How I Feel About #iwantmygems

How I Feel About #iwantmygems

As one half of The Duel Assessment Podcast, it would be remiss for me to not address important things happening in the game and in the community. Given I had complete control of all topics discussed on Episode 70, I was negligent in not knowing about #iwantmygems before I recorded that episode. As these opinions do not reflect that of the podcast as a whole, I am writing about it on my personal site here.

How #iwantmygems started

The Duel Island – Gladiator Beast event kicked off in Duel Links late last week. The event, which was fairly well-received the first time around, has a lottery bag reward system. Your duel assessment translates into coins, and every 30 coins will yield one reward. Rewards range from cards (UR to N), keys, jewels (UR to R), gems, gold, and keys. All prior lottery bag events had a gem reward range from 1 to 15. This event inexplicably just offers a gem reward of 1 gem.

People were outraged by this gem nerf, and duelists primarily from Brazil started the #iwantmygems movement. The demands were to give Duel Links a 1-star review on the App Store or Play Store, and basically be angry about the gem nerf, and include a hashtag (like any “movement” nowadays).

Any of the drama surrounding this event involves Brazilian streamer, Renan Sparrow, and American streamer, DKayed. They basically asked DKayed to be part of #iwantmygems, DKayed did not side with them, and said there are bigger issues to be had in Duel Links, and things escalated from there. I won’t speak much more about this particular drama as to not stoke the flames, but things got to the point that the original poster on Reddit for #iwantmygems even apologized in behalf of the Brazilian Duel Links community that was being toxic. That is pretty telling which side took things too far here.

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Another questionable decision by Konami

It seems every time Konami does something good in the name of Duel Links, they do a few things back to reverse it. This gem nerf for Duel Island – Gladiator Beast seemingly makes no sense at all. We are currently about 3 weeks from the release of the next MiniBOX, assuming something were to drop with the conclusion of the World Championships. The recent Burning Nova BOX was strife with mediocrity, and possibly did not sell as well as other boxes. Did Konami make this gem nerf in response to people only using gems to buy the box? Or is this a long-term change for all lottery bags moving forward? In any case, Konami is making plenty of money thanks to Duel Links, and such a move just looks greedy, without any potential benefit for the company. There could have at least been some sort of PR explanation, or patch note documentation for it.

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Thousands of f2p dead

Gems at stake

The average gem gains from a previous lottery bag of 10 draws was probably around 5 gems. 15 and 10 gem rewards were very rare, and you got some 5s and 1s. The average gem gains from a lottery bag of 10 draws now is probably less than 1, with the dilution of gem reward quantities. So losing out on about roughly 4 gems per 10 draws (300 coins) definitely adds up.

My question is how many people actually took advantage of past lottery bag events. There is a set number of Duel Island duels you can do at one sitting, with potions to replenish this number. Do people literally spend all day on the phone/computer to grind out these events? I know I am not the only person who doesn’t do this thanks to other life commitments, like work or school. Even someone with unlimited free time likely has an opportunity cost in getting other things like Ranked rewards in Duel Links, or even spending time playing other games. It seems extremely strenuous to just grind The Duel Island event endlessly for extra gems.

This leads to the question of PvE cheats. Are the main angry people mining PvE events, while they are inactive or sleeping? It seems like the amount of gems missed out on isn’t that big for anyone who isn’t using a PvE cheat. To really lose out on a ton of gems, you have to be doing some kind of mining of the event for gems.

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Movements, politics, gaming communities

I personally hate social media movements and their inherent ties to politics. I actively put on a lot of Twitter modifications (e.g. changing trending tweets to Norway, muting words, muting accounts) to actively avoid politics, given my disgust of current politics from both American political parties. There was a time when Twitter was your own personal space that was not muddled by frankly, crap. I still can get behind a movement, like Net Neutrality, but I am definitely wary of any misinformation from those on “my side.”

My own opinions are largely shaped by my living in Baltimore for 10 years. The riots resulting from the death of Freddie Gray and post-response by the Baltimore government changed me. The riots themselves were mostly of a mob mentality, which the Baltimore news media and government claims were started by “outside instigators.” It was a boiling over of bad tensions from Baltimore Police and the community. Despite the honest need for an outcry regarding social justice, a lot of negative externalities happen when a city experiences wanton destruction. Not only were innocent people hurt just for being around, but there were likely bigger negative impacts for businesses and economy. Post-riot, a lot of band-aids were put on, and nothing really changed that much. A lot of stuff was done to shake up the Baltimore Police Department, and then the city experienced all-time highs in homicides in the following years. So that is why I don’t care much for movements.

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Back to Duel Links! I’m sure the organizers of #iwantmygems wanted to provoke something to get the attention of Konami. Hurting the reviews of the game and getting attention of content creators/streamers work towards that. But in the way of the mob mentality come a lot of trolls who just want to see the world burn. I personally have been around long enough in the Hearthstone Reddit community to know that many gamers can literally complain about anything. When I played Hearthstone every day, I did complain a lot about Arena. I complained with many concerns the ArenaHS Reddit community had, which most of the playerbase won’t even take a second to think about. After a while, I stopped caring, and my Hearthstone-related complaints are all but gone.

The #iwantmygems movement cares about Duel Links, too much maybe. I can see truly f2p players feeling shafted, losing their biggest funnel for gems. But at the same time, when you band under a hashtag movement, everyone starts pushing their own agenda, it becomes a muddled mess. Throw in the mob mentality of people just wanting to fuck stuff up, and you have the added toxicity that the world can do without.

Gems would be nice… but

As pointed out by many, the #iwantgems movement is a bit mislead in staking this as the biggest problem in Duel Links. It is a short-term solution that ultimately is a drop in the ocean of gem-spending demand. Just a little fix that can get you high for a couple hours in a multi-year span of drug addiction. Here are some known problems with Duel Links.

Extremely expensive

Truly f2p players have to be very selective in what they buy in order to be competitive. I was able to play Fur Hires by spending 6400 gems and $1.99. And that was being lucky with the $1.99 SR to get a 3rd Beat! That is almost a maximum supply of gems spent for a f2p deck. To play any deck with 3 of BOX UR is extremely expensive.

Useless economy

Keys and gold are useful resources up to a certain point. I remember being out of certain keys when farming gate duelists, and even being low on gold at one point. Once you hit a critical mass though, they become almost useless. To the loyal fanbase that has logged in for hundreds of days straight, the fact that these comprise a good percentage of duel or lottery rewards feels bad.

Lack of options

As suggested by Timmy Chiew on our latest podcast, there isn’t another game mode once you have hit King of Games on Ranked. Fighting standard duelist is basically a slow mining operation, and any events are basically the same but for new cards. There isn’t another game mode to invest time in.

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Harmless suggestions to fix Duel Links

Gambling system

Almost every digital card game today has a secondary resource for crafting cards. You can disenchant cards you don’t want or extras, to add towards building any card of your choice. Yu-Gi-Oh! seemingly has never had this system. And frankly, I am okay with them not having a crafting system, just to be different. I would like something to get closer to that, without being that though.

In the earliest datamines for this game, there was a D.D. Trader who was hinted to function in this regard. That idea was scrapped, but something can still be done. If there could be a system where you trade in a SR or UR from a box, throw in some resources, and get a random other SR or UR from the same box, it would be like a gambling system to work towards the card you want. While RNG will definitely screw people over, it is something to work towards. It is a way to make useless cards have some value. Also, it is a way to encourage people to buy a box to obtain those SRs/URs for transmuting.

More dream tickets

Dream tickets should be more available, at least once a month. They should be tacked on as a Ranked reward at 150 wins, which would encourage people to actually play Ranked duels. These are probably the one resource in the game that saves people most gems, without being too backbreaking to the company making money.

Draft mode akin to Hearthstone Arena

Draft mode is always difficult to balance, and it would be very difficult to do so in a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, given the gazillion archetypes and network synergies involved. Still, a useless spell/trap still has value in being set as a decoy, and a monster still has stars/attribute/type/attack/defense to be considered a monster on the board. So it could work!

As mentioned, I was really into Hearthstone Arena. In fact, I played so much Hearthstone Arena that I have too much dust. So I made enough resources for Hearthstone, just by being a little above average as an Arena player. In Hearthstone, you pay 150 gold or $1.99 to play Arena, and you roughly break even at a 3-3 run, where 0-2 wins would be a net loss. Anything 4-12 wins will net some profit. Duel Links could charge a similar fee, by doing draft mode at the cost of 100 gems, guaranteeing just a pack (50 gem value) at a 0-3 run. This would not only provide a challenge new game mode for draft fans, but also reward better players with some gem economy.

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Stream of Consciousness: Fun and Relaxing

The following details a regular night with my rotation of games.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

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I’ve actually had this game opened 5 different times during the course of the day, doing the auto-dueling and PvE events and whatnot. But after a layover of about 12 hours, I’m going to grind some of the PvP ladder! Geargias are such a good deck in this meta…

First opponent is Archfiends. Super difficult matchup, with all the milling and removal. Of course, you had your Archfiend’s Call not milled. That Wild Tornado tech to destroy your Archfiend Cavalry to get Archfiend Emperor at 3000 was pretty neat. Tough game, I wish I had the cards to play that deck.

Amazoness next, this is the archetype is making PvP fun again, for sure. Amazoness Princess down, Onslaught set. Hit, banish, special summon. Repeat a few times. Baby Tiger dead. Baby Tiger back. That was a close game, but just not enough. If only I had more than 1 Ties of the Breatheren.

Sylvans next, I thought this was the Masked HERO meta? My Geargiattacker, Pulse Mines, and Forbidden Chalice are down. I negate Komushroomo, but can’t do anything about that Guardioak. Carrot excavated, toss Rose Lover, I lose. I hate Sylvans. Back to Legend 1 I go.

Ah, a guy who hasn’t gotten more than Legend, this should end my losing streak. Fire Formation – Gyokkou, Tensu, Raven, Fire Formation – Gyokkou, Peryton, Sphynx, Beatdown. RIP.

Extra, Extra Mill/Stall Pegasus next. I can’t believe these stupid decks are back! I just wasted 10 minutes…

Oh right, here are some Sylvans again. Why did I take out my Memory Loss? I thought this was the Masked HERO meta? Oh yeah, that was last week’s meta.

Shadowverse

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Logging in for my daily reward. I definitely want to play this game more, and I realize I’ve been saying this for years. I’m still a B rank, and everyone’s probably easy pickings. My neutral Runecraft is still good when I play it. If only I didn’t have other games to play… Oh well, I ‘ll login tomorrow for another reward.

Hearthstone

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Turn on the Blizzard Launcher for Hearthstone, my Ex that I’m still awkwardly kinda friends with. I don’t really know what’s going on anymore with Hearthstone, but we had some great memories. Going to play that Warrior Arena I drafted last night.

Facing a Mage. She cleans up my board pretty well for the first half of the game, and I’m down to 13 life on Turn 7. I build a wall of taunts and Armor Up a lot. Remember when Warriors were literally unplayable in Arena? The Armor Up was the downfall? I’m here with 15 armor and 10 health, too well protected by 2 Pyroblasts and Chargers. I win.

Next up is a Priest. I do a lot of board value trading and eventually have 5 minions on the board on Turn 9. But you never expect that Spirit Lash into Thoughsteal into Blood Razor right? That Obsidian Destroyer I took care of is back… Free from Amber into Violet Wurm, the value is too much. Devour Mind and use my Commanding Shout and Fiery War Axe. I play all my cards and clear up the grubs. Another Free from Amber into Lich King, welp no point in continuing this game…

The old me would’ve found something enjoyable about playing Warrior in Arena. I don’t really know what is going on anymore.

Warframe

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Time to kick back with my new favorite game, Warframe. Such an amazing game that is so overlooked. While I am fairly bad at this game, the learning curve has to do with it. It’s DE’s way of weeding out people!

Tonight I am going to continuing some Tier 2 Spy missions. Building up my Vaykor Hek, which probably needs the Hell’s Chamber mod. Hell’s Chamber increases multishot for Shotguns. I frankly don’t even know what multishot is in Warframe. I think it gives your gun a chance to shoot extra bullets. The damage goes up a good amount with multishot mods. But do Shotguns get more out of multishot, since they are already shooting a bunch of projectiles?

While my Ivara is stabbing Corpus Crewmen and doing parkour, someone in my clan is complaining about the Razorback Armada not being here despite the bar being filled. He literally did this yesterday morning. And possibly every other time I was not logged in. I would probably say something funny, but I realized I made enemies in my last clan, which I left voluntarily. I’ll shut up. Everyone in the clan is annoyed about it. Someone even openly said that in the clan chat yesterday, but after this guy logged off. Finally, people say the Razorback Armada is not coming since DE has to remotely activate it. The guy pipes down finally.

I ran 3 Spy runs, but no Hell’s Chamber. I did get Thermite Rounds though, I guess new mods are always exciting. More Spy runs tomorrow I guess.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

I have some pressure to do well in this game, but the meta the last few hours has been very unenjoyable. I’m going to ambush some people with Ice Barriers!

After losing my only game with Ice Barriers, I go to bed.

 

 

Raven’s Rules: The Best Arena Cards Rotating Out in a Week

Raven’s Rules: The Best Arena Cards Rotating Out in a Week

Welp, the Witchwood is arriving in Hearthstone around this time next week, and it will bring about a new standard rotation, and the loss of the 2016 sets (Old Gods, Karazhan, Gadgetzan). As per tradition with this blog, I will take a look at the best cards in the Arena format that are leaving the game. While they may make an appearance with whatever Wild event happening in the future, these cards are pretty much gone for good. And I really liked some of these cards!

Neutrals

10. Big-Time Racketeer – Hardly exciting, but usually dependable. It is quite amazing that a card being 7/7 worth of stats is just a little better than a similar 6/7 Boulderfist Ogre, but a big difference. The 6-mana Racketeer also had fun interactions with various Evolve mechanics from Shaman, as well as bounce effects.

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9. Psych-o-Tron – This guy solved a bit of a problem with Sunwalker costing 6, and dealing with an aggressive board. Taunt + Divine Shield is a great for absorbing many hits, and usually causing multiple trades. Also great against board clears, or protecting a board that is going face for 2 turns.

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8. Spiked Hogrider – Situational effects aren’t great, but this card was sneaky good in causing 2-for-1 trades. Taunts usually don’t hit for 5 when played on Turn 4 or 5, so this took care of them usually. More importantly, it probably helped pave the way for situational Rush cards coming down the pipe in the new expansion.

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7. Hired Gun – Nothing exciting here at all, but this card was always really good. There isn’t really anything else to add, but the 3-mana 4/3 cards are leaving together in droves it seems.

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6. Mistress of Mixtures – Turn 1 became more of a novelty, with a lot of the 1-mana minions leaving in the previous rotation. Mistress, being the spiritual successor to Zombie Chow, didn’t really disappoint in controlling the early game. The 1 Health difference made this a bit worse, but the double heal helped Rogue often.

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5. Nerubian Prophet – I always loved playing this on Turn 3, being a 4/4. Greedier players liked playing it for 0 mana. In any case, just a great tempo cheat that does not have an immediate substitute. No, nerfed Corridor Creeper isn’t close.

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4. Corrupted Seer – The neutral Blizzard AoE that nobody ever sees coming. Seer set a newer precedent at the time of neutral AoE. We saw a much better version later with Primordial Drake, but this was definitely a card that usually had high board impact.

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3. Tri-class Discover (Kabal Courier/Grimestreet Informant/Lotus Agents) – These aren’t exactly neutral cards, but let’s just call them that. Anyways, Discover was almost immediately great in the Arena, given the implications of untangling yourself out of bad situations, with unexpected class cards. At first blush, Lotus Agents seemed too clunky to be good, but it turned out just as good as the rest.

Kabal Courier(49621) Gold.pngGrimestreet Informant(49627) Gold.pngLotus Agents(49629) Gold.png

2. Bomb Squad – I play Hearthstone with very low regard to my health, so Bomb Squad is one of those cards that I almost always pick. It turns out that the 5 health cost never mattered much compared to the board removal. Given the new drafting system, removals are more common with class cards. But this is definitely a card I loved playing in Arena.

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1.  Bog Creeper – Was there ever any doubt? Bog Creeper brought a brand of big beefy minions that followed in sets to come. The 6/8 was almost perfect on Turn 7, an offensive and defensive threat. While we still have big cards on Turn 8 remaining, it is hard to see a card replacing the power of Bog Creeper on 7.

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Class cards

10. Flamewreathed Faceless – The memelord himself, a 4-mana 7/7 was just a lot to deal with. While less good in Arena with less Overload synergy and consistency, a 4-mana 7/7 pushed in a ton of damage. It also is a card that forced many trades on the board.

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9. Swashburglar – This guy came at the same time as Babbling Book, but he just did a lot more. 1-mana cards help setup combos. The RNG Burgle mechanic received support with Ethereal Peddler and later with Obsidian Shard. Further, being a Pirate helped sometimes with drafted cards. Usually, the RNG into something amazing is what made the card so good.

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8. Rallying Blade – Despite Fiery War Axe being 2-mana in the past, 3-mana 3/2 weapons are still really, really good. Rallying Blade was definitely not a card to save for a Divine Shielded minion, but it was OP if it came to a buff.

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7. Jade Claws – Arguably one of the strongest class cards in the Gadgetzan set, with the offering bonuses to Jade Golem cards. Being 1 durability lower than Stormforged Axe never really mattered, as the 2 damage becomes less useful with prolonged turns. The combination of being just right for the mana cost, and leaving something on the board was phenomenal.

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6. Fool’s Bane – The infamous “Warrior help card,” Fool’s Bane allowed Warrior (who was usually behind), to clear the board. The downside often came at the cost of being really low on life, but the good times with this card overshadowed those losses.

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5. Call of the Wild – A card with probably one of the highest “Played winrates,” it was a game-ender for the opponent. While it probably did clunk up the hand being put at 9 mana with the nerf, it was a near auto-pick.

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4. Ravaging Ghoul – Another rare bright spot for Arena Warrior, this card just did a lot for it’s cost. While you can think of really enticing combos with Sleep with the Fishes or powering up a Frothing Berserker, it often did enough to clear the early board. Simply an amazing card.

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3. Potion of Madness – If you played against Priest in Arena, it always seemed like this card was in the opening hand, or every Priest had one at the right time. It became such a big part of the Priest identity, that people learned to play around this card by not playing 2 susceptible cards, or Deathrattles. It is possible by next week, it will be finally safe to go faster against Priest.

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2. Abyssal Enforcer – This card made it’s presence known right away, making Warlock the best Arena class for a couple of months. Big damaging ability, which fit with Warlock, put in a “big enough” body. This card was such an Arena force that it was presumably nerfed in offering by 50%.

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1.  Firelands Portal – I’m not sure if we’ll ever know why this adventure card is a common and completely screwed over 8 Arena classes. What we do know is that this the best card that is rotating out. Flexible big damage, and putting a bigger minion on the board. I personally will be glad to see this go, but it will definitely feel weird not having it around to terrorize me.

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Hearthstone Arena 10.4 with Numbers!

Hearthstone Arena 10.4 with Numbers!

Out with the old, in with the new. Hearthstone has officially done away with rarity-based drafting, and has gone on to a power level-based one. I had some questions in my previous look at the draft, but it is great to finally dive in myself, to see what it looks like.

Methodology

  • I drafted a Paladin Arena in Arena 10.4. I took a screencap of every pick.
  • I went to hsreplay.net to find stats for Paladin Arenas. Stats are for the last 14 days, delayed half an hour, of this writing.
  • I copied the “Deck winrate” and “Played winrate” for each card.
  • I used Google Sheets to calculate the standard deviation for each pick. This was done for “Deck winrate” and “Played winrate.”

Picks

1.1
1
1.2
2
1.3
3
1.4
4
1.5
5
1.6
6
1.7
7
1.8
8
1.9
9
1.10
10
1.11
11
1.12
12
1.13
13
1.14
14
1.15
15
1.16
16
1.17
17
1.18
18
1.19
19
1.20
20
1.21
21
1.22
22
1.23
23
1.24
24
1.25
25
1.26
26
1.27
27
1.28
28
1.29
29
1.30
30

Deck winrate table

  • The cards were labeled A, B, C, from left to right.
  • SDdwr represents the standard deviation between the 2 or 3 picks.
  • A new Arena card, Hand of Salvation, was excluded from the data, in picks 27 and 28.
Pick Adwr Bdwr Cdwr SDdwr
1 55.60% 58.20% 57.10% 1.31%
2 58.30% 58.40% 56.40% 1.13%
3 61.90% 60.50% 62.20% 0.91%
4 57.70% 59.20% 57.10% 1.08%
5 60.20% 60.30% 60.50% 0.15%
6 60.70% 61.60% 61.80% 0.59%
7 60.80% 61.80% 61.90% 0.61%
8 59.40% 59.60% 60.10% 0.36%
9 60.20% 59.60% 60.70% 0.55%
10 61.60% 60.70% 62.20% 0.75%
11 45.90% 57.60% 58.80% 7.13%
12 60.50% 58.50% 58.60% 1.13%
13 58.60% 60.00% 59.50% 0.71%
14 58.90% 59.10% 59.20% 0.15%
15 60.80% 60.20% 60.30% 0.32%
16 57.00% 46.80% 56.60% 5.78%
17 57.70% 58.80% 55.50% 1.68%
18 59.30% 58.40% 60.00% 0.80%
19 59.60% 58.90% 61.10% 1.12%
20 58.10% 65.30% 56.70% 4.61%
21 59.40% 60.10% 59.90% 0.36%
22 50.80% 46.80% 54.60% 3.90%
23 61.90% 61.60% 60.80% 0.57%
24 60.90% 61.00% 60.70% 0.15%
25 60.70% 59.90% 60.70% 0.46%
26 59.30% 59.80% 58.60% 0.60%
27 . 59.60% 57.40% 1.56%
28 57.40% . 59.30% 1.34%
29 59.70% 60.70% 58.60% 1.05%
30 60.60% 60.10% 62.20% 1.10%

Played winrate table

  • The cards were labeled A, B, C, from left to right.
  • SDdwr represents the standard deviation between the 2 or 3 picks.
  • A new Arena card, Hand of Salvation, was excluded from the data, in picks 27 and 28.
Pick Apwr Bpwr Cpwr SDpwr
1 46.70% 48.40% 43.80% 2.33%
2 51.00% 46.50% 48.60% 2.25%
3 65.10% 56.70% 61.00% 4.20%
4 46.10% 46.50% 46.40% 0.21%
5 52.70% 54.70% 51.40% 1.66%
6 56.60% 57.10% 55.70% 0.71%
7 59.60% 55.70% 65.10% 4.72%
8 48.20% 50.90% 51.90% 1.91%
9 57.70% 50.90% 53.00% 3.48%
10 57.10% 56.60% 61.00% 2.41%
11 27.40% 47.30% 49.60% 12.21%
12 54.80% 51.60% 49.00% 2.91%
13 50.20% 53.20% 50.50% 1.65%
14 50.60% 49.10% 55.60% 3.40%
15 53.10% 53.40% 54.90% 0.96%
16 45.00% 28.50% 41.40% 8.68%
17 46.10% 50.70% 45.50% 2.84%
18 49.20% 47.40% 52.80% 2.75%
19 51.30% 54.60% 52.70% 1.66%
20 51.60% 43.70% 54.40% 5.55%
21 48.20% 51.90% 55.20% 3.50%
22 33.90% 28.50% 47.80% 9.96%
23 65.10% 57.10% 59.60% 4.09%
24 54.40% 55.70% 56.60% 1.11%
25 59.20% 54.30% 54.30% 2.83%
26 50.50% 50.90% 49.00% 1.00%
27 . 47.10% 43.60% 2.47%
28 43.60% . 49.20% 3.96%
29 50.90% 53.00% 49.00% 2.00%
30 57.90% 53.00% 53.70% 2.65%

Limitations

  • This is just one draft, so small sample size. But it does provide 30 data points!
  • I drafted Paladin, a class with pretty good winrates. I suspect a bad Arena class would give more discrimination in winrates between cards.
  • The data was pooled from the last 14 days, which includes all of Wildfest. It is unclear if static Wildfest data was used to group cards, or if it will be a dynamic system with the winrates.
  • Standard deviation isn’t the best measure for 2 or 3 picks, but I was too lazy to figure out the best test.

Results

  • The standard deviation of deck winrate was very low, with most values falling within 0-2%. Pick 11 (Street Trickster / Ebon Dragonsmith / Midnight Drake) had the highest deviation, and Pick 16 (Frostwolf Grunt / Eye for an Eye / Lesser Pearl Spellstone) second. These were the only standard deviations above 5%.
  • The standard deviation of played winrate was higher. Pick 11 had the highest rate again, and Pick 22 (Small-Time Recruits / Eye for an Eye / Sabretooth Stalker) had the second. Along with Pick 16, these were the three abnormally higher rates.

Discussion

  • The power levels seemed to be grouped by deck winrate. While Hsreplay data is not perfect, it takes a sample from actual data. Overall, the deck winrates were fairly consistent among 3 picks.
  • There appears to be a distinction from premium cards from good cards. Cards like Vinecleaver, Spikeridged Steed, and Rallying Blade were grouped together often.
  • The premium pool was rather small for this draft. I drafted 2 Vinecleavers, 1 Rallying Bad, and 1 Spikeridged Steed. This could give Arena a more constructed feel, and definitely making playing around cards more important.
  • There were 2 legendary picks in this draft. I definitely saw a premium legendary group, and an average-ish legendary group.
  • The bad cards have greater variance in winrates. As shown in Pick 11, it appeared Street Trickster didn’t really belong with the other two picks. Possibly, there isn’t a really bad pool, and the really bad cards are grouped with just bad cards.
  • More data is needed. We don’t know how many card pools there are from this one draft, or what are acceptable differences in card winrates to be in the same pool. Obviously, more cards in other classes helps as well. Do your own analysis!

Implications of Hearthstone Arena 10.4

Implications of Hearthstone Arena 10.4

In a blindsiding fashion, perhaps the biggest change to the Arena was announced not long ago, due for update 10.4 of the game. This change will do away with the rarity draft system, which has been in place since the beginning, and move towards a power level draft system. For the first time, one can potentially pick from 3 cards of different rarities (common, rare, epic) for a draft slot. Also added in the post are the upcoming new Arena-exclusives, for a limited time, but the removal of the rarity draft system warrants much more discussion on it’s own.

Let’s run through some potential implications this has on Arena.

Different drafting

By taking away the power level quantity to compare three cards with, the focus becomes other useful factors. Most Arena picks have a clear-cut “good card,” which results in an auto-pick. If the new system works as defined in the video, every pick should warrant some critical thinking, in regards to deck construction. The demoed example of Fireball vs Leyline Manipulator vs Primordial Drake isn’t easy. Fireball is usually automatic for being one of the best Mage spells. Primordial Drake is probably the best neutral epic minion though. Leyline Manipulator is an Elemental Yeti with plus side for RNG decks. Tough choice.

The test would be prioritizing mana curve, synergies, win condition, minion/spell balance, etc. In a way, this accomplishes what the dreaded Synergy Pick era never did in testing synergies. Synergies are explosive and powerful when they hit, but are they worth all the other factors. Skillful drafting is definitely reinforced, when you take away sheer power level.

In a way, this drafting system works better for individuals who drafted without using a tierlist. When you have used tierlists for years, you become inured to cards having a certain value attached to that. With the new system, this becomes much more fuzzy, and there is more wiggle room.

target dummy.png
Things only 2015 Arena players will get

 

Definition of power level

This brings the question, how does Blizzard define power level? As the entire draft system will now be based on power level, it would be important to find out what that quantity is. My first guess is it would be the “deck winrate” value, which usually demarcates good cards from average cards from bad cards. “Played winrate” is more of a swingy value I don’t like so much, but is an option as well. Blizz probably has more internal stats that will make the basis of what power level is.

Power level buckets

Once power level is defined (whenever that is), how many buckets are there? As this is the key basis for how the drafting system works, it would be important to know. We definitely will have at least three, with good, average, and bad. The Lightforge Tierlist has 7 buckets for their valuations. I have a feeling there won’t be that many in the Arena update, but there should be enough to make the draft pick between three “same power level cards” seem similar. I personally believe there may be 5 power level buckets, which goes neatly in a 1-5 scale, and divides into 30.

lftiers.PNG
Tiers of The Lightforge Tierlist

Valuation of neutral cards in classes

Thanks to class cards, hero power, and class identity, neutral cards have different values in different classes. An example is Violet Illusionist in Rogue, which is just a 3-mana 4/3 in another class. Taunts for Warlock are also great. The valuation of neutral cards should take class into consideration.

More epics

Epics are no longer bound by generally low appearance rates and should show up more in the new Arena. They usually have a reputation of being either really good or really bad. It is possible we may never see the really bad epics anymore, unless they were drafted for a specific deck synergy.

epic cards.PNG
Some Warrior Epics = Literally unplayable

Normalization of usage

If you look at class cards drafted by class, some cards appear in just short of 50% of decks. By grouping cards through power level, it is likely that the highest cards will fall in usage, and the lower cards will rise in usage. There should be a normalization of some sorts, just because cards of equal power level are pitted against one another, and you are bound to 30 picks.

shaman class.PNG
Crushing Hand vs Fire Elemental shouldn’t be this far apart.

Variability of power level

The biggest question regarding this change is how different each draft would be from another, in terms of power level offerings. And this probably will be determinant on how many power level buckets there are. If there are fewer buckets, like 3, you can easily say there will be 10 bad picks, 10 average picks, and 10 good picks. If you have 7 power level buckets, things get more complicated.

In the current rarity draft system, you typically don’t have crazy variability in terms of card rarity. Yes, you do see 3-4 legendary decks sometimes, but usually you will have 0 or 1. Power level is much more important than rarity though. Many legendary picks aren’t even all that good. Premium cards are often common cards.

A bad scenario would be a highly variable system, as the number of premium picks afforded in a draft determines your fate. Hopefully this distribution of power level per draft is fairly consistent.

Top 10 Neutral Cards Returning to Wildfest

Top 10 Neutral Cards Returning to Wildfest

Back when I still had hope of a successful Hearthstone blogging venture, I took a few looks at Arena cards rotating out into the Wild. With the announcement of Wildfest starting February 19, I thought I would do a little exercise and take a look at the Wild cards coming back for this Arena event, and pick out my favorites.

What we know about Wildfest

All we really know about Wildfest is that “the Arena draft will offer cards that are exclusive to Wild.” There are still a good number of unknowns, including:

  • If the entire draft is all Wild cards, Wild + Basic, Wild + Standard (all cards).
  • If previously banned Wild cards are coming back.
  • If the Discover/Random Summon pool is affected.
  • If the offering rates for cards are changed.
  • If we are getting different rewards.

The description did not tell us much.

To new Arena players

If you didn’t play Arena back in the day, and had to know one thing about the Wild sets:

  • 2-drops are really, really important!

Top 10 Neutrals

There are plenty of great (and bad) class cards coming back for Wildfest. I’m sure that I like a lot of them, and will have some great nostalgic moments in the Arena with them. But given how universal Neutrals are (along with my lazier-than-ever blogging style), I have only included the top 10 Neutral cards. As is normal with Arena, I focused primarily on the Commons and Rares, with some Epics. If the offering rules are the same, Epics should see more drafts than they did in the past.

  1. Piloted Shredder – Despite the big unknown of whether the 2-drop that comes out of the Deathrattle is Wild-only, or mixed Wild and Standard, it doesn’t really matter. You are getting a 2-drop for the cost of 1 mana antitempo on Turn 4, which is a wash, given the randomness of Arena drafts and hands. The stats on the 2-drop probably favor a bigger body in the Wild format, but it is negligible. Throw in various Mech synergies found in GvG, you have a premium card here.
  2. Haunted Creeper – The supreme 2-drop is high on the list, as it does what a 2-drop is supposed to, win early board fights. You’ve got 7 points of stats in the Haunted Creeper, which is a bit more than the typical 5 points. Given the wider availability of “ping” class cards in newer sets, I can see this card being even better if the Wildfest combines Wild and Standard.
  3. Zombie Chow – Another early game statstick, which plays into the speed meta that was Wild. It’s a 1-drop that can trade into a good number of 2-drops. The opponent healing that comes built-in with Zombie Chow is irrelevant most of the time. Sometimes you may not want to draft it because you have a hyperaggro Hunter list. Sometimes that 5 heal will cost you the game. Chances are that it won’t, and this card will do it’s job.
  4. North Sea Kraken – The cost of 9 was always a bit awkward with this card, as it prevented Hero Power help to clear something that had 5 health. But this card was almost always premium, and was defining in the mana slot. Just like Bonemare had a big Turn 7 impact, this card does the same in Turn 9. With the importance of board trading in Arena, chances are better that Kraken can clear something up. The big minion meta is less good for Kraken, so it remains to be seen whether various Standard format big guys are around.
  5. Bomb Lobber – Always an outstanding pick in the Rare slot, Bomb Lobber usually had value in clearing multiple threats on the board. The 4 damage was almost always good enough to clear whatever was played on Turn 4. While RNG will always make one never lucky, it is relatively controllable with this card. Pretty much on-par with today’s Fire Plume Phoenix and Flanking Strike.
  6. Jeweled Scarab – Discover cards are among the best type of card in today’s Standard Arena. Honestly, Jeweled Scarab was never an amazing card, possibly owing to the card pool available at the time, and what class cards were available. So the power of Jeweled Scarab entirely depends on the rules of Wildfest. Of course, there are important class card considerations, as Jeweled Scarab is seemingly great for Paladin drafts.
  7. Kodorider – An Epic worthy of discussing, as it is a card that it is extremely snowbally, and has a direct presence on the board on Turn 8, producing 16 points of stats. More-so than any other card, if left unchecked, Kodorider will result in the player winning the game outright, due to board value.
  8. Sludge Belcher – We’re starting to see some creep in stats of monsters, but I suspect Sludge Belcher would still be great. Any taunt with that stat line can trade with many smaller minions, and just soaks up damage. Of course, it is dependent on what cards are available in Wildfest, as a relatively frequent pick in Spiked Hogrider completely wrecks Sludge Belcher.
  9. Argent Horserider – Another card that performs very well in the value trading aspect of the game. The card can take out common 2-mana 3/2 minions, and trade even with 2/3’s. Fix any equip spell on this, and the Divine Shield has even more value to take out bigger threats.
  10. Fel Reaver – A polarizing card that draws many parallels to a current 5-mana 8/8 in Bittertide Hydra. Part of what makes Fel Reaver rather good, aside from the stat line is the deception. Inexperienced players will use more mana trying to mill, instead of dealing with the immediate threat on the board. If they have a hand full of cheap cards, the strategy can work. Otherwise, the stats are too much to deal with. This card favors the old Arena format more, when there were far fewer taunts.
  11. Bonus = Flame Juggler (or any other good 2 drop!) – 2 drops collectively are back for Wildfest. Flame Juggler is especially good, as it has a 50/50 chance of dealing with pesky 1-mana 2/1’s, which will show up a bit more. Yes, RNG isn’t the best, and this guy seems to hit face all the time. But bonus damage shouldn’t be scoffed at.

 

Class Convergence in Kobolds & Catacombs + Cool Neutrals

Class Convergence in Kobolds & Catacombs + Cool Neutrals

Well, Kobolds & Catacombs was revealed in it’s entirety yesterday, getting every dedicated player and thinker of the game riled up to play with the new cards. No matter what your opinion is on K&C, I think everyone can agree that this is a huge expansion in shifting the game. While I have been unfamiliar with the Hearthstone Ranked Meta for some time, it is clear that having cards of an unseen power level are going to shake things up. As is a tradition in this blog, I will now take a look at class convergence in this new set, and also discuss interesting neutral cards that dip into new directions.

Class convergence

Every class is supposed to feel different with their hero power, class cards, and interactions with the neutral cards. Class convergence is the feel of classes starting to look like other classes, brought upon by the introduction of new class cards. Let’s look at all the classes and where they fall on class convergence thanks to new cards.

Druid

  • Copy effects – Druid, a class of flexibility, is getting copy effects for the first time. The cards Ixlid, Fungal Lord and Astral Tiger both have such abilities. Ixlid is more like a Priest card in Mirage Caller. Astral Tiger is more similar to an older Druid card, Malorne, though it acts as a copy, instead of the same card.
  • Armoring – Druid always had secondary armor cards in Feral Rage, Bite, Gnash, Claw, etc. The interesting thing is that armor was never a focus for Druid, just a damage mitigation tool. With the Druid Jasper Spellstones, armoring becomes a chief focus in leveling up the spell. As such, K&C puts an emphasis on Druid armor cards with Barkskin, Ironwood Golem, Oaken Summons, and Branching Paths.

Hunter

  • Positioning – K&C brings about the most positioning cards we have seen, and Hunter has always been a general position-against class, by playing your strongest monsters on the edges. Crushing Walls flips that script, making the reverse positioning tactic more effective. Really for Arena considerations, there is no way to position against the Hunter now, as you need to play around Explosive Shot and Crushing Walls.
  • Warrior positioning attack – First seen on Foe Reaper 4000, Warriors had a few cards like Magnataur Alpha and Scourgelord Garrosh that focus on damaging multiple minions at once. Cave Hydra, is the first Hunter card to attack multiple minions on each hit.
  • Cheap weapon – Glaivezooka was a very good Hunter card, not only for the battlecry, but for being a 2-cost weapon. We are seeing the first cheap Hunter weapon in a while, Candleshot. While just a 1-attack weapon, it is definitely amazing in the Arena and opens up Pirate synergy for Constructed.

Mage

  • Board flood – Dragoncaller Alanna allows the Mage to fill the entire board with 5/5 Dragons. This is notable as Mage is known for being an off-the-board class, not necessarily imposing will with minions. Alanna combines the aspect of using big spells to translate to a lot of minion power.
  • Armoring – Just a one-of, but Arcane Artificer allows the Mage to continually armor up with spells. Armor has always been in Mage with Ice Barrier, but this is the first card that can allow the class to continually heal up.

Paladin

  • None – Just by looking at the Paladin cards, they all do what Paladins already do. Lynessa Sunsorrow focuses on card buff abilities. Level Up!, Crystal Lion, and Drygulch Jailor have Silver Hand Recruit synergy. Cards buff, Taunt, and give Divine Shield. There’s healing. There’s a good weapon. All Paladin stuff.

Priest

  • Turn manipulation – The legendary Temporus has a battlecry that allows your turn to skip, and your opponent’s turn to skip. Previously, we only had the Mage Quest skip a turn, so this would the second turn manipulating card.
  • Coin – An old Rogue mechanic of stealing coins has now gone to Priest through Gilded Gargoyle. The bad stats on this card will probably render this card less useful, though Priest ramp is likely more powerful than Rogue.
  • Divine shield – Unindentified Elixer has 1 outcome providing Divine Shield. To a minion. I believe this is the first Priest-exclusive card that gives Divine Shield.

Rogue

  • Secrets – Fairly big deal in the class convergence department, as Rogues finally got Secrets. It is something that always made sense, and has finally come to be. Rogue secrets play and activate like previous secrets. Evasion will sequence like Eye for an Eye. Cheat Death will sequence like Getaway Kodo. Sudden Betrayal will sequence like Ice Barrier.
  • “Ice Block” – Evasion is a cheaper and worse version of Ice Block. It is a lot worse in that any killing blow will not trigger the Immune activation. So unlike Ice Block, where you try to wittle down as much life as possible, you would hit harder first against Evasion.
  • Drawing/tutoring – We see two cards Elven Minstrel and Cavern Shinyfinder, which draw minions and weapons respectively. Rogues had card draw in the past, but nothing that specifically targets specific card types in the deck.

Shaman

  • Copy effects – Shaman never had copy effects, but they are now. The Sapphire Spellstone cards will level up on copying friendly minions. Grumble, Worldshaker is a bit like a Rogue card, in that it bounces minions, and has the 1-cost mechanic.
  • “Tortollan Primalist ability” – The legendary weapon, The Runespear, can Discover a spell and casts it on random targets. The Discover makes it like Tortollan Primalist, so that’s new. Mage has Servant of Yogg-Saron, which eschews the Discover part.

Warlock

  • Conditional taunt – Hooked Reaver is a powerful card that provides conditional Taunt. We most recently saw this with Tol’vir Stoneshaper and Nesting Roc. Unlike those cards though, the Hooked Reaver goes from bad to amazing, based on the conditional ability. Life manipulation is no new thing though, with past Handlock decks.
  • Big heal – Dark Pact allows the Warlock to heal for 8. While the Warlock dabbles with healing to use Life Tap, this is almost a Priest heal in it’s big number.

Warrior

  • Golems – Warriors are getting Mithril Golems through their Mithril Spellstone. This sounds a lot like Jade Druid and Jade Golems.

Interesting neutral cards

  • Mister Oakheart – 9 mana, but you could basically summon 4 bodies to the board. While there are constructed implications in what you put in your deck, this card also fits very well with typically Arena mana cost is for minions.
  • Arcane Tyrant – Great tempo cheat after Turn 5.
  • Shimmering Courser – Neat ability, but 4-mana 3/3 is easily dealt with by minions.
  • Spiteful Summoner – A bit like previous Tavern Brawl rules we’ve seen.
  • Void Ripper – A big swing ability previously seen in the Priest spell Confuse.
  • Gravelsnout Knight, Hungry Ettin – Over-stated guys who bring back the Hungry Dragon mechanic. Esports!
  • Kobold Monk – We see hero untargetability in other games, but a first for Hearthstone. The stats are on-curve as well, making this a very interesting card.
  • Dire Mole – Vanilla minions are always interesting, as there are a few stat combinations that we have not seen. This is clearly the stickiest neutral 1-drop we have seen in some time, with no downside.
  • Dragonslayer – Reminds me of an old 3-mana 4/3 called Light’s Champion.
  • Shroom Brewer – Neutral heal is always cool, so a little worse than Earthen Ring Farseer, but decent.
  • Stoneskin Basilisk – Possibly better than Giant Wasp. Divine Shield and Poisonous is a great combination, but the ability to get pinged off and traded into might make it the same as Wasp.