The new Hearthstone changes are great for eSports, bad for casual players

‘Too daunting’

In case you haven’t heard, Blizzard is changing up Hearthstone big time later this year with a major update. There are a few good things coming — 18 custom deck slots for one, promised balance changes for select cards, and the confirmation of another expansion. There’s also going to be a major shift to accommodate eSports play with the “Standard” game type. This is a natural evolution for competitive play (as seen in other card games such as MTG), and a very welcome change that will keep Hearthstone relevant for a longer period of time.

In essence, everything that’s being played right now is kind of the wild west of Hearthstone — any card and anything goes. That mentality is now literally called “Wild,” and will still be in the game. The “new” tournament style will be Standard, which disavows expansions and cards that were added two years prior to this impending shift. When the so-called Kraken update arrives, Naxxramas and the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansions will be removed.

Wait, what? No, they aren’t going to be removed from “Standard” play — they’re going to be removed from the game entirely so you cannot buy them anymore (if you own it, you still have it thankfully). This is being done because the current system is supposedly “daunting” for new players. In reality, it’s being implemented to push players towards more pricey Arcane Dust grinding.

Yep, Blizzard is trying to make this blow softer by claiming that you can now “just get the cards you want” with Arcane Dust. But as many casual players know, grinding out enough dust to get just one card is hellish enough, and can take days depending on the card. But with Adventures you can just pick up any wing you want, dive in, and get heaps of cards simply by completing fun fights against the AI. Not anymore.

This particular move honestly makes zero sense, and placing it under the guise of helping new players is odd. Why can’t the “Standard” eSports angle just be an additional part of the game, restrictions and all, and leave the rest untouched, as the “Wild” moniker suggests?

Fans are disappointing with this move, if the comments on the official blog post are anything to go by, and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blizzard flip-flop on the idea before Kraken arrives. It’ll be even more interesting to see if they solely try to balance Standard and completely ignore broken Wild combos — if Blizzard solely caters to the hardcore like that, they may have a problem.

Chris Carter
Reviews Director, Co-EIC - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff!