Hearthstone: Madness at the Darkmoon Faire again provides hours of card fun, but it does so in the shadow of the ill-developed Rewards Track.
Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, the most recent expansion for Hearthstone, Blizzard’s digital card game, was launched on Tuesday. After we had been working with the new game mode Duels for a few weeks, it was finally time to open our packs and explore this new set.
Madness at the Darkmoon Faire in undoubtedly one of the biggest expansions Hearthstone has seen in recent years. In addition to a completely new set of 135 unique maps and the announcement of a mini-expansion within a few months and the full customization of the quest system, we saw a new game mode with Duels for the first time since Battlegrounds.
In Duels you build a deck using 10 cards from your own Hearthstone collection, after which you gradually build up your deck by winning more. Does that sound familiar? It is, as Duels is largely based on the popular Dungeon Run and Monster Hunt adventures from previous expansions. However, there are some differences. This way you no longer play against the computer, but you come face to face with real players. Duels has therefore been given a competitive element. You can play Casual Mode, but for the daring there is Heroic Mode. This will cost you a few euros, a Tavern Ticket or 150 gold.
In other words, the setup is reminiscent of Arena, where you will also be rewarded with better prizes if you win more and where you end up after three losses. run. In Duels, however, you not only choose your class, but also your own Hero Power. So you can opt for a specific playing style and that offers a lot of possibilities. One Hero Power was available during early access, but now there are already two, with a third to be released soon. Each class also has six Signature Treasures, unique cards with above-average impact. Like the Hero Powers, these will gradually become available throughout the first season of Duels, called Wizard Duels. However, don’t expect to have seen it all, because in the second season you can expect new Hero Powers and Signature Treasures. Blizzard clearly wants to keep Duels fresh, something that was often quite difficult in Arena because changes took a long time to come. In Duels, however, you as a player are in control of what you play.
The fashion was also positively received by the Hearthstone community, although not everyone was equally pleased with the fact that you have to use cards from your own collection, especially from older sets. After all, these are often converted into dust in order to make cards from new sets in a cheaper way. Duels is therefore not affordable for everyone and requires a certain investment on the part of the player. On top of that comes the new quest system that makes Hearthstone gold (and consequently Duels) less accessible. You can read more about what went wrong here in this review.
Madness at the Darkmoon Faire: Review of the set
After all, it would be wrong to let Madness at the Darkmoon Faire’s judgment depend on Blizzard’s financial decisions. After all, the community seems to forget that there are a lot of passionate people working on Hearthstone behind the scenes and they just want to make the best possible expansion regardless of what management wants.
This worked again, because Darkmoon Faire turned out to be a great set. Players have long been asking to bring the popular World of Warcraft fair to Hearthstone. The game developers could have chosen to make a cheerful set full of humor, but we just had that with Scholomance Academy. Time to add a dark element again and we encounter that in the form of the resurrected Old Gods. C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, Y’Shaarj and N’Zoth were last featured in 2016’s Whispers of the Old Gods and are poised to cause chaos once again.
Corrupt and the Return of the Old Gods
They do this through the new keyword: Corrupt. Corrupt cards have multiple forms. In their standard form they are okay, but if you play a card with a cost higher than that of the Corrupt card, the Old Gods will provide a more powerful variant that suddenly has a much greater impact. Carnival Clown, for example, defaults to two clowns on the board, but if you play a 10 mana card, your board will be filled with seven clowns. Sometimes Corrupt is a bit more difficult to activate, especially compared to Spellburst from the previous set, but if it succeeds then the payoff is also worth it. Shoutout by the way to the artists, who had to make two versions of each card and the influences of the Old Gods were beautiful in map have brought.
As for the Darkmoon Faire meta, we still see Face Hunter and Pure Paladin doing very well without using a lot of new cards. Demon Hunters clearly get an added value from the new set because Aggro and Soul decks seem very popular. There is even an OTK deck, although luckily that sees less success. At the bottom of the ladder we find Priest and we are very happy with that, because we have not yet recovered from their dominant role at the time of Ashes of Outland. Furthermore, all Old Gods are playable, although some are more successful than others. Their battlecries are also similar to the original versions, but different enough to be unique.
As a set Madness of the Darkmoon Faire gets a good score from me, but we can’t help but talk about the additions and changes that Blizzard has made.
For example, Blizzard introduced achievements in the game, something that has been in demand for a long time. A good addition, even if the implementation could be better. After all, while playing you will see a message that you have achieved an achievement, but you will not receive more information outside the title. Because of this you have to look for the achievement in the overview after your match, which is just less fun. A pop-up would have been fine here, but I suspect that Blizzard ran into technical limitations in the now six-year-old Hearthstone client. After all, it must work optimally for both mobile devices and desktop. If it is not possible during a match, would you like to see the other information at the end?
Where Blizzard has gone completely wrong, however, is with the new Rewards Track. For years in Hearhstone you got daily quests that yielded a certain sum of gold, supplemented with 10 gold for every 3 wins in the game. Most players save this gold during expansion X, to be able to spend it at the start of expansion Y. In the new system, gold remains the currency to buy packs, but you only get experience (experience points) for completing the daily (and new weekly) quests. From now on you earn gold by increasing the level with your experience on the new Reward Track. You’ll find gold, legendaries and packs on the way to level 50. From level 50 you get 150 gold per level.
That sounds fine, but it soon became clear that this was not the case. The total amount of gold you earn as a player is, according to various sources, lower than in the previous system, while Blizzard communicated from the start that you would absolutely not get less gold under the new system. In addition, you would have to invest substantially more game time to complete the Rewards Track and then end up getting less. The levels go very quickly at the beginning, but soon you need several days to level up.
An additional problem is that not every level gives gold and you sometimes get a pack of legendary. Many of these packs are from previous sets of Year of the Dragon packs that will rotate early next year. As a result, these rewards feel worse than 100 gold you can save. Combine this with the slow progress and you will be told by players that they are stuck on 140 gold with no way to earn gold in the next few days, preventing them from playing Duels or Arena unless they put down real money.
Of course Blizzard has to make money from Hearthstone, but the limitations in the Rewards Track add to a discussion that has been growing for several years: Hearthstone is too expensive. Players will find they barely get enough cards for a single deck if they stick with the $ 80 pre-order bundle, while a traditional AAA game delivers a full game for that price. Now, this is always the business model of card games, but it is becoming more and more visible in Hearthstone. A few years ago, Hearthstone had two major expansions a year and cheap adventures, after which this became three. You now also have things like Book of Heroes that costs you 10 euros for a single player experience, the 20 euros Battlegrounds Pass that you need to enjoy Battlegrounds to the fullest, and now also the Tavern Pass.
The Tavern Pass costs you 20 euros per set and gives you, in addition to some skins, a boost in experience of up to 20 percent. Of course you can’t buy the boost, but climbing to level 50 is so intensive that you can hardly do without it. Finally, the mini-expansion that Blizzard announced is the last straw for many players. In addition to the minimum of 100 euros per expansion and that three times a year, you now also have to invest in an extra set of cards.
First step in the right direction
Hearthstone is a very expensive game, you can hardly ignore it. Reducing the Free-to-Play elements of the game even slightly is therefore completely rightly causing dissatisfaction within the community. At the time of writing, Blizzard has made an initial concession and six packs received between levels 40 and 50 will be converted into a total of 1350 gold. Game Director Ben Lee also announced that future in-game Hearthstone events will provide a massive boost in experience, but didn’t go into detail about that. This is a good step towards a reward system that is at least equal to the old one, but of course it does not address the bigger problem of Hearthstone’s cost. In addition, it reduces the value of playing outside of the event period.
The Hearthstone community has already provided a lot of feedback in the form of ways in which it can be improved and I hope that Blizzard is open to listen and above all to communicate. Regardless, the distinction between Blizzard as a company and the developers in Hearthstone’s Team 5 is very important to remember here.
Disclaimer: TechPulse received an 80-pack pre-order bundle from Blizzard. Blizzard did not have a say on the content and will only see the review together with our readers. The review of the set and my opinion of the Rewards Track is based on six years of experience with Hearthstone, most of it non-professional.