Things I’m Thankful for in Hearthstone

I know, I know, the title of this post is cheesy as all heck, but I am somewhat spent and just ready for a few days of not working. In elementary school, they made us do assignments for holidays to know the relevance of them, and much is the same for American Thanksgiving. While making hand turkeys out of yellow/brown/orange/red construction paper did not teach me of the etiology of smallpox transmission vectors across American Indians, we were told to give thanks on Thanksgiving. Here’s what I’m currently thankful for in Hearthstone.

  1. New Meta – The LoE expansion did a lot to refresh the ranked meta. The meta was so unenjoyable that I became an exclusively arena player for a few months. I’m glad to be facing Trogg Shamans, Reliquary Warlocks, Raptor Rogues, Reno Jacksons, etc. The good thing is that only half of the expansion is out, so there are plenty of new decks bound to come up in the coming weeks.
  2. Tavern Brawls – It’s clear that Casual Mode is abused and serves no real purpose besides testing out a deck you don’t want to take to ranked. Tavern Brawls not only give you something else to do, but for me they help me clear daily quests. I don’t play all classes equally, and my 9 decks (more decks please) usually consist of a Warlock, Priest, Shaman, and 6 Rogues. So a premade deck in a Tavern Brawl gives me a chance to clear 60 gold on a class I never play.
  3. The HS Arena Community – I enjoy the arena a lot and am thankful that an arena community actually exists. There are streams, articles, podcasts solely about the arena. While this is a small minority of the overall Hearthstone community, they are really dedicated in fostering what is IMO the best aspect of Hearthstone.
  4. eSports – While I enjoy regular sports (baseball, football) very much, there was no way I could’ve been a professional athlete. The biggest factor is that I’m 5’4″. While eSports is still trying to make it, it seems as if it is starting to get somewhere in America.  It would be a pretty good gig to make a living playing video games. Hearthstone has been instrumental in helping eSports becoming bigger, with the creation of content, teams, tournaments, etc.
  5. Reno Jackson – The feeling when you play Reno Jackson against a face deck.
UM5MOIL - Imgur
I never realized all the guns were censored when I was kid.

http://i.imgur.com/UM5MOIL.gifv

Victory for Sylvanas! 12-Win Rogue

I’ve had a long streak of subpar arena runs. Coupled with the fact that I do not have enough gold to play League of Explorers week-to-week, Arena runs have not become a daily thing for me nowadays. Also, I have become rather unorganized, now that I stopped using HearthArena. I decided to play Arena the night before, and finally got a Rogue again.

Also because I stopped using HearthArena, I should’ve kept track of my draft when I drafted…

If you could see the decklist, you would see that there isn’t really a bad card drafted, besides Recruiter. As evidenced by the deck curve, I tend to pick a ton of 2-drops and 5-drops. I have noticed that my best decks tend to have very little 4-drops. This is something that I have to monitor going forward while playing Rogue.

This deck has elements of aggro-control, or is just flat out aggro.

Games

  1. Rogue – 1st – 1-0 – I used my dagger a ton, and with help of Goblin Auto-Barber and Argent Horserider, took the board. Ice Rager actually served the finisher, forcing a concede by Turn 7.
  2. Shaman – 1st – 2-0 – Despite being named “SpdyGonzales”, my opponent played really slow, and my aggro deck took advantage of that. This game did feature the first Rumbling Elemental seen, and also featured Ancient Shade. I curved out well and transitioned to my big drops to force a concede in Turn 8.
  3. Paladin – 1st – 3-0 – A rather competitive 11-turn game that ended in a 13-0 health score. We were in a top deck war in the end, to which my Eviscerate had just enough to win. Paladin played 2 U da man’s (Keeper of Uldaman), but I had nothing to big for it to downsize. Ice Rager did work again, this time, reversed into a 2/5 to help board control.
  4. Mage – Coin – 3-1 – A game against a pseudo Freeze Mage. I had control early but then tried to be a face Hunter and lost due to a variety of Mage tools. In fairness, I was running out of cards and didn’t think it would be wise to trade, at that point.
  5. Mage – 1st – 4-1 – This game went into Turn 8 and wasn’t really close at all. I got a Dark Wispers from a Spellslinger and used it on my Stranglehorn Tiger to make Tony the Tiger (who hits for 10).
  6. Druid – Coin – 5-1 – This one went into Turn 11, but also wasn’t particularly competitive. My opponent had a really bad draw (played empty Defender of Argus). Bomb Lobber helped seal the deal.
  7. Paladin – 1st – 6-1 – Now this was an arena game. 13 Turns against a legend Paladin. We had virtually the same Turn 1 and Turn 3’s and used our weapons handily to contest the board. In Turn 7, I used Assassinate on a 5/2 Silent Knight, in order to protect a 5/5 Clockwork Knight I had. But my opponent had more answers (Guardian of Kings). I took a lot of damage just by hitting big minions towards the end. Eventually I traded Sylvanas into a 5/2 Jeweled Scarab to steal a 3/5 Refreshment Vendor. This minion swing was big in the end, as we were both low on cards.
  8. Shaman – Coin – 6-2 – The longest game in the run (14 turns). I had my opponent down to 1 Life in Turn 10, and then I lose a Healing Wave joust. I dealt with a Force-Tank Max and Totem Golem with the help of Betrayal, but then I got rushed down my totems thanks to an unsuspected Bloodlust.
  9. Mage – 1st – 7-2 – This guy was focused on keeping me on freeze-lock and did not focus on the board. They did play Ethreal Conjurer, which got them a Flamestrike! Clockwork Knight did well, buffing a Spider Tank to 4/5, to survive the Flamestrike.
  10. Paladin – Coin – 8-2 – I don’t know if I can blame the influence of alcohol at this point, but I played a horrendous game. The first misplay was at Turn 4, when I forgot to hit into a 2/2 minion, before clearing with Fan of Knives. This allowed an obvious Avenge to trigger, causing me to take 3 extra damage, and lose my only minion on the board. Misplay 2 occurred in Turn 9, when I played Undercity Valiant before Coliseum Manager, which prevented a combo trigger to clear a 1/1, in turn causing a Venture Co. Mercenary to hit me in the face. Misplay 3, was I should’ve clearly used Assassinate on the Venture Co. Mercenary. In this game, I did use Assassinate on an Acolyte of Pain, which was good in locking down a top-deck Paladin.
  11. Druid – 1st – 9-2 – I consistently had answers for my opponent and took the board, despite his/her playing really big things (Sunwalker, Volcanic Lumberer). My closing 5/4, 5/5, 5/6 board was just enough for lethal.
  12. Rogue – Coin – 10-2 – Here begins 3 straight coin games against classes I do the worst against. Recipe for disaster! This began as a mirror match: dagger, GAB, kill GAB. Opponent played 2 Eviscerates early, but I held on for dear life. Clockwork Knight kept a Yeti alive, which was big. My opponent played an Assassin’s Blade and used Tinker’s Oil, but I just had minions while he/she did not.
  13. Mage – Coin – 11-2 – Clockwork Knight was clutch again, allowing a Yeti to kill a Sludge Belcher while Valeera was frozen. I just hit in the face a few times and stared lethal with 2 6/6’s and 10 health. But I got bailed out with Betrayal, and eventually took the board and the game.
  14. Rogue – Coin – 12-2 – At this point I was hyped, having reached the final boss (this is what happened last time). But this game was a downer, which resulted in a Turn 8 concede. Ice Rager helped seal the deal at the end.

Notes

  • Dang! I should’ve recorded these games and put them on my YouTube.
  • I really didn’t expect anything from this. Has the quality of Hearthstone Arena players declined?
  • I’m not a fan of this new WordPress layout.

Jerry-Rigged Footage of Reno Jackson

My Reno Rogue deck is likely the most useful deck I have ever created. I’m not a great constructed player (don’t ask about arena nowadays) at all, and this deck has now taken me to Rank 13 with 2 weeks left in the month. Rank 13 is typically around where I end my seasons, but with no gold to play arena, I have been forced to play constructed. And it has been a blessing in disguise since the Reno Rogue deck is refreshing and the most fun I’ve had in a while.

Below are some videos of some gameplay I recorded, mostly yesterday. Also Failure is playing in the vids, which is a band I like a lot.

There’s also a game in which I lost, which is not posted here, but is on the YouTube channel.

We’re gonna be rich!

Reno Jackson is a gamechanger. I wasn’t too hyped of it coming into the League of Explorers previews, but upon receiving it, things have changed. After completing the first wing of LoE, I put together a Reno Rogue deck, aka “I’m Sorry Ms. Jackson.”

I was testing out the deck on Casual for a while and finally took it to Ranked play, where it stands at 2-1 while playing in Rank 16. There is a bit more fine-tuning to do, given the variability forced upon by Reno of having 1 copy of each card. More to come!

Reno Jackson also blinds opposing minions.
Reno Jackson also blinds opposing minions.
Screw your Doomguard (if you play Doomguard.)
Screw your Doomguard (if you play Doomguard.)
I didn't get a chance to Backstab my own Gahz'rilla.
I didn’t get a chance to Backstab my own Gahz’rilla.

On the HearthArena Fallout

Anyone who pays attention to the latest Hearthstone news will know that top arena players ADWCTA and Merps have left HearthArena, the popular Hearthstone Arena drafting tool. In lieu of posting the actual posts put up on Reddit regarding the split, here is a link explaining what happened to those not in the know. Alternatively, this video may or may bring the point forward.

As a mostly arena player, I have used HearthArena for drafting since last December. I can say it really helped optimize my arena picks, and clearly delineates a good card from a bad card.

I come at this with an angle of emotional investment for ADWCTA and Merps solely because they taught me a lot about playing arena. The Lightforge Podcasts are very informational, and their stream is the only one I have ever watched on a weekly basis. I don’t think I would have heard of HearthArena without some posts by them on forums. With that said, I will not be using HearthArena for my arena drafts for the foreseeable future.

This provides me with an interesting experiment of sorts. With about 11 months of play with HearthArena, I tracked 193 total arenas, registering me a 4.99 win average (fell right off 5!).

Now I’ll be using spreadsheets to track my post-HearthArena progress. If anything, I will develop my own drafting style in the arena, while still being able to pick a bad card from a good card. Is it possible I could be a better arena player without HearthArena.

Clues from The Innkeeper

It’s not easy being the factotum of Hearthstone. But somehow The Innkeeper is able to maintain a steady joyful presence. The Innkeeper started as your first guide, walking through about how to play the game. Eventually, he settled down to become the main voiceover guy in the game.

We know that The Innkeeper is a dwarf in the Hearthstone world. What else can we discern? Here is an analysis of The Innkeeper’s game bootup quotes!

The Innkeeper is also swole and has a mouse friend.
The Innkeeper is also swole and has a mouse friend.

  • Welcome to my inn!
    • Well, you have own the damn inn to be the Innkeeper.
  • Busy night… but there’s always room for another!
    • Possibly the Innkeeper’s most known quote. “Room for another” become a bit of a catchphrase for the game, representing the free-to-play and easy-to-learn nature of the game.
  • Boys – look who it is!
    • Most of the people in the inn are men. Also could be reflective how the audience (person playing Hearthstone) is more likely male than female.
  • Pull up a chair by the hearth!
    • At the inn, people play cards next to a fireplace. I wonder if some sore loser ever flipped a table and the cards went into the flames.
  • Welcome back!
    • This suggests that you are a known quantity as a Hearthstone player. You must be a big deal around those parts.
  • Ohohoho – it’s good to see you again!
    • Based on the tone, the Innkeeper loves having you around.
  • Ha, find a seat if you can!
    • Millions of people around the world play Hearthstone. It gonna get crowded in that inn.
  • Come in, and shut the door, it’s cold out there!
    • Gas is expensive. It’s cold as balls outside and the Innkeeper wants to conserve heat.
  • Welcome! Boys, make some room by the hearth, won’t you?
    • The fellas are so enthralled watching Hearthstone they have a hard time making room for the new guy. Also everyone playing Hearthstone is male.
  • Warm your frozen boots by the fire!
    • People have to slog through feet of snow and ice to play Hearthstone.
  • Have you seen the weather out there? Ohh! At least it’s warm in here.
    • It’s eternal winter where the inn is. Damn. Confirmed that the Innkeeper pays top dollar to keep his patrons warm.

New quotes

  • Come in, come in! Tell me all about your travels!
    • You and the Innkeeper are besties by now, and he wants some gossip!
  • There ya are! Back from your adventures?
    • You’ve been busy with some stuff in your life and haven’t played Hearthstone for some time.
  • Ohhhh! I can tell you have some new stories tonight!
    • You’re ready to tell him how you finally faced a fun deck on Casual mode.
  • The inn is brimming with explorers tonight!
    • Everyone is having a blast playing League of Explorers.
  • What treasure are you seeking today?
    • For most, it is getting Legend. For me, it’s getting my next Lightforge Key (12 wins in arena).
  • Ready for an adventure?!
    • Part of the Innkeeper’s contract with Blizzard is to remain the hypeman for new sets.
  • Oh, you’re back! Lemme get you a drink.
    • I do need a drink to get through Ranked play.

Elements of Hearthstone RNG: Jousts

Hearthstone’s The Grand Tournament (TGT) set brought about 2 new card mechanics. While Inspire has shown itself to be a viable and trusty mechanic, Jousting has turned the other cheek. While Jousting makes sense thematically, it is purely a mostly uncontrollable RNG factor. In the grand scheme of things, you are expected to win/lose half of your jousts to lose more jousts (since you lose ties), but it isn’t too far from 50/50 (high 40%s?). The only way to make sure you win most of your jousts are to fill your deck with North Sea Krakens and Giants.

  • Argent Lance – The Jousting weapon is a 2/2 for 2, which costs somewhere between 1.5 and 2 if you lose the joust, but is worth 3 for the 3 charges. A very small swing in either direction, especially how a 2 damage weapon isn’t that useful by turn 3-4.
  • Gadgetzan Jouster – By winning a joust, you get a 1-cost 2/3, which is a 1 mana swing, while losing the joust, you get a minion that’s a little less than 1. This isn’t a huge swing on paper, but getting a no-downside Zombie Chow on turn 1 is great for controlling the early game board.
  • Master Jouster – To my surprise, this card doesn’t have a huge swing on either side. By losing a joust, you get a 5/6 for 6, meaning you lose about 1 mana of tempo. With the divine shield and taunt, you get a minion worth a little over 7 or so, so you gain 1+ mana of tempo. Of course, it isn’t all in the numbers, as winning the joust could be a huge swing in a game decision.
  • King’s Elekk – Hey, a joust card that has no downside for losing! You just get a Bloodfen Raptor. But winning the joust will get you a draw of a free minion, which is a swing of about 2 mana in your favor.
  • Healing Wave – The only Joust spell costs 3, and can heal for 7 or 14. Healing for 7 is worth about 2.5 mana, while healing for 14 is worth about 5 mana.
  • Tuskarr Jouster – A 5/5 for 5 isn’t bad, given that it is only 1 life off from Pit Fighter. You can restore 7 life, or about 2.5 mana’s worth from winning a joust.
  • Armored Warhorse – You get a 5/3 for 4 mana, which isn’t a sexy stat line. By losing a joust, you’re getting 3.5 mana worth, but winning a joust is something better than 6 mana (Reckless Rocketeer).
  • The Skeleton Knight – A really bizarre card that has a deathrattle joust. You’re playing an overcosted Salty Dog (1 mana loss of tempo). If you actually win the joust, you’re getting a free Salty Dog! No wonder you never see this card.
Yeah I lost this joust real bad.
Yeah I lost this joust real bad.
All of the heals.
All of the heals.

Upshot

  • Joust RNG is typically uncontrollable. Unless you stack a deck with big minions.
  • Swing on jousts typically are higher on the winner. The downside to losing a joust is a small loss in tempo typically.
  • The problem with jousts remain that you lose the “safe play.” By slotting in a joust card in a deck, you lose the guarantee of a sure thing, for more upside. This makes is a better arena mechanic than in ranked. Still not great in either format.