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Hearthstone Beta Patch Notes

All Hearthstone progress was wiped last Wednesday, and we are now Live for all intents and purposes; no further wipes are planned between now and (eventual) release. In addition to that news, a number of careful changes have been made to cards across the game. Perhaps too careful.

The full patch notes can be read here. Some examples:

  • Gold gained in Play mode has changed from 5 gold per 5 wins to 10 gold per 3 wins.
  • Arena rewards now give less dust and more cards.
  • More gold is guaranteed at 5 & 6 Arena wins.
  • At 9 Arena wins, you are now guaranteed an extra pack or a Golden card.
  • Pint-sized Summoner – The cost reduction has been reduced from 2 to 1.
  • Wrath can no longer be cast on heroes.
  • etc

There are a few surprising changes in there. Going from 5g for 5 wins to 10g for 3 wins is rather huge. As in, “literally a 33% increase in gold” huge. While I still doubt grinding out an entire Arena Pass in a single day is particularly viable (or sane), it will likely allow you to get a free Arena after every three days of dailies instead of four without too much extra grinding. We’re talking six extra games on average across three days instead of, you know, fifty. Plus, the Arena rewards are supposedly better, with less dust and more goodies.

The card-specific buffs/nerfs run the gamut of expected to boggling. Pint-Sized Summoner got nerfed down to (1)-crystal cost reduction from (2), Defias Ringleader is no longer inexplicably a 2/3 creature, and so on. Druid cards got an unexpected nerf, with many of their otherwise-too-versatile direct damage spells being unable to hit players any more. Rogues can no longer pump up weapon with their hero power, which probably has more long-reaching consequences than appears at first.

Then again, maybe not.

See, when I was browsing for more commentary on the patch changes, I ended up finding what lies at the bottom of the rabbit hole. Take a look at these Youtube “reviews” for some of the top Hearthstone decks, if you dare: Miracle Rogue, Divine Paladin, Pyro-Smith Warrior. Now, it’s possible that the Miracle Rogue deck was disrupted a bit by the patch, but the point is that that is what the game can be boiled down to. And that, quite frankly, scares me.

I have no illusions regarding my own competence level or willingness to compete on some higher level. Winning is great, but I would much rather win as a result of a deck I created than copy & paste a top-tier deck and harvest some tears. The feeling might be a holdover from my Magic: the Gathering days where I had an absolute advantage over my high school friends because I was willing to eBay cards; where was the fun in burying your opponents (who are also, you know, your friends) under piles of money? Skill in the form of tactical moves to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or building decks that create esoteric, but functional combos is way more interesting to me.

These are the “Good Fights” that people like Gevlon despise, but at the end of the day, all you keep from your hours and hours spent playing videogames are memories. Will you remember winning those hundreds of games on Turn 5 against opponents who had no chance to survive make your time? Or will you remember the egde-of-your-seat victories and when you created an off-beat deck/strategy that actually worked in opposition to all logic and reason?

If you aren’t shooting the moon, you’re just killing time.

Shooting the Moon

As you may have heard, the companies behind Kingdoms of Amalur and the followup MMO are basically out of business. While I am sensitive to the dangers of schadenfreude, and loath to quote the same guy twice in three days, there was something about Keen’s final good-luck paragraph that struck me oddly:

[…] Following games closely and being so excited for something, just to have it shut down at a moment’s notice, is the hardest part of being such eager gaming enthusiasts.  Such potential for something fresh or new is destroyed, but we’ll continue to see a new Call of Duty game released every year and a horrible MMO will see the light of day simply because it has a huge publisher.  So frustrating.

Kotaku is reporting that 38 Studios only would have been saved if Amalur sold 3 million copies.

Let that sink in. Three million copies or bust. Depending on who you ask, Amalur sold between 400k and 1 million.

I dunno, I am of two minds on the implicit lament in Keen’s quote. I do consider it a serious problem that the barrier to entry for RPGs (and games in general) has gotten so high as to choke out all but the biggest studios. Remember the thousands of garbage NES games on the shelves back in the early 90s? Most were bad, but at least it appeared as though someone with a good game concept had a realistic chance of getting their cartridge on store shelves.

On the other hand? I feel like it is a bit unrealistic. It is easy to hate on Call of Duty when a “new” one is pumped out every year… but Black Ops sold 25 million copies. MW3 made $1 billion in 16 days, and that was seven months ago; god only knows how much it’s up to now.

Desiring fresh and new things is fine, but it’s code for “I’m not getting catered to.” At some point, you have to ask “Who can afford to cater to me?” If Amalur’s direction was your thing, good for you, but the market clearly couldn’t support it. So… Curt Schilling should have settled for less, designing a less expensive game with a lower break-even point. But would any of us have been satisfied with that? Would you be fine playing an indie-level MMO or other game? Would you be willing to lower your (obviously high) standards to meet the developers making the actual games you’re talking about?

I am probably not coming across very clear; in fact, if any of that makes sense to you, let me know, because it kinda doesn’t make sense to me. It is just that whenever I see a lament about how a “horrible MMO will see the light of day” as compared to presumably a good one on the cutting-room floor, I cannot help but shake the “Whose fault is that?” retort. The publisher? The fans? Or our own unreasonable expectations?

Whatever the case, I always a respect for those who attempt to shoot the moon. Win or lose, you always leave with a story – which is more than most.