The Year of the Mammoth will soon be upon us, and Blizzard has announced new changes to the way cards are released to Hearthstone. This year, there will be no stand-alone adventures, only three around 130-card pack-based expansions and single-player mission related to them.
This move adds more cards to the card pool, but what does it mean cost-wise?
How much free-to-play gold can you make?
Players have calculated the figures before, for example in this reddit post by ryansylvia. With the latest quest changes, you can make around 60 gold per quest if you reroll your quests optimally and never miss one. That’s 420 gold per week and 21,900 gold per year.
In addition to that, you get 10 gold per 3 wins in play mode, so let’s say you win 6 games per day for an additional 20 gold per day (7300 gold).
In addition to these, you get free Classic packs from Tavern Brawl, which has a couple of non-pack weeks per year. Still, this is an additional 50 packs or so. Let’s make the assumption that you do not need any of the cards and just disenchant them all, for an average of 108 dust per pack. That’s 5400 dust per year.
Furthermore, you get rewards from reaching ranks in ranked play. Let’s assume you get to rank 5 each month and disenchant the golden cards you receive as rewards. That’s 505 dust per month for 6060 dust per year.
While it is possible to go above these figures (30 wins per day, legend rank, arena), this is already a hardcore setup of playing at least an hour every day even if you play Pirate Warrior, a lot more if you play slow decks. So, a relatively hardcore F2P player can earn 29,200 gold and 11,460 dust per year.
Any freebies Blizzard hands out when releasing new expansions will be added to that, as well as the upcoming daily login bonuses, of which we do not yet know for how long they will be granted nor how lucrative they are.
Furthermore, if you are good at it and want to play Arena, that game mode enables significant gold earnings beyond these figures.
How much do you need to spend to keep up?
OtakuMZ has analyzed the number of packs you need for different scenarios over at Blizzpro. I’m especially interested in two of the scenarios he defines, although I tweak his figures a little:
- The number of packs you need per expansion to be able to create all the top competitive decks: 175 packs per expansion as per Blizzpro, but I’ll use 150 packs that gives you 85% of the cards.
- The number of packs you need per expansion to be able to create all the top competitive decks and some fun and at least somewhat viable decks: 240 packs per expansion as per Blizzpro, but I’ll use 200 packs that gives you 90% of the cards.
- (For reference, a complete collection takes around 380 packs per expansion)
Unfortunately, you will see that even with my lower figures, Hearthstone is not going to be cheap.
Hearthstone has moved in a more expensive direction all the time. First, expansions and adventures were released in turn – 1 expansion, 1 adventure. Then, the three annual releases were decided to consist of 2 expansions and 1 adventure. Now, there are still three annual releases, but all of them will be expansions.
Under the first system, some years are more expensive than others, and you get to save some on the double adventure year (not a very attractive business model from the company’s perspective by the way).
A model I would have wanted to see was to move to four annual releases with 2 expansions and 2 adventures, we can make comparisons with that as well.
Three annual releases, expansions and adventures in turn (2014-15): 1,5 expansions and 1,5 adventures per year. On average, 263 new cards per year (130 cards per expansion, 45 cards per adventure).
- Top competitive decks: 225 packs and 4200 gold for the adventures = 26,700 gold per year.
- Competitive and fun decks: 300 packs and 4200 gold = 34,200 gold per year.
- A relatively hardcore F2P player could easily keep up with the competitive meta without playing Arena or spending a dime.
Three annual releases, 2 expansions and 1 adventure (2016). On average, 305 new cards per year.
- Top competitive decks: 300 packs and 2800 gold for the adventure = 32,800 gold per year.
- Competitive and fun decks: 400 packs and 2800 gold =42,800 gold per year.
- A relatively hardcore F2P player could barely keep up with the competitive meta without playing Arena or spending money. Fun decks in addition require a small investment.
Three annual releases, 3 expansions (2017). On average, 390 new cards per year.
- Top competitive decks: 450 packs = 45,000 gold per year.
- Competitive and fun decks: 600 packs = 60,000 gold per year.
- A relatively hardcore F2P player is in no way able to keep up with the competitive meta without playing Arena or spending a lot of money (around €120 at least).
Four annual releases, 2 expansions and 2 adventures (in my dreams). On average, 350 new cards per year.
- Top competitive decks: 300 packs and 5600 gold for the adventures = 35,600 gold per year.
- Competitive and fun decks: 400 packs and 5600 gold for the adventures = 45,600 gold per year.
- A relatively hardcore F2P player is not quite able to keep up with the competitive meta without playing Arena or spending money. He can keep up by buying at least one adventure with real money (best value for money).
If you were just able to keep up with the meta in 2016, you’re looking at adding another 125 packs to what you did last year in order to keep up now. If Blizzard had opted go for the 2 expansions, 2 adventures model, you could look forward to adding one adventure purchase (€18) to keep up – for an amount of content half-way between last year and the upcoming model.
Good news for the card pool, potentially bad news for most players
It’s good that there will be more cards in the card pool. Hearthstone has clearly suffered from its small card pool, and an attempt to fix that deserves praise.
However, the implementation is made by removing the most cost-effective way to buy cards and requiring huge additional purchases from players to keep up – in the region of €120-€200 per year in addition to whatever you are spending now: and remember, in a digital card game you cannot sell your cards if you quit, so any money spent is gone for good. For comparison, I made net profit from selling my collection when I quit playing Magic, I cannot do that with Hearthstone.
If Blizzard were to compensate the removal of adventures via daily login bonuses, those would have to amount to at least 25 gold per day (365 days per year), which would still mean that spending more real money is necessary because of the increased number of cards.
Hearthstone just got a lot more expensive.