After a few months of inactivity, I had the urge to play Heartsone yesterday for some unexplicable reason. I had more or less missed the release of the latest expansion, Gnomes versus Goblins and wanted to knock out a few quests, buy a pack or two with the gold I’d make and see if I would get anything good.
My plan went out the window fast…
Since I had been inactive for the past few months, I was put at rank 25, the lowest rung on the ladder. While I don’t have much of the new cards, I had a most of the original set barring a few legendaries and out of the way epics and I would usually get to rank 10 or 9 most seasons which given my limited playtime felt like a good result. I like to think that I know how to play and how to make a decent deck.
Well, I got crushed yesterday, hard… In over 10 matches I barely managed to win two times and one of these was due to sheer luck. Out of all my opponents I did not meet a single newbie, something I would have expected that low on the ladder. I was facing legendaries, combo decks and other things I’m used to seeing at much lower ranks.
I eeked out my wins more out of stubbornness than fun and I kept thinking about what would a really new player think of the experience. Someone who just started playing a week ago. Probably that it’s utter crap and another pay to win game. I know yesterday I was tempted to do so and just not bother with the game ever again.
This is a problem my dear Blizzard. A big one. The low ranks are the starting point of new and returning players, of people playing once in a blue moon and people who are just not that great at card games. They need a place where they feel like they have a chance and where not having the latest cards doesn’t matter.
Right now it’s a stomping ground where bullies crush new players and where veterans farm wins. I wasn’t expecting to win all my games yesterday but I was expecting to make a few ranks before encountering the tougher opponents. It’s an horrible introductory experience.
I can also hear the justifications of the forum lurkers and experts. Hear them tell us that if you do deck X then it’s possible to win with a minimum of investment. That you need to learn how to play the game, that you should do some research, that it’s not that bad, etc… etc… I’ve heard the same arguments for years when I was working at a game store from “experts”. I lost count of how many games died because the communities were not welcoming to new players. They feel super great when they crush a newbie who just bought a starter deck 15 mins ago but chances are that newbie won’t come back next week. That is a huge problem.
Going back to Hearthstone, a new player should be able to play without having to go read forums or do research or anything. He should be able to pick his few cards, get a game going and feel like he stands a chance.
What I saw yesterday was the polar opposite and Blizzard needs to fix this asap.