My Hearthstone Tournament Mode Feature Wishlist

My Hearthstone Tournament Mode Feature Wishlist

Last year, there was some discussion about new features being added to Hearthstone. Eventually, we discovered that the new game mode was none other than Tavern Brawl but we know that the developers are watching and considering idea for a tournament option. We didn’t get anything during the Grand Tournament expansion either. At the moment, tournaments are more community run than anything else. Players can look up events on Battlefy, Strivewire, and on other sites. Blizzard seems to be reluctant to take full control of running competitive tournaments at the moment (but that could be changing in the future after their purchase of MLG).

With Standard mode being implemented, the Hearthstone team has addressed the issue of stale meta games and evolving playstyles. The next step forward should be to look at the quality of life aspect for competitive players and tournament organizers.

Match history

No need to delve into this one too much. Wrote about it not too long ago. I’m sure they could put in the level of detail consistent with Heroes of the Storm and Starcraft 2 match histories. It solves the issue of having to screenshot the results right after a match in case someone forgets to take a screenshot.

Turbo mode

One of the problems with Conquest mode is the amount of time it takes to get through a best of 5 match. Control matchups often take up a whole hour and in Swiss tournaments, every match needs to finish before the next round can begin. My Fireside’s often last over 8 hours and it’s more an exercise in attrition than anything else.

Those of you familiar with online poker might be aware of some tournaments that are under turbo mode. Think of it as express games. Blinds and ante’s go up twice as fast. You have less time to make adjustments, to wait for premium hands, and to recover from any errors.

I’m not advocating for faster turn limits. Those can be kept the same.

What I would like to see is a checkbox or an option to speed up animations. If it could be sped up even 25%, it would help accelerate matches. Both players would have to enable it.

Do we really need to see Ragnaros rise up from the board again?

Or for every minion to enter a melee after a Brawl gets played?

Or Unleash the Hounds into a Knife Juggler which happens to hit an Acolyte of Pain or Armorsmith?

I get that much of the appeal in Hearthstone is in the visual effects. It’s just fun to watch our cards interact with other elements on the board. It separates Hearthstone from other digital card games (or card games, period). However, in tournaments, we have to do everything we can to keep games going at a reasonable level. There’s certainly things I can do on my end as a TO to help speed things along and get everyone going more efficiently when an event is under way.

Besides, once a tournament enters a playoff stage, the turbo mode option can be unchecked and animations returned to their original speeds for spectator appeal.

Unique Deck IDs

This would solve deck submission list problems. I was talking to a friend the other day who participates frequently in online tournaments. Now, when you connect to a player and are in the deck selection screen, you cannot back out. If you do and and enter your collection, you’re liable for a forfeit loss. One of his opponent’s did that and he had to report him after they connected and he dropped out to his collection then reconnected again.

mws

Thankfully, this is a problem that was solved in other card clients like Apprentice and Magic Workstation. What they did was automatically generate a unique deck ID (or security code as illustrated). Maybe even mention that the deck type is standard or wild. There’s no way to re-engineer a deck list from the deck ID string. The deck ID would be visible to both opponents. It would be submitted ahead of time to tournament organizers for players to lock in their decks. If a player had a different ID than the one submitted, then it could be grounds for further investigation. But this way, it would help address the issues of players mistakenly dropping out of the connection screen.

Overtime

This one is a trickier thing to address. Should there be an overtime option added to the game? Or should every match be played out to it’s conclusion? I hate Control Warrior vs Reno Lock matchups or other similar type games because I know how long those games can stretch. I’d like to see 50 minute match times for best of 5s, but that wouldn’t really be fair. People could whip out Control Warrior or Control Priest as their third deck and play for a draw instead of for a win. In Magic, once time is called, there are five total turns left and if you can’t win before the final turn is up, the game is considered a draw. In a Swiss tournament, that’s okay because you can award the draw to both players but in an elimination round, that isn’t possible. I’d love to see time limits in place during a group stage and then lift them during playoffs.

Thankfully, the existing turn timers are in place to help mitigate and reduce slow playing. There are times where I don’t believe it’s enough.

Fireside Incentives

This is a tough issue to address. The biggest question that’s asked of me when I’m hosting events is always, “Why should I come out to a Fireside tournament if I know I’m going to get slaughtered by pros? I’d rather just stay home and play in my PJs.”

And that’s a fair criticism. There’s more that can be done on the event organizers and maybe even Blizzard. I know I’ve held my own share of Fireside events and had conversations with players about the very topic. Last year, when Firesides had just launched, Blizzard gave organizers redeemable codes that they could give to players for a free Hearthstone classic pack (with a limit up to 10 redeemed). Or if they hadn’t yet, players could come out and grab their Fireside card back just for participating in a couple of games with other players on a local network.

Ever since then, there’s been nothing. Their Fireside program’s been restructured and no codes have been given out in a while. The Fireside cardback’s been exhausted and most players probably have one by now (or at least, it’s still easy enough for them to obtain it).

In my case, I’ve held a few giveaways with some prizes from the Blizzard store like posters or plushies or other smaller stuff to random attendees that show up.

Aside from that, the biggest draws have been cash prizes from entry fees or potential HCT points (although that can’t be considered anymore because it seems HCT events need to be free for everyone to join which hurts the organizers because they can’t afford to cover venue fees — It’s not like I have my own game store I can host Firesides at, I have to work with venues and there’s a business aspect that needs to be covered, but that’s a rant all on it’s own).

So back to my original point. How can Blizzard increase Fireside participation?

When I used to play Magic at FNM’s, pre-releases, and other tournaments, you could always count on receiving some boosters or promo cards. With Hearthstone, it’s a little different. Since accounts are capped at 10 redeemable packs, there’s only a limited number of those that can be awarded.

What about rotating Fireside card backs? I’d be game for that. Have a new Fireside cardback that’s obtainable during certain Tavern Hero seasons. That gives collectors something they’d be interested in coming out to events for.

Ranked play offers gold cards depending on what rank you reach at the end of the month. I would’ve suggested that, but it might be too much of the same thing. Alternate art cards maybe? Or maybe a code for 1000 dust? Heroes of the Storm gives out skin codes and hero codes during tournaments. For Hearthstone, I don’t know, but it seems to be getting increasingly more difficult to encourage players to come out to Firesides these days.

I wish there was more I could do but there are only so many resources I have at my disposal here and want to keep promoting the game while hosting events. It’s tough.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

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