A Call to Action (Nerfs): Shadowverse vs Hearthstone

A Call to Action (Nerfs): Shadowverse vs Hearthstone

Owing to the busyness of life changes, I haven’t paid as much attention to Hearthstone news as I did in the past. I am making time to play the game, squeezing in regular Arenas (which are now more fun) and occasional Ranked games. When I want to get serious, I will play Deathseer Thrall Evolve Shaman. When I play for fun, I am playing random Rogue decks with new cards, including a Burgle Rogue and C’Thun Rogue. Hence, my winrate has been terrible this season, and I am still Rank 15.

I’ve been hearing that Druid has been a big problem since the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion release, and whenever I log onto to Twitter, I hear a call for nerfs. I haven’t played at high enough level in Ranked to experience this scourge, so I do not have any opinions on the matter. But such an early call for nerfing a class reminded me exactly of what happened in Shadowverse, following the Wonderland Dreams expansion. Let’s take a look at the problem in both games, and see what can be done.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-19-17 00.17.50.png
“You don’t stand a ghost of a chance”

Shadowverse

The latest expansion for Shadowverse, Wonderland Dreams, was released on June 22, 2017 in America. For those unaware, this expansion had a theme for Neutral cards with strong Neutral synergy cards or craft-specific cards that have strong Neutral synergy. I’m not sure how much work was put into play-testing for balance, but messing around with Neutrals is complicated, as all the classes are affected in different ways. This manifested in the Bloodcraft class becoming too good.

Shadowverse writes really detailed patch notes, so here they are, if you want to gander.

Based on a sample of high ranking players, they determined the Neutral Bloodcraft decks were present in 38.1% of the ladder, with a 56% win rate. 56% is a manageable win rate, but the 38% is obviously glaringly high. It might be okay in a game with 4 deck building choices, but not in one with so many like Shadowverse. The company decided to put nerfs in July 30, 2017.

Vania.png
Someone’s waifu, everyone’s bane.

Neutral Blood Nerf

As stated, the goal of nerfing these 4 cards was to: 1) lower rate of Neutral Blood decks, and 2) reduce the gap between going first and second with these decks.

  • Tove – minus 1 attack, minus 1 defense.
  • Baphomet – opening effect became more random, cost reduction gone.
  • Spawn of the Abyss – effect damage reduced by 2.
  • Goblin Leader – +1 cost, +1 attack, +1 defense.

Ramp Dragon Nerf

As is common with Shadowverse, they typically nerf something else to go along with the highly-desired nerf. They targeted Ramp Dragon decks, in fear they would be too strong with the Neutral Blood nerf.

  • Grimnir, War Cyclone – no longer hits enemy hero for 4, just 4 damage AoE to minions.
  • Ouroboros – heal +3 ability to hero gone.
20170621232151_1.jpg
Grimnir, hurting young children since he was released.

Havencraft Nerf

Finally, it was mentioned that the second highest deck, Haven Aegis (7.6%!) needs to be kept in check with a nerf.

  • Princess Snow White – minus 1 defense.

The patch notes wrap up by saying they may make monthly changes at the end of the month, if data shows anomalies.

Hearthstone

Druid problem

Druids are apparently out of control right now in Hearthstone. From what I can tell, there are currently two main Druid decks in the meta now: 1) Big Druid (with other ridiculous stylizations), and 2) Jade Druid.

I went on HSReplay.net to filter decks with new cards, by win rate.

top 10 kft meta.PNG

6 out of 10 of the new decks are Druid, with the other 4 being Paladin. These are fairly high win rates, with the most common deck being a Jade Druid deck with 57k replays. To those wondering, if you just filter top decks including old decks, it is still all Druid and Paladin.

Let’s look at top 10 new decks in terms of overall usage.

top 10 kft usage.PNG

The people want Warlock bad! Desperately! Druid is quite common here as well, with the 57k, high win rate Druid likely to keep climbing. 100k games were played with a Taunt-based Druid, which was likely shared as “ground-breaking” before a better version was found.

Let’s take a look at the common, KFT Jade Druid.

kft jade druid.PNG

The by-class matchups are telling, with the deck only not doing great against the mirror. Every other class matchup is above average or exceptional.

Shamanstone

Remember Shamanstone? Yeah, I scrubbed it from my memory as well. Let’s take a look at some Vicious Syndicate data tracking the highs of Shamanstone.

shaman highlight.PNG

Shaman as it is now, is a solid deck and 4th highest class today. Most decks are running the Evolve Shaman, so we can expect the deck to be around 10% of the Ranked meta. At the peak of Shamanstone, the class represented over 30% of all decks.

shamanstone.PNG

Here’s a look before Shaman hit 30%, which includes the release of One Night in Karazhan and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Of course, these expansions were known for not doing much at all the Shaman. Karazhan notably gave Shaman more tools in Maelstrom Portal and Spirit Claws. Pirate Warrior brought down Shaman for about 2 weeks, before it started climbing to the rate over 30%.

The listed 10/3/16 balance changes notably did this to Shaman:

  • Rockbiter Weapon – costs 2.
  • Tuskarr Totemic – summon random basic totem.

This didn’t do much. A 2/28/17 patch did this to Shaman:

  • Small-Time Buccaneer – 1 health.
  • Spirit Claws – costs 2.

Shamanstone was finally over. I think Small-Time Buccaneer represents a card that was the closest to being a new card being nerfed in it’s expansion timeframe. It was released on 11/29/16 and nerfed on 2/28/17, about 3 months.

Expectations

Shadowverse and Hearthstone are similar games, but very different when devs come to making changes. It is fairly entrenched in Hearthstone philosophy to be super conservative when cards are changed. And typically, cards are made worse. Shadowverse changes cards all of the time, and doesn’t seem to be afraid of pulling the trigger on newly released cards. I am not knowledgeable enough in card games to say which is better, so I don’t know.

But even if Druid is a problem, I don’t expect changes to be made for a while. Knights of the Frozen Throne is a fairly new expansion, and new cards are likely left the way they are for a few months. Would old Druid cards get nerfed? Also, Skulking Geist is the infamous Jade Druid hate card that came along in this expansion. How long of a leash does that card get as being the savior against Druid? Would running 2 minions with bad stats ameliorate the situation?

A zombie tumbling out of the sky. The hero we don’t deserve, but need.

 

 

Updated Evolve/Thrall, Deathseer Chart for Knights of the Frozen Throne

Updated Evolve/Thrall, Deathseer Chart for Knights of the Frozen Throne

A long time ago, I got really excited by Master of Evolution and decided to look at the effect of stat changes brought on by the new Evolve mechanic. I’ve only opened 1 legendary in 40 packs of Knights of the Frozen Throne so far (boo), but got the Hero Shaman card for completing the prologue, Thrall Deathseer. By running the updated Evolve Shaman for ranked play, I suddenly got excited about Master of Evolution again. So, I decided to update the Evolve chart.

Methodology

  • I filtered all the minions that are currently playable in Standard, including the cards from this expansion.
  • All playable minions are grouped by mana cost and an average was taken from attack and health.
  • The transformed mana cost is either +1 or +2. I found the difference between the average attack and health by graduation in mana cost.
  • I look at percentages of the evolved minion having an ability. The abilities I looked at were Taunt, Charge, Spell Damage, Lifesteal, Divine Shield, and End Turn Effect.
  • I have a category called “Disaster.” This would be an evolved minion with something that could be really bad, causing you to lose your whole board or the game. The identified disaster evolves include Doomsayer, Ticking Abomination, Rattling Rascal, Bomb Squad and Anomalous.
  • For the 1-mana cost slot in original minion, I included the 4 basic Shaman totem tokens. I figured these would be the most common evolve targets on the board in a Shaman game.
  • While there are many more tokens that could be included in “original minion”, they were left out because there were too many.
  • There are caveats to abilities. Hogger was counted as a Taunt minion in the 6-slot, even though no Gnoll will be made on a full board. I did not include Twilight Elder as an end of turn ability in the 3-slot. I did not include Ethereal Arcanist as an end of turn ability in the 4-slot.

1-mana Evolve chart (Evolve, Devolve, Master of Evolution, Thrall hero power)

KFT Evolve Chart 1

2-mana Evolve chart (Thrall hero battlecry)

KFT Evolve Chart 2

Takeaways

  • 2-mana Evolve from Thrall is really good, probably what makes the hero card so impactful on Turn 5.
  • 4 mana to 5 mana is the best intermediate cost evolution for stats. 6 to 7 and 7 to 8 are really good as well.
  • The ability to get Taunt goes up a good degree in the middle to late mana costs.
  • 8 mana seems to be where all the big effect cards are. A 1/19 for Anomalous though.
  • Once the minions get too big, they just become Snowfury Giant or Sea Giant. Probably shouldn’t evolve them by then, unless for healing purposes.

 

 

10 Bold Predictions for ‘Knights of the Frozen Throne’

10 Bold Predictions for ‘Knights of the Frozen Throne’

The following is a guest post from Tehl (@TehlHS), multi-legend player and my occasional arena co-op partner. He is the creator of Snakes and Drakes. You can catch him on the Hearthstone podcasts Top Deck Kings and Hearthcore.

10 Bold Predictions for The Frozen Throne

10. Rogue got the best Death Knight.

Valeera the Hollow(62876).png

Valeera the Hollow is an insane card.  This card essentially locks out the game with infinite Vanish followed by Arcane Giants allowing you to continuously swing in for 16 damage as long as your opponent doesn’t have removal for them.  In addition, to that the stealth that gives you when it comes down allows you the time that it takes in order to set up the combo.  The only decks that are going to punish this are burn mage and decks that play aggressively on the board,  which brings me to my next point…

9. Druid is going to be the only class playing on the board.

Spreading Plague(62841).png

With Mage and Taunt Warrior (particularly good matchups for Jade Druid) probably sticking around, Druid now has insane tools to combat aggro as well, especially Spreading Plague.  This card is at worst a stall of probably two turns and at best clears their board in the process, but either way, aggro is losing one of it’s best matchups in the game.  Rogue also has new tools to combat aggressive decks with the Shadowblade and it’s counterpart Doomerang which will undoubtedly see varying degrees of play depending on how long aggro sticks around.  Either way you will have time to play your Death Knights because I predict a much slower meta where aggro will be punished.

Bonus Bold Prediction: Skulking Geist was printed for the sole purpose of beating Jade Druid and it will see some (if it makes up over 30% of the meta a lot of) play for that reason.  (Note: I don’t count Taunt Warrior as a deck that plays on board)

8. Hunter is going to be worse.

Build-a-Beast(58725).png

The new hunter cards that are being introduced are terrible…I guess that’s all I really have to say.  Deathstalker Rexxar is the worst Death Knight and arguably may give you a worse hero power than Steady Shot.  For Hunter to continue to challenge the meta they needed more sticky aggressive minions to pressure the opponent, instead they got durdly, inefficient, clunky minions that when everything goes perfectly you probably still are going to lose a majority of your games…

7. The Lich King is the best neutral legendary in the game.

The Lich King(62922).png

This one may be slightly hyperbolic, but if I said The Lich King is a very good card that wouldn’t exactly be a bold prediction.  The Death Knight cards are as powerful as the Ysera Dream Cards, with taunt it gives it initiative, and if all goes right it can give you insane value while smashing face for 8.  While I am less confident in this prediction than some of the other ones, I also have no doubt this will be in more meta decks than any other card currently in the game.

6. Ultimate Infestation was a mistake.

Ultimate Infestation(62879).png

When you look at this card it instantly looks like a Firelands Portal that gains you some life and gives you approximately 8 mana worth of card draw.  So we already have a card that should cost approximately 16 mana, but the card is actually better than that, doing all of this at the same time gives this card increased value.  Normally we would have to play one card that is a Firelands Portal, one card that is an Iron Hide and one card that is a super-Sprint, now all of this is combined onto one card, meaning that this card kind of reads draw seven cards and play three of them…

5. Priest moves up a tick.

Shadowreaper Anduin(62889).png

While most of their new cards are as disappointing as the Hunter cards, Eternal Servtiude should definitely see a good chunk of play and their Death Knight is a game-changer.  While Shadowreaper Anduin on it’s surface may not be that impressive as far as the Death Knights go, it gives priest an opportunity to do something that it’s never been able to do very efficiently, close games.  Raza the Chained also could see an appearance back in the meta allowing priest to machine-gun chain two damage as long as they can continue to play cards.

4. Aggro Paladin will see a come-back.

Righteous Defender(62864).png

I know this is completely contrary to point number nine, that no one is going to be playing on the board, but on the backs of Bolvar Fireblood, Righteous Defender, and Light’s Sorrow all of the board clears that are going to be in the game may be playing right into this decks trap.  I don’t think this will be a very good deck, especially out of the gate, but with some tweaking and as the meta starts to settle, you may be able to catch some people off-guard with this old classic.

3. Mage will not play any of the cards released, and it will still be good.

Frost Lich Jaina(61810).png

Frost Lich Jaina and Sindragosa are definitely cuspers, and I may end up being wrong about them not seeing play, but neither of these cards buy you the late game tempo advantage that Medivh the Guardian does that usually wins you the game just fine on his own.  With the deck already relying on Alexstraza to stabilize, I don’t think there will be room for the new cards.  That being said, this will be one of the most fun decks to mess around with, although I think the best Mage list is already established, and it will continue to stick around, as it is one of the premier decks to contend against new Rogue.

2. Freeze Shaman will not be a thing.

Moorabi(62845).png

While you aren’t going to be bummed out ripping a Voodoo Hexxer from a Stonehill Defender, it is still going to be the third-best taunt that you are hoping for and that’s the best freeze card to be introduced by a mile.  Blizzard is definitely afraid of making another overpowered Shaman deck and acknowledges the power of Jade/Token Shaman in the meta, so they do the thing they are apt to do, which is try to introduce a new mechanic.  This deck will not be good, it will not be fun to play, and it will lose to everything in the game, maybe including new players playing Chillwind Yetis and Boulderfist Ogres.  With nothing being implemented to help its existing archetypes, shaman will definitely be taking a major step back in the Frozen Throne meta.

1. Defile is the best card in the game, and Warlock still may not be playable in Standard.

Defile(62840).png

This card was my whole reason for wanting to write this article to begin with.  I rated Ultimate Infestation a 10/10 and could see a nerf, I rate this card an 11/10 and will probably see an emergency nerf. Everyone is sleeping on Defile.  This is the most efficient, cheapest, and easy to accomplish board clear in the game, that requires little to no set-up.  Next time you are playing a game pay attention to how many huge boards could be cleared with a Defile.  On top of this, after this card stops clearing the minions on the board, it starts clearing their deathrattles, making minions like Dragon Egg and Haunted Creeper also susceptible to it’s reign of devastation, if you are playing Egg Druid or Pirate Warrior in Wild, I’m sorry to say that your days are numbered.  On top of this, this card has an insane synergy with Grim Patron which allows you to defile ad infinitum and wipe all boards and leave yourself with 15-21 power on the board.  Okay so we’ve established that this card is the most broken wild card ever printed, but will it have any impact on Standard?

If Warlock is viable in standard, it will be on the back of Defile.  Possessed Villager is still around to kick the defile train off and it will really punish Token Druid, Shaman and Pirate Warrior, furthering point #9, but Warlock may not have powerful enough tools to contend in the late game, even with the most efficient AoE in the game.  Honestly it makes my brain hurt trying to think of what a standard warlock deck would look like these days, cards like Kabal Trafficker have never seen any play and on an unchecked board, may make for an alright deck with the new warlock Death Knight which is okay and the Lich King definitely making a cameo, but even I am not bold enough to say that Kabal Trafficker Warlock will be the new meta.

Class Convergence in Knights of the Frozen Throne

Class Convergence in Knights of the Frozen Throne

In the world of card games, it is important for “classes” to be different. You want to play with a unique set of mechanics and archetypes for your specific class, and be different from the other classes. If two classes play too similarly, the demarcation of “class” has no meaning at all. A natural consequence of a card game going on longer is newer and better cards. And sometimes classes converge, in that a certain class starts taking on characteristics of another class.

Is class convergence an inevitable consequence for every card game? I’m not positive, but I think it is, unless the game evolves to an extremely complex entity where everything remains different. In games with limited mechanics, we can expect some class convergence down the line.

In this writing, I am going to examine class convergence in Hearthstone for the new expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne. Class convergence is nothing new in Hearthstone, as it is meant to be a more simple game, with limited mechanics. I can assume that Hearthstone can afford more class convergence than a game like Shadowverse. The class hero power is something that will keep a class unique from another. Shadowverse has crafts with their unique set of cards, but the hero does nothing unique from a different one. Still too much class convergence is a bad thing. Let’s take a look at this set.

Druid

Continuous buffs

Crypt Lord – Druids buffed typically buff things 1 card at a time. This card, similar to Darkshire Councilman in Warlock, will grow in size.

Poisonous (Hard Removal) – Mulch is Wild-only and Naturalize is horrible so Druid has lacked in the hard removal department. They are now being pushed in the Poisonous keyword.

Malfurion the Pestilent

Druid of the Swarm

Webweave

Resurrect

Hadronox – First resurrect ability for Druid.

Secret deathrattle

Fatespinner – For the first time, Druid has a “secret” dynamic. While this is unique as a Deathrattle, it is the first thing they have to keep the enemy guessing.

Taunt buffs – Only seen with Warrior with cards like Bolster and Stolen Goods.

Strongshell Defender – Literally Bolster on a River Croc.

Hadronox – More Taunt support, rather than buffs.

Hunter

AoE

Exploding Bloatbat – Hunter never had AoE, outside of cards that hit 3 things, based on positioning. Also Dreadscale existed, but it was a niche card.

Discover

Stitched Tracker – Hunter has the random card advantage card in Jeweled Macaw, but never had the ability to choose something. This card is very Priest-like.

Resurrect

Abominable Bowman – Hunter played with Deathrattle, but never had a resurrect ability like Priest.

Mage

Hero picture because not really any class convergence.

Mana manipulation

Doomed Apprentice  – Mage stays almost identical to it’s class identity, with more Freeze pushes, thanks to the icy theme. This is the first class card to mess with opponent mana manipulation.

Paladin

Also barely any class converagence

 

Heal to damage

Blackguard – Paladins healed in big chunks, but never used it for offense. This is a similar effect to the Priest card Shadowboxer, except more explosive and control-oriented.

Priest

Destroy random minion

Obsidian Statue – A mechanic seen rarely with other classes like Dark Bargain for Warlock or Deadly Shot for Hunter.

Early AoE

Spirit Lash – Priests never had early game AoE. Almost Maelstrom Portal, but much worse for saving the board.

Rogue

Survivability – Rogue could never Taunt or Heal, so now there are new mechanics that allow the Rogue to not take damage.

Leeching Poison – Lifesteal is everywhere in the new expansion, but heal is heal.

Shadowblade – Immune was also available previously through Violet Illusionist, but this is a one-turn effect, like Ice Block.

Doomerang – Unique card that is the first of it’s kind. Not unlike Blade Flurry, but still very different and helps survivability.

Valeera the Hollow – Close to a one-turn Ice Block, except you can still get hit by things that hit stealthed enemies.

Shaman

Freeze – The heaviest and most blatant push in class convergence, with 6/10 Shaman cards having a Freeze synergy. While Frost Shock existed since Basic, it almost never saw play outside of Malygos shenanigans.

Avalanche

Brrrloc

Cryostasis – Buffs and freeze in one!

Ice Breaker – A bit like Shatter in Mage.

Moorabi – Also has copy effects on enemies, so can work like a Priest card.

Voodoo Hexxer – Very similar to Alley Armorsmith in Warrior.

Enemy positioning – Flametongue Totem was self-positioning, but this is a new area.

Avalanche – Previously, you only had to worry about Betrayal in Rogue, Explosive Shot/Grievous Bite for Hunter, and Meteor/Cone of Cold in Mage. This one is like Betrayal, in that the fulcrum minion is undamaged.

Warlock

Mind Control

Treachery – Reverse Mind Control, but still a new tactic for Warlock.

One-sided damage

Despicable Dreadlord – Warlock cards typically hurt everything. This will be the first that only affects the opponent’s board.

Warrior

Warriors hit the survive damage thing hard.

Copy into deck

Dead Man’s Hand – Blood Warriors and Sudden Genesis were precursor Warrior class copy cards, but this is the first to put a bunch of cards in the deck. Almost like a Priest card.

Neutral

Big buffs

Bonemare – This ability screams Paladin buffs.

Handbuffs

Deathaxe Punisher – Similar to the Grimy Goons handbuff ability, but only for Lifesteal minions. This conditional nature makes it much worse than the clan ones.

Random card advantage

Bone Drake – This could get any Dragon for any class.

Shallow Gravedigger – This could get any Deathrattle for any class.

Death Knight cards

The Lich King and Arfus will give access to Death Knight cards, which scream class convergence. However, given there are 8 choices, you won’t likely be roleplaying as every class in a single game.

OP

Anti-Magic Shells – Neutral board buffs.

Obliterate – Neutral hard removal.

Death Coil – Neutral removal, reach, or heal.

Frostmourne – Neutral weapon and resurrect abilities.

Doom Pact – Neutral self-mill and DOOM!

Death Grip – Neutral Entomb, but much faster and cheaper.

Death and Decay – Neutral Hellfire (AoE and Reach)

Army of the Dead – Neutral self-mill and a much stronger ability than the legendary Varian card.

That’s that. From what I could tell some classes barely veered into other class identity (Mage, Paladin, Warrior), while some like Druid and Shaman are starting to diversify a good amount.

Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

I like to think of the current Hearthstone Un’Goro meta as the “trigger meta,” in that I have become annoyed with a lot of cards. A lot of this has to do with the meta decks in ranked play as Pirate Warrior, Quest (Caverns) Rogue, and Quest (Exodia) Mage are simply frustrating to lose against. While these constructed decks perturb me often, the same can be said about the Arena meta.

We are in the teeth of the new rotation, meaning that this is the lowest card pool in the Arena pool all year. When the second and third expansions come out in 2017, the draftable and playable card pool will increase. Thus, we will see more variety in the draft pool, as well as the Discover and random effect (Burgle, Transform) pool. Combined with the increase in spell rate, we are seeing a lot of cards over and over again. Let’s take an overview of the most common Arena cards, in this early Arena meta.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-16-17 22.29.30.png
This interaction took a while

Data source

I just pulled the data from hsreplay.net, about 12 pm EST on 4/18/17. The data pulls numbers from the last 14 days. I filtered out cards that are now rotated into wild, but may still be present in “grandfathered” Arena decks. I also filtered out Legendaries, as they are not really important to Arena.

Top neutrals

Neutrals are the glue of the Arena. But with a new card pool, boost to rares and epics, and decreased offering rate to Basic cards, what should we expect?

Frequency

hsreplay_top10neutral.PNG

9 of the 10 top neutral cards are from Un’Goro, with Bog Creeper being the sole holdout. It’s interesting that the two poisonous cards in Stubborn Gastropod and Giant Wasp have the lower played winrates, which goes to show that cards without intiative have lower played winrates. Really no surprises in this list, as they are all very good. It is obvious that Volanosaur is #1 despite not being the best card in this list, since everyone gets to draft a golden one.

 

Deck winrate

hsreplay_neutraltop10win.PNG

Here we have the top 10 neutrals in terms of deck winrate, and hey there’s Primordial Drake again. I think Bright-Eyed Scout may be an underlooked card, as it could be a late game play on Turn 9 for big tempo. Silithid Swarmer and Naga Corsair are on the list because they are good Rogue cards. Charged Devilsaur is also proving it’s worth as a great epic neutral.

Top class cards by frequency

Finally, I will look at all the top class cards in terms of frequency. These are useful in playing matchups against a particular class, to play around certain cards. I am only looking at cards that are in over 30% of decks for each. I picked 30% for no particular reason.

Druid

hsreplay_druid30pct.PNG

Tortollan Forager, despite having a dumb voiceline, will be seen in 50% of Druid decks. Just a very good card. Druids will have a bunch of removal spells from the boosted offering rate, though no hard removal. Moonglade Portal is in 33% of decks, and has the bad RNG aspect to help swing games. As expected, Druid is one of the worst Arena classes right now.

Hunter

hsreplay_hunter30pct.PNG

Hunters are seeing healthy winrates, and their top 3 neutral commons are from the new set. Plus, they all have solid deck winrates. Explosive Shot and Call of the Wild show up over 33% of the time, so come to expect those power cards on Turn 5 and 9. Play around Deadly Shot and Unleash.

Mage

hsreplay_mage30pct.PNG

When Flamestrike saw it’s offering rate cut in half, there was debate as to why Flamestrike and not Firelands Portal. We’ll never get the answer why, but Firelands Portal continues to be the menace of having high deck winrate and played winrate. The initiative of leaving something on board is too good, and the chance to get Leeroy and Doomguard are as high as ever…

Anyhow, you’ve got a lot of powerful stuff appearing for Mage. Important to play around Meteor with good positioning on minion placement. They’ve got some early game now as well, so just a lot of good Mage stuff.

Paladin

hsreplay_paladin30pct.PNG

Paladin dropped to the middle tiers it seems with Gadgetzan, but seems to have cards with higher deck winrates now. Spikeridged Steed is seen a ton, as it has the spell offering buff, and is just a very OP card. Dinosize is a card that I like a lot myself, despite initial impression, and is sporting a solid played winrate, as a finisher. Vinecleaver is also another sneaky card that looked bad to me at first, but has a huge played winrate. Paladin is back, and these cards are quite fun.

Priest

hsreplay_priest30pct.PNG

Priest has the biggest list in terms of diversity, and they are mostly spells. Potion of Madness is still appearing in a maddening 41% of decks, so continue playing around that card. Free From Amber is as I expected, overrated, as the guy you get is a neutral card with likely no battlecry effect. Nothing really new to report, but Priests are doing their thing with reactive spells and just a big variety of choices.

Rogue

hsreplay_rogue30pct

Vilespine Slayer, possibly the strongest card in Un’Goro, predictably has high winrates and is the autopick in the epic slot. Hallucination is amazing, but falls victim to RNG gets now and then. But Rogue just has a ton of hard removal, as almost every card in this list is just that. Still great for Arena.

Shaman

hsreplay_shaman30pct.PNG

With the loss of strong early game tempo minions, Shaman has become a reactive Arena class. Volcano, despite it’s horrible played winrate, will be seen in half of Arena Shaman drafts. A lot of other spells are present, with the Hot Spring Guardian being an okay card seen a bit. Shaman doesn’t seem to be in a great spot, but if you like flashy looking spells, Shaman could be fun.

Warlock

hsreplay_warlock30pct.PNG

Warlock took a step back after being top dog. While Abyssal Enforcer getting reduced is the sexy answer, it is most likely because Imp Gang Boss is gone. Warlocks still have hard removal and AoE options, with things that hurt the player. It is interesting that the power epic cards like DOOM! and Twister Nether aren’t being picked more often. Ravenous Pterrordax is showing up a bit, and could be snowbally like the neutral Pterrordax.

Warrior

hsreplay_warrior30pct.PNG

Bringing up the rear as always is Warrior. There’s a short list here, because Warriors likely have to hedge picks for weapons, which inexplicably don’t get the increased offering rate that spells do. Weapons are spells for weapon classes! Direhorn Hatchling isn’t a great Arena card, since it relies on getting the draw for value, but it is the default leader. Just as a fun exercise, Ornery Direhorn, the class common was played 51,000 times in the last 2 weeks. Meteor, the Mage 6-mana epic, a situational removal play, was played 260,000 times in the last 2 weeks. That can show you what state Warrior is in.

Forecasting Arena Shifts by Class

Forecasting Arena Shifts by Class

As mentioned in the past, I love looking at data, and trying to use it to my advantage when possible. Hearthstone Replay officially made their collected data publicly available yesterday, much to my delight. I didn’t even know that this was planned for a release, but I knew data was collected through Hearthstone Decktracker, a tool I have used for years myself.  There’s lots of data about win rates for constructed decks in Standard and Wild, with great UI to see specific deck changes by deck. There’s also separate Arena data, which is what I was interested in the most, and will explore here.

Arena data

Not surprisingly, the Arena data has information about every single draftable card, as you’ll get a different deck each draft. These are the variables measured for each card:

  • Included in % of decks – What % of drafts have this card.
  • Copies  – Average copies of the card in each draft.
  • Deck winrate – Win% when card is in draft.
  • Times played – Raw times played.
  • Played winrate – Win% when card is played in game.

Assumptions

While having big data is great, it could be worse having data and misinterpreting it. Misinterpreting data leads to faulty reasoning and arguments. Let’s try to make some assumptions of this data before we proceed.

  • Players who use HS Decktracker are better Arena players than the average HS player.
    • HS Decktracker provides a ton of information in the game, which will allow the user to gain an advantage in getting intel. One could assume this helps, and the players who use it are more likely use other methods, like drafting tools.
  • Deck winrate and played winrate are independent by class.
    • As a class struggles, the overall winrates will plummet for the class. Just by looking at rates by class, we can see that Warrior and Druid are struggling a lot in the NA server over the last 14 days. Grimy Gadgeteer and Headcrack have the same deck winrate at 49.8%. One is a lot better than the other in reality, as Rogues win a lot more than Warriors.
  • Played winrate has bias depending on game situation.
    • I noticed that some pretty good cards had lower played winrates than expected. Flamestrike sits at 53.3%, the same winrate as Assassin’s Blade. Think about it this way, if you’re playing Flamestrike, chances are you are behind on the board. Mage players who choose not to, or don’t have to play Flamestrike likely have won already.
    • The same goes with card advantage cards. I often play card draw in a last ditch effort to draw into an out. This would skew card advantage cards to lower played winrates.
    • Pyroblast has a very high played winrate at 73.4%, but a 57% deck winrate. This signifies people playing Pyroblast to achieve lethal.

Methodology

  • I’m going to look at the top 10 class cards for each class in deck winrate. It has been established that deck winrate is likely better at evaluating a card than played winrate.
  • I will only look at commons, rares, and epics. Legendaries are omitted as they show up too infrequently. Arena 7.1 put epics back on the map with higher offering rates.
  • I will omit undraftable cards included from old drafts.
  • I will seek to identify the cards that will be rotating out in the Arena once Journey to Un’Goro releases.
  • These data were collected on 4/3/17, approximately around 4pm EST.

Druid

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  • Druid appears to be taking a huge blow to their Arena kit when TGT drops out. 7 cards in the top 10 will be leaving.
  • Without Mulch or any replacements in Un’Goro, Naturalize becomes the only Druid hard removal. While it becomes a better pick, it still isn’t great.
  • Shellshifter and Verdant Longneck are solid cards, but it isn’t enough help given what is dropping out.
  • Prediction: Druid might become one of the worst Arena classes.

Hunter

hsreplay_hunterdeckwin10.PNG

  • Things are looking up for Hunter lately thanks to Arena 7.1. Also, none of the top 10 cards are dropping out.
  • Houndmaster is looking even better in the Beast meta.
  • Hunter gets some amazing early game cards and a seemingly premium early removal with Grievous Bite.
  • Prediction: Hunter gets more tools and isn’t losing much. Beasts will help the class even more.

Mage

hsreplay_magedeckwin10.PNG

  • Faceless Summoner and Forgotten Torch are undraftable cards, so ignore them here.
  • Mage will lose 2 cards in the top 10, Fallen Hero and Ethereal Conjurer. All the powerful spells are still here.
  • Primordial Glyph does the samething as Ethereal Conjurer albeit without the threat on board. A bunch of the other common cards are quite solid as well.
  • Prediction: Mage continues to be an Arena powerhouse. Elementals help bolster neutral minion picks.

Paladin

hsreplay_paladindeckwin10.PNG

  • Paladin loses Keeper of Uldaman, Argent Lance, and Seal of Champtions. These are 3 premium cards, but 3 out of 10 isn’t the worst.
  • Spikeridged Steed and Lost in the Jungle are solid gains.
  • Paladin also gainst other snowbally threats that are more win more.
  • Prediction: Paladin either stays the same or gets a little worse. In any case, it should remain in the middle of the pack, possibly still one of the better picks.

Priest

hsreplay_priestdeckwin10.PNG

  • Priest loses nothing from their top 10 list in the upcoming rotation.
  • The loss of Dragons from rotated set would peg a card like Drakonid Operative a little. 5-mana 5/6 is still great to get though. Dragonfire Potion is still a board wipe to pick.
  • Priests get some Elemental synergy with Radiant Elemental and Crystalline Oracle. Shellraiser and Mirage Caller are pretty good as well.
  • Prediction: Priests remain in their current position as a strong Arena class. Fewer Potions of Madness will be a relief.

Rogue

hsreplay_roguedeckwin10.PNG

  • Undercity Valiant is not a draftable card, so it isn’t in this top 10.
  • Rogue loses a couple tools in Dark Iron Skulker, Buccaneer, and Shady Dealer. The class was propelled to #1 thanks to Arena 7.1, and Dark Iron Skulker was likely the culprit for that.
  • The new Rogue toolkit is very solid. Vilespine Slayer, despite being an epic, looks like an autodraft. Obsidan Shard, Hallucination, Biteweed are all solid.
  • Prediction: Rogue remains a top tier Arena class. SI:7 Agent (top deck winrate card) and tools are all still here to keep the class competitive. Lack of AoE didn’t kill the class before, and it won’t now.

Shaman

hsreplay_shamandeckwin10.PNG

  • Whirling Zap-o-matic isn’t a draftable card, so not included in this top 10.
  • Shaman loses none of it’s top 10 cards.
  • Shaman is going all in with Elemental synergy, and I believe this will benefit greatly with all the neutral Elemental cards. The minions are all unimpressive with their stats, so drafting synergy will be key.
  • Prediction: Shaman makes the leap from middle of the pack to top tier. The ability to curve out in the Arena with Elementals will weigh heavily on how well it will do. Some drafts could possibly stall out, if synergy breaks down.

Warlock

hsreplay_warlockdeckwin10.PNG

  • Darkbomb isn’t a draftable card, so it doesn’t belong in this top 10 list.
  • Warlock loses 4 cards from this top 10 list, including Imp Gang Boss, Dark Peddler, Tiny Knight of Evil, and Wrathguard. Really, IGB and Dark Peddler are really bad to lose, as they are really, really good.
  • The new Warlock cards are definitely decent, with the minions being good stat sticks. Chittering Tunneler could be the new Dark Peddler.
  • Prediction: Warlocks get worse and will need to focus on increased minion-based combat with taunts. Could possibly be forced out of top tier status to the middle.

Warrior

hsreplay_warriordeckwin10.PNG

  • These are some putrid winrates. We are looking at the top 10 here!
  • Warrior loses a couple from this top 10, including Obsidian Destroyer, King’s Defender, and Alexstraza’s Champion.
  • Warrior gets very good minion help from Un’Goro, but nonexistent spell support. The three spells they get are nearly undraftable. Sudden Genesis is draftable but win more.
  • Prediction: Is it possible Warriors become even worse? Going forward, the strategy might just be to taunt up and draft weapons, as the spells are no good. That or just continue not playing Warrior.

Thanks to hsreplay.net for all the data and screenshots!

RNG Series: Un’Goro Edition

EDIT: Thanks to @Old_GuardianHS for reminding me adapt is 3/10 not 3/9. Post fixed.

When I first started this blog in the last quarter of 2015, I wrote a bunch of posts where I tried to quantify RNG in the game, the RNG Series. I guess doing the math became too much work for me, as it appears I have not written one of these in 2016 or 2017. Upon the release of all the Journey to Un’Goro cards yesterday, I felt that this expansion had quite a bit of reduction in randomness. Let’s go in and see look at all the random effect cards, and try to quantify some probabilities.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-26-16 20.02.29.png
Un’Goro RNG ain’t your Old Gods’ RNG

Adapt

  • Single Adapt (12 cards) = 3/10 = 30%
  • Double Adapt (2 cards) = 1 – (7/10)^2 = 51%
  • Galvadon = 1 – (7/10)^5 = 83%

Single Adapts are easy to calculate, just 3 out of 10 outcomes. For multiple Adapts, the events are independent, meaning each roll will be 3/10. So when Galvadon screws you over by not getting Stealth, that was a 17% chance. It will happen.

Discover

  • Hydrologist = 3/5 = 60%
  • Primalfin Lookout = [3/18, 3/14] = [16.7%, 21.4%]
  • Chittering Tunneler = 3/25 = 12%
  • Tortollan Primalist = [3/32, 3/25] = [9.4%, 12%]
  • Free from Amber = 3/30 = 10%
  • Primordial Glyph = 3/32 = 9.4%
  • Servant of Kalimos = 3/36 = 8.3%
  • Stonehill Defender = [3/56, 3/49] = [5.4%, 6.1%]
  • Curious Glimmerroot = 3/59 = 5.1% + Your Brain
  • Hallucination = 3/59 = 5.1%
  • Explore Un’Goro = 3/366 = 0.8%

Discover cards all have a numerator of 3, since you are selecting 1 of 3 picks. The denominator will vary quite a range. Hydrologist has a fairly low RNG, as there will only be 5 Paladin secrets in Standard. While Curious Glimmerroot has an inherent 5.1% of a card, you will likely know what class card is in the opponent’s deck. Also since Discover picks from the pool of Class + Neutral, some cards will vary like Primalfin Lookout for Murlocs, Tortollan Primalist for Spells and Stonehill Defender for Taunts. Explore Un’Goro draws from a pool of Warrior + Neutral cards, giving a 0.8% chance for each card.

Random Card Advantage + Molten Blade

  • Crystalline Oracle = [1/26, 1/1] = [3.8%, 100%]
  • Megafin = 1/19 = 5.3%
  • Molten Blade = 1/23 = 4.3%
  • Elise the Trailblazer = 5/135 = 3.7%
  • Lyra the Sunshard = 1/31 = 3.2%
  • Shimmering Tempest = 1/32 = 3.1%
  • Stampede / Jeweled Macaw = 1/76 = 1.3%

Crystalline Oracle will vary depending on how many cards are left in the deck, so highly variable, but limited in Constructed with repeated cards. Megafin will give a 5.3% chance for each Murloc, and that probability will increase depending on how many cards you get to draw. Stampede and Jeweled Macaw had the probability for a desired Beast plummet after the heavy insertion of Beasts in the new set.

Draw

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  • Tortollan Forager = Turn 2 – 5 attack minions
  • Arcanologist = Turn 2 – Secret
  • Tol’vir Warden = Turn 5 – 2 1-cost minions
  • Mimic Pod = Turn 3 – Anything

Draw cards always start off with a limited denominator of how many cards are left in a deck. Turn 1 players start with 26 cards, while the Coin player starts with 25 cards in deck. Then you subtract what turn a card can be played on inherent card draw. So, the Tol’vir Warden for example, will likely be drawing cards from the smallest deck pool, on average. Mimic Pod is the most variable of these cards, as there is no limiter on what is drawn, like Thistle Tea. Getting 5-attack guys and Secrets are likely more discriminating than 1-cost minions, but these are all random outcomes of limited probability, given the parameters of 30 card decks.

Damage

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  • Volatile Elemental = [1/7, 1/1] = [14.3%, 100%]
  • Sulfuras = [1/8, 1/1] = [12.5%, 100%]
  • Volcano
    • Chance of getting hit with no minions = 99.9%
    • Chance of not getting hit with 14 minions on board = 38%

Back in GvG, random damage appeared to be the main mechanic. Surprisingly, there are only 3 cards like this in the expansion. Volatile Elemental will range from 1/1 to 1/7, so that can obviously be modified. The Ragnaros hero power from Sulfuras will include the hero, so that bumps an extra character. Volcano, obviously is highly variable, depending on it’s own randomness and how much stuff is on the board. With an empty board, the chance of a hero dodging 15 shots is 0.0031%, so nary impossible. On a full board of 14 minions and 2 heroes, the chance of something not getting hit once is 38%. Of course, there are more complicated calculations depending on how much health everything has, as a minion with 1 health dying off will increase the odds of everyone else getting hit. Too complicated.

Summon

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  • Giant Anaconda = [1/10, 1/1] = [10%, 100%]
  • Cruel Dinomancer = varies

Again, we’re not in GvG, when Piloted Shredder dropped off anything. Giant Anaconda at the least has a 10% chance, and this is the highly unlikely scenario of having a hand of 10 5-attack guys. Cruel Dinomancer can be controlled by how much discard you are running. If Clutchmother Zavas was thrown away a lot, she will likely be the most likely outcome of summon, as a 2/2.

The upshot

It’s safe to say that Team 5 took the feedback that bad RNG is bad for the game and competitive Hearthstone. Most of the RNG in Un’Goro is Discover and Adapt, outcomes which have a skill requirement to it. Cards with really wacky RNG outcomes likely won’t be all that good in this set. A card like Stampede is likely a card advantage engine, where you’ll just be looking to get “A Beast” rather than “OP Beasts.”

I think that state of the RNG discussion will focus on the Discover cards, since there will always be variation in a pool of 59 or so cards. Adapt is pretty safe as a mechanic, with the 30% probability floor (not to mention multiple good Adapts).