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Stick or twist: Balancing randomness and strategy in  Hearthstone

Stick or twist: Balancing randomness and strategy in Hearthstone

April 12, 2018 | By Chris Kerr

Hearthstone lead developer Ben Brode has some interesting thoughts on how the popular card-battler manages to balance player agency and strategy with randomness. 

Speaking to TouchArcade during a recent interview, Brode explaines the genre is driven by the notion of randomness, and the idea that players are continuously thrust into new and unfamiliar situations. 

In card-battlers, for instance, each deck is usually shuffled before each round. While the result of that shuffle might be considered lucky or unlucky depending on the outcome, the best players will be able defy the odds by thinking outside the box and cooking up new strategies.

"Hearthstone is much less random than other card games. Having that guaranteed mana each round means we have to go and look for ways to keep it from each match being too similar," says Brode.

"We don't want there to be one ideal class or deck that just wins the majority of the matches so we spend a lot of time looking for ways to keep matches fresh. We want you as a player to find yourself in situations that require you to think on the fly. 

"One of the things people often get wrong is that they say this game is luck based or skill based. Games don't really work like that though. Tic-tac-toe is low skill and low luck whereas poker is high skill and high luck. It's not a slider that you go one direction or the other on."

He suggests Hearthstone is extremely similar to poker in that regard, positing that the game's high skill requirement exists because of its random events and abilities. He believes the skill required to succeed increases when the game becomes more diverse, raising the stakes and pushing players to make the best plays possible. 

You can hear more from Brode by checking out the full interview over on TouchArcade


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