Razer Renews Sponsorship with Team Liquid: What Makes a Great Esports Partnership?

Team Liquid has announced an extension of partnership with Razer, one of it’s long standing sponsors.

7 Years of Partnership

Courtesy: TeamLiquid.Net

Team Liquid is a pioneer of esports, having been around since Starcraft 2’s competitive days back in 2001. This year will mark seven years of partnership for the two organizations. Razer and Team Liquid have both thrived in their partnership as they watched the esports world grow.

Nobody would have predicted just how big esports would become seven years ago, a time in which most players were playing for the competition alone. But Team Liquid has stayed the course and is active in just about every major esport, including League of Legends, Overwatch, CS:GO, and more.

“I’m very proud that Razer is our longest standing partner. It feels like an eternity since we signed our first sponsorship with Razer. In an industry that moves at a million miles an hour, we’ve been on the journey together and it’s incredible that our two brands have come so far,” said Victor Goossens, co-CEO of Team Liquid.

What Makes a great Sponsor relationship

Game Haus had the chance to interview Team Liquid’s Director of Operations, Mike Milanov, who had much praise for the relationship they’ve been able to build with Razer. He highlighted that Team Liquid is considered a “premium brand”, having been involved in esports longer than almost anyone. This was a major factor in Razer’s initial partnership with the organization in 2011.

When asked about how Razer differs from other sponsors, Milanov said, “Razer was one of the first brands to get involved with Starcraft back in the early esports era. They were one of the first brands to really ramp up with team sponsorship and take relationships seriously. They value partners that work with them on the things they find most important…We’ve always been treated like a tier one organization by Razer.”

Another ideal he praised Razer for was their ability to adapt to other esports organizations and grow together with one another.

They understand that it’s not in templated approach with every organization. Razer adapts to different organizations very well in the esports scene,” he said.

Milanov also brought up how growing together was one of the biggest priorities in the partnership.

He noted, “We had many offers to potentially go elsewhere for a little more money, but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about growing together. As Team Liquid grows, Razer grows.”

 

Looking Ahead

Razer recently came out with Team Liquid DeathAdder mouse bundles, which sold out ahead of schedule during the holiday season. Announcing another year of partnership could mean more opportunities for additional Team Liquid gear.

Milanov commented that this may only be the beginning of a new line of Team Liquid Razer infused products, due to the success that they found with the holiday bundles.

“Just the fact that they trust us enough to make a Razer DeathAdder with Team Liquid theme says enough about what we’re going to be doing with them in the future,” he said.

Courtesy: Team Liquid Pro

Team Liquid underscores what Razer’s ‘unfair advantage’ is all about,” said Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “We have enjoyed working with this incredible team on dozens of products over the years. We look forward to continuing the collaboration to ensure our products are the best in the world at the highest level of competition.

With the announcement of another year of partnership, both organizations will enjoy another year of esports growth side by side.

You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles.

Elemental Synergies: Curvestone or Counterplay?

There are three main themes to the upcoming Journey to Un’goro expansion. Quests, Adapting dinosaurs, and Elementals all involve never before seen mechanics that may introduce new and exciting gameplay.

Unlike the more intricate Quests and unreliable Adapts, Elementals and their dependents have relatively straightforward activators. It is different than Murloc synergies, which require Murlocs on the board, or Dragon synergies, which revolve around keeping Dragons in the hand. Elemental synergies will be dependent on whether or not you’ve played an Elemental on the previous turn.

Powerful but slow?

Stoneshaper is powerful, but it can mess up Elemental sequencing. Perhaps promoting off-curve play?

The immediate impact of Elemental decks’ synergy requirements is a lack of explosive early game. Unlike Dragon Decks, which can get off a powerful overstated minion like Alexstrasza’s Champion, Twilight Whelp, or Wrymrest Agent simply by having a card in hand, Elemental decks require an Elemental played first. Furthermore, no powerful one or two mana Elemental synergy cards have been revealed yet. This means no overpowered minions coming down on turn one or two.

This means that Elemental decks may find it hard to commit to the aggressive strategies often favoured by Dragon variants, especially Dragon Warrior. While the synergies are minion-dependent, it revolves around using them in a steady stream that slowly ramps up in power; not by rushing them out as fast as possible.

Sequencing and skill

Elementals also offer a chance for players to test their strategic and tactical talents. Because each Elemental effect is completely dependent on what happens on the previous turn, inter-turn sequencing and managing resources is paramount.

Due to the power of Elemental-dependent minions that are not necessarily Elementals themselves, it will often be necessary to plan out turns well in advance. The strong but situational swings of Ozruk or Kalimos will require a careful manipulation of the board state for maximum benefit. All while having to commit in advance by playing Elemental resources.

Elemental counterplay

This also provides a massive opportunity for counterplay. Not playing an Elemental broadcasts a temporary inability to invoke the powerful synergistic effects. This allows both a hand read and a temporary freedom from being blown out by certain effects.

Players could even bait out tempting Elemental plays in advance, starving the opponent of resources with which to activate the synergies. All this provides more opportunity for interaction and counterplay by canny opponents.

Furthermore, the classes where Elementals are being pushed hardest are the ones with powerful spells. Shamans and Mages can make more decisions, and might focus harder on a few high quality Elemental minions. They could do this by weaving more spells into their gameplan. This would naturally synergize with the limited number of Elementals.

Same old Curvestone?

Draw RNG can make the impact of Blazecaller varied, and make wins more snowbally

Of course, this might just be over-optimistic theorycrafting. The realities of the brutal tempo-based gameplay of Hearthstone means that holding back combos for optimal use may not be viable. While it’s nice to imagine that the most skilled players will hold onto their most powerful Elementals for the perfect synergies, getting bodies on board and hoping you topdeck an enabler in the meantime might end up being the superior strategy.

This is compounded by the likely midrange style encouraged by the Elemental’s theme of anti-aggro, beefy minions. Follow that up with minion centered tempo swings. Such decks want to play their minions out as big and as fast as possible. This rarely leaves much room for card-draw; and less card-draw means less decision-making, as on any given turn fewer options will be available.

As such, any impact on the gameplan outside of traditional midrange decks will have to be taken with a grain of salt. Hearthstone will likely be very similar to how it’s always been for the decks that best utilize Elemental synergies.

A meta impact

Tar Creeper may be the bane of Pirate Warrior

One potential upside to Elemental decks may come outside of their playstyle. Many of the Elemental and Elemental synergistic cards are powerful anti-aggro taunt minions. This could cause problems for current meta tyrant, Pirate Warrior. A Tar Creeper or Tol’vir Stoneshaper is a tricky obstacle for Pirate Warrior to overcome at any stage of the game (to say nothing of Kalimos’ insane healing ability). Meanwhile, the ability to use cards like Blazecaller to play threats while removing enemy midrange minions might mean the deck would have the mid-game beef to take on Jade Druid.

However, as always, the true impact of Elemental decks is yet to be seen. Without any play-testing, it’s impossible to tell whether Elemental decks will even see any play. Whatever happens, it’s likely Shaman has received tools to survive, even in a world without Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem.

 

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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!

An in-depth analysis of Molten Blade

Another Warrior card from the Journey to Un’goro expansion has been released. Like its Discover-based counterpart, it looks like a “fun”, uncompetitive card. Molten Blade is a 1 mana 1/1 weapon, with the effect “each turn this is in your hand, transform it into a new weapon”. Similar to the legendary minion Shifter Zerus, Molten Blade trades consistency for flexibility. Not limited by class, it can become any weapon in the game. But is the massive variance in outcome worth the potential upside?

The card in all its RNG glory

Why Molten Blade?

King of the early game, Fiery War Axe is less good later on

Many people would look at Molten Blade and think, why would I ever play this? Warrior has access to some of the best weapons in the game, including Fiery War Axe and Gorehowl, the best early and late-game weapons respectively. Why would you run this over these more reliable options?

Well, one answer can come in the form of its constantly varying mana cost. Fiery War Axe is amazing in certain situations, namely, on turn two when the opponent has played a minion. Meanwhile, Gorehowl is perfect for winning late-game grindfests but is completely useless until then. The potential advantage in cards like Molten Blade could come from flexibility. It has a chance to be a powerful early-game weapon on turns 1-5. However, should no opportunity arise, waiting long enough will guarantee that it’ll turn into a late-game powerhouse.

However, the obvious downside is that you’re losing a lot of consistency. If RNG isn’t in your favour, you’ll find it hard to even play this weapon. So, how does the math stack up?

Playing the odds

In order to properly evaluate Molten Blade, we need to look at the chances that two crucial things occur.

The first is that it will be relevant as an early game weapon. The second is the chance to transform into crucial late-game value. In the meantime, the odds that it becomes a mid-game option are worth looking into as well.

The chance of the early game weapon appearing is crucial because it’s what makes the card potentially worth playing over a Gorehowl or Arcanite Reaper. The potential of becoming an early game option in the early game, even a sub-par card, would make this incredibly powerful. In the best case scenario, the Warrior could have additional Fiery War Axes and Truesilver Champions at perfect times, allowing an easy tempo snowball to victory.

Meanwhile, the odds of acquiring a late-game weapon is vital. If the card will simply sit in your hand turn after turn before becoming something truly valuable, there would be no point playing this over reliable early or mid-game options.

Early-game Outcomes

Stormforged Axe isn’t amazing on turn two; but it’s far better than Gorehowl is

Luckily, the pool of weapons is very small, making analysis easy. As of the Un’goro expansion’s release (barring any additional yet-to-be-announced weapon releases), there will be 21 collectible weapons in the game, including Molten Blade itself. Ten of them cost between 1 and 3 mana. This already seems promising; a 50% chance to get an early game weapon and a 50% chance of a high mana option gives a good likelihood of it being worthwhile after being kept in the opening mulligan.

However, things aren’t as rosy as they seem. Whilst weapons are more consistent value-wise than minions, there are still some highly synergy dependent or otherwise underwhelming cards, particularly for the early game. While the worst offender, Cursed Blade, is rotating out, there are still cards like Light’s Justice, Spirit Claws and Molten Blade itself that are highly unlikely to be worth playing. Overall, there are six early game weapons that are undeniably decent. This is Jade Claws, Fiery War Axe, Stormforged Axe (marginal), Rallying Blade, Eaglehown Bow and Perdition’s blade. If you keep Molten Blade in the mulligan, you have a 15% chance of a decent 2 mana weapon on turn 2, and a 30% chance of a decent 2 or 3 mana weapon on turn 3. Overall, this means that you have a roughly 40% chance of Molten Blade giving you a good-enough early game option.

Mid-game Metrics

Any Warrior deck would love to get access to Truesilver Champion

The mid-game clue to Molten Blade is harder to compute. Due to weapons’ situational usefulness, ability to store charges, and function as removal, it’s hard to compute exactly when certain types of weapon are most useful. As the mid-game is usually dictated by tempo, cheap but good options are usually worthwhile, as they can be woven in with other cheap spells and minions. Overall, the odds here look good. There are a number of high value mid and low-cost options. Getting a Hammer of Twilight or Fool’s bane on curve can help snowball tempo, or push face damage if need be.

The odds of a 4-5 mana weapon are pretty high, with 8 of the 21 weapons falling into this category. Of these, there are few bad value options, apart from the relatively slow Pirahna Launcher, awful Tentacles-for-arms, and deck-dependent Brass Knuckles. This means there’s a very good chance that Molten Blade gives you a potent or even game winning option in the mid-game.

Value Statistics

Pirate Warrior getting Doomhammer is the dream, but the odds are pretty low

In terms of late-game value, where the idea is to push face damage ASAP or to gain huge value, there are a couple of options. Doomhammer may count among these, as it has an “effective” mana cost of 7 with its huge overload. Gorehowl is obviously the king of late-game value, though Gladiator’s Longbow may be pretty decent outside of the early-game oriented Hunter. Either way, these three weapons provide a 15% chance each turn of getting a late-game value option.

This sounds OK at first, but may, in fact, be far too low. 15% means that on average, you’d have to keep this in hand for 6-7 turns before getting a truly powerful weapon. What’s worse, Molten Blade is a terrible topdeck card, as the transformation happens the turn after you draw it. Late game options for this card look slim indeed, especially once you consider that it requires perfect timing to set up a super expensive weapon like Gorehowl in a world of Acidic Swamp Oozes and Harrison Joneses.

Molten Madness

So then, this looks like a card that will fill its intended purpose: Trolden fodder and RNG moments. It’s unlikely that the competitive world will be rocked by this card. Nonetheless, it may be worth keeping an eye on. Pirate Warrior sometimes ran the inefficient King’s Defender purely as a third, costly Fiery War Axe. It’s not inconceivable they’d want more early game options for weaponry. What’s more, the small pool of weapons could mean only a few additions of efficient weaponry could make this card incredibly potent. You never know, you may just curse the day when Pirate Warrior is able to beat you with an 8 attack doomhammer.

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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!

 

The League’s Explorers: A Retrospective

It’s hard not to look back on the League of Explorers expansion with rose-tinted spectacles. It came after the relatively non impactful Grand Tournament expansion that seemed to do little but introduce the much-maligned Secret Paladin, and following on the heels of a controversial Warsong Commander nerf. It provided a well-needed injection of variety and levity. Though the expansion added a number of exciting, archetype defining cards, it’s best remembered for its four eponymous Explorers. These oft-hatted adventurers weren’t just the thematic heart of the expansion; they each provided a powerful and lasting impact on Hearthstone’s history.

 

Sir Finley Mrrglton

This gentleman’s refined demeanor belied his aggro inclinations

Sir Finley heralded the rise of a whole new breed of aggro decks. Previously, many archetypes had been lumbered with an inherently defensive hero power. Classes like Warrior or Shaman could sometimes match Hunters with their quality of cards,; but the consistent pressure granted by the Steady Shot Hero Power made it the premier aggro class. Sir Finley Mrrglton single-handedly smashed that paradigm. He provided a decent body early-game, but mainly allowed a game plan synergistic hero power to replace an otherwise near-useless defensive one. Along with his one mana, 1/3 buddy Tunnel Trogg, he was a vital part in the rise of Aggro Shaman.

Steady Shot and Lifetap were of course the most coveted, but even Fireblast or Druid’s Transform were viable alternatives to the otherwise near-useless Armor Up and Totem powers. Whether or not this impact was healthy in the long run is a matter of perspective. In the short run, though, it contributed massively to an increase in the variety of Aggro. With Hunter on the ropes as a class, perhaps it’s best that Steady shot becomes unique to them once more…

What can we learn after Mrrglton’s Rotation? Well, for one, changing to another class’s hero power might dilute class flavor a bit much. Especially in the days when Small Time Buccaneer and Patches were ubiquitous, opening into the same few cards and the same few hero powers began to get monotonous. On the plus side, his voice acting and entry sequence were truly top-notch. On the other hand, allowing more variety in hero powers can help more viable decks flourish.

Brann Bronzebeard

Brann’s wild combos might be best suited to the Wild format

Brann Bronzebeard was an obvious addition ever since the likes of Baron Rivendare’s Deathrattle-doubling effect was introduced. His battlecry duplication ability with only minor stat costs made him a versatile inclusion in a wide variety of decks. From Dragon, to C’thun, to Jade, there were very few archetypes that couldn’t at least partially justify his inclusion.

While his incremental value was impressive, he could also inspire some truly broken combos. While Brann-Kazakus is the most popular now, few can forget the game-ending might of Brann into a Thaurrisan discounted Doomcaller. Barely any decks could withstand the onslaught of three C’thuns.

However, perhaps it’s for the best that he’s rotating out. As Kazakus has shown, he severely limited the design space for potent battlecry minions, or otherwise making certain archetypes and strategies far more potent than they had any right to be (see Jade Shaman). In that regard, Brann is a perfect advertisement for the merits of the Standard rotation system. While his potentially gamebreakingly powerful interactions will still exist to inspire and provoke wonder in Wild, they won’t pollute the carefully tuned balance of Standard.

Elise Starseeker

This card defined Control before Jade and Kazakus

Elise Starseeker was never meant to be anything other than a fun diversion. When she completely redefined Control decks, it was almost by accident. Together with Justicar Trueheart, she marked the temporary transition of Control decks from having heavy threats like Ysera in their deck to largely relying on her late-game value generation after reaching fatigue. The ability to swap out useless card draw and low-impact spells and minions for a cascade of huge bombs led to the evolution of Warrior and Priest decks. They could afford to go as anti-aggro as possible while still having a fighting chance in the control mirror.

The Golden Monkey itself provoked wonder, counter-play, and frustration in equal measure. While Legendary RNG decided many matchups, the variance was welcomed by adding unpredictability to the otherwise mathematically tedious calculations of Fatigue; and whilst she was powerful, there were numerous counterplay options. Most notably saving tempo tools like removal or Sylvanas for after the monkey hard replaced all comeback mechanics with clunky minions.

That said, the promotion of 20-minute plus games was perhaps an unhealthy one. Many players found it tedious and time-consuming facing decks that stalled out for dozens of turns before doing anything proactive. Still, Elise proved a powerful point; the promotion of potent proactive late-game strategies for control decks that don’t rely on replacing significant proportions of the deck with slow bombs could shake up otherwise stale interactions between late-game decks, while keeping their viability against aggro and midrange.

Reno Jackson

The fact that “Reno decks” are a concept tells of this card’s power

Few cards have been as impactful as Reno. This dapper member of the Explorers inspired multiple breeds of decks. Even the name Reno became a byword for singleton decks. His unique ability to provide incredible burst healing to classes that otherwise struggle with survivability, like Warlock or Mage, resulted in a new style of potent control decks. With the near-extinction of Handlock and struggle of Control Mage to find a raison d’etre after Echo of Medivh rotated out and Molten Giant’s mana was raised, the card provided a safe haven for those who wanted to play late-game oriented versions of those classes.

Kazakus provided a boost for singleton decks, making them the only option for Control after Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. This rise provided an additional spotlight on the less pleasant aspects of the class. By concentrating huge amounts of the decks’ power into a few key cards, decks tended to be exceptionally powerful, but horribly inconsistent, especially versus aggro. This made it especially frustrating when draw RNG was in favor of one player, as games often felt like a coin-flip.

Perhaps the best lesson to learn from Reno Jackson is to spread out the power cards for any given archetype over a decent number of deckslots. This will make games not as overly dependent on one draw-specific answers. The other, more positive lesson is already one that Team 5 has learned from; giving players reward for creative deckbuilding challenges pays off in terms of gameplay variety.

 

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

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!

An Impassioned, Possibly Misguided Defense of Explore Un’goro

Exploring the possibilities

Hearthstone’s latest expansion, Journey to Un’goro, is out in early April. With its outlandish setting, the expansion promises mechanics and cards that already could have immense potential. But it’s a jokey, “meme” card that was given to Warrior that has caught my attention: Explore Un’goro.

For those who haven’t had a chance to watch the card reveal livestream, the second batch of Un’goro cards have been revealed. The first of them was a card called Explore Un’goro. The card is deceptively simple; a two mana Warrior spell that replaces every card remaining in your deck with a one mana spell that discovers a card.

Could this card revolutionize Control Warrior? (Probably not, but I’ll make the case regardless)

 

Evaluating Explorrior

Are comparisons to Renounce Darkness unfair?

Most impressions of the card have been that it’s a fun, jokey, but ultimately non competitive card. Obvious comparisons between it and Renounce Darkness were made, along with Elise Starseeker. Overall, the consensus is that it’s inferior to both. It was even introduced on-stream as being a non competitive card, designed to allow a particular kind of player to have fun.

Jeffrey “Trump” Shih, for instance, calls it worse than Renounce Darkness, and points to people not running one mana discover cards. Meanwhile, he cites the lack of transforming cards in your hand and absence of shuffling a card into your deck as evidence of being an inferior Elise.

Those analyses have some merit; but there’s still a strong argument that Explore Un’goro is fundamentally different. In fact, there’s a decent chance that it will define a whole new archetype.

Late-game, not end-game

Elise Starseeker’s Golden Monkey is a strong but slow win condition

The first and obvious distinction to make is that Explore Un’goro is not a fatigue win condition as with Elise. Or at least, it is not primarily a fatigue win condition like Elise. Elise’s effect is Fatigue-oriented by necessity. This is especially important in a world of Jade Idols and Kazakuses, where fatigue has almost entirely disappeared as a win condition. Discover Un’goro has the potential to pump out threats as soon as you play it and draw a card. Furthermore, it can be played as a two of, unlike the Legendary Elise.

Regardless, it’s still a late-game effect. The requirement to spend a mana before discovering each card makes for a necessarily slow effect. You’d play this card for its value generation potential. It would have the same effect as Elise (transitioning from a reactive game-plan to a pro-active one), but would be able to take effect much faster.

Explore Un’goro is also superior in many respects to the effect of the Golden Monkey due to not transforming cards in hand, only cards in the deck. You can save that Brawl, Execute, or Grommash for the opponent’s N’zoth, Ragnaros, or Jaraxxus while still applying pressure and generating value.

More than a meme

Renounce Darkness, or “Renounce Dankness” as it is affectionately known, is the easiest card to directly compare to Explore Un’goro. The comparison is fundamentally misleading though. For one, Renounce relies on having a high number of Warlock class cards. These tend to be weak when trying to execute the control-into-midrange strategy the card represents. The advantage of Renounce is the ability to keep your neutrals unaffected; but Neutral cards tend to be pro-active minions anyway, rendering the strategy pointless. Finally, Warlocks give up their most potent late-game advantage, the Life-tap hero power. In return, you’d get a load of discounted, potentially useless cards.

Explore Un’goro, by contrast, has no deckbuilding requirements. No matter what your deck contains, Explore Un’goro will replace it. What’s more, Warrior is already adept at executing the early-game control strategy. It only struggles when trying to out-value other decks in the late-game. This situation, only exacerbated by Elise and Justicar rotating out, will be a perfect role for Explore Un’goro to fill.

On a more general basis, the whole point of transforming your deck is to go from a reactive early game to a proactive late game. In this, the flexibility offered by Discover and Warrior’s early-game strength will be instrumental.

Don’t judge the card, judge the deck

A test decklist, sans Explore Un’goro of course

You can’t evaluate Explore Un’goro like most cards. Explore Un’goro will only be as good or as bad as the deck it defines. What would such a deck look like?

Of course, any theory-crafting now is largely irrelevant. Any meta calls are likely off by a wide margin. The Warrior Quest in particular could fundamentally change how the deck is built. Moreover, the new Un’goro meta would determine tech choices and overall viability. However, as a thought experiment, it’s worthwhile to see the kind of deck it might find a home in.

Explore Un’goro itself is a late-game tool, so early game should be the emphasis here. Going aggro and proactive is largely pointless, as such decks want burst finishers more than value discovers in the late-game. The deck should be a heavily early-game focused Control deck.

This already seems promising. Warrior has arguably the best early Control tools in Hearthstone. Fiery War Axe, Blood to Ichor, and Ravaging Ghoul are perfect for countering and controlling the early-game board development of aggro and midrange. Meanwhile, defensive taunts like Alley Armorsmith and Bloodhoof Brave lock down the mid-game. Furthermore, spot removals like Execute and Shield Slam can take out key threats. Brawl acts as an emergency clear when these aren’t enough.

The final ingredient should be draw, as we want to actually get to our Explore Un’goros. This is also a perfect excuse to include Gadgetzan Auctioneer; allowing us to draw multiple cards immediately after playing Explore Un’goro.

The gameplan

Warrior Epics can be hit or miss. Some completely flop…

This deck would strongly counter all early-game attacks with its bevy of early-game tools. After wiping out early minions with ease and dropping a few solid taunts, it draws consistently with Acolyte, Slam, and Shield Slam. The first few of the opponent’s big threats are swatted away with powerful hard removal. Just as it’s looking to run out of steam, Explore Un’goro is played, along with the last Taunt minion. The next turn, Gadgetzan Auctioneer hits the board, and four cards are instantly drawn with discover effects. The Warrior then drops threat after threat, answering specific cards with the limited resources remaining from its original hand.

Eventually, the opponent cannot hold back the constant pressure, taking a risky play. This could then be punished by the Warrior’s remaining or discovered answers. The following turn, they are beat down by the Warrior’s board of fat minions.

Good on paper?

…but some redefine what the class can do

Is such a deck good? It’s hard to tell. It would likely suffer from a lack of mid-game tools (particularly with Sylvanas rotating out). Any deck that could transform the tempo loss in between early-game answers and late-game Explore combos would likely be favored. But against many other types of decks, it’s hard to see too many flaws in the gameplan. The ability to swap almost all late-game for two Gadgetzan Auctioneers and two Explore Un’goros is potent indeed.

If one thing is certain, it’s that you can’t rule out Explore Un’goro too quickly. It’s notoriously common to mis-evaluate build-arounds (Mysterious Challenger anyone?), and this may just be another example of that. After all, another seemingly unplayable Warrior Epic in Blood Warriors created a new archetype that was even taken to Blizzcon (albeit unsuccessfully).

Whether it’s a Tentacles for Arms or a Blood Warriors, keep a close eye on this card. It just might be the new face of Warrior.

 

 

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

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!

 

 

 

 

Why Jade Druid Is So Controversial

There’s been a lot of angst lately about Jade Druid. Various reddit posts complaining about its discouraging effect or its imbalance related to previous mechanics have sparked debate and vitriol. Alongside them, counter-posts stating that it’s not as overpowered as made out, or poking fun at the frequency of the complaints. Jade Druid is relatively straightforward, as decks go. So why is the debate over it so divisive?

The deck is not particularly oppressive in terms of pure win rate. Tempostorm ranks it as only high tier two, with middling matchups for the majority of the ladder. Meanwhile the VS Data Report grants it an overall sub 50% win rate, that drops further the higher you climb. Unlike previous complaint-drawing meta tyrants, it has clear counters. So why does it garner such a disproportionate amount of frustration?

Countering Control isn’t the Whole Story

Midrange Hunter countered Control with far fewer complaints

One of the main reasons cited for Jade Druid’s unpopularity among certain sections of the user-base is simply that it counters slow Control decks hard. This is certainly the case; a combination of constantly ramping threats, powerful draw engines, and fatigue-resistant win conditions makes them near unbeatable. Their very existence has made non-combo-based Control decks almost extinct.

But this is not the first time Control decks have had counters. It’s not the first time that fatigue has been an unachievable goal against certain archetypes either. Decks like Midrange Hunter and Mill Rogue have preyed on Control for a long time before Jade Druid ever showed up. Even old combo Midrange Druid punished slower decks hard. This is more a matter of players being salty at an uneven matchup. Jade Druid inspires such malice, despair, and outright anger that gives its opposition a quality all of its own.

Unfair? Or Just Not Fun?

It’s likely, then, that the complaints relating to Jade Druid go deeper than raw win-loss stats. Is there something uniquely frustrating about the matches themselves? Particularly the Control matchups? After all, the experience of Hearthstone is not just about who wins and who loses. It’s also the variance, the break-points, the skill-tests, and the emotions.

One complaint often aimed at Jade decks is that Jades are simply big, dumb minions with strong stats. These are portrayed as being fundamentally boring and non interactive. Unlike C’thun or other ramping strategies, each card feels mostly similar (being a bundle of stats with a Jade attached) and interacts with the Golems minimally.

Still, that is also not unique. Plenty of decks rely on ramping up with bundles of stats; most notably past versions of Druid. In any case, Jade Shaman has the same reliance on vanilla minions and attracts far less angst.

When Control Doesn’t

There’s not much a Control player can do against the perfect Nourish topdeck

Of course, all of these complaints contribute to the problem. But one aspect that is arguably overlooked is the way it makes players play. Jade Druid is nowhere near the first deck near-immune to fatigue that relies on vanilla minions with under-costed stats, or that counters Control. What is relatively new is that it fundamentally changes the win condition of Control decks and their resulting playstyle.

Consider the way you win against a Jade Druid as a Control player. You have to pray they draw badly and you draw well, play out high-tempo threats, and pressure them down. If they draw the right answers at the right time, you’re invariably doomed, buried under an infinite train of golems.

Does that remind you of anything? The Jade Druid matchup, invariably forcing the Control player to take a Beatdown, creates exactly the kind of dynamics that Control players specifically play Control decks to avoid.

Choosing Your Game Plan

When you pick up Reno Mage, Control Warrior, or Renolock, you’re deliberately making a choice to avoid having games decided by early-game tempo and draw RNG. Queuing into Jade Druid means that these aspects of Hearthstone resurface once more to become paramount.

What to take away from this should be that players don’t necessarily mind one-sided matchups; but they do mind being forced to do something their deck wasn’t designed to do on a regular basis. People choose archetypes for a reason, and sometimes that choice should be respected.

Title image courtesy of hearthstone.gamepedia.com and Blizzard Entertainment

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!

Learning From Failed Synergies


Deckbuilding-by-numbers:

Designing a card game isn’t easy. Just look at the inspired, but often horribly imbalanced, suggestions posted daily on the Custom Hearthstone subreddit. Every card added can have butterfly effects on the meta. Even something as simple as a streamer playing a deck can make an impact. As such, synergies have been one of the hardest parts of Hearthstone to properly balance.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the developers have wanted to push certain pre-ordained archetypes into play. When the user base is playing with pre-determined synergies, it’s easier to see what’s balanced and what’s fun. Similarly, it’s understandable why their efforts are sometimes less than successful.

Currently, archetypes brute-forced into existence take up more of the meta than ever. Obvious, designer-mandated synergies like Pirate Warrior, Dragon Priest, and Jade Druid/Shaman are ubiquitous. In this era of forced archetypes, it can be helpful to look back at how previous attempts haven’t gone so well.

Taunt Warrior

How it was meant to work:

Taunt decks sacrifice a lot of stats for little benefit

“Taunt” and Warrior weren’t associated until relatively recently. The class has always had a somewhat split personality. Divided between the aggressive Weapon and Charge themed synergies, the combo-oriented Whirlwind synergies, and the defensive, tanky Armor mechanic, it’s been hard to give a Warrior a unifying philosophy. Taunt was meant to be that philosophy; combining the pro-active plays of the Aggressive strategy with defensive minions, while linking the two together with synergistic combos.

On paper, the Taunt strategy seems solid. A Midrange deck that uses weapons for Board control (as Warrior is likely to do) is weak to a face-rush. Taunts prevent this, while advancing the Midrange gameplan. Cards like Bolster, King’s Defender, and Sparring Partner initially pushed Taunt. Later reinforcement came from Taunt minions such as Fierce Monkey, Obsidian Destroyer, and Bloodhoof Brave. In addition, Taunt generators and synergies were added continuously in the Hand-buff mechanic and with Protect the King.

Why it failed:

While the taunt-synergy strategy works on paper, it was much less potent in practice. For starters, the actual taunt buffs were situational and not overly impressive. Bolster was supposedly the linchpin of the archetype. But it required multiple taunt minions on the board to be worth casting, let alone building a deck around. What’s worse, a general scarcity of decently-statted Taunt minions made it very hard to build a viable deck.

The key problem, however, is that building a deck around Taunt is fundamentally anti-synergistic. Taunt is helpful for protecting face, yes; but it is arguably more vital for protecting key minions. Consider how Aggro Shaman runs Feral Spirits because they can guard its powerful, squishy Flametongue Totems and Tunnel Troggs. When you build a deck with all or almost all Taunt minions, you’re suffering stat penalties and overvaluing on all of your minions for very little benefit.

Lesson to learn:

A deck built around understatted minions needs extremely powerful synergies to work.

Shadow Priest

How it was meant to work:

Shadow Priest’s direct damage potential was more impressive than its minions

Priest is one of the few classes that has never had a truly viable aggressive deck. A defensive hero-power and a lack of early-game minions meant that it was impossible for priests to snowball the tempo necessary for an aggro victory. However, it has a number of powerful burst cards, most notably Mind Blast. In addition, Auchenai Soulpriest could turn healing into potentially game-ending burst; Shadowform turns a defensive hero-power into a game-ending one too.

The Shadow Priest philosophy then, would be heavily burn focused; push for face damage and never look back. The idea was to have symmetrical damage effects and powerful healing synergies. The Priest would use their own life as a resource, healing up to burst down the opponent. They would also convert those same heal cards to burn to close out games.

Shadowbomber and Spawn of Shadows were added to give a huge amount of damage to the opponent, while also hitting yourself. Meanwhile, Light of the Naaru, Flash Heal, and Embrace the Shadow provid more ability to turn healing into burst.

Why it failed:

Shadow Priest experiments failed to address Priest’s initial problem; a lack of early-game tempo. While burst damage is memorable and occasionally terrifying, it’s far out-paced in efficiency by repeated minion damage from an unanswered curve. Without reliable card-draw to keep up pressure, the low-efficiency cards simply can’t keep up. Furthermore, sacrificing tempo and damaging yourself in an aggro mirror turns out to be a pretty bad strategy.

Lesson to learn:

Aggro decks depend on early-game minions, not burst.

Totem Shaman

How it was meant to work:

Thing from Below is strongest in decks without many totem synergies

Before the unveiling of Standard, Shaman was undoubtedly the worst class in the game. Without its current arsenal of efficient early-game weapons, it struggled to utilize its board-clears in a world of efficient Deathrattle minions.

In order to help them out of their quandary, Shaman was given a number of potent synergistic cards revolving around Totems. Cards like Thunder Bluff Valiant, Draenei Totemcarver, Thing from Below, and Primal Fusion would reward totem-filled boards. Meanwhile, Totem Golem, Tuskarr Totemic, and Wicked Witch-doctor would generate them.

Why it failed:

Totem Shaman was a victim of its own success. While all the cards were playable, some were so strong that the others became unnecessary. Totem Golem is an insane standalone minion, pre-nerf Tuskarr Totemic’s RNG tempo swings won games regardless of synergy, and Thing from Below becomes great even with only a few hero powers and Totem minions. Aggro Shaman ran all of these cards and no other synergies, and benefited greatly. Midrange added Thunder Bluff Valiant, but otherwise was similarly independent of Totem synergies, relying mainly on the card’s individual strengths.

While highly synergistic Totem decks such as Xixo’s variant saw play to a lesser extent, they ultimately proved inferior to the ones that only took the very best standalone cards.

Lesson to learn:

Don’t make synergistic cards too powerful without their synergies.

Handbuff Hunter

How it was meant to work:

Handbuff: Hardly a Tempo apocalypse

The Handbuff mechanic was meant to be the ultimate in Midrange value. By sacrificing a small amount of tempo, small threats could easily be buffed into massive ones, leading to a game-ending cascade of massive minions. Furthermore, synergies would allow these minions to be even more potent. As a class that focused heavily on Midrange, Hunter would be an ideal home for these cards.

This was supported via the handbuff cards themselves, like Trogg Beastrager, Shakey Zipgunner, and Hidden Cache. Synergies like that of Rat Pack and Dispatch Kodo would allow these buffs to become more potent.

Why it failed:

The failure of handbuff is well documented. Essentially, the tempo sacrifice is too great, and the mechanic is too inconsistent. Hunter is by far the least successful, despite strong handbuff synergies. The lack of consistent card draw means that for Hunters, running out of cards is a virtual inevitability. In these cases, top-decking a card that either buffs cards you no longer have, or relies on handbuffs that you haven’t given it, is backbreaking.

Lesson to learn:

Inconsistent mechanics may seem a lot more powerful than they are in reality.

 

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment. Title image 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!

Towards a Less Boring Control Warrior

Old King Control

Control warrior has a long and illustrious history. In its original incarnation, it was full of late-game bombs and threats. A typical control warrior would seem absurdly greedy when compared to modern incarnations; often running Cairne, Sylvanas, Grommash, Ragnaros, Alexstrasza, and Ysera. Typically, it relied solely on a few low cost minions. Cards like Acolyte, Armorsmith, and the omnipresent Fiery War Axe for early game presence.

Looking back, the deck played completely different to its later strategies. Instead of being an almost entirely reactive deck aimed at victory through fatigue, they were looking to overwhelm the opponent with high powered legendaries.

This strategy was simpler in some ways; it lent itself to more straightforward games based on tempo, even against other control decks. Fatigue was rare compared to the likelihood of snowballing out of control.

Answers for Everything

Control Warrior was reduced from “Remove minions, gain armor, play threats” to just “Remove minions, gain armor”

Recently, Control Warrior attracts a very specific kind of complaint. As soon as a Twitch streamer queues into one, chat is often filled with emotes and complaints of boredom in anticipation of the upcoming game. The perception is that games against Control Warrior are tedious and uneventful.

The reason for this is pretty straightforward. Late-game Warrior decks will very frequently no longer depend on threats. Even high cost cards like Grommash and Deathwing, (as seen in the latest of Fibonacci’s lists) function largely as removal; this often omits even ultra slow “win conditions” like Elise Starseeker altogether. Instead, over-focus on a fatigue gameplan has lead to games where the Warrior focuses completely on survival and removal.

One-way Interaction

This, understandably, can prove to be less than engaging to opponents and viewers. While the Control Warrior’s plethora of reactive spells and lifegain is highly interactive with the opponents cards, playing against it can feel like a game of solitaire. Control Warrior rarely, if ever, play anything pro-active. As a result, it can often leave the impression of dropping minions into inevitable removal, while armor stacks up higher and higher.

This has a twofold impact. Firstly, games last for much longer than otherwise, as once the Control Warrior player has all but won, it can take dozens of turns to actually end the game. Secondly, the feeling of interaction against an opponent is minimized; they are simply playing whack-a-mole with your minions at a leisurely pace. Meanwhile, certain archetypes like Jade Druid are so unfavored that the games aren’t even worth playing out.

Old Gods to the Rescue?

These issues previously improved somewhat during the Whispers of the Old Gods release. Instead of relying almost entirely on fatigue, removal, and the odd random legendary-based Elise finisher, Control Warrior proved a fruitful home for two Old Gods in particular: C’thun and N’zoth.

Infested Tauren gave N’zoth Warrior’s mid-game some much-needed meat

These 10 mana finishers provided the potency required for such a huge investment to be worthwhile. Suddenly, games could end on a single well-placed series of snowballing tempo plays in the late-game, instead of fizzling outs. This additionally incentivized the inclusion of more defensive, midrange minions. That allowed Control Warrior to build boards to close out games without needing their key game-ender.

However, this gameplay style proved to be short-lived. Although potent, the many counters and deck-building limitations imposed meant that the archetypes couldn’t compete with the significant growth in decks’ power levels after One Night in Karazhan and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. The omnipresent Midrange shaman in particular, with the suppression power of Hex and requirement to find space for multiple board-clears, helped push Warrior back towards the Fatigue gameplan.

Even the threat of Jade decks hasn’t been enough to make Warrior try to compete with pro-active late-game strategies. Since Jade is so much more efficient than any pro-active play Warrior can make, the optimal solution has simply been to give up against Jade Druid. You want to run endless board clears to try and out-last Jade Shaman, playing reactive.

Gadgetzan’s Interactive Defenses

Alley Armorsmith is far more interactive than Warrior’s previous defensive tools

The Gadgetzan expansion hasn’t been all bad for Control Warrior. Alley Armorsmith is a perfect example of armor-gain for Warrior done right. Unlike the straightforward and not interactive Shieldmaiden or Justicar Trueheart, Alley Armorsmith is a pro-active defensive tool, that requires significant counterplay. As well as having chunky stats, the 2/7 taunt is far more effective in some situations than others. This makes it a perfect counter to low-attack minion or weapon based aggro decks, but still vulnerable to spells and high-attack minions.

Furthermore, Dirty Rat has rapidly grown into a class staple. Though it’s not possible to immediately interact with its battlecry, it is a card that is straightforward, yet deep to play around. It helps bridge the gap between Warrior and other late-game focused decks in a way that rewards skill and timing.

Hope in Un’goro

With Justicar Trueheart, Elise Starseeker, Bash, Revenge and other key components of the Fatigue strategy rotating out with the next expansion, the future looks bleak for Fatigue Warrior. If there is no suitable pro-active late-game raison d’etre for Warrior, then Control as an archetype may find it hard to find a niche in the new meta.

The introduction of “Quest” mechanics may still provide hope. Reliable, powerful, and available for every class, Quests may give Warrior the late-game win-condition it needs to compete. However, it depends on the card itself and whether the effect is one that is capable of giving Control Warrior the pressure needed to close out games.

Team 5 may print more Control-oriented Deathrattles. In that case, N’zoth Warrior may make a comeback as a potent counter to more midrange or controlling opponents.

The stars may even align, and Blizzard may try and succeed where Varian Wrynn failed. They could give Warrior an honest-to-goodness control-oriented class Legendary. We won’t hold our breath though. In the meantime, it can be fun to break open that Ysera, pack a deck full of Classic Legendaries with a few hard removals, and a Brawl or two. Or head out into Classic to relive the glory days of the oldest Control deck in the game.

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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!

Could Un’goro bring back Lifecoach?

 

Un’goro promises big fun dinosaurs, backed up by more interactive gameplay

In a recent vlog, pro player and streamer personality Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy announced that he’d be leaving the competitive scene. This was motivated primarily by his feelings about the game. His explanation is worth watching. Among the many points, the most salient was a feeling that skill in Hearthstone went unrewarded; that matchup and draw RNG decided the majority of games; and that it was fundamentally noncompetitive. He likens the Hearthstone experience to guiding a tossed coin mid-air, rather than making meaningful decisions.

That complaint might be somewhat ameliorated in the latest expansion announced for Hearthstone, Lost Secrets of Un’goro. Flavor-wise, Un’goro promises Dinosaurs, Elementals, and carnivorous plants. That’s exciting enough, but it’s the mechanics that could really shake up the way we play Hearthstone.

Double-edged Build-arounds

Hearthstone’s developers, Team 5, have been printing more and more “build-around” cards over the past few expansions. Starting with the much maligned Mysterious Challenger, developing with Reno Jackson, and culminating in the Old Gods, “Build-arounds” share common characteristics. They tend to generate value far exceeding their mana cost, but require a dependency on certain types of cards or deck-building strategies.

Reno decks do poorly without drawing him

The benefits of build-arounds to the game are clear; they incentivise combinations, playstyles and synergies that would otherwise not be viable. Reno and Kazakus encourage variety and a slower-paced playstyle with Highlander decks. Drakonid Operative almost single-handedly makes Dragon Priest competitive; N’zoth makes Deathrattles into a game-ending board.

The downside is that the deck’s inherent inconsistencies due to running sub-optimal synergy cards are only balanced when the overpowered build-around is drawn. Reno Jackson may be the most powerful heal in the game. But forcing aggro matchups to be almost entirely dependent on whether or not he is drawn in time is hardly healthy. Anybody can tell you about the frustration of having a key card on the bottom of your deck.

Adventures in Questing

Un’Goro seeks to build on build-arounds and improve them with the inclusion of “Quests”. Quests are Legendary, class-specific spells that cost one mana. Once played, they act as a secret. Once their condition is activated, you are granted a powerful card. It is promised to be “some of the most powerful cards in Hearthstone” in the announcement video. The example we are given is the Priest quest, which grants a five mana 8/8 that sets your hero’s health to 40. This is only if you can meet the difficult condition of summoning seven deathrattle minions.

Quests are guaranteed to be in your starting hand

So far, so standard. Where these Quests get interesting is that they are guaranteed to be a part of your initial mulligan. Though they can be mulliganed away in matchups where the Quest is undesirable, this grants them an unrivaled consistency in activation, if your deck is built to accommodate them.

This can massively help the feelings of card-draw RNG overly affecting matchups. Instead of auto-losing the matches where your build-arounds are in your last five cards, Quests can be reliably activated. Not only that, but their potentially game-ending effects can be planned for in advance, as you see your opponent’s Quest ticker get gradually higher.

Though further judgement must be withheld until the exact nature of the cards are revealed, this alone is a highly promising sign for reducing feelings of helplessness in the face of bad luck.

Midrange and Curvestone

Midrange has always had a problem in Hearthstone. The archetype is fundamentally reliant on curving out with efficiently-statted minions. Only occasionally do we see usage of reactive spells and off-curve plays. For much of Hearthstone’s history, Midrange has been lamented as simply taking obvious trades and dropping the biggest on-curve minion each turn. While professional players can eke out additional wins by optimizing some decisions, the majority of choices are very straightforward.

There are numerous downsides to rewarding this type of play experience. It sidelines skill, makes draw RNG more paramount, and makes games feel exceedingly similar. Attempts to spice things up, with mechanics like Inspire and Discover, have only partially succeeded. While recent Midrange tyrants like Shaman have managed to avoid this due to a reliance on hero-powering and spells, the problem remains endemic to almost all pro-active, non-aggro decks.

Adapting Micro-decisions

A core element of the Un’goro expansion is the “Adapt” keyword. Applied to minions, it allows cards to gain additional stats or effects when played or meeting a condition. Themed around the elemental influences of the crater, this can give your minion +3 attack, Divine Shield, Windfury, or other effects as chosen via a discover-like interface. By choosing the right adapt effect for the board state, you can tune your minions for the matchup and situation you’re presented with.

Adapt offers small but meaningful buffs

While spawning two extra 1/1s or gaining Taunt may not seem an incredibly exciting proposition, the impact on play may be huge. When every minion played results in a decision being made, play becomes fundamentally more engaging and skill-testing. Dropping big stuff on curve will still be important. But it’s possible that the best players can gain a huge edge by tuning their minions perfectly on the fly.

While we’ve only seen a few examples so far, the opportunity for Adapt to make a big impact should excite you if you’re someone who enjoys playing midrange decks and cares about reaching higher levels of play.

All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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 Ranked Floors Be Good For Hearthstone?

Mammoth Changes

The Year of the Mammoth isn’t just bringing card rotations and a new expansion. It’s also making a fundamental change to the way the the Ladder system operates, by introducing Ranked floors. Ranked floors act as a “lock”, or minimum on how far you can fall back down after losing streaks.

Similar to how Rank 20 and the Legend Ranks prevent you falling too far, there will be similar stops at ranks 15, 10, and 5. Since so much of Hearthstone’s play takes place in Ranked mode, any change to incentives is sure to have a major impact. But will it be positive?

More Fun Decks

Ranked can often feel like an unrelenting assault. Climbing, or even not falling, requires consistent play with a “meta” deck once you get into the higher ranks. As such, there is little room for experimentation. Since losing is punished so harshly, you are heavily discouraged from playing anything other than tried-and-tested Ladder staples.

This can make Ladder feel intensely predictable and monotonous after a while. You’ll often queue into identical deck after identical deck, playing the same openers and the same combos over and over. This hardly makes for fun and diverse gameplay.

Ranked floors might help switch up the deck variation. By preventing losses from being too punishing to your rank once you hit a certain level, then it becomes less disheartening to experiment. If you don’t drop stars, that silly Murloc Hunter or Blood Warrior that the meta’s not right for might be more tempting. As well as often being more entertaining to play, more variety in opponents will help spice up the ladder experience and make the game more exciting.

“Fun” decks provide diversity, but may just encourage more Aggro Shaman

Greedier Decks

There is a price for this, however. As anyone who’s fallen to the lower ranks of Legend or taken a trip into Casual can confirm, it’s often far harder to win with the highly-tuned anti-aggro Control decks that often succeed at high Ladder or Legend rank.

As people care less about win-rate, decks tend to get “greedy”; more focused on long-term value. For many people, fun decks means decks packed with big impressive threats; and none of those boring AOEs, early board presence, or lifegain. This can pose a problem for the slow decks that tend to struggle against those that are filled with absurd amounts of value.

The end result then might be an effective buff to aggro, as the anti-aggro control decks struggle to make it past the greedy fun-lovers. As aggro already tends to be over-represented on Ladder due to game speed or deck cost, this could further funnel players into aggressive playstyles, to the detriment of diversity. Not only that, but it will also encourage anti-control decks like Jade Druid to prey on the “fun” slow decks, which will in turn reward more aggro.

Less Grind

Hearthstone’s economy can be thought of as a pool of stars, divided amongst the players. Stars are generated in two ways; bonus stars from winning multiple games in a row; and when a player who can’t drop rank loses. Currently, that means that only winstreaks, Legend players, and Rank 20 players add stars to the system. However, Ranked floors will add huge numbers of star generators to the system. At every rank one is implemented. There are a huge number of players at ranks 15, 10, and 5 at any given moment, and all of them will soon be helping their opponents rank up faster.

So what does this mean? Essentially, getting to the rank you want will become easier. Rank resets will become less painful, and you’ll have to spend less time each month playing to get that cardback and golden cards. Considering the massive time investment required to get to certain ranks (especially Legend), this is a definite improvement for those who have less time to play.

We’ll see a lot more players with Legend cardbacks

Less Legendary Legend

However, making ranking easier does have its downsides. For one, if everyone finds it easier to rank up, previously considerable achievements may be devalued. Currently, hitting Legend, especially with a homebrew or non-meta deck, was impressive. Doing so would often warrant attracting attention and a degree of prestige. The Legend cardback has proliferated greatly since its introduction, but it still commands a degree of prestige.

With the proposed changes, it may be possible for almost anyone to hit legend with a degree of dedication. Note that making it easier to hit Legend has an exponential effect; more Legend players means more stars generated as they lose to those on numbered ranks. In short, Legend may no longer be worthy of note though.

While some may see this as an improvement, it is lamentable that “Legend” will no longer require any where near a “Legendary” level of skill.

No More Ladder Anxiety?

Like reaching a save-point in a tough game, buying insurance, or guaranteeing a passing grade in an educational course, there’s something intensely relieving about mitigating the consequences of disaster. Hitting Legend is rewarding not only due to the achievement, but also the guarantee that you won’t fall out of Legend, regardless of how many loses you get.

Many players report feelings of “Ladder Anxiety”, where the stakes of ladder and the threat of losing hard-earned stars make Ranked play too intense to be pleasant. The result of this can be stressful play, tilt, misplays, or simply avoiding ranked altogether.

If players feel like they have less to lose if it all goes awry, it might help them relax, focus on playing, and have an overall better experience.

A Promising Start

Whatever the impact on ladder, it’s incredibly refreshing and promising to see the devs trying out solutions to the problems people have had with ladder for years. Even if Ranked floors don’t fulfill their stated goals, experimentation with different solutions is far more encouraging and potentially fruitful than previous non-communication and inactivity.

This could pave the way for other changes, like increased monthly stars, longer seasons, or altered rewards. The current situation is so stale that almost any alteration is necessary. Whatever happens, the Year of The Mammoth is looking like a good year for positive changes and dev communication.

Title image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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!

Page 5 of 9« First...34567...Last »