It’s that time of the year again for Hearthstone fans. A new expansion has been announced and it matches the latest World of Warcraft expansion theme: Rastakhan’s Rumble.
Few things have been announced so far card wise so I’d like to focus on something else, what I expect and want to see from this particular expansion.
To start things off, I want to briefly go through the current state of the game, what I think is in a good state and what in a bad state. So for the last few months after the Boomsday expansion released, we’ve had a big variety of decks to choose from. Basically, every class had at least a decent deck you could pilot not just to legend but to a high finish as well. But behind the variety lay a hidden, stale format that people were getting bored and even frustrated of, mainly due to the polarization between matchups (other reasons contain Druid’s power level, Baku and Genn making games repetitive and the raw power of Odd Warrior’s hero power). The card nerfs did not do much to change that. They practically removed the most frustrating pillar of the format and did nothing else. No card nerfs for Druid, no effort to try and control the meta polarization (the latter is not easily doable just with a balance patch, hence we will revisit this point later, as I believe a whole expansion can actually change that).
With no further delay, here’s what I want to see from Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion:
1) I want the meta variety to stay the same. It is of great importance to have tons of decks for people to pilot. After a few months, people get bored of the game (especially people that pursue Hearthstone as a career, because they end up playing way more than normal people). Piloting lots of different decks can prove refreshing and keep them playing.
2) I want the new cycles of legendary cards for all classes (like the class specific weapons or legendary spells of the past, except we now get two in the Loas and the Troll champions) to do a better job defining what each class represents. This is a very generic point so I will try to explain it more. This is by no means a cry for them all to be powerful, that would be a very bad design. I’m just asking for no more Runespears and similar cards. They represent nothing of what their class does and are also plain unplayable. Some of the Loas are already out and let’s just say one of them is already the new Runespear, but still, the other ones can be better designed.
3) I want the Rumble Run to be as good if not better than the previous single-player modes (dungeon run, monster hunt, puzzle lab). They have been a great addition to the game (not one that is specifically designed to my likes as I am a tryhard to the heart and only play ladder) and I expect of them to do an even better job going forward.
4) I want to see more design space explored. Blizzard has done that to a good point so far but I’d like to see more. Death Knights, Baku and Genn were cool ideas, so was Keleseth, secrets for Rogue and others (I’m not saying all of them were successful or healthy for the game, I’m just mentioning them to prove my point, that they are indeed exploring different card design ideas).
5) I want to see Rastakhan’s Rumble have a bigger impact on the current metagame. That is not the easiest thing to achieve, combined with meta diversity, but I’d very much like to see some old decks go out and new exciting decks to pop in. The Boomsday brought almost no new archetypes and that was truly bad. It felt very, very boring playing the same decks for the past 6 months and I’m eagerly waiting to kiss them goodbye (though some of them are so powerful that it might take next year’s rotation to kill them).
6) Finally, what I want to see is less polarizing matchups. Remember that amazing article from Vicious Syndicate about meta polarity? Their numbers state that this current metagame has the biggest polarization in the history of Hearthstone. What this does is, it mitigates decision making which in turn makes games uninteresting and frustrating. This is not an easy thing to fix, it’s not done by just nerfing a card or two. In my mind, this is a matter of careful planning and testing a metagame before it is released to the public. Blizzard has, in the years, hired a number of ex-pro players that are very capable of doing such a thing.
These were my hopes and expectations for the upcoming expansion. I hope, whether you agree or disagree, you enjoyed my take on the matter. Check out some more Hearthstone related articles.