Arena Stew

Arena Stew

Less than 2 weeks from BlizzCon, Hearthstone news has been pushed out at a ballistic rate in the past week. There is simply an overload (RIP Yogg) of information, too much to cover. Because I haven’t solely discussed Arena in a while, I have decided to do that now. I will discuss what we learned about the Arena through a series of handy infographics, and what changes were made to the Arena this week.

Arena Infographics

Top players

The full post and infographics can be found at (http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/20324474/inside-the-arena-10-18-2016), but basically, Blizz posted the first inforgraphics about the Arena ever. There are separate graphics for the 4 different regions. Most of the attention came to the best players in each region, as it is a first gauge of who the best Arena player is. From January 1, 2016 to present, the best players are Alumn, Hafu, and Kripp. While those results are not surprising, I really wanna know who this top NA Arena player Alumn is.

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The best NA Arena players

Top cards picked

This really piqued my interest, as I am arguably a better Arena drafter than Hearthstone player. With all the drafting resources available to the player, I wanted to see what lead the way. Let’s start with the commons, as they are the backbone to every Arena draft.

commons

Piloted Shredder is fitting to be the most drafted common. However the Jeweled Scarab and Tomb Spider being #2 and #3 are quite baffling in my mind. Both cards are under-stated cards that allow the player to discover a Beast. They really only give the best options for Druids and Hunters, middling classes at best. The anti-tempo of putting out a 2-drop or 4-drop like this is the immediate downside, one that I believe is too big. These are cards that get traded into by lesser-costed cards, and don’t fight well for the board. It’s possible these cards were picked a ton because of drafts that didn’t have card draw. The reality is that since the infographic measured from January 1, 2016 to present, the card offering bonus from LoE was present, which nixes great commons in Old Gods, like Bog Creeper. But that still doesn’t explain picking these cards over North Sea Kraken or even something like Stormwind Champion.

rares

The value rare taunts effectively trade a lot of little guys, so they are great for that regard. Azure Drake is a card I love in Constructed, but less so in the Arena. While not a bad card at all, I see much better rares to be picked, namely Bomb Lobber and Stampeding Kodo. Does nobody care about contesting the board?

epics

Epic card selections are a wasteland in the Arena. Piloted Sky Golem and Kodorider are rightfully in the top 3. Grand Crusader I would argue is more average than good, but it is a value card overall. Sea Giant is pretty easy to pull off great value in the Arena. While Fel Reaver provides insanely high win rates for those who pick it, I can see the downside being too much for a player to draft with confidence.

legendaries

Arena legendaries don’t mean much at all, but I just find it hilarious that Herald Volazj being the least picked card is indicative that nobody plays Priest in the Arena.

And we end this segment with people who need their heads checked and are willing to throw away 150 gold.

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Karazhan Bonus Out

As of Thursday’s patch, the Karazhan increased offering bonus in the draft is no more. I believe this is the first time an Arena offering bonus ending was explicitly stated, which means yay Arena exposure. I also believe that the Arena bonus lasting about 1-2 months is the shortest it has gone. We are now in the most variegated Arena meta ever, with equal offering rates across the sets. It’s possible that Mage has pulled too far ahead of the other classes, and Blizz had to finally intervene.With the Karazhan offering bonus no more, let’s look at the top 5 Karazhan cards (IMO).

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Closing the Dark Portal is a big plot line in Warcraft. They should’ve closed this portal.
  1. Fool’s Bane – Anyone who got to play with this card knew how bonkers it was. While the Warrior took tons of damage, the ability to get off an AoE clear was too good a tempo swing. I was lucky enough to have the combo with Violet Illusionist a couple times, pretty much the greatest feeling.
  2. Firelands Portal – It was recognized as OP from the start, and remained so through the Karazhan Arena meta. I had 11-win Mage runs with 4 Firelands and 3 Firelands drafts.
  3. Swashburglar – The entire burgle mechanic is not great because there is always a chance to whiff on a pick. The thing is that the best Arena classes aren’t classes you whiff on. Warlock, Warrior, and Hunter are classes that give a chance for getting a useless card. Mages and Paladin will provide useful cards. Further, Swashburglar had that RNG that the opponent couldn’t play around or predict.
  4. Medivh’s Valet – While seemingly like a regular 2 drop with great upside, people started picking Secrets a lot. The Epic card pool is never great, allowing a Spellbender or Ice Block, while Rares and Commons gave Mages more Secrets. This card becomes mediocre to amazing in a draft with 2 Secrets.
  5. Pompous Thespian – While far from sexy, this card did a lot of work in the Karazhan Arena meta. The 2-mana for a 3/2 taunt made it essentially a neutral card with class card stats. Just having that extra point made it better than a lot of other commons. Now we’ll see it less, and be forced to draft more River Crocs and Raptors.

Card Changes

Finally, I will talk about the Arena implications of changed cards.

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  • Murlocs – Basically, Murloc cards no longer buff enemy Murlocs. The most common Murlocs you’ll see are Puddlestomper, Bilefin Hunter, Bluegill Warrior, Corrupted Seer, and Murloc Knight. Murloc Knight is the main factor, as it has the ability to produce Warleaders, while being a great pick itself. Murloc Warleader, Coldlight Seer, and Grimscale Oracle are the cards that this affects directly. Murloc Warleader, being a 3-mana 3/3, could be the best of 3 horrid epics, and this will be marginally better against the opponent. Coldlight Seer should remain not being picked in the Arena, being a 3-mana 2/3. Grimscale Oracle is a 1-mana 1/1, and shouldn’t be picked over any 1-mana 2/1’s.
  • Ethereal Peddler – A Rogue v Rogue mirror in the Arena is quite common, but having Ethereal Peddler + bugled cards makes it a rarer scenario. The Ethereal Peddler is still a fine minion to have in any arena draft, even when you aren’t discounting Rogue cards. I think this was just done to not confuse new players.
  • Yogg-Saron – I don’t think I have seen Yogg-Saron in the Arena, so this change doesn’t do a whole lot. Adding Overload to Yogg, and the general lack of spells in the Arena will cement Yogg is one of the worst legendaries to pick for your draft.
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Bring Out Your Dead: Karazhan’s Resurrection of Unused Cards

Bring Out Your Dead: Karazhan’s Resurrection of Unused Cards

There seems to be quite a bit of frustration in Hearthstone lately. Before the release of One Night in Karazhan, there was the Priest Uprising of Purify (egg on your faces), and Firelands Portal Arena stuff. Known salt barons Reynad and Kripp are voicing their concerns about the game. RDU is having a back-and-forth with people on Reddit about his casting. Disguised Toast wants improved patch notes. Yogg is deciding the outcomes of tournament games. I personally have been salty about sucking in the Arena because of awkward mana curves and horrible mulligans/draws.

While all this is going on, I personally have been very satisfied with one aspect of the game, which is the reintroduction of cards in Ranked play. We are seeing an infusion of cards that have been revitalized with the new Karazhan cards.

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By the Holy Light!

Strategies are constantly evolving.

While Hearthstone catchphrases are oft-lampooned, I do think strategies are evolving in Standard play. It sure didn’t feel that way during the recent eternal Warrior meta, but these reintroduced cards because of Karazhan is proving that. This could be because of several things: 1) Innovation, 2) Forced Synergy, 3) Replacements.

  1. Innovation – Hearthstone streamers and content creators are always pushing out new decks and card techs. This innovation is putting in new cards in the new meta.
  2. Forced Synergy – New cards introduced into the game have synergy with old cards, and instantly make them better than they were without such synergy.
  3. Replacements – Standard rotation relegates something to Wild, and there needs to be a replacement.

Top 10 Resurrected Cards (so far)

  • Resurrect – I honestly have no idea what set this card came from (first guess The Grand Tournament, actually Blackrock Mountain). Thanks to Scamaz or Zetalot, this card has gone from never played to staple overnight. Resurrect basically works with Onyx Priest in bringing back Priest neutral buddy Injured Blademaster as a 4/7 board presence. Seems good, but the deck has lots of other potential to be brewed. Expect to see this card until it rotates out of Standard, or people figure out how to stomp Priests again.
  • Totemic Might -Shaman Totemic Call has always been one of the worst Hearthstone hero powers. With the introduction of Totem synergy being melded together thanks to Wicked Witchdoctor, other Shaman totem synergy cards are starting to prove useful. Totemic Might, one of the Basic (free) Shaman Cards, is valuable in protecting Shaman totems from light AoE and removal. I always loved the card art, so it is great to see it being used.
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A very Protoss-like scene.
  • Primal Fusion – Totems started gaining traction thanks to Thing From Below in Old Gods, but it wasn’t incentive enough to run the situational Primal Fusion. The new totem Shaman fills the board up with totems, allowing Primal Fusion to be a very cheap burst equip spell.
  • Hunter Secrets – Like Mysterious Challenger, Cloaked Huntress gave a class an incentive to run mediocre secrets. Free secrets, comboed with Lock and Load gives the Hunter a way to gain card advantage. Snake Trap isn’t bad, but is never a common choice. Snipe is starting to see increased play, and some bold adventurers are even running Misdirection.
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This card art cracks me up every time.
  • Blood Warriors – Arcane Giant has made Blood Warriors a necessity in a scary, spell-heavy OTK deck, as a means of generating unlimited 0-mana 8/8’s. Prior to Arcane Giant, Blood Warriors was just known for this timeless Lifecoach card reveal.
  • Commanding Shout – This card last saw play in the old version of Patron Warrior. Commanding Shout is now back because of Arcane Giant Warrior, as it is a spell that draws a card. It also works well with Wild Pyromancer in those Warrior decks, as a board clear and Acolyte of Pain trigger..
  • Mark of Y’Shaarj – This card always was good in the Arena, and seemed decent. It was always a likely candidate for play if and when Beast Druid came to fruition. With support from Enchanted Raven and Menagerie Warden, this card is likely a staple in Beast Druids moving forward.
  • Scavenging Hyena – I don’t know if this card is back, but I saw it at least 2 times yesterday. I’m assuming someone popular is running it, or it is on a decklist. Anyhow, the Scavenging Hyena was present way back in the Unleash + Buzzard meta. Now it is serving a similar high-reward function, with beast Hunters and likely protected by various secrets.
  • Confessor Paletress – Because Priest is an entity again in Ranked play, there is a little room for players to optimize their decks. Confessor Paletress, the Priest TGT legendary, has some potential use with Barnes and Resurrect. Paletress has always had some appeal as high reward, but players are currently sticking with a sure thing  (mostly) in Ysera now. As a person who still doesn’t have Ysera, I have slotted in Paletress in my Priest deck (which collects dust).
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Confessor Paletress.. something something random legendary.. hubba hubba

 

  • Deathwing – Another experimental ingredient I have seen in Priest decks lately. Unlike Paletress, Deathwing helps with whatever Dragon synergy cards there are. This is only getting stronger with the last wing of Karazhan, thanks to Book Wyrm and Netherspite Historian. Priests tend to play the control game and hold their cards, making Deathwing an explosive surprise.
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Deathwing blew up the goblin world of Kezan while they played footbomb.

 

 

54 Tierscore Kappa

54 Tierscore Kappa

A lot Hearthstone players who don’t typically play Arena ask for advice on one of the main junctions of the web, Reddit. And one piece of advice that always comes up is “use HearthArena.” For those unfamiliar, HearthArena is a drafting tool that assigns tierscores to cards given during the Arena draft. While cards are assigned an inherent neutral score, certain covariates like class type, deck synergy, mana curve, etc would cause tierscores to move up or down during the draft. HearthArena has a deal with Overwolf, where a digital overlay would automatically appear during your arena draft. Former HearthArena employees ADWCTA and Merps also have their own tierscores on The Lightforge.

Back in the day, I used these drafting tools for every arena run. Nowadays, I just consult the tier lists when I am really unsure about something, and want professional verification. While tierscores still have tremendous utility for those unfamiliar with the arena drafting process, or those who play horrible arenas, after a while, they don’t help too much. I’m at the point where I have developed my own drafting style, and using the tierscore lists wouldn’t help me too much.

This brings me to back to Reddit. HearthArena is so entrenched with good arena drafting, that for some people, it is all that they know. Smart users of the tool would know to deviate from the tierscores maybe 1-5 times in a draft. Algorithms aren’t perfect, and it is evident, when you do deviate from the tierscores to fill a need. But a lot of people live and die with the tierscore. It doesn’t matter if the only possible source of card draw is just 0.5 points below a high value card, they will pick the highest score possible. Posters of Reddit are also using their aggregate draft tierscores as a way of bragging (e.g. look at my 77 tierscore deck!).

While tierscores as a whole will lead you towards the right path (winning), the blind devotion to a single tierscore is harmful. And this is definitely the case for the card Moat Lurker.

Only a 54

HearthArena and The Lightforge both list Moat Lurker as a 54. On HearthArena, this is a firmly mid-average card, while in The Lightforge, a 54 is on the cusp of being above average. Here is a partial of other neutral cards assigned a 54 in HearthArena:

  • Bloodfen Raptor
  • Dragonkin Sorcerer
  • Lost Tallstrider
  • Puddlestomper
  • Questing Adventurer

ADWCTA and Merps compared Moat Lurker to a Frost Elemental in their podcast. Frost Elemental has a 62 Lightforge Tierscore.

Moat Lurker’s evident flaws

  1. Low stats – 3/3 for 6 mana is in godawful territory. That is 7 points below the 13 point standard.
  2. Minion comes back – In the arena, Moat Lurker is going to be used to remove enemies most of the time. If you destroy Moat Lurker, said enemy comes back.
  3. Situational – Against faster-style decks, Moat Lurker won’t have much value in removing little guys. He could be in your hand for a while.

Moat Lurker’s value

  1. Neutral hard removal – While every class has some form of hard removal, this is the first neutral hard removal (err, occasionally Deathwing). Corrupted Seer, an Old Gods arena highlight, was a similar first neutral AoE. This increases the chances a deck can have more than 1 hard removal, or provide the only hard removal for a deck.
  2. Greedy deathrattle – A more constructed mechanic, Moat Lurker can be used to eat your own minions, and spit them out again. If you manage to have a Sylvanas out, that’s great. Besides eat a card like 1/1 Twilight Summoner or Anubisath Sentinel, doing this to your own minions is a bit of an anti-tempo move.
  3. Eats up buffs/debuffs – Arena Paladins are fairly strong because of buff mechanics like Blessing of Kings or Seal of Champions. Using Moat Lurker to eat something will effectively remove the buff. Further, you can use this on your own minions to remove a debuff, like Blessing of Wisdom, Aldor Peacekeeper, Keeper of Uldaman, Corruption, etc.

But wait, there’s more!

Back to the hard removal point. This card, like Kidnapper, removes the minions with it’s minion ability, rather than via a spell. This prevents the card from being countered by Counterspell or Loatheb. Further, this card can remove cards covered by the yellow, untargetable haze. You know, Spectral Knight, Faerie Dragon, Arcane Nullifier, and even Soggoth the Slitherer!

50-fuckin-4

I hate to pick on HearthArena again, but yeah. I looked up all the hard removals of all classes. These are the only cards that have a lower tier score than Moat Lurker:

  • Naturalize (50)
  • Polymorph: Boar (50)
  • Humility (51)
  • Corruption (35)

These cards above are all not ideal removals. Here are some tierscores for similar good removal cards:

  • Mulch (71)
  • Assassinate (78)
  • SW: Death (95)
  • Crush (76)
  • Siphon Soul (91)
  • Flame Lance (72)

These are the most similar to Moat Lurker, targeting and destroying a minion, without silencing a deathrattle. 54 is much lower than the scores of the cards above.

No way it’s a 54

It’s not easy to assign a single tierscore for such a complicated card. Moat Lurker’s inherent value comes from the number of hard removals in your deck, possible deathrattle synergies in your deck, and a condition of at least winning the board. So it is a situational, win-more, hard removal in a 3/3 minion. No way this card is the same value as Bloodfen Raptor or Lost Tallstrider.

A possibility that the card is given such a low score is because the tierscore reviewers don’t know what to do with it. Moat Lurker has so much good and so much bad, that they settled on the most average tierscore.

I think as time goes by, people are going to realize that Moat Lurker is better than a 54. Given the dilution of hard removal with the increased card pool and ongoing faster/face arena meta, the need to clear a big thing or taunt is high priority.

It’s time to look past a single tierscore. Moat Lurker is better than 54. It is at least in the low 60s.

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Arena Soggoth. What an entree!
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Gotta eat your vegetables.

Pantry Spider: An Unexpected Player

Pantry Spider: An Unexpected Player

Unlike Constructed in Hearthstone, Arena play forces one to draft and play ostentatiously bad cards on occasion. These bad cards sometimes have fringe synergy with something else in the deck, or sometimes help fill a hole in the mana curve. Or sometimes, they are just the best of three selections. I had a similar dilemma yesterday, where I drafted Pantry Spider for some godforsaken reason. The aggro-control style Arena Hunter I had was mostly an amazing draft, and culminated in my best arena ever at 12-1. While the result was surprising, an equally surprising thing was how often Pantry Spider was thrown into the fire. I played Pantry Spider a total 9 times, in 8 games out of 13. Let’s take a look at the card and what situations I played it in my arena run.

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Pros

  • 8 total stat points for 3 mana is quite good.
  • Beast synergy with Hunter and Druid.
  • Summons a token that has weak synergy with Knife Juggler, Sea Giant, and perhaps taunt givers.
  • Pretty nice artwork.

Cons

  • 2 horribly-stated minions are produced.
  • Both spiders can be defeated by multiple 2-drops and 3-drops.

Professional ratings

  • The Lightforge = 30, Druid/Hunter = 36
  • Heartharena = 30, Druid/Hunter = 33

Pantry Spider in action

Game 1

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Turn 13 play Pantry Spider: I hard removed Bladed Cultist with Deadly Shot and the spiders wound up doing nothing in this game.

Game 2

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Turn 6 play Pantry Spider: I killed something with Quick Shot, leaving me 4 mana. I chose to play Pantry Spider over Cloaked Huntress or Shade of Naxxramas. The spiders proceeded to kill a Kobold Geomancer, trade/kill a Bloodhoof Brave and Frothing Berserker, and do 4 face damage.

Game 3

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: Here I had no choice, as Pantry Spider was my only 3-drop. The Spider Tank on board killed my Pantry Spider, while the Cellar Spider helped clear the Spider Tank following Powershot.

Game 4

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Turn 9 play Pantry Spider: Here I was “stacking the board” with minion fodder, instead of my Evil Heckler. The Cellar Spider was killed off by SW:Pain, and the Pantry Spider wound up doing 2 face damage.

Game 5

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: Instead of playing Youthful Brewmaster or coining Sen’jin Shieldmasta, I played the Spiders. I figured that Rogues could remove the more valuable minions with spells, and the Pantry Spiders were expendable.

Turn 6 play Pantry Spider: I brewed Pantry Spider to spawn an additional Cellar Spider. In this game the spiders killed Novice Engineer and did a total 8 face damage.

Game 6

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: Another turn 3 “tempo play.” Houndmaster was actually in hand to buff Pantry Spider, which allowed it to kill a Dalaran Aspirant. They did a total 8 face damage.

Game 7

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Turn 9 play Pantry Spider: Against a Mage again, I play Pantry Spider as an expendable Flamestrike victim over more valuable minions. They contributed to 2 face damage and lethal.

Game 8 (aka Final Boss)

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Turn 3 play Pantry Spider: My Rogue opponent had a Buccaneer and dagger out when I played Pantry Spider. Eventually the spiders traded with a Buccaneer and Abusive Sergeant that went face.

Conclusion

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Pantry Spider saw a lot of action in this run. While I credit cards like Freezing Trap, Savannah Highmane, and Stampeding Kodo with carrying me through the run, Pantry Spider did stuff. Nothing flashy or impressive, but Pantry Spider helped me get through the run, by simply existing. Maybe the 8 stat points, while horribly distributed, shine in the end. It’s also possible my opponents underlooked the minions and left them on the board, allowing me to work my trades. Sometimes drafting a bad card isn’t so bad after all!

 

Pre-Karazhan Chatter

Pre-Karazhan Chatter

On the penultimate day before the release of One Night in Karazhan, the patch notes released have revealed a bunch of new changes. That and what occurred last night with Purify are big news. All of the points below deserve a blog post of their own and I am going to curse myself when I have nothing to blog about later. Onward!

Purify out of Arena

Legitimate concerns about Priest in constructed play spiraled into abject bitching on the grounds of Hearthstone Reddit. While Hearthstone complaints get extreme every so often, the Priest hivemind reached new territories in it’s unrelenting and stifling nature.

Ben Brode addressed the issue in a slightly more somber mood it seems, explaining why Purify exists. The explanation was that the card primarily exists as a bad card for individuals who enjoy “making bad decks work.” He also owed up to the mistake of releasing the card in this adventure, given the dire state of Priest currently.

Then out of the blue, Brode mentions that Purify will not be an Arena card. This is remarkable for the reason that most of the people who play Hearthstone, and a majority of those complaining about Priest play Hearthstone for Constructed reasons. Arena players recognize Priest as a bottom-tier class. The removal of Purify from the Arena must confirm that Blizzard’s statistics show Priest is the worst class in the Arena. So Purify joins the C’Thun set of not existing in the Arena draft. This is big for many reasons. While it is apparent in life that complaining enough will bring about change, it shows that Blizzard finally did something to cater to the Arena. The assignment of cards to seemingly random rarities has been a bane for players hoping for Arena balance. While Arena-geared cards have been released to balance class play, this is the first time something has been done directly for a weak Arena class. Removing Purify isn’t going to help the Priest amazingly but it will ensure that Priests of the Feasts will be present in every Arena game.

Karazhan card order

The next 4 weeks will see the release of 45 new cards. Here are the cards released by week.

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Arena names back

I have yet to play my daily Arena, but apparently the obscured names of Hearthstone players are back. I never actually knew this was a bug of the UI system, rather I thought it was Blizz’s way of pandering to people who claim of stream snipers. I actually do enjoy seeing entertaining battletags from time to time, and am happy the names are back.

Token costs increased

Biggish change here. A bunch of token minions got more expensive. Finkle Einhorn is now a 3-mana (3/3), Nerubian is now a 4-mana (4/4), Slime is now a 2-mana (2/2), etc. It seems that a whole lot of tokens were cost-effective plays earlier, but now they are somewhat anti-tempo plays. This really has no bearing on anything other than Mill Rogue. Mill Rogue gets on by bouncing minions continuously. Making tokens more expensive will help clog up hands and use up mana.

Flavor text

Best flavor text – not even close

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His favorites are classic tragedies like “The Hobbit” and “Grendel”.

I called it – inadvertently predicting flavor text

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My first feat was predicting Am’gam Rager. 

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The Murloc is taking the picture.

Best card art

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mic drop

One Night in Karazhan Arena Analysis + Tierscores

One Night in Karazhan Arena Analysis + Tierscores

Because I have been emotionally invested in Hearthstone for some time, I have proceeded an undertaking to provide some commentary about the new, to-be-released Hearthstone cards. All 45 cards of One Night in Karazhan were revealed as of last night. I decided to put my focus on looking at the arena value of all the cards, and provide an overview of the new arena outlook.

Tierscores

I created arbitrary arena drafting tierscores for all the new cards. The cards were not really compared to the existing tierscores on the web to great detail, rather my impressions of how good a card is in the arena. I’ve included a small blurb about each card as well.

All cards can be seen here.

Card Rarity – Class Score In Brief
Enchanted Raven C – Druid 64 Allows you to trade up with any 2-drop. Great synergy with Mark of Y’Sharrj.
Menagerie Warden C – Druid 67 9.5% of the Druid/Neutral minion pool are beasts. Anti-tempo 3 pts for a free summon? Sign me up.
Moonglade Portal R – Druid 60 You’re getting a 5/5.3 on average, with some valuable effects. 6 heal is a throw-in that makes this less valuable than other portals.
Kindly Grandmother C – Hunter 76 Hunters are not the strongest in the early game ping department, and this helps a great deal. 3/2 summon allows trading up next drops.
Cloaked Huntress C – Hunter 73 Freezing Trap aside, Hunter secrets are less valuable in Arena than Constructed. This gives incentive to draft some secrets.
Cat Trick R – Hunter 50 This card is like Beneath the Grounds. Essentially paying 2 for a delayed 3-cost Jungle Panther. Spells in the Arena a little rarer though, but will trigger.
Firelands Portal C – Mage 85 5-drops round out to a Yeti (4.2/4.7), so 3 dmg for 5 mana. 7 mana is costly, but the tempo gain + removal is too good to pass up.
Medivh’s Valet C – Mage 60 They lied! This is not a bad card, but a River Crocolisk with plus plus upside. Could consider picking over Snowchugger, with Secrets.
Babbling Book R – Mage 70 Classes are shoring up their early game and this one comes with a free Mage spell. FYI: Mage spells are usually good.
Nightbane Templar C – Paladin 45 Dragon synergy is nice, but unreliable in the Arena. 5.5% of the Paladin/Neutral pool is dragon.
Silvermoon Portal C – Paladin 52 The average 2-drop is a 2/2.4, so worse than a 2/3. The buff is worth about 2. Very averagish, which pales in comparison to Paladin cards.
Ivory Knight R – Paladin 45 The average Paldin spell is 3 mana, and you get card advantage. But this is a 5-point anti-tempo card, which spells mediocrity.
Purify C – Priest 35 Drawing a card saves this card from being an utter disaster. Also allows Priest to draft stuff like Eerie Statue.
Priest of the Feast C – Priest 60 A sturdy 3/6 body in the 4 spot can twofer multiple little guys, but doesn’t really help Priest in the early game fight.
Onyx Bishop R – Priest 54 A fair value 3-drop with a 2-cost Resurrect. The problem with it is that you’re bringing back some Arena card rather than a Constructed one.
Swashburglar C – Rogue 83 Combo-enabler? Check. Card advantage? Check. Pirate? Check. Sounds like a Rogue minion to me.
Deadly Fork C – Rogue 57 I was excited for a spanking new Rogue weapon, but we get a Fork. A 2-drop body that gives a 2/3-cost weapon? Not equipping the weapon makes it a bit slow.
Ethereal Peddler R – Rogue 72 A Pit Fighter with great cost-reduction upside. I was skeptical at first, but Swashburglar made it more likely to trigger.
Wicked Witchdoctor C – Shaman 58 Shamans have decent spells. The 2-point anti-tempo is not horrible, but getting basic totems rather than Totem Golems makes this more average than good.
Spirit Claws C – Shaman 70 While it is easy to roll a spellpower totem, is that what you want to do in the Arena? Besides the big-time upside, it is like Light’s Justice.
Maelstrom Portal R – Shaman 72 This is a lot like Twilight Flamecaller, dropping a mediocre spell (Arcane Explosion) for tempo. The average 1-drop is a 1.3/1.6.
Malchezaar’s Imp C – Warlock 45 I’m not sure if Discardlock will become a thing, but it has no relevance in the Arena. This card only dilutes solid early game that Warlock has.
Kara Kazham! C – Warlock 68 Provides the same 6/6 tempo as Silver Hand Knight. Not particularly interesting, but has synergy with Knife Juggler and Darkshire Councilman.
Silverware Golem R – Warlock 50 If you do discard it, it is free 3/3 tempo. Otherwise, it is just a 1-point anti-tempo. Don’t depend on discarding it.
Ironforge Portal C – Warrior 35 The average 4-drop is a 3.1/4.1. So you’re basically paying 2 mana to gain 4 armor. Like a worse Shield Block, which is bad.
Fool’s Bane C – Warrior 83 A game-changing weapon that allows Warrior to shut down the midgame. Makes a card like Upgrade pretty good as well.
Protect the King! R – Warrior 40 Unleash the Hounds is very good because the Hounds have initiative. This just delays the inevitable. Situational, and reliant on drafting Bolster to be good.
Runic Egg C 26 Egg cards work better in buff classes and provide AoE insurance. But just like the other eggs, it doesn’t do much and is situational.
Arcane Anomaly C 49 It passes the vanilla 1-drop test of 2/1 + effect. Otherwise, lackluster in Arena because of the premium on spells, and it will never become a Zombie Chow right away.
Pompous Thespian C 61 While an immediate upgrade over Bloodfen Raptor, does this taunt do much in the early game? It will likely get traded easily. More value as a block when pushing face damage.
Netherspite Historian C 45 As mentioned, Dragons are rare in the Arena, making this a very situational draw.
Zoobot C 62 It turns out 16% of minions are either Beast/Dragon/Murloc. Situational and random buff makes it a little less than Shattered Sun Cleric.
Pantry Spider C 43 Geting 8 points of stats is good for 3 mana. But this is a case of bad stat distributions of 2 1/3’s, which could get twofered by any 3 drop.
Violet Illusionist C 74 This card will only help weapon classes, but it will help them a great deal. I think this card could compete with premium common neutral, and shines as a 3-drop.
Arcanosmith C 20 I’m not sure that this guy even gets 4 mana worth of value. Getting a taunt makes it better than the worst cards, but it is in dangerous territory when drafting.
Menagerie Magician C 64 Similar to Zoobot, except you get the advantage of 2 extra turns of getting a buff target. Has potential in the right draft.
Avian Watcher R 45 This card is better in the late game when played with a secret in the same turn. Not a great play otherwise, in most classes.
Moat Lurker R 65 Forget destroying your own minions because you won’t have Sylvanas in the Arena. The closest relative to this guy is Kidnapper, and inherent hard removal is a premium.
Book Wyrm R 48 Very strong effect (better than Kodo), but of course, depends on the rare Dragon synergy to be effective.
Arcane Giant E 63 This requires 5 spells to be worth playing, so definitely draft-dependent. Worse than Sea Giant, but better than the others. Treat it as a regular big guy.
Barnes L 68 You get your 4/5 worth of stats, and plus upside with deathrattles or continuous effect minions.
The Curator L 48 A card advatange card that taps into the the 16% chance you have the “Zoo minions.” 4/6 taunt for 7 is bad, so very situational card.
Moroes L 46 Theoretically, this is an Imp Master and serious anti-tempo card. Much less likely to be removed in Arena than Constructed, could provide late game value.
Prince Malchezaar L 80 While debatable in Constructed, getting 5 legendaries is a boon in the Arena. Concern is that he will wreck a mana curve, given the average legendary costs 6.4. Great pick 1-15, iffy when you have established your draft.
Medivh, the Guardian L 67 Definitely shines in classes with a lot of good spells, but dependence on not having used said spells is very conditional.

Video

I’ve also recorded a video where I talk about the cards at length, and also talk about the overall changes to the arena when all the cards are released.

 

Moroes: The First Karazhan Downer

One Night in Karazhan is slowly having it’s cards trickle out to the public, since the announcement a few days ago. While only 11 of 45 cards have been revealed, I believe that the first unplayable card has emerged in Moroes.

moroes

Moroes is a bit of a beloved and tragic character in Warcraft, serving Medivh’s every need and ultimately getting killed by him. He is the first mandatory boss in the Karazhan raid in WoW. He was in the Warcraft movie.

While it is bad practice to say a Hearthstone card will be bad when 34 cards are to be released, I will take the heel turn here. I think Moroes will not be a competitive Hearthstone card, no matter what gets released. Here is why.

1. No immediate big effect on the board

Moroes does have an effect on the board, a bit of a delayed battlecry. He will survive being played on Turn 3, and summon a 1/1 Steward. This is not unlike a similar 3-drop, Razorfen Hunter (2/3), which summons a 1/1 Boar. A 1/1 token is not nothing, but it is as close as it gets to nothing.

2. There is very little sub-tribe support in Hearthstone

There are seven “tribes” in Hearthstone: beast, demon, dragon, mech, murloc, pirate, and totem. Most minions don’t belong to a tribe. Further, there is very little sub-tribe support. The only one that comes to mind are Silver Hand Recruits, who get a buff from Quartermaster and Warhorse Trainer. I don’t expect a card that will give buffs to the 1/1 Stewards.

3. 1 Health

This is the primary reason Moroes isn’t going to succeed. He is a 3-mana 1/1, with emphasis on the 1 health. Cards that don’t have an immediate effect or initiative, cost more than 1 mana, and have 1 health are severely limited. As such, I filtered all minions that have: 1) 1 health, 2) have no divine shield,  3) cost more than 1 mana, 4) have no Battlecry or Choose One to see how competitive the list is. Here is the list:

1 health
Courtesy of hearthpwn.com

Besides the past Face Hunter staple Wolfrider, murloc Bluegill, and card advantage guys Loot Hoarder and Bloodmage Thalnos, this isn’t a list of minions that inspires confidence in competitive Hearthstone play.

While having permanent stealth helps him survive directed pings, the 1 health is a severe limitation.

4. Every class can deal 1 damage AoE

Moroes is cloaked, and generates 1/1’s, but this is something any class can get rid of.

Warrior: Ravaging Ghoul, Whirlwind, Revenge

Shaman: Lightning Storm, Elemental Destruction

Warlock: Hellfire, Demonwrath, Shadowflame, Dread Infernal

Mage: Flamestrike, Blizzard, Twilight Flamecaller, Arcane Explosion, Arcane Missles + Flamewaker

Hunter: Explosive Trap (this is the weakest class in this removal)

Druid: Swipe, Starfire

Rogue: Fan of Knives, Blade Flurry

Paladin: Consecration

Priest: Excavated Evil, Holy Nova, Circle of Healing + Auchenai

Neutral: Corrupted Seer

Every class pretty much will run at least one of the above cards in their decks. Hunters have the weakest removal out of this lot, but the rest would easily wipe out Moroes. Aggro decks may not run AoE removal, but playing a 3-mana 1/1 and 1/1 token isn’t the best tempo against a deck trying to kill you fast.

Conclusion

This is my case as to why I believe Moroes will not be a playable card in Hearthstone, no matter what cards come out, and what strategies emerge. While there are some possible synergies with Steward of Darkshire, Hobgoblin, and some possible Druid help with tokens, I feel it will be hard to pull off.

I really want the card succeed, and I hope I completely eat these words. But I feel it’s limitations are just too much to overcome.