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The PA Report - Hearthstone is pay-to-win, and we’re actually totally cool with that



  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    @DARK JAGUAR I'm not particularly happy about boosters either, but Blizzard seems to have come up with a fair compromise between making so much money that they can wipe their butt with $100 bills, and being fair. You can only have 2 copies of any given card, (except legendaries which are limited to 1 copy) and about half the cards in the game are basic cards that are given free for unlocking the classes. So of the 1/2 of the cards in the game that you need to obtain via booster packs, you only need a maximum of 2 copies and if you get more than 2 copies (or you get a gold foil version) you can disenchant them for dust which can be used to directly craft the cards that you want. So you won't have to spend endless dollars chasing the RNG for a specific card you want. At some point you'll have every card in the game until they launch an expansion. That excludes the gold foil cards though. Those are just vanity. If you want to chase vanity, go for it. But I won't shed any tears over your bank account.

  • Therac-25Therac-25 Registered User regular
    edited September 2013

    This was the only one I remember. I haven't tried any of the newer ones.

    Therac-25 on
  • MygafferMygaffer Registered User regular
    If I was to play a digital collectible card game today I do believe it would be Hearthstone. I used to play Magic the Gathering when I was in school back in the late 90's, and I am over it. I still have a whole satchel full of my old cards at my parent's house.

  • MygafferMygaffer Registered User regular
    @mpureka Except you can play the game for free. The game supposedly has a matchmaking system so even if you don't spend one red cent you won't find yourself losing a bunch of games unless you are just a poor player.
    Once you take the paying for more cards out of the equation you are left with a fun game.

  • TiberiusEsuriensTiberiusEsuriens Registered User regular
    Blizz had heard a crazy large amount of feedback from people saying it's too slow to get in game currency for packs. It's all but guaranteed they'll speed it up, but by how much/little isn't known.

    Also with the Tyrion Legendary example, there is nothing stopping a mage or shaman from polymorphing him into a 1/1 sheep or hexing into a 0/1 frog. There is also no dispel, so that change is permanent. I agree about the class grinding. Some of the best class-specific cards are found simply by playing a favorite class most often. Those core cards cannot be unlocked with money, just experience. If there was a situation where one player played more while another less but spent money, they technically would have an even but unequal playing field. To WORM's point as well, legendaries cost so much to put on the board that if you had more than 1 or 2 in your deck you would have so few early game cards that you'd lose before you could play them.

    About legendaries in general, not all of them are even good. Looking at the dragon aspects, they all have really weird powers, but not necessarily good. Nozdormu, the aspect of time, shortens player turn time from 90 seconds to 15. That screws both you AND the opponent over, assuming that you will catch him off guard enough that he screws up. The corrupted aspects are even worse: Deathwing kills EVERYTHING when summoned and gravely injures BOTH players. That means if the opponent has been holding on to a damage spell they could easily win the game. Generic legendaries are in the game to spice things up, but are often [very/too] situational. There is 1 class specific legendary for each hero that is actually good,Tyrion Fordring is the Paladin's. The mage's gives her unlimited cheap fire spells, the shaman's massive AoE damage, the druid's a full board of treants, etc...

  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    @TIBERIUSESURIENS Yes, a mage can sheep a legendry. A shaman can hex a legendary. A warrior can throw a 1/1 at him and then execute a legendary. A rogue can assassinate a legendary. A priest can mind control a legendary. A druid can naturalize a legendary. A hunter can hit it with a 1/1 then use explosive shot to kill a legendary. A paladin can use humility to change the legendary's attack power to 1. Warlocks have a little harder time since their cards for removing enemy minions are rares and above, but they still have options. (Like Twisting Neither which is a complete board wipe.) Of course, there are all kinds of easy ways to silence legendaries which turn them into just normal stompy minions.

    So any player who relies on using a legendary as a vital part of their strategy for winning, will find out rather quickly that they are in many ways as much of a liability as they are cool.

  • FandeathisFandeathis Registered User regular
    Hearing that you can only have one copy of a legendary in each deck, and 2 copies of any given card is a huge step up from being able to have 3 of every card (including legendaries) in SolForge. Most of my decks in that game are full playsets of 5 legendaries and 5 heroics, and people rage quit after seeing me play nothing but legendaries and heroics for 5 turns in a row. It seems like Hearthstone is doing it right.

    You fuck wit' Die Antwoord, you fuck wit' da army.
  • A_Wild_NeurobiologistA_Wild_Neurobiologist Registered User regular
    I just can't get into this game after playing Magic. The richness in the rules, abilities, artwork, and flavor text in MtGO is so clearly superior, I just can't have fun with Hearthstone. Not to mention drafting is incredibly lame in Hearthstone compared to Magic. What's the point if you aren't all competing for the same cards, often being forced to adapt your ideology for the draft while in a "pick one and pass the cards" format?

  • er910er910 Registered User regular
    I agree with Andrew and Gungan on this. It's a collectable card game where you pay money to collect cards. They were not hiding this fact when it was announced. I think being able to grind for free cards is great, but I plan on buying into this.

  • TiberiusEsuriensTiberiusEsuriens Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    I think Hearthstone is being groomed to work along side MTG, not overthrow it. While you refer to the MTG rules as 'rich' a lot of people use the terms 'bloated' or 'convoluted.' MTG is a fantastic game, but it is no longer for the feint of heart. If you haven't spent hundreds of hours playing and buying it is incredibly difficult to just jump in and play once every few days. Hearthstone is purposely simplified, based on the "easy to learn, hard to master" mantra. Not making judgements on whether it'll work, but that's the idea. Also, since there is no stack and no turn phases, in many ways there is a new depth of strategy as playing a single turn in the incorrect order can change the tide of the game. Again, not to say better or worse, just different.

    As for the drafting, I agree that traditional MTG drafts have a really cool element where everyone is taking cards from the same pool. While it is neat, I don't think this would really work in Hearthstone for two reasons. MTG drafts are a set of games in a given time frame. The cards are split evenly among the players, who must then immediately duke it out. The Hearthstone Arena lets you stop between games whenever you like and come back to the same deck, even months later if you really wanted. Sharing a draft pool here would put you in a situation where you can't anticipate the opponents' decks, and new opponents may have had a better drafting pool. That would suck. They could try to change it to traditional drafting rules, but it would still not work for the second reason: Hearthstone has hero classes, so sometimes the draft gives a choice between three cards specific to your class. This makes it impossible to for your opponent to also draft with that set.

    TiberiusEsuriens on
  • FandeathisFandeathis Registered User regular
    I will be the first to admit that I am too casual to play Magic. I prefer simpler card games like Flash Duel or Ascension. The most complex card game I play is Netrunner, but I would rather my card games be much more basic than that. I think this game is more targeted towards someone like me than a MTG champion player.

    You fuck wit' Die Antwoord, you fuck wit' da army.
  • LLJKCiceroLLJKCicero Registered User regular
    Hearthstone is great. I've dropped $20 on boosters because it's already given me a lot of entertainment. This is my first CCG and I'm currently ranked Diamond-3.

    Anyway you CAN get all the cards you need without spending any money. It would just take a really really long time (somewhat less time if you're very good, because then you can chain arenas forever for a booster pack every ten games or so).

    Really needs an observer mode, in-game chat*, and chat channels. I also wish you could go back to the tutorial, I want to let my (casual gamer) wife try and the tutorial was excellent.

    * opt-in so only people who want it would see anything, of course

  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    @LLJKCicero I don't know about the chat. Frankly I think the system that they have now is better because it acknowledges the fact that the internet is a cesspool of adolescent angst and hostility.

    I wouldn't mind if they offered a few more options to the chat and maybe if they set a GG button off to the side so that you can hit it. It limits the abuse that you are subjected to. If you force everyone into the same chat method (i.e. Clicking on predefined phrases) then everyone participates in it and it becomes more than just the sum of it's parts. If you make it optional then by default you have to opt in to the abuse just because there might be something worthwhile that you're missing if you don't. But ultimately you'll just turn it off again because some squeeker will be telling you in great deal about how he sexed your mom's anus last night.

  • TiberiusEsuriensTiberiusEsuriens Registered User regular
    There is a GG button of sorts already. When in game, you can bring up the main menu and there is "Concede" on top. When selected you lose the game and your character says good game or something similar. On the existing character bubbles there is also a "Well Played." Neither is actually saying GG but I'm totally fine with that. Having a dedicated GG button sounds like fitting to the mold strictly because other games do it, not because it adds any value to the product.

  • raykremerraykremer Registered User regular
    Online Collectible Card Game is pay-to-win? That's just being true to meatspace Collectible Card Games. Nobody pretends that Magic The Gathering or Pokemon CCG are Free to Play games.

  • LLJKCiceroLLJKCicero Registered User regular
    edited September 2013

    Opt-in chat seems like the best compromise to me. Right now I'm avoiding the flames and immaturity, sure, but I'm also avoiding the times when I had funny or even informative chats in games like Starcraft 2.

    "If you make it optional then by default you have to opt in to the abuse just because there might be something worthwhile that you're missing if you don't."

    What does that even mean? If you're worried about abuse, don't turn on the chat. If they're saying something worthwhile, well right now with the current system you'd miss that anyway because there's no way to talk to someone in-game, or even message them after the game. Of course you'd still be able to squelch people even with chat turned on, Blizzard always allows that.

    edit: also in my hypothetical dream system, the in-game chat for automatched games wouldn't even be available unless both players opted in. So if they had opted in and you hadn't, they'd only see the pre-selected chat bubbles, as it is now.

    LLJKCicero on
  • LLJKCiceroLLJKCicero Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    Like, the game right now is definitely very good. Addicting in the best way. But it also feels very anti-social; you can only chat with people on your friends list, period. No in-game chat, no public custom games, no chat channels, no observers. I don't think this bothers people right now because they're absorbed by the gameplay and relatively few people are in, but eventually people are going to want to hang out with others in chat channels and in customs and talk about the game the way gamers always do, and currently they just can't. It will eventually feel like a lonely game, like Starcraft 2 did before chat channels, except even more so.

    LLJKCicero on
  • TiberiusEsuriensTiberiusEsuriens Registered User regular
    I think general chat would fit the game pretty well. After all, it's supposed to take place in a tavern. I think leaving chat out of actual games is still a good thing. There is simply too much trolling/griefing that would happen. As said, there is a friends list and you can talk to them at any time. You can even challenge any friend to a duel at any time. What is missing is a way to easily meet and make new friends. General chat available when in the lobby (aka menus and deck building) would be an excellent way to facilitate custom games. If someone smack talks, block them. Otherwise, we have a quick and easy window into the player base, can discuss deck builds without the need for all the 3rd party forums, and can easily challenge other players. It would be so great to be able to say, "I have a feral druid deck and I want to test it against a spell power rogue" and then have another player just right click your post and 'challenge.' It would be just like WoW's fantastic chat, even with the ability to link cards.

    The team is kinda small, but chat is typically insanely easy to implement. I just hope they don't pull an SC2 and put it in two years after launch.

  • LLJKCiceroLLJKCicero Registered User regular
    "There is simply too much trolling/griefing that would happen."

    Why? If it's opt-in and you can easily squelch whoever you want, how would that happen?

    "The team is kinda small, but chat is typically insanely easy to implement. I just hope they don't pull an SC2 and put it in two years after launch."

    IIRC they put it in around December, after the game launched in July? Definitely didn't take two years.

  • TiberiusEsuriensTiberiusEsuriens Registered User regular
    I was referring to the easily findable general chat channels on the homepage. Those didn't get put in until much later.

  • rembrandtqeinsteinrembrandtqeinstein Registered User regular
    if the game is unlimited demo (free to play is a deceitful marketing term that people should stop using) then "pay to compete" is acceptable as long as the total amount paid to compete is "reasonable". my definition of reasonable is $50 and you have at least 90% of the rares/legends of a perfect deck for the top bracket, any more real money cost than that to compete is unacceptable gouging

  • TaboriHKTaboriHK Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    Everything looks reasonable when compared to Magic, which I learned very early in high school was a rich kid's game. That's like comparing yourself to a lunatic and going "see? I've never stabbed out MY own eyes!"

    Instead of calling this "Pay to Win," why don't we call it what it is, which is "Pay Or Don't Bother"?

    TaboriHK on
  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    @TaboriHK I don't think that it is "Pay or Don't Bother" you can make a very competitive deck without paying any money. And assuming that the match making works as intended, you would never be paired up against someone who will curb stomp you because they have more cards. But I guess we'll have to see.

    @LLJKCicero "What does that even mean?" I have to apologize in advance as I am hopped up on cold medicine, but I'll try to see if I can make sense. One assumes that if they allow voice or text chat that then the person using that will not be using the chat bubble buttons. Therefore if you have your chat disabled you will be presented with an opponent who is silent. Then the opportunity cost kicks in. Is the guy being silent because he's talking to me? Maybe I should turn on chat to see what he's saying? It would be rude to ignore someone like that right? Or maybe they have a little blinking gem that shows when they are talking or typing. So you turn on the chat and you are assaulted by racial slurs, sexual innuendos, and all around hostile speech. So you immediately click off chat again, and maybe you never turn it back on.

    From then on out every time you are presented with a silent opponent you automatically assume that they are talking about how your mom liked last night's encounter which continues to poison your feelings even more about the community that the game attracts. But maybe there is that one small altruistic part of your mind that keeps saying, maybe this time is different. Maybe this guy really wants to have a pleasant chat, just turn it on one more time.

    The result is as a player you now have a poorer view of the community of Hearthstone players and Blizzard as a company for having attracted such players. From Blizzard's perspective, what have they gained? Nothing and it is costing them time and money to try and police their playerbase. So, ultimately if they don't want to spend money policing their players, (and they don't) then it's best to see that they can't harass each other in the first place. I've already seen why they had to put the chat bubbles on cool down since some damn guy kept spamming the buttons the entire match just to be annoying, you can't tell me that guy isn't getting off on trying to make some other player's experience as negative as possible. I shudder to guess what he would do given access to a full chat system...

    wormspeaker on
  • dbrowdydbrowdy Registered User regular
    How are so many people playing this already? And why are people spending money on it when it's still in beta? Aren't you worried that they'll make some drastic change that will ruin the experience or, even worse, change the cards you've already purchased?

  • AidinthelAidinthel Registered User new member
    @DBROWDY I'm not in the beta, but I think the risk that the company would make some horrible drastic change to the game is just kind of part of modern gaming, especially where online games are concerned. Being in (a really very polished) beta doesn't make too much difference, IMO. And they're going to wipe all current cards at the end of the beta anyway (refunding any real-money purchases with store credit), so balance changes don't really matter.

  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    There's a price point where people with jobs just feel that the amount of enjoyment they have gotten from the game already is worth the money. It's not about being able to make use of the fruits of that money long-term (though that is part of it) it's more about paying some money because they already enjoyed the game. If after I get a hair cut I believe that the stylist did a good job, made the process enjoyable, and I like the results then I'm going to drop $5, $10, or $15 on them as a tip for the service. For the people who have been playing hours and hours of the game, giving Blizzard $10 or $15 is no big deal if they enjoyed themselves. I gave GGG $60 just a week before I stopped playing Path of Exiles simply because I enjoyed the game I had played even though I have had enough of it at the time. I paid them for their service to me, even though I didn't need to, because I appreciated what they did.

  • TaboriHKTaboriHK Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    @Workspeaker how many people do you know that will bash their head against the wall for two months to be competitive while saving money? That time is better spent on games you already own that don't frustrate you, if you're not going to spend money.

    TaboriHK on
  • TiberiusEsuriensTiberiusEsuriens Registered User regular
    Yup. I was watching a caster playing Hearthstone last week and in regards to the cash payments they mentioned that for the past several years they've had a budget of $100 per week for MTG Online. You or I may never do that, but some people get so excited and into it that they want to support it and keep it going for forever.

    Blizzard has mentioned that they built the game with the idea of adding other heroes, cards, playscapes, etc.. if the game does well, and guess what will determine that? Yup, $$$. They've even joked about adding in Starcraft/Diablo stuff if the game survives long enough, so now it's not just about paying to get cards now, but keeping the game alive to see new interesting stuff in the future.

  • akjakakjak Spooky GymRegistered User regular
    Can we stop saying "Full Stop"? It sounds dumb.

    3DS Friend Code: 3737-9749-7483
    Puzzle&Dragons: 399,873,301
  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    @TABORIHK It depend on if you actually hit the wall. From what I have seen of the game so far, there is no point where you are being matched against opponents that will dominate you because of the lack of cards you own. Now if you're the uber competitive type and want to be top ranked, then sure, you're no longer playing your opponents and now playing against the leaderboard. In that case maybe you can't get to that level of total domination that you need to be at in order to progress higher on the leaderboard. That might be a wall for some people.

  • TaboriHKTaboriHK Registered User regular
    @Wormspeaker I guess that's different, then. With Magic, the game should be called "I hope you like getting kicked in the teeth by the disposable income crowd"

  • The_MormegilThe_Mormegil Registered User regular
    I hate "free to play" games that don't give out meaningful rewards at a sustained enough rate. The business model is fine and dandy, but I really want satisfaction out of the game. I don't like having a goal, then either needing to pay or wait for AGES in order to get it. Multiple days for a single booster? I'll pass, tyvm. Not enough rewards make me feel bad for playing without paying, and that is not something I look for in a game.

  • csdxcsdx Registered User regular
    I don't mind paying a bunch for my magic cards because I own them. Which means two important things to me, 1) playing the game isn't dependent on some external company, I don't need servers to play, nor can I be banned and have my cards taken from me. 2) I'm allowed to buy and sell them as I please on the secondary market (nor do I have to go through a proprietary marketplace).
    Until any company offers similar benefits or protections, I see little reason to drop any significant money into virtual CCGs.

  • fortyforty Registered User regular
    Error in the article:

    "There are 10 classes, one of which is a “general” group of cards that can go in any deck, and only 5 cards per deck."

    It should read "and only 5 cards per pack."

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • HeadhunterHeadhunter Registered User regular
    Alright, I'm sold: signing up for the beta now, will give Hearthstone a try.

    I used to play in high school with a group of guys who often owned multiple Black Lotus cards as well as a selection of Mox cards, wonder if they eventually cashed in for the down payment on a house...

    "Perception is reality." -unknown
  • tacgnol06tacgnol06 Registered User regular
    It's a collectible card game. Of course it's pay-to-win. The lack of an ability to TRADE cards is what disappoints me.

  • AntaniAntani Registered User new member
    I competing in Diamond Ladder with a deck composed only of Basic Cards.

    Would it be easier with Expert Cards? Probably, but I'm fine like this.

  • AntaniAntani Registered User new member
    For Tahborik, I'm curently 3star Diamond (only a couple of wins before Master), and all I've spent on Hearthstone are a couple euros to buy 2 expert packs in order to get the Gelbin Mekkatorque Golden Legendary card (wich by the way sucks).

  • PizzaPokerGuyPizzaPokerGuy Registered User new member
    Let me start by saying, I'm 2 Star Masters and will probably hit 3 soon. The deck I've used to get there contains 0 epics and 0 legendaries. I do see how people can say that, but thats just the nature of card games. Should be pay to have a small advantage that slowly declines haha. Just my two cents. Please check out my stream on
    Btw, here is the deck if you like it please up vote it.

  • OneManAndHisDroidOneManAndHisDroid Registered User new member
    edited October 2013
    I got the beta a couple of days ago, and I have to say the F2P idea is what will kill it...
    It's super fun, super polished, plays amazingly well...
    I'd pay full retail price for it if it meant getting something worthwhile for playing...
    Everything revolves around gold. Gold to play arena, gold to buy boosters.
    Without paying the only way to get gold is via quests - and these are limited daily (2 a day I think) - and you may get 100 for the two quests if you're lucky...
    Bearing in mind a booster costs 100 gold and the arena is 150 to play...
    Once you've done the quests (they don't take long) - you get 10 gold for every 3 matches won...
    So that's 30 games WON = 1 booster pack...
    So not only are you restricted daily on quests, but really you're railroaded into really bad grinding for just a single booster pack...
    And it's such a shame, because this game ROCKS, I've been playing Scrolls too (very different but equally fun) and at least with that the gold earned, etc. is much fairer (you can usually get a good 2-3 cards per match won) and similarly with something like Solforge - at least there's sizeable rewards for continued play...
    But not here...
    I've got to unlock the rest of the classes and then see just how much it squeezes you...
    but by making it F2P - it makes it immediately disposable once you realise the pointlessness of playing due to the heavy grind - and it didn't have to be this way.. it's easily worth the £30 of a full-priced PC game...

    OneManAndHisDroid on
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