Mean Streets Arena Risers and Fallers: First Impressions

Mean Streets Arena Risers and Fallers: First Impressions

The Mean Streets of Gadgetzan Arena meta has been interesting to say the least. I struggled quite a bit early on, averaging 3.8 wins in my first 10 arenas. To snap out of the slump, I used a drafting tool, and I have been infinite in the last week, with a 7.57 average. From this change, I learned to look for more synergy with my unassisted drafts, which help with more cards with more effects. Overall, I have 5.35 wins/run over 17 arenas in Gadgetzan.

It’s time to evaluate some of the cards that I have either played a bunch myself, or have faced a bunch. I’ve included the scores of two different tierlists, to show how professionals rate the cards. The “arrows” basically represent how my personal perception of the card changed since the launch of MSG, based on my games using or facing the cards.

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Card Lightforge Score HearthArena Score Commentary
Abyssal Enforcer 68 93 ↑↑The power of this card was recognized right away, and has turned Warlock into a legit arena class. I had an 8 or 9 win run where this card accounted for all 3 of my losses. This card makes you wish your opponent has a Flamestrike instead. Playing around this card is easier said than done, because you wouldn’t want to forfeit the board of tempo going into Turn 7. The solution appears to push more face damage, to make the Abyssal Enforcer self-damage too damaging to the Warlock. Or play more big guys going into Turn 7.
Ancient of Blossoms 50 57 ↔This card seems like Fen Creeper so far, a ho-hum taunt that I don’t like drafting, but is better than half of the other offerings.
Backroom Bouncer 51 53 ↑A more stable version of Flesheating Ghoul. While the attack doesn’t snowball like Ghoul, the 4-health makes it slightly better for contesting the board.
Big-Time Racketeer 56 69 ↔I have yet to employ the sexy combo with Evolve, but this guy is working as expected. I think I have countered a secret or two with it as well.
Blastcrystal Potion 56 92 ↑I have defeated at least 1 Warlock who used too many Blastcrystals and fell behind on mana. While it isn’t always wrong to use this card in the mid-late game, think about turn planning prior to using. The second-most important card in the rise of Warlock.
Blowgill Sniper 53 54 ↔No complaints about this card so far. It definitely is doing more work than the other Murloc 2-drops.
Daring Reporter 55 63 ↑This card is performing well, and has been a good counter against things like Cult Masters and Warlocks. I have used it to good effect with Kooky Chemist, where I flipped the attack and health after making a trade.
Dragonfire Potion 68 88 ↑↑While an epic card, it seems to be the autopick for the Priest epic pool, as I have seen it a ton. Think about putting down a Dragon when ahead on the board.
Drakonid Operative 63 73 ↑I have not been able to use this myself, but opponents are making good use of it, picking the best cards for the situation.
Fel Orc Soulfiend 36 52 ↓I played against this guy once, and make a favorable trade. Doesn’t seem real good at all.
Friendly Bartender 58 57 ↑Very dependable card that can actually heal solid quantities of health when you have the board. The gap between this guy and River Croc is bigger than I expected.
Grimestreet Enforcer 46 77 ↑Paladins appear to be the Grimy Goon class in the Arena, and this guy will win the game for you, if you are banking on such a mechanic.
Grimestreet Outfitter 47 62 ↔While this feels bad to play on Turn 2, I have won some games where I played him on the Turn 1 coin. While a decent pick, Paladins typically have better options in class cards.
Grimestreet Pawnbroker 66 69 ↑This card looks good and feels better when you have Arcanite Reaper in your hand. Game-ender when you have Fool’s Bane buffed. I have resisted playing it as a tempo 3/3, but it might have to happen in alternative-weapon decks.
Grimestreet Protector 67 91 ↓Yes, the value is there, but you need to survive and have the board to make use of him. Smart players who play the board won’t leave stuff on the board against a Paladin anyways. I had a Paladin run end where I never got to play this guy.
Grimy Gadgeteer 53 74 ↔Pretty good when you have weapons or board control, not that good without. Like with Pawnbroker, this card is pretty good when you have a Fool’s Bane.
Hired Gun 59 55 ↓This guy is doing what is expected, but I have seen instances where a 2-drop kills him. I may have expected something extraordinary, because of the apparent value of vanilla 4/3 + taunt, but nothing amazing is happening really.
Jade Chieftain 47 54 ↔I got beat by a Shaman who played 3 of these guys. Like with many of the Jade Cards, this guy is great in a dedicated Jade deck. Only draft him if you plan on going the full Jade route.
Jade Claws 79 82 ↔This card is an exception to Jade cards, where it is fine to draft this weapon, without other Jade cards.
Jade Lightning 69 66 ↑Very dependable Shaman-like removal spell. Possibly better than Lava Burst in the midgame. The Jade Golem is a bonus, and any synergies will make it definitely better than Lava Burst.
Jade Shuriken 69 64 ↔This card is like Jade Claws, where it is a fine draft pick without other Jade cards in the draft. Jade Shamans have the ability to get out of hand, given the number of cheap options. I’ve done well with Jade Rogue decks with 0-6 Jade sources.
Jade Spirit 44 49 ↔This card is only worth picking with a dedicated Jade draft.
Jade Swarmer 52 50 ↓This card is only worth picking with a dedicated Jade draft. Not good at all if this is the only Jade card you have, but becomes decent with 3+ Jade sources.
Kabal Chemist 47 77 ↔This card is more average than good due to the RNG of potions. I have seen many players not even use the potion they get.
Kabal Talonpriest 74 105 ↓There’s some debate about what the best Priest card is. While this guy has the apparent value of Dark Cultist-plus, it is just a 3/4 when a class goes faster on Priest. Priests got early game help, but can still easily fall behind on the board in the early game.
Lotus Agents 56 80 ↑↑I think I said that this card was the worst of the tri-class discovers, but I am blown away with the stuff I am discovering. I feel like this card makes up it’s bad stats with a more synergistic discover. The Jade classes seemingly make use of each other’s cards very well. I don’t think I have been majorly disappointed by anything I have gotten so far. The 5/3 is also a fine play on an empty board or trading up.
Lotus Assassin 57 78 ↑Very solid card that I have used to eat up 3 minions in one instance. Fine to push face damage as well.
Naga Corsair 53 (neutral) / 62 (Rogue) 54 (neutral) / 71 (Rogue) ↑While the weapon buff is less pronounced than with Goblin Auto-Barber in Turn 2, it is has been performing great for Rogue drafts. Also a readily available pirate common, which helps Ship’s Cannon and Southsea Captain.
Potion of Madness 80 85 ↑↑I think this is doing much better than Kabal Talonpriest so far in the arena meta, as I have been screwed over by it countless times. This card flips the board too well for 1-mana. I am learning to play around the card now, holding back on 2-attack things and using 3-attack minions instead. You can safely unload any 1 or 2-attack minions when you are ahead on the board, and where the trade doesn’t completely screw you over. This card is also pretty easy to make a read on, so definitely hold off on 1 or 2-attack things, if it will completely screw your board up.
Second-Rate Bruiser 47 71 ↔I have only seen this guy played against me, and he is pretty effective against a board of small things. Less impressive in the late game, with bigger minions able to eat him up.
Sleep With the Fishes 49 46 ↓Despite having some big impact of just 2-mana, it is a very clunky card. I tried pairing this card with a Revenge I drafted for a 10-win Warrior, and I wound up playing it once or twice when I was behind.
Small-Time Buccaneer 31 (neutral) / 59 (Rogue) 30 (neutral) / 75 (Rogue) ↔Patches isn’t coming along in the arena, but as good as it gets for Rogues in the 1-drop slot, to go with dagger. Not worth picking for the other classes, unless you have an abundance of weapons.
Smuggler’s Run 56 67 ↑More flexible than Grimestreet Outfitter, and makes Paladin decks dangerous in the arena.
Tanaris Hogchopper 50 50 ↔This card is performing as expected, and nobody seems to be playing around it either. The Charge is useful every now and then.

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Taking a Look at that Pretty Bad Hearthstone Commercial

Blizzard Entertainment seldom produces television commercials, so it was pretty exciting that they decided to release one for Hearthstone today. While Hearthstone is extremely popular and on the heels of the new expansion, this particular commercial was to say the least, baffling. Let’s take a look at this commercial frame-by-frame, and look at some reactions to it.

Frame 1 (00:01) – “Man I love chips and guac”

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Set in an office, Paul is eating chips and guacamole in a styrafoam container. There appears to be plenty of chips around for the taking, given the trays and containers of it around the break room. But I have a feeling the guacamole was not free, and Paul purchased it himself. Anyways, he got so much satisfaction from it, that he let out one of those loud “Mmm” sounds in public. I don’t think I have enjoyed food enough to do that in public.

Frame 2 (00:06) – “Vlad Putin with the People’s Eyebrow”

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The unnamed antagonist of the commercial, a guy who looks like a skinny Vladimir Putin (subliminal message anyone?), steals Paul’s guacamole container and eats a chip from it. I mean guacamole is enjoyable, and I have made it myself on occasion, but is it worth stealing? When I go eat Chipotle, I am not willing to pay extra for guac. Anyhow, this guy is clearly a douchebag, and does the People’s Eyebrow to make our protagonist (is he?) feel bad. He has no remorse for his actions.

Frame 3 (00:09) – “Bullying is not okay / Poor guac boy”

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Paul is upset and says that the guacamole container is clearly his. He wrote is goddang name on it after all. Seen in the background are a variety of other sauces and maybe even a tray of churros. Clearly those other dipping salsas are inferior and just microwaved out of glass jars or cans. That’s why Paul had to bring his own stuff to the party.

Frame 4 (00:15) – “Ready for action”

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Our antagonist asks the central question if Paul “wants to take it inside.” For those who don’t understand the vernacular, “taking it outside” means settling a dispute outside via fisticuffs. Because this is a Hearthstone commercial, they take it inside, and settle their dispute through Wizard Poker. Of course this requires the two guys to be Bnet friends, which could have other implications. I mean they could see each other’s Arena scores, or see when someone unpacks a legendary, or becomes a level 50 Priest.

Paul becomes some Alliance dude (Goldshire Footman probably), and says he wants to take it inside.

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This was likely an inspiration.

Frame 5 (00:17) – “Shuttlecock Elton John”

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The bully counters as Sylvanas, who looks like Elton John, primarily because of the shades. He is also wearing shuttlecocks for some reason, which is odd because Sylvanas doesn’t wear feathers.

Frame 6 (00:19) – “WTF”

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Paul/guac boy re-emerges as some green guy. This commercial becomes the worst commercial of all-time with this arrival.

Frame 7 (00:22) – “Literally unplayable”

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So he is now apparently Dr. Boom. This is weird because Dr. Boom is a Wild card, and people won’t be using Dr. Boom in Standard. Also, bringing improvised explosive devices to the occupational setting is not cool.

Frame 8 (00:23) – “Rank 20 plays”

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The antagonist finally uses the phrase “guac boy” and pulls out his bootleg phone to show how he played Sylvanas on an empty board. Filthy casual confirmed. Guac boy will likely win the game.

Appropriate Reactions on Reddit

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Patches the Pirate: Fundamentals Over Flashiness

Unless you’ve quit the game of Hearthstone, you would know that Patches the Pirate has been one of the most popular cards in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. The card has contributed to the wave of Pirate decks that are dominating the meta early on, seemingly making waves over than any of the swanky tri-class decks.

What I find most interesting about Patches the Pirate is that he is being used in a completely different way than when first revealed. It is a bit of a demonstration of competitive winning fundamentals, over an amazing play. The glory versus the story, if you will.

History

Patches the Pirate has an astoundingly long card development backstory (http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/Patches_the_Pirate#History), possibly more than any other card. I first noticed a version of the card, the so-called Captain Scaleblade, being a teaser card in the The Grand Tournament trailer, and not being released in the card set. After a number of swaps with artwork, and drop out of some cards to Wild, Patches the Pirate is finally here, in a set with decent Pirate support.

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Definitely would’ve been a cool card.

First Impression: Gang Up

Patches was one of the first cards revealed at BlizzCon, and the gameplay demonstration showed him being involved in a wombo-combo. Basically, Patches was Ganged Up twice, and released with 6 clones upon playing a Southsea Captain. 12 damage!

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Fun and interactive

Hearthstone devs also mentioned that Patches was not released earlier because of interactions with GvG cards Ship’s Cannon and One-Eyed Cheat. The Patches was advertised as a combo charge with the janky ingredient Gang Up.

Accurate Impression: Aggro-Control

Skilled players knew right away to not include Gang Up in their decks when playing Patches. Rogue decks often fail as a result of dead cards, like Cold Blood, Preparation, and Conceal. Adding 2x Gang Up would further exacerbate the matter. Rather, Patches shines without Gang Up because he embodies what Aggro-Control is all about. This is also a very basic Arena concept of grabbing the board early with big tempo, controlling the board, and playing aggressive. Small-Time Buccaneer is the early game hammer that works well with Patches, putting 2/3 worth of stats, that swells to 4/3 with a weapon. Other 1-cost pirates like N’Zoth’s First Mate and Swashburglar put out a total of 2/2 for 1 mana. All of this early game tempo, comboed with a weapon, allows the player to hold on to the board and let the aggression win the game.

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The “Pirate Package”is so effective that amazing things are happening. Shamans have dropped cards from the bulletproof Midrange deck to include Jade Claws and the Pirate cards. Warriors have gazillions of decks and have all switched to one deck. Rogue is actually playable! While I expect the meta to adapt and stomp out the Patches Pirate package in the coming weeks, it is amazing how a perceived combo card became the Aggro-Control staple of MSG.