Hearthstone’s Upcoming Decksplosion

Imagine this frog is Alex Trebek

“More than 100.”

If we were playing Jeopardy Alex Trebek would be standing about in a nice suit waiting for your light to come on and for you to say “What is new Hearthstone cards?” He would maybe then look at you strangely because even by Jeopardy’s standards that’s an incredibly awkwardly phrased Q&A. He is very disappointed in you even though you’ve just earned, like, $600 or something.

In case that didn’t make anything clear, Hearthstone will be getting an injection of more than 100 new cards in its first expansion.

“I think we’re going to mix it up a little bit with this next release, which will be our first expansion,” is what the game’s production director, Jason Chayes, said to Polygon. “It will have a lot more cards. We’re talking about more than 100. We are going to have a central theme for how that will all fit together. That’ll be the next thing coming up.”

I don't even know what some of these are

More than 100 cards.

The idea of more than 100 cards actually fills me with dread. I was bad enough at vanilla Hearthstone, then Curse Of Naxxramas added even more content and now there’s going to be this to contend with. The game isn’t even installed on my computer anymore. I deleted it soon after defeating a commissioning editor by kicking him to death with the sheep he’d just polymorphed one of my cards into. I was worried I would a) never reach that heady height again and b) jeopardise my entire freelancing career.

As if he could sense my fear, Chayes went on to add “We really want to make sure the pacing is great not just for seasoned Hearthstone players but for new players coming into the game too. We really want to pay attention to how that is for the entirety of the player base. Does that feel like the right amount of content? Is it too little? Is it too much? We feel like this is a good starting point.”

I hope it is, Jason. I hope it is.

19 Comments

  1. skyturnedred says:

    But….but… I still have two Naxx wings to clear!

  2. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    That card on the bottom right looks like a gorg kicking an eagle while a cobra tries to break them up. Could be a good expansion.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      That’s not an expansion card. None of them are. It’s just a stock picture of vanilla Hearthstone.

  3. Nachtfischer says:

    CCGs are such a prime example of financial considerations trumping good game design. Collecting and F2P are a match made in hell. The boosters exploit the primitive urge to “hunt and collect”, and F2P delivers the mechanism to speed up this process by paying real money.

    From a game design standpoint, though, it’s much less ideal. Every game system has an optimum amount of content it can reasonably support with its actual systemic depth. CCGs go way beyond that point. They are bloated up infinitely to be kept alive. Without regular expansions, they would break down within months (see Hearthstone’s stale meta and players complaining about how “it’s just RNG”, because everyone was basically at the same level just before Naxxramas hit). Expansions are the “life support” of these systems. They need them to stay interesting at all (which is another reason why it works so great with the F2P business model; infinite content to keep players paying forever). In the end these games become abombinations, barely able to carry their own weight, shambling on like a zombie of a game, alway looking for the next “defibrillator” expansion (see Magic which has been walking on for decades).

    Also, the nature of F2P introduces a conflict between game creator and player. Now the developer doesn’t just want to deliver the best possible game to you, he actually wants you to continually pay money. To achieve that, he usually makes the game worse than it could be. Certainly that is the case in a CCG. Completely non-devious F2P games usually fail (Outwitters) or need brag-heavy, yet questionable gameplay possibilites (Path of Exile). Maybe the upcoming Prismata will be a contender for a first F2P title without actual drawbacks (I certainly hope so). It’s not at all a “Collectible Anything Game”, of course.

    • feday says:

      Hmm, I admittedly spend about 50e on packs around januari, but it became my most played game this year. From a customer’s perspective it has been excellent value for money entertainment. Didn’t need to buy Naxx or additional packs, it’s all perfectly attainable with gold from quests. Got legendary, which was an occasionally frustrating challenge but also very satisfying. So am I to understand my satisfaction with this game is ill informed? I don’t really see me playing it for 10 years, that’s true.

    • Modvind says:

      Why so pessimistic? I for one am ecstatic to hear that there will be a significant card injection soon and never spent a dime on the game.

      Yes, combining CCG and F2P makes it very easy to spend a lot of money on the game, but I find that Blizzard are pretty generous. You can quite easily go infinite arena with the rewards and gold from quests, and there are good constructed decks without a lot of legendaries such as Warlock zoo. If you want to play handlock with shiny legendaries without collecting cards for a few months you have to spend of course – but somebody has to pay for the development costs.

      I played Magic for the better part of a decade and loved it. Yes it needs expansions to stay fresh, but doesn’t get too heavy because of the variety of formats available (e.g. Type 1 with all cards vs. Type 2 with just the newest cards.) It will be interesting to see what Blizzard will do with Hearthstone to avoid it becoming bloated, but for now it is pretty stale because there are just so few cards available.

    • DarkFarmer says:

      most people have spent very little money on Hearthstone, and it is not close to the highest grossing iPad title despite being one of the most played games.

      • Gothnak says:

        I think you will find that Hearthstone is doing pretty well thank you very much, but yes it is doing that by not nickel and diming every single one of it’s customers. Which is nice.

  4. amateurviking says:

    My deck fu is atrocious. More cards will probably not help this.

  5. Horg says:

    Hearthstone could really use a mechanics pass to fix some of it’s inherent RNG based problems. Increasing the starting hand size, increasing the non legendary card limit, increasing the deck size limit, improving the FtP starting decks of certain classes (Druid is particularly awful), and making a full balance pass on class card draw would be a good start. With more cards, and probably a new class, they will have the freedom to make that kind of shake up but I doubt they will as Blizzard seem more interested in quick game turn overs than overall game integrity. Quality of life improvements would also be welcome, such as allowing us to save more than 9 decks, pausing the game during a disconnect, being able to view the entire match history instead of the last 8 or so interactions, and better stat tracking tools would be great. There’s potential for a really good CCG here, but it’s still got a long way to go.

    • Douchetoevsky says:

      Increasing the deck size would make RNG worse. Having a lean, efficient deck is one of the most important things in these kinds of games. Or so I’ve been told. I’m terrible at making decks.

      • Horg says:

        When you have a large sample size, you are more likely to get a distribution of variables that more accurately represents the average. When your sample size is small, extremes of distribution are more common. It’s why any scientific study worth a damn attempts to gather a large data set, to minimize the occurrence of extreme variation skewing the average. When applied to a CCG, what a larger deck size, card limit and starting hand allow is more consistent distribution of your resource curve throughout the deck. This is the reason every other CCG uses a much larger deck than Hearthstone. You are much less likely to get one of those scenarios where you lose / win by turn 5 because you / your opponent had nothing to play.

        In Hearthstones current meta, the most popular decks are the ones that can basically ignore the mana curve problem, such as Warlock zoo or just about any Hunter deck. The win rates are high because they can either guarantee to throw something at the board or keep up damage on the enemy hero when they can’t. There are lots of decks that will beat either of those, but you have to hit your mana curve on the draw to do it. When you don’t, the game just sucks. Reducing the bad RNG of the draw and shuffle would improve the game and make more decks viable.

  6. mechtroid says:

    Not to do a dick waving contest, but only around 100? Being a magic player, I’ve had to deal around 800 new cards a YEAR, with plenty that warp the entire format. Granted, singles are a lot easier to come by in MtG, and decks are bigger, so it’s hard to compare them both, but I was hoping for at least a doubling of the original card pool for the sake of deck diversity. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that these 100 new cards explore new design space and mechanics instead of “coloring inside the lines” so to speak. I’m really interested to see what new kind of answers and threats Blizzard brings to the table.

  7. christiang69 says:

    I for one am waiting for Hearthstone and Hex to both come to Android before I start playing them. I consider the pace and play-style of card games to be excellent for tablets, but do not own and do not plan to own an iPad anytime soon, so can’t enjoy them on my bedtime gaming device :P

  8. Gothnak says:

    No money spent by me yet. Hit rank 10 last month and have unlocked all of Naxx, just 3 moe heroic bosses to defeat until it is completed.

    Just wish the standard PvP was more interesting. I just play my priest deck and try and earn enough crafting point to buy a Ragnaros as he is the main legendary i am missing.

    My favourite point yesterday was playing a Shaman Deck where i had a Sylvanus with ‘Deathrattle: This creature spawns itself when it dies’, then windfurying it, replicating it, and then using one of them to kill two of the other Player’s creatures (and itself in the process) and with it dying, grabbing their own Sylvanus. Leaving me with 3 Sylvanus’s, one with windfury and summon itself on death. :)