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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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