Hearthstone’s current Tavern Brawl is the worst one yet. If you’ve read my articles, it won’t come as a surprise that I hate excessive randomness in Hearthstone. Tavern Brawls often include a lot of randomness–think Webspinners, Unstable Portals, and Encounter at the Crossroads. But this one tops all of them by a significant margin.
Have you ever played a coin flip simulator? It wasn’t fun, was it?
The new Tavern Brawl is entirely built around the card ‘Party Crasher.’ It’s a 3/5 with taunt, and at the end of your turn it does damage equal to its attack to your opponent. Sounds pretty strong, right? It only costs four mana, so it’s basically a better Sen’jin Shieldmasta. Except you don’t play Party Crashers, they spawn automatically. That’s right, starting on player two’s turn four, one of these will spawn every turn. As it turns out, having a free 3/5 with taunt spawn every turn is crazily strong. The ability to face automatically, including the turn they spawn, makes this brawl broken beyond belief.
The person going second will win almost every time, simply because they got the first Party Crasher. Let that sink in.
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I’ve played a substantial amount of this Tavern Brawl. I didn’t want to, since it’s not fun, but it’s part of doing my due diligence. Across my dozens of games, I saw someone win going first exactly one time. I won a single game going first, because I had a perfect 1-2-3 curve. I got through enough damage and killed off his first Party Crasher to push the game in my favor. Every other game played was entirely decided by who went first and second. In fact, after a few hours of the Tavern Brawl, players began conceding if they were first to play.
It was interesting to note that some classes fared a lot better than others. Priest, Warrior, and Hunter did the best, because they could interact with the life totals. That being said, they share the same fate as everyone else, it’s just a bit harder fought, or easier for these classes. At the end of the day, the Tavern Brawl was an elaborate coin flip. Not only was there no strategy, there wasn’t even time for strategy. Games were mostly over by turns 6/7, and most of my opponents only played 3-4 cards.
Randomness on Randomness on Randomness
As if coin flip randomness wasn’t enough, we don’t get to build our own decks. That’s the only thing that could have salvaged this brawl. It would still be fairly predictable, but at least it wouldn’t be a coin flip. But no, we don’t get to build our decks, so any cards that could make this brawl better don’t appear.
The latest Tavern Brawl is a troubling example of Blizzard’s design philosophy. Of course each class is going to have a 50% win rate if games are decided by who goes first. Is it balanced or fun? Nope. With Un’Goro being released later this month, hopefully the shortcomings of this Tavern Brawl are only a symptom of the development team’s focus on producing an excellent expansion. Time will tell.