We’ve all been there. You download the newest Heroes of the Storm patch on the launcher, anticipating the opportunity to jump into a Ranked game and try out the newest tweaks on your favorite heroes. You rush to click on “Hero League” or “Team League” when, like a Dementor from Harry Potter, an estimated queue time of 803 seconds sucks the excitement out of your body.
What’s there to do for over 13 minutes?
You could pray to the Lord of Sin, Azmodan, and hope the stars align in a way that the wait is only a couple of moments. Or, if you’re truly cursed, the 803 seconds is a conservative estimation and, depending on your rank, you may be sitting in the queue for upwards of 20 minutes.
You could cancel your attempt to play in Ranked mode and wait only a few minutes to play Quick Match or Unranked but, eh, that’s not your cup of tea. You’re a competitive fiend whose skin tingles when you see +3 for Performance Adjustment at the end of a hard-earned win.
The good thing is that, while I cannot make your queue time any faster, I can present a list of cheap or free games that you can play in queue opposed to having your mind slip into madness as you watch your two favorite heroes spin in a circle as you wait for a game to begin.
If you thought dominating opponents in the nexus tickled your fancy, just wait until you have a small window of opening only to see the exact four-blocked puzzle piece you need be summoned from the Tetris heavens. Now that’s a rush.
The newest free game for the Nintendo Switch, Tetris 99, turns an out-dated calculator game into a battle royale fiesta. 100 players enter a lobby and whoever survives the longest...wins. Depending on your level of interest in the explosive battle royale genre, this could be exactly what you need in your life, another title to roll your eyes at or both.
Regardless, for the price of FREE, you can easily take your mind off the inevitability that you may have a teammate or two feed once you do get into a game and make you wonder why you waited 20 minutes in queue for this to happen.
For a modest $19.99, Cuphead will be able to provide you with everything that you will be able to experience in a game of Heroes of the Storm: frustration, a test of your mechanical skills and a feeling of accomplishment by completing large or small tasks.
Released in the fall of 2017, Cuphead allows players to push themselves to limits unknown in a world designed to draw them in and spit them out. You play as Cuphead, a simply drawn fellow who was born with a teacup for a head and your goal is to destroy a handful of bosses to fulfill a contract you have with the devil. Not where you thought that would end up, huh?
The game’s concept is as simple as that. You fight bosses with a variety of weapons that will push your body and mind in very similar ways to a game of Heroes. Also, similar to Heroes, you may die...a lot. Cuphead’s difficulty is notoriously unrelenting. That being said, the rush of adrenaline you feel as you inch closer to destroying a pesky Onion who kills you with his tears -- not kidding-- is one of the best gaming feelings a player can experience.
What's funny is that the current world record for completing Cuphead is 23 minutes and 25 seconds, so, if you're good enough, you can complete the entire game before getting in one Heroes of the Storm match.
With a sequel slated to come out later this year, it never hurts to get a head start.
Slay the Spire
For lovers of card games and roguelikes, Slay the Spire is the best of both worlds. An often discounted title on Steam, this masterpiece will test your risk-assessment, deck-building skills and provide you with a new adventure every time you decide to play.
The concept itself is pretty simple: you pick one of three classes, start with a small deck of cards and your objective is to climb to the top of the Spire while defeating enemies of all shapes and sizes along the way. On your journey, you will collect new cards, relics that provide unique playing experiences and make difficult event-based decisions that can make a glorious victory or crushing defeat all that much more exciting.
The game itself is quite popular within the streaming community. Former Heroes of the Storm pro player and streamer, Derek “Dunktrain” Arabian, used to sink hundreds of hours into the title while waiting for his Grand Master games to begin.
If you find yourself loving the title, the current world record for completing a run is four minutes and 24 seconds, which you can complete five times over while waiting for the draft screen to appear.
If it gets the Dunk stamp of approval, it may be worth your time as well.
If you’re not interested in spending money on a title or don’t possess a Nintendo Switch, there’s always free flash games that were popular during my middle school days and still exist now.
Curveball is one of them.
The concept and instructions are so simple that the game includes them in one sentence: “When playing Curveball Game, use your mouse to control your 3D paddle and send the ball back at your opponent!”
That’s it. It’s as straightforward and marvelous as that. It’s also incredibly addicting and it wouldn’t surprise me if you got so lost in Curveball that, when you do get into a Heroes of the Storm game, you miss your pick in the draft because you’re having more fun playing this.
Your mouse skills are pushed to their limits, your depth perception is tested and it’s an enjoyable way to kill 10 minutes or more in-between games.