt warrior may be a viable option. You see a lot of warriors? Give jade druid a spin.
Technically the bar stats are, probably, a fairly cheap thing to generate every so many minutes and it will be the same for all players at your range. The data pipeline footprint should be minimal and the chart could easily be added to the UI, or a website if you must.
It would be nice to;
- Allow players to clone a deck
- Have a built-in mulligan/drawing test tool
- Have a dumb/idle AI bot to quickly play test a deck
- Have more deck slots. The amount of data required to store a deck can't be anywhere near relevant. The 18 deck slots we have now is insufficient for all the relevant decks in the meta. And it's just really annoying to switch to a deck that you don't currently have in your list, even if you have all the cards etc. I personally don't mind paying for this kind of upgrade, but whatever.
- Share a deck composition with friends. This could work similar to how you can select a pre-made deck as the second step of constructing a new deck and the missing cards are displayed in blue.
- Have an online integration for your decks where you can "expose" your deck on a website by just clicking a button. I know there are third party tools for this.
- More stats would be nice
Care more about ladder
Right now it seems like Blizzard doesn't actually care about the ladder. The reason is the way updates are pushed. The nerfs in February were pushed one day before the ladder ended. It's dead stupid trivial to have these changes activate when
the ladder resets. It seems to me like that would be by far more fair than the way it happened now.
Similarly, set rotations ought to happen at the start of a ladder. Now there were 5 days of old rotation.
So this one is pretty simple; have non-critical changes activate at the same time the ladder resets.
I'm aware that there are other ladder problems but I don't know enough about them to suggest a solid change there. Maybe publishing a larger list would be nice? Top 1000 instead of top 200? But again, I don't know enough here.
The audience is listening
I don't know if these suggestions will reach anyone relevant. I don't know how often they have been suggested already, I'm sure some have. I'm not convinced any of these suggestions will ever see light of day. But at least I tried, right?