A recent developer interview talks about why there are so many terrible cards in Hearthstone’s basic set.
One of the biggest concerns that players have when it comes to a CCG is power creep, which is the introduction of consistently more powerful cards with each set. In Hearthstone, there are quite obviously some very bad cards in the basic set, intended for beginners, and much more powerful cards have been released in the last two expansions. This does make things more difficult for new players, but Senior Game Designer Ben Brode doesn’t believe this is a true power creep issue.
“Just because we made Ice Rager or Evil Heckler, it doesn’t mean power-creep, because those cards don’t get played anyway. We’re just exploring new space, we’re trying new card designs out. It’s OK that they’re better than Basic cards. Basic cards have a really specific role building the simplicity and progression systems for new players,” said Brode.
The basic idea is that directly improving upon a card isn’t power creep if that card was never used in the first place. This can be argued when it comes to arena or for players who don’t have access to a lot of cards, but Brode believes that there need to be bad cards for players to feel progression.
“We want some of the Basic cards to be really bad. Really bad. To help make that feeling of progression even stronger. But some people pointed out that those cards are making it unfair for new players and they’re losing because of them. Actually new players are losing for more reasons than that, they just don’t have the skill,” he added.
The biggest example of power creep is Dr. Boom vs War Golem. Dr. Boom is better in almost every scenario, unless a Nerub’ar Weblord is on the board, but War Golem basically never sees play. Therefore, instead of updating War Golem to be useable, a strictly better card was designed and it is included in many competitive decks.
Card games generally need some form of power creep to survive. It’s difficult to keep releasing new sets without introducing new, powerful ideas. While directly increasing card power is bad, creating potentially more powerful combos keeps things interesting.
Source: BlizzardRelated: Blizzard Entertainment, CCG, Hearthstone, News