A Rhyming Lamentation of the Hearthstone-Inspired Card Games Craze

One might say this frenzy is the maturation    Of card games made for the screen from the start,    But if I hadn't altered the saturation    Of these current titles, could you tell them apart?

One might say this frenzy is the maturation

Of card games made for the screen from the start,

But if I hadn't altered the saturation

Of these current titles, could you tell them apart?

A short cell phone clip has been frequently posted,

Since a stunning announcement one recent Wednesday;

A new card game was announced, then hastily roasted,

As Valve’s DOTA fans groaned great groans of dismay.


Valve’s shadowy inner workings are notorious,

And games they announce are often commended.

But one more card game struck fans as laborious,

Marking the boundary of where this goodwill ended.


Without some context, this scene is mystery —

A mass cry of “foul” from fans so devoted —

So let’s have a glance at the surrounding history

And see how the field got so crowded and bloated.


Video card games are not a new genus,

Touch-screen blackjack’s been a staple in bars for decades.

And Magic: the Gathering’s pursued it with keenness;

Digital versions? It’s got those in spades.


But Blizzard began with a different thesis:

That virtual cards could stand on their own

And not simply mimic a paper card’s creases.

With this basic theory they crafted Hearthstone.


It’s so, so much money that Hearthstone expects of me

(Ironically, I’m invested in venerable Magic),

And for a player like me, it lacks the complexity

Of its seeming progenitor, which I find just tragic.


But I must admit it’s a concept most clever;

Too often, games scramble to remake the real.

And rarely do devs so boldly endeavor

To shatter those norms. Yes, I see the appeal.


Hearthstone, we know now, represented a breakthrough,

Outstripping its predecessors by miles.

So on Irvine’s ideas, many thought they would make do,

And on the card game bandwagon they began to pile.


Microsoft’s Fable, once a graphical wonder

Had its Fortunes tied to a paper card stack.

Bethesda soon followed (I’d call it a blunder);

Legends, not QA, they felt that they lack.


Gwent, offered by CD Projekt Red,

At least has pedigree the others miss;

It exists in The Witcher, not just someone’s head.

Magic: Duels has this too, but still fits this list.


And that’s not to speak of the numerous titles

Not tied to existing or popular names;

Duelyst, Eternal, Faeria, Smite Rivals,

And Shadowverse – dammit, who’s buying these games?


It’s not easy, I find, to avoid defamation

Regarding this bad, malformed glut of clones

But the industry’s behavior screams, “Fuck innovation!

We’ll flood the whole market with copied Hearthstones!”


You may recall, not too far back, a similar craze,

Surrounding MOBAs a few years ago.

At PAX twenty-fourteen it seemed more than a phase;

Multiplayer arenas dominated the show.


Copycat syndrome’s a well-known phenomenon

In games (not to speak of other professions)

Team shooters, platformers, I could go on and on

With numerous similar publisher obsessions.


The result is a feeling of constant fatigue

As long as the publishers cling to this trend.

But for what it’s worth, I felt this with League,

And it’s just one more genre to which I won’t tend.


One would think that a juggernaut game would extinguish

The hopes of these many would-be on-hangers.

Especially games one’s hard pressed to distinguish

From each other, much less from the certified banger.


For the time being this means that we’re stuck

Wading through jpeg-ified cardboard galore.

At the end of the day, well, I don’t give a fuck:

Paper still works when servers don’t anymore.


But devs would do well to tread with some care,

And not just pursue dreams of coffers filled royally;

Chase trends too eagerly, and one might just scare

Away all the fans who backed them so loyally.  

- Spencer Tordoff