Tag Archives : Hearthstone


Removing RNG: how eliminating luck can benefit strategy card games 1

This article originally appeared as a guest feature on continue-play.com

 

What if a card game like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone had no luck? Would it be playable? Exciting? Balanced? Skill-testing? When I ask people this question, most of them seem to think that it would introduce a huge number of problems, crippling the experience for players. But I’m here to make a bold counter-claim: If done right, removing randomness can actually make a card game better.

 

My justification for this statement is effectively a case in point. For many years, I’ve been working on a game called Prismata with a group of friends from MIT. Prismata is, effectively, an online competitive card game without randomness—a seemingly impossible game that shouldn’t exist. In reality, Prismata borrows a lot of ideas from real-time strategy games and tabletop board games to make the concept work. However, blending these ideas in a usable way was no simple task; Prismata required years of testing and iteration, and the entire project was scrapped and restarted from scratch over a dozen times.

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Four reasons you MUST watch the Prismata Cup 2 FINALS, airing this Sunday Sep 21 1pm Eastern Time 1

The stage is set as 64 of the best players in Hearthstone will play to a winner in the Prismata Cup 2—probably the most hyped Hearthstone tournament ever. Following the success of the original Prismata Cup, which saw a peak of 40k concurrent viewers and was the strongest Hearthstone tournament to date, this event is already promising to be even bigger.

 

Stream: twitch.tv/lunarchstudios

Date: Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Time: 1:00pm Eastern Time

Casters: Frodan and Reynad

Produced by m1lkcast LIVE

 

If you watch one Hearthstone tournament this year, watch the Prismata Cup 2 finals.  Below are four reasons why this event will be even better than last time:

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How to win at Hearthstone by playing dirty: 5 deceptive tactics inspired by online poker 38

As a veteran of online poker, with over a million dollars in profit, I’ve learned that in turn-based online games, there’s a great amount of value in concealing information and deceiving your opponent. Poker players need not look far to find lengthy articles on how to profit from timing tells and deceive opponents through timings.

Such tactics really shine in Hearthstone because there are an incredible number of interesting ways to abuse Hearthstone’s user interface to hide information, cause confusion, and lure your opponents into making sub-optimal plays. Whether or not you decide to use these tactics, I hope you’ll find them interesting.

Before we begin, a couple of disclaimers:

Disclaimer 1: These tactics will irritate your opponents. These tactics are controversial. Many of them involve completely unnecessary stalling. People will think you’re an asshole if you employ them. Using them on your friends (assuming you want to keep them) is not recommended.

Disclaimer 2: These tactics aren’t for everyday laddering. They’re not gonna help you climb fast from rank 20 to rank 10. They’re not gonna help you grind faster to earn gold and unlock heroes. These tricks are for tournament matches and legend-level ladder games that you really want to win.

Disclaimer 3: These tactics are not for everyone. These tips are for the soulless masochists among us—those willing to sacrifice our integrity to squeeze out every last advantage possible in every match. They’re not fun. They may waste your time, and may encourage your opponents to grief you. But if you crave every possible edge you can possibly get, these tips are for you!

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Tempo Storm Gaara: “The best matches ever recorded in Hearthstone history.” Why you should watch the Prismata Cup finals 8

The matches have been played, the VODs are in the casters’ hands, and the stage is set.  In roughly 7 hours from the time I post this, the Prismata Cup finals will be aired.

Stream: twitch.tv/itshafu
Date: Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
Time: 6:00pm EDT
Casters: Trump and Hafu

The Prismata Cup is a merit-based tournament open only to high-rank legends. 32 incredibly good players—likely the strongest field of any Hearthstone tournament that has taken place thus far—competed in a competitive 5-round Swiss format, with those having 4-0 or 4-1 records advancing to the single elimination finals that will be broadcast today.

Tempo Storm Gaara, one of the finalists, claims that this tournament produced the best matches ever recorded in Hearthstone history. Having taken a peek at the VODs myself, I couldn’t agree more. If you watch one Hearthstone tournament this year, watch the Prismata Cup finals. Below are five reasons why:

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The Role of Luck: why competitive games like Hearthstone NEED luck, but RNG isn’t the only answer 197

The topic of luck in competitive gaming always ruffles a lot of feathers, leading to never-ending complaints and hostility from many different types of gamers: players whining about losses caused entirely by randomness, fans whining about their favourite pros being knocked out of tournaments due to bad luck, and everyone else whining about all the whiners. The subject arises frequently in discussions surrounding card games like Hearthstone, where the issue has become a hotly debated topic in the wake of serious complaints from professional players concerning the role of randomness in the game.

In developing Prismata—a competitive turn-based strategy game sharing many features with card games—we’ve questioned whether the presence of luck was really worth all the fuss, raging, and drama. Could a game like Hearthstone still be as popular and fun if the element of luck was removed?

Over the years, we’ve talked to many professional gamers and expert game designers, including folks from Hearthstone’s design team, about the role of luck in card games. When asked whether it would be possible to design a card game without luck, they all told us the same thing:

“Bad players will never think they can win, and they will stop playing.”

“Your game can’t thrive if it doesn’t have luck.”

“You’d be fucking crazy to try and make it a commercial success.”

Challenge accepted. I guess we’re fucking crazy.

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The Solution To Frustrating Time Controls 34

Many turn-based games have different systems for allocating time to players.  Sometimes, these systems result in very negative experiences.  Looking at Hearthstone, Magic Online, Poker, Chess, and Prismata, we analyze the effectiveness of these games at producing positive experiences through their time control systems.

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In Hearthstone, there is a 90 second increment, with no timebank.  (A timebank is time you can choose to spend on any turn.) This overly simple system is easy to understand, but has consequences for players.  There is no future penalty for spending time now, and there is no reward for playing faster as you cannot save any time into your timebank.  This is detrimental to the game for a few reasons.

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New Formats That Would Improve Tournaments 1

Tournament formats in gaming events have remained largely unchanged for a long time. As E-sports progresses, tournament organizers will frequently copy formats from past events, often selecting formats that are not optimally suited for their needs. In this article, we’ll take a look at 4 examples of actual tournament structures used in past Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Starcraft events, and we’ll suggest changes that would have made these events better.

Getting the format right is principally important to every element of a tournament. Having a proper format can dramatically improve the quality of the experience for both the viewers and competitors. For the viewers, a good format can create a more exciting and competitive finals by being much more likely to match the best two teams together. For the players, it makes the distribution of prize money more legitimate, ensuring that the earnings are deserved. It’s very important to understand that choosing a better format that optimizes for its goals will produce a better overall outcome on average.

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