Hearthstone beta: The wait is over!

So, I was supposed to spend this weekend getting my 5.4 resto druid healing guide together. However, much to my surprise, Hearthstone’s beta launched and I got a day-one beta key. That means I spent my entire weekend just playing Hearthstone and doing almost nothing else. I plan to have a healing guide update ready to go before it launches. With the major changes to the resto playstyle, however, it may take some time before we really know the full impacts of all the changes for resto druids.

HS3

For hearthstone, there are currently three types of play you can do after you finish a short (~5 quest) introduction. Here is some basic advice for getting started in each of the three modes:

Practice makes perfect

The “practice” mode  is a PVE mode where you play versus the computer-generated opponent. You start with a mage class, and you can use practice mode to unlock other classes, as well as level up through level 10 to unlock all your standard cards. It is recommended that you play with the basic decks until you have unlocked the standard class cards, since custom decks won’t have the right balance for this until you unlock more cards. You get experience with the class you are playing even if you lose the match. Defeating the standard druid deck in practice mode proved much less challenging than defeating the standard warlock deck (that can quickly overwhelm you). Thus, for starting out, it can be really confusing to know which class you should be fighting against for leveling up, and I spent a lot of time losing for the first ~6 hours I was playing around in practice mode. It does, however, get easier to beat practice modes once you understand the mechanics and have enough good cards to make custom decks.

Play to improve your skills

The “Play” mode is a PVP mode where you fight other players. This is a great place to complete your daily quests, which don’t necessarily require you to win the battles (e.g., today’s daily quest was to kill 40 of the minion/pets that players had). Outside of doing the daily quests, you want to get together a strong custom deck before you try “play” mode, especially when you try rated games. The basic decks don’t really stand much of a chance compared to people’s expert custom decks. There is an unrated and a rated mode, though at this point, you don’t really get a lot of rewards for defeating people in either rated or unrated games. So, this is good for improving your skill and leveling your classes (past level 10) once the practice mode stops feeling rewarding.

Pay to fight in the Arena

After you unlock all 10 classes, you can enter the Arena mode (a PVP mode where you choose one of three classes, create a temporary deck in the Arena mode, and play versus other players). However, if you had been focusing just on one class in practice and play mode, the arena will prove to be a difficult challenge, since you only get to pick from 3 (and not all 10) classes. I made the mistake of trying to make a warrior deck in arena mode without ever playing it in practice mode and I lost quite horribly on my first game (then I had to go back to practice and figure out how to actually play the class). You should save your gold for playing Arena mode instead of using gold to directly buy packs in the store, but wait to play arena mode until you have a good understanding of how to play most of the classes. At the 150 gold cost per arena play (where you get to play until you lose a total of 3 times), and taking up to 4 days worth of daily quests to enter again, there is absolutely no hurry to get into arena mode if you are new to card games.

Overall Impressions
While this game is fun and I spent the entire weekend playing, winning the games outside of arena mode does not feel rewarding at all. Gaining only one gold per win in “play” mode (regardless of being either rated or unrated) means that you would have to win 150 games to enter the arena (at a 50% win rate, it would take 300 play games at 15 mins a pop). At that rate, getting no gold would at least feel less insulting. Thus, at 40 gold per daily quest (and one daily quest per day), there is little incentive to keep playing long-term (other than to do your daily quest and arena).

In addition, as a new player, the jump from the short intro quests into the practice mode felt like jumping off a cliff. It took a long time to really get a good feel for the practice mode, and I felt like losing gave me the same level of reward as winning, so I mostly just bashed my face at things for experience and felt pretty disconnected. I feel like there should be a “newbie” mode at the start of practice mode that limits you to unlocking maybe 2 other classes but provides a longer tutorial for WOW players jumping into their first card game (maybe something that expert gamers could skip and go straight into the current content).

     For a beta, however, this game is fabulous. I am really having a lot of fun, and my worries about rewards for winning “play” mode and training for new players are rather minor problems overall. I haven’t yelled so much at my computer and gotten so absorbed by a game like this in a really long time. Once this game has the finishing polish, I think it is something

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4 Comments

  1. Jeff34
    Posted August 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Sounds awesome. Im an old WOWer and MTG player so hopefully I will get a crack at the beta. Good review!

  2. Arisolo
    Posted August 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Great Post and a good summary of how the reward system might need to be tweaked! I’m just a little miffed at the title of the post. The wait is over, If you happen to be a streamer, a forum mvp, or know somebody somewhere. Otherwise, the wait just got more difficult. If I ever do get in, I plan on playing a druid. I think the choose one set ability looks strong. I’m just a little worried that because unlike magic the gathering, it is impossible to get mana screwed, slow play decks will end up being stronger than fast play decks.

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      The title was fitting because I just posted a “waiting” article last week right before the announcement. They should be pretty fast to get more people in. There are still a lot of fan site people and MVPs who aren’t in yet. They started with a very small batch, but it is still my responsibility to post about my experiences (both positive and negative – because the negative can still get fixed).

  3. Newsom
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I’m slighly jealous. :D