July Hearthstone Recap + Screenshots

The July 2016 season was a very run-of-the-mill season for me. I barely ran a win rate above 50% in Ranked mode, finishing with a pedestrian Rank 9. I got through the high teens with my homebrewed Miracle Rogue, got through the pre-teen Ranks with a Shaman, and ended things with Midrange Rogue and Yogg Druid.

In the Arena, I have stayed consistent with my 4.85 average, with my regular vicissitudes dragging down my good arena runs. I got my first 12-win run with Warlock, my 8th Lightforge overall. Warlock somehow climbed from my 5/6 class to my 3rd best class. I was deprived of Rogue for a good 3 weeks, and now am getting recompensated in that department. I continue to struggle with Mage and Paladin for reasons unknown.

And of course, One Night in Karazhan was just announced, and will drop August 11th. I can wait to sink my teeth in the new cards in constructed, and more importantly, play a new arena meta. Hey, some screenshots below!

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Moroes: The First Karazhan Downer

One Night in Karazhan is slowly having it’s cards trickle out to the public, since the announcement a few days ago. While only 11 of 45 cards have been revealed, I believe that the first unplayable card has emerged in Moroes.

moroes

Moroes is a bit of a beloved and tragic character in Warcraft, serving Medivh’s every need and ultimately getting killed by him. He is the first mandatory boss in the Karazhan raid in WoW. He was in the Warcraft movie.

While it is bad practice to say a Hearthstone card will be bad when 34 cards are to be released, I will take the heel turn here. I think Moroes will not be a competitive Hearthstone card, no matter what gets released. Here is why.

1. No immediate big effect on the board

Moroes does have an effect on the board, a bit of a delayed battlecry. He will survive being played on Turn 3, and summon a 1/1 Steward. This is not unlike a similar 3-drop, Razorfen Hunter (2/3), which summons a 1/1 Boar. A 1/1 token is not nothing, but it is as close as it gets to nothing.

2. There is very little sub-tribe support in Hearthstone

There are seven “tribes” in Hearthstone: beast, demon, dragon, mech, murloc, pirate, and totem. Most minions don’t belong to a tribe. Further, there is very little sub-tribe support. The only one that comes to mind are Silver Hand Recruits, who get a buff from Quartermaster and Warhorse Trainer. I don’t expect a card that will give buffs to the 1/1 Stewards.

3. 1 Health

This is the primary reason Moroes isn’t going to succeed. He is a 3-mana 1/1, with emphasis on the 1 health. Cards that don’t have an immediate effect or initiative, cost more than 1 mana, and have 1 health are severely limited. As such, I filtered all minions that have: 1) 1 health, 2) have no divine shield,  3) cost more than 1 mana, 4) have no Battlecry or Choose One to see how competitive the list is. Here is the list:

1 health
Courtesy of hearthpwn.com

Besides the past Face Hunter staple Wolfrider, murloc Bluegill, and card advantage guys Loot Hoarder and Bloodmage Thalnos, this isn’t a list of minions that inspires confidence in competitive Hearthstone play.

While having permanent stealth helps him survive directed pings, the 1 health is a severe limitation.

4. Every class can deal 1 damage AoE

Moroes is cloaked, and generates 1/1’s, but this is something any class can get rid of.

Warrior: Ravaging Ghoul, Whirlwind, Revenge

Shaman: Lightning Storm, Elemental Destruction

Warlock: Hellfire, Demonwrath, Shadowflame, Dread Infernal

Mage: Flamestrike, Blizzard, Twilight Flamecaller, Arcane Explosion, Arcane Missles + Flamewaker

Hunter: Explosive Trap (this is the weakest class in this removal)

Druid: Swipe, Starfire

Rogue: Fan of Knives, Blade Flurry

Paladin: Consecration

Priest: Excavated Evil, Holy Nova, Circle of Healing + Auchenai

Neutral: Corrupted Seer

Every class pretty much will run at least one of the above cards in their decks. Hunters have the weakest removal out of this lot, but the rest would easily wipe out Moroes. Aggro decks may not run AoE removal, but playing a 3-mana 1/1 and 1/1 token isn’t the best tempo against a deck trying to kill you fast.

Conclusion

This is my case as to why I believe Moroes will not be a playable card in Hearthstone, no matter what cards come out, and what strategies emerge. While there are some possible synergies with Steward of Darkshire, Hobgoblin, and some possible Druid help with tokens, I feel it will be hard to pull off.

I really want the card succeed, and I hope I completely eat these words. But I feel it’s limitations are just too much to overcome.

Kara Out! A Look at 2 RNG Cards

I painstakingly stayed up last night to watch the Hearthstone reveal, which turned out to be what most were expecting, a Karazhan adventure called “One Night in Karazhan.” Only 7 cards out of 45 were revealed for the adventure, but 2 RNG-based cards caught my eye, Firelands Portal and to a much lesser extent, Ivory Knight. Let’s look at the numbers and see how good these cards really are.

Firelands Portal

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This is an eSports portal with more predictable results, limiting to 5-drops. A cursory view of this card is saying you’re paying 2 mana for 5 damage, and getting fair value for the 5-cost minion. But this is wrong!

Standard
Attack 4.19
Defense 4.69
Wild
Attack 4.13
Defense 4.68

The table shows the average attack and defense of the current 5-drops in the game. Very similar numbers of a minion having a near-vanilla 5-drop stat points, like Chillwind Yeti. Whatever 5-drops coming from the new adventure would likely be a drop in the bucket to affect these averages too much.

Battlecry 33%
Taunt 9%
Inspire 9%
Charge 4%

This table is more telling. 1/3 of your outcomes will be battlecry minions, meaning you are not getting battlecry from the summon, and you will be left with an under-stated minion. This is the main downfall of Firelands Portal. Getting a Faceless Manipulator (3/3), or Ram Wrangler (3/3), or BGH (4/2), with no battlecry. On the flipside, you could get Earth Elemental (7/8, taunt). Otherwise, taunts and inspires come up a good amount. Important to note that Firelands Portal costs 7, meaning you can inspire the same turn after Turn 9. Your rare chargers have a good chance to be big time reach with Leeroy Jenkins and Doomguard.

So is Firelands Portal good? Yes. It will practically kill most 0-6 drops with 5 damage and leave something on the board. Just don’t expect that minion to be too valuable. With that said, it looks to be a better arena than constructed card, because Mages just need more good common cards in the arena. (/sarcasm)

Ivory Knight

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The more boring card I will spend less time on is the Paladin card above. You’re basically paying a 2+ mana anti-tempo to discover a Paladin spell, and heal yourself for that value. A unique mechanic I must say, and I dig the chess theme.

Wild 2.94
Standard 3.04

The average costs for Paladin spells sit around 3. So you’re healing 3 and getting a 3-cost spell.

Secret 26%
Buff 23%
Destruction 13%
Card Draw 13%

The percentages in the table above aren’t exactly accurate, as discover allows you to pick from 3 cards. 26% of Paladin spells are 1-cost secrets, with most of them being bad. Paladin buffs on the other hand are typically OP cards. Some form of damage and destruction (Enter the Coliseum) and card draw cards are also other outcomes.

So is this card good? It’s hard to tell at the moment. In the arena, it is card advantage of getting a good spell. Just not sure if the big cost of a 6-drop is worth it.

In the coming days, the rest of the cards will be leaked. Excited to see the rest.

Karazhan “Confirmed.” Now What?

Karazhan “Confirmed.” Now What?

The boiling speculation for the next Hearthstone adventure came to a head with Disguised Toast finding the domain for karazhan.com being claimed. Further evidence was provided by Blizz themselves, with the formal announcement of the adventure next week:

 

blizz-invite

I’m no expert in Warcraft, but I’m pretty sure the feathers point to Medivh’s raven form. Also, the address “old friend” refers to an old character, like Medivh. Some have mentioned that the drinks and music are like the parties in the Karazhan raid. Dead giveaway!

Karazhan

Given that I have never played the Karazhan on WoW, I tried to do some research of watching an individual run through the raid on YouTube, and also read about what Karazhan consists of online. From what I can tell, these are major areas of Karazhan. Bold areas mean it is a required event or boss.

  • The Stables
  • The Grand Ballroom
  • The Guest Quarters
  • Servant’s Quarters
  • Opera House
  • The Menagerie
  • Guardian’s Library
  • Gamesman’s Hall
  • The Topmost

The previous 3 adventures were 5-week events. So these areas would be melded into 5 stages.

I noticed a bunch of other things about Karazhan.

  • Bring out your dead -Almost everyone in Karazhan is undead to some extent. You get a lot of spectral ghosts, forsaken/scourge zombie types, dreadsteeds, etc.
  • Nothing can stop me, nothing! – Despite being the owner of Karazhan, you never actually fight Medivh in the Karazhan raid. You play chess against him, and he cheats, but no physical fight.
  • Party crasher – Everyone seems to be having a dead good time before you show up and kill people and loot them. The invite, with it’s martini and music notes seems to fit quite well with what I saw in Karazhan.

Adaptation to Hearthstone

In my last blog post, I took a look at how adventure cards tied to Warcraft lore. With the same list, I took a look at class/neutral card balance for each adventure.

  • Naxx – 9/30 class cards – 1 rare class card per class
  • BRM – 18/35 class cards – 1 rare, 1 common per class
  • League – 27/45 class cards – 1 rare, 2 commons per class

With these numbers in hand, we can assume certain things about Karazhan:

  • No class epics or legendaries – To date, all adventure class cards are common or rare. Epics were only included in the most recent League of Explorers. Legendary cards have always been neutral. This is unlikely to change for Karazhan.
  • 50+ – One of the goals of a new card release is to shake up the meta. The easiest way to do this is to release class cards that help balance the meta, either by giving a weak class OP cards, or giving a strong class a not-very-useful card. The disparity between classes in terms of ladder dominance now is pretty big. Thus, I will assume Karazhan will not follow a Naxx release of 30% class cards, but one that will have 50% or more class cards. So in the line of BRM.

Boldish Card Predictions

This entire entry could be moot if the Karazhan hints are all a giant red herring. But since I’ve gone so far, let’s go deeper.

  • Legendaries – The adventure legendaries have always been bosses and known quantities. I predict the legendaries in Karazhan would be:
    • Moroes
    • The Curator
    • Maiden of Virtue
    • Nightbane
    • Netherspite
    • Malchezaar
Warcraft-Movie-Moroes
Yes, Moroes is that dude Medivh killed for no reason.
  • The Violet Eye – I noticed that killing enemies in Karazhan would give plus reputation to the Violet Eye. This makes sense given they are specifically spying on Medivh. If any cards come out that are even close to Violet Teacher, watch out!
  • New Rogue Spell – Being a Rogue enthusiast, I noticed that Moroes is the one character in Karazhan that has any Rogue relevance. In his movelist, it states he uses two core Rogue abilities in Garrote and Gouge. Garrote is a silence ability with bleed damage, while Gouge is a stun ability. My money is on Garrote.
  • Emerald Ripper – In lieu of a spell, the Emerald Ripper could also be a new Rogue weapon. Given the art is already used in Assassin’s Blade, this could be less likely than the spell.
  • Mana Burn? – The calls for a Priest upgrade are getting pretty loud. Could there be a possibility of a spell like Mana Burn that causes an enemy overload in mana? This would obviously be a very powerful thing, and I do not know if this will help Priests at all.
  • New Imps – A bunch of imp mobs called Homunculus are present in Karazhan. Given that Imp Gang Boss will be dropping out of the standard rotation, these guys could be a similar replacement.
  • Spiders – So many different spectral spiders appear in Karazhan. It is very likely a Hunter or Druid card becomes a spider beast. If we didn’t have enough spiders already…
  • Chess Pieces – Yugi-Oh had a bunch of Archfiend cards that were inspired by chess pieces. Could we see similar rewards because of the Karazhan chess event? Maybe!?
  • Undead – The safest bet is that there is going to be a buttload of undead cards in this set. It’s going to be off the chain, like Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.
michael-jackson_47713086.jpg
Karazhan was inspired by this.

 

A Look at Hearthstone Adventures and the Binds of Lore

A Look at Hearthstone Adventures and the Binds of Lore

With Hearthstone players becoming a little antsy for new content already, there has been renewed speculation of the next adventure to be released. @DisguisedToast is doing the Old Gods work again, speculating the adventure to be Karazhan or Darkmoon Faire. The most recent video hints at Karazhan.

At this point, any speculation is good for a little resuscitation. But Toast provides a solid case of Karazhan in the video. What if it is another raid? What if it’s Darkmoon Faire?

Past adventures and their ties to Warcraft

I decided to go take a look at every adventure card that was released for the 3 past adventures. With this, I assigned every card a rating of high, medium, and low. A high rating card would be something that can be directly found in World of Warcraft, or has a direct correlate with a modified name. A medium rating card would be something that does exist in World of Warcraft, but is just tied to a species. A low rating card would be something that does not necessarily exist in World of Warcraft, or is just a generic character or spell.

Naxx Out?

  • High = 15 (e.g. Zombie Chow)
  • Medium = 3 (e.g. Unstable Ghoul)
  • Low = 12 (e.g. Dark Cultist)

Being the first adventure, Naxxramas was very cookie cutter, following a linear sequence of a WoW raid.

Blackrock Mountain

  • High = 16 (e.g. Blackwing Technician)
  • Medium = 3 (e.g. Drakonid Crusher)
  • Low = 16 (e.g. Hungry Dragon)

BRM followed another linear route of a WoW raid, but had a wrinkle in the storyline with the constant power shifts between Ragnaros and Nefarian.

League of Explorers

  • High = 7 (e.g. Anubisath Sentinel)
  • Medium = 12 (e.g. Reliquary Seeker)
  • Low = 26 (e.g. Reno Jackson)

League of Explorers took the radical step of being entirely created from the ground up, with most of the legendary cards and cards themselves being newly created. It also featured the Temple Escape round, which involved surviving obstacles, rather than fighting a certain boss.

Possibilities

Karazhan

  • Why it is likely: Features a lot of new encounters and minions. Could have several innovative fights with the Opera and Chess events. Was mostly recently featured in the WoW movie.
  • Why it is unlikely: Team 5 will need to find a way to make the Karazhan adventure it’s own without disappointing the fanbase. Could it be done?

Ulduar

  • Why it is likely: Ulduar is considered one of the most popular WoW raids.
  • Why it is unlikely: Features a number of cards already released in Hearthstone, including: Yogg-Saron, Mimiron, and Flame Leviathan.

Darkmoon Faire

  • Why it is likely: Follows the dark theme of Old Gods in the Year of the Kraken. Would likely be the funnest possibility. Possibly lots of RNG if it is the adventure.
  • Why it is unlikely: It is a carnival, it might be difficult turning it into an adventure. Lack of established enemies. Too similar to Old Gods, art-wise.

I personally wanted a Darkmoon Faire adventure some time ago, given how fun I thought it was in WoW. But the signs seem to point to Karazhan. Anywho, start saving up gold for this adventure. An announcement could come any time, given the lull in Hearthstone news lately.

 

I Joined a Pokemon GO Meetup Today

I Joined a Pokemon GO Meetup Today

I haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s possible that the Hearthstone meta is somewhat stable and predictable now, and we know what to expect. It’s possible that I have been bogged down by work. It’s more likely though that I have been dragged into the unbreakable grasp of augmented reality game Pokemon GO. If you don’t know what Pokemon GO is, it is likely you truly live under a rock, but it is basically a game that involves capturing Pokemon with your smartphone. In the real world, Pokemon GO has become a tremendous cultural phenomenon in it’s short lifespan. While the game has clear public safety implications with distracted driving and walking, it has had numerous tremendous benefits from getting people to walk outside more, to helping autistic people interact with others. The sense of community and connection that Pokemon GO has brought to the world is one that I will focus on here, as I joined a Pokemon GO Meetup by accident today.

Artscape 2016

Artscape is an annual arts festival/event that occurs in Baltimore. I have gone the last few years, primarily to check out the Gamescape event, which features lots of indie game designers showcasing their games in develop for the public to play. I first noticed something was up, when I was going to Gamescape, in that a statue of Edgar Allan Poe was decked out with Ash’s Pokemon hat and Pokeballs.

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When I left Gamescape, I noticed a gathering of people staring at their phones. There were also a number of lures around connected Pokestops, meaning that people were catching Pokemon.

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Hey look! A big yellow sign that says Pokemon GO! Event. Apparently it was organized through Facebook. When I arrived, a raffle was wrapping up. The organizer mentioned that the group would be taking a walk through the festivities before stopping for another raffle. Given that I came to Artscape alone and had nothing else to do, I decided to join the Pokemon GO group.

Taking the streets

With the group moving on, I walked around directly behind the big yellow sign.

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Walking around with a big yellow sign is sure to draw a ton of attention in an outdoor arts festival. Given I was so close to the action, I was able to see a whole spectrum of reactions from passersby. And they were pretty predictable from what you see online.

Supporters

This Pokemon GO meetup got a lot of love. People were yelling “Team Instinct” a whole lot given the yellow theme of the organizer and sign, or whatever team (Valor / Mystic) they favored. The group was actually growing as we walked through the festival, with people who had nothing urgent to do joining the movement. A lot of people who were working as vendors lamented that they had to work at the moment. I heard a lot of whispers of people saying if they should join the group.

Haters

People who make fun of people playing Pokemon GO online are predictably vacuous in their reasoning for hating the game. And you saw these reactions from people who saw the group. A whole lot of eye rolling and “oh god Pokemon” phrases heard.

Ambivalent

The ambivalent crowd were mostly older folks who understandably don’t really have a reason to take a side in Pokemon GO. While you would expect people who don’t understand to hate, a lot of people were just like “oh that’s neat” without being disrespectful.

The Raffle

We went around and couldn’t find a place to stop, so we circled back to where I found the group to begin with. It was time for a raffle!

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I got the second ticket given out. We were playing for a number of things like decals, buttons, and grand prizes of 3D printed Flareon and Hitmonchan. I wound up getting a button fairly early, and I got to pick my team, which happened to be Mystic.

2016-07-16 16.12.07.jpg
I joined Mystic before any group had any reputation! I am mostly team-neutral.

Catches

Most of all, this event was organized to catch Pokemon! And in this meetup, I was able to catch some of the highest CP Pokemon I have ever seen, and plenty rarish Eevee.

 

All-in-all, I was glad I joined the Artscape Pokemon GO meetup. I believe they are still doing activities now, but I was pooped and left shortly after the raffle ended. I thanked the organizer for setting it up. I experienced the great sense of community that Pokemon GO has brought to the world first-hand. This game is not only really fun, but has the ability to bring people together of all types, uniting us with a common interest.