Last week, the UCI eSports Arena held its second iteration of Newbie Nights, events dedicated to help newer players learn different games. This time, Michael Tran, a volunteer coach from the first Newbie Night, led attendees through the ins and outs of Hearthstone, Blizzard’s free-to-play card game. Michael and a group of fellow volunteers talked strategy, controls, and how to play the game.
A range of attendees came to learn about the game from old-time players coming back to the game after a few years absence to newbies whose only experience with card games was Blackjack. After setting everyone up across a few of the arena’s computers, Michael helped the players get their cards together for a few games. Some players practiced against computers, some jumped right into a quick match against others. One player, having played before in the past, threw caution to the wind and went straight into a ranked queue. Despite whatever changes may have occurred during his break from the game, he proceeded to take a winning streak.
As the participants got more comfortable with the game, Michael and a few other experienced volunteers checked in. The coaches walked from station to station, giving tips and advice on the next move or helping to craft a stronger deck. While Hearthstone is a mechanically simple game, there’s a lot to learn about the different cards and how to use them. One attendee mentioned that predicting what the other player may be planning and knowing what to do was the most difficult part for her. In contrast, the coaches would often murmur to themselves and with the players, considering the chances that the opponent might have a particularly powerful card up their sleeve before offering advice to the newer players. Knowing which cards to watch out for comes with experience.
Partway through the evening, some unexpected guests joined the fun. A mother and her two children, along with a family friend, stopped by to play some games with the rest of us. For the kids, the youngest being in first grade, Hearthstone acts as a more exciting alternative to educational math games. At its core, Hearthstone is a game about adding and subtracting. Furthermore, playing together both in the arena and at home is a bonding experience for the family. Rather than playing against each other, the family usually works together, thinking out strategies and planning the next move. It was a welcome reminder that despite the competitive spirit in games like Hearthstone, video games really are a way to bring people together.
After the event had come to a close, we got some quick questions with Michael.
Interview with Hearthstone Newbie Night Coach: Michael
How was teaching the Hearthstone Newbie Night?
“The turnout was way over what I expected. I didn’t expect this many people to come out considering the time we’re having the event and all the circumstances around it. It was really surprising to me that a lot of people are interested to play Hearthstone. It was cool being able to see people play Hearthstone because it’s such a convenient game to play.”
Since Hearthstone has so many different play styles, what was your focus when teaching new players and helping them out?
“I decided for the Newbie Night I would kind of play alongside everyone, like take a seat next to them, kind of explain to them the thought process they want to have about the game. With a lot of different people and a lot of different ways they want to play the game, I kind of had to see what they like to do, and gave them some direction. Once I figured out what they like, I kind of told them how to polish their play style and kind of minor things they might be doing wrong in terms of decision making.”
Do you think there was anything particularly interesting about teaching people the “thought process” when it comes to playing Hearthstone?
“Yeah, the main challenge for this newbie night was the wide variety of people who had played and people who haven’t. We had two very young players who were interested in the game and trying out the game. Explaining it to them in a manner that they can understand was an interesting experience. It was all about vocalizing things in a manner that people can understand and I think that’s what Hearthstone and the Newbie Night entailed.”