This article is not about microtransactions (that is, buying virtual products with small payments) within the game of Hearthstone. It is, in fact, an article about micro transactions; specifically, it’s about how the various characters from Hearthstone would react to the initiation of transactions involving very small amounts of money, according to me and my mate Trevar. Micro transactions in the real world are situations we all face every day. As such, this article is educational, and so much more important than if it were about microtransactions. Anyway, here we go:
Scenario: It’s a dreary February afternoon in a hospital car park. Yet again, you’re a pound short for the meter. Rexxar is walking briskly past with his bow and arrow, and you find yourself blurting a request for help. You’re on crutches, so surely he’ll be sympathetic.
Likely outcome: Rexxar looks at you with sudden curiosity. Immediately, it becomes apparent that he cares neither for you, nor for parking meters, nor for the whole law of man. In fact, you’re not even certain he knows what a parking meter is. As the wind rattles the dead leaves across the tarmac, you realise that the hour is late, and that you might die. This was a mistake. But after a short but unnerving pause, Rexxar evidently decides you are beneath him, and rushes off to befriend an echidna or some other monster, without saying a word. What was he doing in a car park? Why did you approach him? It does not matter: you are just happy to be alive.
Scenario: You want Gul’dan to help you out by changing two fifty pence coins for a pound so you can get a trolley at Sainsbury’s. You’ve seen him here before and he didn’t annihilate anyone, but you’re still wary.
Likely outcome: Gul’dan stares into your eyes with a dark hint of a smile, and speaks. “Yes,” he ruminates, “let’s turn two… into one”. You want to renege on the deal at this point, but it is too late. With a flicker of green light, Gul’dan is gone, and a single pound coin is in your palm, crackling with strange energies. The encounter chills you, and you never forget it. Three years later your marriage breaks down, and as you sit alone in your rat-haunted bedsit, you curse that afternoon at Sainsbury’s. Finally, you know what Gul’Dan must have meant. Your partner left, and two became one – he’s only bloody Reverse Spice Girled you. Damn that warlock! But Gul’dan never meant that at all. He was just trying to be friendly. Gul’dan’s alright.
Scenario: Knowing he fancies himself as a bit cash savvy, you offer Uther the opportunity to invest £3.50 for a 10% stake in a management consultancy venture, which you’ve made up on the spot.
Likely outcome: Uther doesn’t even realise you’re taking the piss. He makes a theatrical “hmm” noise, clearly revelling in this minor power, and steeples his fingers with a quiet clank. Clearly, he wants to savour every moment. As he narrows his eyes and starts asking incredibly detailed questions about your business model (each accompanied by a wily smirk and a questing index finger) you realise he’s living out a fantasy that’s been building over a decade of watching Dragon’s Den. You don’t know what’s worse: that he took you seriously, or that he seems to reckon he’s on to a good deal. Regardless, after fifteen minutes of long-winded interrogation, you’re deeply regretful of ever asking the question. But there’s no turning back now: Uther’s withdrawn a folder labelled ‘due diligence’, and looks like he has no interest in stopping.
Scenario: You’re trying to buy £4.35 worth of snacks at a corner shop (A Rustlers cheeseburger, some McCoys, a Ribena and a mint Aero) but you’ve only got £3.50 in cash and the minimum card transaction if £5. Valeera is behind you in the queue.
Likely outcome: You turn around sheepishly and ask if you can borrow 85p. Valeera doesn’t reply. She looks furious, or maybe it’s just her eyebrows – it’s hard to tell. Either way, she’s got a stabber out, so you immediately apologise. “Of course not, of course not. Sorry. What I meant was: perhaps I can pay for one of your items to make the total up to £5. No sense in the extra going completely to waste, is there? These bloody minimum transactions. Wasn’t it easier when we all just used cash…”. You’ve started babbling in fear. Won’t Valeera just say something, and put an end to this? She says nothing – just strides to the counter and points to a bottle of needlessly expensive brandy. It’s seventy quid, but you panic-buy it for her. On the walk home, you realise you could have avoided the whole ordeal by grabbing an extra twix.
Scenario: You are running a charity raffle for a cause that you’ve previously heard Anduin loudly advocating for. When you bump into him in town, you ask him if he’d like to buy a ticket for £4, or maybe three for £10.
Likely outcome: Anduin has no cash on him “at present”, although he makes a big show of checking his robes because he “swore on the light he had a tenner”. After that, he begins what threatens to be a long, rambling sob story about how his card was declined after an administrative error at Barclays. However, somewhere along the way, Anduin’s patter shifts gears, and before you know it, he’s telling you all about the new folk EP he’s done with Malfurion Stormrage, and how it would be “super awesome” if you could make the launch party on Saturday 15th. Somewhat fazed, you say that’d be cool, and that you’ll check your diary. And that’s that: you’re left trying to open your calendar app, while Anduin gives you a brisk half-hug and a “see you later”, then scarpers round the corner. He’s done it again.
Scenario: Friday night: you’re at the pub with workmates, three pints into what’ll probably be a four pint session. Suddenly, Thrall is in your peripheral vision, politely but firmly asking if he can buy the last half of your pint. He’s offering a pound. The maths doesn’t stack up, but the coin is already in his massive green bin lid of a hand, and he’s making steady eye contact.
Likely outcome: You give Thrall the drink to avoid a confrontation, and trudge back to the bar to buy another pint for yourself (for £5.40). When you see him at a mate’s place the next week, he rushes right over and apologises profusely. “Sorry about last Friday – I was so baked. Did I… steal a pint from you?”. You tell him it was no big deal, but he’s insisting on paying you back and won’t take no for an answer. Alas, he has no cash on him then and there, but you can have a copy of his new album. It’s a kind of slow-burn psychedelic, trip-hop set that really stretches the definition of music, apparently. You can skip track seven though: Anduin turned up wanting to sing and couldn’t be dissuaded. The next afternoon, you decide to put the album on for a laugh, but the CD is blank.
Scenario: You and your good pal Malfurion Stormrage have planned a trip to see Aquaman at the cinema. It’s not really your thing but Malfurion reckons it “looks druidy”, so you’ve booked two seats. On your way to the cinema, Malfurion texts to cancel with no explanation, saying he “hopes someone else will take the ticket.”
Likely Outcome: Of course, it’s far too late to find someone to take the ticket, so you watch Aquaman alone, and out of pocket to the tune of £8.75. The film is OK. You text Malfurion the next morning to tell him no one took the ticket, hoping he’ll get the hint and offer to pay you back. But he doesn’t even say sorry – he just asks him how you found the film. Sighing, you text him the vaguest possible review of Aquaman, to which Malfurion responds “DUDE, SPOILERSSS!!!”. You do not reply.
Scenario: It’s 10pm at Euston station. You’ve got to board a train to Birmingham in six minutes, but you’ve had a few pints and you’re utterly desperate for a piss. There’s no way you want to jostle for the urine-sprinkled toilet on board the train, so it’s gonna have to be the station loo, and those stupid little turnstiles that won’t let you pass unless you pay exactly thirty pence. You’ve got no change. And the only other passenger in sight is Garrosh, malevolently labouring his way through a big bag of tins.
Likely outcome: “‘Scuse me, mate”, you say, and even through your six-pint haze, you’re aware you’ve struck a falsely masculine and familiar tone in a vain attempt to impress this hulking creature. Before you can feel too embarrassed, however, you have Garrosh’s full attention, and the situation is teetering on a knife’s edge. You cut right to the case. “I’m busting for a wee but I don’t have the change for the turn-”. You get no further, however, as Garrosh picks you up and hurls you over the turnstile, like a monstrous Alexander punching the Gordian knot to bits. What a decent bloke, in a way. When the booze wears off you head to hospital, where an x-ray reveals you have four broken ribs.
Scenario: You bump unexpectedly into Jaina while leaving Primark, and stop for an awkward chat that neither of you really wants to have. The situation becomes worse when you hear one of Anduin and Malfurion’s folk dirges ringing through the air from further down the high street. They are busking.
Likely Outcome: Jaina, her abdominal muscles bulging, drags you away to listen to their dreadful performance. When the song finishes, Anduin raises his eyebrows and glances towards a battered guitar case, containing crude forgeries of twenty pound notes which he has clearly put there to encourage large contributions. Classic Anduin, on the beg again. Nevertheless, you fish in your pocket for a couple of silvers to help him save face (even though you know his priest’s salary is way more than yours), and assume Jaina will do the same. But she hasn’t. She’s not even there. She wandered off during the song, leaving you to make small talk with someone else.