Brode explains why discarding in Hearthstone is a delicate balance.

Last week was packed full of Hearthstone news. Game Director Ben Brode appeared on multiple sites including PCGamer and Polygon to talk about the current state of Hearthstone and the community ravenously ate them up. We also reported on these findings and his subsequent comments. Unfortunately, all of this talk had the side effect of people twisting his words or taking them out of context, so he took some time late Friday night to write up an in-depth post on Reddit. We made a post about it at the time, but he also said a few things in the comments section that we wanted to highlight as well.

Reddit user scout_

Seriously people are acting like this post is really insightful or something but it almost comes across as patronizing. Also if someone could explain to me why forcing your opponent to discard is "less fun" than getting run over by completely broken early game cards, I would be grateful.
Brode Response

I think both can be not-very-fun, but here's why I think they are different: 'Little Victories'. 

Hearthstone is, at it's core, a 1v1 game. Someone wins, and someone loses. Losing is not very fun. However, Hearthstone provides lots of opportunities for you to feel as if you've done something awesome, or had a moment of victory during the game, even if you lose the greater battle. 

"I may have lost the game, but at least I got to play Lord Jaraxxus." 

Put another way, it feels good to play Tirion Fordring . It doesn't matter if you win or lose the game, there is positive emotion when you hear the chorus chant and see him crack the board. That emotion isn't erased even if you lose the game later. 

Discarding cards from your opponent's hand steals those little victories from them. I don't get to play my cards at all. I don't even get to do anything. I just get to watch you do your stuff. 

In some cases, being run over by early game cards can feel similar. However, you can usually play a few cards and destroy a few minions, and that does soften the blow of defeat. In either case, you don't get to slam Tirion, though, and so losing to aggro can be a frustrating experience.


Reddit user sekashok

I don't know where or even if I read this, but I remember something along the lines, that Wild should not even be balanced, just a clown fiesta of all the old cards to have fun with. Am I just misinformed or was this a thing and got scrapped later?
Brode Response

While "clown fiesta" is the driving goal for most of our decision-making, we would actually like Wild to be balanced. The problem is defining what 'balanced' means in that mode, because the power-level will always be much higher than in Standard. Does it mean all classes are at 50% and see exact equal play? Does it mean Freeze Mage is the best class but there are 4 other archetypes at tier 2? How frequently should we be balancing cards there?

There is a lot to learn about the right way to approach Wild, and what the expectations are from players who like to play there. It's something we'll need to figure out over time.


Reddit user HaakkonHS

Great post Ben. Out of curiosity, how do you view linear or parasitic cards like Jade? They tend to open some amount of design space but at the tradeoff of interacting with fewer existing cards. Have you been happy with them so far?
Brode Response

I tend to like some parasitic designs, but I don't think we should do them exclusively. C'Thun was also a fun parasitic design.


Reddit user SamuraiOstrich

Buffing terrible basic cards to a mediocre level seems like a good idea to me because it would help the new player experience by giving them better cards, but you don't have to worry about the meta being affected because cards like 2/3 Frostwolf Grunt, 6/6 Lord of the Arena, 5/5 Booty Bay Bodyguard, 2/4 Dalaran Mage, 2 Mana Drain Life, 4/5 Nightblade, 3/2 Raid Leader, 5/4 Reckless Rocketeer, 5/3 Stormpike Commando, or 7/8 War Golem are ever going to see serious constructed play.
Brode Response

I'm not sure new players lose a lot more because their cards are worse. We work hard to send them to fight AI opponents (which they usually defeat), and then the vast majority enter 'Casual', where we match them only against other new players with small collections.

I also think there is value to starting players at a lower power level, and letting them feel the progression of earning new cards slowly over time. If those cards aren't clearly better than the ones you have, it might not be enough to encourage you to go edit your deck, which I think is one of the biggest humps to get new players past.

Important addendum - we still have much work to do for the players who decide to venture into Ranked too early.