Today marks the arrival of one of the villains I’ve wanted most to appear in Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm. If last week’s enormous post about World of Warcraft lore didn’t hammer it home for you, you should know that I absolutely love World of Warcraft villains. The release of “The Archlich Of Naxxramas, Esteemed Lich Lord Of The Plaguelands, Commander Of The Dread Necropolis, Master And Founder Of The Cult Of The Damned, Formerly Of The Council Of The Six, Creator Of The Abomination, Corrupter Of The Sunwell, Summoner Of Archimonde The Defiler, Betrayer Of Humanity, Hearthstone Enthusiast, And Majordomo To The Lich King Himself, Kel’thuzad,” is, therefore and understandably, an incredibly exciting event for me (Credit to user RobotDoctorRobot from Reddit for the creation of this meme-y title for the Archlich which has been immortalized by Blizzard in Kel’thuzad’s voicelines!) In addition, Kel’thuzad’s release event includes reworks for two characters who have desperately needed them and one of the best skins to ever appear in this game, Dreadlord Jaina.
The content update to Heroes of the Storm comes at a very opportune moment as my frustration with the state of Hearthstone competitive has reached a peak. While competitive doesn’t make me feel like raging, I would more describe my feelings towards competitive as ones of exhaustion. Druid is running the show in all levels of competitive with one of the most boring decks to play and to play against. I’m not unique in lodging these complaints, a brief look at most of the Hearthstone-centric forums will reveal a great number of posts about the state of Druid decks at the moment.
While I don’t think I have much to add on a mathematic or technical level, I think there is some value in discussing how disheartening it is to play a game where a lot of the population isn’t there to have fun, but rather to simply win by any means necessary. You want to know what’s worse than losing to a deck that is clearly, undeniably over tuned with no major answers in the game? Having so many games followed by friend requests by the players so they can harass and insult you.
Hearthstone’s single-player duel against the Lich King was one of the most fun events that has ever been in the game. Despite having to wrack my brain for hours trying to come up with decks that could defeat him with each character, the end result was rewarding and the problem solving demanded of me felt great. It was a great break from the painful stagnation of multiplayer in this multiplayer card game. Knights of the Frozen Throne has some of the most exciting and enjoyable cards in any expansion I’ve ever played (and I’ve played since the beta test of Hearthstone,) but this is overshadowed by how a select set of cards has made year-old decks unstoppable. People are playing those decks not because they are fun or amazing, but simply because they win. The most innovative new cards have been suppressed in competitive because they don’t mean anything in the face of classic ramp Druid with a few new cards sprinkled in to make the ramp unstoppable.
I look forward to a nerf because I want the win-only people to go away and because I want to see the really awesome death knight cards see play in a way that isn’t just a desperate bid to not die to a Token or Jade Druid deck. Death knights are thematically exciting, game-turning, and make the end game of many matches a real struggle for victory. Games are about fun, learning, and inspiration. A win should feel good not just because it ticks an arbitrary ranking higher, but because you prevailed over a challenge and learned something.