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Hearthstone: BlizzCon 2014 Fireside Chat Panel Overview

Posted by Grace "sylvanhunter" Naces at 08 November 2014 19:00

This is a summary of the Fireside Chat panel at BlizzCon 2014 Day 1, as presented by Senior Game Designer Ben Brode, Game Director Eric Dodds, and Senior Producer Yong Woo.


State of the game and statistics

  • 20 Million Hearthstone players all over the world
  • Released first adventure: Curse of Naxxramas
  • Releasing first expansion on December 2014: Goblin vs. Gnomes

Ben Brode shared interesting stats such as the ‘best’ and 'worst' cards in hearthstone and delved more on the role of randomness in games. He started off with how they picked the best and worst cards by measuring how likely you will win when you have drawn these cards.

 

  • Magma Rager is the ‘worst Hearthstone card’. It only gives you 29% chance to win the game when you’ve drawn it.
  • Angry Chicken was surprisingly not bad with 47% chance of winning the game when drawn.
  • Defender of Argus is an okay card that gives about 49.8% chance of winning if drawn, and 52% chance if played. It was also played 556x for each Angry Chicken played
  • The best card, according to the stats as of October 2014, is Baron Geddon. When drawn, it gives 56% chance, and 60% when played.
  • In Curse of Naxxramas, the average number of attempts to beat each normal mode boss is 2. Heroic mode bosses take about an average of 9 attempts to defeat them, and some players even played 65 times against Kel’Thuzad
  • Most loved Curse of Naxxramas card: Webspinner because of the random beast it gives that could make or break games.

 

Ben added a caveat that the stats may be misleading as there are other factors that affect the win rates and it is not easy to measure it in this way alone. The ‘best card’ stats was misleading because it was exclusive to control warrior, therefore, Baron Geddon is the 'best Warrior' card. Checking these stats and how the top players use them give them insights on how to balance the cards.
 
He went on to discuss about the role of randomness in Hearthstone. Randomness was found out to be the most hated part of Hearthstone among players. He went on to show a graph that shows games that do not rely solely on luck to the left and games that are purely skill-based with no random elements on the right.

A lot of players feel that Hearthstone belongs somewhere along that spectrum. However, both luck and skill does not work like that and they are independent of each other. He further illustrated that games like Poker and Hearthstone feature both high randomness and high skill. In other words, while most hand in Poker or Hearthstone is random, the best players win consistently, such as Kolento.


 
The two cool factors in games with high randomness and high skills are 1) you are presented with novel situations, and 2) the frequency of awesome player stories.

 

  • Novel Situations. You are solving new problems every game. Randomness increases the amount of skill required in order for one to say that you have performed well and it forces one to think on their feet.
  • Player Stories. Randomness increases the excitement and frequency of memorable events. If you’ve ever counted the times on how sniper Ragnaros hits your opponent at the exact timing and at the time when the odds seem to be not in your favor, you’ll know how this feels like.

 

New Expansion: Goblins vs. Gnomes

Game Director Eric Dodds went up the stage to present the new Hearthstone expansion: Goblins vs. Gnomes.

Eric shared how their team wanted to do something fun and different. Goblins and Gnomes in World of Warcraft, where he was once a part of their design team, are famous for their inventions. Goblins like to blow things (and anybody) up using explosives while Gnomes transform anything to something cool or horrible.
 
Goblins vs. Gnomes contains 120 cards, which is four times the number of cards in Curse of Naxxramas—the huge meta change is something to really think and be excited about. It shows the epic struggle between the crafty, explosives-oriented goblins versus the ingenious, mishap-prone gnomes. The element of surprise each game is something to look forward to.
 
The new board looks like this:
 

 
Eric introduced the new minion type: Mechs. These mechs may give you spare parts or could be a piloted mech. It makes sense to think that there has to be somebody piloting these giant robots and war tanks. When these get destroyed, somebody has to pop out from the driver seat. These mechs get Deathrattle abilities such as:

 

 

See how Ragnaros the Firelord use a parachute after Sneed's Old Shredder got destroyed:

Another interesting thing about this expansion is the introduction of Spare Parts. When a mech minion dies, there are parts of him that gets left behind, a.k.a. spare parts. These spare parts can modify other minions such as giving additional health by putting on armor. These cards come from the 'destroyed' mech minions so they cannot be placed in your hand as cards.

 

 
Goblins vs. Gnomes packs can be bought with gold and real money, just like the existing expert packs. It will also have the same number of cards inside and same rarity distribution. The cards an also be crafted with dust.

Spectator Mode: Hearthstone is Better with Friends 

Senior Game Producer Yong Woo took the stage to introduce the much-awaited and most-requested feature, Spectator Mode. You may now watch games played by your friends and even spectate two players at the same time. The latter enables you to organize and host tournaments in your local communities easily. There is an indicator on the bottom left to let you know that someone is watching your game. You also have the option to ‘kick ‘out unwanted spectators if you do not want them looking at your game.

“Twenty million players across the world [sic]… many players took the long journey to Blizzcon and tonight, we’re down to the final top 8. We’ll find out who will be the first ever Hearthstone World Champion in history,” Yong Woo said as he closed the Fireside Chat Panel at BlizzCon 2014.

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