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.
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