February 2016 was a rather unusual month for me Hearthstone-wise. I’ve considered myself an arena player for quite some time, and expect to play plenty in the future. But a baffling inability to win games in the arena forced me to turn to Ranked Play. And playing quite a few constructed games gave me a bit of insight into the grinder mindset.
Deck Tracker kept track of my games for the last month. The 93-72 record equates to a 56% win rate, which is only better than my Priest and Warrior arena records. It has been said that players can reach Legend with a low 50’s win rate, but only through quite a bit of grinding and some lucky win streaks. You just have to endure lots of losing, some winning, and need to have gobs of time to play Hearthstone.
- As much as I like to complain about the Druid Combo, I don’t do the worst against them.
- Mages were very predictable this month, allowing me to get quick reads and prepare well.
- I didn’t lose to Rogues all month in Ranked!
Grinding Tools (Decks)
- LiveHigh Tempo Rogue – (Ranks 20-8) – This deck did all the heavy lifting to get me through all the lower ranks. A Rogue deck with the Gadgetzan Auctioneer draw engine, Sabotage, Antique Healbots, and the surprise wildcard of Ragnaros. LiveHigh makes some amazing decks.
- Kolento Aggro Shaman (Ranks 9-6) – The popular aggro/burn Shaman is common in competitive ranked play. Kolento’s Shaman in the Curse Trials is a board control-based version of the Burn Shaman with Antique Healbots, Elemental Destruction, Lightning Storm and Hexes.
- Brann Reliquary Warlock (Ranks 12-9) – I crafted Gormok this month, and decided to make a Warlock deck. I previously enjoyed the Reliquary Deck, but the addition of Brann Bronzebeard was new to me. My variation of the deck contains Enhance-o-Mechano and Gormok, so it is slightly slower than the average flood Warlock.
- Ryzen Oil Rogue (Ranks 8-6) – Ryzen’s Oil Deck has the classic look of the Oil Rogue you have seen for ages, but with Edwin VanCleef and Sludge Belcher.
- My Reno Rogue (Waffling in Rank 6) – This is the Reno Rogue I made myself, which can use some solid tweaking. While it is useless against the lower ranks during a season grind, it won about 50% of the games in Rank 6.
- J4CKIECHAN Injured Camel (Ranks 7-6) – I fell off Rank 6 on the last day of the season. So I spent Leap Day getting back to Rank 6 with this new flash in the pan Hunter deck. A completely surprise of a deck, which features Desert Camel summoning a 2/4 Injured Kvaldir from the deck. A board control-based deck that baffles opponents while it is still new. I ran out of steam often with this deck, unless I had my Cult Master on the board.
What I learned
I put some time in Constructed the last month, and I got my best rank ever. This is what I learned.
- A big component of Ranked is the element of surprise. When someone comes in playing a deck you don’t expect, you can’t play around things or make correct reads. While the tried-and-true meta decks you see over and over are effective and popular for a reason, you can make better reads against them.
- It takes a different animal to succeed in the grind for Legend. I have somewhat diminished game stamina now, and am occupied with work. No wonder the top Hearthstone players don’t have jobs!
- I can’t wrap my head around playing the same deck for a whole season. The Tempo Rogue got me far, but when I started losing games, I turned to other decks to keep pushing my rank up. Keep cycling your decks to prevent things from getting stale.