They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

I haven’t written anything for a while on this site. And it hasn’t been because I stopped playing Hearthstone or suddenly got very busy in life. I just don’t like playing the Arena anymore, and as a result, have thought less about Hearthstone. While I have competed in some fun tournaments of late and have been playing the Ranked ladder, my core way of thinking about Hearthstone is through the Arena, and it is decaying.

I mostly recently discussed the Arena changes brought forth by the “Arena 7.1,” what The Lightforge guys called “The Threat and Response Meta.” I struggled with the Arena meta then for a while, but did eventually muster a couple of 12-win runs. With Journey to Un’Goro, the changes from Arena 7.1 persisted, just with a new card set and the loss of many other cards. I will try to discuss some of the problems I feel are hurting the Arena to a big degree in an attempt to sound coherent and controlled.

Top neutrals

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Most of my posts recently have extracted data from hsreplay.net, and this one will be no exception. Here I’ve isolated the top neutral cards picked from all classes. I cut it off at 18%, to specifically highlight some problem cards I think are ruining the Arena.

  • Stonehill Defender – This is card is regular plain good in some classes, absolutely broken in others. Will discuss further later.
  • Vicious Fledgling – Reminds me a lot like the olden days of a Micro Machine or Gurubashi Berserker that ran away with a game. Certainly a fair card, but the ability to get Windfury for another adapt is just back-breaking.
  • Primodial Drake – Corrupted Seer was a fair card as it was grossly under-stated, and did nothing to Murloc enemies. Primordial Drake, just costly 2 more mana, is only under-stated by 3 points, with the neutral AoE ability that screams class convergence.
  • Servant of Kalimos – Elemental decks just get out of hand and feel like Constructed decks. Servant of Kalimost is just the on-curve play after Fire Plume Phoenix with the powerful Discover. I haven’t used Heartharena in this meta, but I would assume this guy gets gross amounts of tier score points with just a few elementals in the draft.

Discover in a small card pool

Stonehill Defender is great on it’s own and broken in two classes in particular, Paladin and Shaman. Paladin has 3 top-tier taunt minions in Sunkeeper Tarim, Tirion Fordring, and Wickerflame Burnbristle. Grimestreet Protector ain’t bad either. With a reduced card pool and a 4x Discover rate on class cards, you’re going to get one of these cards quite often. Check out this table:

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The % of decks metric specifically refers to the card draft. So in the last 2 weeks, 7% of Paladin decks had Sunkeeper Tarim and 4% of Paladin decks had Tirion Fordring drafted. Fair enough. But if you look at the Time Played metric, you’ll see that Tarim and Tirion were played just as much as Lay on Hands and Stand Against Darkness respectively. Stonehill Defender is just so adept at getting these cards, you’ll see them as if they are in 18% of Paladin decks.

shaman taunts.png

The Shaman taunts aren’t as good as Paladin but still a force. Al’Akir shows up as much as epic cards in Far Sight and Eternal Sentinel. White Eyes is being played just less than Lotus Illusionist. These weaker numbers are indicative of Shaman being a lackluster Arena class, but still demonstrate the power of Stonehill Defender.

Mages

I rage against Arena Mages a lot because I never got 12 wins with the class, and I consistently lose most against them. But Mages are on a new level. They are just on an absolute level of Discover magic, RNG, and power cards.

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In the table of top drafted Mage cards, you see a lot of power, but one card is crooked here. Primordial Glyph, despite being 8th in the draft, is the 2nd most played card, only losing out to Flame Geyser. Mages are chaining the Discover of Primordial Glyph to get a free-cost Primordial Glyph to get a second round of Discovers. And Primordial Glyph has resulted in some ridiculous gets.

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Above is Cabalist’s Tome, played a good amount despite a modest 19% draft rate. A 3-mana Cabalist’s Tome is great value, and will lead to more Discover chains.

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Here’s Pyroblast, a card that should suffer from a lower play count, since it is just a finisher, and has to be held longer than other cards. It is played as much as Nerubian Prophet.

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Finally some rarely drafted Mage spells in Ice Block and Mirror Image. They just blow out the other cards in this list in play counts, despite being drafted so rarely as well.

Mages aren’t the #1 class right now, but they will definitely make you shake your head in games. Or curse aloud. Or both.

Rogues’ removals

In order to create a smokescreen of fairness and equality, I will say some things about my favorite class, the Rogue.

rogue.PNG

By simply sorting the top drafted cards for Arena Rogues, you see hard removal up the Wazoo. Vilespine Slayer, is just as bonkers as it looked at first glance. The saving grace with all the Envenom Weapons is that properly-drafted face decks like Hunter can clearly take advantage of winning the game. But still Rogue is likely the #1 class because of these removals, brought on by the boosted spell offering rates.

The feel

A bit of my anguish isn’t expressed well with data but just comes from within. Arena doesn’t feel like Arena anymore. It feels like a bastard spawn from Constructed and some RNG servant. The minion-based combat and playing sturdy things on curve feel isn’t there very often. Playing against Priest feels most like playing against a Constructed class, since you can predict what a Priest will do based on cards kept in hand. No card (Free from Amber) should be in 67.5% of all drafted decks.

Solutions

Not sure if anyone has made it this far, but here are some thoughts:

  • Cut the spell boost – Spells are clearly not made equally, and does nothing to rebalance for classes. Warriors are played at historically low levels because their spells suck.
  • Reduce percentages of specific cards – I would like to see reductions for the highest drafted cards like Stonehill Defender. Arena should be about being forced to play bad cards, not ramping up a Discover to get something amazing.
  • Reduce outlandish RNG cards – A lot of random things have gone on in this game, but some Arena games have things going too far. A lot of this has to do with the Mage random Discovers, but things are getting out of control in this department.

That’s really all I have to say for now. I just know that I got a 11-2 run on May 10th, and proceeded to not play an arena on May 11th. I played a 4-1 Warlock yesterday and didn’t finish the run in that sitting. My waning interest in the Arena isn’t because I’m losing at historical levels. It just feels wrong and different, and something that I am sadly struggling to have fun with. I hope other original Arena hardcores feel the same.

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.

circlejerk bread
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!

500px-Trade_Prince_Gallywix_(Wei_Wang)
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.

 

Amnesiac’s Heel Turn and What It Means for Hearthstone

Amnesiac’s Heel Turn and What It Means for Hearthstone

There’s no denying that Hearthstone is in a rut right now, so any rumblings, however small they are, get magnified. The 2017 HCT Europe Winter Playoffs have been going on the last few days, and there has been talk of cheating in the tournament and poor production. The most fresh drama has come from the Twitterverse just hours ago, where William “Amnesiac” Barton has started a ruckus, given that Pavel Beltukov, the reigning BlizzCon champ, got a spot on the 2017 HCT Winter Championship. Let’s look at a bunch of tweets, and I will explain why I think this whole thing is staged.

“Journalism”

Yesterday, Amnesiac fired some shots at Pavel, hoping he makes it and seeking to face him in a children’s card game.

amnesiac5

Today, Pavel makes it to the Bahamas. Chaos ensues:

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Here, you see a long chain of tweets of Amnesiac explaining what he has against Pavel. Barton namely criticizes Pavel’s gameplay decisions in matches, his lucky situations, and willingness to bring more experimental decks to tournaments. He even sends a shot against seemingly vanilla nice guys, like Thijs.

Of course someone who is a Hearthstone celebrity spouting off like that would garner some attention and equally strong reactions online:

amnesiac8

Kibler is putting in a reply which would express what most people are thinking. Amnesiac looks horrible tweeting out stuff like that. He is being unprofessional.

Frodan puts in an inkling of possibly what this drama is all about. He is a guy who has a pretty good ability to see past the myopic, so not surprising he felt this way.

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RDU, who was the runner up, the guy who lost of Pavel’s Babbling Book, comes in defense of Pavel as well.

Amnesiac’s Competitive Spirit

As evidenced by this drama blowing up, a lot of people are taking sides now. Some people agree with Amnesiac, as competitive players. More people are offended by his attacks. Let’s all agree that Amnesiac is an extremely competitive individual. This guy is still in high school, played a lot of competitive Hearthstone, and plays on his school’s basketball team. As a person who has played high school sports, I know that there is very little time to do anything else. Amnesiac is a busy dude, and is extremely competitive. This is a fact.

The Grand Scheme

While there is likely real emotion fueling this Twitter fire, I honestly think there are ulterior motives in Amnesiac’s ranting, and it is the need to build a narrative in Hearthstone. Good storytelling needs strong characters and villains. A good example of this is professional wrestling. The most famous wrestlers are guys who had really good characters, which got fans involved. Scott Levy, the wrestler known as Raven, once said that wrestling is all about emotional attachment, and that the actual athletics themselves are the least important factor. This hold true for actual sports as well. I think there is a reason why American football remains the most popular sport, and why the NFL is the moneymaker it is: football players are characters and have narratives. While you get casual weekly villains in the form of a strong safety who wants to knock a WR into the next dimension, you get long-lasting narratives with QBs often. The story of Tom Brady’s “revenge” from Deflategate played big this past season. Tony Romo and Dak Prescott had a never-ending teacher vs mentor storyline this season. The list just goes on in football. The same goes on in basketball, where Lebron James had a tv special about signing with the Miami Heat. The Chicago Bulls had Jordan, Rodman, and Pippen all on the same team for a run, all guys with distinct characters.

Building a Character

Amnesiac didn’t have to create his first character, just by being 15 or 16, he had the “phenom” brand down pat. Now, I believe he is building the competitive villain angle. Check out these tweets:

Here, Amnesiac is a bit upset about being 2nd in the month of January 2017, angry at the point awarding system, and throwing a little shade.

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Here, he is upset at the Ben Brode post about the state of the game, and Shamans. I actually do agree with this tweet, in that it tried to present the data in that there are fewer Shamans than there actually are. But anyways, he is attacking the presentation of data by Team 5 devs.

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Here, Amnesiac is yelling about sports, following the Super Bowl. He alludes to himself being a “jaded individual.”

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And finally this tweet. I think this is definitive evidence of Amnesiac’s motives.

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Sure, Amnesiac is talking about the Patriots playing the Super Bowl, and their miraculous comeback. But I do find it weird for a guy to retweet himself.

There you have it. I think Amnesiac is trying to become a villain to build his brand by being a whiny guy online. While this trash-talking comes off as bad, I think it is a valiant effort in jump starting a game with a floundering eSports scene.

Coming to a Hearthstone Arena Near You

Coming to a Hearthstone Arena Near You

tldr; Arena is changing, and I have more questions

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

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TM

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

What will [possibly/likely] happen to the arena

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

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

Hearthstone Screenshot 01-20-16 22.40.04.png
Just shocking news

Standard arena

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

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

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

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

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

Fewer commons

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

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

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

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<You kill my family>

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

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

Fewer minions

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

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-15-16 00.07.37.png

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Fewer neutral basic minions

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

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

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

basic minions.PNG

Confirmed?

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

Final thoughts

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

crocolisk.png

All the Minion Stats You Need to Know After Mean Streets of Gadgetzan

All the Minion Stats You Need to Know After Mean Streets of Gadgetzan

I’m a sucker for numbers, as stats can allow one to make a better decision in most avenues of life. Thus, when the remaining Mean Streets of Gadgetzan (MSG) cards were released today, I was able to update my master spreadsheet of cards. Given the ample amount of randomness in the game, I thought it would be a good idea to update various numbers on Hearthstone minions, given the new cards are officially part of the Standard rotation.

Objectives

  • Learn about how the average cost, attack, and health of Hearthstone minions change when MSG is released.
  • Revisit the “evolution table,” which shows minion stat attack/health changes when moving up and down a mana cost. This is relevant given Evolve, Master of Evolution, and Devolve are standard cards.
  • Learn what the average drops are from portals and other special summons.
  • Look at other random stats.

Overall Minion Averages After MSG

Mode Cost Attack Health
Standard 4.19 3.5 4.04
MSG Std 4.17 3.47 4.02
Wild 4.14 3.47 4.05

The introduction of MSG only decreased the average minion cost, attack, and health by a small amount.

Set Cost Attack Health
Evergreen 3.99 3.28 3.85
Naxx 3.4 2.6 4.28
GvG 4.15 3.72 4.18
BRM 4.96 4.3 4.7
TGT 4.26 3.83 4.09
LoE 3.77 3.24 3.97
WotoG 4.64 3.77 4.43
Kara 3.82 2.94 3.59
MSG 4.08 3.31 3.89

Overall, the average minion set of MSG averages 4 and is close to a 3.5/4 statline. This isn’t hard to believe, given the number of anti-tempo minions around in this set with the Grimy Goons and Jade Lotus minions. With the dropout of Blackrock Mountain, Old Gods will represent the beefiest set of minions. MSG minions are overall on the small side.

Evolve/Devolve Table (Standard)

Org Cost Org Attack Org Health Trs Cost Trs Attack Trs Health ∆ Attack ∆ Health % Taunt % Charge
0 1.00 1.00 1 1.29 1.58 0.29 0.58 6.45% 1.61%
1 1.23 1.64 2 2.02 2.46 0.79 0.82 6.90% 1.15%
2 2.02 2.46 3 2.60 3.08 0.58 0.62 6.96% 1.74%
3 2.60 3.08 4 3.22 4.06 0.62 0.98 7.48% 1.87%
4 3.22 4.06 5 4.04 4.77 0.82 0.71 11.11% 3.70%
5 4.04 4.77 6 4.78 5.07 0.74 0.30 11.94% 2.99%
6 4.78 5.07 7 5.70 5.88 0.92 0.81 18.18% 0.00%
7 5.70 5.88 8 6.69 7.56 0.99 1.68 18.75% 12.50%
8 6.69 7.56 9 6.71 8.14 0.02 0.58 9.52% 9.52%
9 6.71 8.14 10 8.36 8.36 1.65 0.22 0.00% 0.00%
10 8.36 8.36 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

This table shows how the average statline of minions changes across mana cost. This is useful for determining stat changes from cards like Evolve, Devolve and Master of Evolution. The average attack and health numbers are across all Standard Play minions, with the 4 basic Shaman totems added to the 1-mana pool. The largest transformation benefit occurs from a 7-mana minion to an 8-mana minion. Taunt has a decent change of hitting from 6 to 7 and 7 to 8. The best chance to get Charge minions are from 7 to 8. The transformed minion stat values are also valuable for determining what minions you get out of various portals. For example, the average Firelands Portal summon will create a 4/5 minion on average.

Evolve/Devolve Table (Arena)

Org Cost Org Attack Org Health Trs Cost Trs Attack Trs Health ∆ Attack ∆ Health % Taunt % Charge
0 0.67 1.33 1 1.30 1.61 0.63 0.28 5.71% 1.43%
1 1.22 1.65 2 1.96 2.44 0.74 0.79 7.83% 1.74%
2 1.97 2.41 3 2.58 3.16 0.61 0.75 8.15% 2.22%
3 2.58 3.17 4 3.21 4.09 0.63 0.92 7.03% 2.34%
4 3.21 4.08 5 4.11 4.75 0.90 0.67 10.28% 2.80%
5 4.10 4.75 6 4.88 5.26 0.78 0.51 10.13% 2.53%
6 4.78 5.18 7 5.90 6.08 1.12 0.90 15.38% 0.00%
7 5.95 6.08 8 6.55 7.60 0.60 1.52 15.00% 10.00%
8 6.53 7.53 9 6.91 8.04 0.38 0.51 8.70% 8.70%
9 6.91 8.04 10 8.36 8.36 1.45 0.32 0.00% 0.00%
10 8.60 8.60 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

This table is the same as the table before this, but deals with the arena. The original minion includes the Wild set of minions, excluding all undraftable cards, like C’Thun cards and balanced out cards. The transformed minion includes any minion from the Wild set, as those cards can all appear in the arena through a summon.

Best/Worst Outcomes

Mana Cost Best Outcome Worst Outcome
1 Injured Kvaldir (2/4) Elven Archer (1/1)
2 Dirty Rat (2/6/taunt), Milhouse Manastorm (4/4) Novice Engineer (1/1)
3 Injured Blademaster (4/7) Blubber Baron (1/1)
4 A 4 mana 7/7 Faceless Shambler (1/1/taunt)
5 Earth Elemental (7/8/taunt), Leeroy Jenkins (6/2/charge), Doomguard (5/7/charge) Bomb Squad (2/2)
6 Savannah Highmane (6/5/DR), Sylvanas (5/5/DR), Illidan (7/5/effect) Big Time Racketeer (1/1)
7 Archmage Antonidas (5/7/effect), Bog Creeper (6/8/taunt) Acidmaw (4/2)
8 Tirion Fordring (6/6/taunt/effect), Ragnaros (8/8/dmg) Boogeymonster (6/7)
9 Ysera (4/12/effect) Blade of C’Thun (4/4), Majordomo (9/7/bad effect)
10 Deathwing (12/12) N’Zoth (5/7)

Here is a rough table of the best and worst outcomes. While there is a concern than evolving a 5 into a 6 or devolving a 7 to a 6 will make a 1/1 Big-Time Racketeer, it is also an equal chance for a Savannah Highmane or Sylvanas.

Average Demon

Cost Attack Health
Standard Demon 4.04 3.7 4.96
Wild Demon 4.19 3.78 4.93

Ever since the banishment of Mal’Ganis to Wild Play, demons have been mostly ignored in Hearthstone class design. MSG brings about some new demon support with an interesting card in Kabal Trafficker, which adds a random demon each turn. Krul the Unshackled is another big interesting demon in the new set.

Average Murloc

Cost Attack Health
Standard Murloc 2.33 1.94 2.06
Wild Murloc 2.48 2 2.29

4 new Murlocs are in this new set, and most interesting one is Finja. These minion averages only apply for the Murloc Knight Inspires, and overall the new Murlocs just further dilute the best Murloc summons of Murloc Knight and Murloc Warleader.

Average Beast

Class Cost Attack Health
Hunter 3.64 3.16 3.53
Druid 3.43 3.25 3.4
Warrior 3.37 3.09 3.4
Rogue 3.31 3.06 3.31
All Other Classes 3.38 3.09 3.38

Tomb Spider is one of the top 3 arena commons picked on average, so I took a look at what the average beast stats are across classes. Here, you’re looking for a useful effect over raw stats, but interesting that the Hunter beasts are actually heavier than Druid ones.

Average Legendary

Cost Attack Health
Pre-MSG Std 6.43 5.21 5.83
MSG Std 6.2 4.95 5.55

Finally, this table shows the average stats for legendary minions in the standard pool before MSG and after MSG. As you can see, the average legendary minion is cheaper and has a bit less attack and health after the release. This confirms my eye test of noticing smaller legendaries made in this set, and the changing Team 5 philosophy of making less impactful neutral legendaries.

Salty Rogue

Salty Rogue

Over the Thanksgiving break, I had limited access to Internet, but occasionally checked Reddit on my phone for Mean Streets of Gadgetzan card reveals. On Thanksgiving Day and Friday, I became aware of Hearthstone Reddit blowing up with Rogue players and other agitators joining in on the ruckus. As a Rogue player, I have been often frustrated when taking it to Standard Ranked Play, given the overwhelming presence of faster Shamans. The Rogue frustration can best be summarized in these points:

  1. Blade Flurry was nerfed for design space reasons. No weapon buff has been seen since. Fan of Knives and Dark Iron Skulker are the only AoE for Rogue. This came just as Shaman aggro and midrange swarms became popular.
  2. Rogues have no source of damage mitigation, whether healing or armor or immune. This combined with the propensity for Rogue to draw cards makes Rogue impossible to run as a control class. Any controlly Rogue class card is unplayable as such.
  3. Burgle Rogue is the main deck type being pushed in the last few sets. Burgle Rogue is fun but not competitive. You have no win condition and are literally playing Randomonium. Rogue has been consistently the 6th or 7th best class over the Old Gods/Karazhan meta.
  4. Combo decks are being nerfed as a whole, as they are not interactive, and this appears to be the only way Rogues can win with the cards.
  5. Rogues have a strong set of Evergreen cards, but this makes playing Rogue not fun, as you are playing the same set of cards you did before Naxx came out. (Did Naxx come out yet?) Also, Gadgetzan Auctioneer is a crutch that Rogue decks can’t play without.
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Little did she know, Broll gave her Thistle Tea.

Timeline of MSG Rogue Card Reveals

11/4/16 – BlizzCon

File:Lotus Assassin(49619).png
“Hey this card is neat. It’s like a Stranglehorn Tiger, but it could restealth! It doesn’t fit into what Rogue does, but okay…”
File:Counterfeit Coin(49643).png
“Hey, this looks good. This can be a coin for when Tomb Pillager rotates out, and this helps Auctioneer cycle cards.”

11/5/16 – BlizzCon Disguised Toast Leak

File:Shaku, the Collector(49657).png
“This card is garbage and shouldn’t be a legendary. Overcosted Undercity Huckster. Burgle Rogue sucks. Rogue cards suck confirmed.”

11/21/16 – Jade Lotus Reveal Week

File:Jade Shuriken(49711).png
“Another source of damage for Maly Rogue, probably will see play. I don’t know how this Jade Golem thing will work.”

11/22/16 – Stream Reveal

File:Jade Swarmer(49713).png
“Sigh, a 1/1. We don’t know how this Jade Golem thing is going to shake out.”

11/24/16 – Jade Lotus Reveal Week

File:Gadgetzan Ferryman(49722).png
“This is a Brewmaster that is a class rare for some reason. Team 5 doesn’t care about Rogue. Rogue dumpster class confirmed. We need someone from Blizz to explain why this card exists. Let’s complain so they make good Rogue cards in the next set.”

11/25/16 – Stream Reveal

File:Shadow Sensei.png
“Fuck it, I don’t care anymore.”

Hope is not lost yet, as there are still 2 class cards (1 common and 1 epic) to go. I expect 1 more Jade Golem mechanic card, which could save the class from complete ineptitude in Standard play. Dean Ayala did state that Rogue has the best ways to utilize the Jade Golem mechanic, with Shadowsteps and Unearthed Raptor. I also do long for a weapon buff in the epic slot, as there hasn’t been a viable weapon buff since Tinker’s Oil. Things don’t look good, and playing this class isn’t fun right now. We just need a good Jade card, and a weapon buff. Is that too much to ask? Well, we still can dominate arena at least. Right?

val3.PNG
Weapon buff?

Nationalism in Competitive Hearthstone

Nationalism in Competitive Hearthstone

Anyone who watched the 2016 Hearthstone World Championship on Twitch likely saw a rotating reel of player interviews, conducted by TJ Sanders. These player interviews, with 2 for each player, played during the breaks between matches. While these are often described as “cringey,” there seemed to be an overwhelming theme of national/regional talk in them. All the talk of national pride may me wonder whether nationalism actually is a thing in Hearthstone, or whether it is just a banal narrative thrown in.

Region/national talk in player interviews

  • Cydonia – none
  • Handsomeguy – “You’ve sort of proven Korea’s dominance in Asia this year, which regions do you think are the best in competitive Hearthstone?”
  • Bbgungun – none
  • Naiman – none
  • Breath – “There are a lot of players in China… do you think it gives you an edge having to compete against so many players”
  • DrHippi – “Do you think Europe’s the best region in the world?”
  • DDaHyoNi – none
  • OmegaZero – “Do you think Chinese players are a little bit better?”
  • JasonZhou – “Where do you think China ranks for the regions in competitive Hearthstone?” “What’s been the difference between the competitive scene in China and the competitive scene in the Americas?” “Is there a big difference between the Chinese ladder and the Americas ladder?”
  • ThijsNL – “Where do you think Europe stacks up against the rest of the world in competitive Hearthstone?”
  • che0nsu – “Do you think that Korea as a region in competitive Hearthstone is the strongest region?” “What do you think is the best region?””Do you think Korea has an edge over China or the Americas?”
  • Hamster – “How do you think the competitive Hearthstone scene in China ranks with the other regions in the world?” “Are you trying to show the world that China has more creativity, by bring decks that nobody else would bring?”
  • Amnesiasc – “If the going gets tough, Captain America.” “I’m feeling the sense of NA pride.”
  • Yulsic – “It proves that Hong Kong player is good.” “You want the player scene in Hong Kong to improve if you win, how would that happen?”
  • Pavel – “What’s the Russian Hearthstone scene like?”
  • HotMEOWTH – “What about the age-old argument of Europe vs Americas?”

12 out of 16 players had some talk about region or country. Amnesiac initiated the NA pride agenda, and Yulsic brought up bringing a Hearthstone scene to Hong Kong. So 10 out of 16 players were asked about a region or country by TJ. This does not include all the talk in the post- or pre-game interviews.

 Why it is such a prevalent narrative

I think that it is fairly clear that the reason that country or region is brought up so much, is to put eSports in a familiar light. Soccer/football, arguably the most popular world sport, has strong ties with national pride and flag waving. Olympic sports, however obscure they may be, are all about blindly rooting for your country.

The world of eSports is still nascent in terms of moneymaking and recognition of legitimacy. So it makes sense they rely the nationalism crutch present in some sports. There is also some value in this, as some of the players have never competed against one another. This is particularly true for the players on the China server, who only compete against players in that region. So there is no way for players to have beef with players from other regions to China region players. Talking about a country or region will provide something to otherwise liven the mundane proceedings of two people playing a children’s card game.

Problems with the current narrative

It got too repetitive

As evidenced above with the number of mentions during the player interviews, it was mentioned for most competitors, specifically many players in the Asia, Korea, or China servers. The NA vs EU rivalry was mentioned a few times, but that topic is often beaten to a dead horse on Twitch chat already.

Players don’t really buy it / It doesn’t make much sense

Some players get heated (artificially or not) with the NA and EU rivalry, but the winner of the Hearthstone World Championship, Pavel, seemed to not care about it at all. He didn’t even mention anything about regional rivalry, unless prompted by Frodan, in which he lukewarmly endorsed the EU region. These players are competing for personal gain and glory, not specifically to promote national pride.

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In Soviet Russia, there are no “EU plays.”

It will drown out other narratives

To my knowledge, everyone in the Top 16 was either White or Asian. This is pretty typical for the competitive Hearthstone scene right now. If a Latino/Hispanic or Black player makes it to the stage, they will likely be inundated with nothing but questions about nationality or race or ethnicity. Continuing this discussion would undermine individual accomplishments and hard work of said player to get to the big stage.

What I would like

Tone down on nationalism

I would put a lesser emphasis on nationalism because I think the viewerbase isn’t particularly interested in it. It is definitely fair game in free-form commentary, but shouldn’t be the predominant question asked in the player interviews.

More creativity

A few of the interviews, notably the one with DrHippi, were silly and jocular. Amnesiac’s first interview stressed his Young Savage moniker. Obviously, you could only pull this off with better-known players. But I would have liked to see some more variety in questions and production.

drhippi.PNG
So much cringe, it was one of the better interviews.

More about the players’ niche

Not much was said about what Hearthstone players bring to their respective communities. For example, HotMEOWTH is one of the editors/writers with Vicious Syndicate. I don’t think this fact was really mentioned at all during the championships. It’s possible that the most competitive Hearthstone players are unlike streamers, in that they are more uniform.

More about players’ personal lives

I really enjoyed banter in the player interviews, like BBGunGun’s talk about Alaska, or Naiman’s marriage/family. It really makes the players easier to relate to. Further, providing facts of a player’s personal life could open the door to more interesting narratives and motivations to win.