Slowly Growing Deaf: The Struggles of a Small Indie Game Blogger

Slowly Growing Deaf: The Struggles of a Small Indie Game Blogger

What follows is more reminiscent of my personal blogs in the past, so no gaming news or analysis here.

As I grow older and closer to the age of 28, I’ve been able to accept a lot about myself. One of them is that I am very prone to ennui, apathy, boredom, all of the above. I’ve been simmering for a little while, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I can tell that my Twitter account isn’t providing the source of excitement that it had afforded me in the past. I can tell that a lot of things in the world are falling apart around us. I can tell that there has been change in myself.

In this blog post, my 210th for this site, I shall explore the past, present, and future of I Can Taste the Mana, and my general experiences in gaming since I started doing this. Hopefully this introspection can help myself (and maybe others) have some clarity about the future.


My @GreenRangerHS Twitter account first tweeted on August 31, 2015, and this blog first posted not long after on September 10, 2015. In my introductory post, I do the basics, like state my name, why I am called GreenRanger, and my intentions. Back then I was a worse Hearthstone player in general, stating that I hadn’t gone past Rank 10 in Ranked, and had only 3 12-win Arena runs. The takeaway is that in the introductory post, I wasn’t sure where the blog would take me. I honestly didn’t think I had aspirations of anything other than “it being fun to do.” Also, I was extremely enthused playing Hearthstone during The Grand Tournament, and enjoying the heck out of Arena, something that hasn’t really changed since.

The Past 2 Years

My blog eventually picked up steam in 2016. Just by sheer volume of blog posts, the higher view averages came by October 2016. But my most successful day was April 1, 2016, when I posted the first “Hearthstone Evolve Chart” on Reddit, and it was a big day.

My Twitter account also grew a lot during this time. I followed more people, got followed by some, and interacted with even more people. Additionally, I lifted my initial reservations of tweeting outside of Hearthstone. I notoriously only interacted with people on Twitter for Hearthstone purposes to discuss Hearthstone. Eventually, this stopped, but I will get back to this point later. Anyways, a great time was had by all.

A lot of other stuff happened of course. Hearthstone grew a bit in their team, and a lot of cards were released. The Hearthstone Arena actually changed since I started blogging. The community has grown tremendously, with podcasts sprouting all over. I showed up on a few podcasts. I played Hearthstone with other people in co-ops and tournaments.

At some point, I thought my blogging would take me to somewhere further up. The gaming industry and esports has grown exponentially since I started blogging. Having played games forever, the idea of having gainful employment in gaming just seemed like a great fit. Of course, the flaw was that I expected the blogging to do all the heavy lifting towards this desire, and there is much more to it than the work.


2017 has not been a high point for me regarding Hearthstone. While I was playing Ranked at a decent rate to begin the year, I definitely have become an Arena-only player nowadays. Ranked play doesn’t appeal to me at all anymore, and I am playing minimal games each month in that mode. I seem to get a 12-win run monthly now, which is great, but I have also had to take breaks from the game due to frustration.

On Twitter, my timeline has become more difficult to follow with enthusiasm. While I blame a lot of this to Twitter modeling themselves into Facebook, people change. People are making Twitter a surrogate for Facebook they formerly used. Basically, the talk about Hearthstone has gone down considerably, and people are using Twitter for other means. It’s not a stretch to put some blame on politics; had the US presidential election had another outcome (or better candidates), Twitter would be a lot less politically inclined as it is now. So it’s hard to sift through my timeline for worthy Hearthstone stuff.

And even when I find worthy Hearthstone stuff, my own problems come in the way. I lack enthusiasm upon seeing Hearthstone content. Content creators need to find ways to prevent themselves from being stale. But frankly with Hearthstone being a slow game in terms of releasing new stuff, it is hard to do that. Further, the Hearthstone network I have been part of doesn’t have much an Arena focus. I definitely still am a fan of Arena, and that is preventing this blog from dying completely. But given how hard it is to find actual Hearthstone stuff on my timeline, coupled with no Arena information, it is hard to stay engaged nowadays.


I’ve gone full circle to my September 10, 2015 introductory post in that I don’t know where I will go with this blog. It is almost safe to say that any aspirations I had in moving up in Hearthstone beyond this blog is gone. There is just a lot of saturation in the game, and it will take real dedication to separate yourself in order to move up. Kudos to those who are trying, but I am not in the same class.

It is possible that something changes, and I completely fall in love with the next expansion. It is possible that I suddenly become an Arena savant. It is possible I start enjoying myself more often. I am not betting on any of it.

For now, this blog will continue to exist as it is, with my infrequent blogging about Hearthstone Arena. I’ve recently just been writing with numbers from, and that won’t likely change, given my lack of knowledge outside of Arena.

It is possible that I shift my focus more on Duel Links, the game that I am honestly more invested in now. With some modest success from the podcast and Twitter account, I feel like I’ve had a bigger impact in that community.

Despite the depressing nature of this post, I am proud of this blog. As said, this will be post #210, so the volume is something to be proud of. In a couple months, I should be hitting a 30k view milestone, which is okay I guess for an independent blog such as this. Also, it just gave me an outlet to write stuff and share my passion for Hearthstone.

Thanks to everyone who has visited the blog!



Death Knights Leaving Arena + Thoughts About the Community and Future

Death Knights Leaving Arena + Thoughts About the Community and Future

The newest Hearthstone Arena changes are coming in a few days, with the removal of Death Knight cards from the draft pool. Maybe because there is no relevant news for the game for the time being, this became a very controversial change. While the actual implications to the Arena are low with these removals, the precedent this has set is more important to discuss.

Arena Death Knights by the Numbers

overall dk

Here are the overall numbers, courtesy of This doesn’t really say much, as these are the overall numbers for each class, from the pool of all games and cards. All you can tell with this is that the Rogue DK card is pretty bad, the Shaman DK card is debatable, and the 7 others are pretty good. The played WR of the Rogue DK card is especially low, signifying poor initiative from the card.

class specific

Here are the numbers again, with class-specific percent rates. While their removal is relatively low impact, these numbers show that the DKs appear more than other cards. With the increased offering rate of legendaries, and with DKs generally being OP, they get picked nearly automatically for legendaries. You can see that there is approximately a 10% chance of facing a Death Knight in each Arena game. 10% isn’t enough for one to start playing around DKs, but it isn’t nothing either.

The deck winrates by rank are also very high. Malfurion, Jaina, Anduin, and Guldan are all the #1 Arena card for their respective classes, while Rexxar, Uther, and Garrosh are top tier. Thrall is around average, and Valeera is as good as Priestess of Elune.

So yes, DKs are generally really good in Arena. The Gul’dan and Jaina cards in particular, boast very high Played WR percentages, showing they have a bigger direct impact in flipping the board when played. Further, these cards were offered a lot during the forgettable “Synergy Pick Era,” planting the seed for complaints for the removal of all DKs.


kibler death knight.PNG

This initial point, which sparked much discussion afterwards, is neither correct nor incorrect, as it depends on one’s perspective on the matter.

  • If you play a lot of Arena (daily), the chance of seeing a DK isn’t a rare thing.
  • DKs will be offered less by next expansion, but they will universally be drafted, making it close to 7% of matches.
  • Not sure if people play Arena just to play cards they don’t have.

Of course, any of my points above are dependent on your own individual experiences.

kibler iksar death knight.PNG

Here we see dev Iksar saying the changes were not targeting Arena balance. As correctly noted by Kibler, that is how many, myself included, initially interpreted the changes. This could also be a way to defend the inclusion of OP commons like Bonemare staying in Arena.

amaz death knights

Here, Amaz expresses his disappointment with the change. Amaz is a very good Arena player, but not a particularly long-time Arena player. His views of Arena may lean towards having more exciting and useful cards to draft.

A Dangerous Precedent (Changes)

The Hearthstone Arena is improving. The Hallow Arena event was a success, enjoyed by players of all types. The synergy picks got removed, approved of by most. Now the Death Knights are leaving, prompting the currently mixed response. Is the Arena changing too fast?

Old Arena players remember when the Arena stayed the same from 2013-2016. I come from the school of ADWCTA and Merps, of the Lightforge Podcast, and part-creators (yeah, I said it) of the HearthArena tier list. On the scale of 1-10 of willingness to criticize Team 5, they are on 11. They have criticized Team 5 for not caring about Arena, doing things poorly for Arena, not having played enough Arena, and communicating poorly about the Arena. They’ve gone all the way. Arena went unchanged until last year, when they decided to ban the first set of cards from drafting. Basically, complaints launched by the Lightforge went unanswered for a while. What I’m trying to say is that old Arena players are not used to change. They want change, but did not expect it that often.

Now you can just go on r/ArenaHS, and several posts by known members of the community calling for more cards to be banned from Arena. Are changes coming too often? Why is this a dangerous precedent?

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-28-17 12.15.06
“You don’t stand a ghost of a chance”

Who Asked?

Recent Arena bans have clued us into who asked for the bans. A co-op between Hafu and Mike Donais showed that she really wanted (and was pleased with) the Vicious Fledgling removal. Kripp recently posted a video complaining about Arena DKs, and here we are. It’s not surprising that Team 5 would listen to Hafu and Kripp, as they are the most known and prolific Arena players in the game.

My concern is a possible unfair weighing of views. Do Hafu and Kripp’s opinion on cards matter more than that of others? It’s known that Team 5 doesn’t particularly get along with the Lightforge, which is understandable. While they possess top-tier knowledge of Arena, do their opinions on cards matter less?

This also spreads to that of the masses of lesser players online. Are r/Hearthstone and r/ArenaHS on the same level in voice? The dedicated players are probably on r/ArenaHS, but they have low upvotes/participation, which may not catch the eye of Team 5.

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-23-17 14.50.45.png
A deck full of cards that could be banned

A More Boring Arena

Just like literally anything in the world currently, the future of Arena is murky. With Death Knights being gone, we can admit that Arena drafts get less interesting. Besides gameplay changes, the thrill of getting a new hero power, affecting the board, and implanting a new hero portrait is gone.

Games will be closer. Often, the play of the DK hero led to the end of the game. While there are plenty of win conditions still available in the draft, the removal of DKs got rid of very flashy and effective closers. Almost like removing a second Deathwing from the game. Now you’ll have to do your dirty work with things like Eldritch Horror.

In terms of class balance, getting rid of 1 legendary really isn’t much. This probably does hurt Warrior the most, as the Warrior DK does give a draft some hope. Mages aren’t living their glory days, but I can’t say the Mage DK keeps them up high. Warlocks definitely have a lesser incentive to draft demons for synergy.

Overall, the removal of DKs isn’t a big deal at all. The more important discussion is what will change next, and who Team 5 is actually listening to.


Hearthstone’s Arena-Exclusive Cards

Hearthstone’s Arena-Exclusive Cards

BlizzCon wrapped up last night, and a lot new features were announced for Hearthstone over the past few days. Announcements include the new expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs, card reveals, the new PvE mode, Dungeon Run, and more. What got me most excited were some new Arena-exclusive cards coming to the game in a future event. Let’s talk about these cards, which ones were picked, and the implications of it all.

Arena now

Today is the last day of Hallow Arena, which has gone on for nearly 2 weeks. The reception to the event was mostly positive from hardcore Arena players and never Arena players. I even got my 12 win run yesterday with the Shaman-Hunter combo, so I am satisfied. It was great for being new, testing new skills, and not lasting too long. Tomorrow we revert to a new Arena state, of KFT bonuses, but no grandfathered cards from Wild expansions. And no Vicious Fledgling.

The voting process

Yesterday, the Hearthstone Live Q&A began with a session where the attendees were shown three new cards from each class, and they picked the card that would make it to Arena. From what I know, it was a verbal shouting vote, not unlike a band giving you two options for their encore song.

This part feels a little bad. Arena is a bit of the black sheep among Hearthstone players, with a few hardcore players, and most players not touching it. I even regularly see people complain about being forced to play Arena with the free tickets. It is not the most popular mode, but those who love it, love it. I expected the crowd to reflect this mindset. There were concerns that Arena would be “ruined” by voters unaware of the class balance issues, and more.

Further, the voting was a gut reaction. The crowd was shown new cards, and forced to vote for 1 of 3 right there. No analysis was made. So this gives a chance for a flashy, but bad card to make it.

The new Arena-exclusives

Now, I will display the cards by class, talk about them a little, and the winners. It is important to note that these may not be the final version of the cards. Or they could be. Further, they will not be permanent Arena additions, but inserted for a special event.



  • Thornstrike – This would’ve been OP, as it covers a weak spot for Druid in little AoE. And you get into the issues of every class having a 1 damage AoE.
  • Boon of Elune – A bit of a Rogue constructed card calling back to Razorpetal Volley. It does give 4 reach, and makes Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Spell buffers a little better. Bad Arena card overall.
  • (W) Nature’s Champion – This was my vote, and the crowd agreed. The +5/+5 is bigger than Blessing of Kings, but it must be bounced. You can think greedy with big things, but this is probably best with small things. Stonetusk Boar, or another cheap charger can make good use of this in one turn. Druid of the Swarm and Crypt Lord probably will get even more sticky with this.



  • Reload – I like this card, but probably way too good. Hunters should play aggressively with reliance on the hero power, and this is too much card draw, for probably discarding nothing important in the hand.
  • Volley – RNG card that can give you pretty good cards. The shots like Deadly Shot, Arcane Shot, Multi-Shot, are all pretty good. The bad shot, Cobra Shot, is already gone. So a bit like Cabalist’s Tome, where it feels bad to face.
  • (W) Deadeye – The winner, which harkens back to Steamwheedle Sniper, a good Arena card back in the day. Control Hunter is the darling of every Hearthstone player, and this is good for the Arena, allowing Hunter to support a draft that doesn’t give aggro cards.



  • Arcane Flux – Bad 2-cost spells that also cycle a card are everywhere. Flare, Roll the Bones, Purify (whoops). This has that Servant of Yogg-Saron ability that is purely dangerous when playing Mage. Probably wouldn’t have had a huge impact in most cases, but possibly frustrating when it does have one.
  • (W) Polymorph: ??? – The winner, and probably the best choice. It is flexible, allowing it to boost a friendly minion, or downgrade an enemy minion. And with Discover, you are getting a good range of cards. The question is whether this Discover has the 4x Mage bonus. My guess is it does.
  • Power Cosmic – This is the seemingly OP card of the 3. With Discover, you are leaning towards a 4x Mage bonus, so Sindragosa and Antonidas were likely outcomes.



  • Retribution – Has the same trigger as Eye for an Eye, and probably worse than Noble Sacrifice in that it doesn’t cover minions. Would’ve been an okay Paladin card, definitely worse than many.
  • Relic of Hope – The RNG card of the group, giving you something bad or good. There are actually a good number of bad Paladin spells around, and some really good ones.
  • (W) Hand of Salvation – I was firmly stuck on this one, and the crowd liked it as well. I think I liked it just because it is a new mechanic. These three cards aren’t exciting at all, and the Paladin would’ve been fine if they all sucked more.



  • Aboslution – A bit like the Paladin spell that gives +1/+2, making this fit the Priest theme of LIfesteal. It probably would’ve brought Priest up a little bit, allowing the early game to compete a bit better. This card probably would’ve helped the most.
  • Mass Resurrection – Corpse Taker is a really solid 5-mana 3/3, and this does it at the same cost. This is a card that either gives you a ton of value, or is useless on an empty board.
  • (W) Generous Spirit – This was my pick, and that of the crowd as well. Priests shouldn’t have a ton of problems drawing cards, so this would help out those with fast Priest drafts. People probably won’t draft really bad cards to make this work, but some steal combos are in order.



  • Assassin’s Training – Debatable whether is good or not. It is not a good card, as it is a 2-for-1 without leaving anything on the board. Plague Scientist is good for the 2/3, and having the same effect. It could also be good as it provides a ton of value on trading a little guy on a big guy.
  • (W) Smoke Bomb – This is good for being card draw, which Rogue’s struggle with in Arena usually. Conceal was never a good card, but Rogues have tend to have reach and play fast. I like this card, and don’t think it was too strong for a strong class.
  • Mindspike – Classify this with some epic rarity weapon that sucks. Probably better than Poisoned Blade.



  • Refreshing Jolt – This was my choice, but honestly is powercreeping over the 4-cost Tidal Surge. This is cheaper, does more flexible damage, heals more, and heals flexibly. I feel this is a good card for an underwhelming Arena class, but doesn’t make sense with Tidal Surge around.
  • Magma Shock – A big Earth Shock. Shamans already have a really good 4-cost Jade Lightning, and this is just worse in every way.
  • (W) Crackling Doom – Somehow this card won the vote, and it is flashy as all. Definitely reminds me of a Warlock bomb spell, except the ability to win right away is much higher. I don’t like this card, as it allows the infinite board swing that you cannot play around. There is no playing around this card. While Shamans do need help, making a very unfair board state isn’t the way. Very disappointed with this vote.



  • (W) Bottled Madness – You read this right, Bottled Madness was selected by one random audience member after this vote tied. The fate of Arena decided by one person. Incredible. Anyways a very good refill card for Warlock, and most Demons are pretty good. Good thing Howlfiend exists for balance I guess.
  • From Beyond – Similar to the Hunter Reload card, except Warlocks never had trouble drawing cards. Insane late game value.
  • Combust – Definitely OP, as it is Siphon Soul packaged with Hellfire, a 10-mana value.



  • Training Blade – All of the Warrior cards are very solid, and it is good to see some help for the class. This on it’s own is very good for the Warrior early game, which doesn’t exist due to the hero power. Think how good Light’s Justice is for Paladin. I think this should’ve been the pick.
  • Axe of the Eclipse – The flashy card, which definitely is very good as well. 4/2 on 5 isn’t bad at all, as Twilight Hammer has the same stats.
  • (W) Blazing Longsword – The winner of a tough choice, and pretty good.  Best board control card of the bunch, and has built in Cleaves.