What the heck is Hearthstone Duels Beta? Well, we are faced with yet another task as (unpaid) Blizzard beta testers. About a year go, Blizzard released Battlegrounds in response to the rise in popularity of auto battlers like Auto Chess, Dota Underlords, and Teamfight Tactics. As soon as I saw the gameplay for Battlegrounds at the event they put together to showcase it, I knew that I made the comment that I would play that mode almost exclusively.
The same can’t be said for Hearthstone Duels Beta. The concept intrigued me. Blizzard took the Dungeon Run concept and made it PvP. That sounds interesting. However, instead of enhancing my interest in the game mode, watching the game play actually decreased my interest. Then, I received a drop from Twitch to early access to the game mode.
The mode is now in full beta, so I’m no longer special. However, I write this web page, so I am special here. You obviously read the page, so I think you’re pretty special. Let’s discuss among our special selves if this game mode is any good or not.
Do you love Dungeon Run? I do. Do you not know what Dungeon Run is? I forgive you if you don’t. Let me give a brief explanation. And, yes, I realize that almost nothing I ever write is brief. How about I promise to keep this one under 100 words? Deal? Deal.
Dungeon Run is a mode Blizzard introduced as an adventure in one of the expansions. You start with a deck. Then, as you proceed through the “dungeon” and defeat bosses, you get to choose random “treasures” and cards to add to your deck. Honestly, it’s a fun mode and I used to think that I wanted more of it. 59 words.
After playing Duels a few times, it turns out that I just wanted more Dungeon Run. Duels lets you build your starting deck. I don’t care. It lets you play against other people. Without some sort of chat feature, I don’t care whether it’s a bot or a person. Duels does retain the treasures (though most of them are garbage) and card selection, which is great.
Remember when I said that I don’t care about building your own deck. That was mostly for show. Even though most of the time, because it’s a competitive mode, you will build the same deck, that’s starting to change some. Blizzard has already released new class treasures and hero powers that promote some variety in deck building.
Because I don’t have the whole collection on many of my accounts (yes, I have multiple accounts and play all 3 regions on all of them), I have to be creative with my deck choices. Yes, creative there is a euphemism for bad decks. But, sometimes those bad decks will catch an opponent off guard because they’re not looking for the “creative” card choice. And, since it is ultimately “no risk, no reward”, that’s good.
This game mode is ridiculously imbalanced. Granted, it is a beta. Also, it is Blizzard and their idea of game balance has infiltrated MTG. make extremely imbalanced cards, make your money from selling them, and then nerf them (ban them in the case of MTG). Sometimes, this strategy is employed multiple times. Since it’s introduction earlier in the year, Demon Hunter has been nerfed 4 times.
So, expecting Duels to be completely balanced right out of the gate is a tall order. I wasn’t joking in the beginning when I said that Blizzard expects us to be their unpaid beta testers. In the case of the new heroic mode, you are paying them to be beta testers. God bless this brave new world of gaming.
However, Hearthstone Duels Beta is way out of balance. If you can high roll a certain treasure or card selection, you are guaranteed to breeze through to a high win total. I was watching a streamer last night who had two runs where he was dealing 20+ damage per turn starting on turn 4 or 5. In a mode where your starting life is a maximum of 40, that’s ridiculous.
Hearthstone Duels Beta has some fun aspects. I do like that I can build my starting deck. Dumbing into one of the ridiculously overpowered runs is fun as hell. The rest of the time, it is just as frustrating as regular Hearthstone with the addition of even more randomness and frustration of potentially low rolling your way into oblivion. I play standard for the rewards (though they stealth nerfed them) and Battlegrounds because it can be legitimately fun. I don’t see myself playing Duels unless they include it in a quest.