Hearthstone's Goblins vs Gnomes Expansion Embraces Randomness

Hearthstone's Goblins vs Gnomes Expansion Embraces Randomness

The Hearthstone team doesn't think that random is bad, and the first expansion, Goblins vs Gnomes establishes this fact.

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"Deathrattle: Summon a Random Legendary Minion"

Man, if that also triggers Battle-crys of the Legendary, then that card is going to be fucking nuts.

Mega windfury!?

That is... wow!

Can that be added to other cards? like a card that gives windfury to a minion with windfury.

Encaen:
The Hearthstone team doesn't think that random is bad....

...which is not a view shared by many people who embrace the competitive scene. You know how in-control they like to think they are.

Diablo1099:
"Deathrattle: Summon a Random Legendary Minion"

Man, if that also triggers Battle-crys of the Legendary, then that card is going to be fucking nuts.

And if you combine it with Kel'Thuzad, things would get fucking crazy real fast. And bullshity.

Most of these cards look really fun and interesting, and will probably change the game up to a substantial degree, which the game desperately needs. I can't wait to play with explosive sheep or Mekgineer Thermaplugg.

However, V-07-TR-0N is the most blatantly overpowered card in the game. For only 8 mana, without any other cards, he can do 16 damage from a completely empty board (remember that Pyroblast only does 10 damage, and that costs 10 mana). Add Abusive Sergeant, Inner Rage, Rockbiter Weapon, Cold Blood, or Power Overwhelming and we're talking 24-32 damage in a single turn using only two cards. Blizzard has consistently said they don't want 1 turn kill decks, and then they design a card like this? I'm more baffled than anything.

Edit: nevermind, I just realized that he requires very specific circumstances to actually summon. Completely disregard my post.

Some random effects are much, much worse than others. Something like Animal Companion is okay, since the size and the direction of the effect is set even if the particulars are not: you might not know whether you'll get Misha, Leokk or Huffer, but you know you'll be getting a random 4 mana creature for 3 mana, with the 1 mana discount being paid for by the randomness. Cards like Mindgames or Madder Bomber aren't like that: Mindgames can give you anything from a 1/1 to a 12/12 for your 4 mana, which makes it much easier for one player or the other to lose the game just because the RNG screwed them over.

Diablo1099:
"Deathrattle: Summon a Random Legendary Minion"

Man, if that also triggers Battle-crys of the Legendary, then that card is going to be fucking nuts.

It wont.

A battlecry is something that triggers when you summon the card from your hand. There are no exceptions to this.

The card is still really good because the vast majority of legendaries are very high cost and chances are you're going to get an - admittedly mediocre - 5+ drop.

It honestly seems ridiculously overpowered. The vast majority of legendaries are mediocre late game. Getting mediocre late game for 2 mana is fucking great.

I predict most of those cards will be used exactly as much as the random-effect cards are being used at the moment.

My big question in response to this:

WHY?

In what possible universe is making the game more random a good thing!? The competitive scene is already eye-rolling to watch as the common best of 5 (and even best of 7) format is too low a sample to truly say the better player won, and now they're trying to make it worse?

And that's just the spectator aspect, I'm already cringing at the thought of encountering this:

Woo admits that those players who want to avoid random elements - these players already play highly consistent decks - will have no choice but to adapt to other players who do adopt cards from the highly-random expansion

Yeah because why let little things like carefully-built advantages during the game decide the outcome?

One of two things is going to happen here

1) The random cards are too inconsistent or inconsequential to be worth a slot, and will land in the 'unplayable' heap.

2) The random cards are so powerful they have to be used as a necessity, and you can kiss fun goodbye as none of your decisions matter.

Encaen:
Five mana for a 5/5 creature with a Battlecry to add four health to another Mech minion you control is a little bit nuts.

Not really. We already have a 6 mana 6/6 creature that adds three health to any minion. So you have 5 mana to add 5/9 to the board, or 6 mana to add 6/9. Slightly better value in raw numbers, but with an extra restriction on how it can be applied.

MoltenSilver:
My big question in response to this:

WHY?

In what possible universe is making the game more random a good thing!? The competitive scene is already eye-rolling to watch as the common best of 5 (and even best of 7) format is too low a sample to truly say the better player won, and now they're trying to make it worse?

And that's just the spectator aspect

It's a good thing in a universe where most people are not competitive power gamers or people who watch them. Coincidentally, that's a good description of this universe. The vast majority of Hearthstone players don't give a flying fuck about the tiny minority of people who fight it out for the top ranks and play in tournaments. Most of us just play for a bit of fun, and most of the more entertaining moments do not occur when everything goes perfectly according to a carefully spreadsheeted plan, but when more unpredictable things happen.

Consider this - why do so many games use dice? It's not because everyone hates randomness.

Kahani:

It's a good thing in a universe where most people are not competitive power gamers or people who watch them. Coincidentally, that's a good description of this universe. The vast majority of Hearthstone players don't give a flying fuck about the tiny minority of people who fight it out for the top ranks and play in tournaments. Most of us just play for a bit of fun, and most of the more entertaining moments do not occur when everything goes perfectly according to a carefully spreadsheeted plan, but when more unpredictable things happen.

Consider this - why do so many games use dice? It's not because everyone hates randomness.

There's a difference between randomness causing tension and randomness dominating the game. When the balance tips too much, which this expansion may very well do, the the importance of decisions goes completely out the window. Why even play if no decision you make matters. Blizzard isn't a novice designer, they obviously know it as well (The entire reason Freeze mage got nerfed much harder than many other overplayed decks was because it rendered the decisions of the other player largely meaningless), which is why I'm confused by them trying to push the game farther in the 'decisions don't matter' direction.

MoltenSilver:
There's a difference between randomness causing tension and randomness dominating the game. When the balance tips too much, which this expansion may very well do, the the importance of decisions goes completely out the window.

Sure. But there's a big difference between "there's a balance needed between randomness and skill" and "Oh god the sky is falling because a couple of new cards out of 150 have a bit of randomness". You asked in what universe adding more randomness is a good thing. The answer is very simply a universe in which the majority of players would enjoy the game with more randomness than it currently has. You have apparently decided that the current balance is perfect and any additional randomness must be a bad thing. Blizzard disagrees. As you say,Blizzard are not novice designers, and I'd say they easily have one of the best track records of successfully producing balanced games. Which is why I'm confused by all the complaints by people who have absolutely no idea what Blizzard are actually doing.

Why even play if no decision you make matters.

Why is Snakes and Ladders (snakes replaced by chutes in the US version for no apparent reason) one of the oldest and still best known board games ever? That's a game that allows no decisions of any kind to be made, yet it remains very popular. Why do people play Monopoly, a game which is effectively as random as Snakes and Ladders despite giving some illusion of choice? And of course, all card games include a huge element of chance; even poker, possibly the card game requiring the most skill, is still highly chance dependent. Far more people play games like that than play Chess and Go, in which randomness is not a factor at all. Obviously an awful lot of people do like having a large element of randomness in their games, even to the point of the entire thing being purely random.

In any case, that's pretty much irrelevant here because the idea that adding a few more random cards to Hearthstone will somehow mean that no decision you make matters at all obviously has absolutely no basis in reality.

Edit: I should note that I absolutely hate games like that; I don't even consider Snakes and Ladders to be a game at all since the players serve no purpose other than to physically move the pieces. Sitting down and watching a robot move them around automatically would involve exactly the same amount of play. However, my opinion isn't relevant when the question deals with large populations, and the fact of the matter is that a lot of people do enjoy that. For a company wanting their game to have as wide appeal as possible, that's what matters. If Hearthstone does become too random for me, I will stop playing. And as long as more than one person joins in replacement, Blizzard won't care in the slightest. Either way, I see little point in complaining about what might happen based on seeing a tiny fraction of the actual additions to the game.

Having said all that, I've just noticed that Blizzard have already said exactly the same, even using the same examples:
eu.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/16421344
(don't know why that doesn't work as a link, but it should be fine with c&p)
So while people may disagree on exactly where the ideal balance is, it's pretty clear that Blizzard do know what they're doing and aren't just throwing random cards together for the hell of it.

My problem isn't with adding a few random-based cards in itself (unless those cards are auto-include powerful, but that goes for anything auto-include powerful obviously), my problem is with making their open mission statement that randomness is their goal. I actually don't think the game is balanced (And while Blizzard is experienced as a developer, they obviously aren't perfect or nerfs and buffs wouldn't be a thing), I think it's already too far to the random tilt; every single game I win with Ragnaros hitting just the right target against the odds, or because Ysera handed me a 1-in-5 Ysera Awakens, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as is because I didn't earn those wins, but they provide utility that can't be found in other cards so in the deck they go along with a bunch of prayers to RNGesus, because the alternative is giving up playing a number of deck archetypes altogether without their power.

Note: I will admit to a tad of obvious bias here; obviously cases like Ysera and Ragnaros just -seem- the most impactful because they're the ones that end the game, but my point was to demonstrate why I feel strongly about this: because it can render winning as unsatisfactory as defeat.

Why is Snakes and Ladders (snakes replaced by chutes in the US version for no apparent reason) one of the oldest and still best known board games ever? That's a game that allows no decisions of any kind to be made, yet it remains very popular.

I don't mind those games existing, I don't mind people playing and enjoying them, but I'm invested in Hearthstone and of course I'm dismayed to see the devs eagerly speak of shoving it in a direction I don't agree with. And as we haven't seen the full execution yet the only thing we do have to go on is what the devs say their goal is.

I also wouldn't say I'm at 'the sky is falling' level panic yet, and I'm certainly not going to whine about how I'm taking my ball and going home and Blizzard will be sorry when they don't get my meager pocket change wah wah wah before I even see the metagame shift around these cards; that's the whole reason I included my alternate guess in my first post that the new cards might just sink to the bottom of the usage pool and nothing will come of it. My alarm is at the statement itself that their goal is to emphasize randomness.

Kahani:
It's a good thing in a universe where most people are not competitive power gamers or people who watch them. Coincidentally, that's a good description of this universe.

Is it a good description of the people who play Hearthstone? Because the F2P mechanics certainly encourage a win-at-all-costs mindset: if you don't win games you don't earn gold from most dailies and you don't earn gold for winning games, and if you don't earn gold you're not allowed to play Arena or open packs.

Grumman:
Is it a good description of the people who play Hearthstone? Because the F2P mechanics certainly encourage a win-at-all-costs mindset: if you don't win games you don't earn gold from most dailies and you don't earn gold for winning games, and if you don't earn gold you're not allowed to play Arena or open packs.

Absolutely. The way quests work encourage casual play much more than anything else. The lowest paying quests give 40 gold for winning two games; the same as you'd get from winning 12 games with no quest involved. And many quests don't even require you to win in order to get paid. Due to the ranking system even a bad player should be expected to win 50% of their games since they'll be matched against similarly bad players, so the maximum useful gold earning can easily be managed with half an hour or so of casual play with no real pressure to win. If you don't win one game, you'll probably win the next, and it won't take very long either way. Anyone wanting more gold than that is simply going to buy it, because earning it requires a huge jump in commitment to the game when you only get 10 gold for every three wins.

So the F2P mechanics don't encourage a win-at-all-costs mindset at all, but rather the exact opposite. Casual players can easily get their gold through casual play without needing to worry about losing a few games, while more serious players will simply pay so they can focus on winning rather than having to waste their time grinding for tiny amounts of gold.

MoltenSilver:
...snip...

Fair enough. I don't think we really disagree on anything substantial, just on exactly where the best balance of randomness vs. skill actually lies.

 

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