Hearthstone’s Ranked play is back, but here are some better CCGs


A bug with Hearthstone‘s ranked play recently brought the mode crashing to its CC-knees, but it’s now back on its feet again thanks to a hotfix from Blizzard. When the new competitive season rolled round on March 1st, something awry with the tweaks to the progression system meant that players rank stopped updating altogether. Blizzard disabled the mode while they worked on the problem, and they didn’t get everything back up and running until 12pm today.

So, the joys of the Hearthstone ladder are once again available to all. Before you log back in though, why not keep reading for a minute or two more. I’m not saying you should stop playing Hearthstone. I’m just saying your life might be better if you tried one of these superior CCGs instead.

Ok, let me dial that back a bit: Hearthstone is still pretty neat. I just played a couple of matches for the first time in over a year, and was surprised at how satisfying it felt to play my cards in the right order. At the same time, therein lies the reason why I’ve moved on to other games. I had some input, sure, but it still felt like my deck was playing itself. The degree to which that’s true obviously changes depending on your deck, and it’s also true that as you climb the ranks subtle mistakes become more important. Knowledge of strategies and deck types and whatnot comes into play. Still, the decisions you make won’t be nearly as interesting as the ones you could be making in, say…


Duelyst! Duelyst takes Hearthstone’s hero v hero format and slaps it onto a board, where units move around and smart positioning is vital. That puts a fresh spin on systems you’ll already be comfortable with, like ‘provoke’ minions that need to be attacked first – but that only applies to units that are stood next to them. It also opens up entirely new ideas for card abilities, like minions that attack everything in a line or do more damage from behind. I also adore how you can swap out one card from your hand each turn, which gives you greater control of your deck without sacrificing the RNG that makes deck builders work.

Duelyst pulls some smart tricks, but it still sort of boils down to Hearthstone but with more *ahem* depth. If you’re after something that shakes things up in a different way, you might want to try…


Gwent! The key thing about Gwent is that each match is played over three rounds. You only need to win two of them, and you keep all your cards between each round – so an important part of the game is about baiting out powerful cards early on, then ending a round early with a laughing emote. That’s an important part of my strategy, anyway. Cards are scarce and a couple of extra points can make all the difference, which means every play feels meaningful. With that said, when I tried it last year I kept getting matched against people with far superior decks to mine, and the crawl towards certain ‘required’ cards felt far too slow. It doesn’t sound like much has changed, so let’s move swiftly on to…


Android: Netrunner! Right, this is actually a physical card game, but hear me out: you can play it bootlegged online using Jinteki.net, which Brendy and I recently tried out. It’s an asymmetrical game where one player is a corporation attempting to advance their naughty agenda, while the other player tries to hack into their servers and steal their cool robot designs. It’s about controlling information using bluffing and misdirection, and about reading your opponent as they read you. Crafting a good deck is important, but – more so than with other CCGs – your wins and losses turn on the decisions you make.

It’s by far the best card game I’ve played, and while you could try learning it via Jinteki.net I’d recommend trying the physical version first. Netrunner is a mighty complex beast that’s hard enough to pick up without the complexities added in by a makeshift digital interface, and the psychology side of it just isn’t the same when you can’t see your opponent sweating in front of you.

If none of that is enough to tempt you out of your Hearthstone ways, then… fair enough. Like I said, it’s still pretty good. Here’s some of what’s in store in the upcoming Year of the Raven.


  1. Jandau says:

    I’d like to give a shoutout to Magic The Gathering: Arena. It’s in closed beta, but an invite is fairly easy to come by. So far, it’s a very happy middle ground between the simplicity of MTG:Duels and the detailed nature of MTG:Online, while avoiding most of the flaws of either incarnation. It’s the first digital iteration of MTG that doesn’t feel horribly slow to play. It’s still a while from release and the current card pool is somewhat limited (Ixalan block; basically, the last two sets) for testing purposes, but it’s great fun.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      FWIW, I signed up over a month ago and am still in ‘the queue’ to get an invite, so it’s not *that* easy to come by.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        I signed up on 15 September 2017 and still no invite.

  2. mellowlol says:

    Magic The Gathering Arena is definitely coming along, but I’d like to throw out a shoutout to Eternal Card Game. Wonderful playerbase, good content creators, and super generous model. They’re technically still in early access, but they have a ton of content out with consistent updates and balance patches.

    link to store.steampowered.com

  3. Ghostwise says:

    This is going to be so awkward at the merger party after Blizzard buys the corporation wot bought the corporation wot bought the corporation wot bought RPS.

  4. Viral Frog says:

    I’m gonna second Duelyst here. It’s the first PC CCG I’d ever played that didn’t immediately cause me to bounce off. In fact, it’s probably the only reason I even give PC CCG’s a chance at all. I would never have gotten so into Gwent in TW3 or Slay the Spire if it wasn’t for Duelyst making me realize that PC card games don’t always suck.

    • April March says:

      Yeah! I was playing Duelyst just now! It’s not perfect, the lootbox sings and the grind grinds, and compared to, say, Magic there are way too many cards that just benefit you specifically, as opposed to cards that change the board state generally and expect you to build a deck that takes advantage of them. But the fact that you need to position yourself and your units in the board changes everything. Boxing in your oponent is as important as destroying their resources, and it’s possible to win a game in which you have one life and your opponent has the material advantage by clever positioning (…or by running away… that’s usually only a strategy in the lower tiers, though.) It’s pretty much a tiny XCom-like every match.

  5. andregurov says:

    While Fable Fortune may lack the uniqueness of Duelyst and the bluff/counter-bluff of Gwent, it is very fun … and has a great co-op mode that few other (if any) CCGs have. This is a great time for CCG players, and it will get even better if/when MTG:Arena gets a public release.

  6. thomas16632 says:

    the best way is not to play and waste your time in any CGG.
    Easy, they are all
    ->”spend your life or pay to get the best deck”. Meaning pay to be able to enjoy the game unless you have lot of free time.
    ->lootboxes, with obviously extremely low ratio for the interesting stuff
    ->some kind of crafting which is usually like you need 40 dissassembled pack to create an interesting card
    ->Rng joy. Draw order at the least of least. Add whatever system.
    ->brainless & noskill: these are not strategy games. Learn the cards, play around possibilities, you have a choice of a few cards among a few each turn. It’s not chess. Do not fool yourself, try hard or being clever does not make you win.

    Do yourself a favour, do not play card games, do no play f2p (ie pay 2 win) games. Only world exception is Path of exile. Single one

    • Chairman_Meow says:

      This is a bad, misinformed take. It’s completely ok to personally not care for CCG, but your criticisms are weak and come off as petulant or childish. There is a great deal of strategy and (more importantly) enjoyment to be had from them. An across the board dismissal is silly on the face of it, and does disservice to the many thousands of people who enjoy these types of games.

    • April March says:

      Netrunner dismisses your first three criticisms out of hand, and I’d say your latter two are ‘I don’t like this kind of game therefore it is bad’.

    • ixmike88 says:

      uh, what about Dota 2, the most free free-to-play game ever…

  7. Premium User Badge

    buenaventura says:

    Eternal: The Card Game, is nice and generous with cards, plays like Magic with nice creativity allowed in deck building. I was drained by Hearthstones crap, but this rocks.

    • Teledahn says:

      I was surprised Eternal didn’t warrant a mention in the post, but I suppose it is still the smaller comparatively.

      • RuySan says:

        RPS never mentions Eternal even thought it has more players than Duelyst. Maybe it’s because it’s an indie game it doesn’t get the same marketing push.

        Gwent was great in the TW3, but each update in the “new” game makes it worse and worse. Every thing that was good about it has been ripped apart.

        • malkav11 says:

          I suspect it’s largely whatever staff are interested in, and games that are expected to be discussed – like a Blizzard game is going to be high profile enough to need coverage whether staff are into it or not.

          I’d also complain about the lack of Hex coverage, but in fairness they’ve done a few articles about it, whereas that doesn’t seem to be the case for Eternal. Maybe Eternal just looks too much like Hearthstone? That’s definitely my takeaway when I look at screenshots. “Oh look, Hearthstone.” I’m sure that’s not fair, but…yeah.

          • RuySan says:

            Hex has been around forever, and had plenty of coverage at the beginning. Eternal on the other hand, is barely talked about, and unlike Hex, is F2P and pretty generous.

  8. Neurotic says:

    Whereas, if you’re a complete nubbins like me, every Hearthstone match feels exciting because you only understand or are in control of things about 50-60% of the time. :D

  9. malkav11 says:

    Duelyst and Gwent are fine and all, and Netrunner is a genuinely fabulous game without a proper digital version as yet. But the game which really belonged on this list is Hex: Shards of Fate. All the digital innovation and trickery of Hearthstone but with a much wider design space and scope for much more strategy and cleverness in play. Not to mention gorgeous art, an honestly pretty cool world with some innovative factions and takes on fantasy staples (though, to be fair, some are just fantasy staples), and oh yeah, the reason it’s the digital card game I’ve played hundreds of hours of over and of those others: a large and robust RPG-styled singleplayer mode with a lot of singleplayer specific cards, collectible “mercenaries” that have unique powers and deckbuilding restrictions, and an equipment mechanic to power up a wide selection of the cards used in PvP for PvE play (albeit only 6 different cards at a time). It’s not finished, and I will admit that there is a certain amount of discontent at how long it’s taking to get more of it, but there’s still far more and more robust singleplayer there than any of these others. And as I say, I’ve played it for hundreds of hours and still have plenty of characters and decks left to try and a fair range of PvE cards left to loot.

  10. Captain Narol says:

    Dear Matt, Like two other posters above, I would also gently blame you for not adding Eternal Card Game to this list as IMHO it’s really the perfect mix between Hearthstone and Magic.

    Eternal has already 3 sets and 2 Solo campaigns released and NEVER EVER got mentionned on RPS, which desappoint me a lot as a long-time reader and fan of this Hivemind.

    Please please please, Matt, as you seem to have become the CGG specialist around, give it a try and write something about your impressions, that great game deserves more exposition.

    Two others CGGs that could deserve some cover from you are Hex : Shard of Fate (already mentionned by Malkav) and Shardbound (currently encoutering a roadblock during EA that caused a stand-by in development but still running and great to play)

    Making this article was a good first step as indeed more people need to know that there is better CGGs out there than Hearthstone, but those 3 games needs you too and probably more than the 3 you mentionned in this article that are already well-known by RPS readers due to regular posts about them.

    • SjiBlanche says:

      Eternal CardGame! Now that was a nice game. Unfortunately emphasizes on was, the last months it has taken a turn for the worst. It’s plagued by high randomness, which has always been an issue as it basically follows the MTG style of playing cards, but with a deck size of 75 instead of 60. And there is such a variety of playable decks/archetypes, that in versus games, games are basically decided by the kind of deck you face (some strategies you can counter 3/4 of the time no matter how you play the cards you draw, others you’ll fold to 3/4 of the time), and most matches, while taking longer to play out, are fully decided by turn 2 to 4 (often your draw decides whether you even have a play), after that, it’s just finishing the game off.

      If you look at the steam forums and the reddit community, many players are voicing their concerns, there is a significant increase of complaints or suggestions on how to “fix” the game (decrease variance, introduce best-of-3, let people see the colors of the opponents deck before mulligan, make cards less pushed, weaken card this and that, strengthen removal, weaken removal, the topics with suggestions go on and on). At its current state, Eternal is a glorified slot machine, the agency a player has over his game is arguably lower than hearthstone. I’m afraid that mentioning it in the article would only be as an example of another decent game gone wrong the more content it got.

  11. gianni says:

    I would recommend Race for the galaxy + arc 1 expansions

    RFTG with Keldon AI

  12. ilitarist says:

    A reminder about Dyelist: their publisher Bandai Namco is a very impolite company.

    At some point they cut support for most of the countries of the world. Even if you spend a lot on the game when it was available to everyone on Steam you just get thrown out now. It’s not like wiht some android games from Nintendo (Pokemon Go, for example) that are not visible in the market but you can still download and play. They check your country and tell you “Service is not available currently”, not even having the guts to tell you plainly that your country is not allowed to play the game.

    RPS wrote about it:

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    But they made it sound as if it’s just a few countries. Bandai Namco never released an official list of supported/banned countries. I live in Belarus, not Russia, and I have no access. Same in Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia. Yes, you can still play through variety of ways but all of them include inconveniences and are probably illegal and make your account legible for deletion.

    • RuySan says:

      Duelyst started getting on my nerves after they introduced those lot box keys. Never played it again

  13. shadowmarth says:

    Faeria does the CCG-with-a-board thing waaaay better than Duelyst, and its F2P model is much less atrocious.

  14. Brood_Star says:

    As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time playing Hearthstone, even while still recognizing it’s… not great, and somewhat semi-competitively at that, I applaud the effort in trying to redirect readers to better games. But, your list has some pretty big omissions!

    Eternal. Eternal is the single best virtual CCG I’ve played. It’s very Magic-lite, but it’s still charming, and the most thoughtful and balanced I’ve played. (Although I haven’t been around for the recent hullabaloo.)

    MTG:Arena is in closed beta, but I’m still waiting for my invite. I’ve heard quite good things, though, so hopefully it’s better than Duels.

    Gwent, I was enamored with on release that I thought it might replace Eternal as my most highly regarded. However, in recent times, I’ve heard nothing but bad things, including from streamers and pro players. There have been numerous questionable decisions that it seems clear CDPR isn’t used to developing a multiplayer, competitively-oriented game.

    Faeria is also board-centered, like Duelyst, and it seems the F2P system is much more generous.

    I’ve pretty much played every CCG under the sun. It’s almost gross. Krosmaga, PvZ: Heroes add lane systems, which are incredibly fun and way more dynamic than the current bog-standard systems, but the two require heavy cash investments that I would highly not recommend them. Artifact is also using a lane system, but I don’t have an alpha invite, and I’m very wary of a “Valve CCG” to boot. Shardbound is probably the most tactical of any, but they’re haing publisher problems, and games are drawn out and slow. Fable Fortune is Hearthstone-lite and decent fun, but there were noticeable problems in early alpha. It’s not a CCG, but Fantasy Flight Games is digitally porting its first coop LCG in LotR, which I’m terribly excited for. But that also reminds me that various boardgame-centered options, like Race for the Galaxy, or Pathfinder: Adventures, seem a much better use of time than actual digital CCGs. But, if I had to recommend one, it’d be Eternal, followed by Shardbound.

    (I’ve never played Netrunner, for the record.)

  15. goodpoints says:

    I’m guessing by the recent few articles on ANR here, that somebody is new to it. I’ve played ANR since the first cycle and while it is, by far, the most strategically challenging and mechanically interesting card game out there, it also shares many of the same issues as Hearthstone. Even though I prefer the core mechanics of ANR to HS, FFG has consistently mismanaged and neglected balancing, only showing some real improvement in the past few months. Whereas, partly due to the ease of patching a digital game, Blizzard has steadily improved (esp. since 2017) and done some of the most proactive and wise balancing I’ve seen in a card game. Good riddance Ice Block (the Mercy of HS) and Oracle.

    Early ANR, up until SanSan, was glorious. Play and win rates were relatively even across the Identities. For the most part, new cards just continued to expand the toolsets and further enrich the core push-pull rhythm between Runner and Corp that made ANR so unique. Then come mid-2015, FFG pushed the original lead designer (Litzinger) to some Star Wars game, leaving the co-designer, Damon Stone, in charge. Apparently he was known for allowing some pretty broken BS into the other FFG LCGs he lead and lo-and-behold, SanSan brings the first truly game-breaking card, ‘Faust’.

    Faust turned Anarchs from a tense high-risk Case-ian amphetamine frenzy (mmmm Brazilian Dex), into a relaxed low-risk-high-reward board-clear nightmare for all Corps. Faust was the first Anarch Breaker that really had no downside: Sure, it ate cards but Wyldside gave you a steady stream and Street Peddler let you bank anything you need. Faust totally filled out the Anarch’s Breaker kit to where you could beat anything with your in-faction breakers. If they somehow got some big Ice out, well then you had D4v1d. Deep, multi-routine Ice? Trusty old Parasite. Then you have other BS like Rumor Mill that blanked core Corp cards like Jackson Howard (PBUH) at will. Anarch decks totally stopped packing Stimhacks until late last year, which should tell anyone that the Anarch design had been taken in a fundamentally wrong direction. (what’s the point of even playing Anarch if I can’t roll Whizz with Stimhacks and call it “Fatty on Addy”?)

    The Corps only chance against Faustian Whizz and Noise was to play NBN: Controlling the Message with stuff like Breaking News and Hard Hitting News to try to mitigate the relentless board-clears while you play the Agenda rush game. Then you had BS like Sensie Actors Union, 24/7 News Cycle, Mushin No Shin, Mumba Temple, Clone Suffrage Movement, Commercial Bankers Group, and Accelerated Diagnostics that enabled the dominant strategy to ignore an entire core mechanic of the game system by packing hardly any Ice.

    So you have a situation where the meta shifted from Anarchs pounding Stimhacks and risking their Brain/Creds to make runs and NBN being heavily bluff reliant and using tax-type Ice to cripple Runner econ; to where NBN plays Agenda Advancement Solitaire faster than the Anarch can trash their cards. The decay of the basic Ice-Icebreaker mechanic negated the push-pull interactivity that made pre-SanSan great and turned ANR into Speedrun Solitaire. The meta was dominated by these same basic Anarch/NBN archetypes for TWO YEARS, from SanSan in mid-2015 until mid-2017 when card design finally started improving in Red Sands as Damon Stone stepped down with Michael Boggs replacing, and FFG started getting serious with the Most Wanted List. (banned/restricted cards) At Worlds 2016, the top 16 Corps were all NBN:CTM and 14 out of 16 Runners were Anarch. Take a look at this graph of Top 30% tourny decks from mid-2014 to present from knowthemeta.com, notice how the meta has only just started since mid-late 2017 to become dynamic again like pre-SanSan. Unfortunately, it’s probably too little-too late: tourny attendance at all levels declined pretty much in proportion to the rise to the peak of NBN/Anarch. I don’t know if it’s recovered at all but I believe attendance in 2016 at Regionals/Worlds was down 50-75% from the 2014 peaks, and my local group fizzled out around the same time.

    Anyway, once the Raven Hall of Fame bans hit and the 2016 expansions rotate out, I think Hearthstone is going to massively improve. Especially I can’t wait until Karazhan and Old Golds go bye-bye, they introduced the majority of the “high roller”/ RNGesus stupidity that’s hurting the game the most right now. No more of the Barnes on T3/4 auto-win BS with Y’Shaarj! No more C’Thun, N’Zoth, Yogg-Saron, or Deathwing! No more Thistle Tea, Cabalist’s Tome, Medivh’s Valet, Stand Against Darkness, Fandral Staghelm, Rallying Blade, Feral Blade, Steward of Darkshire, Vilefin Inquisitor, and Shifter Zerus! So long Dude Pally, Murladin, Jade Druid, Secret Mage, and Big Priest; you won’t be missed! Once the rotation hits, provided 2018’s expansions are as good as 2017, all that remains is to do something about Spiteful Summoner and then the worst of the RNG netdecker epidemic will have been dealt with.

    • Brood_Star says:

      As I posted elsewhere, I’ve not played ANR, so cannot speak for about 90% of your post.

      On Hearthstone, as someone who played, and still plays (unfortunately) thousands of hours, with a small handful of top legend finishes, rank 2 included, Hearthstone is the single most prominent example of a potentially decent game ruined by the worst balancing of all time. Surely, there must be examples of worse, but Hearthstone is the only popular game that comes to mind that seems actively abhorrent. Ice Block and Oracle were perhaps the least threatening or problematic cards to have hall of famed. They have both never been in powerful (meaning tier 1 or 2) meta decks, that I have to look at this decision as mainly catering towards casual players having their fun ruined instead of actual balance of the game.

      Some of your other named cards at the end also confuse me. Barnes is about the single only problematic card out of 20 you named. I’m also very suspect of anyone complaining about netdeckers in this day and age–it’s part and parcel of any game, card games included, so one best get used to it.

      • goodpoints says:

        Fair points as far as the HoF cards, though I’m glad that Blizzard pays attention to lower ranked players and prioritizing fun. I only started playing HS during Frozen Throne and I don’t yet have the experience or collection to climb anywhere near legend. (highest rank was 11) I’ve done a good bit of research on the history of the meta though, and it is much more dynamic than most games. Rarely does it seem that any archetype has been top tier for more than a few seasons; and class balance seems to improved significantly after 2016 as classes that were consistently weak like Priest and Pally have become high tier regulars. For clarity, a balanced game to me is one in which no archetype maintains a 55-60% WR for an extended time period and play/win rates are constantly fluctuating. Not sure what else you’ve played, but in my experience, most card games are significantly worse for balancing. Introducing cards that break everything from the previous set is basically MTG’s whole business model. (I know they’ve started doing rotation and core sets recently, but I stopped playing after Coldsnap) And as for ANR, imagine if top tier Hearthstone was nothing but Jade Druid vs. Controlock for 2 years, the closest analogues to the 2 years of NBN vs. Anarch.

        To me it’s not that the cards are all that overpowered, but that they’re just annoying. I’ve obviously learned to anticipate that when I’m nearing lethal on a Mage and they have a secret, surprise, it’s likely going to be Ice Block. But it’s pretty annoying that unless I play Hunter and have Flare, or pack the soon-to-rotate Eater of Secrets, that I’m going to have wait at least 1 turn (maybe 3+ with all the random spell cards) twiddling my thumbs while they try to set up their exodia. It’s predictable, low cost, non-interactive, rewards reckless play, and is a crutch for bad design. Hopefully we’ll see more interesting and dynamic ways for mages to increase survivability in the expansions. I’d probably be ok with Ice Block’s effect as-is if it were legendary so you could only pack 1, and not able to be generated from random spell effects. I have a feeling though, with Eater rotating and no other non-Hunter Secret removals being added since, that they want to move away from Secrets that drastically change the game state.

        Oracle is really just because Kingsbane/Mill Rogues are boring and frustrating to play against and I think its removal sends a clear message that milling was not intended to be part of HS. People who play those decks always point to how low tier it is, which is true, but it also has one of the biggest disparities in W/L rates vs. particular archetypes. (>50% vs. control decks, <30% vs. aggro) It's just silliness, and the fact that it's even present in ranked (wild & standard) is due to the quirks of the win streak system. Again, I think the more elegant solutions would be to introduce more counters to it, e.g. having buffed Kingsbane retain stats when it's copied from deck with stuff like Thoughtsteal and Benedictus, having cards that punish the opponent when they draw more than 1 per turn (I remember MTG having some of those), or cards that punish if drawn or overdrawn during the opponent's turn. ANR actually has a whole category of Corp cards called Ambush, some of which punish the Runner if they draw it from the Corp deck; but raiding the Corp's deck is actually a core part of the game.

        As far as the Karazhan/Old Gods cards I listed: it's not that they're all overpowered (or even good), but that those 2 sets introduced a huge glut of cards with randomized effects that I'm glad that they've largely moved away from afterward. Un'Goro had its fair share of randomness as well, but Discover is not nearly as bad. Non-RNG stuff like Fandral, Feral Rage, Steward, and Vilefin I listed because they are core to the braindead minion solitaire archetypes like Dude Pally, Murladin, and Jade Druid.

        As for netdecking, verbatim netdecks are far more prevalent throughout the ranks than other games. Some of that has to do with the small deck size of HS, but I've found that there's way less experimentation among average playerbase than other games. With having a small collection and being mostly f2p, I build decks around the legies that I get. (haven't even crafted one yet) I was lucky enough to get Rhok'delar as my first K&C legy so I built a deck around it and ended up with a pretty typical Spell Hunter. I didn't look at decklists, it was just pretty obvious that to build a deck around Rhok I needed to have no minions but a lot of summon spells and defense secrets. Sure, I don't have Deathstalker Rex yet, but I make it work enough to maintain a positive winrate. But I also have a lot more fun messing around a priest deck I've built around Drakkari Enchanter (which has a 0.1% pick rate) and end of turn effects like Shadow Ascendant, Green Jelly/Hogger and Ysera. I'm not climbing with but I'm getting closer to hitting 50% with it, and with enough tinkering it seems like it could be a viable Control Priest at least in the R10-20 range. And it's satisfying as hell beating netdecks (soooo many Dude Pallies) with a homebrew.

        • Brood_Star says:

          I’m drawing a distinction between balance and design.

          Blizzard is generally decent on the latter front. I have no qualms with HoFing Ice Block/Coldlight Oracle, though I’d still not personally touch them, but I can see the reasoning why they were. As you mention, Coldlight Oracle tends to be very unfun with very disparate winrates depending on what matchup it queues into. However, Hearthstone was suffering from a Cubelock infestation, so honestly, I personally welcome as many Ice Block/Coldlight decks as I can to keep them in check. Now that it’s moved on to straight Paladins and Priests, it seems like an almost non-issue.

          I only disagreed with your original comment when you said Blizzard’s been good at balancing. Blizzard’s been TERRIBLE at balancing. You may be correct–I’d have to comb through data, which I can’t be bothered to do, so I will assume you are, although Trogg/Totem Golem shaman comes to mind as a counterpoint–that at least archetypes don’t tend to dominate for years at a time. However, one glaring issue that still permeates is that there are always certain archetypes that are WAY too dominant in any given meta, at near 55-60% winrate when the next highest is sitting at around 52%, and that this has been the case for the last year as far as I can remember. Furthermore, Blizzard has never stepped in to do anything about it. When Patches and Creeper were nerfed, you can even see many players stating their surprise, because even these cards were clearly overtuned and led to extremely unfun games for months, even years at a time in Patches’ case, Blizzard has been unwilling to do anything about it except wait until they rotate out and shove them in with their ugly Wild counterparts. Furthermore, when they do decide to take action, it generally involves very questionable decisions, like nerfing Hex to 4 mana, which has routinely become a meme amongst the community. All these problems combined means that playing Legend ladder just involves 80% of mirror matches of people just blindly slamming whatever available cards they have, because that’s the order their deck drew in, and then 15% of people queueing the straight counter to that deck, 5% queueing the counter to those, etc, etc. It’s extremely unfun and feels like you’re making no actual decisions, and Blizzard’s routinely shown that they don’t care.

          It’s great that you’re having fun. I had a blast when I first started playing and there were no alternatives on the market. But, amongst the community, pro players, streamers, and evidently, this article and some of its commenters, we all form a small consensus that Hearthstone is… not exactly the greatest design or balance-wise, that you may eventually run into some problems yourself.

  16. hlampert says:

    Registered to explicitly join the chorus on Eternal. While the name is not particularly clever it is by far the best implementation digital play-counter-play, where the play/response interactions and board state are kept from getting out of hand. Anyone who has played a run-away game of Magic Online can attest to how patience testing this can be, and Hearthstone has zero play/response mechanics; you can’t do ANYTHING on the opponents turn.

    Eternal has a great play balance, an interesting world lore, and is generous in it’s F2P progression. The larger 75 card required deck size power/faction distribution means that actually thinking about how a deck is constructed to promote it’s power progression and achievement of it’s win condition is as important as the strategy to be used while it is being played, and that is refreshing as well.

    There is an active player base, regular special events, and several fun solo-play variations available. Hard to see how it wasn’t even mentioned.