Dear Greatfather Winter, these are the improvements we’d like to see in Hearthstone Mercenaries this year
This week the latest Hearthstone mini-set arrived and with it came five new mercenaries with a pirate theme. While the two new rare mercs should come in the next two Mercenaries packs you pick up, it’s going to be harder to get the two new epics and the legendary Edwin Van Cleef as you’ll need to get back on the coin carousel to craft them unless you’re lucky enough to get them quickly in packs or pick up the special Legendary bundle that includes Van Cleef.
For some of us, though, the additional five mercs compounds a problem that has existed since the release — namely, the system wherein each mercenary has its own currency that is used for purchasing (if you’ve been unlucky in acquiring via packs) and upgrading that mercenary and only that mercenary. Now we have five more types of coins that can be acquired, that means the odds of getting the coins you want for a specific Mercenary has been reduced. While Blizzard has started adding tailored monetary options to the shop — as of this writing, I am being offered 300 Grommash coins for $9.99 and 3×200 random epic mercenary coins for $2.99 — for those of us looking to experience this mode in a free-to-play manner this addition feels more like an impediment rather than an expansion.
This isn’t the only frustration in Hearthstone’s recently-launched Mercenaries mode — it’s one of a long list of hassles, annoyances, and bugs the game launched with. While I don’t expect Blizzard to fix them next week (or even next month), I do hope Mercenaries mode keeps evolving. And, in fact, I have some suggestions: here’s our current wishlist for Hearthstone Mercenaries improvements.
Coins, coins everywhere but none that I want to spend
As already alluded to, the coin situation is convoluted and frankly perplexing. It makes sense to divide Mercenaries into rarity levels, but there’s so much RNG involved with coin acquisition that trying to max out even a rare mercenary isn’t easy. It also makes it much harder to acquire new Epic and Legendary cards without spending a lot of money, as your odds of getting the coins you want are only slightly higher than getting the card itself.
The easiest solution that doesn’t give everybody all the legendaries in one day? Group coins into three categories: rare coins, epic coins, legendary coins. The coins could work exactly the same in terms of how they’re used in the game, but they’re just able to be used on any mercenary in that rarity bracket. This will allow players to build up synergistic parties by focusing on specific Mercenaries, which will make the game more fun.
Monetization is of course a concern; yes, it’s nominally a free-to-play game, but it’s understandable that Blizzard wants to pay the artists and developers of the game mode. The current model feels so whale-focused, though, that it may be turning players off from the mode. Combining the coins into categories will help, as will adding optional visuals to the cash shop.
It would also be advantageous to better incorporate the Mercenaries mode into the Reward Track, as it’s the only way to earn gold (with which to purchase packs) and the mode doesn’t help progress it much. While there are indications from the development team that they’re planning to make quests work better, tying bounties into the quest system and adding Mercenaries/portraits to the track will encourage more play.
“UI” stands for ugly and inefficient
It makes sense that there could be some limitations in the UI since this is an entirely new type of game that’s been built upon the base Hearthstone client, but with achievements already a pain to navigate through — sorted alphabetically instead of placing the most recently-earned at the top, and requiring the player to click each achievement for it to be applied to their account — simply unlocking a piece of equipment for a character turns into a herculean task. The solution to this is simple: don’t require achievements to be confirmed, just give them to us immediately. Completing the Mercenary tasks that reward equipment provides the equipment immediately, and there’s no reason the achievement for reaching level 30 can’t do the same.
Other improvements to the UI would be additional ways to sort through the Mercenaries; a “show all Mercenaries with eligible upgrade” option would be welcome (although if the coin change above happens, it wouldn’t be as useful), as would being able to sort by level. Being able to see what mercs are in a party via mouseover instead of drilldown would also be quite useful, as would providing more information on the card in your collection — like displaying the equipped item.
There’s also an annoying quirk when setting up your mercs for a given fight — you can’t change your mind. As you select which Mercenaries to fight, they’re placed on the playing field and waiting for you to hit Ready; you would think since you’re given the option to indicate readiness that you’d be able to swap out heroes before the fight starts, but no, once Grommash is down, he is going to fight for you — all you’re able to do is reposition him. This makes so little sense to me that I have to think it’s a bug and not intentional, but just in case, this is a big one on our wish list too.
Finally, one addition that would really improve the game is access to a combat log. Sometimes damaging effects occur and you’re not quite sure where they came from, or you’re misunderstanding the impact certain abilities have. Recording a combat log that can be reviewed during the fight or later would be helpful especially when trying to figure out why the Big Bada-Boom didn’t work on Emperor Thaurissan like you thought it would.
There’s a lot to like about Hearthstone Mercenaries, but getting these upgrades into the game will make for a less frustrating experience for those who want to enjoy the game.