Analysis of Return on Time Investment for Playing Hearthstone in terms of XP, Gold, and Dust

I decided to do some calcs and show both how breaking into the game is difficult and how the game doesn't reward active players enough.

Average Dust / Pack used is 145. As per https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/3gp7nh/average_dust_per_pack_test_470_packs_analysed/ this realistically should be around 105.915, but I can already hear the number of complaints about cards you don't have being worth more in dust, so take a 36.9022% overvaluation for compromise. A massive amount of the cards you get have no actual application for the decks you may be interested in crafting so this saving will probably be about equal to pulling a legendary for any deck you choose to make, but not getting any other key pieces naturally. Factor in the freebie legendaries here if you want. All dust / pack statistics are HEAVILY skewed by epics and legendaries too, so a bad dry streak could change the dust per pack heavily.

Average Gold per 1000 experience is calculated at 100 for a newbie. As per https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/jwxq38/gold_per_1000_xp_graphs/ this **WAS** around the midway point of the gold curve for a new player before XP per objective was halved as per https://playhearthstone.com/en-us/news/23609768/rewards-track-refresh-and-diamond-cards. Given how quickly you level up early on this is being incredibly generous, 55 or 60 is much more realistic even for a new player considering the average time commitment per level and how it's heavily skewed towards the sub-30 gold/1000 section, now buffed to be 60/1000. However, on top of naturally generous gold curves new players also receive packs, so let's just throw some leeway in here.

Average XP per week is calculated to be about 20,700. This assumes religiously doing the weekly quests for 6000 XP, getting 7000 XP from dailies (assuming https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/jx88v5/the_new_800_and_1000_xp_quests_are_only_worth_26/gcvn5ew?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3 is still correct barring the 800 to 900 gold quest change), and playing 19.25 hours a week of ranked play (approx. 165 games or so assuming https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/3q1aw3/game_duration_analysis_for_600games/ is still relevant and https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/jw7zw4/xp_per_hour_calculations_win1xp7s_loss1xp10s/ is still accurate for xp / min rates. 6.6667 is used as an average due to the link below, assume you're aggro or something and fast = good, slow = lose) for 8,000 XP, using values from https://outof.cards/hearthstone/2200-the-rewards-track-how-long-to-get-to-level-50-644000-experience-required-to-get-to-level-150. The 19.25 hours/week is something I'd say would be quite high for an average player, but helps soak the relative XP (and gold) the Tavern Brawl packs and Achievements XP would be worth since those are, for the most part, not material enough to justify serious calculations, and also is so the math is simple to follow.

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I think this is incredibly generous and thus should be a good example for the New Player Experience(tm).

The average dust cost for the current tier 1&2 decks as per Tempostorm (https://tempostorm.com/hearthstone/meta-snapshot/standard/4-20-2021) is 8,131.

Fig 1. Average Dust Cost as of 5/1/2021 for a Standard Meta Deck

Since this includes core cards, let's just make this a nice clean 6,000 to account for many taking at least one core legendary and to make math simpler.

With our new F2P account stats, here's the breakdown:

Fig 2. Expected Weekly Output / Efficiency Metrics at average Gold / XP levels for New Player

Under ideal conditions, this means it would take about two weeks of heavy play for a new player to build a meta deck. While early on in the apprentice ladder that can be fine, it may get a bit rough near the end without taking breaks for more weekly gold. This is also assuming they go against conventional wisdom and destroy every card they have to make something they want to play. Playing the game for half a month with a relatively underpowered deck can be a big ask for a new player, especially if they don't like playing cheaper aggro decks.

But what about the second deck, the moment immediately after they try something and maybe don't like it? What about your dedicated players level 50 onwards who have less of that new player advantage?

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Fig 3. Expected Weekly Output / Efficiency Metrics at average Gold / XP levels for Experienced Player

Gold drops off immensely as you level, and as you go from level 30 to 100 you're looking at the average becoming worse and worse even assuming you're still getting that new player dust / pack rate. Taking an expected 70 hours of hard grind to make a new deck can be demoralizing, and may make someone not want to play with progress so slow. But…what if you don't play?

Fig 4. Expected Progress and Efficiency of Minimal Playtime

With so much XP being in the daily and weekly quests, there's actually very little value gained in playing outside of doing your dailies and weeklies. While the expected time to craft increases by another four weeks, in terms of what you're getting for your effort there's no real contest because every hour played at this level is equal to 6.4 hours of playing ~3 hours a day. There's very little reason to actually play the game to get more because of how little experience you get outside of daily and weekly quests.

While average dust in far better in the Barrens era than the previous reward track, it is still rather slow to get a new deck running. 20 hours a week will earn less dust than someone who buys a 15-pack about every month and does their quests in 2 hours, and doesn't gain any XP at any other time.

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Fig 5. What I just Said But In Excel

Might've made a mistake somewhere or glossed over a detail somewhere but I got curious about efficient use of time and I feel this shows the breakdown fairly well. If there are any counterpoints or arguments for changing any statistics, lemme know 'em. Data changes all the time and sources don't always point it out when they're a bit behind, but hopefully everything's still valid.

Edit: Changed some figures as some of the links were outdated.


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