They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

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

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

Top neutrals

top neutrals.PNG

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

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

Discover in a small card pool

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

paladin taunts.png

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

shaman taunts.png

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

Mages

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

glyph.PNG

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

cabalist.PNG

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

pyroblast.PNG

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

iceblock mirror.PNG

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

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

Rogues’ removals

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

rogue.PNG

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

The feel

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

Solutions

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

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

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

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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.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-26-16 20.02.29.png
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

636265786513309245

  • 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).

A Letter to Yogg-Saron

A Letter to Yogg-Saron

A Yogg-Saron golden. I don’t know if I’m going to keep it. Cuz it can yield me any legendary I want. Em. I mean, it’s nice to have gold cards. But gold legendaries are a bit too much dust. I’m gonna play with it in the meantime, considering Rogues don’t have any endgame anymore. I might just keep it around.

-GreenRanger 4.26.16

Dear Yogg,

Hi, Old God of Death. Or whatever your title is. You don’t know who I am, I’m sure you interact with tens of thousands of people each day. We first met just a little over 5 months ago. I didn’t know what to think of you at first. I thought you were a little ridiculous at first.

yogg unpack.png
Don’t know if I’m keeping it.

I slotted you into the deck I played a bit. MalyRogue deck I think. You were to be the secondary win condition to Malygos, given the heavy spell usage of the deck. What the hell, why not.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-26-16 20.02.29.png
Yogg’s first victim.

Weird things started happening in my Hearthstone games. I mean, why wouldn’t weird and unpredictable things happen when you are virtually rolling a 300-sided die for eternity? I got weird combinations of minions, secrets for a non-secret class, lots of card draw, and random mass destruction! The game was out of control when you took over, but it felt just so awesome! It felt great to be bailed out of an impossible escape. It felt great to have all these random cards working in no particular order. It felt just fun. You were the doomsday device I set upon the world when the muscular, square-jawed hero had beat me up good and had the pistol pressed against my forehead.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-27-16 00.00.28.png
Boars and trees and dogs and wolves and imps and dragons.

I had the most fun I ever had. I wasn’t even all that upset when you caused my demise in games. It was hella fun.

Of course, the initial impression of pure silly madness was not an immediate dismissal of your talents. Other people were discovering the same thing that I was, while not completely reliable, you did win more games than you lost. And that is all that really matters in this game. Good players started spreading your gospel in decks online. First in some weird Hunter deck called Yogg n Load. Then in some weird Mage deck called Chinese Tempo Mage. I played various decks that season, and with your help, I achieved Rank 5, a new high in Ranked Play.

Hearthstone Screenshot 05-31-16 14.37.43.png
eSports! I lost this game by the end of this sequence.

All was well.

The grinding summer of 2016 came, one that seemed very agitated in Hearthstone. The meta became, for the lack of a better phrase, “stale as fuck,” and people grew restless.  While chaos was festering within the Hearthstone community, you, the quintessential madman, were just doing your thing. Becoming a Druid staple minion, and still stealing games, and awarding people with putting you in your deck.

Hearthstone Screenshot 07-12-16 18.53.54.png
Too confusing for new Murloc heroes.

Tensions often ran high, and you caught everyone’s attention. People realized you were unfairly deciding games. A rogue arbiter who played by his own rules of judication. Didn’t give a flying fuck about the board state or the score. You did your thing. After the initial joy of running you out there in my decks, your popularity turned the tide against me. I saw you for the scoundrel you were, stealing my games, and lowering my win percentage. I wasn’t particularly angry about games I lost to you, just accepting the spectacle for what it was. Blizzard was getting heat for your card design, but remained steadfast in the pros of your existence. You were fun and catered to people who enjoyed the fun you provided.

Hearthstone Screenshot 09-28-16 23.52.08.png
Last loss to Yogg?

The tipping point came in a tournament game, when a player discounted all his hard work and preparation, and just cited you as the sole reason he is currently playing professional eSports. Just by playing a card, you can be immediately transformed from some guy in a dark, dusty apartment, with cracked paint, to some guy playing professional eSports in a fancy tavern-styled computer set, with a headset and sitting in a fancy gaming chair. It was too much. You were the card that was single-handedly going to destroy the reputation of competitive Hearthstone. You were the card that was going to toss skill out of the equation. You were going to be the death of Wizard Poker.

Hearthstone Screenshot 09-09-16 01.01.52.png
Heal me high and give me armor.

Things are quieter now. People are a little happier, and frankly have a little more confidence in this game. The new retirement community is nice I hear. Plenty of green space out in the pasture. Or is it a light arcane blue I hear? Lots of lively folks like Warsong Commander and Starving Buzzard to talk to. Tuskarr Totemic is heading out too, not sure if you have lodging plans. I’m sure I haven’t seen the last of you. No, one day, you’re gonna surprise me straight out of the blue. I won’t see it coming. Whether you win the game is another thing, but I sure will miss seeing you around here. You brought upon an inexorable feeling that made me feel like a kid again. It felt good. But in the end, this is no child’s game.

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-03-16 17.05.20.png

Later, Yogg. It’s been real.

Sincerely,

GreenRanger

Yogg Photo Album

12 Win Paladin – Praise the Lord (RNGesus)

Given my baffling inability to play Paladin, I was glad to get back to 12 wins. While I played well for the most part in this run, I did not deserve to get 12 wins. I will try to highlight all the times I won the benefit of adverse probability to pull off the 12 wins.

Decklist

12winpaladin.png

  • I personally don’t own a Ragnaros, so it was a pleasure to use it. I chose him over a pick of Deathwing and Ysera.
  • The draft took me this way, and I benefited much from the plethora of card draw. There are 7 cards that help card advantage, and I only had 1 game where there was topdecking going on. Very underlooked.
  • I was offered Equality, giving me the chance of the sexy Equality + Consecration combo, but I didn’t like the chances and took the Argent Lance.

Games

  • Paladin – 1st – 1-0 – I had the board for a good 7 turns and was doing some face damage until my opponent put bigger things out. I used MCT to steal the Mukla’s Champion, and subsequently had the opponent MCT my Amani Berseker. Jeweled Scarab got me another MCT, to which I stole a 6/7 Emperor Cobra in Turn 12.
  • Priest – Coin – 2-0 – My opponent never had the board, and I did, so the game was over by Turn 7. Keeper of Uldaman helped a little in controlling the board.
  • Shaman – Coin – 3-0 – My opponent was aggressive with a boosted Gadgetzan Jouster and Micro Machine, but my Argent Lance helped control the board a little. In an evolution of my gameplay, I used Aldor Peacekeeper on a 4/4 Ogre Brute, just to preserve my minion (Spellbreaker (4/3) on the board, when trading. I was able to deal with some big threats like Earth Elemental and Force-Tank Max. MCT stole me a 5/2 Arcane Golem, to which I boosted to clear the tank.
  • Paladin – 1st – 4-0 – A 16-turn game, so a long one. MCT stole a 2/1 Squire for his first failed steal. I was consistently losing the board, but was winning the card advantage game. I guess my opponent was losing patience and threw their entire hand out on the board on Turn 11. It was a pure topdeck game by Turn 13, and just a lot more trading. Opponent puts out Tirion Fordring on Turn 15. I get Cult Master, and trade into a Aldor Peacekeeper. My Evil Heckler taunt stood up to protect me from hits.
  • Paladin – Coin – 5-0 – A game that involved a lot of trading, as evidenced by a 29-29 score by Turn 9. MCT stole a Silver Hand Regent, so it was good, but not amazing. I had pure card advantage, and threw out Ragnaros for his debut in Turn 9. Ragnaros his face a good few times, before getting killed off, but I had enough on the board to win.
  • Rogue – Coin – 6-0 – Another very competitive game, which lasted 12 turns. My opponent had some Mech Rogue thing going on early (Iron Sensei too) for board presence. In my evolved gameplay, I used Aldor Peacekeeper on a 3/4 Spider Tank. After the mechs died, the Rogue starts playing Crowd Favorite, and a ton of battlecry minions, eventually buffing it to 10 attack. Cult Master won me the game here, as I had pure card advantage. Ragnaros showed up to help close the game. MCT stole a 1/1 Boar out of BM.
  • Mage – 1st – 6-1 – A 19-turn slugfest, in which I played an attrition Mage. I got Flamestruck on consecutive Turns 10 and 11, and then an Arcane Explosion on 12. My opponent was doing some Gorillabot shenanigans with Duplicate, giving them a good cycling of cards through discover. I put out Ragnaros out of desperation but died immediately to a Flame Lance. I was just exhausted and was out of resources by my concede.

I decided to go to sleep and continue the next day.

  • Druid – 1st – 7-1 – I was getting SMOrced, as evidenced to the 28-9 score in Turn 8. While opponent wasn’t particularly trading much, I was able to control the board. Cult Master was big, as I was able to cycle a lot of cards through trading.
  • Mage – Coin – 8-1 – With one Consecration in the deck, I had to resort to putting stuff out on the board just to get hit, to wear my opponent down. This happened a bit here, when I was down on the board. And I was able to use Consecration, when it counted most. My MCT stole a 6/3 Ethereal Conjurer. The game dragged on for a while, until I  was able to draw Argent Commander for lethal.

I watched the Steelers – Bengals football game. The final stretch to 12!

  • Rogue – Coin – 9-1 – The replay disappeared. But there was the highlight where Ragnaros was silenced and swung for lethal.
Hearthstone Screenshot 01-10-16 00.04.30.png
Ragnaros saves up his hits to hit extra hard.
  • Paladin – 1st – 10-1 – Lost the replay, but it was a competitive 15-turn game that involved Murloc Knights, blessings and secrets. I somehow overcame it all.
  • Mage – 1st – 10-2 – Lost the replay, but the game only lasted 5 minutes. I attempted to use a Tinkmaster Overspark to transform a 6/4 Piloted Sky Golem, but I only turned my minion into a 1/1 Squirrel.
Hearthstone Screenshot 01-10-16 00.22.45.png
Go squirrel!
  • Rogue – Coin – 11-2 – The run should have ended right here. This 13-turn game ended with the screenshot below. I had 8 life, while my opponent had a 3/3 SI:7, 4/4 Anubisath Sentinel, 3/4 Unearthed Raptor (with Anubisath deathrattle), along with a 7/7 Eerie Statue (can’t attack). Option 1 would have been to kill the Anubisath Sentinel, and hope for a 33% chance to buff the Eerie Statue, allowing me to potentially survive the turn. I went with Option 2, kill the SI:7, play Elven Archer to hit face, and hope Ragnaros hits face. I went with a 25% chance play vs a 33% chance play. The rest is history.
Hearthstone Screenshot 01-10-16 00.36.03.png
eSports! glory chaser
  • Rogue – Coin – 12-2 – Hey, the replays back! A 10 turn game, but only lasted 5 minutes. I was losing the board, but had pure card advantage. I discovered a Deathlord, which helped protect my 6 HP. MCT stole a 5/5 Frost Elemental, and a bunch of Seal of Champions allowed me to trade effectively and put out big stuff on the board.

Stray notes

  • My 5th Lightforge Key, 2nd with Paladin. I didn’t save the screenshot, but I got 250 gold, 2 TGT packs, and a gold Lance Carrier.
  • Card advantage won me a lot of games. I appreciate Gnomish Inventor and Cult Master a lot more now.
  • I learned to be not greedy with Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman. I learned to let the situation dictate the play. I can’t say how many times Aldor Peacekeeper on a 3 or 4 attack minion helped me preserve a minion.
  • I also think I learned how to play Questing Adventurer. He helped a lot just as a 3/3 or 4/4 for board presence. No greed here.
  • I’m so glad I picked Ragnaros over Deathwing.
  • MCT stole more good things than bad things. He stole a lot of things.
  • I got friend-requested 2 times in this run, with both people not cussing me out and unfriending me. Yay humanity!

I’m Starting to Understand

Blizzard finally decided to offer me Rogue in the Arena and my first run of 2016 had a pretty good draft. The deck was very fast, had a lot of signature Rogue spells and cards. But I only got 4 wins. I immediately decided to play another run, and got 5 wins with a Rogue.

Following these runs, I closed out Hearthstone (without opening my GvG pack), and decided to play something else. But for the first time, probably the first significant time, I understood the anguish over RNG in the game. A lot of “good players” have had these gripes over the game for some time. Some have quit. Others have just accepted things for what they are.

I’ve always been in the accepting group for RNG in Hearthstone, as I feel that playing the percentages to increase your RNG odds would be more good than bad. But yesterday, as I attempted to get back to a 5-win average, I didn’t feel good about it. I didn’t like the RNG.

Flame Jugglers and Huge Toads were sniping my 1-health minions left and right. Arcane Missiles were killing 3-health minions. And then there was this:

Hearthstone Screenshot 01-01-16 22.18.43.png
Not heard: lots of profanity.

The deck had 8 cards that cost 5 or more, a really fast deck. My opening hand/mulligan and subsequent next 3 turns got 5 of them. I had nothing to do for 4 turns. All of the 2-drops came at the end and were useless by then. While bad draws are a function in any card game, this was the worst of the worst. Besides 1 big misplay in the second run, I didn’t really notice anything else. The RNG floodgates cost me too many games.

Of course, my mediocre runs couldn’t all be blamed on RNG. The Hearthstone arena is seemingly at its high point, with more skilled players playing more than ever. Players are drafting better decks, and making better decisions in the game. But for the first time maybe, I noticed the inches that I gave away, and the ultimate outcome of it.

Elements of Hearthstone RNG: Active Reinforcement

I haven’t written an RNG Series article in a while, so here’s one!

I wrote about Passive Reinforcement before, which was a card adding a card to your hand. Since then, the Discover mechanic came out, which greatly expanded the potential card pool to be discovered. Luckily not much has changed for Active Reinforcement, a term I use for something getting summoned to the board. While some cards like Razorfen Hunter and Silver Hand Knight give you Boars and Squires 100%, a lot of other cards will give you something random.

Game-dependent RNG

These cards do not have a specific percentage, as they are dependent as what is in a deck. Because decks are limited to 30 cards, and often have doubled cards, the RNG of these cards are much lower than that of uncontrolled RNG.

  • Voidcaller – Very low randomness, as the reinforcement has to be a Demon in the hand. Because a hand is 10 cards, the lowest percentage for a minion summon is 10%. There is no RNG at all if there is only 1 demon to play.
  • Alarm-o-Bot / Ancestor’s Call – Both cards have the same RNG, as they will take a minion from the hand to the field.  They have the same 10-100% chance for minion summons.
  • Resurrect – The only card to interact with the “graveyard” in Hearthstone, and depends on what is in your graveyard.
  • Desert Camel / Mad Scientist – These cards could do nothing at all in the Arena, as they depend on what 1-drops and secrets are in your deck.
  • Deathlord / Mindgames – These cards dip into a slightly larger pool of all minions in your/opponent’s deck.

Low randomness

  • Animal Companion – While it is always Huffer, all three companions should have a 33% chance of appearing. They are all cards that are worth more than the 3-mana cost. But I think people want Huffer to come out most of the time.
  • Gelbin Mekkatorque – There is a 25% chance for each invention. Homing Chicken is the only one that helps the player only, while the other 3 have a chance to affect either side of the board. I’d say that the Poutrylizer is worst outcome for a player, so there is a 75% chance of getting something more desirable.

Medium randomness

  • Tuskarr Totemic – There are 8 totems out there, meaning there’s a 12.5% chance for a summon with this card. 4 of the 8 are the “good totems”, the ones that are not the 4 default Shaman totems.
  • Murloc Knight – With 14 Murlocs, there is a 7% for each Murloc. While there is a Murloc generated for each inspire, there are really 5 or 6 desirable outcomes for the Murlocs.

Quite a bit of randomness

  • Bane of Doom – 21 Demons means a 4.8% chance of getting a certain one. Unlike other Active Reinforcement cards, the range of the swing is the biggest with this card, as cards costing from 1 to 9 can be summoned.
  • Blingtron 3000 – 23 weapons means a 4.3% chance of getting a certain weapon. Like Bane of Doom, there is a big range, from 1 to 7 cost weapons. Further, it goes both ways with weapons for both characters. Cards like Cursed Blade are a really bad outcome, while Doomhammer is pretty good.

High randomness

  • Mounted Raptor / Hungry Dragon – There’s a 2.1% chance for each particular 1-drop. While the 1-drops are typically slim pickings, cards like Injured Kvaldir and Flame Imp are pretty good gets.
  • Ran Wrangler – 48 beasts, means also a 2.1% probability for each beast. Also has a huge swing, with cards ranging from 1 to 9 cost. There are also 8 legendary beasts, so a not-bad 16% for one.

Very high randomness

  • Piloted Sky Golem – There’s a 1.2% for each 4-drop from the Sky Golem. Typically a solid 4-drop will have 4 or 5 attack and health. But sometimes, there are weak bodies like Twilight Drake and Dreadsteed, along with understated 4-drops with negated effects like Enhance-o-Mechano and Gnomish Inventor. Pit Lord or Piloted Shredder are probably the most desirable gets.
  • Piloted Shredder – This ubiquitous card has a 1.1% for each 2-drop. This makes the desperation “hit Shredder for Doomsayer” move a virtually 1 in 88. The best gets are Milhouse Manastorm, Wrathguard and Succubus.
  • Confessor Palestress / Sneed’s Old Shredder – There are somehow 92 legendaries in Hearthstone, meaning a 1.1% chance for each. Because legendaries are legendaries, these are typically good minions.
  • Effigy / RecombobulatorSummoning Stone – These cards scale reinforcement according to mana cost, giving the ability to virtually summon any minion. While most mana-costs are a lot of variability, the Effigy or Recombobulator of 8+ cost minons are exclusive to very powerful minions.
Hearthstone Screenshot 10-15-15 00.05.50
I am Mal’ganis, I am a turtle!
Hearthstone Screenshot 10-02-15 23.48.16
The rare clone yourself reinforcement.

Upshot

  • Active reinforcement usually is high-RNG. And the chances will get lower with more and more cards in the future.
  • Effects like Battlecry, Overload, etc don’t apply with the summoned cards, making normally unplayable minions with big stat points the best reinforcements.
  • No matter what is brought to the field as a reinforcement, typically, these are up-tempo cards, allowing “something” to be put on the board for presence. This gives these cards good value.

 

Elements of Hearthstone RNG: Jousts

Hearthstone’s The Grand Tournament (TGT) set brought about 2 new card mechanics. While Inspire has shown itself to be a viable and trusty mechanic, Jousting has turned the other cheek. While Jousting makes sense thematically, it is purely a mostly uncontrollable RNG factor. In the grand scheme of things, you are expected to win/lose half of your jousts to lose more jousts (since you lose ties), but it isn’t too far from 50/50 (high 40%s?). The only way to make sure you win most of your jousts are to fill your deck with North Sea Krakens and Giants.

  • Argent Lance – The Jousting weapon is a 2/2 for 2, which costs somewhere between 1.5 and 2 if you lose the joust, but is worth 3 for the 3 charges. A very small swing in either direction, especially how a 2 damage weapon isn’t that useful by turn 3-4.
  • Gadgetzan Jouster – By winning a joust, you get a 1-cost 2/3, which is a 1 mana swing, while losing the joust, you get a minion that’s a little less than 1. This isn’t a huge swing on paper, but getting a no-downside Zombie Chow on turn 1 is great for controlling the early game board.
  • Master Jouster – To my surprise, this card doesn’t have a huge swing on either side. By losing a joust, you get a 5/6 for 6, meaning you lose about 1 mana of tempo. With the divine shield and taunt, you get a minion worth a little over 7 or so, so you gain 1+ mana of tempo. Of course, it isn’t all in the numbers, as winning the joust could be a huge swing in a game decision.
  • King’s Elekk – Hey, a joust card that has no downside for losing! You just get a Bloodfen Raptor. But winning the joust will get you a draw of a free minion, which is a swing of about 2 mana in your favor.
  • Healing Wave – The only Joust spell costs 3, and can heal for 7 or 14. Healing for 7 is worth about 2.5 mana, while healing for 14 is worth about 5 mana.
  • Tuskarr Jouster – A 5/5 for 5 isn’t bad, given that it is only 1 life off from Pit Fighter. You can restore 7 life, or about 2.5 mana’s worth from winning a joust.
  • Armored Warhorse – You get a 5/3 for 4 mana, which isn’t a sexy stat line. By losing a joust, you’re getting 3.5 mana worth, but winning a joust is something better than 6 mana (Reckless Rocketeer).
  • The Skeleton Knight – A really bizarre card that has a deathrattle joust. You’re playing an overcosted Salty Dog (1 mana loss of tempo). If you actually win the joust, you’re getting a free Salty Dog! No wonder you never see this card.
Yeah I lost this joust real bad.
Yeah I lost this joust real bad.
All of the heals.
All of the heals.

Upshot

  • Joust RNG is typically uncontrollable. Unless you stack a deck with big minions.
  • Swing on jousts typically are higher on the winner. The downside to losing a joust is a small loss in tempo typically.
  • The problem with jousts remain that you lose the “safe play.” By slotting in a joust card in a deck, you lose the guarantee of a sure thing, for more upside. This makes is a better arena mechanic than in ranked. Still not great in either format.