My Rooting Interests for the HCT

My Rooting Interests for the HCT

While I often use the phrase “eSports” facetiously to denote unfavorable moments of RNG in Hearthstone, I haven’t really been up to snuff with being knowledgeable about competitive Hearthstone. This year, I have paid a bit more attention to Hearthstone eSports and have a better grasp on the tournament scene. The opening week for the Hearthstone World Championship (HCT) is about to wrap up tomorrow, leading up the games at BlizzCon next week. With some players officially knocked out today, I’m going to talk about the 3 remaining players I have some rooting interest for.

#3 Amnesiasc

Amnesiac is one of the most well-known American Hearthstone players around, notable for knowing the 15-year-old kid who won the Americas Winter Championship. Now 16, Amnesiac is a heavy favorite to win it all to be the next champion. Having a significantly younger individual competing is something that is exciting in real sports, and that has carried over to eSports. I like Amnesiac primarily because he is the horse for NA in the rivalry with the EU scene. Also, I like that he is seemingly more mature than a lot of professional players, despite his age.

amnesiac.PNG

#2 Pavel

Pavel is a guy who’s name I have heard thrown around in various tournament games, and I am sure I have seen him competing multiple times. More recently, I saw Pavel beat RDU in the Europe Last Call decider. Going into this tournament, he was ranked as the 2nd best player in the EU by GosuGamers. My primary rooting interest for Pavel is because I selected him for the Choose Your Champion promotion. For every best-of-7 Pavel wins, I will get a TGT pack. Given his win today, I am up to 2 packs, and hoping for more, as he plays on. I also like that Pavel plays faster than most players.

pavel.PNG

#1 BBGunGun

I didn’t know who BBGunGun was until the NA Last Call games. He is primarily known as a coach for a group of notable Chinese descent players like Eloise, Silent Storm and Neobility. But if you are looking for the ultimate underdog player to root for in the tournament, this is the guy. I am rooting for BBGunGun mainly because he is very easy to emphasize to the normal guy. He is a PhD student, which means unlike most of the competitors in the tournament, he has real-life commitments outside of eSports. As someone with a Master’s and works full-time, he is easier to relate with. His Twitter acount has a Red Sox hat as the avatar, and he says he likes baseball. While I will never be a Red Sox fan, I will root for anyone who says they like baseball. In his player interviews, he seems very honest, and not trying to show anyone up. BBGunGun also has a disability, requiring the use of a cane, something which makes Twitch Chat refer to him as Dr. House or House. Given the acerbic nature of Twitch Chat, the fact that people are not outright making fun of a disability, rather referring to him as a beloved TV character, shows that he appeals to everyman gamer.

bbgungun.PNG

 

Arena Stew

Arena Stew

Less than 2 weeks from BlizzCon, Hearthstone news has been pushed out at a ballistic rate in the past week. There is simply an overload (RIP Yogg) of information, too much to cover. Because I haven’t solely discussed Arena in a while, I have decided to do that now. I will discuss what we learned about the Arena through a series of handy infographics, and what changes were made to the Arena this week.

Arena Infographics

Top players

The full post and infographics can be found at (http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/20324474/inside-the-arena-10-18-2016), but basically, Blizz posted the first inforgraphics about the Arena ever. There are separate graphics for the 4 different regions. Most of the attention came to the best players in each region, as it is a first gauge of who the best Arena player is. From January 1, 2016 to present, the best players are Alumn, Hafu, and Kripp. While those results are not surprising, I really wanna know who this top NA Arena player Alumn is.

top arena.png
The best NA Arena players

Top cards picked

This really piqued my interest, as I am arguably a better Arena drafter than Hearthstone player. With all the drafting resources available to the player, I wanted to see what lead the way. Let’s start with the commons, as they are the backbone to every Arena draft.

commons

Piloted Shredder is fitting to be the most drafted common. However the Jeweled Scarab and Tomb Spider being #2 and #3 are quite baffling in my mind. Both cards are under-stated cards that allow the player to discover a Beast. They really only give the best options for Druids and Hunters, middling classes at best. The anti-tempo of putting out a 2-drop or 4-drop like this is the immediate downside, one that I believe is too big. These are cards that get traded into by lesser-costed cards, and don’t fight well for the board. It’s possible these cards were picked a ton because of drafts that didn’t have card draw. The reality is that since the infographic measured from January 1, 2016 to present, the card offering bonus from LoE was present, which nixes great commons in Old Gods, like Bog Creeper. But that still doesn’t explain picking these cards over North Sea Kraken or even something like Stormwind Champion.

rares

The value rare taunts effectively trade a lot of little guys, so they are great for that regard. Azure Drake is a card I love in Constructed, but less so in the Arena. While not a bad card at all, I see much better rares to be picked, namely Bomb Lobber and Stampeding Kodo. Does nobody care about contesting the board?

epics

Epic card selections are a wasteland in the Arena. Piloted Sky Golem and Kodorider are rightfully in the top 3. Grand Crusader I would argue is more average than good, but it is a value card overall. Sea Giant is pretty easy to pull off great value in the Arena. While Fel Reaver provides insanely high win rates for those who pick it, I can see the downside being too much for a player to draft with confidence.

legendaries

Arena legendaries don’t mean much at all, but I just find it hilarious that Herald Volazj being the least picked card is indicative that nobody plays Priest in the Arena.

And we end this segment with people who need their heads checked and are willing to throw away 150 gold.

tinyfin.PNG

Karazhan Bonus Out

As of Thursday’s patch, the Karazhan increased offering bonus in the draft is no more. I believe this is the first time an Arena offering bonus ending was explicitly stated, which means yay Arena exposure. I also believe that the Arena bonus lasting about 1-2 months is the shortest it has gone. We are now in the most variegated Arena meta ever, with equal offering rates across the sets. It’s possible that Mage has pulled too far ahead of the other classes, and Blizz had to finally intervene.With the Karazhan offering bonus no more, let’s look at the top 5 Karazhan cards (IMO).

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-11-16 21.59.14.png
Closing the Dark Portal is a big plot line in Warcraft. They should’ve closed this portal.
  1. Fool’s Bane – Anyone who got to play with this card knew how bonkers it was. While the Warrior took tons of damage, the ability to get off an AoE clear was too good a tempo swing. I was lucky enough to have the combo with Violet Illusionist a couple times, pretty much the greatest feeling.
  2. Firelands Portal – It was recognized as OP from the start, and remained so through the Karazhan Arena meta. I had 11-win Mage runs with 4 Firelands and 3 Firelands drafts.
  3. Swashburglar – The entire burgle mechanic is not great because there is always a chance to whiff on a pick. The thing is that the best Arena classes aren’t classes you whiff on. Warlock, Warrior, and Hunter are classes that give a chance for getting a useless card. Mages and Paladin will provide useful cards. Further, Swashburglar had that RNG that the opponent couldn’t play around or predict.
  4. Medivh’s Valet – While seemingly like a regular 2 drop with great upside, people started picking Secrets a lot. The Epic card pool is never great, allowing a Spellbender or Ice Block, while Rares and Commons gave Mages more Secrets. This card becomes mediocre to amazing in a draft with 2 Secrets.
  5. Pompous Thespian – While far from sexy, this card did a lot of work in the Karazhan Arena meta. The 2-mana for a 3/2 taunt made it essentially a neutral card with class card stats. Just having that extra point made it better than a lot of other commons. Now we’ll see it less, and be forced to draft more River Crocs and Raptors.

Card Changes

Finally, I will talk about the Arena implications of changed cards.

Hearthstone Screenshot 12-03-15 17.24.37.png

  • Murlocs – Basically, Murloc cards no longer buff enemy Murlocs. The most common Murlocs you’ll see are Puddlestomper, Bilefin Hunter, Bluegill Warrior, Corrupted Seer, and Murloc Knight. Murloc Knight is the main factor, as it has the ability to produce Warleaders, while being a great pick itself. Murloc Warleader, Coldlight Seer, and Grimscale Oracle are the cards that this affects directly. Murloc Warleader, being a 3-mana 3/3, could be the best of 3 horrid epics, and this will be marginally better against the opponent. Coldlight Seer should remain not being picked in the Arena, being a 3-mana 2/3. Grimscale Oracle is a 1-mana 1/1, and shouldn’t be picked over any 1-mana 2/1’s.
  • Ethereal Peddler – A Rogue v Rogue mirror in the Arena is quite common, but having Ethereal Peddler + bugled cards makes it a rarer scenario. The Ethereal Peddler is still a fine minion to have in any arena draft, even when you aren’t discounting Rogue cards. I think this was just done to not confuse new players.
  • Yogg-Saron – I don’t think I have seen Yogg-Saron in the Arena, so this change doesn’t do a whole lot. Adding Overload to Yogg, and the general lack of spells in the Arena will cement Yogg is one of the worst legendaries to pick for your draft.

Heroic Tavern Brawl: Hearthstone’s Foray Into Tournament Mode

Big news emerged on the Hearthstone front, as Heroic Tavern Brawl was just announced. The initial scan of my Twitter feed upon hearing the news showed a lot of enthusiastic tweets and positive remarks about the upcoming Brawl. Let’s take a look at the Heroic Tavern Brawl, and what implications it has on the game.

What is Heroic Tavern Brawl?

As the name suggests, Heroic Tavern Brawl is going to be a Tavern Brawl that lasts for 1 week. The difference is that it is a tournament. You make a Standard card deck, you lock it in, and you play against other people. Like the Arena, you play until you lose 3 games, or until you reach 12 wins. So Heroic Tavern Brawl is basically a Tavern Brawl, that is Standard Constructed, but has the Arena win-loss system. Oh yeah, and it costs 1000 gold to participate.

Barriers to Entry

Hey, that was an easy transition. 1000 gold is not easy to earn in Hearthstone. Quests that require players to “win x games with class I don’t play” are the worst offenders towards gold-earning. While we are in the “gold-saving phase” before the next expansion, some people just don’t have a lot of gold saved up. Typically, these people are buying packs to try to expand their collections. I personally have an Arena reserve, where I spend on Arena everyday, but am able to replenish my coffers through Arena rewards and daily quests. Thanks to recent subpar play however, I currently do not have 1000 gold.

Blizzard is also making it no secret that Heroic Tavern Brawl will be difficult. I don’t think I have seen Team 5 take this point of view for anything in the game so far. They encourage people to play the game modes, never explicitly saying “avoid this” for any mode. Heroic Tavern Brawl, being a high-risk investment, comes with fair warning. So this could drive away the meek, or those who willingly admit their gameplay shortcomings.

The unpleasant Standard meta game could drive people away. Because the stakes are so high for Heroic Tavern Brawl and participants are confined to one deck, expect to see the ugliest, most draconian style of decks and gameplay. There are some jokes about the entire tournament being Shaman, but other classes are tough in this meta. Recently, I lost against a Mage in 7 turns (3 minutes)! That’s classic Face Hunter territory.
Also, we must consider the people who don’t have the time. The details are unknown, but it appears you can play this Heroic Tavern Brawl through a Wednesday – Sunday timeframe. That’s somewhere between 3 to 15 games. While that may not sound like a lot to many Hearthstone diehards, it is for those who are genuinely pressed for time.

Some Great Rewards

Blizzard’s post included a sample 12-win reward for the Heroic Tavern Brawl.

The sample shows 50 packs, 3 golden legendaries, about 1100 gold and 1100 dust. The total value of this is about 6100 gold and 5900 dust. These spoils reap about 12 times the initial 1000 gold entry fee.
Obviously, the 12-win reward image is a lure to get people to participate. The reality is that almost everyone who participates will fall short of 12, and it can only be accomplished through some combination of broken deck, extraordinary gameplay, and luck. So what would the scaling of rewards be? Ben Brode already stated that a 0-3 run will result in 1 pack. The image below shows the rewards by wins for the Heroic Tavern Brawl. It looks like 5-3 will be the breakeven record for this game mode. This equates to a 62.5% winrate, a similar winrate to those advertised by successful “legend decks.” The difference in rewards from 11 and 12 are seismic, making the 12-win mantle a true victory.

Who Will Play

Everyone who calls themselves a professional constructed Hearthstone player should participate. I mean, this is the ultimate test! Most players will likely be of the competitive-but-relatively-unknown ilk, those who have gotten legend a bunch, or are high on the ladder typically. There will also likely be a smattering of filthy casuals or mid-level scrubs who want to participate in the brawl, but ultimately provide free wins in the shallow end of the tournament. So I expect a wide range of players to participate, but the seasonal Rank 5 – Legend crowd will likely be the majority.

Tactics

With so much on the line, it would not be wise to go into the Heroic Tavern Brawl having done no research on the Standard Constructed meta. The Vicious Syndicate Data Reaper Report, will likely prove invaluable in providing hard data to help shape what deck you will play for the brawl. Decks are likely going to be aggressive, as those decks are still stronger than control decks with the card sets in place. The confusingly-named but somewhat variegated Midrange Shaman deck is the early favorite to dominate this brawl.

If the Heroic Tavern Brawl is replayable during the course of the brawl schedule, it might be prudent to wait for some intel before going in yourself. Getting a feel of the most powerful decks in the Heroic Brawl and bringing the best counter against that deck seems the best move. Tech choices become magnified to a great extent, and need to be justified for inclusion.

Future Heroic Brawls

Tavern Brawl always has been the proving grounds for future Hearthstone content. Obviously, this is testing for a possible in-game tournament mode. The question is how frequent these Heroic Tavern Brawls will appear before the real thing? Better yet, will it be a real thing? The rewards/cost of entry seem too extreme in my opinion for the prospective in-game tournament mode. The great players will “game the system” and earn infinite rewards, while others will be constantly broke. I can see these being a monthly or bi-monthly feature, until the in-game tournament mode is established. What if it all fails? Flaws in the upcoming Heroic Tavern Brawl can push everything back, so the data obtained from it will be extremely useful.

The End Game?

It is important that the Heroic Tavern Brawl either be a success, or exist as a valuable intermediate towards building tournament mode. In a way, there hasn’t been a good way to validate how good a player is in Hearthstone. Getting legend status for seasons has been the measuring tool for this, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A player could just have tons of time (no job/school/commitments) to grind the ladder with a mediocre win rate, and achieve legend. The clientele who play this Heroic Tavern Brawl will be funneled down to the most competitive, making the environment more difficult than regular Ranked. Further, our overall win rates are unknown to us without using deck tracking programs. The future in-game tournament mode is a better gauge for measuring raw skill in Hearthstone than legend status. This extra layer of validation also has value for competitive Hearthstone. Winning these Heroic Tavern Brawls could possibly award BlizzCon points, with more value than getting legend in a season.

Overall, I am excited for the Heroic Tavern Brawl, even though I probably won’t be playing myself. I am more excited about the effect this would have on Hearthstone’s direction moving forward.

The Party is Over: How to Survive Till the Next Set

Hearthstone’s One Night in Karazhan adventure was released well over a month ago. While a very upbeat set thematically, the adventure caused a lot of consternation amongst competitive players from the get-go. Constructed players were mad about the release of Purify for the nonexistent ninth class, while the oppressive Shamans got more tools. Arena players were mad about Firelands Portal being a common, cementing Jaina as the tyrant queen of the arena. The backlash from the community so torrential and angry that the devs responded within weeks of Karazhan’s full release, with an arena card banlist, and card nerfs. We are just over a week since the card nerfs, and well, Midrange Shamans dominate the ranked meta and Mages still terrorize the arena.

While there is still some potential for new decks and strategies to emerge, there is only so much innovation that you can squeeze of the adventure and card nerfs. There won’t be a new Hearthstone card release for at least 1 or 2 months, and this is being optimistic that Blizzard is sticking to the 2 expansion + 1 adventure annual production goal. Though Hearthstone remains an amazing game despite the imbalance, even the most dedicated players can get bored during long stretches of nothingness. The meta starts to get stale, and it’s just the same old sauce curdling in your bowl. Luckily there are ways to keep Hearthstone fresh as we approach the stale meta phase of the game.

Hearthstone Screenshot 09-09-16 00.52.58.png
LIGHTNING BOLT!

1. Play Arena

Tired of this oppressive and uninteractive meta? Play Arena! While some of us play Arena by default, I say this knowing that Hearthstone is defined by Constructed/Ranked. Good/pro players are known for how many times they achieved Legend and an overwhelming majority of players stick with Constructed.

There are many benefits to playing Hearthstone Arena. First of all, the satisfaction of doing well in the Arena with your draft can’t be rivaled by any other feeling. The Arena forces you to make tough decisions during your draft, as you are building a deck from scratch. You will be forced to take bad cards from time to time. And winning a game with some crappy card is just an amazing feeling. You learn to appreciate underlooked cards that don’t ever appear in Constructed. That brings me to my second point, you get a much deeper connection to all the cards from Arena play. You start developing an encyclopedic knowledge of cards from the exposure. You begin to have affinities to cards that you become comfortable playing (Addled Grizzly is bae). Thirdly, I believe that there are much greater stories that stem from the Arena. All the factors that come into play, from the two differently-built drafts, the bigger card pool, the gameplay decision-making, all collide into something magical. You will remember epic moments in the Arena, and also certain runs.

Hearthstone Screenshot 05-14-16 23.08.27.png
Errrbody get addled
From a resource standpoint, Arena runs typically break even around 3 wins, which is a completely achievable 50% win rate. With deeper Arena runs, you start making gold profits, but Arena runs will typically help you build your collection through card packs and build up your dust. Building up dust is underrated, but can easily help you get a leg up in crafting whatever you want for the next card expansion.

2. Try Something New

Playing Arena as a Constructed player is technically trying something new, but there are other things you can do in the game. Despite being a wasteland for broken cards, Wild Hearthstone will instantly provide relief from seeing the same deck rotation in Standard. Overall, is more deck and class diversity, with things like viable Priests running amok. A player in Wild also has the chance to create deeper decks, with all the cards around. While things are unsettled, Wild Hearthstone has a chance to appeal to a distinct audience once more card sets are in the game.

It also isn’t a horrible idea to try a new deck if you are sticking with the Standard meta. We are still fresh off the recent nerfs, and decks are still in the process of optimization. Before everyone “figures things out,” bust out some new deck to take advantage. It doesn’t even have to be some whole new deck, just variations and techs off a popular archetype. I recently made a RenoLock deck without any guides, and it came out quite different than the conventional Reno deck. And it has a 67% win rate now at Rank 10! I don’t expect this to keep up as I climb the ranks, but it is fun to win with such a deck.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-07-16 17.19.57.png
Fun and uninteractive wild decks
Hearthstone can also be made a fun experience when playing with other people. I recently started playing Arena co-ops with Tweeps who also love the Arena as much as I do. I have always seen Arena co-ops on streams, but would never imagine I would be part of one myself. There are so many benefits in being part of an Arena co-op, namely having an extra set of eyes to evaluate the board state, as well as learning the playstyle of other players. Arguing/debating plays and picks is also a great quality of the Arena co-op.

3. Set New Goals

Sometimes you won’t even notice the arduous Ranked meta when you have a set goal in mind. While grinding to legend status or some other arbitrary rank are real goals, the ability to keep a winning streak is all the more magnified on the path to attaining said goal. You’ll probably get more bummed out than before.

In my opinion, grinding for a golden hero, with 500 ranked wins, is the best way to not notice the meta. I acquired golden Rogue in the throes of the Huntertaker meta, shortly after the release of Blackrock Mountain. I had about 400 wins when I picked up the “Fast/Cycle Rogue” deck, which was essentially an aggro deck that tried to outrace Face Hunters. While my winrate was fairly close to 50%, the games were not only fast, but also fun, as I was playing a whole new Rogue deck. Though I am nowhere close towards earning another golden hero, the push I had for golden Rogue was a great experience in not noticing what was going on in the meta.

500.png
Aggroed my face off for that golden Rogue
Another goal one could take on is beating the Heroic difficulty on the adventures. While Heroic difficulty guides exist on Hearthpwn and elsewhere, this isn’t really a fun way to go about it, more of a quick cheese to get the cardbacks. Take the time to go through the Heroic adventure levels, refine your deck strategy, and repeat. It could be a new rewarding experience within the game you are tired of playing.

4. Play Less Hearthstone

Despite being classified once as a stress-relieving game on Google Play, Hearthstone is far from relaxing. The time going into a stale meta is a good time to try out some other games. The natural digression from Hearthstone would be other electronic card games. TES: Legends is a similar card game from The Elder Scrolls franchise, and has a greater deckbuilding capacity, with at least 50 cards in a deck. Further, there are fun “lane effects” which remind me of “field power bonuses” from Yugi-Oh, as well as unique qualities in runes and prophecies. Duelyst is another cool card game that has elements of grid movement and positioning. Also, Duelyst is a game that releases 4 new cards every month, allowing things to not go completely stale.
If one needs a little time off Hearthstone, there are plenty of gaming options right on the Battle.net launcher. WoW and Heroes of the Storm are free-to-play games that one can jump right into. I personally have gone back to playing occasional HotS games in group games versus computers. WoW is a different beast within itself, and can potentially suck you in for eternity. Overwatch, Blizzard’s FPS endeavor, seems to remain going strong and is staking it’s claim as a competitive eSport.

5. Create Something

Taking a prolonged break from Hearthstone could be detrimental to one’s long term prospects as you get behind earning gold and understanding the competitive meta. A dull grinding phase should not be a reason to walk away from such an amazing game. There are ways to dial back your Hearthstone play, but maintain your love for the game. Get creative. Start streaming your matches on Twitch and YouTube. Write about it, vlog about it. Record podcasts about the game. If you can draw, create a Hearthstone masterpiece! Channel your inability to play the game into something positive for the community!

Deck Spotlight: DeceptiLock

Deck Spotlight: DeceptiLock

Deckbuilding in Hearthstone is not a strong suite of mine. First of all, I play a lot of arena, which limits the amount of thought I put into constructed thinking. There is a different mindset that goes into that, and I seem to lack the motor for the constructed mindset. Second, I play mainly Rogue in Hearthstone, which limits my ability to build decks that are not Rogue decks. Third, I don’t like losing a whole ton, so just freewheeling it into ranked with some made-up deck is likely going to be soul-crushing.

That is why it is such a surprise that I am already Rank 10 in the first week of October 2016, with some deck I just made up. I had a backlog of Warlock quests, and the arena wasn’t giving me Gul’dan. I just made up a deck, a Reno deck since I don’t enjoy ZooLock at all, and started winning games. And the deception of the deck itself is probably the strongest attribute.

About the Deck

RenoLock decks came out of the demise of HandLock decks, following the nerf of Molten Giant. They are typically slow control decks that run a lot of removal, heals, and taunts. Given that RenoLock decks are typically highlander decks (30 1-ofs), there is a lot of room for creativity and innovation.

Given I had no experience building RenoLock, I honestly did not think of intermediate heals at all. Didn’t think of Earthen Ring Farseer, Refreshment Vendor, or Cult Apothecary. Also given my lack of experience playing really slow decks, I didn’t want a really slow deck that was resigned to Life Tapping every game. I did believe that RenoLock should have a lot of high value cards, in good legendary minions. I also believed that highlander decks are the easiest to add tech cards to, to better adapt to the meta flavor at the moment. With these thoughts in mind, I built the deck.

Decklist

tricks.PNG

Cards in Deck

Core Cards

  • Reno Jackson – For all I was concerned, Reno Jackson is the only core card in a RenoLock deck. He is the win condition, and the card to build around.

Removal

  • Power Overwhelming – While this card provides burst, it also has plenty utility for providing a cheap trade on a bigger threat. With PO, I immediately thought of Shadowflame.
  • Shadowflame – The first AoE card that came to mind, which works really well for a full clear with Power Overwhelming.
  • Demonwrath – Shaman seems pretty strong, and the appeal of a 2-dmg early AoE seemed good on totems.
  • Hellfire – My last choice for AoE. While I’m not completely a fan of the slowness of the card, the face damage provides extra utility.
  • Mortal Coil – This card is close to a core card, but I felt it was a Warlock core card. I don’t recall seeing a Warlock deck without it.
  • Shadow Bolt – This card was not a regular inclusion for old HandLock, but seems to be a decent card in RenoLock. The early-mid removal option for minions.
  • Siphon Soul – I think Siphon Soul is an easy pick for RenoLock decks. As an arena player, I put lots of value in having a hard removal, and this is that.
  • Twisting Nether – Given this deck is meant to drag things on for a while, having a full board clear to exhaust my opponent seemed appealing.

Value

  • Dark Peddler – A great pick for any Warlock deck, and the 1-cost card just has tons of utility, forcing one to pick the best given the board state.
  • Imp Gang Boss – Just coming from arena, the most valuable Warlock card. I also think it has a place in virtually any Warlock deck for ranked.
  • Dread Infernal – Not a conventional pick, but I think the extra 1-dmg AoE would be good against aggressive boards.
  • Sylvanas Windrunner  – The value in Sylvanas does not necessarily come in what you’re stealing, but mostly forcing bad trades on the opponent. Sometimes, she’s a full board clear, because your opponent doesn’t want things stolen.
  • The Curator – Not a conventional choice for Warlock, but the idea of having a taunt and drawing 2 cards seemed too good to not take advantage of in a highlander deck.
  • Ragnaros the Firelord – Dealing 8 damage every turn? Value Town Inc.
  • Lord Jaraxxus – I saw Jaraxxus as my second heal in this deck. Plus, the hero power is great in a long game. The weapon provided removal and reach in the late game.

Techs

  • Mind Control Tech – Not the most conventional ranked tech, but I play arena, so this is my idea of a tech! Also given the Shaman’s ability to flood the board, and overall tempo meta, I thought he is a fine inclusion. Plus, 3/3 for 3 isn’t horrible.
  • Eater of Secrets – There is a prediction that Hunters would contend with Shamans for the top spot of the meta. While that still has yet to happen, the Eater of Secrets is meant to shut down Hunter decks with secrets, which seem to be most. I also believed Freeze Mage would be back given the Yogg nerf, so this could negate Ice Blocks. Also useful for rare pesky Paladins running around.
  • Harrison Jones – Going on with the last thought of a Hunter meta, destroying an Eaglehorn Bow is usually better than getting rid of secrets. Warriors and Shamans often have weapons as well. Paladins and Rogues also affected.
  • Stampeding Kodo – This was a consequence of having The Curator in the deck, and being the best Beast available. Also, this is a great arena card, which I thought could have an impact in ranked.
Hearthstone Screenshot 10-05-16 22.40.11.png
Hunter plays 3 secrets. Me as Floating Watcher, “YES, YES!”

Handlock Vestiges

  • Mountain Giant – Drawing to Reno is an objective for this deck, and this only helps make Mountain Giant a great tempo play in the midgame.
  • Twilight Drake – Another card that benefits greatly with drawing cards. This is a card I felt was core to the slow Warlock, and helped bring in The Curator.
  • Sunfury Protector – While most RenoLocks run Defender of Argus, I think Sunfury Protector is better for the the deck. I believe having a 2-drop to play is more valuable than the +1/+1 boosts. Also, the deck is expensive and doesn’t run cost reduction, making a 4-drop clunkier with other big stuff.

Smoothing the Deck

  • Bane of Doom – Being a moderate-risk high-reward card, Bane of Doom was never a strong ladder card because of the inconsistency. But the highlander build allows Bane of Doom to exist as this hybrid removal-summon. It is a real wildcard though, and the consequences will win or lose games.
  • Soulfire – This is not a normal card to run in RenoLock. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I didn’t know any better when making this deck, and felt the extra removal was needed for my survival. Having Soulfire made me realize this deck has burst potential.
  • Leeroy Jenkins – Originally a Doomguard, I felt a charge to the face could provide a pocket burst option. With Power Overwhelming already in tow, with Soulfire and Hellfire, we could make for some good plays that don’t allow the opponent to interact with the board.
  • Azure Drake – I already had The Curator and Twilight Drake down pat. Being a Rogue player, Azure Drake was always in my deck and never really disappointed me. I felt this deck could use a card like Azure Drake.
  • Voidwalker – I lacked early game and felt that Voidwalker doesn’t disappoint in trading with small stuff. This helped build the Zoo look of the deck.
  • Flame Imp – I lacked early game and felt that Flame Imp doesn’t disappoint in early game aggro, or forcing removal. This helped build the Zoo look of the deck.
  • Huge Toad – Pick 30. I still felt I was lacking early game and combed through all available 2-drops. I felt Huge Toad was tied with Flame Juggler, but had value being a Beast, and searchable with The Curator. Also good for confusing experienced players who read meta reports.

How to Play

  • Through the happenstance of deck building ineptitude, I built a RenoLock deck that combines elements of ZooLock and DragonLock. The real strength of this deck is tricking your opponent into playing around some other archetype.
  • From my limited experience so far, this deck has a very low skill floor. It is not very skillful, and it can forgive many mistakes in the gameplay.
  • The real skill of this deck is knowing your opponent’s deck and win condition. Know when it is time to get Reno and play Reno. Know when it is time to play Jaraxxus. Play faster than your opponent if they are a straight up Control deck. Play reactive when you are a slower deck, but know you have pocket reach cards as well.
Hearthstone Screenshot 10-06-16 23.30.35.png
Lord of Fatigue

General Mulligan and Gameplay

  • Coin Games – Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant
  • Shaman (Midrange/Aggro) – Demonwrath, Early Game Minions, Reno – Shaman will always be the aggressor against this deck. Some early 1-2 drops will help disguise this deck as ZooLock. Fish for your AoE, and doesn’t hurt to have Reno right away either. MCT isn’t bad against Shaman. You can tap more than before, given the Shaman nerfs.
  • Hunter (Midrange Beast/Secret) – Hellfire/Shadowflame, Early Game Minions, Eater of Secrets, Harrison Jones, Reno – All Hunters will have a Bow, so Harrison Jones is a good pick. Eater of Secrets will have a big impact when the secrets come down. AoE is not as essential than the Shaman matchup, but could work on their early game. Reno Jackson not bad to have, but not essential. Keep hard removals for seemingly Turn 8 Ragnaros, and expect Turn 9 Call of the Wild.
  • Warrior – Early Game Minions – Warrior is the hardest to predict. Against Control Warrior, just keep taping and play your minions as you get them. While you will get removed, there are enough valuable minions in this deck to get by. Jarraxus is the win condition there. Dragon Warrior is a tougher match, but just count on your removals. Overall, playing your early game minions to disguise a Zoolock is the best strategy vs Warriors.
  • Druid – Twilight Drake, AoE, Early Game Minions – Druids still play Yogg now, meaning they use a ton of spells. This will allow you to tap a good amount, and lay down some hefty minions. Violet Teacher and Saplings could force you to pick some AoE in the beginning.
  • Mage – Early Game Minions, Shadowflame, Demonwrath, Reno – Tempo Mages seem more aggressive than ever after cutting Yogg. Have your early game to contest the board, and your AoE removals. Not a bad idea to have Yogg in games as well. Against “Fast Mage,” you’ll need Reno right away, and be ready to use him right away. You’ll need to protect your life from getting bursted down. Against Freeze Mage, tap often and get your Eater of Secrets.
  • Warlock – Early Game Minions, AoE, Reno, Kodo, MCT – Demonwrath is less reliable here, as your opponent could very well be running demons. But AoE would shut them down. Having Reno is not bad, as they are trying to race you. Having your early game doesn’t hurt in contesting the board. Your tech stuff doesn’t hurt either, given swarmy Zoo decks.
  • Rogue – Shadowflame, Early Game Minions, Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant – Shadowflame is your only defense against a bunch of cloaked targets. Twisting Nether not bad to have against them as well, but not worth the mulligan. Mountain Giant is really good against Rogue, given Sap just makes it cheaper the next turn. Use your early game to bait out removal, and progress to your value minions to win.
  • Paladin – Early Game Minions, Harrison Jones – Anyfin Paladin seems to be the rage, and it is a fairly slow, final burst deck. In this matchup, you can be the aggressor with your early game and big midgame. The Leeroy/Soulfire/Power Overwhelming burst is pretty good here.
  • Priest – Do whatever you want. They’ll exhaust their Excavated Evils on your early game and Entombs on your minions. You’ll have enough valuable minions to outlast them. Dragon Priest is a little more tricky, and you’ll need to fish for your removals.

Moving Forward

I’m going to ride this deck out on Ranked for the rest of the season, until I hit a wall. I’m surprised a gimmicky deck like this has done well so far. I’ll see what adjustments I will have to make to it as the meta gets tougher on this deck.

 

A Letter to Yogg-Saron

A Letter to Yogg-Saron

A Yogg-Saron golden. I don’t know if I’m going to keep it. Cuz it can yield me any legendary I want. Em. I mean, it’s nice to have gold cards. But gold legendaries are a bit too much dust. I’m gonna play with it in the meantime, considering Rogues don’t have any endgame anymore. I might just keep it around.

-GreenRanger 4.26.16

Dear Yogg,

Hi, Old God of Death. Or whatever your title is. You don’t know who I am, I’m sure you interact with tens of thousands of people each day. We first met just a little over 5 months ago. I didn’t know what to think of you at first. I thought you were a little ridiculous at first.

yogg unpack.png
Don’t know if I’m keeping it.

I slotted you into the deck I played a bit. MalyRogue deck I think. You were to be the secondary win condition to Malygos, given the heavy spell usage of the deck. What the hell, why not.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-26-16 20.02.29.png
Yogg’s first victim.

Weird things started happening in my Hearthstone games. I mean, why wouldn’t weird and unpredictable things happen when you are virtually rolling a 300-sided die for eternity? I got weird combinations of minions, secrets for a non-secret class, lots of card draw, and random mass destruction! The game was out of control when you took over, but it felt just so awesome! It felt great to be bailed out of an impossible escape. It felt great to have all these random cards working in no particular order. It felt just fun. You were the doomsday device I set upon the world when the muscular, square-jawed hero had beat me up good and had the pistol pressed against my forehead.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-27-16 00.00.28.png
Boars and trees and dogs and wolves and imps and dragons.

I had the most fun I ever had. I wasn’t even all that upset when you caused my demise in games. It was hella fun.

Of course, the initial impression of pure silly madness was not an immediate dismissal of your talents. Other people were discovering the same thing that I was, while not completely reliable, you did win more games than you lost. And that is all that really matters in this game. Good players started spreading your gospel in decks online. First in some weird Hunter deck called Yogg n Load. Then in some weird Mage deck called Chinese Tempo Mage. I played various decks that season, and with your help, I achieved Rank 5, a new high in Ranked Play.

Hearthstone Screenshot 05-31-16 14.37.43.png
eSports! I lost this game by the end of this sequence.

All was well.

The grinding summer of 2016 came, one that seemed very agitated in Hearthstone. The meta became, for the lack of a better phrase, “stale as fuck,” and people grew restless.  While chaos was festering within the Hearthstone community, you, the quintessential madman, were just doing your thing. Becoming a Druid staple minion, and still stealing games, and awarding people with putting you in your deck.

Hearthstone Screenshot 07-12-16 18.53.54.png
Too confusing for new Murloc heroes.

Tensions often ran high, and you caught everyone’s attention. People realized you were unfairly deciding games. A rogue arbiter who played by his own rules of judication. Didn’t give a flying fuck about the board state or the score. You did your thing. After the initial joy of running you out there in my decks, your popularity turned the tide against me. I saw you for the scoundrel you were, stealing my games, and lowering my win percentage. I wasn’t particularly angry about games I lost to you, just accepting the spectacle for what it was. Blizzard was getting heat for your card design, but remained steadfast in the pros of your existence. You were fun and catered to people who enjoyed the fun you provided.

Hearthstone Screenshot 09-28-16 23.52.08.png
Last loss to Yogg?

The tipping point came in a tournament game, when a player discounted all his hard work and preparation, and just cited you as the sole reason he is currently playing professional eSports. Just by playing a card, you can be immediately transformed from some guy in a dark, dusty apartment, with cracked paint, to some guy playing professional eSports in a fancy tavern-styled computer set, with a headset and sitting in a fancy gaming chair. It was too much. You were the card that was single-handedly going to destroy the reputation of competitive Hearthstone. You were the card that was going to toss skill out of the equation. You were going to be the death of Wizard Poker.

Hearthstone Screenshot 09-09-16 01.01.52.png
Heal me high and give me armor.

Things are quieter now. People are a little happier, and frankly have a little more confidence in this game. The new retirement community is nice I hear. Plenty of green space out in the pasture. Or is it a light arcane blue I hear? Lots of lively folks like Warsong Commander and Starving Buzzard to talk to. Tuskarr Totemic is heading out too, not sure if you have lodging plans. I’m sure I haven’t seen the last of you. No, one day, you’re gonna surprise me straight out of the blue. I won’t see it coming. Whether you win the game is another thing, but I sure will miss seeing you around here. You brought upon an inexorable feeling that made me feel like a kid again. It felt good. But in the end, this is no child’s game.

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-03-16 17.05.20.png

Later, Yogg. It’s been real.

Sincerely,

GreenRanger

Yogg Photo Album