I have this ongoing struggle with a friend who plays Hearthstone with me. He’s a really great guy that makes me feel like crap.

He plays Paladin, and he loves it. I can see why, too. After all, the game’s given him a stellar Paladin deck on a silver platter. Somehow, after opening one or two card packs, he managed to get Tirion Fordring, a 6/6 minion with Divine Shielf, Taunt, and a Deathrattle that equips a 5/3 weapon.

391Let me explain that more clearly for the uninitiated: this minion can take one hit–any amount of damage–and not suffer one bit. Then it takes six damage before it finally dies (no small feat). Not to mention, this damn minion has Taunt, so there’s basically no way to get around spending half of your match whaling on it, only to have it respawn as a 5/3 weapon that will most likely finish you off. It’s infuriating. I hate it so much.

But my friend doesn’t hate it. He loves it. It fills him with satisfaction, because he knows exactly how to play the game to the best of his ability. He’s got no motivation to move on to some other character or try anything else, because this particular minion destroys his opponent every time. Every. Single. Time.

Meanwhile, I’m scrambling over here. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying out the Mage, but ultimately the destructive spells just didn’t feel destructive enough. I love the Druid’s ability to get a leg-up on the competition with the shock-and-awe of playing high-cost cards early. And playing the Warlock is a super-fun way to screw with my opponent’s head. I’ve learned to be competent in nearly all of these roles, but I still find myself feeling bitter toward my friend.

I mean, he teases me a lot. He says that videogames are “my jam,” that I am supposed to be good at this stuff. Then he knocks me out cold with his 5/3 Ashbringer.

I hate him. I want to be him.

He climbs up the rankings while I’m still fighting to get into the minor leagues. Every game for me is a toss-up. For him, it’s a waiting game until he gets that card. But he always knows it will come.

I’m learning. I’m scrappy. But when face to face with the man with the undeniable leg-up, I am crushed.

There’s something about immediate contact with the ceaselessly and effortlessly successful that causes me to completely lose my grip on my identity. I reconsider every decision I’ve made. He’s all-in, and I’m pulling punches.

Tirion

This is exactly what I DON’T want to see.

Recently I had become pretty satisfied with my role as a Hunter, and I had found a lot of success in my ample reliance on Beast minions. But when Tirion showed up in our match, all I could feel was regret. All I could do was wish away my past decisions. They were mistakes, wastes of time, squandered opportunity, like a doomed marriage or a pointless theology degree.

I think I am a Hunter. I think? I’ve thought of myself as a Hunter for so long, but now that I’m beaten and bruised, I’m reconsidering. Who am I really?

Really, all I want is to have my identity handed to me on a platter like my friend did. I guess I want someone else to make this decision for me.

But my friend isn’t happy anymore. “Yeah, I went all in with my paladin and now I can’t beat anybody,” he says. “My level is too high, and my cards aren’t good enough to match my level.”

I’m still a little bitter. I’m still waiting for that One Card to pop out of my expansion pack. I’m still waiting for the opportunity to present itself. But when it does, I’ll be ready.


Richard Clark

 
Richard Clark is the managing editor of Gamechurch, the editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture, a regular columnist at Unwinnable, and a staff writer for Kill Screen. He can be reached at deadyetliving at gmail dot com or followed on twitter @deadyetliving.