Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode has been discussing some popular topics on both Reddit and Twitter lately. He's recently tackled some more feedback on the new player experience, potential ranked ladder changes, and gave some insight into Blizzard's decision to give out a free copy of Fight Promoter.
Brode Comments on New Player Experience
Ben Brode: We mentioned this a couple months back, but yeah, generally agree the ranked experience for new players is bad. We are sorting through several solutions right now that have various pros and cons, and will update as we have more to share.
On the bright side, Casual winrates for new players went from ~25% to almost 50% since launch, as we've been making changes there, and casual is where the vast majority of new players start playing against real people.
The downside of that is they get too confident - new players go to ranked way sooner than they used to... and get crushed. Looking forward to improving that.
You aren't doing new players any favors by force feeding them garbage cards to start off with. (/u/desturel)
I think you are assuming that improving new players' decks will give them a higher win rate. I think it doesn't matter what they are playing with, as long as we match them with players who are also new (which is what we do in casual, where they have a ~50% win rate). The upside of starting them with bad cards, is that they feel progression and increased power as they play in the beginning of the game. This early progression is one of the things that really excites new players, and if they're achieving 50% winrates, it doesn't feel like we need to remove it.
The second thing I have a real problem with is the level 20 requirement for Tavern Brawl. (/u/desturel)
The reason we put that in there is because Tavern Brawl is weird. It's hard to understand what's cool about starting with 10 mana, or how to take advantage of Top 3 if you're just starting the game. We wanted you to fully understand the base rules and heroes before introducing crazy mode. It doesn't take all that long to get to level 20, and a lot of learning is happening during that time.
Are you still planning other changes to ranked, to make the grind from ~17 back to 5 less tedious? (/u/AmesCG)
Ben Brode: We are definitely still planning more ranked changes.
As long as you are making changes to ranked, I think it would be nice to see something that improves the experience for not only new players, but serious players that might be burned out on the current ladder climbing system as well. (/u/Soggytoast111)
Ben Brode: Our intent is to do both. They might happen at different times, though.
What do you guys do all day? (@brianpagelucky)
Dean Ayala: make cards, playtest, go to meetings, talk about future systems/expansions and give feedback. Typical day.
Details aside, what are your thoughts on cards stolen/burgled from you having your card back from a design perspective? (@Adys)
Ben Brode: It's a cool idea. I hadn't thought about it much before that post. Have to think through the potential feel-bads, but initial thought is =)
Why give out a free card?
Ben Brode: Lots of folks in this thread wondering: "Why? Are they testing something?"
Honestly we just think it's fun to do surprising things. We like the feel of our Winter's Veil event, our "Hearthstone New Years" event, and the (now-redundant) Friendly Feud, and we've been ramping up our events team to do even more. We have some stuff planned that I think will be pretty hot. Keeping Hearthstone spicy is important... and giving out a free card seemed like something easy we could do as a fun one-off. We have some bigger (and smaller) events planned... we're just getting warmed up!
Enjoy the free card! (or the dust!)
how about an anniversary event? all blizzard games get one, except hearthstone. :( (/u/evilbrain18)
Ben Brode: That's not even true, but the Hearthstone Anniversary was a bit weird. The day we went Open Beta was sort of the launch, but we did have an official launch for PC after that, then we launched again on iPad and again on phone. So we have 4 anniversaries. I think the more relevant anniversary to most people is the yearly rotation, and we celebrated that this year with daily log in rewards, fun temp emotes and a redone Stranglethorn board, as well as a golden Volcanosaur, capped off with the new Maiev hero.
Why Fight Promoter specifically? (/u/EvilElephant)
- it inspires different kinds of decks
- it's an epic
- it might be fun for players to think about how to get it to work (play big minions or, hey, hand buff this guy!)
- it's neutral so lots of folks can use it
- lots of people are buying Un'Goro and classic packs so newer players might not have this one yet otherwise
- someone just kind of looked around and thought it looked like a fun card to give out