Posts Tagged ‘CCG’

A Different Type of Constructed

Browse through the deck lists from sites like Hearthhead or Team Liquid and you’ll notice a hefty number of uncommon cards. Not uncommon in terms of use or deck presence, uncommon in that the cards aren’t common. Decks are brimming with epics and legendaries, swollen with rares. This is not a bad thing, of course. Rares and their even more infrequent counterparts are usually better cards than the commons everyone has piles of. But this does highlight the fundamental problem with a rarity system in a game like this: once you have the are card, it’s rarity is irrelevant.

A card’s rarity doesn’t carry over into your deck. You have an equal chance to draw any of the cards, be that one of the five legendaries you run or another Faerie Dragon. A card’s rarity only hurts people building a collection and makes competitive decks stuffed with those elusive, powerful cards essential. Again though, this isn’t a complaint. Hearthstone is modeled after card games of similar mechanisms and the rarity encourages people to spend money to buy packs in hopes of acquiring the coveted Sylvannas Windrunner. The competitive scene evolves to take advantage of the best cards and those that have the largest library are in better position to win.

But here’s an idea: construction restrictions. Not official ones, of course, but ones imposed by tournament organizers, friends, and the community. Not for every game or every event, but perhaps a few. Just to change things up a bit. Rather than constructing decks from all available cards, why not limit resources and encourage some creativity? Only one legendary, or epics can only come from class cards, you need 3 commons for every 1 rare. No odd mana cost cards. No duplicates in the deck.

What I would love to see from Blizzard would be a Rarity mode for constructed play. As there’s no real deck to sift through and organize, shuffle and sort, stacking your own is impossible. Imagine if the game patterned your deck so that you drew a non-common card every 5  draws, like when opening a pack.  You know you’ll get at least one everyone 5 but you might get one sooner. Or, since there’s no deck, that each draw has a chance to be a card from your deck but weighted by rarity – commons are frequent, rares less so, epics not so much, and legendaries are just that. Would it be popular? I’d play it There are fewer limits in a virtual card game than in a physical one. Why not embrace the potential and do some weird things?

It’ll probably never happen but it would definitely be interesting.

Community Resources

Part of what makes Valve’s Dota 2 so popular is that the development team shares the content creation burden with the community. Armor sets and weapons are designed by players and fans, approved by Valve, then sold on the Steam market. It’s lucrative for both Valve, who takes a cut, and the artist(s) that designed the item. The fan base wins because new, shiny bits of content are released fairly regularly. Everyone is happy.

steam-market

I’d like to see Blizzard follow a similar line of thought. Community driven cards or mechanics would be wildly unsuccessful – look at most of the fan made expansions out there (not to mention my weapon idea from October) – but there is a slot for community created expansions that won’t break the carefully controlled game.

Card art.

Beyond custom portraits, or at least alternate portraits, allow the players to illustrate original works for use in Hearthstone. Properly formatted, colored, and approved by Blizzard, obviously. The Hearthstone store could sell them as packs done by the same artist or team, as singles for cards or as bundles organized around a theme. Blizzard obviously takes a cut, but the bulk of the sale would be deposited straight into a player’s bank account. The players can collect alternate, high quality art, Hearthstone expands, Blizzard makes money. Everyone wins.

The fan art submissions on the Battle.net pages are already high quality, well done illustrations and paintings. Including those in Blizzard game seems like the logical place to go. Most of the Hearthstone art is recycled from the Warcraft: TCG anyway. Not that the art is bad, but new art would be a good way to go.

Who’s with me? I’d love not to look at the same Valeera portrait every game.

A Patch and a Disappointment

A new patch came down from the development team a few days ago and made some major adjustments. Pyroblast was upped to 10 mana, Unleash the Hounds was dropped to 2 mana, Blood Imp became useless, and Novice Engineer found itself easily killed by mages, rogues, and druids. Most of the changes, and the rationales behind them, make sense.

Defender of Argus was a powerful, basically essential 4 drop. A bit expensive for a 3/3, but still workable, but with even a single other creature on your side Defender of Argus really showed its strength. It’s new attack may see it pulled from some decks, but not many. Dark Iron Dwarf and Abusive Sergeant were transformed into versions of each other that made sense and seemed less like accidents or creations of parallel development teams. Sylvanas is still a 5/5 for 6 that requires a Silence, Polymorph, or careful board control from your opponent. A nerf, but not much of one.

The significance of Pyroblast‘s change will be revealed in time. Right now I’m not expecting much. Two more mana is a higher price but mages are more than capable of delaying for several turns, drawing cards, and collecting both spells in their hands. Pyroblast followed by double Arcane Missiles, or a Frostbolt, was obviously a finisher before the patch. It may be gone or it may just make Sorcerer’s Apprentice more valuable.

Honestly, the changes I find the most perplexing are to the Warrior. The developers state, clearly, that removing OTK combos is a primary concern. Being crushed in one turn is hardly fun for the person being crushed. I understand the sentiment behind the change. The rationale, however, bothers me.

Both [Warsong Commander and Charge] were key components in “One Turn Kill” or “OTK” decks that kill your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. We want the game to be about playing minions and fighting for board control rather than just waiting until you can play your big combo and win in one turn with no interaction from your opponent.

 

I played OTK decks and can say, quite confidently, that OTK decks are about board control as much as any other deck. It’s not enough to simply survive whatever onslaught your opponent unleashes and then, on turn 5, destroy them. The combos require careful card use, fodder to draw and sacrifice, and holding on to your combo cards until you have enough mana to unleash them. It’s not a passive, hand collecting deck strategy. And the opponent’s goal is to bait out pieces of the combo and break it to keep whatever lead your deck doesn’t have. If the combo happens on turn “n”, the opponent has n-1 turns to break, prepare, and counter the combo. Part of winning the game isn’t just solving the puzzles your opponent presents, it’s also predicting the puzzles your opponent might try.

The premise behind the OTK deck changes, with the previous version of Unleash and now these, is disappointing. Despite all the data available to them, the Hearthstone development team doesn’t seem to understand how some want to play their game.

Forbes Proclaims Hearthstone the # 1 Best Digital Card Game of 2013

Forbes has positioned Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft as the # 1 Best Digital Card Game Of 2013 toppling other card games in the same DCG genre including Magic: The Gathering Online (which reached # 2).

Blizzard’s arrival in the digital card game space? Nuclear launch detected.

Met with a rather lukewarm reception at the PAX East 2013 reveal “What? They’re making a free-to-play card game?” Hearthstone appeared to be a reasonable casual title for World of Warcraft fans and players looking to learn a simplified CCG. What it’s actually shown itself to be is an engaging CCG on multiple levels, one that will likely have considerable impact on the DCG genre. — read more

 

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