Let’s talk about Hearthstone.
Apologies, the next review is not anywhere close to complete. I’m having a bit of a writer’s block and need more time to work out the issues I’m having. My attempts to find a job have also tired me out so I haven’t been up to writing a review when I get the chance. Instead, I’m writing this thought post on Hearthstone to make up for it. It’s kind of a review… I hope you enjoy.
I started playing Hearthstone early last year to learn the collectible card game genre, a genre that I’ve never really understood before now. I picked Hearthstone because it’s one of the most accessible titles in the genre and I figured I’d really start learning how to build decks, combos and strategic play from the game. Maybe it wasn’t the best game for this idea but I’ve had a pretty good time. I quit a while back due to my ongoing issues with Hearthstone’s lacking balance and frustrating business model.
So, for some reason I’m back to playing Hearthstone. When I heard the news about the expansion, the “major” changes to ranked/normal mode and the bevy of new cards, I figured, why not? I’ll get a bunch of card packs, get to experience a potentially better balanced game and have some fun. There are some really fun decks you can potentially run like Murlocadin, more ramp Druids and other pretty fun and crazy combos that I’d like to try out. Instead, this past week has shown the errors of my ways. An experience that crushes the soul. It’s all thanks to C’Thun. The Legendary card that everyone gets for logging into Hearthstone. In this post, I’m pretty much going to lay my thoughts out on why this card set has pretty much ruined Hearthstone for me, again. So, let’s get into it.
C’Thun. A 10 cost minion that has 6/6 stats with a battlecry. That battlecry deals out his attack randomly to all enemies which doesn’t seem so bad on first glance. However, its tied in with a whole set of cards that buff his stats by 1/1 or 2/2 or 3/3 in one particular case. There’s even a card that gives C’Thun taunt…for some reason. At 6/6 and probably played on turn 10+, C’Thun’s stats are far too high. He’s far too good a card for what he does. It is far too easy to stack him up into 15/15 or 20/20. Which has frequently happened every time I have played in ranked games. Which, wouldn’t be a problem considering that it’s one card out of 30 potential cards. After all, it’s entirely possible you never draw C’Thun. Fair enough. Except all of the other cards are on curve or better. See the beckoner of evil to his right? That is a pretty damn good card for 2 cost plus the bonus of giving him +2/+2 for some reason. But let’s look at the rest of the cards, shall we?
The Twilight Elder. A card that costs 3 for 3/4. Which is on curve and a very good minion. At the end of every turn, he buffs C’Thun +1/+1. Excuse me what? How?…why?? Why does C’Thun need to be buffed every turn this card is alive? This should be a legendary card at the very least but no, it’s a normal card so you can potentially have two of them on the board behind a taunt. This card is currently a scourge because of just how insanely good it is.
Then we have just a few other generic cards to add along with it. I would not kick a single one of these cards out of a deck even if they didn’t have the abilities that they have. The buff to C’Thun is just the icing on the cake, they are all very good. It’s not even a question.
Then we get to just one example of a poorly designed card. Say you do build a rush deck to beat C’Thun. You probably have to deal with cards like Twin Emperor Vek’lor who for some reason summons another taunt card with 4/6 stats. If you have someone survived the barrage of good cards up to this point, Vek’lor is here to ruin your day and basically end the game. Because it isn’t hard to get C’Thun to 10/10 as you see above. There’s another card below that heals your hero if it reaches the same stats.
To say nothing about particular class-specific cards like these ones that are also really good. That cult sorcerer. Not only does it buff your spells, it gives C’Thun a buff every time you cast a spell. Why wouldn’t you play this card? It’s simply good. That hooded acolyte is just as good for the priests. And I’m just pulling up all the special cases I’ve noticed. There are plenty of other cards released in this expansion that simply ruin the really interesting combos or even unique decks you can assemble. And it’s all I’ve ever seen since the Old Gods expansion launched. C’Thun after C’Thun after C’Thun. Most of the cards are on curve, the buffs they give C’Thun are insane and when the legendary card eventually shows up, it is essentially game over.
Troubling balancing problems are not unique to Hearthstone (or Blizzard in general…) but this expansion has exacerbated the issues Hearthstone used to have before and somehow made it less strategic. Just place the cards down as soon as you get them. They are all worth it.
Fixing The Issues:
How would I fix it? Well, my most immediate nerf(s) would be to C’Thun. The couple of ideas I’ve had would be to nerf his stats down to around 2/2 to make him riskier to play. Or, if we’re not willing to nerf stats, give him an additionally effect that he dies after doing his battlecry. There’s absolutely no reason to get pummeled for 6-20+ damage and then have to contend with a powerful minion. How this card was ever considered balanced, I’ll never know. And no, giving him to everyone doesn’t fix his issues. If we’re not willing to nerf C’Thun at all, nerf all the minions attached to him. There is absolutely no reason their stats should be on curve considering how many of them have a taunt, battlecry or other additional effect. It should be risky to play a C’Thun deck and if it doesn’t pay off, oh well. There should be a risk/reward when playing this deck, but there barely is now unless you’re up against another C’Thun. This nonsense with all of the cards being good has completely poisoned the waters of ranked/normal play now. Creating unique decks is further de-incentivised by this. I’ve pretty much decided to quit over this again. Barely a week and some days into this expansion and my interest has completely died off. Because even if I wait around for Blizzard to fix C’Thun, it’ll probably take them months due to how slowly they balance problematic cards. But, I’m also guessing they didn’t really care about balancing with this expansion because there should have been no reasonable way this set of cards made it out of the door. And I mean, we even got 9 additional deck slots! Some really fun cards! But you pissed all that goodwill away with the cards in this expansion.
I get it Blizzard, making “exciting” expansions and accessible games is your thing. But this prioritization of flash over balance is forcing players like me to leave. And maybe I got my hopes up too high but I’ve had enough of this nonsense. When you can properly even try to balance Hearthstone, let me know. Otherwise, I’m going to look for a new CCG to play.
Thanks for reading. If you have any comments to add, feel free to leave them below.