Why yes, there is a disclaimer! As you may presume, this piece is all opinionated.
My experience with the game has been a stale one and I feel that these changes would make Hearthstone a more compelling and rewarding game altogether. This article’s discussion will hone in on the subject on RNG.
#3.) Hone in the Variance of RNG
As I mentioned previously in Part 1, Hearthstone compared to other card games is unique in that there is a low amount of variance within the game’s initial layout; by this I am referring to the free resource each player gets every turn (in mana crystals) as well as a free mulligan at the start of a game. This offers an impressive amount of consistency, so it is important that Hearthstone always produces some RNG-riddled cards to make new experiences all the time.
However, there are some examples of random cards Blizzard has devised which pushes my scale of RNG-fun. Too much RNG makes the player feel like they did not win to a better player, but rather a more lucky player. There is a reason so many people flock to games like Poker and not so much to Egyptian War or Rock-Paper-Scissors.
This post will review examples of where I think there is good RNG and bad RNG in Hearthstone.
Examples of Good RNG:
Why: The level of variance between each companion isn’t too crazy. There is always an optimal companion of the three for each situation. While a particular option could win/lose you the game, the variance holistically is balanced in every situation of which are all accountable for.
Why: A common issue of low mana RNG cards is that their bonus effects can instantly decide the game from the first few turns which is devastating. This is not quite the case for Clockwork Gnome. For starters, to get the spare part it needs to trigger a Deathrattle, and then the card goes to your hand not making an immediate board presence. Additionally the spare part itself has predictable variance and requires high skill and multiple turns to often use optimally.
Why: While her effect is often game swinging, why this is card is a good RNG card lies within her higher mana cost as well as her high skill cap in order to optimally play her. Costing 6 mana allows for games to be more or less played out within the early few turns of contesting for the board / face damage. Her game swinging RNG in the later phases of the game is then more appropriate.
Why: Gosh, I can go on and on about why Discover effects are some of the best in the game. In principal, discover gives the player a choice of 3, not feeling like your victory/loss was perhaps completely out of your hand. Secondly, the card is added to your hand, usually resulting in a non-immediate board state change.
Examples of Bad RNG:
Why: The low cost of Knife and Flame Juggler immediately provide a presence on the board. Their added ability can then give an opportunity to swing the game open as early as turn 2, clearing your board as well.
Why: The variance for this card is just too damn high. Sure the player of this card might get a devastating Doomsayer for themselves, but in either case regardless, some player is going to be bummed when this card is played. Additionally, this card’s stats are highly budgeted to contest for the board as well as the average 2-drop’s stats. Note here also I think this card is a significantly worse culprit than Piloted Sky Golem due to the fact that you can play this card two turns earlier, hence screwing up the game even sooner.
Why: Again, the sheer variance of this card is the new poster child of nuts. This card has a chance to instantly lose the game for you, as well as a small chance to instantly kill your opponent. The usual outcome is a massive hand, a crazy board, or getting nothing (or worse). The recent change of Yogg should help his frustrating presence on the competitive scene.
Why: The variance Barnes can pull is absurd. Snagging Ragnaros as Priest, then Resurrecting Rag again can instantly decide the game simply by playing the card. Resurrect Priest can be one of the most frustrating decks to play against when it is on a roll due to the lack of counter-play involved with Barnes.
1.) A larger amount of variance is typically bad RNG. More controllable amounts of RNG, (ie. fewer outcomes) are generally healthier.
2.) If there is going to be a larger amount of RNG attached to a card, it should be expensive to play to not drastically swing the game in the early stages, hence deciding matches by themselves.
3.) There is a limit to how much RNG should be budgeted on a card to begin with, despite the mana cost (ex. Yogg)
As Blizzard continues to develop and make new cards, I feel that they should seriously consider the negative effects of too much RNG. Old Gods and Karazhan featured some of the most frustrating elements of RNG I have witnessed in a video game before.
Here are some sources of popular YouTubers/streamers discussing the state of RNG in Hearthstone that are worth watching:
(Salty) Reynad’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdkGNrkJsII
(Expletive) Firebat’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqVfKHLzTSQ