This One Stings A Little

This One Stings A Little

After fighting off attempts for extra sleep in the morning, I either open 1 of 2 apps on my phone, Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links or Twitter. Those are just the priorities I have. This morning it happened to be Twitter. Hearthstone Arena extraordinaire @ADWCTA posted a tweet saying there were changes to the Lightforge Tier List because of offering changes. This was odd because I did not know of any mentioned changes to the offering rates of Arena cards. While I have been pissed off playing the Un’Goro Arena, I still would’ve heard of it. I expected that either the entire Un’Goro draft offering rate was back to baseline (1x), or certain OP cards were reduced.

I had to fire up Relay to scan the /r/ArenaHS and /r/Hearthstone subreddits before I found out what it was all about. Someone posted on Reddit complaining about Un’Goro offering rates, something I have done on this blog before.

reddit ungoro arena.PNG

Team 5 dev, Iksar, who is usually the spokesperson for all things Arena responded in the comments.

iksar response arena change.PNG

What the heck? Basically:

  1. The Arena offering rate of Un’Goro cards were changed from 100% more to 50%. This happened on the June 1, 2017 update. The communication above was posted in the comments section of a Reddit post on June 21, 2017. It was not in the Patch Notes.
  2. There are planned micro-tweaks to card offering rates in the future that will happen in the background.

I hope I’m not making a big deal out of nothing, but this is huge. Not putting minor details in Patch Notes is one thing, but this is another story. Arena costs 150 gold to enter or $1.99. I would not have wanted to have been the poor sap who paid $1.99 to draft an Arena on misinformation.

While I haven’t used The Lightforge or Heartharena to help draft in the Arena lately, a lot of people do. Both sides have their loyal fans that live and die by tierlists. Heartharena in particular, has their automated drafting scores and Kripp tooting the horn. This information was flawed for 3 weeks, as Un’Goro offering card adjustments will affect synergies, like Elementals.

I am lucky that I have only played 6 Arenas in June 2017, so my wins and loss haven’t really been affected to a big extent. But again, there are people who (somehow) played Arena the whole month, and some people shooting for the leaderboard. Overall, this one just stings. It feels like Arena doesn’t matter, despite what efforts have been communicated about improving it.

What concerns me is the future communication about the planned micro-changes. Knowing the Arena community, they would want to know if Primordial Glyph got reduced by 2%. Every detail affects tier lists and the overall psychology going into the draft. If this isn’t a harbinger of things to come, I think Arena will just get more murky than it is.

Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

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

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

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This interaction took a while

Data source

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

Top neutrals

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

Frequency

hsreplay_top10neutral.PNG

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

 

Deck winrate

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

Top class cards by frequency

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

Druid

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

Hunter

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

Mage

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

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

Paladin

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

Priest

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

Rogue

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

Shaman

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

Warlock

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

Warrior

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

Forecasting Arena Shifts by Class

Forecasting Arena Shifts by Class

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

Arena data

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

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

Assumptions

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

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

Methodology

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

Druid

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

Hunter

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

Mage

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

Paladin

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

Priest

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

Rogue

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

Shaman

hsreplay_shamandeckwin10.PNG

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

Warlock

hsreplay_warlockdeckwin10.PNG

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

Warrior

hsreplay_warriordeckwin10.PNG

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

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

RNG Series: Un’Goro Edition

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

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

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Un’Goro RNG ain’t your Old Gods’ RNG

Adapt

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

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

Discover

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

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

Random Card Advantage + Molten Blade

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

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

Draw

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

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

Damage

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

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

Summon

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

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

The upshot

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

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

Assessing the Fun and Interactivity of New Hearthstone Mechanics in Un’Goro

Assessing the Fun and Interactivity of New Hearthstone Mechanics in Un’Goro

While I typically don’t know what is going on, I think I know enough to eke by in conversation to get by. In a generation of youngins crawling the World Wide Web, it is important to know some memes, to “speak the language.” Memes come and go, but the very best have long-lasting value. There is no question that my favorite Hearthstone-related meme is the phrase “fun and interactive,” a phrase used to explain a card nerf many moons ago.

fun and interactive.PNG

The phrase is often conjured up by Hearthstone players and viewers and used in a facetious manner. When people use “fun and interactive,” they are referring to something that isn’t.

In the spirit of preserving the usage of “fun and interactive” in it’s intended way, I’ve decided to rate the new Hearthstone mechanics in Journey to Un’goro by fun and interactivity. There are a lot of new things done in this expansion, that warrant a deeper look. These ratings are subjective, but I think I’ve been around the block long enough to not be too far off.

My base definitions

  • Fun – How far off a card/mechanic is from Basic cards (vanilla minions, or deal damage spells).
  • Interactive – How well a card/mechanic can be countered by your opponent, through heroes, minions, and spells.

New mechanics/functions

Adapt Mechanic

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One of the new keywords, Adapt, will appear on 14 cards in the new expansion. For a single adapt, there is a 30% chance to pick each 1 of 10 abilities. I would say this falls in the vein of “good RNG,” given the opponent can expect only 10 outcomes. I think it is pretty fun try to figure out what Adapt ability to pick given the game situation to gain the advantage. It is a good test of skill and some luck. On the other hand, it isn’t too far off the regular Discover mechanic. 2 of 10 adapts, the Untargetable and Stealth gains aren’t too interactive, but the other outcomes definitely can be countered. Even Untargetable and Stealth can be interacted upon, depending on the class.

Fun = 6/10, Interactivity = 7/10

Elemental Battlecry Mechanic

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A staggering 24 new minions will be have the Elemental tribe, with an additional 12 other Standard minions gaining the tag. The main Elemental mechanic works in that a minion gains a big buff, if an Elemental was played in the turn before. Some of the battlecry effects are quite strong, like Blazecaller and Tol’vir Stoneshaper. I guess there is a bit of fun and forcing subpar Elemental cards in your deck to activate strong effects. It could also be fun playing strong minions on curve. Well, not really. In terms of interaction, there is no way to stop Elemental effects from activating. Nerub’ar Weblord is a Wild card, and no other card has been printed to offset Battlecry. Sure, you can remove whatever gets boosted by the Elemental Battlecry, but will force a great expenditure of resources. Truthfully, this mechanic isn’t really fun or interactive.

Fun = 3/10, Interactivity = 3/10

Quest Mechanic

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Quests are a new spell type, which hopefully does much to make the game more fun. Everything from deckbuilding and gameplay will hopefully be galvanized. So quests seem fun, just because they are new and will provoke new deckbuilding. In terms of interaction, there isn’t a way to specifically get rid of a quest. I guess the old fashion counter of rushing your opponent down to zero is a valid method.

Fun = 8/10, Interactivity = 3/10

Sherazin, Seed / Nether Portal

These 2 cards are the first in Hearthstone which leave something on the board that isn’t a minion. Both cards could be quite fun, as Sherazin provides an undying minion, and Nether Portal provides eternal tempo on the board. While playing with a new mechanic is fun, they provide fun deckbuilding challenges, along with gameplay. Neither card could be removed from the board by minions or spells. Sherazin could be silenced, preventing the Deathrattle effect from happening. Nether Portal can’t really be countered, and is more of a consequence of the Warlock discarding the right cards.

Fun = 6/10, Interactivity = 3/10

Time Warp

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When this was revealed, it immediately took me to Shadowverse, and the card Dimensional Shift. This was on the minds of many others, as “DSHIFT” spammed the Twitch Chat. Anyhow, this is super fun if you are the Mage, as getting a whole extra turn could be an easy win. You can either cast a bunch of spells or simply outtempo the board. Unfortunately, there is literally no way to interact with this mechanic as the enemy, besides rushing down the Mage before you the Quest. Loatheb can work in a Wild stall tactic, and Ice Block can stall as well. But no way to counter this.

Fun = 6/10, Interactivity = 0/10

Elise the Trailblazer

The new Elise provides the novel joy of opening a booster pack in the middle of a game. So fun! The packs also have a high chance for wacky cards like Legendaries and Epics, and span across all class cards and neutrals. In terms of interactivity, all you can expect are 5 cards from an entire set of 135 cards. There is no way for the opponent to prepare for it really, and it is a “bad RNG” example. I suppose you can try to find some way to fill your opponent’s hand, so they won’t get the 5 cards. Elise is heavy on the fun, not on the interactive side.

Fun = 9/10, Interactivity = 1/10

Elemental Invocation

This isn’t really a new mechanic at all, but just a spin on an old one. Kalimos allows the player to get 1 of 4 invocations, and it isn’t random at all. This is really just Discover with a 4th option. This makes you think about cards with Spare Parts and Xaril, which are random draws. Anyhow, this isn’t really fun, as they are very basic abilities granted by the invocation. But, as you can only expect 4 outcomes, the opponent shouldn’t be blown away by what happens.

Fun = 3/10, Interactivity = 5/10

Explore Un’Goro

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In typical wacky epic card fashion, this replaces your whole deck with 1-cost cards, to Discover random cards. This is another card like Elise, in that it is all fun and no interaction. Unlike Elise, this card will almost guarantee you have no chance of winning the game through conventional methods. Elise is a card that isn’t too bad statwise, and provides card advantage. This card is just for fun, and that only.

Fun = 10/10, Interactivity = 0/10

Curious Glimmerroot

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This is an extremely fun spin on Discover, which creates a guessing game of what your opponent is playing. I suppose this effect is less fun when the meta is stabilized, and you know what your opponent is playing. Additionally, there will likely be a big split of getting the right guess on Constructed vs Arena. You can really get anything in the Arena, where as you can tell bad from good in Constructed. It also can be interacted upon, as you know what is in your deck, and can calculate the probability of your opponent getting something. It isn’t too different from previous Priest steal mechanics.

Fun = 9/10, Interactivity = 7/10

Primalfin Champion

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This is a completely new mechanic, which can allow a Paladin to replenish their hand with buffs, after this guy bites the dust. As this provides an avenue for the Galvadon quest completion, and provides card advantage, it could be fun for the user. There are plenty of ways to interact with this card through silence, and bounce effects. You can also try to get rid of the board, so that no minions that remain can be buffed.

Fun = 4/10, Interactivity = 8/10

Tar Creeper/Lurker/Lord

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The new tar creatures were created solely for defense, all possessing taunt, tons of health, low attack, and counterattacking enemies only.  One could figure these cards were designed specifically to satisfy the fanbase’s general hatred for aggro in the game. While these cards are great, they pretty much are not fun in anyway. They are boring as heck, and don’t even represent fun on offense, as they hit for 1. They can be interacted by the opponent through spells and attacks as well as any minion in the game.

Fun = 1/10, Interactivity = 10/10

Living Mana

For the first time, mana crystals come to life! This is a card that could set up combos with Savage Roar and Mark of the Lotus. Cool and fun deckbuilding around it. I guess the concept of bring your mana to life is fun, but really it is just making a bunch of 2/2’s. Your opponent can also interact with the board well, or just deny you getting your mana back. Silences with Mass Dispel will ensure a loss.

Fun = 5/10, Interactivity = 10/10

Dinomancy

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Control Hunter was always not a thing, as the Hero Power is all about damage. That is no more, as Dinomancy allows the Hunter to build their board and minions for the first time. This is honestly revolutionary, as it opens an entire library of cards and deckbuilding possibilities for a class that was all aggro. Just amazing. Additionally, this hero power is more interactive than the standard one. Plus points for fun and interactivity.

Fun = 9/10, Interactivity = 9/10

Envenom Weapon

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No, Envenom won’t make Blade Flurry playable again. But it is a novel mechanic. Rogues still don’t Taunt or Heal, so a lot of face-tanking will continue to occur. In a way, it is bringing back the days of Blade Flurry, where Rogues held on to the weapon. So it will be fun picking what to destroy. There are numerous ways for the enemy to counter Envenom, including weapon removal, playing taunts, playing high attack guys, etc.

Fun = 4/10, Interactivity = 10/10

Razorpetals

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This is a new token spell, which is 1-mana, deal 1 damage. A bit over-costed for what it does, but Rogue mechanics have always been a bit janky. Also, they are still cheap spells. Mostly, this is fun in that it represents a deck building challenge with the new plant cards. Most likely it will circle back to how Auctioneer could be used. It might even have consequences in a Malygos deck. Otherwise, 1-mana and 1-damage doesn’t represent anything new. In terms of interaction, the opponent knows how many Razorpetals you get. There isn’t really anything to do to counter a 1-cost, 1 damage card.

Fun = 4/10, Interactivity = 5/10

Adapting in the Arena feat. Verdant Longneck

A week ago, the upcoming Hearthstone expansion, Journey to Un’Goro, was officially announced, with a few of the new cards. The official card leak cycle is set to begin on March 17th, so the hype will be intensifying as that date comes closer. Oh yeah, and here’s the infamous Ben Brode rap, which put him on the front page of the Internet. What a marketing win for Blizz.

Anyways, I’m here to talk about the new Adapt mechanic, and how to pick the right one in the arena. Quests are a new exciting card type, but as they are relatively irrelevant in the arena for being: 1) legendary rarity; 2) draft-dependent, they will be a topic for another day. Thanks to the card Verdant Longneck, we can look at the Adapt choices, and see what are the best choices in the arena.

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Spoilers!

Adapt

While a bolded keyword, Adapt is being bundled into the Battlecry mechanic. Basically, you play a minion, and the Battlecry becomes a Discover, allowing a pick of 3 abilities for the minion to gain. There are 10 Adapt mechanics overall. Some notable cards that interact with Battlecry will notably be gone from the arena by the time this mechanic is introduced.

  • Nerub’ar Weblord has been rotated out, would have increased the cost of Adapt minion by 2.
  • Crowd Favorite will be rotated out, would get a buff for each friendly Adapt minion.
  • Brann Bronzebeard will be rotated out, would allow a minion to get 2 Adapts.

We won’t know what cards come out of the next set, but any Battlecry-affecting cards would have a big impact on whether or not you should draft an Adapt card.

Verdant Longneck Adapting

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New card!

Verdant Longneck at it’s base is a 5-mana 5/4 Druid Beast card. Simple analysis says Verdan Longneck is under-stated by 3 points. A 5-mana card should have 11 points, so that’s 2. Being a Druid-class card will also have leeway for 1 point bonus, so that’s 3 points off what it should be. Is Adapt worth those 3 points? Let’s look at the table below to see what the Verdant Longneck becomes with each Adapt.

Adapt Result Close Analog
Crackling Shield 5/4 Divine Shield None
Flaming Claws 8/4 > Salty Dog
Living Spores 5/4, Deathrattle of 2 1/1’s None
Lightning Speed 5/4 Windfury > Dunemaul Shaman
Liquid Membrane 5/4 Elusive < Spectral Knight
Massive 5/4 Taunt ~ Booty Bay Bodyguard
Volcanic Might 6/5 ~ Twilight Darkmender
Rocky Carapace 5/7 ~ Dark Arrakoa
Shrouding Mist 5/4, 1 turn Stealth < Stranglehorn Tiger
Poison Spit 5/4 Poisonous None

We can do a little analysis with the cards that the Verdant Longneck becomes.

  • Flaming Claws – Better than Salty Dog, but not saying much, so possibly average.
  • Lightning Speed – Dunemaul Shaman was pretty bad, so not much more than that.
  • Liquid Membrane – Spectral Knight was average, and this is a full 2 health off.
  • Massive – Booty Bay Bodyguard is as unflattering a pick as it gets.
  • Volcanic Might – Purely average, can get traded down by 4-drop, but can trade up a little.
  • Rocky Carapce – Dark Arrakoa has taunt and is a 6-drop, so this isn’t a bad choice at all.
  • Shrouding Mist – A full point off the Tiger, and non-permanent stealth.

Other adapt choices

  • Crackling Shield – I think for Verdant Longneck, this is obviously the best pick for Adapt. Divine Shield is an ability that scales up with attack, so having a 5/4 Divine Shield is tremendous. Essentially the minion is doing 10 damage. Also, Divine Shield is very handy in causing 2-for-1 trades, or forcing the enemy to Hero Power.
  • Living Spores – Harder to evaluate at the moment, but I think that any Deathrattle + Summon ability is solid. While this will be a weaker version of Piloted Sky Golem, leaving stuff on the board will protect against board clears, and help contend with the board.
  • Poison Spit – Poisonous is definitely something that is better with higher-health minions (Maexxna), as the attack is moot. 5/4 with Poisonous is essentially a mimic of the Flaming Claws ability, as 8 attack will kill almost anything. Not a very good adapt for Verdant Longneck.

When to pick

I think it will be obvious that none of the remaining Adapt creatures in this set will be 5-mana 5/4’s. They will come in a variety of costs and stats, possibly with other abilities. Let’s look at each Adapt outcome, and see when or when not to pick them.

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Very situational!

 

Crackling Shield (+Divine Shield)

  • Pros: Works great with high attack minions. Good for forcing trades or mana usage. Can push lethal with it.
  • Cons: Not effective with very low attack minions (1 attack). Can be ignored if opponent has bigger stuff on the board. Blood Knight is offered more as an Epic.
  • Overall: Great, I would pick it most situations, as it will result in your minion getting multiple trades.

Flaming Claws (+3 Attack)

  • Pros: Works fine in an aggressive deck, or on an empty board. Good for pushing lethal and damage. Allows trading up. Good against Priest if minion has 1 attack.
  • Cons: Doesn’t work great with aggressively-stated minions, as low health will allow a much smaller minion to trade up. Spells can destroy minion easily.
  • Overall: Average, will need to evaluate the situation.

Living Spores (+Deathrattle, 2 1/1’s)

  • Pros: Provides 4 stat points to your minion’s stats. Helps compete with the board. 1/1’s can be boosted to trade up. Protects your board from AoE. Deathrattle synergy with Unearthed Raptor.
  • Cons: Not particularly useful in the late game. Enemy MCT or Second-Rate Bruisers can take advantage.
  • Overall: Pretty good for all purposes, while fighting for the board, or early game.

Lightning Speed (+Windfury)

  • Pros: Can push lethal. Good in the early game.
  • Cons: Bad with minions that don’t have great health. Bad with minions that don’t have great attack in the mid-late game.
  • Overall: Bad, unless it is on a 2-drop with decent stats (3/2 or 2/3), like Whirling Zap. Cards like Grotesque Dragonhawk, Windfury Harpy, and Grook Fu Master are all pretty bad.

Liquid Membrane (+Elusive)

  • Pros: Encourages trading, so softens the board. More spells in the arena, so can’t be targeted. Can’t be hit by Mages. Can provide a fulcrum against Betrayal, positioning cards.
  • Cons: Minion will likely be under-stated, and doesn’t gain a useful ability. Doesn’t work on minion effects.
  • Overall: Pretty bad. You can’t see the cards in your opponent’s hand, so you won’t know exactly if a spell is selects targets. Possibly useful for softening a board before a weak AoE.

Massive (+Taunt)

  • Pros: Taunt forces trades, protects hero health, protects lethal damage board.
  • Cons: Minion with low stats doesn’t gain anything for being a taunt. Not great with aggressively-stated minions.
  • Overall: Situational, better in the late game for all picks. The Verdant Longneck isn’t good as a Booty Bay Bodyguard, but it can save you in a game, or protect your better minions.

Volcanic Might (+1/1)

  • Pros: Great with any early game minion. Works great with a defensively-stated minions, to allow an on-curve vanilla play, or something better. Can allow you to compete with something weaker on the board. Good against Priest on a 3 attack.
  • Cons: Not very sexy. Doesn’t do anything if you are behind, or doesn’t do enough to be threatening.
  • Overall: Good, but possibly broken if stuck on a 2/3 2-drop. Great for playing the board, making sure your minions have more stats. Look for better options if the game isn’t in your favor.

Rocky Carapace (+3 Health)

  • Pros: Good for ensuring a sticky minion to compete for the board. Allows you to play around AoEs.
  • Cons: Probably not great for minions with already low attack. Doesn’t do much in the late game.
  • Overall: Good. Very versatile in the early game, or when competing for the board. Look for better options if the game isn’t in your favor.

Shrouding Mist (+Stealth, 1 turn)

  • Pros: Can setup lethal. Allows spell buffing the next turn. Synergy with Shadow Sensei. Can provide a fulcrum against Betrayal, positioning cards.
  • Cons: Minion doesn’t gain stats, so will likely be under-stated. Doesn’t get pass taunts. Can still get killed by AoE, or random effects. Encourages opponent to go face.
  • Overall: Bad. Best situation to pick is when setting up lethal, so look for better options at every other phase of the game.

Poison Spit (+Poisonous)

  • Pros: Can allow any minion to trade up on something bigger. Works great with high health minions, as the poison could be used on numerous targets. Fine on an empty board, to discourage enemy tempo.
  • Cons: Doesn’t work well with low health minions. Minions with high stats shouldn’t have Poisonous, as their attack is wasted.
  • Overall: Situational. Best with low attack, high health distributions. Possibly good against high-value targets.
Ungoro
Pick the Stealth, guys!

Will it work?

So far with Verdant Longneck, Adapt definitely doesn’t appear to be overpowered, which is the danger when introducing a new mechanic. Also, Adapt brings about the type of “good RNG”, which combines limited probability elements with some strategy. I for one, will be excited to see what other cards exist in this set, and if they combine Adapt with other keywords. Only a week and half left!