Assessing the Fun and Interactivity of New Hearthstone Mechanics in Un’Goro

Assessing the Fun and Interactivity of New Hearthstone Mechanics in Un’Goro

While I typically don’t know what is going on, I think I know enough to eke by in conversation to get by. In a generation of youngins crawling the World Wide Web, it is important to know some memes, to “speak the language.” Memes come and go, but the very best have long-lasting value. There is no question that my favorite Hearthstone-related meme is the phrase “fun and interactive,” a phrase used to explain a card nerf many moons ago.

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The phrase is often conjured up by Hearthstone players and viewers and used in a facetious manner. When people use “fun and interactive,” they are referring to something that isn’t.

In the spirit of preserving the usage of “fun and interactive” in it’s intended way, I’ve decided to rate the new Hearthstone mechanics in Journey to Un’goro by fun and interactivity. There are a lot of new things done in this expansion, that warrant a deeper look. These ratings are subjective, but I think I’ve been around the block long enough to not be too far off.

My base definitions

  • Fun – How far off a card/mechanic is from Basic cards (vanilla minions, or deal damage spells).
  • Interactive – How well a card/mechanic can be countered by your opponent, through heroes, minions, and spells.

New mechanics/functions

Adapt Mechanic

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One of the new keywords, Adapt, will appear on 14 cards in the new expansion. For a single adapt, there is a 30% chance to pick each 1 of 10 abilities. I would say this falls in the vein of “good RNG,” given the opponent can expect only 10 outcomes. I think it is pretty fun try to figure out what Adapt ability to pick given the game situation to gain the advantage. It is a good test of skill and some luck. On the other hand, it isn’t too far off the regular Discover mechanic. 2 of 10 adapts, the Untargetable and Stealth gains aren’t too interactive, but the other outcomes definitely can be countered. Even Untargetable and Stealth can be interacted upon, depending on the class.

Fun = 6/10, Interactivity = 7/10

Elemental Battlecry Mechanic

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A staggering 24 new minions will be have the Elemental tribe, with an additional 12 other Standard minions gaining the tag. The main Elemental mechanic works in that a minion gains a big buff, if an Elemental was played in the turn before. Some of the battlecry effects are quite strong, like Blazecaller and Tol’vir Stoneshaper. I guess there is a bit of fun and forcing subpar Elemental cards in your deck to activate strong effects. It could also be fun playing strong minions on curve. Well, not really. In terms of interaction, there is no way to stop Elemental effects from activating. Nerub’ar Weblord is a Wild card, and no other card has been printed to offset Battlecry. Sure, you can remove whatever gets boosted by the Elemental Battlecry, but will force a great expenditure of resources. Truthfully, this mechanic isn’t really fun or interactive.

Fun = 3/10, Interactivity = 3/10

Quest Mechanic

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Quests are a new spell type, which hopefully does much to make the game more fun. Everything from deckbuilding and gameplay will hopefully be galvanized. So quests seem fun, just because they are new and will provoke new deckbuilding. In terms of interaction, there isn’t a way to specifically get rid of a quest. I guess the old fashion counter of rushing your opponent down to zero is a valid method.

Fun = 8/10, Interactivity = 3/10

Sherazin, Seed / Nether Portal

These 2 cards are the first in Hearthstone which leave something on the board that isn’t a minion. Both cards could be quite fun, as Sherazin provides an undying minion, and Nether Portal provides eternal tempo on the board. While playing with a new mechanic is fun, they provide fun deckbuilding challenges, along with gameplay. Neither card could be removed from the board by minions or spells. Sherazin could be silenced, preventing the Deathrattle effect from happening. Nether Portal can’t really be countered, and is more of a consequence of the Warlock discarding the right cards.

Fun = 6/10, Interactivity = 3/10

Time Warp

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When this was revealed, it immediately took me to Shadowverse, and the card Dimensional Shift. This was on the minds of many others, as “DSHIFT” spammed the Twitch Chat. Anyhow, this is super fun if you are the Mage, as getting a whole extra turn could be an easy win. You can either cast a bunch of spells or simply outtempo the board. Unfortunately, there is literally no way to interact with this mechanic as the enemy, besides rushing down the Mage before you the Quest. Loatheb can work in a Wild stall tactic, and Ice Block can stall as well. But no way to counter this.

Fun = 6/10, Interactivity = 0/10

Elise the Trailblazer

The new Elise provides the novel joy of opening a booster pack in the middle of a game. So fun! The packs also have a high chance for wacky cards like Legendaries and Epics, and span across all class cards and neutrals. In terms of interactivity, all you can expect are 5 cards from an entire set of 135 cards. There is no way for the opponent to prepare for it really, and it is a “bad RNG” example. I suppose you can try to find some way to fill your opponent’s hand, so they won’t get the 5 cards. Elise is heavy on the fun, not on the interactive side.

Fun = 9/10, Interactivity = 1/10

Elemental Invocation

This isn’t really a new mechanic at all, but just a spin on an old one. Kalimos allows the player to get 1 of 4 invocations, and it isn’t random at all. This is really just Discover with a 4th option. This makes you think about cards with Spare Parts and Xaril, which are random draws. Anyhow, this isn’t really fun, as they are very basic abilities granted by the invocation. But, as you can only expect 4 outcomes, the opponent shouldn’t be blown away by what happens.

Fun = 3/10, Interactivity = 5/10

Explore Un’Goro

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In typical wacky epic card fashion, this replaces your whole deck with 1-cost cards, to Discover random cards. This is another card like Elise, in that it is all fun and no interaction. Unlike Elise, this card will almost guarantee you have no chance of winning the game through conventional methods. Elise is a card that isn’t too bad statwise, and provides card advantage. This card is just for fun, and that only.

Fun = 10/10, Interactivity = 0/10

Curious Glimmerroot

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This is an extremely fun spin on Discover, which creates a guessing game of what your opponent is playing. I suppose this effect is less fun when the meta is stabilized, and you know what your opponent is playing. Additionally, there will likely be a big split of getting the right guess on Constructed vs Arena. You can really get anything in the Arena, where as you can tell bad from good in Constructed. It also can be interacted upon, as you know what is in your deck, and can calculate the probability of your opponent getting something. It isn’t too different from previous Priest steal mechanics.

Fun = 9/10, Interactivity = 7/10

Primalfin Champion

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This is a completely new mechanic, which can allow a Paladin to replenish their hand with buffs, after this guy bites the dust. As this provides an avenue for the Galvadon quest completion, and provides card advantage, it could be fun for the user. There are plenty of ways to interact with this card through silence, and bounce effects. You can also try to get rid of the board, so that no minions that remain can be buffed.

Fun = 4/10, Interactivity = 8/10

Tar Creeper/Lurker/Lord

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The new tar creatures were created solely for defense, all possessing taunt, tons of health, low attack, and counterattacking enemies only.  One could figure these cards were designed specifically to satisfy the fanbase’s general hatred for aggro in the game. While these cards are great, they pretty much are not fun in anyway. They are boring as heck, and don’t even represent fun on offense, as they hit for 1. They can be interacted by the opponent through spells and attacks as well as any minion in the game.

Fun = 1/10, Interactivity = 10/10

Living Mana

For the first time, mana crystals come to life! This is a card that could set up combos with Savage Roar and Mark of the Lotus. Cool and fun deckbuilding around it. I guess the concept of bring your mana to life is fun, but really it is just making a bunch of 2/2’s. Your opponent can also interact with the board well, or just deny you getting your mana back. Silences with Mass Dispel will ensure a loss.

Fun = 5/10, Interactivity = 10/10

Dinomancy

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Control Hunter was always not a thing, as the Hero Power is all about damage. That is no more, as Dinomancy allows the Hunter to build their board and minions for the first time. This is honestly revolutionary, as it opens an entire library of cards and deckbuilding possibilities for a class that was all aggro. Just amazing. Additionally, this hero power is more interactive than the standard one. Plus points for fun and interactivity.

Fun = 9/10, Interactivity = 9/10

Envenom Weapon

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No, Envenom won’t make Blade Flurry playable again. But it is a novel mechanic. Rogues still don’t Taunt or Heal, so a lot of face-tanking will continue to occur. In a way, it is bringing back the days of Blade Flurry, where Rogues held on to the weapon. So it will be fun picking what to destroy. There are numerous ways for the enemy to counter Envenom, including weapon removal, playing taunts, playing high attack guys, etc.

Fun = 4/10, Interactivity = 10/10

Razorpetals

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This is a new token spell, which is 1-mana, deal 1 damage. A bit over-costed for what it does, but Rogue mechanics have always been a bit janky. Also, they are still cheap spells. Mostly, this is fun in that it represents a deck building challenge with the new plant cards. Most likely it will circle back to how Auctioneer could be used. It might even have consequences in a Malygos deck. Otherwise, 1-mana and 1-damage doesn’t represent anything new. In terms of interaction, the opponent knows how many Razorpetals you get. There isn’t really anything to do to counter a 1-cost, 1 damage card.

Fun = 4/10, Interactivity = 5/10

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“Competitive” Hearthstone

“Competitive” Hearthstone

Yesterday, UK Hearthstone player Greensheep revealed that he would not be bringing his Noggenfogger Zoo deck to the HCT Winter Championships. For those uninformed, Mayor Noggenfogger is a card that weighs heavily on the “fun” side, and has no competitive advantage over other cards. He previously stated that he would bring the deck to the tournament if he had received 5,000 retweets. With the apparent help of viewbots (Twitterbots?) it happened.

I posted my thoughts on a comment on Hearthstone Reddit. Reddit is a pretty useful website because it allows you to run the gamut of emotions. One minute you could be arguing with someone you’ll never know, and the next you’ll be reduced to tears from laughing at something amazing. The site runs through the upvote/downvote system, which could be a form of validation or embarrassment.

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The debate on this matter is quite lively. Basically, my argument is that it was pretty stupid to do renege on a promise, as it marks your brand as being a liar. It probably isn’t worse than other offenses like cheating or viewbotting, but lying is lying. A lot of fellow Hearthstone players laughed it off, and other people online said it was expected. Greensheep himself tweeted about it, giving the following justification:

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Okay, I don’t know what compels someone to do something for the memes, but apparently it was a joke the whole time. Even as someone who enjoys memes from time to time, there is a line when you are outright lying. Not to mention whatever interaction this may have had in influencing what decks other pros bring to the tournament. I guess he values competitive Hearthstone above living up to his word. Fine.

This made me think about the ugly truth in how competitive Hearthstone isn’t really a thing. I forget where I read this before, or who said this before, but people who make money in Hearthstone are streamers, content creators, people with a brand. If you think the people who are quite successful making a living in Hearthstone, you think of guys who have been around a while, but are no longer in the active competitive scene. Your Reynads, Forsens, Amazes. Kripp is super successful as a Hearthstone personality, and is an Arena player. Rising star Disguised Toast is a content creator, and got invited to Blizz HQ today (for something big likely). LifeCoach leaving the competitive Hearthstone scene was another point. And the dagger today just now:

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The first world champ of Hearthstone, Firebat, is heading a different direction than competitive play. Firebat earned a lot of praise among the community for being a very good caster, despite starting it recently.

In the end, the writing was on the wall if you put everything into perspective. Everyone in competitive Hearthstone really has the same win rate, with very small margins differentiating the best player from the 100th player. Throw in a high standard error due to card design randomness, and you’ll have a bit of variation on who vies for the top seeds. There is a lot of turnover for Hearthstone players banking on tournament wins. You’ll probably see someone who competed in the Top 8, and you’ll never see them again. The rewards aren’t there to keep someone competitive for long, and it won’t be long till you are thrown from the competitive scene by factors outside your control. The likelihood is that anyone holding a regular job likely made more money than many top Hearthstone players just vying for tournament fame. You’ll definitely need your views and videos to keep you afloat financially.

The point to win an argument on Reddit has spiraled into a dark realization that competitive Hearthstone isn’t a thing. Yes, I still think Greensheep made a mistake by lying to his followers on Twitter. I just don’t see it being a net positive to his bottom line brand as a player.The best move would’ve been to bring Mayor Noggenfogger to the tournament. I think it would’ve had a bigger bang than rolling the 20-sided dice on 1 outcome, given the nature of variability playing a role in competitive Hearthstone.

A Nerdy Look at Chakki Blowing Up the Arena

A Nerdy Look at Chakki Blowing Up the Arena

REVISION (3/10/17, 8:51 pm EST): The numbers were updated after this was written, so all the numbers listed are wrong. Chakki’s feat becomes even more impressive.

I have been getting immersed into statistical analysis more and more now, and I couldn’t help but notice the anomaly in the Hearthstone NA Top 100 Arena Leaderboard for February 2017. Hearthstone professional memer, Chakki, grabbed the top spot in NA with a 8.65 average. The notable thing about this average is that it is a whole 0.55 games higher than the #2 ranking. Let’s look at a few stat things and check out how amazing this is.

Summary

This is Stata output of Average Wins of the top 100 players. The main takeaway here is that Chakki got 8.65, which is well above the 99 percentile in this list of the top 100 players. If you dabble with standard deviation, he was over 4 standard deviations above the mean for the top 100.

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Check out this box chart. This box and whisker shows the quartiles and inter-quartile ranges. Everything in the shaded box represents the 25 – 75 percentile, and everything past the upper hash is considered an outlier. Chakki is way up there, and the other outliers were scores 2-4. Remember this population is just the top 100 again.

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And finally a scatterplot showing how many runs were done versus average wins. It’s no secret that the highest achieving scores stopped right around the minimum 30 wins, while some of the grinders shooting for the top 100 spot had to put in 90 or 100 runs in the month. This graph is likely what will lead to this being the last cumulative arena leaderboard, with March starting the first “best of 30 consecutive” counts.

Of note, Chakki had a 0-0 run counted against him, so he would have a more ridiculous average of close to 9. This was an amazing performance, and provided a statistical outlier that showed how well he did, even in the subpopulation of the top 100 players.

 

On the Hearthstone Price Hike

Various Hearthstone boards were lit ablaze when I was sleeping, as the prices for Hearthstone packs were raised in many countries. The official post was put on the EU Hearthstone site. This thread is compiling the revised prices for different countries, and adding to it. So this begs the question: was Ben Brode’s rap concocted to drum up interest in a game that is getting more expensive? That we will never know, but I will touch on other observations and possibly a few facts.

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r/hearthstonecirclejerk got this down
  • Prices aren’t going up in America and Canada (for now)

I’ll admit it. I was a bit shocked to hear of the news, even logging into my store to see the new prices. My usual go to purchase, 15 packs for $20, was unchanged. I found out that prices were going up in a lot of other countries to adjust for the US Dollar. The complaints were so loud and rampant, I thought the markup was universal.

  • Something something complex global economy

Despite being an owner of stocks (Activision Blizzard included), I don’t know a whole lot about how economics and the market works. From what I know though, the US Dollar has been strong the last few months, as evidence by market shares being at highs (Dow Jones Industrial). I also do know that these high shares are a bit inflated, and an imminent fed rate hike will likely bring some shares down to Earth.

Anyways, these price hikes seem to be adjustments to the supposed strength of the US Dollar, and basic adjustments of currency exchange. I won’t pretend to know how things are going on in Europe, so I won’t comment on it. If you know how things are going in Europe, and around the world, let me know!

  • Prices go up all the time

No matter where you’re from, you don’t like paying more for the same exact thing. Life is basically a money game. You spend so much of your day working, try to pay for a lot of shit, and hopefully have extra money to spare. And what you do with your money, whether it be investing, buying a house, going on a vacation, spending it on children’s digital cards, dictates who you are, and what you are doing in life.

But let’s face it, prices go up all the time. Well, at least in America they do. Rent and housing prices go up all the time. Grocery items (Thanks Trump for Mexican Coca-Cola price hikes) go up all the time. Education is ridiculously expensive. Even in the sphere of gaming, I believe it is getting more expensive. The shift to microtransaction-based purchases is a way to get more money. If you’ve ever played Heroes of the Storm, they have all these sales for skins, and I’m sure Overwatch does as well. Microtransactions are a way to lure people to pay more for something they are invested in. But  I personally have not been lured by these tactics. Guess what, I’m not paying $10 so my digital character looks cool or weird. I suck anyways, so I’ll just use what they give me.

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Basically real life
  • Be mad at Blizzard, not Team 5

This one is important. I highly doubt Ben Brode, Mike Donais, or any of the other guys and gals from Team 5 had any say in this. They often get heat for anything bad that happens in Hearthstone, but this was most likely not up to them.

  • I’m f2p btw

The price hike really affects people who buy packs all the time. If you’re doing multiple 40 pack purchases, you will feel that increase with every transaction. People who who spend hundreds and possibly thousands on continual pack purchases are likely 1) professional gamers; 2) really rich and can afford it; 3) willing to spend; or 4) people who really shouldn’t spend that much but can’t control temptation.

While there are Hearthstone players all across the spending spectrum, I would wager that most people are like me. I am a one-time spender, paying real money once at the release of each new expansion. I have bought 40 packs before, but I have only spent $20 when MSG was released. So for example, if I live in the EU, I would spend for 15 packs once. I would’ve spent 17.99 Euro in the old/current pricing, and 19.99 Euro in the new pricing. This is a difference of $2.12 US dollars. I’m not sure if I would feel the pinch of $2.12 across a few months.

It’s also possible that a lot of true free-to-play people exist. True f2p people have become a meme, as it is hard to believe how many of these people actually exist. But if there are so many f2ps, there shouldn’t be that many complaints!

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Portrait of Blizzard Entertainment CEO

In the end, I don’t disagree that this sucks, it does. But price hikes are things that happen all the time! And real-life pressures are seeping into the realm of children’s card games.

 

The Best Arena Cards Leaving Next Month

The Best Arena Cards Leaving Next Month

Days ago, I talked about the top cards from Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes that have now departed the Arena. This shall be a Part 2, a commemoration of the top cards leaving the Arena from Blackrock Mountain, League of Explorers, and The Grand Tournament. The exodus of these cards correspond with the arrival of Journey to Un’goro, and will take place in April. Let’s look at my personal list of the cards with limited shelf life in the Arena.

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Pour one out for Rag too!

 

Top 10 cards leaving

Honorable mention – Flame Juggler/Argent Horserider/Evil Heckler – This trio of TGT commons was far from flashy, but each became a staple card in the Arena. These cards would likely make a Top 20 list, but fall short in this exclusive list.

10. Kodorider – This card loses points for being an epic card, but it was pretty close to being an automatic pick in the epic slot. Kodorider was basically a neutral Jaraxxus-lite, which provided infinite tempo on the board, and immediately demanded attention. It is such a good card that opponents often conceded in close matchups when seeing it.

9. Living Roots – The Druid once had early game issues, with limited early game plays. Living Roots solved that issue for the Druid, provided the quick 2/2 tempo on Turn 1. The Saplings allowed the Druid to control the board early. Added versatility as spot removal or face damage contributes to making Living Roots great.

8. Murloc Knight – Murloc Knight was larger-than-life, in that it served as Hearthstone’s factotum entering TGT. The card bundled some of the zany Team 5 ideas with Warcraft Murlocs, into a cute package. Gameplay-wise, the card was snowbally like Kodorider, as an Inspire tempo engine, except it was much more accessible as a Turn 6 play, and the Murlocs occasionally had synergy. This card just won a lot of games, from being a little broken.

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Murlocalypse

7. Quick Shot – This was Hunter’s Frostbolt, if you will, and fit the Hunter playstyle well, by providing the gas needed to draw cards. The only reason this card makes this list is because of scarcity in the Hunter toolbox, as they don’t have removal. Arena Hunters have never been all that good, and missing this card would put a huge void in the Hunter’s ability to remove early threats.

6. North Sea Kraken – While unseen in Ranked play, the Kraken took the Arena by storm, being the first meta-defining common neutral card. Yes, the card was unwieldy at 9 mana, and prevented a 2-drop or hero power being used on Turn 10. But as I have waxed on before, the ability to do controllable effect damage is big. Think about how good Fire Elemental is. This was the neutral common that did all that, being the essential late game threat.

5. Dark Iron Skulker – In going along with cards being the only part of a toolkit, this was the rare AoE for Rogues. It provided Rogues with the Bloodmage + Fan of Knives play in the Arena, with a 4/3 body on the board. While there are sometimes awkward situations with damaged minions not getting hit, those scenarios were few and far between. Just a tremendous card.

4. Ethereal Conjurer – Mages are continually good in the Arena, because they have access to the best spells. Best damage spells, best AoE, best hard removal, you name it. Slapping the Discover mechanic on Mage spells almost always guaranteed a good get. Put that on a 6/3 threat, and you’re just paying 1 mana for a spell. Conjurer got the Mage out of bad spots often, or provided clutch picks for wins. Having 6 attack also helped making it a priority for removal.

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Keeper of Uldaman came at a time when memes were ripe

3. Keeper of Uldaman – Whoever decided keeper of uldaman should be a common card definitely never played any arena, screw him. Blizzard not giving any fuck about arena balance really remind me about WoW arena balance where it was obvious you were considered a second zone citizen compared to PvE or even battlegrounds, even though they kept saying it wasn’t the case. Only a few changes would help, but they still don’t even want to bother. Well I don’t care, I play mainly constructed now, but still, blizzard never changes.

Keeper shits on every card in the game. Literally the worst card Blizzard designed. It trades with whatever it makes a 3/3, it also acts as a buff for small drops. Card is out of control.

2. Dark Peddler – 2-mana 2/2’s better be good to be this high up on the list. This was more about the card being both versatile and opportune. Warlocks just have some ridiculous 1-mana cards for Arena purposes, like Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Power Overwhelming (rip), and Soulfire. Sometimes bit players like Elven Archer and Bloodsail Corsair come in a pinch. I picked Hungry Crab last week! Whether being played for 2/2 tempo, or being played as a 2+1 on coin, this card is tremendously flexible, and provides solutions for putting the Warlock ahead.

1. Imp Gang Boss – I can’t really think of a scenario where you pick another common card over IGB in the Arena. I don’t remember having done so. The card simply doesn’t die on Turn 3, which means it will generate at least 2 tokens. That there is 10 points of stats already. It also trades evenly with 4/3’s on the board. Throw in various buffs, demon synergy, and a 2-drop meta, you have a tempo machine. The ability to generate 1/1’s, while being a formidable board minion made IGB the best card in this set.

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Screw that guy

Top fun interactions leaving

  • Crowd Favorite + Battlecries – One of my favorite cards in the epic slot, Crowd Favorite often got out of control because of the number of available battlecries. The card often affected a draft (for me), making me think about picking inferior Battlecry cards just to make it work.
  • Jeweled Scarab – While never an amazing card, Jeweled Scarab had the skill-testing ability that Discover shined at. Further, it spanned a wide range of cards across the 3-mana catchment, forcing players to think about not only what class is being played.
  • Joust – Joust isn’t good RNG. I’m pretty sure I lost over 50% of my jousts, because I like drafting on the lower end of the mana curve. But it did provide the element of suspense. And when you got that critical joust, victory!
  • Coliseum Manager – Despite being a boring card, it often resulted in misplays, of people forgetting what it did. And of course, “Back to the office!”
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Never worked out in Ranked, but hey these were some good Arena cards

 

Adapting in the Arena feat. Verdant Longneck

A week ago, the upcoming Hearthstone expansion, Journey to Un’Goro, was officially announced, with a few of the new cards. The official card leak cycle is set to begin on March 17th, so the hype will be intensifying as that date comes closer. Oh yeah, and here’s the infamous Ben Brode rap, which put him on the front page of the Internet. What a marketing win for Blizz.

Anyways, I’m here to talk about the new Adapt mechanic, and how to pick the right one in the arena. Quests are a new exciting card type, but as they are relatively irrelevant in the arena for being: 1) legendary rarity; 2) draft-dependent, they will be a topic for another day. Thanks to the card Verdant Longneck, we can look at the Adapt choices, and see what are the best choices in the arena.

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Spoilers!

Adapt

While a bolded keyword, Adapt is being bundled into the Battlecry mechanic. Basically, you play a minion, and the Battlecry becomes a Discover, allowing a pick of 3 abilities for the minion to gain. There are 10 Adapt mechanics overall. Some notable cards that interact with Battlecry will notably be gone from the arena by the time this mechanic is introduced.

  • Nerub’ar Weblord has been rotated out, would have increased the cost of Adapt minion by 2.
  • Crowd Favorite will be rotated out, would get a buff for each friendly Adapt minion.
  • Brann Bronzebeard will be rotated out, would allow a minion to get 2 Adapts.

We won’t know what cards come out of the next set, but any Battlecry-affecting cards would have a big impact on whether or not you should draft an Adapt card.

Verdant Longneck Adapting

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New card!

Verdant Longneck at it’s base is a 5-mana 5/4 Druid Beast card. Simple analysis says Verdan Longneck is under-stated by 3 points. A 5-mana card should have 11 points, so that’s 2. Being a Druid-class card will also have leeway for 1 point bonus, so that’s 3 points off what it should be. Is Adapt worth those 3 points? Let’s look at the table below to see what the Verdant Longneck becomes with each Adapt.

Adapt Result Close Analog
Crackling Shield 5/4 Divine Shield None
Flaming Claws 8/4 > Salty Dog
Living Spores 5/4, Deathrattle of 2 1/1’s None
Lightning Speed 5/4 Windfury > Dunemaul Shaman
Liquid Membrane 5/4 Elusive < Spectral Knight
Massive 5/4 Taunt ~ Booty Bay Bodyguard
Volcanic Might 6/5 ~ Twilight Darkmender
Rocky Carapace 5/7 ~ Dark Arrakoa
Shrouding Mist 5/4, 1 turn Stealth < Stranglehorn Tiger
Poison Spit 5/4 Poisonous None

We can do a little analysis with the cards that the Verdant Longneck becomes.

  • Flaming Claws – Better than Salty Dog, but not saying much, so possibly average.
  • Lightning Speed – Dunemaul Shaman was pretty bad, so not much more than that.
  • Liquid Membrane – Spectral Knight was average, and this is a full 2 health off.
  • Massive – Booty Bay Bodyguard is as unflattering a pick as it gets.
  • Volcanic Might – Purely average, can get traded down by 4-drop, but can trade up a little.
  • Rocky Carapce – Dark Arrakoa has taunt and is a 6-drop, so this isn’t a bad choice at all.
  • Shrouding Mist – A full point off the Tiger, and non-permanent stealth.

Other adapt choices

  • Crackling Shield – I think for Verdant Longneck, this is obviously the best pick for Adapt. Divine Shield is an ability that scales up with attack, so having a 5/4 Divine Shield is tremendous. Essentially the minion is doing 10 damage. Also, Divine Shield is very handy in causing 2-for-1 trades, or forcing the enemy to Hero Power.
  • Living Spores – Harder to evaluate at the moment, but I think that any Deathrattle + Summon ability is solid. While this will be a weaker version of Piloted Sky Golem, leaving stuff on the board will protect against board clears, and help contend with the board.
  • Poison Spit – Poisonous is definitely something that is better with higher-health minions (Maexxna), as the attack is moot. 5/4 with Poisonous is essentially a mimic of the Flaming Claws ability, as 8 attack will kill almost anything. Not a very good adapt for Verdant Longneck.

When to pick

I think it will be obvious that none of the remaining Adapt creatures in this set will be 5-mana 5/4’s. They will come in a variety of costs and stats, possibly with other abilities. Let’s look at each Adapt outcome, and see when or when not to pick them.

457px-Shrouding_Mist(52598)
Very situational!

 

Crackling Shield (+Divine Shield)

  • Pros: Works great with high attack minions. Good for forcing trades or mana usage. Can push lethal with it.
  • Cons: Not effective with very low attack minions (1 attack). Can be ignored if opponent has bigger stuff on the board. Blood Knight is offered more as an Epic.
  • Overall: Great, I would pick it most situations, as it will result in your minion getting multiple trades.

Flaming Claws (+3 Attack)

  • Pros: Works fine in an aggressive deck, or on an empty board. Good for pushing lethal and damage. Allows trading up. Good against Priest if minion has 1 attack.
  • Cons: Doesn’t work great with aggressively-stated minions, as low health will allow a much smaller minion to trade up. Spells can destroy minion easily.
  • Overall: Average, will need to evaluate the situation.

Living Spores (+Deathrattle, 2 1/1’s)

  • Pros: Provides 4 stat points to your minion’s stats. Helps compete with the board. 1/1’s can be boosted to trade up. Protects your board from AoE. Deathrattle synergy with Unearthed Raptor.
  • Cons: Not particularly useful in the late game. Enemy MCT or Second-Rate Bruisers can take advantage.
  • Overall: Pretty good for all purposes, while fighting for the board, or early game.

Lightning Speed (+Windfury)

  • Pros: Can push lethal. Good in the early game.
  • Cons: Bad with minions that don’t have great health. Bad with minions that don’t have great attack in the mid-late game.
  • Overall: Bad, unless it is on a 2-drop with decent stats (3/2 or 2/3), like Whirling Zap. Cards like Grotesque Dragonhawk, Windfury Harpy, and Grook Fu Master are all pretty bad.

Liquid Membrane (+Elusive)

  • Pros: Encourages trading, so softens the board. More spells in the arena, so can’t be targeted. Can’t be hit by Mages. Can provide a fulcrum against Betrayal, positioning cards.
  • Cons: Minion will likely be under-stated, and doesn’t gain a useful ability. Doesn’t work on minion effects.
  • Overall: Pretty bad. You can’t see the cards in your opponent’s hand, so you won’t know exactly if a spell is selects targets. Possibly useful for softening a board before a weak AoE.

Massive (+Taunt)

  • Pros: Taunt forces trades, protects hero health, protects lethal damage board.
  • Cons: Minion with low stats doesn’t gain anything for being a taunt. Not great with aggressively-stated minions.
  • Overall: Situational, better in the late game for all picks. The Verdant Longneck isn’t good as a Booty Bay Bodyguard, but it can save you in a game, or protect your better minions.

Volcanic Might (+1/1)

  • Pros: Great with any early game minion. Works great with a defensively-stated minions, to allow an on-curve vanilla play, or something better. Can allow you to compete with something weaker on the board. Good against Priest on a 3 attack.
  • Cons: Not very sexy. Doesn’t do anything if you are behind, or doesn’t do enough to be threatening.
  • Overall: Good, but possibly broken if stuck on a 2/3 2-drop. Great for playing the board, making sure your minions have more stats. Look for better options if the game isn’t in your favor.

Rocky Carapace (+3 Health)

  • Pros: Good for ensuring a sticky minion to compete for the board. Allows you to play around AoEs.
  • Cons: Probably not great for minions with already low attack. Doesn’t do much in the late game.
  • Overall: Good. Very versatile in the early game, or when competing for the board. Look for better options if the game isn’t in your favor.

Shrouding Mist (+Stealth, 1 turn)

  • Pros: Can setup lethal. Allows spell buffing the next turn. Synergy with Shadow Sensei. Can provide a fulcrum against Betrayal, positioning cards.
  • Cons: Minion doesn’t gain stats, so will likely be under-stated. Doesn’t get pass taunts. Can still get killed by AoE, or random effects. Encourages opponent to go face.
  • Overall: Bad. Best situation to pick is when setting up lethal, so look for better options at every other phase of the game.

Poison Spit (+Poisonous)

  • Pros: Can allow any minion to trade up on something bigger. Works great with high health minions, as the poison could be used on numerous targets. Fine on an empty board, to discourage enemy tempo.
  • Cons: Doesn’t work well with low health minions. Minions with high stats shouldn’t have Poisonous, as their attack is wasted.
  • Overall: Situational. Best with low attack, high health distributions. Possibly good against high-value targets.
Ungoro
Pick the Stealth, guys!

Will it work?

So far with Verdant Longneck, Adapt definitely doesn’t appear to be overpowered, which is the danger when introducing a new mechanic. Also, Adapt brings about the type of “good RNG”, which combines limited probability elements with some strategy. I for one, will be excited to see what other cards exist in this set, and if they combine Adapt with other keywords. Only a week and half left!

 

February 2017: 30 Arenas Complete

February 2017: 30 Arenas Complete

Playing arena in Hearthstone was always a challenge in that accomplishments were never acknowledged. Your arena average isn’t officially recorded anywhere, and there is no counter on how many times you got 12 wins. Job postings for Blizzard still ask how many times you got Legend. Well, when they released the first arena leaderboards last month, it was the first time that arena accomplishments could be validated.

I set a goal at the beginning of the month to at least qualify for this leaderboard by playing 30 arenas. It was a tall task from the start given that February is a short month, and that #100 in the Americas had a 6.46 win average last month, a full 1.5 games above my regular arena average. In the end, I failed in getting anywhere near the leaderboard, but I was able to play exactly 30 arenas in February 2017. Let’s take a look at what went down for me.

Hearthstone Screenshot 02-22-17 00.20.59.png

Stats

feb17stats
Courtesy of Hearthstone Decktracker

The Decktracker recorded an average of exactly 5 wins per run, a 150-84 record, a 64% clip. A day of disconnects sabotaged 2 games I played out and won, but were counted as disconnects from previous games that disconnected me. In the end, costing at least 2 games wouldn’t even get me to 5.1, so that point is moot. I had the full range of arena games from 0-12 wins. I did not get high-win runs of 8, 10, or 11 in the month.

After 18 games my average was 5.94 wins, and I felt good. Then I closed out my last 12 games with a 3.58 average.

Despite being a self-proclaimed Rogue player, the class did not do well for me, averaging 3 wins per run for 8 runs. Warlock and Mage averaged over 7, with Mage only accounting for just 1 run. Paladin and Priest were also solid contributors with 6.8 and 6 wins on average.

On the opponent side, I faced Mage and Warlock almost half (43%) of my games on the month. This was predicated by Mage being OP forever in the arena, and the rise of Warlock thanks to broken cards.

Hearthstone Screenshot 02-18-17 00.09.34.png

Experiences

I don’t think I have ever played 30 arenas in month, as I usually take 1 or 2 days off each week. Making sure that I hit this mark was a bit tiring. As February was a short month, I had to double up runs a few days, or do 1.5 runs on certain days. There were also days that I didn’t play an arena because of life business, so I doubled up more than I wanted to.

I was out of it to start the month, and contemplated giving up on the task right away. But, the horrible ranked meta didn’t give me incentive to stop, and I felt like getting the dust rewards in the end. And of course, I like playing arena more than anything, so that kept me in it. I wound up playing 29 (19-10) ranked games during the month of February, ending at Rank 12, something I haven’t done in a long time.

There were highs, in that I got my 12th and 13th Lightforge Keys. I also possibly played against Hafu (and won!), who is known to play under the tag “Battlepants.”

My last arena of the month, my only Druid run, was played with a Wild deck, while the Standard arena was implemented for the first time. I got to play with GvG stalwarts Zombie Chow and Mechanical Yeti for the last time in that run, while I faced opponents with golden cards and spells.

Overall, I played this month of arena with the least  thought possible. While I did know to play around meta-heavy cards like Abyssal Enforcer and Potion of Madness, I just didn’t play around much else, and play a fast style. Opponents seemed to be playing fast as well, which was interesting.

I’m not going to play 30 arenas next month. Chasing the #100 spot on the leaderboard appears beyond my capabilities. But it was a good experience to partake in.