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Hearthstone Deck Tracker: App Review
review

Cassius Sonoda

by Cassius Sonoda

YouTuber, blogger, channel founder, and PC gamer.

Screenshot of HDT

Fig. 1 Hearthstone Deck Tracker: In-game deck tracking overlay.  Both the player and opponent’s cards are tracked.  The opponents hand is annotated to show which turn cards were drawn on, and additionally if cards were mulliganed, recalled from the board, or created.

App Rating: (4 / 5) (Hearthstone Deck Tracker, ver 1.5.11)

Hearthstone Deck Tracker (HDT) is a free Hearthstone third-party desktop accessory app for Windows and Mac, which makes use of an in-game overlay (Fig 1.) to provide real-time deck tracking.  The app also comes with a desktop interface, which provides informative profiling of decks and match and deck statistics.

Pros
  • Easy installation.
  • The interface (Fig. 1) is functional and pleasing to look on to.  Complements the game’s interface.
  • The app uses an in-game overlay, providing information when and where it counts most.  (Also comes with an out-of-game desktop interface (Fig. 2).)
  • Does as advertised – amazing real-time deck-tracking in the form of an in-game overlay!  A high degree of customization of the overlay is offered.
  • Secrets overlay actually eliminates possibilities.  For example, if you’ve attacked the enemy hero with one of your minions and your opponent’s secret does not trigger, all minion-triggered secrets will be informatively greyed out.
  • Comprehensive match-tracking with statistics.
  • Supports plugins for extended functionality.
  • Allows importing and exporting of decks.
  • HDT will graphically profile your deck in terms of mana, health, attack and overload, and provide a mechanics overview.
  • Uploads your match data onto HSreplay.net so that you’re able to re-watch re-constructed matches.

Fig. 2 Hearthstone Deck Tracker: Out-of-game desktop user interface.

Cons
  • There are a lot of tabs and sections in the desktop interface which can be bewildering at first.  A lot of features seem obscure, and it takes a long time to accumulate enough match data for these features to be useful.
  • The app brings Hearthstone forward in the z-plane of your desktop which causes the Windows taskbar to be hidden when you Alt-Tab (task switch) out of Hearthstone to do other things in your desktop, compromising the usability of your desktop when the app is active.

    The solution for this is to go into Options and check Hide if HS in background. I’m not sure why this isn’t the default.

  • The overlay displays on your screen when you Alt-Tab out of Hearthstone, obscuring your view of the desktop.  Again this is a big minus against the app because it compromises the usability of your desktop while the app is active.

    The solution is as for the above point. It makes no sense to even make this a hidden off-by-default option. Why would you want the overlay displayed when you are Alt-Tabbed out?

  • HSReplay.net leaves a lot to be desired and makes one yearn for a video-recorded replay.  To the best of my understanding, HDT simply submits match data to HSReplay.net, which is used by HSReplay.net to reconstruct the match as an animation in your browser.  The HSReplay.net animations feel a bit choppy, card images take too long to buffer, and the format is disorienting and hard to follow, but as that is not the core function of the app, it’s not too big of a deal!
  • It seems a little bit lazy that the app author didn’t include a legend or tooltips for the icons appearing under the opponent’s hand. An app should be self-contained and self-explanatory. For this kind of app, I should not have to go hunting for documentation or scouring forums for clarity.
  • Bug: The secrets overlay for your opponent will overflow onto crucial parts of the screen, obscuring the the leftmost minion on a full board as well as the cards played history:
Screenshot: secrets log overflowing

Fig. 3 Hearthstone Deck Tracker bug: shown here, the secrets log is overflowing onto the board and obscuring the player’s view.

Overall, this app does as advertised, and it does it well.  I’m not convinced the extras such as HSReplay.net support add that much value for the reasons stated above.  It feels like a lot of features would be underutilized, because unless you play one class over and over and you play a lot of games, your statistics are going to be too sparse to really make much of various metrics included.  For hardcore Hearthstoners, I grant it could have value.

The overloaded, over-nested interface could be simplified.  But honestly, if you go by my rating, you’ll see I haven’t really put too much weight on this.

It especially annoyed me that the app messed around with the z-stacking of apps and was insensitive to the needs of multi-taskers and streamers, but for the average user, it would be unfair to put too much weight on that alone.  Therefore, I’ve awarded 4 out of 5 for this app – possibly the most polished of its kind.

The Hearthstone Deck Tracker app may be downloaded from the official website here.  A catalog of plugins for this app is also available here.

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