features

The Laundry List of Missing Features

It’s been quite a few years since the official release of Hearthstone – and with Dungeon Run coming up as a brand new game mode, it’s perhaps worth going through the many, many basic features the game is still missing. Maybe it will help us figure out a few things about the developers’ priorities?

Welcome to the Grand Tournament

Perhaps the most egregious absence is the lack of a tournament mode for a game that has already crowned three World Champions and is quite close to the rise of the fourth. Anyone who even barely dabbled in the competitive scene could easily explain the problems with all the third-party organizations. This ranges from the incompetence and the downtimes to the downright sinister cases of collusion. People who don’t properly speak the same language trying to decode game states by screenshots will never be an acceptable alternative to something in the client – unless you are Team 5, that is.

The spectator mode is also full of problems: it is essentially useless for tournament organizers as it bafflingly flips the cards of the second player when you try to spectate both at the same time. Not only that, but the hand on the top is much smaller than what you normally see. Meaning broadcasters are still forced to run multiple instances if the game client and spectate both players separately, then mushing something together in their streaming software. It’s a mess. On the other side of the spectrum, there is still no way to spectate a friend’s arena draft or pack opening, and if I had to guess, probably never will be.

The lack of a disconnect feature has also been a major source of consternation for competitive players. With the current policy advocating for a replay in every case when a player drops out in an official event unless there is lethal on the board. This approach is both problematic and potentially abusable, and also something that other Blizzard games have figured out ages ago. There is no viable alternative to an in-game tournament mode with reloadable or at least pausable game states. These are the minimum features for a good competitive experience.

So many numbers

Another long-requested feature is a more detailed statistics display in the game. While there are multiple widely used third-party apps, the data they collect is nothing compared to what the Blizzard hivemind has available. Unfortunately they are only willing to display some minimal winrate-related numbers in the client  and maybe some other interesting tidbits via e-mail if you sign up for their marketing material alongside it. Again, not something that would be difficult to provide as the data is already collected. It’s simply something they don’t find valuable to share.

features

It’s also worth mentioning that a new player has no idea about the secret achievements like Chicken Dinner either. These are also something that the game could expand on along by being more transparent. The game is also sorely lacking a PTR, something that is commonly used for many Blizzard games. While it is understandable that the developers do not want to spoil cards in advance, these features would be useful to test botched game concepts like the synergy picks in Arena in a similar fashion.

There is also zero support in the client for the many content creators and streamers that are such a huge part of the game’s economy. We’re in an odd situation where the broadcasting platform has done more work with the game in that regard with Twitch’s Innkeeper app than the developers of Hearthstone have. It’s borderline ridiculous.

But hey, at least there’s always a new cardback every month…

 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Luci! You can find the author on Twitter here.

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

balance

Is Hearthstone operating on a complaints-based balance system?

Tracing back all the way to the 7.1 patch, the changes made in Arena are definitely due to the complaints of the playerbase rather than a confirmed case of metagame-warping cards. While “feeling bad” about losing to something is certainly an aspect of gameplay that the developers should keep in mind, it’s not easy to strike a balance between removing cards that the community finds problematic and outright neutering specific ones just because they are powerful – and this is a discussion worth having again now that the Death Knights are getting removed from Arena.

Arenarcissism

One of the long-running issues with the game’s draft-based format is that the developers eventually shied away from actively curating the card pool, even though they had a successful attempt at it in September 2016, removing 45 cards – some good, some bad – in order to make the classes closer to each other. Simple, understandable, logical, easy to adjust and change: it’s a shame they ditched this method and opted to adjust offering rates both based on card type and individual cards, with the rates of the latter micro-adjustments not even being available to the playerbase unless they collect their own data via sites like HSReplay and ArenaDrafts.

balance

Should we ban Tirion as well? Source: hearthpwn.com

The problem with this, of course, is that if losing to a card “feels bad”, knowing that it’s rarely going to show up in the draft makes it even worse when they actually are dropped on you, especially because it becomes an incorrect strategy to play around them due to their rarity. It also led to an interesting development where the officially noted changes are almost exclusively centered around the community’s complaints: the offering rates of Abyssal Enforcer and Flamestrike have been slashed to half forever, no matter how the arena metagame might change with new releases and adjustments, while certain cards like Vicious Fledgling – and now the Death Knights – that did not have obscenely high winrates but were “bad to lose against” have been completely banned.

Here’s the main issue: where do you draw the line? If you’re going to eventually ban or neuter most of the powerful cards in the format, all you’ll accomplish is that previously less annoying cards will take their place as the villains. This isn’t a sustainable nor a necessarily productive way to balance a draft-based format: directly curating the pool, with sets or specific cards occasionally rotating in and out would be a much more interesting and effective approach. The new, Arena-specific cards also seem like a good way to go, making such extreme decisions as these outright bans even more excessive in the process.

Keep in mind that most of these concerns are validated by the developers’ previous work: these decisions are final in their mind. We’ve never seen a reverted nerf in either of the large formats, and that’s probably not a good thing.

A brief history of Constructed nerfs

If you look beyond the beta period of the game, Hearthstone’s long and checkered history with card adjustments is a sad sight to behold with each changes coming long after a particular card or deck has warped the metagame, with the developers eventually turning them into unplayable junk. Warsong Commander, twice. Starving Buzzard. Undertaker. Big Game Hunter. The list could go on – and this doesn’t even account for the head-scratchers like the changes to Molten Giant, Blade Flurry or Hex. In general, these changes have rendered the cards completely useless and crippled the archetypes they were involved in.

The usual explanation by the developers is that they can only change so many stats and just a single added mana or one reduced health is a large increase in percentage. I would argue that this isn’t really an adequate reason why Blade Flurry’s cost had to double while also losing a critical part of its effect. With regards to our current discussion: if these changes weren’t final, if Team 5 was open to re-evaluating them and changing the cards once more at some point, an overkill like this would not be a problem. As things currently stand, if the community complains long and hard enough, the developers will actively butcher an archetype forever, no matter its winrate. I guess it’s a sign that they are paying more attention to Arena that they are displaying the same attitude over there as well. The main takeaway from all this? Be careful what you wish for…

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

South Korea Maintains Overwatch World Cup Dominance; Zunba wins MVP

South Korea wins their second consecutive Overwatch World Cup, taking out team Canada 4-1 at Blizzcon. Korea took out the United States, France and Canada en route to another title, only dropping four games in the process. Korea displayed the same mark of skill that’s been unbeatable in international competition since the start of Overwatch.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/playoverwatch

Let’s break down how they methodically dismantled Canada, even with strong performances from the opposition. Despite close games throughout the set, South Korea still managed to pull out a 4-1 victory. At times, Canada would push them, but similarly to France and the US, it’s tough to contend with Korea through an entire seven game set.

Coupled with the questionable composition decision making from Canada, and the constant matchup advantage they had to overcome. It made for a tough afternoon for Canada and put them constantly on the back foot. It wasn’t as easy as the previous year, but Korea once again proved why they’re the best gaming country in the world.

Oasis
On University, Canada jumped out to a hot start. Randal “Roolf” Stark got early hits with charge on Zenyatta, spraying the small choke points. Roolf cutting entrance ways took Korea by surprise, and allowed Canada’s heavy-hitters to get ultimate charge. Brady “Agilities” Girardi using dragon blade to swing the fight and Lane “Surefour” Roberts finishing kills with every Tracer, closed out university with with an impressive 100-0 victory.

However, the challenge against Korea is sustaining that level of play. Instead, Canada switched to triple-DPS on Gardens and left themselves open to some of the worlds best tank play. Kim “Mano” Dong-Yu recognizes their lack of tanks, and took advantage. Even with Liam “Mangachu” Campbell owning the Pharah matchup, the two Korean tanks dominated the ground game.

On city center, it came down to some sneaky plays from Mano and Tracer player Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol, who got an early pick on Canada’s Mercy and carried that all the way into a defensive full-hold. Korea kept up an aggressive style, and had Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk continue to push them back with his excellent D.Va play. It was clear that the positioning, and team targeting favored Korea. A 100-0 on City Center gave Korea the ever so important 1-0 lead.

Photo via twitch.tv/playoverwatch

Kings Row
Now, game one didn’t provide a lot of the flashiest player in Overwatch. The incredibly talented Yeon-oh “Flow3r” Hwang got to show, not only his versatility, but his creativity on Kings Row. He carried Korea with a few tire kills on Junkrat and a four-kill off Mano’s earth shatter on first point.

It was the snowball effect. After taking game three on control point, the momentum unmistakably shifted towards the winner. Korea clearly had the edge and Flow3r broke out because of it. Zunba getting to play his patented Zarya also helped out. Canada was held to one capture and 107 meters, which isn’t good.

Clearly, a hold for Canada seemed like a difficult proposition and a mistake on the character select screen left them vulnerable. Flow3r having the luxury of Pharah against Agilities on Junkrat left Canada having zero answers for korea’s air-attack. It took Korea essentially no-time to perverse the map as they traveled to an easy victory.

Hanamura
Kings Row was trouble for Canada. The utility of Flow3r, with his catalogue of effective heroes, makes for tough decisions. The failure to adjust to his picks got Canada in an 0-2 hole. On Hanamura, it was imperative that Canada wins. A loss and the dream completely dies. Hanamura, with second point defense being so strong, gave Canada a chance .

Fortunately, Canadarealized their mistakes from Kings Row and adjusted. After a few engagement losses on first point attack, a subtle switch off Genji to Roadhog and substituting in Soldier 76 on the second point made the difference.

On the other side, Korea’s first point defense utulized the lower ledge of the Hanamura gate. Orisa’s shield and Flow3r peppering the DPS angels with McCree nearly stopped the Canadian attack.

It took an inspired effort from Mangachu on D.va to even push it to a second point. From there, Canada snowballed and took it with 32 seconds remaining. Now it was going to take all Canada had to prevent a Korean win.

Korea has a secret weapon on Hanamura: Flow3r’s widow maker. Canada did attempt the triple-tank composition to counter the Widow-composition, but it back fired against them. Saebyeolbe’s Tracer did all the ground work. Zunba, in a similar role to Mangachu, kept pressure on high-activity areas with D.va. Korea now had strangle hold on the World Cup.

Junkertown
Junkertown was win or go-home for Canada. In that situation, Canada decided to bring out the unorthodox compositions. Using Orisa and Bastion on attack took Korea by surprise. Korea threw out triple defense, and weren’t prepared to face such a strong cart offense-to-defense. It forced Korea off that composition.

The real leg-work had to be done on defense. Korea had been basically perfect on offense up until Junkertown. It even started out great as Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong continually landed sleep darts and Zunba got constant self-destruct kills. It wasn’t until Surefour got his Tracer going and Agilities his junkrat.

The two of them being able to work in tandem to target fire the same opponent was a spectacle. It earned Canada another game in this tournament. Korea wasn’t going to clean sweep like they did against Russia in 2016.

Numbani
Flow3r’s talented in many different areas, but when Korea gets to throw him out on Pharah that’s when the matchup feels most disadvantageous. Numbani’s sight lines give Pharah free reign to attack and hide behind corners. Canada had no early counter, going with the Roadhog.

South Korea ended with a 2:46 and three points heading into a defense for the World Cup. The desperation was clear from Canada. Mangachu switched to Torbjörn for an second point offense. It got that weird and desperate for Canada. Luckily, Surefour finally got a chance to play his best character in Soldier 76 and that carried Canada to another round.

The overtime period ended swiftly. Korea had a much bigger time bank and Saebyeolbe wasn’t going to be denied on his Tracer.

MVP: Zunba
Surprised it’s not Flow3r? Well, Zunba absolutely earned this with just constant damage, blocking, and positioning. He was on fire a majority of the set. His aggressive D.va play made it incredibly difficult on Canada’s offense. He came through clutch on every character.

Flow3r had the explosive plays, but Zunba was hot all afternoon long. Overwatch fans in New York should have a big smile on their face.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/playoverwatch

#SavetheDisruptor

Playing Protoss in Starcraft 2 has always felt like an abusive relationship. For months we’ll be on top of the world. One day we’ll be skipping through a meadow with our trusty ‘Ruptors, then wake up tomorrow to find a Tier 3 water balloon. At the beginning of Legacy of the Void, we were given a shiny new toy: The Disruptor. This unit almost immediately became my favorite. It had enormous potential to change the course of the fight, while at the same time running the risk of whiffing completely or dying before detonation, costing you a hefty 150/150 for no damage whatsoever. It was a difficult unit to use, especially in conjunction with the Blink Stalker force that it most commonly complemented.

More games than I can count my Disruptor-based Army would get surrounded by Speedlings or out-muscled by a skilled Terran’s Marauder splits; but still I would try. That tantalizing memory of that juicy center-mass detonation on  Roach/Hydra five games ago… would always keep me coming back.

 

And then Blizz just went and did this…

 

Essentially what this means is that your purification nova, instead of detonating after a timed fuse, will explode as soon as the center of the ball touches an enemy unit. It splashes against the first thing it hits, utilizing AT MOST half of the ball’s overall area. The “new” Disruptor is terribly unsatisfying and even causes a fair bit of friendly fire when triggered by units like Zerglings or Zealots.

Anyone who has played the test server knows how ridiculous and disappointing this change is.

To explain better than I ever could, one of the great pioneers of the all mighty ‘Ruptor…

Ladies and Gentlemen, MCanning:

Why?

This change is not meant to “revitalize” the Unit and make it more common in the Korean scene where it is all but absent. It’s not about balance or counterplay, this change is primarily about Silver league armies blowing up in the blink of an eye. It’s about “game-ending potential” versus poorly controlled armies. Really? Not only are there dozens and dozens of ways to lose a game in the blink of an eye, but many of them are far more lethal than a good ‘Ruptor hit. Should we get rid of Storm too? Doom drops? Cloaked units? Proxies?

This is not Hello Kitty Island Adventure, this is Starcraft 2. Mistakes have consequences. When you suddenly lose a game to any number of units and strategies, you LEARN! The Disruptor is one of the easiest units to adjust to: split, pick up or go air. Maybe don’t have your army standing still and clumped without vision of what’s near it.

Of course, I want players of all skill levels to enjoy Starcraft 2 and to be able to ladder without anxiety. But removing one of the most entertaining units to use and one of the most exciting mechanics to spectate is not helping anyone out, it’s nerfing the game.

 

This change will kill the Disruptor

Say goodbye to game changing, crowd cheering booms. The Disruptor will vanish, never to appear in professional play again.

Removing the Mothership core and adding Shield battery seem like very promising ideas, but please… don’t take the Disruptor.

 

 

 

Photos Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Video Courtesy of McanningSC2

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Mac!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

EnvyUs and Misfits heavy Favorites to win Overwatch Contenders Season One

As the Overwatch League creeps closer, and before the preseason starts, the leagues worldwide, including the Contenders series, Korea’s Apex, and OPC in Taiwan will conclude. Five major event champions will be crowned in October, and a world champion will take the Apex crown.

Notably, another team will be crowned before the start of the preseaon giving teams and fans a taste of what’s to come in the Overwatch league. The events I will be focusing on in this piece will be the regional contender series: North America and Europe specifically. On October 8th, these regionals leagues will conclude their season and crown two champions.

Let’s take a look at the Contender playoffs

Overwatch Contenders Season One: North America

It’s clear who the favorites are in North America. EnvyUs had a perfect 7-0 record, going +21 in individual games, and only four game losses on the season. FaZe Clan is the only other team to even compete with EnvyUs, going 6-1 in the group with the only loss coming from EnvyUs.

Team EnvyUs. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

In the bottom two of the playoffs, Envision eSports and FNRGE will look to pull the upsets. Against EnvyUs, NRG was one of the few teams to take a game and give them any sort of trouble (EnvyUs finished 25-4 on the season). NRG played them tight on escort maps, but ultimately fell 3-1. In the other matchup, Faze has the season advantage over Envision with a 4-1 regular season win. The only game Envision won was a draw on Hanamura. Both EnvyUs and FaZe are heavily favored to reach the finals.

It’s likely that the two uber-talented North American rosters will play in the title game. EnvyUs is a well established team with a world title under their belt. Taimou, Harryhook, and most of the roster have the experience. FaZe doesn’t have quite the same level of experience, but in terms of talent they matchup well.

Unfortunately, FaZe doesn’t have the continuity on the roster that EnvyUs has. The additions of Spree, Joemeister, and especially the addition of South Korean DPS-main: Carpe show that it’s clear they’re much improved and should give EnvyUs all they can handle.

Overwatch Contenders Season One: Europe

Similarly to North America, Europe was dominated by one of the more established and experienced teams in Overwatch. Mistfits only dropped two games in the regular season and finished at a staggering 27-2 (+25, best of any contender team). The only other teams to compete were the talented up-and-coming Team Gigantti, out of Finland, and 123. The two teams will matchup in the semifinals and have a chance to face (presumably) Misfits in the title match.

TviQ and the Misfits squad. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ogn

In terms of dominance, Misfits didn’t drop a single game to any of the playoff teams. And similarly to EnvyUs and Rogue, Misfits is one of the few foreign teams to get a chance to gain Apex experience. They still have one of the most talented DPS players, TviQ, and a strong roster to follow. It will take a great effort for any team to take out the top seeded Misfits in these playoffs.

Lastly, the second overall seed Gigantti will have the mismatches in the semifinals. After a 3-1 regular season victory over 123, they looked primed at another face-off with Misfits. The regular season matchup wasn’t close, though. A 4-0 with a number of convincing victories.

Whatever the case, it should be a good glimpse into which teams are primed to take the next step as we move closer to the start of the Overwatch League.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

Featured image courtesy http://wiki.teamliquid.net/overwatch/File:Overwatch_Contenders_S1_NA_logo.png

Hearthstone’s design is evolving for the better

Hearthstone’s come a long way since its 2014 release. In that time, the design team has changed and expanded; and with it so has its philosophies. The dev team have developed their strategies on designing cards significantly. With a focus on interactivity, diversity and balance, the meta is healthier than ever. But how have Team 5’s design strategies evolved? And what does that mean for the cards of the future?

Neutrals are less ubiquitous and generic

Ragnaros, while unique, was too ubiquitously powerful

Medivh’s strengths lie in unique synergies and interactions

Gone are the days of Doctor Boom and Piloted Shredder. Very few Neutral cards are in a great number of different competitive decks. Those that are are chosen due to interesting synergies, not raw stats. In the past, decks (especially aggressive ones) have seemed very similar. With everyone running Knife Jugglers, Shredders, and Haunted Creepers, it was hard for decks to feel distinct.

This has been remedied with rotations, select nerfs and conservative stats on new early-game neutrals. While there are a number of Neutrals run in specific decks, they are chosen for a specific purpose instead of just being “good”. Fire Fly is popular for its token synergies, Acolytes for its synergistic card draw, and Medivh for its spell-focused late game power. Decks have a huge number of unique cards, and even decks with similar strategies feel different. Playing against a Token Shaman is very different to fighting Token Druid!

Lifegain is more class-appropriate and interactive

Lifegain is an important part of Hearthstone to counter Aggro and Burn. However, non-interactive lifegain focused around a few ultra-powerful cards can make games feel frustrating . Team 5 have shied away from super-powerful single-card healing available to all classes like Reno and Antique Healbot. After all, it’s pretty frustrating to have games decided by whether or not someone draws one single uber-important card!

Instead, Team 5 have restricted lifegain. While this led to some classes becoming unfortunately weak (RIP Warlock), heal has become far less frustrating. Lifegain that remains often focuses on synergy, spells and board interaction. Cards like Alley Armorsmith, Hallazeal, Earthen Scales or Priest of the Feast require more thought, deckbuilding and smart play than simple burst heal. This increases counterplay and skill-testing. Meanwhile, the lifegain being restricted to classes with it as part of their core identity has furthered sense of class identity. It is, however, pretty unfortunate that it comes at the expense of Warlock’s viability.

Late-game cards are more pro-active, synergistic and powerful

DIE INSECT is RNG dependent, but more pro-active and exciting

Tank Up was great for Warriors, but boring

That fatigue was a viable win condition for so much of Hearthstone’s history is telling. Early on, there were simply no options to put value into your deck to outlast Control without becoming supremely clunky versus other decks. Cards like Ysera were strong of course, but with removal powerful and ubiquitous, it was far easier to remove than threaten with minions in the late game. This came to a head with the addition of cards like Entomb, Elise and Justicar Trueheart. Control decks almost stopped running threats altogether in favour of the Golden Monkey (and even then, only after the opponent had first been forced to play theirs).

While this had the effect of fascinating, complex gameplay, it lacked excitement. Hearthstone rarely shines when both players are pursuing a strategy of doing nothing. To encourage more pro-active late-game play, numerous potent high-value cards were introduced. C’thun decks, Quests such as Fire Plume’s Heart and yes, even the controversial Jade Idol, pushed action into the late game. Instead of not drawing cards, now players compete to activate their own powerful win conditions. Though some disparity in their availability is still present, new powerful end-game tools will help bridge this gap.

Limited burst damage from hand

Of all the nerf targets for Hearthstone’s balance changes, none are more consistently targeted than burst damage. Dying from max HP is frustrating and has limited counterplay for classes without Armor or Ice Block. The potential downside of this is to limit Combo decks. But Team 5 has ensured that Combo decks still exist, albeit in a more value-oriented gameplan.

Modern Combo decks like Miracle Priest, Miracle Rogue and Burn Mage no longer seek to burst down the enemy in one turn. Instead, they seek to utilise powerful synergies to deal damage over multiple turns or create massive value swings. This allows more opportunity for counterplay, as well as being less salt-inducing.

AOE is more efficient

Powerful AOE increases the options for Control decks to flourish

AOE has gotten better. For a variety of reasons, it’s now far better to include Classic AOE cards like Brawl and Blizzard. Not only that, but Team 5 are becoming committed to giving most classes both early and late-game AOE removal. These new cards are often powerful and efficient, allowing for for more reactions to board flooding and giving Midrange and Control more breathing room.

Not only does this improve archetype diversity, it also increases class diversity and counterplay. Playing differently against a Priest than against a Mage due to their different arsenal of AOE removal options is skill-testing and interactive, as is choosing the right moment to nuke the board.

The future

Though it’s too early to call much for the new Knights of the Frozen Throne Expansion, there are promising signs. Complexity is going up, with new mechanics pushing the envelope of what’s possible. The designers’ continual commitment to meta diversity, counter-play and balance has created some of the best metas of Hearthstone history. Here’s hoping the next one lives up to that high standard.

Artwork courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

What’s the point of the Facebook card dump?

Card reveal season is upon us, and the giddy excitement of unveilings, predictions and evaluations is one of the most entertaining parts of Hearthstone’s release cycle. However, in all the hullabaloo, many cards fall by the wayside. Introducing the “Facebook Dump”.

In every expansion, dozens of cards are shown a few days or even hours before the expansion release. But these aren’t revealed by streamers, news outlets or Blizzard themselves. Instead, they’re “dumped” in a massive image album on the Hearthstone official Facebook page. But why squander the opportunity? Why delay the hype? And why pack such a large number of cards into such a small amount of time?

Information overload

One potential line of reasoning for the last-minute reveals would be an attempt to reduce fatigue from constant reveals. However, there remains long stretches of zero information, where the hype for an upcoming release is derailed. Surely sprinkling these cards out between those weeks of radio silence would help the hype more than a last minute dump, right?

What’s more, the sudden release of all remaining cards at once is far more overwhelming and obfuscatory than an overall higher rate of card reveals. The Facebook page can be hard to navigate, and the cards’ additions are hardly trumpeted from the rooftops. What’s worse, the sheer density of information can make theory-crafting impossible whilst invalidating prior efforts with new, meta-defining cards.

Not just chaff

Small-time Buccaneer flew under the radar due to being hidden in the Facebook dump

This could perhaps be forgivable if the cards revealed on the Facebook dump were the least exciting, least competitive cards. No one would complain if the Worgen Greasers and Stegadons were treated as an afterthought. But the cards in the Facebook dump are often incredibly impactful, with other less competitive or mechanically unique cards being prioritised over them.

Both Small-time Buccaneer and Mysterious Challenger, two of the most archetype-defining cards ever printed, were revealed mere hours before full release in the dump. Players’ weeks of theorycrafting, meta discussions and deckbuilding ideas were rendered useless. Serious discussions about balance and viability went unsaid until long after the cards were already terrorising Ladder. Vital crafting decisions made by Dust and cash-strapped players were worse-informed and more likely to be disappointing.

An unfortunate compromise?

dump

Not every player hoards every last piece of new info

A more convincing argument for the Facebook card dump is that Blizzard is attempting to navigate between the “Hardcore” and “casual” player. The former wants to find out every card in the expansion prior to opening and packs. Meanwhile, the latter may desire an element of surprise and mystery when opening packs, looking forward to experiencing cards they never even knew existed.

This would make a degree of sense. However, it’s not difficult to avoid card spoilers if that’s what you want. Especially if you’re not an avid /r/hearthstone, official forums or Blizzard news reader. It’s likely that the only real effect is on the more engaged players who follow card reveals religiously. These players are the only ones effected by the Facebook dump style of releases.

Avoiding hassle

dump

Blizzard may simply be saving time and manpower for more productive activities

Aside from all these explanations, it’s likely that the Facebook dump takes place primarily out of simplicity. Sending out cards to streamers and news sites takes time, organisation, communication and the risk of leaks. With hundreds of cards per expansion and only so many well-known, trusted outlets, it makes sense that there may not be enough distributors to go around. Even when taking into account the cards released in news articles and fluff for Hearthstone lore, each piece takes significant effort and can only realistically incorporate a few cards.

Of course, this could be ameliorated by giving certain affiliates more than one card to reveal. But this would likely create animosity and accusations of bias or favouritism. No one wants to be the poor chump stuck with only one card reveal while other streamers get two or more to reveal!

A better-spread dump

So it looks like the Facebook dump is here to stay. But even if it is just being pursued out of simplicity’s sake, then it could still be improved. Simply revealing the cards over a longer length of time would allow more space for theory-crafting and discussion, without adding to the workload. Meanwhile, players could get more of the addictive Hearthstone reveals they so crave.

Regardless of whether Blizzard changes their policy or not, it’s well worth taking a careful look through the Facebook card dump when it does come out. You never know if the next Small-time Buccaneer will be hiding among it.

 


Artwork courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

 

 

Will Quest Rogue Survive its Nerf?

In a recent statement, Blizzard announced that the Rogue Quest will be receiving a significant balance tweak. From its initial requirement of playing four minions with the same name, after an upcoming update it will need five.

What will this substantial nerf mean for Quest Rogue, and the meta as a whole? Will the deck survive?

Crystal Core is Core

One thing is instantly clear; Quest Rogue isn’t cutting The Caverns Below. Unlike Pirate Warrior with Small-Time Buccaneer, or Aggro Shaman with Spirit Claws, Quest Rogue can’t find similar replacements. The card is what the entire deck is built around.

The real question is, will this nerf mean that the deck will have to change drastically? Or simply disappear altogether?

Shadow Strike or Assassinate don’t quite work as replacements

What’s One More Bounce?

At first, the nerf might not seem too dramatic. Quest Rogue runs six ‘bounces’ or return to hand effects (eight counting vanish), and multiple cards that generate duplicates. Most draws can easily complete the quest on turns 5-7. Surely increasing the requirement by one won’t destroy the deck?

Unfortunately for Quest Rogue, the reality is trickier. Looking at the latest Vicious Syndicate Meta Report, the deck’s current overall winrate is roughly 50%, with a 7% representation on ladder. Here we see that the deck is competitive in high-level play, if not Tier One.

Things look bleaker if you analyse Winrate by turn of Quest completion. HSReplay.net shows a drastic fall in overall winrate the later the Quest is completed. This could show a catastrophic reduction in competitive viability, to the point of non-viability, at least with current lists. Each extra turn spent digging for that extra bounce or duplicate is another turn Aggro gets to kill you, or Control gets to draw into a clear.

A Slower Solution?

With a harsher requirement, future Quest Rogues might need more draw

Looking at the current strengths and weaknesses of the deck, it’s looking like there’s little opportunity for the deck to survive. But what if drastic changes were made? Could it adapt to the nerf?

A slower quest completion means fewer cards that are only strong with the quest should be run. Cards like Glacial Shard, Bilefin Tidehunter and Wisp could be cut in favour of a more reactive set of survival tools and draw to get to the more limited number of combo pieces. The deck would look more like Miracle Rogue, with a 5/5 charge focused win condition, but otherwise more conventional Rogue staples. Though likely less reliable than current Quest Rogue lists, it might be able to survive in typical Rogue fashion rather than relying on super-fast Quest Completion.

However, this looks unlikely, as standard Miracle rogue would likely fill this niche better. For now, it’s probably best to assume the deck will meet its demise competitively.

A Meta-Changing Nerf

Expect plenty more Jade Druid

According to Blizzard, the rationale behind changing the card was that it was pushing out “slower, controlling decks”. These were Quest Rogue’s strongest matchups.

Taunt or Control Warriors, Priest variants, and slower versions of Paladin and Shaman will likely rise up the tier list, as they will have lost their most powerful counters. Conversely, Aggro decks like Aggro Druid and Pirate Warrior will lose their edge somewhat as a dominating matchup is lost.

However, those celebrating the incoming Control meta might find their joy premature. One of Quest Rogue’s best matchups is the Anti-Control Jade Druid. With less Aggro around and more Control to prey on, it’s fair to assume this deck archetype is due to see a meteoric rise. Considering its increasing resilience to aggression with Tar Creepers, Primordial Drakes and Earthen Scales, along with its natural anti-Control powers, it’s likely to become Tier One.

As far as losers from the fallout of the nerf, one stands out above all others. Dirty Rat no longer makes sense as a tech choice without the ability to disrupt the Rogue Quest. The unfortunate and unhygienic rodent is likely to remain stuck in the collection; at least until Exodia Mage rejoins the ladder.

Artwork courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com. Title art by Konstantin Turovec.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

Amazon subsidiary Twitch and Blizzard make a deal: Twitch to host APEX and Premier Series, Prime users get free loot

On June 20, Twitch announced a deal with Blizzard, owner and creator of Overwatch. As part of this deal, Twitch will host two of the biggest Overwatch tournaments: the APEX League and Premier Series, along with other Blizzard esports tournaments. Further, Twitch Prime users will get a lot of free loot.

This is a great moment for Overwatch players and fans. But this deal was not just created for them. When you look behind the curtain, you’ll find Amazon’s marketing team hard at work.

Twitch is currently a subsidiary of Amazon.com, who has been increasingly expanding into the esports market over the last several years. In 2010, Amazon bought Reflexive Entertainment. Two years later, it developed Amazon Game Studios as a subsidiary specializing in game development. 2014 saw Amazon make a strong commitment toward the esports industry. In that year, it merged Reflexive Entertainment into Amazon Game Studios in 2014 and it purchased both Double Helix Games and Twitch as well.

Twitch began almost as an accident, but in less than a decade it has become the go-to streaming source for esports tournaments, streaming, and other content. Currently, it’s viewing services are free to anyone, while a Twitch Prime membership is available at an extra cost. This membership allows viewers to skip past all the ads and receive special in-game content in several games.

But there’s a catch.

The Deal

You can only get a Twitch Prime membership with an Amazon Prime membership. Now that doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, Amazon Prime includes thousands of movies and TV shows, millions of ad-free songs, and unlimited free two-day shipping on all eligible purchases. Twitch Prime just seems like an added benefit. But Amazon now appears to be using this benefit as a marketing tool to draw esports fans to purchase its Prime service by offering a free Overwatch Gold Loot Box, which includes at least one legendary item to anyone who purchases by August 10.

As most players know, items in Overwatch rank as either Standard (White), Rare (Blue), Epic (Purple) or Legendary (Orange). Standard items are most common and Legendary are the least, appearing only 2.55% of the time. To be assured of a free legendary item is a big deal. Amazon/Twitch seem to be using this as a means of marketing to Overwatch fans. And the gifts/marketing don’t stop there.

Twitch Prime users will also receive 10 free Standard Loot Boxes over the coming months. These might not contain a legendary item, but it’s certainly another incentive to try out that free Amazon Prime membership they keep advertising. The current price of 11 loot boxes is $9.99, only $1 less than the $10.99 monthly membership of Amazon Prime. But giving away 10 loot boxes, or even more than that, won’t hurt Amazon in the long run. These are, after all, virtual products. No packaging. No shipping. No assembling. Just pure profit.

As the esports industry continues to expand, this deal between Twitch and Blizzard is not just meant to benefit long-time fans. It is a promotional opportunity for Amazon to market toward a growing demographic and give esports players and fans a reason to buy their monthly service.

And the deal goes even farther than Overwatch.

Blizzard is also the owner and creator of many other games which will be receiving the Twitch treatment. Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm players can also expect to receive free gifts and in-game content from their Twitch Prime accounts as well. And Twitch will be hosting 18 other esports tournaments including Heroes of the Storm Global Championship, StarCraft II World Championship Series, Hearthstone Championship Tour and Global Games, and World of Warcraft Arena Championship. These are some of the most watched esports tournaments every year.

Amazon has spent billions entering the esports industry, and they are going to do everything they can to make their investment pay off. Purchasing Twitch alone cost the company $970 million. The Blizzard-Twitch deal is just one of many avenues in which Amazon is slowing becoming a major player in this growing market.

By hosting their tournaments through Twitch and giving free virtual gifts to players of many different Blizzard esports, Amazon is poised to become a major player in the esports industry. With a large and growing influence over some of the biggest tournaments, Amazon will gain huge amounts of advertisement revenue during these tournaments with an increasing number of mediums. Even the longtime haters of Amazon may soon become avid devotees.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers.

Image: entrepreneur.com

Overwatch League Contenders: European Weekend Recap

Never underestimate eUnited or Cyclowns. While playing semi off key, their dive comps both looked very well oiled and extremely dangerous.

European teams have a very strong base in Genji play. Sticky bomb kills going into a three kill was not uncommon but Dragonblades were accounting for most of the deaths in any match, sometimes nanoboosted. Both of these teams played each other off stream on Saturday, with eUnited winning two to one against Cyclowns. eUnited never dropped a match before or after that war with Cyclowns.

Cyclowns went on to crush the Sunday bracket, only getting a serious challenge from the next point. Both teams DPS are the stuff of nightmares and on full display throughout the Saturday and Sunday streams. Highly recommended viewing content for those looking to see great anticipation from Tracers or Genjis.

On Saturday, GamersOrigin lost to Bazooka Puppies but on Sunday stormed through the brackets, ultimately getting second place after losing to Cyclowns. Origin played out of their collective minds throughout Sunday, giving a lot of people the impression that they’re an up and coming team in the European arena. They’ve been around since the beginning of Overwatch. Their two longest tenured players are Hyp, who is captain as well as support, along with Noki, also support.

The casters for Europe are very entertaining. The rapport between the pairs of casters really shows. Erik Lonnquist and Christopher Mykles look to be working through a transition phase from League to Overwatch. You never got an odd vibe from anyone during this section of the tournament. Each pair of casters played off one another, through the blunders and word flubs you see a sense of appreciation for each others company. Blizzard’s picks to commentate are really impressive and give a sense of calm insight and emotional commentary without being too overbearing in either sense.

Things that could definitely use some improvement

The waits between matches almost kill any interest. Some matches take roughly 20 minutes to start, and that 20 minutes is enough to lose any focus one has. This will likely be fixed soon when the next round kicks off next weekend, though. All eight teams will have everything in order before the rounds begin to cut down on wait times. If they’re lacking content between the matches, that’s understandable.

Lack of coverage is another issue. We see a lot of matches scheduled but only half the matches streamed. It’s confusing when someone is looking forward to watching a team only to find out their match is not streamed. Four matches a night with 10 to 20 minutes between each match feels empty.

There’s not much else to gripe about really. The matches are all played online, so pauses are inevitably going to happen. Teams may be a bit late and it may take a bit of time to organize over 750 teams. Getting a controllable bracket can’t be easy and it speaks volumes that Blizzard got this tournament to function as well as it did and still get some coverage on the key matches.

Here’s looking forward to next week when the North American sweet 16 go into the four groups to battle for the top four spots. The round robins will hopefully be getting a lot more coverage than the four matches shown each day so far.


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers.

Page 1 of 512345