Let me start by saying that we are only a week into the new expansion. No one has any idea of what strategies are going to own the meta longterm, or what things will really look like. None of this post is centered around the new meta, but rather, the core Hearthstone experience itself.
Alright guys and gals, let's talk about the post expansion blues, and the post expansion honeymoon going on both here and in other online communities for a minute. This is such an exciting time for many Hearthstone players. New cards are out, old cards are gone, and the strategies that many of us effing hated (burn in hell Carnivorous Cube, Baku and Death Knights) are off somewhere ruining the experience of Wild players (all 5 of them, anyway).
For that reason, many Hearthstone players who were jaded and had left Hearthstone behind, including myself, have returned with renewed vigor. A month ago, I couldn't play three games without foaming at the mouth in frustration. Yesterday I played for four straight hours, and could have gone for longer if I didn't have to make dinner! I know many of you are feeling the same right now.
But there are also a subset of people that don't feel so happy. A new expansion releasing can highlight several core issues in Hearthstone's design including: a lack of any new games modes, the harsh reality of being a F2P player or investing only very little in the game, and the fact that RNG has always and will always play a role in the game.
Many players have returned only to realize that they have little gold, don't want to invest and so, for that reason, don't have any cards. Many others have the cards, but are realizing that cards weren't the problem, but rather they are ready to move on from Hearthstone. This is such a stark comparison to the elated people that it feels almost like they must be playing two very different games. But the reality is, both feelings are completely fine and understandable.
The Negative Experience
Let's get the negative out of the way first. Hearthstone does have an aggressive pricing model. If you want every card for every deck, you need to invest a decent sum of cash into the game, or a LOT of time and a little bit of cash. That's a big turnoff for the casual market, which seems odd, given how much Blizz tries to reach that market across all their IPs these days. That means that you get this Dickens-novel orphan experience, where you are outside of the glass window of the store staring at all the toys you can't have, watching all the rich happy kids inside enjoying all the neat things. It creates a bad experience, and drives a lot of people away.
On top of that, I see a lot of people freaking out about streamers leaving. Reynad, Savyz, Amaz, Eloise and more are all gone, likely to not come back at all, while several streamers are about to leave or are enjoying a short return for the new expac before they likely leave again, like Hafu, Trump, Toast, and Dog. While certain paragons of the community remain, even they may eventually leave too. The reality is that you see this with a LOT of big streamers. Stroud moves from shooter to shooter, Summit constantly jumps between obsessions, and even Ninja seems to be playing more and more games other than Fortnite. Games aren't really meant to sustain thousands and thousands of hours of play for most people, and you often see streamers taking opportunities to try other things. This is not unusual for any game on Twitch. It's not something that should be totally written off, but neither is it necessarily an indication that the game is dying. As some streamers leave, others will rise.
So as you see all this negativity and trends of impending doom, you may feel that if you are happy with the game, you are in the minority. This, simply, is not so. The rotation and new cards have brought a LOT of possibilities, and as someone who harped hard on Boomsday and Rhastakan for adding basically nothing to the game, I am so far pleased with this expansion release.
The Positive Side
Let's take a moment to appreciate that, even with new combo tools in the set (looking at you, Joybuzz), we have not seen any single OTK or combo deck rise in general popularity so far. That is actually relatively rare for new releases. While I am sure that eventually combos and OTKs will return, there is SO MUCH interactivity with them now. There are at least 4 combo/OTK hate cards in the current standard set, meaning that there's a lot you can do to stop them for rolling over on you. Coupled with so many combo tools leaving, this has shifted Hearthstone back to the curveistone/tempostone days of old. That system is not without it's own faults, but we can largely agree I'm sure that it's a much preferable experience for the majority of us.
On top of that, there are some really cool strategies working out right now. Summoner mage, Bomb Warrior, Mechrattle Hunter, Mechrattle Pally, Secret Pally, Murloc Shaman and various flavors of Rogue are all circulating with success. You may say to yourself "yeah but those won't last" and while that may be true longterm, I wouldn't be so quick to assume they'll be gone in a week. The power level has changed, the possibilities have opened, and there's a lot more room to maneuver now.
Furthermore, many players are happy to only have enough cards for 2-3 classes worth of decks to play with. Most players I know only focus on a few classes, up to 4-5 at most, and rarely want to play every deck in every class. It's much easier to get all the cards for a few specific decks than to languish over not having every single card ever printed.
At the end of the day…
So what does this all mean? There's a reasonable chance that you, as a player, are burned out on Hearthstone. Not because of the cards or the meta, but because of the core Hearthstone experience. There's also a very real possibility that you, as a player, are very happy with the game right now. That's absolutely fine too. In the end, focus on yourself and your core experience. If you are happy, stay and play, if you are not, take a break and come back when you want to.
It's okay that we're having different experiences. Do what makes you happy, and shut out all the rest.
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