Endless Nameless Hype

Because almost everyone who plays Hearthstone is helplessly addicted, it’s no secret that everyone is drawn to the ongoing Old Gods card release. As such, people sleuthed their asses off to get the latest scoop and posted it on Reddit. Thumbnails were obtained of all the streamer card voting reveal cards, and by which streamer. What is unknown is what each card does, obviously.

So which ones am I most excited to see? Here are the remaining 15 cards in ascending order of excitement.

#15 – Tiddler Celestial

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A mantid it looks like, wearing a crown. Pretty boring thumbnail.

#14 – Scamaz

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Looks like Ancient Shade, but with well-defined muscles. Another lackluster reveal!

#13 – Savjz

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This really looks like a spell. The Faceless in the picture looks ensnared or impaired in some way. Of course this could be a minion card, but looks like a spell really. A Priest Spell.

#12 – Reynad

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What do you call a book of dark arts?  A grimoire or something? Most likely a Warlock spell. But that tentacle!

#11 – Firebat

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You’ve got a Murloc wizard/spellcaster guy, but he has tentacles for legs. While this guy has a good chance of being OP, could this open the door for Mage or Warlock Murloc decks?

#10 – Trump

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Looks like an imposing Faceless minion, most likely a rare or epic card. I mean look at this, it can’t be common!

#9 – Kranich

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Some people think this could hint at Cho’Gall, but it looks like a dead giveaway at a spell. I mean the focus is on the death ray, not on Cho’Gall himself. Some kind of hard removal looks likely.

#8 – Thijs

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This is some next-level ish. Possessed wisps? A big AOE spell? The possibilities are endless!

#7 – Richard Knight

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So clearly you see all of Rexxar’s Animal Companions in a violent lunge. 9-mana summon all of Huffer’s companions? Always Huffer still applies!

#6 – Zhang Ding

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This one is likely getting released soon, but a very spiny, infested dragon. It doesn’t look like a legendary dragon, but could be some rare or epic. A Twilight Drake of some sorts? Also dragon art is just amazing.

#5 – Lifecoach

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So an orc is getting cloned. Or is this dude so mad that his rage side takes up matter? I am willing to bet this is a Warrior spell.

#4 – Roger

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Looks clearly like an infested Druid minion, given the antlers.Though it also looks like a goblin, and I don’t think goblin druids exist. Anyhow, this guy looks really cool.

#3 – Kno

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As a Rogue player, this is probably the one I care about the most. It’s basically Valeera with armor. So it’s likely a Rogue spell or weapon. Also obviously, Valeera follows the chainmail bikini protocol. Full armor would hamper her aerodynamics!

#2 – Kibler

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People are saying this is Deathwing, but looks more likely some form of Black Dragonflight. Just a really cool looking dragon.

Winner – Dog

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It’s crazy that of these 15 thumbnails, a goddang cup is the most exciting to me. Some things are clearly minions or spells, belonging to certain classes. This cup is just a mystery. I am dying to know what this does, even if it is horrible.

Tentacles for Arms, Throwing Everyone for a Loop

The Whispers of the Old Gods hype train has been chugging along, and card reveals have been picking up the last few days. As part of the popular Hearthstone streamer voting contest, the player Sjow revealed a card called Tentacles for Arms yesterday.

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If you can’t tell, it is a 5-cost Warrior weapon with a 2/2 distribution, and a infinite return deathrattle. Upon seeing this, I took to Twitter:

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And this opinion was reflected also on Reddit:

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Why does Tentacles for Arms exist?

Quick analysis

Let’s look at some similar weapons, in terms of attack/durability.

The vanilla value weapon is Fiery War Axe, dealing 6 damage over 2 turns for 2 mana. Argent Lance will get 4-6 damage over 2-3 turns for 2 mana. Stormforged Axe will get 6 damage over 3 turns for 3 mana. Perdition’s Blade and Glaivezooka do similar things and deal 4 damage over 2 turns. Coghammer is OP.

Tentacles for Arms does 4 damage over 2 turns for 5 mana. Let’s see other 5-mana weapons!

Doomhammer effectively costs 7, but rightfully does 16 damage overall. Assassin’s Blade does 12 damage, and Arcanite Reaper 10.

Tentacles for Arms does 4. For the same cost.

Why?

The community is baffled as to why such a card exists, and Ben Brode talked about it a great deal from his stream last night. Here are some reasons why the card exists as is according to him, and some input from myself and others.

  • It would be OP otherwise – Brode made several comparisons with Tentacles for Arms with the Rogue spell Headcrack (3 mana, 2 dmg, return card on combo). Headcrack was previously a 2 mana spell for 2 dmg, and the combo return. It was nerfed to 3 mana in October 2013, and subsequently never made it to competitive play right off the bat. He mentioned that it would be better for a card to be bad than OP. Would Tentacles for Arms be OP if it was 4 mana? It would be doing 4 damage for 4 mana, and returned to the hand. What if it was a 3/2 instead?
  • It serves another purpose – With a set of 140 cards, there is going to be some filler, like the Boogeymonster. Brode mentioned that some cards serve other purposes, to cater to other players, such as those who enjoy the challenge of making a deck. I myself have the “competitive evaluation” mindset on cards and just see the low value 5-cost 2/2 weapon. But maybe some people do like trying to make things work.
  • Reno Warrior / Fatigue Outcomes – This was suggested that it could serve as a weapon in a Reno deck, where most cards are singletons. Against a class that doesn’t heal, it isn’t the worst thing in the world, as it is constant damage each turn. In a double fatigue situation, the Warrior would have a weapon and armor up each turn.
  • Something we don’t know! – In all fairness, we have had only a small glimpse of the new card set. While it is unlikely there is a card that specializes in buffing Tentacles for Arms, there could be unseen synergy. There already is a pirate Warrior (that does something else), but there are at least 2 other pirates confirmed through murals for Old Gods. So some card could make these tentacles more palatable.

All in all, it is most likely that Tentacles for Arms is as bad as it looks. It is an epic card though, and these cards are the most experimental lot. And soon, everyone will just accept this bad card for what it is and move on to criticizing some other bad card that comes out.

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Paladin Arena: Liadrin Joins the Struggle

Last week, I spent two days playing WoW in order to obtain my Lady Liadrin Paladin skin. I did obtain her, but was continually not offered Paladin in the Arena. I notoriously don’t play Paladin as a Ranked class (2 wins), so I needed a Paladin Arena selection to debut Liadrin.

Decklist

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  • A red carpet debut for Liadrin, with two legendaries in Tirion and Fjola. Unlike many other 2 legendary drafts, which don’t work well, both of these cards are pretty good. Tirion could be the most valuable card of any in the Arena.
  • I spent the first 20 picks or so drafting for value, and had a huge glut of 4 drops. My last 10 picks was catch up in drafting early game. I had to make awkward picks like Gadgetzan Jouster over Boulderfist Ogre.
  • This deck has a little bit of everything it seems. Some removal, some AoE, some buffs, some secrets, some weapons, some taunts. Card draw could be an issue, as I just have Hammer of Wrath and Tomb Spider.

Games (now on YouTube!)

  1. Paladin – Coin – 1-0 – A weird game in that I never really won control of the board. I was just ahead through the game and was able to be aggressive to close the game out. Ashbringer from Tirion came through for some face damage.
  2. Paladin – Coin – 1-1 – I got in an awkward spot Turn 8 when I was forced to trade a 8/5 Frost Ele into a 6/1 Lord of the Arena. I burned out due to lack of card advantage and was overrun by Murlocs.
  3. Paladin – 1st – 1-2 – I made the face turn up 30-10, but it was a turn too early. Like the last game, I was topdecking and overrun by Murlocs.
  4. Hunter – 1st – 2-2 – I was mostly in control in the game, and a Tomb Spidered- Maexxna was useful.
  5. Rogue – Coin – 3-2 – A 4 minute blowout in which I had the board right away and had tempo to put stuff out every turn.
  6. Druid – 1st – 4-2 – A game where a lot of taunts were put out on the board, but Tirion ended the game.
  7. Mage – Coin – 5-2 – The mage had no answers in board clears to clear my minions.
  8. Mage – 1st – 5-3 – A 16 turn affair where I just threw the game away. The mage had a lot of spells to remove my minions. Instead of trying to take the board, I kept hitting face and put pressure. My opponent’s Cult Master helped draw enough to beat me.

Upshot

  • Was too greedy throughout the arena run, where trading could’ve helped. The double good legendary draft must have wrecked me with power.
  • Tirion is as good as advertised, but he is not immune to a board of Murlocs.
  • Card cycling is important, and it was a big downfall of this deck.
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Murloc destroys Tirion

Hearthstone Minion Averages and Radar Charts

My educational background and work experience thus far has allowed me to work with data all the time and has showed me how to evaluate things with numbers. While using numbers typically have a work or research-related application, numbers have been increasingly used to look at hobbies. I decided to look at some basic numbers with stats involving Hearthstone minions.

For this exercise, I just decided to look at averages for minion cost, attack, and health.

Hearthstone minions by class

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What this tells you is that the average minion in Hearthstone is a 4 mana 3.5 / 4. The average neutral minion also has a similar cost and stat distribution as all overall cards.

It is pretty obvious that Druids have the highest cost minions, and biggest minions, consolidating their status as the ramp class. Rogue cards are the cheapest and have the lowest health. Shamans have a low attack total, tainted by 0-attack totems.

Hearthstone minions by set

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The Basic set are clearly the weakest cards around, as they are the cards you get for free. Naxx and GvG were known for ushering aggro into dominance, as evidenced by their relatively low costs. BRM was a set that had a lot of beefy dragon minions.

Hearthstone minions by rarity

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Finally, a view of rarity, which primarily has implications in the arena. You see a clear linear trend in the upward slope of cost, attack and health, as a card gets rarer.

Radar charts

I was doing some work on Microsoft Excel when I realized that Excel could create radar charts. Intrigued about this, I thought about what possible visual applications radar charts had on conveying information. This all led to me creating some Hearthstone-related radar charts.

For minions, I decided to categorize all class minions into “what they did.” To account for all the different types of effects, I had to put them into broad bins of what they did.

  • Spellpower – Pretty clear, e.g. Kobold Geomancer
  • Taunt – Pretty clear, e.g. Frostwolf Grunt
  • Damage – Something that deals extra damage, e.g. SI: 7 Agent
  • Charge – Pretty clear, e.g. Kor’kron Elite
  • Buff Self – Something that only helps itself, usually continuous, e.g. Lightwarden
  • Buff Other – Helps other minions, e.g. Blood Imp
  • Reinforcement – Summons something to the board, e.g. Dr. Boom
  • Cost Mod – Reduces or increases costs, e.g. Shadowfiend
  • Mana Mod – Affects mana crystals somehow, e.g. Grove Tender
  • Minion Mod – Affects minions in a non-damage way, e.g. Water Elemental
  • Hero Mod – Affects own heroes in a non-damage way, e.g. Fallen Hero
  • Cycle – Draws cards from deck, or gets you new cards in hand, e.g. Tomb Spider
  • Heal – Heals hero or minons, e.g. Earthen Ring Farseer

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The graph of all classes is a mess, but if you look at individual classes, like Paladin, you see their minions focus on buffing each other (Argent Protector), and minion modification (Aldor Peacekeeper).

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Also for minions, I looked at basic stat distribution, and classifying them as aggro minions (more attack than health), defensive minions (more health than attack), or even.

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Very aggressive minions, those than have 2 or more attack than health are quite rare. You see Rogue class minions almost always have more attack than health or are even. Shamans and Warlocks have minions that typically have more health than attack.

Priests seemingly have no card that has 2 more attack than health.

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Finally I made some graphs for the spells of Hearthstone, and what they do.

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Paladin spells are primarily focused on buffs, and have all but one source of hard removal.

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Meanwhile, Warlock spells are all about doing damage, but have some areas of decent hard removal and AOE.

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All in all, this was just to help me learn to use radar charts to display visual data for Hearthstone. In the future, I may incorporate such charts when analyzing certain decks or even arena runs.

What a Time to Be Alive

 

Given this blog is all about Hearthstone, what an exciting week it has been leading up to today. It all started with the sleuthing of Disguised Toast. Then came a mural in Brooklyn. And the Spanish website, which turned out to reveal everything revealed today. The upcoming expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods was announced a couple hours ago, and is set to launch late April – early May. Here’s what has been confirmed on stream:

  • This Monday (3/14 St Patty’s Day), we will get the 9 deck slots.
  • The patch will also include a preview of wild/standard formats. It is not launching this Monday.
  • During the promo period, every user will get 3 Old Gods packs, and the legendary C’Thun. The promo card back might be pre-order only.
  • The 20-something nerf to Classic/Basic cards was not discussed.
  • More cards revealed over the weekend and from now on.

Unlike League of Explorers, there is a big amount of time until this new expansion hits, giving time for people to save up gold or whatever. While we are stuck with the stale meta some more, this is probably the most exciting time to be a fan of Hearthstone, with the eager anticipation of waiting for cards to be revealed. When I started playing Hearthstone, I visited Hearthpwn a lot. Then I started going to the site less and less, due to the frequency of banal posts, complaining, and “custom card makers” everywhere. Now, I have no choice but to visit that site every day, in case a card gets revealed.

And this slow card reveal will go on for weeks. Streamers likely have their hands on some cards to reveal. Magazines and websites will have some cards. A bunch of cards in foreign languages and unconfirmed names!

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Originally called “Scared Warrior”

It will all lead up to “massive card dump day,” which is probably the most exciting day of the year.

And of course there will be speculation and sleuthing among the Hearthstone community. I went through great lengths to figure out Subjugator Kor’ul maybe a card, and there have been trailer rumblings of Corrupted Hogger and Coldlight Seer.

All and all, it is a great time to be a Hearthstone fan. Some can’t take this slow reveal, hype-building strategy. I won’t have it any other way.

 

Vanishing Act

Last night, I took a Druid 10 wins in the arena, a huge surprise by my lowly Druid standards. While I also saw value in Mini-Mage for the first time, another surprise emerged: I saw the card Vanish used. Twice. Both Rogues I played against Vanished the board clean. Let’s take a look at each Vanish, and what came of each game.

Background

There’s no way to say this. Vanish is a god awful card outside of Mill Rogue. You’re paying 6 mana to return everything. You’ll have 0-4 mana to set up your board, while your opponent will have 6-10 mana to set up a board. That is some serious anti-tempo, letting your opponent flood the board with threats.

Vanish #1

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Situation 1 occurs when I get whittled down to 8 life by Assassin’s Blade and a Sabertooth Panther, which was acquired by a Mulch. Vanish bounces back my 6/6 Kvaldir Raider, shieldless Argent Horserider, and a Sapling. Given it was Turn 8, my opponent was able to the 3/2 stealth again with the 2 leftover mana.

Given my low life state, I set up one of my Ironbark Protectors. I set up a big board with 2 Ironbark Protectors and a Sapling, threatening lethal. My opponent wound up killing both my Ironbarks, and had enough to kill me off.

Vanish #2

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Situation 2 occurs when I get hit in the face by Unearthed Raptor and Stormwind Champion. I lose an injured Frost Elemental, Gadgetzan Jouster, and Sea Giant. My opponent had no follow-up to the Vanish.

Knowing my opponent had at least a Stormwind Champion, I cobble together a board of Emperor Cobra, Druid of the Fang and Gadgetzan Jouster.Though the game was far from over at that point, I had enough reach to win the game.

So when to use Vanish?

  • You are way ahead in life – This is probably the best juncture to use Vanish. You hit face, Vanish, and play something small. Hopefully, you have enough reach to win the game afterwards.
  • You have charge minions – Vanish gives your charge minions another go at the face. More reach!
  • Take advantage of bad effects – Vanish is not the worst idea when your opponent plays some cards with bad effects. Self-cutting or discard Warlock cards come to mind. Shaman overload cards like Earth Elemental hurt to play again. Sea Giant requires some set up with more minions.
  • Reach! – This is pretty much it. You have Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, a souped-up weapon, Blade Flurry maybe, Eviscerate, and some charge minions.

Why you should continue not drafting Vanish

  • Big time anti-tempo – Like 2 Beneath the Grounds with no Nerubian invasion! Your opponent has a lot more mana next turn to set up their board.
  • A second chance – With some knowledge of your minions, your opponent can better setup their board to handle your minions.
  • Your opponent can take advantage of battlecry and discover – Most battlecries and discover effects are good effects. Your opponent will get a second change to cycle cards or get a good inspire card.
  • There are many better cards out there – Well you’re picking in the arena, and the chances you’ll get 2 better common cards are pretty high.

Crystal Blue Persuasion

While I have lived an uneventful and unremarkable life to date, one of the one accomplishments I can lay claim to is that I watched Breaking Bad really early on. I started watching the show around the summer of 2009, and I was telling people in college then, who didn’t believe me, what a great show it was. I got rather obsessed with the show, knowing rather obscure quotes and virtually every moment of the show. So imagine the excitement I got when this happened:

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Given that it is early in the Hearthstone season, my ability to win in ranked is a virtual coin flip. This loss afforded me the opportunity to hastily paste in various Walter White quotes with Microsoft Paint! First the appropriate threats:

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A little BM:

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And some more out of place quotes:

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And this is all fitting on the board, given I got beaten by Toshley who’s big gun may or may not be set up in a vintage car trunk in “Felina”, Mind Control Tech which was successfully used on Jesse Pinkman in “End Times”, Ethereal Conjurer who conjured up some fulminated mercury in “Crazy Hand Full of Nothin'”, and Reno Jackson, who represents the money-making apsirations Walt had early on in the show.