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.



Yogg Photo Album


The Hearthstone Nerf Everyone Wanted + Reynad’s Hot Take

The Hearthstone Nerf Everyone Wanted + Reynad’s Hot Take

Social media has been an impetus for forcing change in the world, and it seems to be happening more and more now. While Twitter and YouTube have been the vehicles for change in real-life events, Reddit has been the weapon of choice in Wizard Poker. The hive of Hearthstone Reddit has become the de facto voice for the Hearthstone community, and the devs claim to monitor it all the time. (I got most of my page views from posting on Reddit!) With that said, it’s not surprising that today’s nerfs (http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/20303031/upcoming-balance-changes-update-613-9-28-2016) happened.


Courtesy of Vicious Syndicate Meta Report #19

Hey, we’re also in the Information Meta! While it may not be easy to quantify what you’re facing in Ranked. Shaman has skyrocketed to the top of the meta, well ahead of the nearest classes. It has been dominant since Old Gods put things together, and Karazhan made the class more well-rounded. Warrior was once top dog, and was brought down a bit by the Hunter rise. That in turn, shot the Shamans back up. Mage and Druid seem to be the “healthy” meta classes, while Warlock has fallen. Paladin, Rogue, and Priest have been in the cellar.

Quick takes on the changes

  • Rockbiter Weapon – A little torn about this one, given I won’t think of Rockbiter not being 1-mana. The pressure to combine it with Doomhammer likely did it in, but honestly when has a Shaman deck not run 2x Rockbiter? Opens up room for spell Shaman.
  • Tuskarr Totemic – This one is really well-deserved. Getting the result of Totem Golem and Mana Tide Totem is virtually 5 mana of things for 3 mana.
  • Call of the Wild – This one doesn’t seem too significant at first, but think about having 2 9-mana cards in your deck. Seems a bit heavy, though the card is too good still to not run 1 copy.
  • Execute – I think this is way overdue. Warrior removal is so good, this shouldn’t hurt too much. Honestly, Warriors often have the leftover mana to armor up.
  • Charge – While requiring more setup than Leeroy + Shadowstep, 20+ damage in 1 turn is still not very fun or interactive. This is consistent with the anti-charge philosophy the game is heading.
  • Abusive Sergeant – Like Leper Gnome, Abusive Sergeant is long known as an Aggro deck announcer. While this target may be for Shamans, it does hurt Zoolock decks. Could aggro decks now consider Lance Carrier?
  • Yogg-Saron – Stop the presses!

About Yogg

The devs floated some ideas about how to deal with Yogg in some recent interviews, given the outcome of competitive tournament games being decided by him. There was talk of the card being outright removed for tournament play, relegated to Wild permanently, or nerfs. The Yogg changes are two-fold, stopping the stream of spells when Yogg dies, and adding Overload on certain Shaman spells. I have no quantitative evidence, but it seems like Yogg kills himself over 50% of the time. So, we’re in for much shorter Yogg spell barrages. To use a football analogy, Yogg was always a hail mary pass, with a very strong-armed quarterback, and tall receivers. Or maybe like a 55-60 yard field goal. Now Yogg is more like trying to score a touchdown on laterals with the whole team. This primarily will hurt Druid, given it is a near staple for the class, and to a smaller extent Mage. On the plus side, a Yogg story is going to be more epic, and not happening a decent amount of the time.


This is a fair point, in that the “everyone” that wanted these changes are the vocal minority. Points have been made that most people are more casual players. Hearthstone Reddit represents a minority that is more competitive (and possibly more immature) than the average player. The ban list cuts down on randomness in Tuskarr and Yogg, which are simply rewarding lesser players with wins over better ones. On the other hand, Yogg is much less fun, with spells ending sooner.

Reynad’s Hot Take

Reynad has never been afraid to take unpopular positions, and that continued today. While the majority of folks liked the nerf list, he didn’t think it did much.


Is he right or wrong? The claim that Shaman got a buff is odd at first, but check this out.

Courtesy of Vicious Syndicate Meta Reaper #19

Shaman fails against Warrior are no secret, and there is a little red in those matchups. Control Shaman is pretty bad against Yogg Druid and Tempo Mage, so that get’s a bump. The dominant decks in Aggro and Midrange Shaman were kept in check by Control/Dragon Warrior, so that is probably what Reynad is talking about. Of course, we have to consider how the 2 nerfs on Shaman would affect matchups against other classes in this grid.

Final thoughts

Rogue didn’t get touched (thank the Old Gods) so overall, this is fairly ho-hum. Shaman is obviously dominant, and the feedback has caused real change. I think a few changes were overdue and necessary. I’m glad this will shut people up for a little while, until there is the next thing to complain about.

Extra: Phrases to Use for Future Hearthstone Memeing

With Keeping Hearthstone Fresh in mind

too oppressive to our players

improve the Standard format in a more permanent way

the most fun type of randomness

we intend to tone down its power enough that it won’t be an automatic inclusion in every Hunter deck and overshadow other strategies

closer in power level to other existing and future removal tools

We’ve redesigned the card Charge in a way that provides opportunities for minion combat, but does not enable strategies that intend to win without allowing opponents to interact.


Yogg-Saron – Making Sense of Insanity

Yogg-Saron was released today, and he (it?) promptly became the manifestation of RNG itself.


This effect prompted a flurry of questions on Twitter, clarifications of Yogg-Saron can be found in this well-arranged thread.

Like the Master of Evolution, I wanted to know what the raw probabilities of things happening were. How insane will this Old God be?


  • All 224 collectable spells so far from Basic, Classic, GvG, Naxx, BRM, TGT and LoE. Old Gods is not included, and neither is the distinction between Wild and Standard Play. A future update might have these figures.
  • I calculated percentages for “Target affected.” These will add up to 100%.
  • I calculated percentages for Spell Type. These do not add up to 100%, as some spells have multiple abilities in one card.
  • Choose one cards are a 50% probability, so are counted as half cards for each effect.
  • Certain cards have a less than 100% probability of the effect carrying out. Such cards include 4 Demon spells and certain cards that draw for you when something dies. I chose not to deduct probability from these cards, but just know the percentages are slightly inflated. So these are assumptions that I made for this data.

Target affected

Yogg effect

  • All characters (both teams) – no target, everyone is healed or damaged
  • All minions (both boards) – no target, every minion is affected
  • One board – 50% probability of something happening to the top or bottom of the board. Could be AOE, reinforcements, etc.
  • One character – probability divided among all characters (minions + 2 heroes)
  • One hero – 50% probability of either hero getting benefit or harm
  • One minion – probability divided among all minions on the board
  • One team (minions + hero) – 50% probability of either team
  • Secrets – kept separate, as they interact with various characters at different junctures

Spell type

Yogg type.PNG


  • Buff – exclusive to minions, anything that helps a minion in someway. This figure is overinflated, in should be closer to 14%, not including the demon buffs.
  • Damage – any time some character loses health
  • Debuff – a negative effect that isn’t damage, like health reduction, silence, or freeze
  • Hard Removal – exclusive to minions, a minion is destroyed without damage being dealt
  • Heal – any time some character gains health
  • Reinforcement – any time a minion is summoned to the board by card effect
  • Resource Gain – exclusive to heroes, any gain in mana crystals, card draw, deck additions
  • Secret – secrets kept separate
  • Weapon – exclusive to heroes, any time a hero is granted attack

A few spells didn’t really fit into the traditional bins.

  • Shadowform – I put it under the “Weapon” bin, as it allows a steady damage source to enemy minions or faces
  • Astral Communion – I begrudgingly put this under “Resource Gain.” It affects resources, but will have an actual negative effect, as Yogg can’t be played before Turn 10.
  • Beneath the Grounds – This is a delayed reinforcement, so I put it under “Reinforcement.”
  • Confuse – I put this as 1/2 Buff and 1/2 Debuff. It is too complicated to know whether there is any benefit when Confuse is played, so I split the difference.

What this tells us

  • 30% of the Yogg-Saron’s spells affect only 1 minion at a time.
  • Pyroblasts to the face are always a concern, but only 36.4% of spells will affect the heroes. This makes Pyroblasts to the face less likely than perceived..
  • Hard removal to a minion will occur 13% of the time.
  • 1 of 10 of Yogg-Saron’s spells will be secrets.
  • Most spells are some kind of damage (35%), with some resource gain occurring in about 1/5 of spells.
  • Overall, Yogg-Saron seems more fun than good, as his battlecry will cause the game to be a virtual coin flip. Of course the hero with higher health and minions on the board will have a better chance of withstanding whatever comes from the battlecry.