Your Quests are Bad and You Should Feel Bad (Hearthstone)

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* This Article was originally featured on Pause Your Game, and while it was still written by me, it is an article from a different era, and thus, some things may be broken within the article but are kept that way for posterity.

The “Grand Tournament” is now upon us which means its time to dust off those decks and delve once more into Blizzard’s addictive little card game. From the start of this game (beta), quests have always been something I have taken issue with and with this new expansion now live it has become even more apparent how lacking the quest system is. The quest system is the bread and butter of Hearthstone, it’s what keeps free players playing, paying players paying, and all the in between. But, it’s a deeply flawed system, one which will require changes sooner rather then later or Hearthstone will be facing some major issues.

Just keep Winning

Hearthstone has multiple types of quests such as: deal 100 damage to heroes , summon 20 minions that cost 2 or less, cast 10 spells etc. However most quests are class quests, quests requiring you to win X amount of times as a certain class or classes(some offer two). On the surface this would seem like a non issues, but delving in a little deeper results in a fair amount of problems spawning from this simple quest type.

Win-based quests create demoralization issues and stifle creativity. Many new and returning players feel at a large disadvantage due too an ever-growing amount of cards not available to them.  Whether this is entirely true or not remains to be seen, but what matters is players’ perceptions, as this is what influences players’ decisions. Instead of these players adding to the game and perhaps becoming a paying customer at some point, they stop before they ever really start (or start again) and are most likely to become a lost customer at this point.

The creativity issue is brought on because you need to win to earn gold with these quests. Rather than try out a new creation, you opt to stick with the tried and true method so you can earn more gold to get more packs, resulting in a never-ending, vicious cycle. This cycle is seen in both casual and ranked matches, players with strong decks and skills go into the casual mode to both avoid loosing their rank to complete their quest with decks that are tried and true, defeating the purpose of casual mode. In ranked matches, these same skilled players purposely lose so they can very easily reap gold and climb the ladder later in the season. Both results are results that are unintended and work against the design of the game and modes.

Not my Class

Restricting quests to classes adds to the issues I presented earlier. Let’s say I received the quest, “Win 3 Priest Games”, that means I need a priest deck to complete the quest. Well, I’m not a priest player nor do I want to be, but I want gold so I have to slog through not only playing one but winning also. I also don’t wish to tarnish my ranking because I know I am bad with the priest class, so I go play casual mode and on top of that look up a deck online that I can play.

Now, there are a lot of issues I present with this very common scenario. First and perhaps the most important, I have to play a class I dislike which means I don’t have as much or any fun, and fun should be at the forefront. Second, I am in casual mode, which means the mode that is designed for trying out deck ideas is being played instead with tried and true decks. Third, assuming I am a skilled player (best I got was rank 12, take that for what it is), I am abusing casual mode by simply being in it. A new player would think casual mode is the mode for them, but they will soon realize they don’t belong in there in the slightest and become demoralized almost instantly because every skilled player not dropping in rank is in casual mode to do their quests.

Lets not also forget that by having these class quests, you are effectively removing deck slots which has been a constant issue with this game.  Removing these class specific quests would free up slots.

Money Money Money

Gold value is at an all time high and the method of acquiring it has remained completely stagnant.  Most quests reward 40 gold with a handful of rarer ones awarding 50g-60g and even rarer ones then that give 100g. Back when only classic cards existed, the rate was completely fine as there was only one thing to purchase. But now we have two adventure modes which contain 10 wings (700g a wing) and two card expansions now (100g a pack), so new or casual players are at an unprecedented disadvantage. Blizzard obviously wants people to spend money, but what they seem to fail to realize is that it’s a two-way street with F2P (Free to Play). F2P provides content to both non-paying and paying players.  F2P players have the potential to become paying players as well, but not if they are discouraged from playing before that happens.

How to Fix

With a few simple changes, most of these issues disappear quite quickly as their counterintuitive and misinformed nature is removed:

  1. Remove Win Quests
  2. Create quests that require you to perform actions in a match. You could have “Win 5 Jousts”, “Trigger 10 DeathRattles”, “Deal 20 Damage with Weapons” etc. These are much more interesting and get rid of all that class nonsense, leaving the player with more options and ways to play.
  3. Increase Quest Gold to 50g minimum and provide an additional quest slot. Sure, more can be done, but these are things you don’t want to jump into headfirst. By making quests at least 50g, it means that you can be earning a Pack every other day. By adding an additional quest slot, this aids more casual players by allowing them to not play as often but earn more gold then usual.

If Hearthstone is to continue down the path it is heading, it will need to make these changes to its questing system to give its F2P players the incentive to become happy paying players instead of unhappy “Fuck this game” non-players.