I'm your total "average" player and have been for many, many years. I've never placed higher than about rank 10 on the ladder (but then I have got that far). I've spent around $500 on the game over the years which is not a huge amount but is not insignificant either. I like watching a bit of Thijs on Twitch over lunch and I'll usually pour over the card reveals before a new expansion.
I think It's easy to criticise and talk about what's wrong with the game but I figured that is more helpful in the wider discussion to throw out some ideas and tangible things that could get me – the average joe – more interested in the game again. Below is a list of those things
Single Player Content
The single player content has always appealed to me and I think one of the biggest design goofs in HS history was to abandon the adventure sets which gave you a bunch of cards for a fixed fee and some fun challenges to play. For a casual player these releases had it all and if Blizzard released another one tomorrow I'd pre-order it instantly.
I love all of the single player stuff. The Dr Boom challenges were great, the Witchwood stuff was great, the Dungeon Run was insanely good fun. This new Rakaan's Rumble thing didn't seem as great at first but I've still poured 100s of hours into it, trying to complete each of the shrines. At the moment they're giving this stuff away for free when I would gladly pay for it (when I won't always pay for Expansions that look uninteresting)
For me a lot of the fun from Hearthstone comes from making decks and tweaking decks. I bought some cards from the Dr Boom expansion and I got the Paladin Legendary (Thingys Endless Army?) so I set about making a Paladin deck with it. For a few weeks this was a lot of fun and I went through different iterations of Death Rattle, Mid-Range, Face builds until eventually I accepted that the deck would never be that great and I got bored with it. This is part of Hearthstone that really appeals to me and if the game could capture this experience more often then it would definitely keep me playing more.Giving out some free cards with each expansion (or as above, bringing in periodic Adventure sets) helps casuals like me to tinker with a semi viable deck that can keep our interest for a bit. I remember getting Kazakus during MSoG and that one card kept me playing for several weeks as I experimented with different decks and played around with it.
You could also give players a time limited opportunity to play with all the cards for a bit and experiment i.e. let us try cards for a bit and then give them back at the end. If I had access to all the cards for a weekend and I built some crazy deck which was fun, I might then want to go out and buy the cards/dust so I could play more of it.
One thing worth mentioning is that casual players don't have a bottomless selection of cards so events like the Tavern Brawls that ask you to build a specific type of deck (that meets certain conditions) are not always that fun, simply because my card pool is limited and I can't compete with people that have lots of cards. I much prefer being given the seed of something decent and then having the opportunity to refine it and tinker with it which in turn can make me spend money if I think this one card can make my deck better.
Arena mode is great and I've played a lot of it. However since the introduction of Dungeon Run you've also got this new way of drafting where you build a deck as you go and I'm surprised that this has never had it's own game mode. There is something satisfying about growing a deck with each game.
There are a million different ways you could do this mode but the core would work something like Arena but with the Dungeon Run style draft.
I think at the moment Blizzard are (a) playing Standard way too safe and (b) too hung up on the vanilla base set of cards. Hearthstone has a really big back catalogue of cards in Wild now and these are only continuing to grow with each rotation so it's only this design philosophy of "new/returning players etc. etc.", "need to keep things familiar etc.", "protect class identity etc." that is keeping things so static.
I think the game is approaching a point where it can either stagnate and slowly fade out or they can accept that to keep things fresh the standard format needs much more of a shake up each year. In my opinion all of the early sets should be promoted to classic base set cards and can be given out free to new players. At the same time, every new year of Hearthstone should see a major shakeup of the base cards with core cards being completely switched around for a bit and historic cards being switched in.
In long running games you need to change things up to keep it fresh and I know that – as a casual player – if the base set of cards was completely changing each year and I was getting to use these old favourites that I've not really seen in years (because I don't play much Wild) and then they were introducing new cards with new synergies with these older cards. That is exciting, that would get me excited to buy new cards again.
That is all, thanks for reading!
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