The Fall: Personal Hearthstone Crisis

The Fall: Personal Hearthstone Crisis

I’ve always been an honest person in my life, sometimes too much to a fault. I also have difficulty hiding emotions or disguising facial expressions, and this has gotten me in trouble now-and-then. So, I’m going to say it: I’ve played the least Hearthstone I have played in a while. I started this January 2017 season very strong, getting to Rank 8 or 9 within the first week, doing well with various Miracle Rogue decks. Then things slowed down to a halt, and I find myself barely getting by the past few weeks. I must note that I have listened to the first 8 minutes of the Top Deck Kings Podcast #79 (which you should totally listen to) as of this writing, and I have paused it, until I finish all my thoughts, to prevent any cross-contamination. But I have pinpointed a few obvious reasons to my playing Hearthstone at a minimum these days.

1. Real life getting in the way

One of the perks to being a professional gamer is that gaming is your “real life.” While you may have family and friends to interact with, the job portion of real life is bundled into your gaming space. My real life is definitely getting in the way, as I am looking for a new job. While people look for jobs all the time, I was rather complacent in that area, and I am in a bit of trouble. Writing cover letters, updating resumes, and applying takes time, but the more arduous task is figuring out what I want to do in my life. This is something I am unlikely to figure out by the time I get my next job, and will be a struggle for the future. But, I am cutting out time each day to look for and apply to jobs.

2. Other games getting in the way

When I am very enthused with Hearthstone, it is the only game I play and devote time to. With other games getting mixed into my more limited gaming time, I am starting to manage my interests. Heroes of the Storm has a Lunar New Year promotion Rooster Race, with the special golden rooster mount acquired with 25 Rooster Races completed. I completely suck at HotS, but by god, I want that golden rooster mount. Valeera is also a new hero that appeared in HotS. While she is difficult to play, and I have a habit of overextending, I am a big fan of the character, and she has brought me back to the game. Competing card games Shadowverse and Duelyst have daily login rewards that require my logging in to get as well.

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Here we go

And thanks to LA-based esquire Decktech (@hsdecktech), I have been hooked on Yugi-Oh Duel Links on my phone. The whole reason I got into Hearthstone likely is tied to my interests in Yugi-Oh, and now it has been recreated as an addictive phone game. This is not unlike the Pokemon Go craze, but I do not have to brave the outdoor elements to play Duel Links. Also unlike Pokemon Go, Duel Links is actually quite the strategic and interactive game, not just walking around and throwing a ball in different angles.

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Sending people to the Shadow Realm is a full-time job.

 

3. Meta getting in the way

The above two reasons are actual excuses for me, but let’s not sugarcoat the problems affecting Hearthstone. While I am hesitant to say that the meta has gotten stale already, the game just seems very “binary” now. There still remain various competitive decks in Hearthstone, and definitely more than there were in certain points of the game’s history. But it seems like “everything” is Face Aggro (Warrior, Shaman) or Highlander (Kazakus/Reno). Classes are clustering too much it seems, and deck types don’t seem too different by class. Rogues are still doing fine in their own thing, and Jade Druid is here now and then. But Paladins and Hunters are suffering now. These problems have been discussed at length by Devs in recent articles and tweets. The main problem of course is the high rate of Shaman play, something bolstered by seemingly-continual OP cards released for the class.

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The HS Problem, courtesy of Vicious Syndicate

This is all likely some sort of bias, losing to frustrating decks like Pirate Shaman and Warrior. But truthfully, If Hearthstone didn’t have it’s problems, I would likely not be playing other games as much.

What now

Of course, what now? I actually expected possible nerfs to Small-Time Buccaneer by the end of this month, but it seems like the Devs are deciding what to do about that card, and perhaps others. I haven’t stopped playing Hearthstone, as I am still interested in completing dailies, and doing an Arena run almost nightly. But the already tepid desire I had to play Ranked has just gotten cold. If things don’t change, I will likely revert to my old self, and just play Arena until the last 2 weeks of the month, when I can pick on weaker competition. Yep, Scavenging Buzzard mode is likely for next month.

 

Hearthstone vs Shadowverse

Hearthstone vs Shadowverse

I last compared digital card games when I compared Hearthstone with Magic Duels. I’m going to do a similar thing with a digital card game I recently started playing, Shadowverse. Because I am enjoying my time playing Shadowverse to a big degree, I expect to be blogging more about the game down the line. This is meant to be a more general comparison between the games, for Hearthstone players who are interested in trying Shadowverse.

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By the fire be purged! Or something

What is Shadowverse?

Shadowverse is a digital card game, released in June 2016 by Cygames. I cannot name another game Cygames has made, so one can assume they are a smallish indie company. Apparently, it is the most popular card game in Japan.

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The story mode was a bit comical after all the repetition

Getting past the boobwall

This may sound absurd, but I didn’t play Shadowverse for a while because of the artwork. The artwork is anime/manga styled, and features a lot of female characters with absolute cleavage, and partial nudity on a few followers. It even led to the Runecraft Leader, Isabelle, getting “nerfed” in the US version.

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Isabelle covered herself to follow lab safety protocol

While I have no issue with the art being the way it is, I thought this fanservicing concealed what the game had to offer, and that the game would be all smoke and mirrors. This turned out to be a horribly erroneous line of thought. This game is extremely thought-provoking and challenging. Just with a lot of boobs around.

Key differences between the games

  • Evolve

    • The hallmark of Shadowverse is Evolve, a function that allows you to promote your followers on the field. Typically a follower gets +2/+2 in stats, and gains Rush, the ability to Charge and attack an enemy follower. Other minions have more powerful abilities that come with Evolve, like deal damage or gain Ward (Taunt).
    • Evolve gives the game an extra layer of complexity, as you get to charge and buff a minion of your choosing, allowing you to get rid of summoning sickness. This ability can be used offensively, to add face damage, or trade on a minion. It can also be used defensively. Also, you either get 2 or 3 Evolves per game, so knowing when to use these charges is key.
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Evolving my follower
  • Class identity

    • In Hearthstone, each of the 9 classes are distinguished by class cards, and the 2-mana cost Hero Power. Certain classes have multiple workable archetypes, while other classes are stuck with one type of deck.
    • Shadowverse has 7 classes, with individual class cards as well. But each class is completely different from each other, based on the class trait, and class cards which work with the trait. For example, the control class, Havencraft, has pretty much no way of becoming an aggro class, as the card rely on anti-tempoing early on for big gain later. The Bloodcraft class is all about playing the game at 10 life, to empower all the other cards. Dragoncraft will always be a ramp class, as there cards rely on getting to (Mana) 7.
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Vengeance and Overflow traits

 

  • Gameplay

    • While both are digital card games, there are some key mechanical differences that influence gameplay. Hearthstone is a 30 life, 30 card game, while Shadowverse is a 20 life, 40 card game. Drawing to fatigue seems impossible in Shadowverse, while they happen often in a Reno mirror game in Hearthstone. With 20 life, your character seems to be in peril easily. Given that the Bloodcraft Class thrives on 10 life, every game must be a thrill.
    • The baseline minions in Shadowverse are weaker than those in Hearthstone. Typically, there aren’t good Turn 1 plays, and a 3/2 costs 3 for example.
    • The Evolve mechanic encourages trading, given that the Evolved minion can only attack minions on the first turn. With the 20 life cap, trading could be more important in Shadowverse than in Hearthstone.
    • Turn planning is extremely complex in Shadowverse, seemingly as complex or more complex than Miracle Rogue swing turns in Hearthstone. Forestcraft cards for example, have cards that require at least 2 cards to be played that turn for an effect to trigger. You just have to make a ton of turn planning decisions on playing cards for tempo or effects, holding onto cards for reactive moves vs tempo, etc. Just so many decisions to make, which vary by class.
    • Hearthstone has weapons, which gets the hero directly involved on the board. From what I can tell, the heroes in Shadowverse are just there to look pretty, throw out threats, and get hit.
    • Shadowverse has Amulets, which serve as the card  that isn’t a minion or spell. Amulets are best defined as things that have effects, but can’t attack and can’t be attacked. Given Shadowverse also only allows 5 things on the board (vs 7 in Hearthstone), the Amulets take a bunch of board space.
    • Oh yeah, like any other card game, Shadowverse has less RNG than Hearthstone. The Forestcraft has a bit of RNG like Avenging Wrath, but some classes, like Runecraft, seem to avoid it entirely.
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I spellboosted my guy to become a 12 dmg AoE on a 6/7 body. Eat it, Abyssal Enforcer.
  • Going 2nd possibly balanced

    • There are well-known splits in Hearthstone of the 1st player winning games over the 2nd player by a decent margin. A common topic of discussion is how The Coin just isn’t enough to make up for it.
    • Shadowverse gives the 2nd player 3 Evolve charges (1st player gets 2) and lets the 2nd player draw 2 cards on Turn 1. I don’t know if this makes things completely even, but I personally have felt getting 3 Evolve charges is well-worth going 2nd.
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Pretty good evolve ability
  • F2p considerations/economy

    • Shadowverse appears as a very free-to-play (F2p) game. Upon completing the tutorial, you get 10 free packs per set (30 total), a bunch of vouchers, and resources. There are additional rewards for leveling up, gaining achievements, etc. While you get continual rewards in Shadowverse, it appears that decks require a lot more investment of resources to play. Really good decks require about 18,000 vials (dust) to play for example. These rewards may just be scaling to 40 cards per deck.
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You earn little gifts pretty much the whole game.
  • Hearthstone has a handful of achievements, listed below. There is constant criticism about the game being anti-F2p, or not being friendly to new players. But unlike Shadowverse, there are relatively cheap decks that can be competitive in Hearthstone.

hearthstone-achievements

  • Leveling/ranking

    • Hearthstone’s Ranked Mode, which was created back in Open Beta, is known for being Levels 1-25, with a Legend rank above that. The devs recently have acknowledged the community’s frustration with the “grind” it takes to level up in Hearthstone.
    • Shadowverse has a point system, which drives you through tiers of ranks. It is similar to earning experience on a quest, and leveling up that way. So far in the D ranks, I typically earn a lot of experience when winning a Ranked game, while losing only a few points when losing. There may also be implications, where not conceding is the better route in salvaging experience, but I am not sure if this is true. I won 16 Ranked games to get from Beginner 0 to D1. Not bad.

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  • One (Steam) server

    • Hearthstone is known for having separate servers: NA, EU, TW/KR, CN, with different server reliabilities. Shadowverse appears to have all players in the same Steam server. When playing my first few games of Shadowverse, I encountered a number of players with Asian characters as their battle names. This is not unexpected, given Shadowverse is a Japanese game.
    • Given everyone is on one server, there could be many disruptions, resulting in disconnects. I actually got my first Unranked, Ranked, and Take Two wins in Shadowverse via disconnect.
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Got 2 of these wins via forfeits.
  • Customization, UI, and more

    • Hearthstone definitely has the more solid user interface, with things being where they should be. It is simple with not too much going on. The UI for Shadowverse is a little discombobulated in comparison, with cards in hand either being oversized or undersized. The emoting system is also more challenging to use, but they do limit you on 3 emotes a turn!
    • Shadowverse has a lot of avenues for customization. You can set custom emblems, flairs, and even a country flag for national pride. Emblems are awarded through achievements, or when you get a legendary card. Further you can actually customize things like turning off emotes entirely. This request has long been desired by the Hearthstone community.
    • There are various leaderboards for public viewing in Shadowverse, and various stats about your wins and experience. Replays as well!
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Guys who spend more time playing children’s card games than me

Overall

Overall, Shadowverse is different from Hearthstone primarily through the more complex gameplay and turn-planning. There is also a lot more customization from the game, possibly borrowing from feedback that Hearthstone players desire. On the downside, it suffers a little just by being a smaller company, and being a lesser-known quantity (no real lore ties), and having less polish in the UI holding cards. I must say I am very impressed with the game, and will continue playing it.

Nostalgia Trip: Playthrough of Diablo III’s Darkening of Tristram’

When I was young, I didn’t have a lot of games. We didn’t have a console in our home (until later), and I shared a computer with my sister that had a hard drive of 4 gigabytes. And the computer was in our cold, moist basement, which was pretty cold over half of the year. While this gaming experience left much to be desired, we did have an epic game in our childhood, Diablo. I can list a handful of games that were influential to me, but maybe the reason I still play various Blizzard games today, and have trust in the company, is because of Diablo.

You can imagine that I was excited when I heard of a Diablo I remake within Diablo III, The Darkening of Tristram. I played the heck out of Diablo III, but I haven’t paid much attention to the game in recent years. I decided to hop back into the game, just to play this nostalgia event.

Getting there

The Darkening of Tristram event is active in Diablo III during the month of January 2017. To get there, you just portal of Old Tristram, and there is a portal to Tristram. So you’re going to “Old Tristram” to take a portal to “Tristram” which is the current Old Tristram from decades ago. Cool!

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Town

Your character enters town (with companion), and you instantly serenaded with the classic Tristram acoustic guitar twang. You are treated with the reduced graphics experience of the remake, though it looks worse than that of the original Diablo game. You see a mix of completely new Diablo III UI, and a slightly modified version of the health and resource pools to look like old school Diablo UI.

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The town has the same map as Old Tristram, and is connected to the areas with Adria’s Hut and the Tristram Cathedral. The town is in shambles, presumably taking place around the events of Diablo II, when the town was newly destroyed. You see a bunch of dead bodies with Pepin, Farnham, Ogden, and cows among the victims. I think Wirt is somewhere, but I couldn’t find his body in my playthrough.

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Cow ghosts!
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This dude has been dead/dying for 20 years.

“The Cathedral”

The first four levels in Diablo I, known as Cathedral levels, fittingly takes place in the same Tristram Cathedral levels in Diablo III, as they take place in the same place.

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All the monsters you fight are renamed as creatures in Diablo I, but they are the same minions as they are in Diablo III. The gameplay is unchanged from Diablo III, and you use the same moves you would. There were questions about how your mobility will be compromised, but it isn’t really affected. You move around in an odd manner, which imitates the Diablo I walk, but is more of a run.

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Side quests you would see in Diablo I are replicated in Diablo III as zones, but not necessarily as quests. For example, the Poisoned Water Supply Level, is just a random outlet that leads to a Cave level.

You do get to fight the Butcher again, a much smaller version of the Diablo III Butcher, to scale for the Diablo I size. The room of butchered bodies was also recreated, which marks the most gore/bodies in Diablo III.

You also fight a number of memorable enemies, like Leoric, Gharbad the Weak, and Snotspill.

“The Catacombs”

The Catacombs levels are recreated with the Ruins of Corvus maps, which lead to longish levels.

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One of the more memorable sidequests, the Halls of the Blind is present with various Acid Beasts and Illusion Weavers in tow, making it a very deadly area, which is easy to die in. The Chamber of Bone is also recreated. Minions like Horned Demons and Illusion Weavers don’t give much signal that they are coming, which could possibly hit squishy characters really hard unexpectedly.

“The Caves”

The Caves are easily replicated with the generic cave dungeon levels in Diablo III, which have a boring circular map format. In Diablo I, the music  for this zone was always my favorite, so it was great to hear it again.

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There weren’t many  notable quests in this level, but you get to find Griswold’s Edge and the “Slain Hero.” But he just gives you a boring blue item. Magma Demons are especially dangerous in this zone, as they hit pretty hard from a long range.

“Hell”

Finally, the Hell levels are replicated with the Halls of Agony levels in Diablo III.

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Succubus minions are as dangerous as they are in Diablo I, much more than the ones in Diablo III. The Unholy Altar and Archbishop Lazarus parts were very well done I must say, with the leading cinematic with Lazarus.

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Hexagrams are no longer PC

Finally, you fight Diablo (in a scaled down size). They did correctly replicate the various levers you have to pull down before fighting the final boss. You kill Diablo, and get sent to the classic cinematic showing Diablo becoming the captured Prince, and your hero shoving the soul stone into his/her forehead.

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The main drop that you get for completing The Darkening of Tristram is a special gem, the Red Soul Shard.

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What I Liked

  • Having the same 5 music tracks in Diablo I was easily the biggest highlight of this event.
  • Decent attention to detail for sidequest mappings/mechanics.There honestly were a bunch of sidequests I had completely forgotten about, until this event. I guess the goal of bringing back some nostalgia was achieved.
  • Some minions like Acid Beasts, which don’t exist in Diablo III, were created well.
  • Getting hit in the dark unexpectedly was a plus for me. Diablo I had a ton of this, and Diablo III is known for being too bright and colorful. It was dark enough to make it look dangerous.

What Could’ve Been Better

  • Better attention to items/drops. You get some iconic items which have the old artwork, but nothing can conceivably be used at all. You also only get one transmog, with the Butcher’s Cleaver. Something nice would’ve been old transmogs of current items. An example would be old transmog of Windforce for bows.
  • More items would’ve been nice. You get a lot of generic blue “Godly Plate of the Whale” and staves, but no flashbacks to legendary item drops.
  • The levels felt more like Diablo III than Diablo I. While there are obviously limitations with using the same level/monster/character models as they are in Diablo III, I think more could’ve been done, given how much time they spent on this project. There was a lull in “sidequests” for a while in the Caves, and it felt like a bit of a drag.
  • Similarly, a lot of minions could’ve benefited by looking more like their analogs in Diablo I. Using a Goat Demon as a Horned Demon doesn’t quite translate well.
  • Some of the old UI could’ve been used easily. An example is the “broken item” symbol, which could’ve easily been replicated with the Diablo I icons, but chose to stick with the Diablo III version.

Overall, the whole thing took me an hour to complete, and I was somewhat satisfied with the undertaking. Though it was fun, it left much to be desired, in terms of creating a more memorable experience.

 

Coming to a Hearthstone Arena Near You

Coming to a Hearthstone Arena Near You

tldr; Arena is changing, and I have more questions

Today, Hearthstone devs Ben Brode and Dean Ayala headed the first ever “Hearthstone Livestream Q&A stream,” fielding questions from various outlets like their blog, Twitter, and Twitch Chat. This session was mentioned well in advance, so you can imagine how many questions were headed their way. Most of it was funneled, so only about 10 or so topics made the cut for an hour. A fairly complete summary can be found here: https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/5ns018/summary_of_the_qa_stream/

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TM

I mostly tuned out while listening to it, as I was doing the impossible task of managing my staff and watching it at the same time. But I was able to catch the most important 2 minutes or so that I got from the whole thing. That was the brief mention by Dean about what changes are coming for the arena.

What will [possibly/likely] happen to the arena

  1. Arena will become standard.
  2. There will be fewer common cards offered in a typical draft, compared to now.
  3. There will be fewer minions offered in a typical draft, compared to now.
  4. There will be fewer basic, neutral minions offered in a typical draft, compared to now.

While the phrasing of Dean’s summary is not exact, I would rather not put words into people’s mouths, so I think the language I used in the four points above don’t imply anything more than it should.

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Just shocking news

Standard arena

I ain’t burying no lede, so here is the real galvanizing lightning rod of the arena news, though I don’t think it is the most “impactful.” I’ll explain in a bit. But this is surely divisive news.

One point is that you need to rotate out cards in the arena, or else it becomes impossible to draft a cogent deck. Any hope for synergy would be gone with too many cards, and it will be impossible to play around anything the opponent plays. There won’t be much “arena skill” that will come into play, if there are too many cards in the mix.

The counterpoint is more of an emotional response, in that arena loses it’s identity. The arena has always been about having knowledge of a wider range of cards, and being forced to play obscure cards. With sets of cards being rotated out, there will be a lot fewer cards to play with, and it will resemble Standard Ranked play much more.

It is important to point out though Dean used the phrase “Standard,” we don’t know what this means exactly. While it is heavily implied this means a reduction of card sets available to play with in arena, we don’t know the details. This includes:

  • Will arena follow the same standard rotation as ranked?
  • Will this standard arena set be permanent, or will there be certain months where certain cards come back? There was previous chatter about themed set arena months.
  • Will the upcoming “wild” arena cards be gone for good? We have a banlist now, but those banned cards occasionally show up in Discover or through a random minion outcome.
  • A number of cards are banned in the arena draft (e.g. Undercity Valiant, Snowchugger). Will any of these card be reinstated, or remain banned?
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takes aplenty

Fewer commons

Dean mentioned cards like Flamestrike, Firelands Portal, and Abyssal Enforcer (best card in this meta) being too powerful, where the arena meta is dictated by these powerful cards. Thus, he mentioned having fewer common cards in an arena draft.

Big deal here for arena, I think bigger than the possibility of Standard rotation.When you play the current version of arena, you typically play around powerful commons, you sometimes play around powerful rares, and you never really play around powerful epics/legendaries. Reducing commons in the arena will completely break this fundamental dynamic, and will completely change how you play the arena.

The power level of great common cards is further magnified when you consider increased class offering rate, and set offering rate.

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<You kill my family>

e.g. Abyssal Enforcer OP = (Bonkers value) x (Common rate) x (Class bonus) x (MSG bonus)

Right now, I’d say about 66-70% of a draft is made of common cards, over 20 of your cards should be common in most drafts. Rares are likely to be the prime beneficiary of in the reduction of common cards. But what if Epics were increased to a big level? That would make the arena a virtual clown fiesta, given the zany nature of Epic cards. More Legendary cards will also be interesting, though Legendary cards tend to be feast or famine in the arena, and people will be going for stuff like Deathwing and Dr. Boom most of the time.

Fewer minions

Dean mentioned that they are looking to have more spells in the arena, given that there seems to be a 50-50 split of spells and minions in constructed. I guess there is a want for arena to focus less on having a mana curve, to play minions on each turn.

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Arena has always been about minion-based combat. The reason for this is mainly because:

  • Minions “do more” than spells. They contend with the board better, they can attack things, they fill turn curves, etc.
  • While damage/removal spells are premium, a lot of spells are situational, and thus not good for the arena, given it may not help your current deck. Reliability is the key.

While this idea may sound good, I am not a big fan of it at all. It devalues the need to fight for the board, which is such a key skill for arena. Knowing when to trade versus when to go face is huge. This variety of fighting for the board with weird cards is a big appeal in the arena for me.

Having more spells leads to less board interactions. Mages are notorious for being the class that plays off the board best in the arena, given the big availability of good board clears. It is always frustrating to play against Mages with nut decks in the arena, and this just plays to the Mage’s strengths. While the spells would go up concurrently for all classes, some classes will benefit, while others won’t.

The ability to reduce the number of minions in a draft also leads to questions like, what happens to the value of weapons? Are they treated like spells or minions or just themselves?

Fewer neutral basic minions

This point is a bit of an amalgamation of the above two, but Dean did specifically state changes to “neutral, basic minions” mentioning cards like River Crocolisk and Magma Rager. Mentioning River Crocolisk as a problem gets at the point of attacking the need for a minion-based mana curve. Magma Rager was likely thrown in as a defense mechanism to not give too much information away, as mentioning Chillwind Yeti would’ve put the icing on the cake.

The mention of reducing fewer neutral basic minions opens up a slew of questions on its own. As basic/free cards, these minions should be part of the standard rotation of cards. Does this confirm that the standard rotation set in Arena is different than that of Ranked? Exactly how much lower of a chance will we see these cards, compared to Classic set neutral? Does this reduction also apply to basic class cards?

Of course, some of the vanilla curve minions like River Crocolisk, Chillwind Yeti, Boulderfist Ogre and War Golem are on here. While reducing/removing these cards would definitely spice up the minion quality of any draft, a lot of these cards are great. Shattered Sun Cleric! (You will pay for that, cur!) Sen’jin Shieldmasta! (taz’dingo!)

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Confirmed?

A very important point is that Dean mentioned that [some of] these changes are all but confirmed, and slated for a future patch release. I doubt that all four of the changes I mentioned are set in stone as of now, but I would venture that they are likely to happen. I don’t want to say they are confirmed changes to the arena, but it is the plan.

Final thoughts

  • This is a bitter pill to take, but a necessary move to preserve arena. The soul of the arena is corrupted, for continued survival.
  • This change is a first, that is why it is an unfamiliar and uncomfortable change. If this game persists longer, such rotations would be accepted easier down the line.
  • While we have an idea of where the arena is headed, the Q&A today opened up many, many more questions, as I had feared it would.
  • Arena gameplay is changing drastically. I hope to adjust well enough to at least play at my normal level.

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Reno Jackson Rotating Out: An Unpopular Opinion

Reno Jackson Rotating Out: An Unpopular Opinion

Reno Jackson was a revolutionary card from the moment it was revealed in BlizzCon 2015, one week before it’s release. The card simply turned games around against needlessly oppressive Face Hunters, forcing concedes right away.  The feeling of playing a topdecked Reno on Turn 6 which 3 health left was an inexorable high. Reno also was the first “Highlander” card in Hearthstone, creating a new take on deck building, which focused on less consistency and more variation.

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Reno plays

If you roam Hearthstone Reddit now and then, you’ll see posts like the one below, which beg of Reno Jackson being excused from the Standard rotation.

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That hope was finally quashed today in the cyberhighway route known as Twitter:

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While this news was not unexpected, given the rules of Standard rotation, it nullifies any possible leniency for Reno, and possibly any other card rotating out. While Ben Brode mentions keeping the meta fresh as the motivation for not sparing Reno Jackson, I think this is great news for a completely different reason. I believe Reno Jackson completely undermines the skill of deckbuilding.

My Reno Rogue Story

I was pretty excited when Reno Jackson came out, as I was fairly tired of Face Hunter. I decided to build a Reno deck with my eternally bae class, Rogue. I’m not a person with good deckbuilding skills at all, so I just threw together a bunch of cards I had in my collection. I took various things like curve, and card advantage in consideration, but mostly focused on high-value greed.

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This Reno Rogue deck became my go-to Ranked deck for a few months, and I was able to achieve a high of Rank 6 at the time.

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Overall, the stats with this particular version of the deck won over 57% of the games, which is higher than that of my current try-hard season with Miracle Rogue (56%). While Mage and Paladin were still bugaboos, the deck did fairly well against every other class and deck. The stats showed that I was above 50% against every class as well. I had achieved success with a deck I built with very little skill or thought. Further, I didn’t have to go through the process of relentless iterations and testing to revise the deck.

A World Without Reno

Reno Jackson was a very fun and useful card, and a lot of people are going to be upset of his rotating out. This news might even be devastating enough to make a bunch of people quit the game. Further, this seems like big news now, given competitive Hearthstone decks typically run the aggressive Pirate package or Reno. The entire Kabal (Warlock, Mage, Priest) heavily rely on Reno currently.

Aside from the cons of Reno dropping out of the Standard, I believe that decks should not be continually be rewarded by lazy deckbuilding. Also, all those other reasons about keeping the meta fresh and whatnot. At least we’ll always have this gif.

UM5MOIL - Imgur

 

Looking at the New Look Miracle Rogue: Cores, Techs, and More

Looking at the New Look Miracle Rogue: Cores, Techs, and More

Many complaints emerged prior to the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, about the state of Rogue. A combination of lackluster laddering ability against a hostile meta, and gimmicky expansion cards, and a host of other reasons led tot his “uprising.” It all hilariously culminated on Thanksgiving, when Gadgetzan Ferryman was revealed.

Flash forward to today, January 2017, and Rogue is the third most-played class in the meta. While it is easy to attribute the bounceback of Rogue to the introduction of new neutral pirate cards, other innovations have been made to the class that have it’s current success. Namely, the rather large core set of Rogue cards is seeing variation, allowing the building of various viable Miracle Rogues.

Entrenched Core Cards (20)

  • 2x Backstab
  • 2x Preparation
  • 2x Cold Blood
  • 2x Eviscerate
  • 1x Edwin VanCleef
  • 2x Fan of Knives
  • 2x Tomb Pillager
  • 1x Patches the Pirate
  • 2x Small-Time Buccaneer
  • 2x Swashburglar
  • 2x Gadgetzan Auctioneer
Hearthstone Screenshot 01-08-17 10.56.43.png
Early tempo VanCleef central to this deck.

 

Core Cards of Debatable Usage

  • Counterfeit Coin – Most Miracle Rogue decks have one Coin, but other builds run two Coins, which could lead to a bigger Edwin VanCleef in the early the game to contend with. Obviously, the problem with this is that adding two Coins adds more dead cards to the deck.
  • Bloodmage Thalnos – Thalnos has had a firm spot as a Rogue legendary since the beginning of time, until now. He just doesn’t do enough against a Pirate Warrior, serving as a 1/1 on Turn 2. While the spellpower is nice, doing 3 damage on a Backstab, or 2 damage AoE on Fan of Knives could be too late against a Warrior.
  • Sap – Still an entrenched core card, but decks are starting to use only one Sap instead of two. Sap is still very good against any slower decks, and Shaman overloads, but does next to nothing against Pirate Warrior.
  • SI:7 Agent – Definitely a former core card that usually is played with two copies or none. Most decks will either use SI:7 in lieu of Questing Adventurer or vice versa. Can also be used in conjunction with Questing Adventurer in decks without Leeroy.
  • Questing Adventurer – Certainly the most fluid card in Miracle Rogue, where he can serve as the primary win condition, be an intermediate threat, or be cut altogether. While I have seen/used decks with Questing and Leeroy, I think they are cards that basically do the same thing, and don’t synergize well together. Questings are meant to stick around on the board and do the snowball damage over a few turns, while Leeroy is just the end-game burst.
  • Azure Drake – Still an entrenched core card that is often run two of. I have tried running just one copy in Questing-dedicated decks, to offer a lower mana curve. I’ve also had experiences against other Pirate decks, where the Azure Drake just doesn’t get you out of a tough spot.
  • Leeroy Jenkins – Mostly still a core card in Miracle Rogue, except for in dedicated Questing Adventurer decks. He is being cut, as the one time burst mechanic doesn’t do much against heavy aggro Pirate Warriors, and doesn’t fight for the board.
hearthstone-screenshot-01-07-17-20-23-12
New card!

Flex/Techs

  • Conceal – Many decks, especially Questing decks, still run one Conceal. With the usage of Counterfeit Coin, decks are trying to reduce the amount of dead cards. This has lead to some decks cutting the card altogether, in favor of more coins.
  • Shadow Strike – Typically Shadow Strike is the replacement for the second Sap in decks. While it is better against cards like Thing from Below and Kor’kron Elite, I can still see Sap being better run as a double, against most other cards.
  • Shaku, the Collector – A new tech choice of a card that was ballyhooed (by people like me) when it was revealed. The reasoning for Shaku is that he provides a “sticky” 3-drop, while being super effective in getting cards against classes like Shaman and Mage. I have to say that he has been solid so far, and will see further innovation in future decks.
  • Beneath the Grounds – Purely a tech choice against any Kazakus or Reno shenanigans. Not a horrible idea, given that Priests, Warlocks, and Mages comprise about 1/3 of the meta. Also solid against the mirror, but pretty bad against Warrior.
  • Burgly Bully – KremePuff (@KremePuffHS) runs a Burgly Bully, presumably to serve as a sturdy 4/6 body, and to generate coins. I can’t speak as to hell well this card does overall against other classes, but I assume it is working.
Hearthstone Screenshot 01-07-17 13.21.08.png
Reno decks countered with Beneath the Grounds.

 

The Future of Miracle Rogue

  • From my experience, and according to data, the current Miracle Rogue struggles a lot against Pirate Warrior. I have tried Earthen Ring Farseer, but it doesn’t seem to do much against this powerful deck.
  • The cards being played now are all based on the dominance of Pirate packages in Warrior, Shaman, and Rogue. Rogue typically dominates versus Control matches, but the inclusion of more Midrange decks could force changes.
  • This is the last stand for Tomb Pillager. The card, along with any other card from League of Explorers, is rotating out in the next expansion release in a few months.
  • The potential replacement for Tomb Pillager is anyone’s guess, but Xaril immediately comes to mind. I can also see Ethereal Peddler fitting in as the big body drop of Miracle Rogue, though the Coin being a card/spell is big.
  • There is also new speculation that Azure Drake will get cut from the Standard Set. This speculation comes from the popularity of Azure Drake, and Ben Brode’s comments on potential changes (https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/5mqebr/ben_brode_has_spoken_about_changes_in_classic_set/).
  • I tried using Undercity Valiant (while I can), and I lost all the games with this deck. You can’t just put any card in and expect to win after all.

Down the Hatch: My Time With Hearthstone in 2016

Down the Hatch: My Time With Hearthstone in 2016

You know, I had plans to compile a bunch of stats from the year that explicitly stated how well I played Hearthstone. Then my regular computer stopped working, and the Decktracker on this one didn’t record a whole lot of games, so there you have it.

Last year, I wrote a post at the end of 2015, stating it was the year I became an Arena player. This goal was reaffirmed in 2016, where I mainly stayed in the Arena while enjoying Hearthstone. But, I guess in 2016, I began to play more Hearthstone, and Constructed/Ranked Play. Let’s talk about 2016 in Hearthstone for me.

Hearthstone Screenshot 01-01-17 08.46.35.png
Wins and levels as of 1/1/17

Arena

My Arena average stands at 4.83, which means that my overall wins per run was short of 5 as well in 2016. I did get the Lightforge Key (12 wins) 7 times in 2016, putting me at 11 Lightforge Keys overall. There was a bit of diversity in classes this time, as I got my first 12-wins with Shaman, Warlock, Hunter and Druid. The Hunter run was also my first non 12-2, as a 12-1 run.

2016 saw the first changes made to the Arena ever, with the rebalancing initiative. I would like to see more done to recognize the Arena and players in the future, though I am not particularly looking forward to any drafting synergy changes, which I feel would promote less transparency. For now, I will likely continue approaching the game with this Arena mindset.

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-06-16 23.08.53.png
My most recent 12-win had Deadly Fork doing just enough to win.
Hearthstone Screenshot 08-15-16 00.07.48
12-1 Arena feat Pantry Spider

Constructed/Ranked

Having the Decktracker stats here would be great, but whomp whomp. I won something like 51-53% of Ranked games. I can say that I got Rank 5 only once in 2016, achieved by either playing Reno Rogue or when Shaman was the new hotness. I started the year brushing Rank 10, but ever since the Rank 5 breach, I have been regularly ending seasons around Rank 6 or 7. This inability to muster a little extra effort to get a golden epic reward rather than a golden rare card epitomizes where I hit my limits in Ranked play. I would very much like to get Legend some day in 2017, but the inability to get to Rank 5 on a regular basis highlights my general inability to play Ranked.

Hearthstone Screenshot 06-01-16 08.16.10.png
I need to get more of these

I don’t play much Wild, but I did play mostly Wild in November 2016, when I was completely done with the Standard meta. I hit Rank 10 there as a high. Otherwise, I head to Ranked Wild as a playground to complete quests and earn some easy Ranked wins in the same action.

On the Golden Hero front, nothing happened in 2016.I got Golden Valeera in April 2015, and haven’t gotten another one since. This is something I don’t put priority in at all I guess.

This Blog

I blogged all year about Hearthstone mostly, and I am not sure if I reaped the rewards from it. I know the amount of traffic blogs get have a bit of variance, so no idea “how well I did.” But, I blogged a lot, a lot of people (relative term) read stuff. While I am not the best Hearthstone player, I do have a lot to say on the blog!

I have a concurrent blog going on Creators, but haven’t had the time recently to double-post things. Will hop back on that blog soon.

Hitting 10,000 views was a bit of a milestone for me, and I ended the year with 11,468 views.

2016views.PNG
2015, the year I blogged crap

I have mentioned it before, but I got huge spikes in my views from Hearthstone Reddit. Surprisingly, 2 of my best posts in the year were about Diablo 3 and Syphon Filter. Maybe I should blog about other games once and a while.

2016posts
Master of Evolution still doesn’t have a future.

Nothing really new in my blog audience. I do get a kick out of a single view from random countries/territories/isles now and then. I will achieve the ultimate country achievement if North Korea some day registers. Hearthstone is taking over the world.

2016countries.PNG
Probably a better gauge of English-readers across the world.

This blog is run by myself and I don’t get paid for it. Everything is “organic” (I hate myself already for saying that). So, most of my views come off various search engines and spikes on Reddit.

2016referrers.PNG

Other Things

I did appear in the Top Deck Kings Podcast as a guest once, that was a good experience. I have thought about Podcasting in the past, but it is something I haven’t gone into, as I don’t feel I bring anything new to what is already out there.

I also have an experimental YouTube account where some videos of gameplay and analysis are found. That hasn’t gotten much traction, and I am not interested in being a streamer, so that’s that. Another thing that I did this year!

Oh yeah and don’t forget the time I predicted Am’gam Rager.

am'gam.PNG

2017

Here’s to 2017 in Hearthstone. I look forward to all the neat stuff that will come out. I sure hope I am still enjoying the game and blogging by this time next year. We never know what will happen, but I fully intend to keep playing this game.