Hearthstone’s Senior Designer, Ben Brode, has gotten chatty again in another video blog, this time continuing his talk from his last video about power creep in Hearthstone. This time, he addresses cards like Ice Rager, Evil Heckler, and Dr. Boom, which are clearly better than their basic set components.
As Brode explains, the cards in question are better, but they’re better than purposefully designed weak basic cards — cards that everyone gets for free — to provide a kind of “feel-good” power ramping without damaging the value of anyone’s collection. As he puts it, the weaker versions of those cards were barely played, and, being basic cards, nobody’s going to be upset that something they paid for is now irrelevant, so there’s no harm in providing stronger versions.
Less certain is the point Brode makes starting around the 4:25 mark, where he counters the notion that putting this kind of power creep into the game, even if it only affects basic cards, makes the game less fair for new players. As he puts it:
Actually, new players are losing because they are — for more reasons than just that. They just don’t have the skill. There’s a lot of things you have to learn about Hearthstone, from building a deck, to the concepts of tempo and card advantage, and value. There’s lots of pieces to becoming good at Hearthstone… The cards in your deck are not the biggest reason why new players aren’t winning a lot of games.
He’s not completely wrong; skill is important, to be sure, and there are plenty of cases of decks with nothing but common cards being highly competitive in the hands of a skilled player. But having more and better cards to choose from sure doesn’t hurt. I don’t think Brode is trying to completely dismiss that notion, but the way he puts it sounds a little forced, as if he’s trying to poo-poo the notion that your card collection is in any way relevant to your potential for success.