Heads up, gamers—Blizzard just released a sneak peek at Hearthstone’s new never-before-seen game mode, A Test of Skill, set to be released on June 31st. It’s pushing the game in a radical new direction: unlike its predecessors, which focused on collecting cards, fighting bosses, and buying packs, this new mode consists entirely of flipping a single coin, once.
“A Test of Skill is the most concentrated form of Hearthstone gameplay—think of it like heroin, but for card games,” explained Jeff Kaplan, a low-level Blizzard intern who hosted the surprise livestream announcement next to an empty flannel shirt. “You flip the coin, and… and you win, and it just feels so good. It makes this dinging sound that’s just, it’s just… it’s beautiful. Nothing like it. But then you lose. And you feel so horrible and empty inside when those stars fall away from your portrait that you’ll do anything to fill that void. Anything. Even kill. You just… you just want more.”
An increasingly sweaty Kaplan went on to cite data showing that since the release of Hearthstone’s latest expansion, The Witchwood, the most optimal strategy for each deck was to turn-1 concede when encountering an unfavorable matchup. “We figured, why waste your time? Just slam that button, watch the gorgeous animations blossom before your eyes, and feel at peace for the first time in your life. Also, anyone down to lend me three hundred dollars?” Kaplan went on to promise that he was “… good for it.”
Development of this new game mode was apparently started after Reddit user GnomeFeetPls, a respected member of r/Hearthstone, received over three thousand upvotes on a post entitled “This Game is Bullshit and Blizzard is Run by Gay Nazis.” In this post, he states, “My cool custom homebrew deck, which I’ve nicknamed “Even Paladin,” can’t compete against all these [expletive] meta slaves, even after I’ve spent over two thousand bucks on packs. I mean, what’s the point of doing that if you can’t win every time?”
While it’s good to see that Blizzard is listening to its player base, beta testers for A Test of Skill, now finally released back into society, still have some criticisms about the game mode. One tester, going by the moniker CalBearSteve, described it as “a glimpse into the hell beyond hell,” babbling incoherently about “screaming mouths of madness… worming their way into my dreams,” and describing, in great detail, how the game repeatedly instructed him to kill John Lennon. Another tester, FKDURMUM, stated that “I would consider myself one of the best Hearthstone players in the world—consistently above rank four on all servers—and after exhaustive data tracking, I’ve discovered that I only win fifty percent of games in this mode. I would definitely blame this on the prevalence of the new hero, Fiesta Clown. His early game emote spam is just too strong to counter. Nerf please.”
Like it or not, A Test of Skill is here to stay: custom coin skins and coin-enhancing “booster packs” are also planned to be sold in the in-game store, at the cost of 2.99 per pack. “We initially considered allowing you to choose different types of coins, such as curious coins, counterfeit coins, or dingy iron coins, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. But this resulted in unsightly balance problems,” explained Jason Chayes, who began hosting the livestream after Jeff Kaplan was escorted away by security. “We’d much rather the game stay a light, fun affair that nobody, absolutely nobody, takes too seriously.”