PrancingPony was able to have a great interview with Pun, a professional Hearthstone player.
PrancingPony: First of all, thanks for participating in this interview!
For those who have not heard of you before, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Pun: My ign (in-game-name) is Pun and I’m a professional hearthstone player and streamer that got into the competitive scene 2 years ago.
PrancingPony: Can you tell us about your Gamer Name?
Pun: The first gamer name that I made was ‘Punisher’ until my friends started calling me pun for short and it stuck.
PrancingPony: Was Hearthstone your first card game? Could you tell us a little about how you got into card games to begin with?
Pun: No, actually Yu-Gi-Oh was my first card game that I discovered around the age of 4 or 5, and I really started getting into it years later when I found out my local card shop held tournaments there every week which led me to start competing.
PrancingPony: What would you say your greatest accomplishments are in Yu-Gi-Oh, and in Hearthstone in terms of the competitive scene thus far?
Pun: For Yu-Gi-Oh my greatest accomplishment was definitely my top 32 finish at nationals in 2015 seeing as I was only 13 years old at the time. As for Hearthstone my greatest accomplishment was winning Week 3 of my first Hearthstone Grandmasters season (Americas) which gave me the qualifications to compete in the Grandmasters Last Call.
Pun: Yes, that’s me.
PrancingPony: Under Armour was cool at the time I guess.
Pun: No, it wasn’t.
PrancingPony: Looking at these two games from a design perspective…
What would you say are the greatest strengths and weaknesses for each of these games?
Pun: For Hearthstone, I would say the greatest strength is the use of the mana system as it is simple and easy to follow. However in terms of weaknesses I would say having cards in the game that can blow people out early on with barely any counterplay or cards that create an unnecessary amount of RNG.
For Yu-Gi-Oh, it doesn’t have any strengths in my opinion because it’s outdated in comparison to the other card games out now. As for weakness, the main issue is the speed of the game with the only counterplay for some decks being hand traps.
PrancingPony: Cool, so it seems that a common theme is you would like to see a little more skill expression in these games? Would that be fair to say?
Pun: Yes, I think more skill expression would be great and help the competitive scene immensely.
PrancingPony: If you could have one wish to change anything about Hearthstone to improve the game, what would you change?
Pun: I would stop creating high variance cards like Rune of the Archmage so that players don’t feel like they have no sense of control over the game at times.
As a collector
PrancingPony: Ok excellent, changing angles slightly to another part of being a card gamer.
Do you enjoy collecting digital cards? Are there features that could be added to make collecting digital cards better?
Pun: Yes I do, it’s exciting unlocking new cards as long as it doesn’t take too long in-between each one. As for features I would like to see improvements on collecting certain cards you want faster, for example if you need a specific legendary for a deck in Hearthstone and you aren’t lucky enough to get it from a pack you might have to wait a long time to earn the dust to craft it and actually play the deck you want.
PrancingPony: How does one balance accessibility and the fun in collecting?
Pun: I think giving players a full deck for a class of their choosing in the beginning of their experience is a great way to make things fun immediately, while still having a lot of content to unlock.
PrancingPony: What other features would make your wishlist as a card collector?
Pun: I would like to see some unique kinds of art for cards, kind of like how Marvel Snap has holographic backgrounds you can unlock by upgrading the card enough.
PrancingPony: What value would you say Esports brings to an online game?
Pun: I think Esports is one of the most valuable aspects of a game as a competitor and as a casual viewer. Hearthstone Esports makes me want to grind the game to be the best and compete at the highest level that I can. As for the casual side of things I also think it’s a super fun and exciting way to watch the best of the best compete against each other! A good Esports is a must have in my opinion for any top online game.
PrancingPony: How do you think the systems you have been a part of can be improved?
Pun: I really like Hearthstones’ system for the most part but the biggest things that could be improved on are the amount of down time most competitive players have at the end of the year until the next tournament. Additionally, I think there should be a guaranteed source of income for the best players in the world similar to the grandmasters system that was recently removed.
PrancingPony: How do we guarantee that without closing the door to others? Would you be happy if the top 50 players in the world were able to make an okay living through competing in the game?
Pun: As for your first question I think having less players in tournaments will be a good way to focus money into the pool of players that deserves it the most which also requires less prize pool overall depending on how many people you cut it down to.
In terms of the second question, making a livable wage through competing in the game would make me very happy and I think something around 50 players sounds about right because there is so much time and effort that goes into preparing and playing in these tournaments. I am fortunate to not have to work a job on top of competing at the moment but for the players that do, having to set aside the time to compete at a high level is extremely difficult and they should be able to solely focus on one thing instead of having to juggle 2 big commitments.
Lastly, having a secure source of income to work towards at the top would lead to every player becoming more competitive and trying their absolute best to make it there.
PrancingPony: Of the official and unofficial information you have heard about Aegir Tactics, what excites you?
Pun: The most exciting thing I’ve heard about Aegir Tactics is definitely the focus on card balance and a good competitive environment.
PrancingPony: Last Question…
What does being a competitive card gamer mean to you?
Pun: It means so much to me as competing is my biggest passion in life and has led to so many good experiences and friendships along the way, I want to keep doing this for as long as I can!
If you are interested in following Pun and joining his community check out the following links.
About the Author
PrancingPony is the founder of the Pony Dojo, a place where top level card game players can level up and practice. He is also helping design Aegir Tactics, a game built to improve issues experienced in the competitive game scene.