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.

 

 

Stream of Consciousness: Thoughts on Drake Setting Twitch Records

Stream of Consciousness: Thoughts on Drake Setting Twitch Records

tldr; Drake plays video games, Twitch goes bananas. I observe and reflect.

It’s hard not to be in the know of what happened last night. Just by being in the circle of video games, I know that Drake helped streamer Ninja set a record with concurrent Twitch views last night, while playing Fortnite with him. Travis Scott and JuJu Smith-Schuster later joined in.

Real talk. I know Drake is a rapper from Canada. I know what he looks like. He is in a meme. I can’t name one Drake song though. I also know Travis Scott is a rapper, what he looks like, and he is/was in a relationship with one of the Kardashians. I can’t name one Travis Scott song. I do know enough about JuJu Smith-Schuster, being I care more about football than rap music. And the Steelers are always on prime time TV.

The same can be said about Fortnite. I know it is a MOBA made by Epic Games, and is commonly #1 or #2 on viewed Twitch games since release. I see it as a more cartoony style of PUBG. That is literally all I know about that game.

Obviously, celebrities are the key to garnering views

This is the main takeaway, and one that will likely lead to much imitation down the line. The funny thing is that in Ninja’s stream, you don’t even see Drake on camera. Sure, it is documented that he did do the Fornite co-op, but Drake not even having to appear on camera broke records. Expect streamers to do everything in their capacity to try to get celebrities in co-ops.

Not just any celebrities

The thing is that you can’t just be a slouch. Like a side character from a 90s show, or drummer for Sugar Ray (not sure why I use this example, lul). Drake and Travis Scott are really famous in music, and JuJu Smith-Schuster gets more press than most NFL players. These co-op guests are at the top of their respective fields, and even appeal to the audience. This automatically makes younger celebrities a bigger hit with the Twitch crowd. Unless you’re someone like Bill Nye.

Good press countering bad press

Fortnite has been in the news lately in a bad light, in the war against video games, due to recent school shootings. I’m not getting into this too much, but this is harkening to 20 years ago with Columbine, as Harris and Klebold were really into Quake or Doom. I don’t expect this war against video games to persist for too long, as nothing was really done 20 years ago about it all.

But this Drake helping hit Twitch records was good news for esports. It showed the industry is stronger than ever as a medium of entertainment consumption. And whatever negative perception of this game, basically regarded an anathema in main stream media, was completely ignored for one night. The power of celebrity can do that, and probably holds more sway than anything.

It must’ve sucked for other streamers

I dabbled streaming Duel Links for a month, until an update on Steam made nothing record on OBS. It is a bit of work to be a good streamer. Some people stream just to dabble in it, but some people are more serious about streaming, keeping regular schedules. These people are either trying to build something, make a name for themselves, make money, etc.

Let’s say last night, you had some great stuff in-mind, and brought your A-game. Your viewer count is lower than normal though. Drake showing up in a co-op probably sapped views from every other streamer, pulling away people with the exception for stream-lurk/sub-diehards. It was an uncontrollable negative externality on any individual streamer.

Good thing for Twitch

I’m sure a lot of people who tuned in were not regular Twitch viewers. Drake posts a link on Twitter, a much more known social media outlet, into Twitch, something only traditionally gamers frequented. I’m not going to pretend to know the numbers of clickthroughs for this, but let’s say it was a lot of views. Twitch has expanded outside of gaming in the past year, and are seemingly doing anything for views. This was a great thing, mostly for exposing Twitch to audiences who don’t regularly use it.

MOBAs

I’ll end by talking about MOBAs. It seems the top 3 viewed games on Twitch at any given time are MOBAs. This is probably happening by now, but game companies should push out MOBAs that improve on what current ones don’t have. It makes sense to make more of a game that is enjoyed much by the viewerbase.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

Beginnings

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

The Past 2 Years

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

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

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

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

Present

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

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

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

Future

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to everyone who has visited the blog!