Junk Legendaries: When Christmas sucks

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As a free-to-play Hearthstone player, getting a legendary is surprise Christmas. You don’t know when it’s gonna come but you know it only comes once a few times a year.

As a seasoned free-to-play Hearthstone player, you are probably also familiar with the big legendaries with a capital L: Sylvanas, Ragnaros, N’Zoth, etc.The ones that whole decks get built around. Like a child imagining Christmas you see yourself cracking open a pack and lo and behold, there’s Tyrion Fordring!

What you’re probably less familiar with unless you scrutinise expansion lists, are the junk legendaries. The Acidmaws, the Captain Greenskins.

The Gruuls. Oh good God, the Gruuls.

The first legendary I got was from the single TGT pack I bought when the expansion came out. It was a golden Nexus Champion Saraad. Seeing as I was new to the game, all I thought was ‘Ooh, shiny’ and popped it in my control priest deck. Only a few months later did I see it for what it was: A license to print money and I promptly disenchanted it.

Since then here’s what I’ve been handed:

  • Nate the Darkfisher: One of the many WotOG packs I opened in May had a Nate in it. It is a universally reviled card that by some has been considered the worst card in the entire expansion.
  • Gruul: An expert pack I recieved for playing the Tarvn Brawl contained Gruul. You can’t really find any serious reviews of Gruul online because apparently noone has ever considered playing it.
  • Anomalus: Anawho? A later WotOG pack gave me Anomalus. It’s a big 8-6 that does 8 damage to all minions as a death rattle. It might have some use as control if you could find an easy way to put taunt on it. As yet that has not happened.

I’ll be quick to say I’m not complaining. This is not a post about my rotten luck. You win some, you loose some. I’ve been lucky to have received two copies of Call of the Wild, enabling me to play midrange hunter for cheap. And bear in mind that this whole post is predicated on the idea/presumption, that you can play Hearthstone as a F2P game, at least as regards card packs. Personally, I have paid for some wings in League of Explorers and will possibly do something similar once the next adventure arrives. But I only get the packs I can buy for in-game currency.

As I said receving a legendary in a F2P pack is like Christmas because of the rarity with which it occurs. Receiving a crappy legendary, well that’s like finding coal in your stocking. No, I take that back, ’cause what are you gonna do with a lump of coal? No, it’s more like Santa took a dump in your stocking because excrement is fertilizer and can be used to grow something useful. Still, nobody wants to wake up on Christmas morning wondering about the smell.

Of course, in the abstract it’s no different from the situation with commons, rares or epics but in the concrete it is. What you get for commons and rares even out over time. You’ll open enough packs that probability laws dictate that you’ll get good rares as well as crappy ones. To a lesser extent that applies to epics too.

But a) legendaries come by so rarely  and b) some sets contain such a large ratio of junk to OP, that by those same laws of probability we can tell that a sizable amount of players will only ever get legendary turds.

Again, I have to stress that this is not about my luck. The point I’m making is about probability: Evening out randomness only works when the numbers are big. You’ll play so many games that the RNG at work in any single game will even out over all those games. As you might remember, sometimes Piloted Shredder gave you a Totem Golem, other times it f***ed you over with a Doomsayer. When you played enough of them you sort of averaged a Frostwolf Grunt which was acceptable value. Unless you’re still playing Hearthstone in ten years time (as Blizzard hopes you will, but really?) you are unlikely to get enough legendaries to hit that sort of average. Unless of course you resort to mass buying of packs, which may or may not be the point

I don’t think legendaries should be cheaper – they should be something in a different class – and as we’ve seen in tavern brawls, crappy-weird legendaries are entertaining in the own right. So here’s my suggestion: Say you got 800 dust for disenchanting a legendary, rather than the measly 400 – i.e. a quarter of the legendary cost – it would even out the sense of injustice. If you only needed two junk legendaries instead of four to make one Ysera, it would even the playing field a bit.

Given a more reasonable trading in ratio of legendaries you would actually have cause to celebrate Christmas, regardless of whether Santa Blizzard thought you naughty or nice.

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