With the impending release of the next Hearthstone expansion, The Grand Tournament, Blizzard has offered up a bargain for players looking to jump right in with the new content. For $49.99, players can pre-purchase 50 packs of Grand Tournament cards and receive a special card back only available during this promotion. By itself, this will save you a little bit of money. 50 packs would normally cost you roughly $60 (there is no option to purchase exactly 50 packs in the store, $49.99 only gets you 40). This is an obvious tactic of Blizzard to coerce players to spend money in an otherwise free-to-play game. The question is, are you better off with this promotion or buying the same amount of packs with in-game gold?
We all want to believe that Blizzard has somehow made it that the packs you purchase with real currency have better cards in them. Obviously, if a player has better cards than you it is because he/she spent all their parents’ money on card packs. But is there any truth to this? There have been many studies on the average arcane dust received from each pack, but what about buying those same packs with in-game gold? The trouble with testing this is accumulating enough gold to purchase packs for a large enough sample size. The 40-60 gold earned each day doesn’t exactly add up quickly. I, and many others, would much rather just buy packs as soon as our gold reserves allow it.
I created an experiment to test two things. The first, do the packs you purchase with real currency contain better (i.e. higher rarity) cards than those purchased with earned gold. The second, is it better to buy packs as soon as you can, or save up your gold to buy packs in bulk. With this test, we should be able to see whether pre-purchasing The Grand Tournament packs is in your best interest.
To conduct this test, I purchased 15 packs with gold as soon as I had 100 available, usually once every day or so. I then purchased 15 packs for both $19.99 and 1500 gold. I would then determine the average amount of arcane dust one would receive from the packs if every card was disenchanted. Now, you’re probably thinking “15 packs isn’t a large enough sample size”, and you are absolutely correct. As I mentioned earlier, saving up gold to buy enough packs in bulk could take months. Also, 15 packs only cost me $19.99, and I don’t have hundreds of dollars of disposable income to purchase hundreds of packs. So, 15 it is.
First up, each pack individually. I took screenshots of each pack as I opened them, except one. I don’t remember what the common cards were, but I have modified the image to show the name and placement of the three rares that came in that pack. Statistically, this should not affect the results (since rarity is accounted for), except for which card was most popular overall. Unless both of the common cards were Clockwork Gnomes, the most common card in all of these packs is still clear.
Nothing too spectacular here, except a golden card of each rarity. Two-thirds of all cards I received were common. The average arcane dust received per pack is 99, which falls just short of the calculated average of the studies I mentioned earlier.
Next, I purchased 15 packs for $19.99. I did wait a few days before purchasing them in case purchasing packs so close together would somehow have an effect.
With these packs, I received my first Goblins vs Gnomes legendary (I still do not own a Dr. Boom). Almost three-quarters of all cards in these packs were common, which can be expected with the appearance of a legendary. However, despite Sneed’s Old Shredder, the average arcane dust from these packs is only 85. This figure can still line up with the expected average of 100 dust per pack, but it is interesting to see the real currency packs worth slightly less than those purchased with gold.
Finally, after saving up 1500 gold in a little under three weeks, I purchased 15 more packs. For those that don’t know, you can double-click the gold option to purchase multiple packs at one time.
The two golden rares are the highlight here. The biggest shocker, however, is that these packs were only worth an average of 77 dust.
If we were to expect an average of 100 dust from all of the packs in the study, then the average worth of the packs in the final purchase should have been 116 dust. I didn’t expect anything that high, but at least something closer to 100. However, it looks like the more packs I purchased, the worse the cards got. What does this mean? Well, nothing. As I stated originally, this sample size is far too small to provide adequate results. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see diminishing returns on pack purchases. Perhaps Blizzard has a system in place that prevents players who purchase large quantities of packs from acquiring too many high-worth cards to help make things fair for those that remain free players. Unlikely, but we all need a reason to feel better about losing to the guy who plays a golden legendary every turn.
The part I found most interesting through all of this is that the most common card I received was Burly Rockjaw Trogg, a card I rarely see played. This inspired me to craft an anti-spell deck using the Stoneplinter and Burly Rockjaw Troggs. It was not very successful. Maybe I should craft a Troggzor the Earthinator. But, as this study has showed me, I will have to buy packs for at least a month before that happens.