Hearthstone: A Tale of Love and Hate

When I was a wee lad, I would yell at Street Fighter II on the SNES because I knew in my heart that I did a half-quarter circle plus punch to launch a game winning fireball against M. Bison and it didn’t register – instead he swept the leg and stole the victory. It’s cheating!! It’s not fair!! – these exclamations could be heard throughout the house as I swore to never play again because the computer didn’t want me to win.

I was a liar – I played again.

Hearthstone BattleAs an adult, I can admit that I probably didn’t execute the move properly and have learned to control these rash impulses of anger and hatred (for these are the path to the dark side). When I lose its my fault and not the game’s. However, there is one game where I don’t believe this and it makes me feel like a little kid punching his bed all over again…Hearthstone.

All card games are luck based (or based on how much you believe in the heart of the cards) and dependent on what is in your hand at any given moment. The same two players with the same two decks could face against each other multiple times and have wildly different results. The argument is that the better player will learn from each round and fine tune their deck, turning each small advantage their way.

This feels accurate, as the top-tiered players are the same year-over-year.

However as a mid-tier player (Rank 10 to 3 each season) it feels extremely lucked based and there truly is an RNGesus who despises me. Sometimes I’ll stick with one deck all season, others I’ll try and ride the meta or I’ll just abstain and play casual games. No matter what, it ends in frustration and heartbreak.

Climbing the ladder is a slog and painful as I reach the peak of my ranking, only to be knocked back down. Each rank requires 5-net wins to advance. Win a game, get a star. Lose a game, see the star fade from existence. If you have a 66% percent win-rate of 2 out of 3 games it would take you 150 games to climb from Rank 5 to legendary, with games lasting from 5 to 20 minute depending on your play styles (and the opponents).

It’s exhausting and I’m not going to partake anymore – is often thought in my head as I slam my iPad shut and commence beating up a helpless pillow in frustration. But I log back in every day and try again.

According to the monthly report I’m not bad at the game, finishing in the top 10% of players each season…but I’m not where I want to be.

Hearthstone ArenaDespite my outrage at unfair losses (only one more turn and I would have had him…. how did they get 20 damage burst on turn 7 perfectly ☹), I have no such outcries for victories. When I win, its simply onto the next match…because I don’t have fun winning, I only have fun climbing the ladder and hitting legendary rank.

Each match feels like a gamble and I catch myself talking about playing ‘one more game’ just like someone with an addiction would. “I can’t quit now, I’m on a winning streak.” or “I have to get back that star I just lost to end up even.”

I am playing Hearthstone wrong and should extremely re-evaluate how I play this game, if at all going forward.

Are there any games which you play for the wrong reasons? Do you play games that aren’t fun just for the trophies? Are there any games which make you angry and frustrated more than others?

Level Up, Friends