The State of the Game #16

This week was unusual in that I basically picked up Hearthstone and never put it down, until last night. After my last post I jumped into Skyrim, which is becoming an annual thing for me. I was looking through the trophy list, and I earned my first back in January of 2012. I came back to the game and did some trophy cleanup last year in March, as I was aiming for the Platinum with the intentions of getting the DLCs for the game back then. I picked up this blog again in May, so you’ll know that I was all over the place for the remainder of that year, yet never picked up those DLCs until now. New trophies were earned last night, making this my third annual run. That’s all I’m going to say about Skyrim for now, as I am writing up a dedicated post for my first adventure in new areas.

So Hearthstone. Definitely a new game in my rotation, as daily quests keep incentives high. The only way to earn gold in the game outside of daily quests is to win three games which nets 10 gold. A pack costs 100, so dailies are the only thing really pushing you towards that total with any sort of speed. I have a feeling this will be altered by the time the game releases, because it is leaning towards pay-to-win. There are a limited number of cards though, so if you were to pay for a larger portion of packs at a time — let’s say you spend $50 and treat that as the “cost of the box” — you would most likely complete most of the decks for that cost, and can use the crafting option to disenchant extras and make ones you need. So that’s affordable for most people, and would put you on a level with the people who have the pay to win mindset. But that doesn’t help your skill level, deck building, nor does it help with the random element of card games, which can make some games un-winnable from the start. So the question of “pay-to-win” comes down to patience vs. money. If you are patient, you could eventually earn enough cards to “finish” sets. But then expansions will undoubtedly add more cards, so there will always be a strain on your patience, or wallet. Either way, people who are willing to pay for more cards will have the potential to build better decks than someone who plays for free, but isn’t that the way it works with F2P MMOs as well? The subscribers aren’t limited to what they can access, so really it’s the same thing, and there isn’t that much of an advantage given to those who pay for more cards, if you are clever and know what your deck can do.

I have a couple of tips for people just checking the game out. First, make sure that you once you are done with the tutorial, that you play all decks to at least level 10 — this can be done via practice and the AI is a bit easier to beat than real people. No matter how you choose to do it, it is an important step because not only does that level unlock all of the basic deck-specific cards, but this also gives you an understanding of what each class is all about. Once you have opened all of the classes, you can then play their expert level AI which will add to your challenge, but I got bored of playing bots and went live right away. This did give me a disadvantage when it came to knowing what each deck had to offer, but I did find some insight into how people play. You can’t complete quests unless you’re in “play” mode, so when you feel comfortable get to clearing those. Through this course you will earn packs or gold to buy packs and can also experiment with crafting to build better decks. Practice makes perfect.

A few posts back I mentioned a teaser over at the League website, and I had guessed that it was in regards to Vel’Koz. I was wrong. The little bit that I quoted was for a new skin – Scorched Earth Renekton. Didn’t see that coming, but I was right that Vel’Koz is coming none the less. Here’s his official kit:

Passive: Organic Deconstruction

Vel’Koz’s abilities Deconstruct those they strike. After being hit three times by his abilities, minions, monsters and enemy champions are Deconstructed and suffer bonus true damage. Enemies lose their Deconstruction stacks by avoiding Vel’Koz’s attacks for a short while.

Q: Plasma Fission

Vel’Koz fires a plasma bolt that slows and damages the first enemy struck. Once Plasma Fission hits, reaches its maximum range or is reactivated a second time, the bolt splits at a 90 degree angle. The split bolts deal the same damage and apply the same slow.

W: Void Rift

Vel’Koz sends out a straight line blast that tears open a temporary rift to the Void before exploding. Both the initial tear and the delayed explosion damage and apply Deconstruction stacks to caught enemies.

E: Tectonic Disruption

After a brief delay Vel’Koz disrupts a nearby area, damaging and launching all enemies caught into the air. Enemies hit that are close to Vel’Koz are also knocked back slightly.

R: Life Form Disintegration Ray

Vel’Koz channels a ray of infinite energy that follows the cursor for a brief while, damaging, slowing and Deconstructing all enemies in range.

He sounds pretty cool, and I’m interested to give him a whirl. That’s it for this week’s edition. Here’s another pretty picture before I go.