Hearthstone is a terrifying game for new players. Not because it takes very long to learn or because it’s really that complex, but because of the sheer volume of cards available.
At time of writing, that number comes in at 1324 cards, not counting the upcoming Kobolds and Catacombs expansion. That...is a lot of cards.
Of course, nobody in their right mind is going to bother collecting all of those. That’s not the point. We’re all only interested in the cards we need for our decks.
And that’s where new players kind of hit a wall.
There have been four expansions to the game so far and a fifth is on the way. What packs are you supposed to spend gold on? Does this expansion have anything good for my playstyle? Wait, there are cards that completely change how your hero works now?
Hearthstone is remarkably vague about what the expansions really entail and making your players put the game down to look up a card list seems like a weird thing to ask of them. This is not a problem unique to Hearthstone, but it will serve as the example here.
Deck building has gotten so much more complicated and it feels really overwhelming, which takes a lot of the fun out of the game.
Sure, you can look up guides online, but let me guide you through that process step-by-step:
- You find some guides
- You try to make sense of the deck names and fail miserably
- You study the more popular decks and get a feel for their strategies
- You pick the decks that sort of match your playstyle
- You try to determine if the deck liked by 1245 people is worse than the deck liked by 2304 people or if that has just been there longer
- You realize you have none of these cards anyway and you have no idea which expansion half of them came from
- You sink into despair as you ponder if working that out is a greater waste of your time than sticking your head in a bucket of cement or not
- Repeat every time you get your ass kicked by another player and you determine that you need better cards
To be fair, I’ve had a fair bit of luck with my slightly modified version of the standard Paladin deck, but those decks aren’t made to get you very far and even in casual play some people will just utterly overpower you.
So why not just give players the option to buy themed decks?
Well, because the companies involved make infinitely more money from urging you to buy packs, yes. However, hear me out here.
This idea probably wouldn’t have worked very well when Hearthstone was just starting out, but with the expansions of the game’s card library since then it has become more relevant.
It would take a great deal of the headache of deck building away (especially for newer players) and allow them to have fun with a deck that is at least a bit less shitty than the standard decks.
Furthermore, it could expose players to strategies they had not thought of by creating decks focussed on said strategies. It could shows players ‘Oh, look what you can do with this combination of cards’ and get them excited to try it.
That also serves as a point of recognition, both for new and experienced players. You might see a deck with a strategy you’ve never tried, but which you’ve seen work very well for other people. Newer players could see a deck and recognize a strategy they have experience with in similar games and realize it is something they can do here too.
Of course, the price point is a bit of an issue. While you could put an in-game currency price on decks like these, it would probably be pretty high and determining a price in actual money would rely largely on the level of corporate greed you’re working with.
However, I would spend money on a deck looooong before I would bankrupt myself buying packs.
Some will say that this will just mean there will be people flooding ranked matches with unedited decks they bought from the shop. Sadly, yes, some people will.
However, is losing to someone with a bought deck really that much worse than losing to someone who built one? There’s still a chance that the person who built his deck also spent an inordinate amount of money on the game. I can see how it’s a bit more galling, but you’re still taking the hit to your ranking either way.
In my experience, that’s hardly always the case. You’re bound to find out a deck doesn’t run entirely smoothly or you’ll use gold to buy a pack and find a card that would work out really, really well in the deck you bought.
People will continue to modify their decks to get an advantage or cover a weakness.
It’s not like this would mean people would stop buying packs either. They will keep looking for cards that might help their decks and grinding will actually be made a bit more bearable since they can now do it with a deck they actually like, as opposed to a boring standard deck or whatever they could sort of cobble together.
So if it can reduce stress and uncertainty of deck building and make grinding somewhat more bearable, why aren’t they doing it? Is it just their concern for pack sales or am I missing some obvious problem?