Hearthstone’s biggest problem is its limited card pool

Tired of seeing the same old decks pop up over and over again in Hearthstone? You’re not alone.

Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, or ChrisWarcraft  as others know him by, expressed his frustrations with the digital card game the other day:

In a follow-up Tweet, Kluwe hits the nail on the head concerning this problem: Blizzard’s card pool for Hearthstone is extremely limited. Especially when you compare it to, say, Magic: the Gathering, which has been around since 1993.

When you look at Magic’s Standard format, which only uses the game’s yearly core set and most recent expansions, similarities between the two games can be drawn. Both are drawing off of a limited amount of cards, both have particular decks that have been proven to work over others, and both feature many players who have no idea how to build a deck. Of course you’ll see a lot of internet resource copying and pasting. Still, this is far from the only viable format available in Magic: there's Modern, which uses sets since 2004's Mirrodin. Legacy and Vintage go back to the game's beginnings. EDH goes back to the beginnings as well, but also does so in a way that makes us rethink how good certain cards can be.

Kluwe is far from the only person who feels this way about Hearthstone’s meta. It’s incredibly aggravating to see the same thing over and over again. My late night Twitter feed is often filled with people going “yay, more Mages!” or “Warlock rush. That was fun. Time to play another—oh wait, same guy. I auto-concede.“


Is this the fault of the game? Not exactly; the game can’t help that it’s still in its infancy stages.  Instead, it’s the fault of the lack of variety in available cards. Regardless of the amount of cards at a player’s disposal, only a percent of those will be considered viable. So let’s say you have the 13,000+ Magic: the Gathering cards at your disposal. Only, oh I don’t know, about 15-20% of those are considered to be good. That’s a total of 2,500 “good” cards for your playing pleasure. Now let’s compare that to the 439 cards available in Hearthstone. Using the same math (at most 20% of them are good), we’re at a total of 88 cards.

Oh, and don’t forget: some of these cards are only available if you play one of the nine classes, each with their own placing in the metagame.

It doesn’t take rocket science to see that Hearthstone’s limited card pool is affecting the game. Don’t think for a second, however, that it will always be like this. Over time, more and more cards will become available. That percentage of “good” cards will continue to grow. Keep in mind too that thanks to the game’s digital format, cards can be re-balanced all the time, meaning that just because a card is bad today doesn’t mean it will be bad tomorrow.