We're back! Last week's CDC never ended up happening due to the rush of finishing the reviews for all the new Darkmoon Faire cards and then the launch of the expansion itself - which I suppose just means that I'll be covering two lots of winners of the WCDC again. Speaking of the expansion, how's everyone enjoying it? I know there's definitely some... questionable decisions in regards to the new progression system, something that's definitely worth keeping an eye on, but I do think the new expansion is amazingly fun in spite of that.
As I said, Conversation this week will be catching up - and hopefully we can push forward!
I Like Your Hero!
Congratulations firstly to BloodMefist, who won Competition 2.11 with their Rafaam, Prime Evil!
Normally I'd say we should look forward to their theme ideas, but we're already seeing them! Check out the new competition at the end.
The Show Mrrglll Go On!
Our second congratulations, for Competition 2.12 this time, go to grumpymonk and their Ringmaster's Servant!
Their theme ideas will be used for next week's competition, so look forward to that.
Achieving the Impossible
I mentioned the new progression system in the intro, but another aspect of the update that is almost entirely divorced from it (apart from a small subset of experience-granting checks) is the new achievement system. In all the excitement of the new expansion and the debate over experience gains, this new system hasn't gotten as much attention as it might have in its own dedicated update.
Opinions differ on the system, and for many different reasons. I've seen quite a few people excited to have almost mini-quests that they can work towards, striving to get some of the harder or weirder achievements; others view them as little more than busywork, a useless addition apart from the few Darkmoon Faire related quests which award experience. I think his speaks to a fundamental difference in how players approach games, neither of which is necessarily better than the other. Some people play Hearthstone for the competitive, cutthroat nature of laddering (or getting higher ranks in their mode of choice); other people prefer to take a more laidback approach, enjoying the more random and unexpected aspects of the experience; still others are collectors and completionists, playing to advance their card collections and now to obtain all the achievements they can.
These differences in how people play can also be applied to how people create custom cards - and equally how people rate a custom card.
For some people, the pinnacle of card design is a card which could realistically make it into the game, something that's balanced, flavourful and bolsters the class identity of the class it's designed for. These people will meticulously change numbers and wording until they arrive at something just right, tweaking the balance until they've tuned it in to the exact powerlevel they wanted to achieve for the card. When designing an expansion, they'll likely look at the mechanics of the expansion first - what do they want to bring to the game with it? What should each class be doing; what's new, what's a callback?
Then you have those who design for the flavour of the card. These are often WoW fans who seek to have their favourite characters represented in the game - they don't really care if an effect is completely balanced or even realistic for the game, just that it encapsulates the soul or idea they're basing the card on. Their expansions can vary wildly from the most popular raids or expansion settings to niche little adventures based on a single quest chain that they particularly loved.
Of course, that's not the only type of flavour fan - you also have those who design cards based on other properties entirely. They love Hearthstone, and they also love other games, and seeing them mashed together is their dream come true. Oftentimes the effects and ideas they come up with are unique - if a little unorthodox - because they're tied so closely to the flavour and mechanics of another property. The variety of Pokemon evolution mechanics I've seen is insane!
In reality, of course, nobody fits completely with any simplified description or archetype. There are competitive players who still love to see an achievement ding, and Dark Souls x Hearthstone creatives who obsess over the balance of their cards - I myself have ridden the line of balance and flavour many times, and I've gotta say that the new Achievements are one of my favourite additions to Hearthstone ever.
Just as not everyone plays for the same reasons, not everyone creates for the same reasons, but at the end of the day even if you don't understand why someone focused so much on their balancing or flavour or whatever, you're both still enjoying creating together.
Here's a few of my older cards you can laugh at - a nice variety of flavour, mechanics and nitty gritty balancing.
We're in dire need of some learning this week, before our new Gods get angry! Click the banner to find out more.