The Elements of RNG: An Introduction

If you’ve ever browsed a forum, blog, or website about gaming, there’s a good chance you have encountered the phrase “RNG.” The acronym itself stands for “random number generator” and typically refers to any random element in a game, or anything subject to probability/chance. As it stands, RNG remains a major issue for Hearthstone.

Typically, RNG is invoked as a complaint by more experienced players losing a game to lesser experienced players, and it does provide a fudge factor in reducing the gap between skill levels. The level of RNG in Hearthstone has often been used by blowhards as the prime reason why they have quit the game. At other times, the RNG in Hearthstone is said to be a good thing, or something that made the game unique. Often, an instance of extreme RNG serves as an amazing highlight reel shot.

So how much RNG is there in Hearthstone? I sought to find out.

What this is

  • I pored over every collectible card in Hearthstone released so far. I was able to bin every card containing a random element into a type of RNG. I was able to discern 14 types of RNG.
  • Some cards have so much randomness, they fall into multiple bins!
  • I try to rank the amount of randomness of each card in each bin.
  • I try to talk about how people lessen the randomness and increase their odds of success.

What this is not

  • I don’t compare Hearthstone RNG to that of other games.
  • I’m not taking a side about whether RNG is bad or good for Hearthstone. I am objectively talking about each type of RNG.

Truth about card games

  • Here’s the inconvenient truth. Every card game has RNG. As long as cards are drawn from a deck, there is an element of probability of what card you get.
  • There is a 30 card requirement in a Hearthstone deck. That means there is a 3.33% of drawing a single card. In constructed, the randomness of drawing cards is reduced by including 2 copies of a card. This means there is a 6.67% chance of drawing it.
  • Cards like Varian Wrynn and Far Sight and Call Pet aren’t really RNG. Cards that have randomness depending on card draw are just at the mercy of being in a card game.
  • The same goes for topdecking. Sure it’s luck you drew the card you needed for lethal, but it’s just the nature of randomness in a card game.

The remaining posts of the RNG series will discuss in depth each of the 14 bins I identified as a source of RNG in Hearthstone.

Stay tuned!


2 thoughts on “The Elements of RNG: An Introduction

    1. Thanks! Yeah, it is the number one point of discussion in Hearthstone, and rightfully so. From the sorting of cards into the different types of RNG bins, I learned that a good number of cards can have the RNG controlled, allowing you to take advantage of it, or conversely better play around your opponent’s RNG. Also, the most memorable moments likely come from crazy RNG interactions.


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