I’m above average and get an ugly card back

Oh look, there’s a lot of dust in the corners…

Ahem. Anyway. You know how, when you spend a long time working all the time, and then the work is suddenly over? You end up just sitting there, wondering what to do with your time again. Because you forgot how to leisure. Staring at the walls, idly surfing the web, wondering at the end of the evening what you’ve actually done all night. Feeling unable to cope with your free time. Feeling bored. The last one shocked me most. I never felt bored with my free time in my life before, ever! Well, except that one time I was stuck at an airport for 40 hours without anything to read, but I’d hardly qualify that as free time in the original sense…

I’m slowly getting back to the point where I know how to waste my free time in style. The first game I pulled from the proverbial shelf was Europa Universalis IV. Pretty nice game, and great if you’re trying to come down from a long strange trip of wrecking your mind over a dissertation. It’s complicated enough to at first trick you into thinking it’s not a game at all. If there’s any interest, I’ll write something about my games. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth whose western borders eerily mirrored the Iron Curtain. The Palatinate which owned half of Germany, plus Denmark and Sweden. And the Ottoman Empire that is working hard to restore the medieval Caliphate (work in progress; The French–Aragonese Kingdom is giving me a hard time). I think I spent about 150 hours on those games. EUIV is about to take the crown of time investment from Skyrim.

But since variatio delectat, and I seem to not be able to focus on games for extremely long stretches as it used to be back when I played WoW, I got meself a side game.

Enter Hearthstone. Which is probably a horrible idea, because starting such a game over a year late means that I have to play with only basic cards against people who spent a year grinding their deck full of epic and legendary cards, which are simply flat out better. It’s also a weird choice for me, because it’s a PVP game at its core. Sure, there are some PVE portions (and I actually spent €22 on the game for the Naxxramas single-player adventure), but they’re really more an afterthought. You play cards against people, first and foremost.

Color me surprised, then, that after less than two weeks, I ended the current season of April in the top half of all players:

Tauren Warrior Stomp!

Tauren Warrior Stomp!

Well, yes, just barely. And it probably tells you more about people who only played an evening the whole month, and people who are flat out horrible at clicking things on computer screens, than about my proficiency with the game. Although I guess I could’ve progressed further up the latter if I had cared about it enough. Which I don’t, I basically just play games at the moment to get F2P currency from the daily quests, and that’s it.

Oh, I also missed the supposedly very important message in fiery decal in the background, because it disappeared first when I clicked the screen. So I might never know what extremely important message it wanted to convey. (edit: By the power of reddit, I learned that it was merely an ad that the last wing of the Blackrock Mountain solo adventure had opened.)

As a present for being so incredibly awesome, I got a present. Well, in fact, it would have sufficed to reach rank 20 for that, and you can’t lose rank 20 once you attained it, so you get that reward for just playing enough during a season. And like all “participation prizes”, it’s appropriately ugly:

But won't that make the cards sticky?

But won’t that make the cards sticky?

Seriously? A cupcake? OK, I admit that the previous season designs were very much a hit-and-miss, but they didn’t have a freaking cupcake on them! I feel a bit cheated for not starting the game earlier. On top of not having awesome cards. Rubbing it in, Blizzard, eh?

We’ll see how long my infatuation with Hearthstone will last. Potentially long enough for Blizzard to siphon another €22 off me for the Blackrock Mountain Adventure Packet (by the way, it’s really annoying how you cannot buy these in other shops where they, by rule of thumb, would cost much less). It’s a nice game to spend 30 minutes on every now and then, I guess. Though it can be very aggravating if you’re unlucky with card draws and just sitting there watching your enemy pull out Emperor Thaurissan or Majordomo Executus or… Hogger – to add insult to injury – and wreck your face with it. But then again, there’s nothing better than beating someone with those cards if they end up with rotten luck of the draw. Schadenfreude!

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