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New player experience

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The new player experience is a key focus point for the Hearthstone developers, seeking to increase the game's accessibility and help those new to the game to quickly learn the ropes.

Various special accommodations exist to ease players into the game, such as the tutorial, additional guidance and tooltips, and the new player pools in Play mode and the Arena. Restrictions serve to simplify the options initially available, helping to avoid overwhelming or confusing new players. Initially players can only play as mage, with other classes locked until the player has defeated them in a match. Similarly, adventures and the Arena are locked until players have unlocked all classes, Tavern Brawls are locked until players have reached higher levels, and Wild format is locked until players craft a card from a Wild format set. Certain quests are also not given to new players.[1]

While many new players will be familiar with similar games like Magic: The Gathering or the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, "a lot" of new players have never played a collectible card game (CCG) before.[2] Because of this it is important that the new player experience teaches and eases players into the basic mechanics of card games in general, as well as the specific details of Hearthstone.

Over time the developers have made numerous changes to improve the new player experience. As of 2015 some of the main reasons for new players stopping playing early on were confusion over how Taunt works; and deck building and large card pools being "overwhelming".[3] The developers sought to address these weaknesses chiefly through changes to the tutorial and hero emotes regarding Taunt and its function, the introduction of game formats (ensuring a moderately sized card pool for new players), and the introduction of Deck Recipes, prebuilt decks giving new and beginner-level players a stepping stone to exploring new deck types and learning about deck construction; the collection's card suggestion system was also improved in the same patch, helping players to fill in gaps in their decks and collections. Changes to the Casual Play mode matchmaking has also improved the new player experience, allowing new players to have "a much higher winrate" in that mode.[4][5]

As of 2017 Game Director Ben Brode admits the previous new player experience "needs more work",[5] stating that certain elements of the experience still have "some pretty serious weaknesses",[2] and that Ranked in particular "has poor matchmaking for new players"[6] and is "becoming more difficult for new players over time".[5] However, he explains that improvements to the experience have seen significant improvements in retention rate for new players since the game's launch in 2014.[5]

New player pools[edit | edit source]

Main article: Matchmaking#New players

In Casual Play mode and the Arena, new players are initially placed into special matchmaking pools to ease them into the game.

Notably, Ranked does not have a new player pool, and shares a starting rank with experienced players who ended the previous season on a lower rank. As a result Ranked is significantly less friendly to very new players than Casual, and the developers have even considered locking Ranked to new players in order to avoid bad experiences.[4]

Deck Recipes[edit | edit source]

Main article: Deck Recipe

Deck Recipes are premade card lists which players can use when creating a new deck. When creating a deck from a Deck Recipe, cards which the player does not possess can be substituted, with alternative suggestions provided. Deck Recipes are intended to give newer players an easy way to explore new deck types, simultaneously helping them to learn about synergies and deck building. For experienced players, they can provide a convenient starting point when creating new decks, and ideas for new deck types to explore.

Behaviour[edit | edit source]

Upon opening a new account, all players must first complete the introductory tutorial before they are able to play the game proper. Once the tutorial is finished the "vast majority" of players progress to playing basic difficulty practice mode matches, where they can unlock the other classes and earn Basic cards.[2] Some new players choose to go into Casual Play mode, while a minority go directly to Ranked Play mode.[2]

See also[edit | edit source]

Patch changes[edit | edit source]

NB: The following list is incomplete.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-04-09). 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Designer Insights: Live Stream Q&A. (2017-01-13). 
  3. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2015-03-06). 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ben Brode on reddit. (2016-10-21). 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Ben Brode on reddit. (2017-01-06). 
  6. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-18).