Looking Back at My Top Old Gods Card Predictions

Looking Back at My Top Old Gods Card Predictions

Two months ago, I attempted to give my take on what the top Old Gods cards would be. These predictions were made before I even opened a pack. Now we are in what I would like to call “The Information Meta.” Everyone is just so well-informed, that they are playing the best decks to counter the meta. I noticed this specifically with the rise of Dragon Tempo Warrior and Midrange Hunter. I strongly believe a lot of it has to do with the Vicious Syndicate, who have produced the best weekly Hearthstone meta report ever, complete with data, expert insight, and cool charts! They are a great resource, but I feel they have brought upon this “Information Meta.” That is my way of complaining about even struggling to get to Rank 10 this season. Tangent aside, here is a look back at my old predictions.

10. Thing from Below – The Thing is a staple in “Midrange Shaman” which isn’t really midrange, and plays slightly slower than Aggro Shaman, but with more totems. Coupled with Tuskar Totemic and Totem Golem, this is an amazing tempo play. It might be a Top 5 card so far in this meta.

9. Infested Wolf – Midrange Hunter is surprisingly diverse, with so many plug-and-play options. Infested Wolf is typically in the deck, running 2 or 1. I’m not sure if it is as good as a Top 10 card, but it is definitely strong and is a staple for Midrange Hunter.

8. Forbidden Ritual – I didn’t include Darkshire Councilman, but this is essentially the card that completes him. It made a lot of sense this would be a good card, given the loss of Imp-losion. I’d say this card is rightfully in the lower Top 10.

7. Evolve – Welp, good idea, but the rise of Shaman via Aggro Shaman and “Midrange” Shaman made this card more of an interesting accessory. I am not knowledgeable enough to know why it isn’t in the deck. One big downside is transforming 1-mana totems into Doomsayers. Otherwise, it just doesn’t make the cut in the fast Shaman meta. You still see in the Arena now and then as a desperation move. Big whiff here.

6. Journey Below – This card is typically found in N’Zoth Rogue, but N’Zoth Rogues aren’t exactly a hot deck in the meta. Rogues got hot with a Miracle Resurgence, but overall weakness against the fast meta has put the class back down to a lower tier. Given that Miracle is still stronger than N’Zoth Rogue, this card isn’t seeing a ton of play overall.

5. Master of Evolution – Similar to Evolve, but I believe this card is more versatile and has a chance to re-enter the meta. I see it in some “Midrange” Shaman decks now and then, but I believe it is cut if the player wants to go faster.

4. Blood to Ichor – Tempo Warrior is very strong now, and Blood to Ichor is a big reason why. It just works so well as an Enrage trigger, Acolyte of Pain draw, ping before Ravaging Ghoul, etc. Plus the 2/2 tempo Slim isn’t to be ignored. It is basically a 1-mana Ironforge Rifleman. Good prediction.

3. Cabalist’s Tome – Not many Mages ran this card until the “Chinese Tempo Mage” invaded the meta. Now that deck is rather strong, and this card provides sustain to keep going. Getting 3 random spells has synergy with various cards in Tempo Mage, and more fuel with Antonidas. Further, you are very likely to get Pyroblast for lethal.

2. Bloodhoof Brave – The brave is a near-staple for Warrior decks, providing tremendous utility as a defensive and offensive option. The Black Knight has seemingly dropped out of the meta again, meaning he is safe. Further, Priests are typically milk carton characters now, so it wouldn’t have it’s mind changed. It might be a bit lofty to predict it as the 2nd best card in Old Gods, but it is definitely a Top 10 so far.

  1. Hallazeal the Ascended – Aside from some creative Malygos shenanigans, Hallazeal suffers from the same fate of other Shaman cards that aren’t 4-mana 7/7’s. It just isn’t at the meta because Shaman is so strong when going fast. Maybe he will re-emerge (I hope so!). Otherwise this prediction is a huge swing and miss.

Bonus: Fandral Staghelm – I predicted Fandral Staghelm will suck. Well, he is now a Druid staple for the seemingly only deck of Token Druid. I should just stop predicting legendaries.

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“Who the hell is that!?”

The Most Baffling Artworks in Hearthstone

Besides being a life-consuming game, Hearthstone has several awesome elements in it’s design and appearance. The card art for example is very well-done. Starting out, a lot of card art was borrowed from the defunct WoW Trading Card Game, but more art has been commissioned in recent card releases. Despite the overall great appearance of the artwork, some cards just don’t fit too well with the card. Sometimes the card art doesn’t fit the card effects. Sometimes the card just outright doesn’t make sense. I went through every single card to figure out what the most baffling artworks are in Hearthstone.

10. Mind Vision – Tauren are spiritual beings, so that makes sense there. But this is some freaky forehead eyes thing stealing a card from your hand. Also, I think Tauren are supposed to be honest and direct, not stealing things.

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9. Shady Dealer – The guy is selling poisons, which makes sense as a Rogue card. But the card art just doesn’t match the card description. Pirates are unlikely to use poisons, as they rely on a fast, in-your-face aggro offense.

File:Shady Dealer(22348).png

8. Warhorse Trainer – His “Mount up” call makes sense with the whole equestrian theme. However, the odd thing about the card art is that he is a blood elf. Blood elves are members of the Horde, and would be anti-synergy with the humans he leads.

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7. Angry Chicken / Chicken – The card art mismatch here has been pointed out by Ben Brode himself. The Angry Chicken isn’t actually angry (seems confused), and shows a chicken falling out of armor. The Gnomish Experimenter Chicken is actually angry. Switch the card art!

File:Angry Chicken(57).pngFile:Chicken(12355).png

6. Equality – Tell me how a fist means a board clear. I just don’t get this one at all.

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5. Blood to Ichor – A very interesting card art for sure, one that caught my eye immediately with the release of Old Gods. The scene depicts a Dranei paladin seemingly fighting with a human cultist. I guess cultist got hit with the hammer, and his ichorous blood started to ooze out. And the Dranei is kinda just standing around. The card art makes sense given the card’s effect, but seems to have some complicated backstory.

File:Blood To Ichor(35209).png

4. Fencing Coach – I guess dancing has to do with footwork, which I assume is useful in fencing well. What concerns me about this card is the guy doesn’t have a goddang sword.

File:Fencing Coach(22378).png

3. Earthen Ring Farseer – ERF is the de-facto Rogue healer minion, and is tremendously versatile. I guess the totems and robes show that this guy is Shamanistic. What I don’t get is why this guy is literally about to smash something with his weapon. Cards that heal as their primary ability should look like it at least. This dude is going SMOrc on something.

File:Earthen Ring Farseer(557).png

2. Evil Heckler – Heckler is more known his famous vocal lines and power creep. But the guy in the card art looks like wizard of some sorts. I guess he is evil because he is draining the life of a soul nearby. But he looks like the kind of guy who would just murder you, instead of taunting. The Dark Iron Spectator card art is more fitting.

File:Evil Heckler(22390).png

 

  1. Quartermaster – Just confusing card art. I believe quartermasters are NPCs in WoW who sell you stuff or provide lodging. The guy in the card art looks like a barbarian/gladiator who is shown ripping apart chains with his bare hands. The card effect makes sense with the card art, but I guess the name just doesn’t match. Yeah that’s it.

File:Quartermaster(12280).png

The Definition of “Fun” in Hearthstone

I saw the little post below on Reddit yesterday about Elite Tauren Chieftain:

While the post is obviously flawed because ETC is promo card from 2013, it does bring forth the interesting discussion about what quantifies fun in a game. This is especially interesting to talk about in Hearthstone, a competitive game played for big money in eSports competitions.

Fun means having fun

Hearthstone is designed as a game with many comical elements in it. There are also a lot of random things that happen, which could be fun. The OP of the Reddit post encapsulates someone who just wants to have fun when playing Hearthstone. He/She eludes to ETC likely losing you the game, and acknowledging the RNG aspect of the card. But above all, they only care about playing fun cards.

Fun means winning

The counterpoint is that losing sucks. If you’re winning more games, you are having fun. Pro-players relentless grind for legend and getting out of so-called “dumpster ranks.” This just means a lot of winning, and a whole less lot losing. This likely involves playing decks with no waste at all, that are optimized from beating the meta of the week.

Fun means a balancing act

I think most people who play Hearthstone will fall under this. You care about winning games a lot, but also want to have a little fun. Most people here have a goal to get to a certain season rank, and then mess around with a fun deck. These people have lots of innovative ideas but are often pressured to netdeck themselves to a certain rank for self-satisfaction/rewards.

My views of fun

As an arena main, I don’t have so-called “fun runs,” where I would go for some weird synergy or only pick the left-most cards. I draft the best deck I could every time out. I also play with the class I am best with (Rogue), and balance the other classes depending on feel/success.

In ranked, I try to get to a certain Rank, 10 or more recently 5. I often do this with some deck I made myself. Then I fail, and netdeck something to get to the desired rank. I really don’t like losing in any game mode, and that limits my capability to grind for legend.

Final words on fun

It is impossible to quantify “fun” in Hearthstone, as the word means different things to different people. Hopefully posters in the future would be more cognizant to realize that the game isn’t just about winning or just about having a good time. The Hearthstone community isn’t monolithic at all when approaching the game, and that’s a good thing.

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Fun!

Kripp Partners with HearthArena

According to a headlining post on Hearthstone Reddit, Kripp has officially partnered with Hearthstone Arena Drafting site HearthArena. While this speculation was teased out a while back, it is official now. What impacts does this have on the overall status of the arena?

  1. More people will play Arena – Kripp has over 800k subscribers on YouTube, and his videos get hundreds of thousands of views. While he isn’t the best arena player with measured win rates, he is considered the most notable face of the arena. His recent success in the Old Gods meta has bolstered that claim. A guy with so much reach in the gaming community can only draw more people into the arena.
  2. More people will use HearthArena – I’m not sure what kind of agreement the two parties have in place, but Kripp will likely have to advertise HearthArena to some extent through his channels. Arena-main players already expect that most people use a drafting tool. Expect it all the time. This likely means less “really bad decks” and a more monolithic style, as more people are drafting with the same app.
  3. Slightly easier competition – Let’s say this partnership is a huge success, lots of people are playing Arena and using HearthArena. Well if this happens, the arena is getting a lot easier. I’d say that there will be moderate success. Some people try arena, think it’s too hard and don’t come back. Some people will keep sticking to it. The hardcores will remain in the arena no matter. I think a few Ranked/Brawl main people would move over to the arena, and this makes things slightly easier. Of course, you won’t expect to see these people when you’re fighting an 11-win final boss.
  4. Changes to the internal algorithm – Early indications are that Kripp will not work on tweaking any of the tier scores of the cards. Apparently, he will fill a branding role and show his face when displaying picks. Right now, that role is filled by the League of Explorers. I don’t know though. Something is amiss when you have one of the best arena players in your stable, and don’t pick his brain for improving your tier lists. The HearthArena algorithm is considered a trade secret of sorts, likely composed by data from the HearthArena users, plus tweaks from their arena experts. Kripp is a much bigger name than anyone else on the team, so he would likely have some sway in making decisions.
  5. Nothing happens – Let’s face it, Kripp and HearthArena are already well-known quantities. Almost everyone who plays Hearthstone watches or knows of Kripp. When people ask for arena help online, they are immediately turned to drafting assistance at HearthArena. So when you have two known quantities partnering, it’s possible nothing happens or changes to the arena.

The Liebster Award – Responses

The Liebster Award – Responses

Yesterday, I was nominated for The Liebster Award, an award given by bloggers for bloggers. I am extremely humbled for this recognition. The nomination was sent by Particlebit, who does an awesome job himself writing about all things games, and very cool game reviews.

The basic rules of the Liebster Award is to mention the award and blogger who nominated you, and to propagate the award to other bloggers and post questions for them to answer. Unfortunately, my blogging network is actually quite small, as I haven’t done too much exploring on the blogosphere. Also most of my interactions with my gaming persona are through Twitter. Thus, this post will just be responses to the Liebster Award questions from Partclebit. Maybe I’ll have a bigger blogging network someday!

  • Favorite video game console?
    • Most of the gaming in my life has been done through computer, but my favorite console is definitely PS1. PS1 was the first console I ever owned, so there’s that. A really memorable game series I played on PS1 was Syphon Filter 1-3. Final Fantasy VII – IX were also played at various times on PS1.
  • Favorite game on LEAST favorite console?
    • This is a tough one, as I have only ever owned a couple of consoles ever, so it would be definitely a game I played with a friend at some time. I’ll go with Super Smash Bros Melee on Gamecube, being my least favorite console. Melee was a super fun game that I played quite a bit in high school and college. I’m sure there are plenty of great games on Gamecube, but I had to nominate a random console I don’t really like! Maybe I don’t like the way Gamecube looks? I don’t know.
  • What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
    • I just saw Warcraft last weekend.
  • How long have you been blogging?
    • My first blog was through Xanga, which was done when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, so about 12 or 13 years ago. I’ve taken breaks now and then from blogging.
  • Why did you start blogging?
    • I originally started blogging just to start an online diary on my daily life, and to provide my views on current events, politics, etc. This blog is the first one where I actually have a true focus (Hearthstone), and I did it to successfully fill a void in my life. I really wanted to talk about Hearthstone!
  • Who is your favorite Pokemon?
    • I’m loyal to the original 151, as those are the ones I know by heart. I’ll go with Gengar, who always has a grin on his face and just looks like big, spiky, badass, purple ghost.hqdefault.jpg
  • How big is your gaming backlog at the moment?
    • I devote an hour or two to Hearthstone every day. I am also currently juggling games Heroes of the Storm, Borderlands 2, and Duelyst.
  • What are you doing when aren’t playing a game or working?
    • I honestly don’t have too many hobbies or am very tired from work. I do enjoy working out at the gym and watching tv. I am also working on a book, something I have worked on sporadically for at least 2 years. I also have a very strong interest for baseball, especially in sabermetrics. I spend a bit of time watching baseball on tv or online, or just like reading analysis posts.
  • What is one interesting, unique fact about yourself most people don’t know?
    • I don’t listen to her music, but I share a birthday with Taylor Swift (12/13/89).
  • Eat pizza with your hands or with a fork?
    • I’m from New Jersey, where pizza is exclusively eaten with hands. Also, a lunchlady in elementary school drilled it in our heads once, saying “this is America, you eat pizza with your hands!” I can see value in eating deep dish pizzas with utensils.
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“Fortunately, pizza exists!”

 

Brewmasters vs Beasts

Brewmasters vs Beasts

A couple days ago, someone posted on Hearthstone Reddit about brewmasters being good cards. Further in the comments, someone posted about these cards being good in the arena. I respectfully disagreed with the comment about the cards being good, especially in the arena, saying that I would rather draft Bloodfen Raptor and Lost Tallstrider over the brewmasters. This got me thinking about these cards in the arena, and which cards are actually superior.

Alcoholic Pandas

For those unfamiliar, the brewmasters are Pandaren (yes pandas) introduced in the first Hearthstone card set. Youthful Brewmaster is a 2 mana 3/2, with a battlecry that forces you to return a minion on your board back to your hand. This activity is often known as “bouncing” in Hearthstone. Ancient Brewmaster is a 4 mana 5/4, with the same bouncing battlecry. The bouncing of a minion will only occur when you have at least 1 minion on the board. When you have more than 1 minion, you get to choose what to bounce. If just 1 minion, you will be forced to bounce that one minion. On an empty board, the battlecry does nothing.

Lorewise, the Pandaren specifically enjoy beer in Warcraft, and this is depicted in game with a little barrel or cask of beer. I guess when a minion gets bounced to the hand, they are supposedly drunk and can’t continue fighting.

Beasts are Better

My argument is that the vanilla minions, Bloodfen Raptor and Lost Tallstrider, respectively are better than the brewmasters. And I don’t really care about the fact that they have beast synergy with Druids and Hunters. I think that having a vanilla minion, with no effect, is better than the bounce effect.

Pros

Good Battlecries

The greatest benefit towards using a brewmaster is to cast a really good battlecry a second time. Some good neutral arena cards that come to mind include Bomb Lobber, North Sea Kraken, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Defender of Argus. Various discover minions like Ethereal Conjurer, Jeweled Scarab, Tomb Spider, and Gorillabot A-3 are also really good value.

Healing for Value

Another common use of brewmasters is to save an injured minion by returning it to the hand. You can trade with the minion on the board, and return it again, thereby “healing” it. Such a tactic can also be used with divine shield, to “create” a new shield.

Double Charge

Charge minions can be exploited with a double charge. Double charges could be useful for extra reach damage to the face, or for trading with minions on the board.

Cons

Anti-tempo

This is the easiest explanation as to why I believe the brewmasters are inferior to their vanilla beast counterparts. The bouncing of a minion is anti-tempo, meaning you will have less stuff on the board. This creates a lot of awkward situations, where you are forced to bounce a taunt protecting your face, or something that is superior to your Pandaren brewmaster. Tempo is pretty important in the arena, as fighting for the board is the how you win arena games. Subtracting tempo on any turn must be well-worth it. Usually it isn’t.

Slowness

Brewmasters can get value from bouncing minions, but the entire process is just very slow. An entire chain of events must occur for this to work. A valuable minion is played, it survives, you play a panda, and you play said valuable minion again. With this said, Youthful Brewmaster is a bit better than Ancient Brewmaster. This is because you can only afford to bounce and play a 6-cost minion with the Ancient Brewmaster, while you can bounce and play anything 8-mana and below with the Youthful Brewmaster.

Tier List Score Comparison

Heartharena: Youthful Brewmaster (45), Ancient Brewmaster (47), Bloodfen Raptor (54), Lost Tallstrider (54)

Lightforge: Youthful Brewmaster (48), Ancient Brewmaster (48), Bloodfen Raptor (50), Lost Tallstrider (54)

Expert tier lists Heartharena and The Lightforge all have the vanilla beasts being a little better than the brewmasters. I would assume that the cost of anti-tempo is just a little worse than the pros of the brewmasters. It is also important to note that the brewmasters are likely a little better in classes with good battlecries compared to those that don’t. Warlock likely has a disadvantage, as Warlock battlecries are costly to summon a powerful minion. Paladin and Shaman minions are some that have high quality battlecries.

Consensus

While expert arena players do agree that the neutral beasts are slightly better than brewmasters in the arena, the difference in tier scores is too small to take seriously. Really which card you draft depends on several variables:

  1. Deck synergy – If your deck has a couple battlecries worth brewing, than the pandas have an advantage. Brewing back a Stormpike Commando might be useful in a deck with few removal options. Returning a Novice Engineer could be great for late-game card advantage.
  2. Mana curve – Brewmasters only cost 2 and 4 respectively, but are slow cards. The late-game value afforded is pretty solid. So if you draft a faster-style deck, it might be better to go with the vanilla beast. Slower decks can afford to have Youthful Brewmaster serve as a 2-drop, or something for more value in the late game.
  3. Personal preference – While a lot of people listen to tier lists hook line and sinker, personal preference on cards is something everyone has. There are just card people like more than others, no matter what the tier lists say. I have such a preference with Addled Grizzly. So if you are comfortable drafting brewmasters, than go for it! I personally am not, given my experience with awkward bouncing situations, so that is why I spring for the vanilla beasts.
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Just right…

Overall, this is real minutiae thinking about minions in the arena. But hey, you need to think about all of these things when you’re drafting.

 

Quick Hits on the Warcraft Movie

Quick Hits on the Warcraft Movie

I just came back from the theatre from watching Warcraft. I can say that I enjoyed the movie, but was not amazed, which is about the expectation that I had going in. I’ll try not to spoil anything for those who have yet to see the movie, but here are some random observations I had about the movie.

  • Warcraft: Humans vs Orcs – I went in the movie expecting to see a whole host of different racial groups, which makes Warcraft what it is. While you do see some Alliance-related racial groups make small appearances, it is very human-focused. The only Horde racial group there are the Orcs. This could be by design, as Orcs just land in Azeroth, and other groups may not have joined yet. I was a little disappointed to not see Tauren, Trolls, Goblins, etc.
  • No introduction – It isn’t really clear what the objective of the Orcs are in this movie. The impetus to leave their world isn’t sold well, or made clear.
  • Hard to root for the Horde/Orcs – While the movie does portray the Frostwolves as good guys, it is very hard for a typical moviegoer to root for the Horde/Orcs, if they aren’t familiar with Warcraft. There aren’t any good reasons provided by the movie to root for them.
  • Bunch of things are non-canon – The most pivotal death from the movie, (of a certain leader), is not canon I believe. Well going into the movie, I know it happens but  the intentions surrounding the assassin, and how it went down doesn’t seem canon. Not surprising a movie adaptation doesn’t meet exactly everything from a game, but it left me puzzled for a little bit.
  • Gul’dan uses drain life, a lot – Drain Life is a crappy spell in Hearthstone, but holy crap, Gul’dan uses it a lot in this movie. Or it might be Siphon Soul. In any case, Gul’dan just drains life non-stop. He even does it to a random deer to save a certain baby (who summons 4 mana 7/7’s.)
  • Gul’dan is big – The Hearthstone portrait of Gul’dan is very deceiving, leaving some people to think he isn’t even an orc. While not as built as a regular orc, Gul’dan is still a very big dude, and it is obvious in this movie. He also looks like he can barely move, before he gets in a fight. In that fight, he actually fights, which surprised me as well. Gul’dan also goes shirtless, which lets you see what his back looks like.
  • Anduin – From the first scene, it is apparent that Anduin Lothar is a badass. This badassery goes till the end of the movie. Almost everything he does in the movie is badass.
  • Khadgar – Khadgar runs the gamut in this movie. He primarily serves as the butt monkey in the movie and is bullied. He eventually graduates to badass. He casts a whole list of Mage spells including arcane missles, polymorph, fireball/fireblast, and various shielding ones. He is also the main source of comic relief in the movie, where there is very little at all.
  • Random ass murloc sound – In a transition between scenes, you hear a random murloc noise. The same murloc noise when Bluegill Warrior/Grimscale Oracle/Murloc Tidehunter/Miracle Murloc is summoned.
  • Flying – So much flying on mounts, but nobody gets knocked off really. The flying over cities is a main draw from WoW and well done here as well.
  • Fel is bad – This is a recurring theme in Warcraft, and emphasized to a great deal in this movie. I wonder how they will swallow “good fel guys.”
  • Guns! Glorious guns – Holy crap, guns are powerful in this movie. It makes you think why humans bother with swords at all, or why dwarves haven’t taken over the world already.

Anyone else seen the Warcraft movie? Any opinions?