Is Hearthstone a Non-Competitive Esport?

I just moved to a new house and the internet is not working, so this time I decided to write about something which didn’t require me to play the game. I recalled that on Saturday I saw a Reddit post which stated that the Insomnia tournament channel had less viewers than some streamers. This was quite puzzling, tournaments used to have a lot more viewers than individual streamers, no matter who it was. I was curious to know why this was the case, and after reading a few of the Reddit answers a saw a lot of people claiming that they do not watch tournaments because they do not think Hearthstone is a competitive esport. In this article I tried to argue against this misconception, whilst I do think the competitive scene could do with an overhaul, I also think Hearthstone can certainly be a competitive game given the right circumstances.

The Importance of Deck-Building

The casual player will just watch games and when he sees a match decided by 50/50 Ragnaros RNG flip he will just think the one guy unlucky. Whilst this is partly true, there is another aspect to the game which is often overlooked: the decks which players decided to bring to the tournament. For example, in order to target a specific match-up one could tech Big Game Hunter instead of Feral Rage in Druid. This will change the win-rates on the whole quite a lot, in Hearthstone we have only thirty cards in our decks. Even a difference of just three measly cards means your deck changed by 10%!

There is also more general question to consider, questions such as: “should I put Leeroy in my Tempo Warrior?” are important, but if you want to succeed you also need to consider questions such as: “Should I bring Freeze Mage and Miracle Rogue in the same line-up?” The answer to the latter question is no unless you prepare for Warrior or Shaman with certain deck techs. This is because Rogue loses to Shaman, and Freeze Mage loses to Warrior, they don’t synergise well together. The reasoning behind which four decks you bring is extremely interesting as there are numerous different line-ups which can target different things. Additionally this also affects deck building, you might decide to tech all your decks with a Ragnaros if you think never banning Freeze Mage is a good strategy. When you build a deck you build it considering the metagame and the counter metagame you expect, Rosty did a long post on the competitive Reddit Hearthstone sub (you can find it here: https://www.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveHS/comments/4z8zav/the_proper_way_to_decide_your_deck_choices_for/ ) where he explains his thought process on how to approach deck choices. It is not as simple as people think.

Personally, every-time tournaments post deck-lists online I get excited. This is an essential part of the tournament, players spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to come up with the best tactic. Your deck line-up is the best edge you can give yourself, all top players usually know how to pilot the decks they bring. I remember hearing Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk say he has won Magic Tournaments just based on the fact he had brought decks which were stronger than the field. Fanboy note: I am a huge Reynad fanboy when it comes to deck-building as whenever I see him go through the process it is beautiful, you can see he is talented and has years of experience.

I feel too many players are evaluated solely on a performance scale and not overall. Piloting a deck is only a small part of the tournament, there is a lot of work behind deck choices players make.

It is a Card Game not a Videogame

Many of the people who play Hearthstone come from other videogames. I feel many do the mistake of assuming that, like in other esports, the stronger player should always win. This misconception is very rampant amongst the community, comments such as the following exemplify this: “x player is the best Hearthstone player in the world but has only a 60% win-rate, what a joke.” First off, if a player had a 60% win-rate in the tournament scene this would be insane, people which attend tournaments are amongst the best players in the world. If you can win 60% of the times CONSISTENTELY then you are probably a Hearthstone God, over a large number of games this stat would be insane.

The reason why the best player cannot always win in a card game is that there are many more variables to consider compared to other videogames. The way you draw, how the RNG flips go, all have an effect on the possible ways the game can turn out. The key thing to understand is that what matters in Hearthstone is making the play which will grant you the highest probability to win, this, over a large sample of games, should give you your “true win-percentage”. The decision trees of most Hearthstone games can be quite complex, even decks which attract a lot of circlejerk like Aggro Shaman are not that easy to play OPTIMALLY. We saw a few examples of this at the NA preliminary where some players played the deck really poorly. Overall there is a reason some players are top Legend whilst others can never reach it, the former player are consistent and play well over a large amount of games, the latter don’t play optimally and don’t win all the games they could have won.

A thing I wish more people would keep in mind is that five top four finishes in a row are much more impressive than one first place finish once in your life. Consistency, even if less flashy, is much harder to achieve than single victories. Continually grinding tournaments will mean that eventually you will win one, but making it to the end of a tournament multiple times means that you are much better than the average player.

RNG Flips

Being an online card game gives Hearthstone unique tools for different type of effect as the platform grants the possibility to have a computer decide the outcome of different events. Things such as the Discover mechanic would be impossible in games like Magic, you just couldn’t have all the card pool available and be able to select a couple of cards every time. When cards such as Yogg’Saron and Barnes win games people always joke about the fact that there is no skill involved in this game, you just play and pray. Whilst this is true to some extent, gathering statistics requires a large pool of information. Single cases don’t make the whole.

RNG is random in its very nature and to a certain extent uncontrollable, but this doesn’t mean that there not not correct and incorrect plays. What we have to accept in a game like Hearthstone is that playing statistics is not enough to win every time, it should only guarantee a positive outcome in the long run. Consider the following: a play keeps you in the game 90% of the time, this means only 10% of the time you will lose the game. Now Blizzard adds another card which keeps you in the game 90% of the time, if both cards are played during a match instead of having only 10% of losing now you have 19% to lose the game. As more cards with RNG are introduced in the game the percentage of games lost because of the effects rather than decisions increases. Thus whilst too much RNG does make a game less skill based, the question is if Hearthstone is at this point right now.

I will say that I personally think that we are slowly reaching a point of no return, I really dislike what the design team is doing with the game. Cards like Yogg’Saron and Barnes just make it harder to be consistent and are very annoying to lose to. This is the most RNG heavy metagame we have ever had. On the other hand as of now we don’t have enough RNG cards to justify claiming this is a purely RNG game, decisions still matter a lot in the competitive environment. Just watch at players like Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy play and you will understand.

Ideas to make Hearthstone more Competitive

The first idea is make longer series, or more Swiss type tournaments. People who do well over a large number of games should be rewarded, with these rules in place it should be much harder to get on a lucky streak. Maybe taking a slower approach to the game, where tournaments don’t have to be rushed over a few hours, could lead to a better situation for the esport side of Hearthstone.

Another thing tournament organizers could do is take a page out of Tempo Storm’s repertoire. I really respect Reynad for what he does for the competitive scene, he could make a lot more money by just catering to the casual players. Instead he lowers his profit margin in order to try to set up a healthy competitive scene for Hearthstone. From what I know, Tempo Storm sanctioned tournaments will ban Yogg’Saron, meaning that the card won’t be played at all. This will make it so that 0% of the games in these tournaments will be decided by a lucky Yogg and thus the RNG needed in order to win lowered. This consequentially means more consistent players should be rewarded.

The last thing I could think of, and this is very controversial, is to go back to having slightly more invite only tournaments. Obviously, nobody really wants to watch players who they don’t know compete, they want to see the big streamer names. People like Sebastian “Forsen” Fors attract masses. This though doesn’t mean that every tournament should be huge, just that having more casual tournament (that I really don’t like watching) could attract a larger audience to view tournaments consistently.

If you have any suggestions I would really like to hear what you think!

Concluding Remarks

Overall I think that Hearthstone is a competitive esport but that the Blizzard development team should think a bit more on which cards to print, this is in order to prevent too many Yogg’Saron’s from existing in the same metagame at once. Additionally it would be nice if Blizzard gave more of a heads up to the competitive community to ban certain cards from the official events, even if small we are a part of the community too. Finishing I believe that if you think that Hearthstone tournaments are purely RNG based you should try to see and understand the thought process that went behind the different line-ups. I heavily suggest you to look into which line-ups won and what they brought, this is a layer which few people usually consider.

If you have any thoughts on the matter I would love to hear your opinion, let me know on Reddit or write on the Game Haus forums. I promise I will try to reply to everybody!

 

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A Wild Adventure with Priest

The last golden class I need is Priest, and since I wasn’t keen of suffering through the Standard Legend metagame I decided it was a wise choice to go farm my wins in Wild. It was the first time I ever played the format, I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it is. In this article I go into detailed discussion about my Priest deck as well as giving a general overview of what to expect if you venture in the Wild format.

The Main Deck

The final 30 cards.

The final 30 cards.

Whilst playing I switched cards in and out to try to find the list which I thought could do the best with. The picture on the left represents what was my most successful list against the Wild metagame. I will try to give a detailed explanation of what I wanted from each card in the deck list.

2 x Circle of Healing: There is not much to say about Circle of Healing, it can draw you a bunch of cards when coupled with Northshire Cleric and can also provide a great way to clear when coupled with Auchenai Soulpriest. The one thing I would say is that this card makes me really want to find a spot for Wild Pyromancer in the deck as this would increase the combo potential of the card by a big margin.

1 x Forbidden Shaping: This on is one of the weird choices of the deck, I will say the card performed really well. As a 1-of this card can help you go through bad draws, it gives you something to place on board if you lack a play. This is especially important as you play Velen’s Chose in the deck, you don’t want to end up with buffs stuck in your hands. Additionally in control match-ups casting this for eight makes it so that the deck packs a bit more punch, meaning that it is potentially possible to fight against greedier decks. Overall the card did perform well and as of now I wouldn’t consider replacing it.

2 x Flash Heal: I feel some burst healing is needed in Priest since the sustained heal is sometimes not enough to stabilize the board. Additionally the card can provide huge tempo when coupled with Auchenai, a one mana Fireball is great. Overall the choice is between Light of the Naaru and Flash Heal, I decided that the two more health/damage would help me more, five healing/damage is a better breaking point when compared to three, but the decision is very close. I could imagine running only one of these if Justicar Trueheart was to be put in the deck.

2 x Northshire Cleric: Core for the deck, it allows you to draw when you heal minons plus it is excellent against aggressive decks. It also gives an early body for Velen’s Chosen which is one of your win conditions. Unsubstitutable.

2 x Power Word: Shield: Cycle plus survivability for your early minions is an excellent proposition, the Priest Hero Power excels at keeping high health creatures alive. Additionally when paired with taunts it grants more survivability for the minion and can be very annoying to deal with. Like with Circle of Healing it really makes me want to play Wild Pyromancer in the deck!

2 x Zombie Chow: Running two Zombie Chows might be excessive since it is not a very good card to get back from N’Zoth, but on the other hand the amount of early game consistency that running four 1-drops and Deathlord gives you is invaluable. Additionally having two Zombie Chows also synergises well with Auchenai Soulpriest potentially enabling you to have insane surprise burst. Also consider that when coupled with Power Word: Shield, Zombie Chow will enable you to trade favourably with any minion which will come on board during the first three turns of any game. Overall I really like the card and I think the help it gives to any priest deck to transition in the late game is invaluable.

1 x Shadow Word: Pain: This particular slot changed a lot, it was Justicar, Elise and Excavated Evil at different points in time. I settled with Shadow Word: Pain because I felt an additional tool to control early minions could be useful. Additionally the fact that everybody plays Sludge Belcher in Wild means that Pain has always at least one great target to hit in most decks. I don’t want to play 2 of this card because I feel the deck has enough early game as it is, but if my Shadow Word: Deaths aren’t hitting many targets in the metagame I would consider switching one for second Pain.

Poor Hunter!

Poor Hunter!

2 x Deathlord: This card, when comboed with Velen’s Chosen, can lock out aggressive and midrange decks from doing anything in the early stages of the game. Additionally in Control match-ups it makes the opponents deck much thinner, making it very easy to fatigue your opponent. This is especially true if you can get the card back from N’Zoth. The main thing to consider is that sometimes the card does backfire, a Ysera or a Tirion turn 3 off your Deathlord will mean you will have to concede. On the other hand there are ways to play around this inconvenience as you might want to make sure to have an Entomb or a Shadow Word: Death before playing Deathlord against decks which run these big threats.

2 x Shadow Word: Death: One of this card is core for sure, you need it to be able to deal with big threats, but I don’t know if the second one is required. In my experience I never felt I was stuck with the card in hand too often, there is at least Dr Boom as a target in most decks and usually there are more. Overall I could see myself removing one Death in order to fit some more removal for wide boards but it must be emphasized that having the liberty to use the first Death is very nice as you don’ t have to save it for specific minions.

2 x Velen’s Chosen: This is the card I built my early game around, the trade power it gives minions is borderline overpowered. Without hard removal it is basically impossible to remove a Deathlord with Velen’s on top without trading for multiple turns, running Flash Heal makes it that much better. Overall I had a really good experience with this card as a two of in the deck, the trading power early game is exactly what Priest lacks in standard in order to be competitively viable.

2 x Auchenai Soulpriest: This card is awesome as it can fit in many different situations. Sometimes it is a board clear when coupled with Circle of Healing. Other times you need more reach to finish your opponent and you can pop your Zombie Chows and Flash Heal for extreme damage potential. Additionally the stats make it so that even if played on turn 4 it is not bad as it can contest both Piloted Shredder and Sludge Belcher, two extremely popular cards in the Wild metagame.

Love card advantage!

Love card advantage!

1 x Holy Nova: I decided to include Holy Nova because I thought that, in a deck that can get on board control, the heal plus the damage could be useful. Additionally I also thought that Northshire Cleric could benefit from Holy Nova as you can set it up to draw you a few cards. Lastly the synergy with Velen’s Chosen is decent, a 3 damage AOE hits a lot of good targets (most notably Piloted Shredder). Overall as a 1 of in the deck it performed decently but I don’t think I would ever consider playing 2.

2 x Sludge Belcher: This is one of the best cards from the Naxxramas set, so not playing it in any control deck would probably be a mistake. Additionally there is also to consider that playing N’Zoth makes the card so much better, as you can play a game winning 10-drop behind a ton of Taunts. Again another unsubstitutable card.

1 x Cabal Shadow Priest: The card is really good if you hit something with it and Wild has plenty of targets. In Paladin you have Shielded Minibot, in Hunter there is Haunted Creeper and in general nearly every midrange deck has some sort of good target. Overall the card can be rotated out of the deck but I like running one in my list as it gives me the possibility to set up really powerful turns.

2 x Entomb: If you are ever ahead on board Entomb will seal out the game locking any draw from your opponent to contest the board. Against Control decks adding cards to your deck is very strong, it makes the fatigue timer much slower for you. Against cards such as Savannah Highmane, Tirion Fordring and Dr Boom you can remove the minion whilst adding a threat to your deck, crazy good! Overall in a control Priest deck not running two Entombs would be a mistake.

2 x Lightbomb: The more games I play the more I realize that maybe two Lightbombs is too much, the card is very clunky against the Wild metagame. Sludge Belchers do not die to the effect, meaning that Lightbomb is never a clean answer to N’Zoth. Additionally there are plenty of Deathrattles that don’t get cleared by this 6-mana AoE. On the other hand the potential this card has if you have a slight board makes it so that I really do not want to take it out of the deck, it is a very valuable clear. Overall I might test taking one Lightbomb out in favour of Excavated Evil to see how the latter card performs.

Lorewalker Cho from Forbidden Shaping, I won and it was an interesting game!

Lorewalker Cho from Forbidden Shaping, I won and it was an interesting game!

1 x Sylvanas Windrunner: With the Whisper of the Old Gods nerfs and thus silences being rarer, Sylvanas is usually a pseudo board clear which allows to come back from difficult board states. This alone makes it an excellent card as the deck wants to control the board and exhaust resources from the opponent. Additionally getting it back from N’Zoth is usually enough for N’Zoth to get value, you really don’t need much more as the effect is really powerful.

1 x N’Zoth, the Corrupter: Since you run Belcher and the Deathrattles N’Zoth is a no brainer, it is the reason you build this Priest deck like this.

As usual there are certain cards which could be pretty strong but didn’t make the cut in my list. I will try to explain my rationale for the ones that in my opinion stand-out the most.

Wild Pyromancer: The reason I didn’t include Wild Pyromancer is that I believe the card would be anti-synergistic with the aim of the deck. Early game my list wants to get on board with Northshire Cleric, Zombie Chow or Deathlord and buff the minion with Velen’s Chosen. This is in order to extract loads of value thanks to the healing Hero Power. On the other hand Wild Pyromancer is more useful when you are behind on board than when you are ahead, the Whirlwind-like effects can clear wide boards with low health minions on them. I will admit that since the deck runs circle of Healing and Northshire Cleric there is some reason to play the card as you can set up some really good card draw turns. Additionally there is the support of Power Word: Shield and Flash Heal to give some sort of consistent activators for the card. If I were to put in 2 Wild Pyromancer I would probably consider taking out Shadow Word: Pain and one Shadow Word: Death. Other card which could be taken out include one Zombie Chow and Cabal Shadow Priest.

Injured Blademaster: It is a decent 3 drop and it makes Circle of Healing have more uses in the deck. I think that if one wanted to substitute Zombie Chows, Blademaster wouldn’t be the worst option. The problem I see is that it is too inconsistent to be played on turn three as you need Circle of Healing in hand to give it any realistic chance of surviving. I think that whilst it might seem appealing, cards like Wild Pyromancer and Excavated Evil are better inclusions for this deck.

Thoughtsteal: In classic Priest this card was used as there were slots to be filled, as of now I don’t think there is any more space for it. The card is really greedy, you sacrifice a deck slot for two unknowns from the opponent’s deck. Obviously against control decks it is a really good card, usually their card value is high enough that any two cards from their deck will trade for at least two of their cards making you go two for one. Overall the card wouldn’t be bad in a control heavy meta but I think you would just get steamrolled by the hordes of Hunter’s and Paladin if you include it in your deck.

Elise Starseeker: I tried playing this card but I felt it was overkill as the list has enough tools to deal with most Control decks. I did find it difficult beating Control Warrior which ran both the Brann Doomcaller combo and Elise, but I don’t consider those match-ups relevant as it is just silly to play such a greedy control deck on ladder. Additionally I don’t think Elise would actually help me deal with such greedy lists, double C’Thun plus Elise finisher is just excessive.

Excavated Evil: Originally I didn’t include this in my deck because it is really bad against control decks, adding cards to their deck is never a good idea. Additionally my deck wants to fight for board, so damaging my own minions doesn’t seem the best idea when playing towards this game plane. As I played more games I really felt that one last clear could help me as I have difficulties dealing with wide boards, my only reliable answer is Auchenai into Circle. Overall I would like to try this as a 1-of, but I feel that probably if I want more clear for wide boards Wild Pyromancer is probably a more reliable choice.

Justicar Trueheart: Healing for 4 is certainly good for Control Priest, the reason I didn’t include it in the deck is that my deck is more teched against Midrange decks. In order to beat a Midrange deck it is more important to get on board and contest their minions rather than trying to heal. Additionally I feel that finding the space to play Justicar on curve is hard, a 6/3 gets contested by too many minions. Overall it is not a bad choice but when I tried it in the deck it severely underperformed.

2nd Cabal Shadow Priest: When you hit a 2 attack minion with this card it is one of the strongest in the game, if you don’t hit anything it is an over costed Chillwind Yeti. I think that if one were to include Shrinkmeister in the deck then a second Cabal Shadow Priest would make sense, but since I don’t think it is a good idea to include the card, as I don’t think a second Cabal is required. Additionally even if there are quite a few targets to Cabal in Wild I think there are better ways to deal with those threats. Overall I was considering cutting the first copy of the card in order to make space to Wild Pyromancer, I don’t think that adding the second copy is useful for the current list.

Other honourable mentions include: Light of the Naaru, Doomsayer, Museum Curator, Dark Cultist, Acolyte of Pain, Piloted Shredder, Priest of the Feast, Shifting Shade, Harrison Jones, Darkshire Alchemist, Loatheb, Vol’jin, Cairne Bloodhoof, Dr Boom, Ysera. Consider that the Wild format gives you the possibility to play with many different cards, meaning that it is much harder to find the optimal deck-list, I will say I am happy with the list I conjured.

Statistics

Matches Played:

W/L = 67/28 (70% win-rate)

Not including game between rank 25 and 15: 54/26 (67.5% win-rate)

Representative Data (no data about match-ups which I faced less than 4 times):

Face Hunter: 6/0

The reason the Face Hunter match-up was so good is that most of the players I faced were quite low rank and misplayed hard. I think this deck has decent tools to deal with the aggression as you can create a wall of impenetrable taunts. Additionally there is also the advantage Face Hunter doesn’t play Call of the Wild, this card is extremely hard to deal with from a Priest perspective. Overall given the fact we have many early game tools it shouldn’t be too hard to lock out a Face Hunter out of the game.

Secret Paladin: 6/4

When Secret Paladins have the God curve from 1-6 it can be really rough to beat them. This is especially true if you can’t set up some board for yourself, Mysterious Challenger will just steamroll your face. On the other hand I found that with some ingenuity and thinking turns ahead there was always some ways to deal with their threats, usually you can find a way to put yourself in a decent position to win the game. Additionally the fact that Secret Paladin doesn’t usually run burst, makes it possible to stabilize at lower health totals. Overall the match-up is possible even if I wouldn’t call it favourable. If you manage to buff a Deathlord early you should generally win, Secret Paladins have a really rough time going through it as they usually don’t run Equality in their lists. Overall it is annoying to face Secret Paladins but they are not the worst match-up you will get.

Zoolock: 3/2

There were not too many Zoolocks on ladder, I believe this match-up should be favourable. My two losses were due to me not playing around Shadowflame, I didn’t expect this card to be in their decks. Overall if you manage to set up a decent clear turn you should be able to win the game, additionally a big minion early should also grant you a way to lock the Zoo out of the game. I think if Zoo was more popular I would for sure put Wild Pyromancer in the deck, the card just destroys decks which go wide.

Midrange Shaman: 5/0

The Shaman lists I faced were basically the ones that people play in Standard, I was confused to the reason why they were playing them in Wild. Those lists get destroyed by my deck. Given an average draw I will be able to fight for board and have answers to their threats for days.

Reno Mage: 5/1

I have so much of this statistic simply because it seems everybody around rank 12-10 was playing Reno Mage. I can understand this, the archetype is my favourite in the game. The match-up is good, Reno Mage will rarely have the ability to out-pressure you and you can Entomb his threats. The game I lost was due to a misplay, I entombed a Reno in fatigue with my opponent still having Ysera in hand. Not knowing what people play makes it slightly trickier to navigate the match-up. Overall the match-up is really fun and you really need to calculate how you will use your resources throughout the game. Usually fatigue is this decks best bet for a win-condition against Reno Mage.

Priest: 1/4

Against Priest this deck did really badly because all the people I played had insanely greedy lists with N’Zoth, Ysera and Elise. I will also say that whilst I know the Priest vs Warrior match-up really well, I played it a ton from the Warriors perspective, I am new to the Priest class, thus I have a slightly harder time navigating games. What I will say is that ideally you want to save Entomb for the N’Zoth and couple it with Auchenai Double Circle of Healing to nuke down the N’Zoth board, this is exactly 10 mana. Additionally be careful to not make the opponent steal too many Deathlord with their Cabal’s, as this will increase the chances of N’Zoth coming out from your deck and consequentially you not being able to play it. Overall the match-up is tricky and the deck is not built to beat Control Priest consistently, I feel you have a fighting chance but you are certainly not favoured.

Midrange N’Zoth Hunter: 7/6

I didn’t play against many until I reached rank 6, after that I felt there was nothing else on ladder. The match-up is really rough, I managed to be positive just because I feel the opponents misplayed a lot. The amount of pressure N’Zoth Hunter can dish out with cards such as Haunted Creeper and Piloted Shredder is insane, their on curve plays are nearly unbeatable. This, coupled with the fact that there is a N’Zoth in the Hunter list makes it really hard to stabilize the board, most of the time you are left hoping for a hole in their curve. The good thing is that most of the people don’t run Deadly Shot or Hunter’s Mark for lack of space in the deck, this makes it so that most of the times if you can coin Deathlord into Velen’s you can lock them out of hitting your face for a while. Overall a bad match-up which you should lose most of the times.

Control C’Thun Warrior: 4/1

Deathlords milling the Control Warrior!

Deathlords milling the Control Warrior!

The only loss against a Control Warrior I had was to the greediest deck I ever saw. This list rank Ysera, Doomcaller and Brann, Elise and Grommash. I guess my Priest cannot beat such deck-lists. Against more standard Control Warrior build you should be advantaged as you can Entomb their C’Thun and Sylvanas and out resource them in the long run. The only way you lose this match-up is if the Warrior manages to set up a kill before fatigue, this can sometimes happen. Overall the match-up can be rough to play but the fact I have a lot of experience from the Warrior side gave me an advantage over my opponents. Additionally I felt quite a few people were not playing their decks optimally, Control Warrior can certainly win given the right game plan.

General Thoughts on Wild

The start of the climb felt like stealing candy from kids.

The start of the climb felt like stealing candy from kids.

The first game of Wild I ever play I lost to a rank 25 thanks to my beautiful Priest draws, this triggered me. Overall though the games from rank 25 to rank 15 were basically me feeling really bad about destroying newer players which had access to less cards. I feel a lot of players use Wild ladder as a safe haven where they won’t get destroyed by experienced players farming their golden portraits. Once I hit rank 15 the games got interesting, until about rank 7 the meta was very diverse. I fought against a lot of insane decks, from Reno Dragon Priest to Dragon Token Paladin. It was certainly hard to play around decks you had no idea what they played but it was also very refreshing coming from the Standard meta.

The last few rank, 7-4, got more boring. All I was facing was Secret Paladins and Midrange N’Zoth Hunter, both of which have decent chances against Priest if they curve out well. This was especially true once I started the last legend push since from rank 5 to rank 4 was basically facing only these decks. Overall though the meta is quite diverse until you hit rank 5, not being that different from Standard. Rank 5 to Legend in Standard is littered with Dragon Warriors and Aggro Shamans, in Wild you have Secret Paladins and N’Zoth Hunters.

Rank 4 hype!

Rank 4 hype!

I will say that seeing all the staples from the past sets, such as Piloted Shredder and Dr Boom, didn’t bother me too much, there are always ways to deal with these threats. Additionally everybody has access to really solid cards, coupled with the fact Combo Druid doesn’t exist anymore, means you can deal with these cards at the right time without being afraid of the Force of Nature Savage Roar combo. What got quite old pretty fast was the amount of N’Zoth decks on the ladder. Obviously everyone knows the Deathrattles from Naxxramas and Goblin vs Gnomes were really strong, but basically 70% of the ladder was composed of these decks. On the other hand I was quite happy that there wasn’t much Yogg’Saron in Wild, I don’t particularly enjoy playing against that card.

The Wild experience also includes deck-building. I haven’t had this much fun trying different decks in a long time, the amount of options is insane! In this run I only played Priest but I think I played around 6 different decks just to see what I could do. Some of the decks I played were really bad! You can read about them later on in the article. What I will say is that if you are an experienced deck-builder you might just want to open your collection on Wild and theory craft about the decks you can make just for fun.

One thing I noticed is that it seemed the general skill of players at rank 5/4 was much less than in Standard. I saw plenty of misplays and missed lethals against me. An example of this was a Paladin which used Forbidden Healing on me when I was low on health and I had Auchenai on board, he didn’t realize how the interaction worked (it was at rank 5). An explanation for this is probably that given there are less players, it is easier to climb to the higher ranks. Additionally decks like Secret Paladin and N’Zoth Hunter are really strong and don’t require too much decision making to play decently, making it so nearly anyone can achieve at least rank 5. I also noticed that I was facing some really badly built decks, either being way too greedy or just having cards which don’t synergise well together. If I had to guess this has mostly to do with the fact that there are less players experimenting to find the most refined lists and the fact players feel less pressured to climb the ladder, they would rather have fun with home-brews they built rather than optimized decks.

The last thing I wanted to say is that surprisingly all the friend requests that were sent in Wild were by really toxic players which told me to go kill myself or that I cheated. I found that the Wild community was far more toxic than the Standard one. Maybe this has to do with the fact I played Priest, losing to my deck was quite frustrating. It also can be because younger players play this format, I don’t know but I was surprised that none of the 6 friend requests I accepted were genuinely nice people.

Overall playing Wild was really fun. In the three days I played I achieved rank 4. Given the fact I liked the experience I think I will try to push for Legend, this is to at least be able to say I did it once.

The Other Decks

At around rank 10 I tried playing with other Priest decks just to have some fun. Additionally Onyx Bishop had just come out and I wanted to test the card in Wild. All the decks were kind of a failure, with Dragon Priest pulling a little bit more weight than the others. I thought to include a small segment on them here just to give my complete experience of my Wild run.

Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest: This deck did ok, but it wasn’t that fun to play. Additionally the minions it plays have definitely a lot of problems considering the Wild meta. Firstly Wyrmrest Agents usually just get eaten by a coin Piloted Shredder, not good. Additionally whilst the minions are decently strong there are much better neutral options in Wild, cards such as Sludge Belcher are more consistent than the Dragon counterpart and don’t require the activation. There is also the typical Dragon deck problem that there are not enough good Dragons you actually want to play. This means that you can expect to very often be in a position where you really need a Dragon in hand for the activation but you are just lacking the cards. What I found myself doing in a lot of games is keep Twilight Whelp in hand any turn over turn 3 to guarantee I could activate all my other minions. Lastly the deck has a very decent turn 1 and 2 and decent turn 4 and 5, the problem is that you really need the deck to curve out you cannot just skip turn 3 when you are on the play. Overall the deck went 12/9 meaning that it wasn’t the worse, that said it is a pretty boring deck to play and I was playing it at rank 10.

There are a couple of card choices I wanted to discuss about this deck. Firstly I included Nova instead of Excavated Evil because you are an on board deck, you can make good use of the healing granted by Holy Nova. I included only one Entomb and one Lightbomb because I thought that since Dragon Priest is a more of a Midrange deck it should play on curve rather than trying to control the board too much. Probably the changes II would make in order to really use the strength of the dragons in priest is removing 1 Shadow Word: Death, 1 Holy Nova and 1 Cabal Shadow Priest in favour of a second Shadow Word: Pain and two 3-drop minions. It could also be ok if instead of the second 3 drop minion one decided to include Justicar Trueheart, healing for 4 can give you a really tight grip on the board.

Combo Priest.

Combo Priest.

Combo Priest: Went 3/5 with this deck, I managed to pull the dram off once! Overall against aggressive decks having Wild Pyromancer Shenanigans help, but the fact that even more aggressive decks such as Hunters play Sludge Belchers means that it is infinitely harder to pull anything off with this deck. Additionally the draw for the deck is really inconsistent, either you are

Trash Onyx Bishop Priest.

Trash Onyx Bishop Priest.

overdrawing because of Pyromancer, Northshire and Acolyte Shenanigans or you are just stuck with a useless hand, there is no middle grounds. Overall in the games I played I had fun playing it but I have more fun winning, thus I went back to N’Zoth Priest. What I will say is that probably didn’t play the deck even close to optimally as it is very difficult to master combo decks and I didn’t put enough games to really learn the deck. Oh yes, last thing: I am an idiot and forgot to put Faceless Manipulator in the deck!

Onyx Bishop Fail Priest: The deck went 0/2, it was really bad. The incredible thing is that I lost having the perfect opening both times, Injured Blademaster into coin Onyx Bishop just wasn’t enough. I concluded that if the best case scenario doesn’t work I doubt the deck in itself can ever climb. Additionally decks in Wild still play cards like Shredder and Dr Boom, thus you really need to have strong minions to counter these monstrosities! The idea behind this build was to have really strong minions and revive them, with the added potential of fatiguing late game decks with Deathlords. I think that N’Zoth should be included in this deck as in the metagame we live now you cannot just fatigue opponents, you actually need a finisher. Overall there is probably a way to build this deck, this is certainly not it!

Concluding Remarks

Overall I am glad I didn’t disenchant my Wild collection when Standard came out, I had a blast playing Priest in Wild. Probably I will play more Wild this month as I still have 200 Priest wins to farm before my last golden portrait is complete. I wouldn’t have expected it, but seeing Dr Boom and Piloted Shredder back in action made a little nostalgia kick in (even a bit of PTSD when bombs hit for four). The fact you have so many cards makes the format really interesting, it is really fun to experiment with different combinations of cards. Overall I would suggest to anyone who still has access to some Naxxramas and Goblin vs Gnomes cards to go in Wild and give the format a try, you won’t regret it!

A Short Guide to Reaching Legend

I am Matteo Ghisoni, I have reached Legend numerous times before, I thought it would be interesting to share my tips with players attempting the climb for the first time. This guide is supposed to give you a general mind set for how to approach the game, it doesn’t teach you to play any singular deck. Hope this helps and enjoy the read!

Fight the Tilt

The 9th of August I was rank 1, the day after I was rank 5, the tilt can really hurt. After this I kept going between rank 4 and 5 feeling hopeless and generally not enjoying my time playing Hearthstone, this is exactly what you shouldn’t do.

Hearthstone can sometimes be a very stressful game, on nearly every Legend run I had up to date (11 I believe) at a certain point I always had the feeling of hopelessness. I will admit I am a very emotional player. This feeling can be the worst thing that happens to you as you start heavily misplaying, playing too fast, and generally losing games you should have won. Even if you try rationalizing that losing to a RNG flips happens, our emotional side isn’t rational, it will take over and make you feel almost always worse.

The best solution for this is setting some sort of guidelines on how to behave in tilting situations and follow them. Yes, following them is definitely the hardest part! If you want some inspiration my general guideline is the following: if you lose 3 games in a row mandatory 10 minutes break. This though is not the complete rule as there are some conditionals. Firstly if you are playing too fast and your head feels fuzzy, even if you are not losing, you should stop. Tiredness can severely affect your performance in Hearthstone. Additionally some heavy losses warrant 10 minutes breaks just because of how bad they can be. For me losing to Yogg’Saron RNG is one of the worst feeling in the game, after crazy Yogg’s I always let myself breathe for a bit.

In general to play the game to the maximum of your capacities you should always try to be in the best possible mental state, like for any mental activity the less lucid you are the worst you will perform. My main suggestion is to try make you gaming session as clean as possible, music without words and absolutely no streams open, they will just distract you from your games.

Take General Stats

Knowing the general field you are facing against will enable you to mulligan correctly as well as guiding your deck choice. For example, if there is 60% Control Warrior around you might not want to play Freeze Mage. If on the other hand there is a lot of Zoolock it might be correct to Freeze and burn the enemies to death!

In order to take stats there are two different ways, you can either use a program or do it old style like I do: by hand. I personally prefer writing down statistics because I can put small comments beside the statistics. For example, it might be I heavily misplayed a match-up and thus I should regard the statistics as unreliable, by hand I can note this down. In general there is a lot of information that might be important when analysing the statistics; from techs the opponent might have used to the style of play you decided to take. Additionally I suggest to go back and look at how you did every 20 games, this is in order to understand what happened and what to can expect from the metagame.

Overall I don’t think it is required to write in depth analysis of all the match-ups to reach legend, but at least knowing what the metagame you are playing in is should help you get there faster. Additionally with stats you can optimize your deck choices and techs better, for example a lot of Shaman might warrant you putting Doomsayer in your Hunter deck. Lastly consider that if there is a strange statistics, like losing 90% of games against Freeze Mage as Control Warrior, this might help you identify mistakes you are making in favourable match-ups.

Stick with One or Two Decks

Sometimes you will feel your deck is not working numerous games in a row, this will tempt you to switch decks. There are two problems with this. Firstly a few games is not enough of a statistical basis to really understand how effective a deck is, bad RNG can affect anyone. Secondly every deck needs to be played differently in different match-ups, meaning that if you continue switching decks, you will never gain enough expertise with one deck to fully understand how to play against the popular meta decks.

In general you will see that the more you play with a deck the more your win-percentage will increase. The reasons why players such as Dawid “Zetalot” Skalski manage to hit legend consistently with tier 3/4 decks (Priest) is that they have so much experience with the deck that they know exactly how to build it and play it.

So in general my suggestion is to find one or two decks you really enjoy playing and master them!

Think About the Game

I am not talking about going full Lifecoach and analyzing every game as deeply as he does, but at least thinking a bit about how you could have played differently. How good you are at a card game is solely determined by which decision you make, there is no flashy mechanical skill you can practice. I personally think it is important go back and think about different plays you could have made after each game, even if just for a few seconds. The screenshot feature in Hearthstone is especially useful for this as you can just press Prt Sc and have the image saved to the desktop.

Thinking about the game also involves taking your time with turns and trying to calculate what would put you in the best position in order to win. Sometimes it might be better to sacrifice life for board control other times the opposite will be true. Also, taking your time should enable you to give you more time to spot hard lethals! I like keeping my hands off the mouse until I have made a decision, this enables me to really think through all my options without being rash and making avoidable mistakes.

Thinking about how a specific match-up works is also part of this sub-section. In some match-ups it is essential to save resources in order to deal with certain threats, in others going face is your only win-condition. If you are having a hard time in a particular match-up, a suggestion is to go in casual and keep playing as the deck you are losing the most against, this should enable you to understand the weakness of the deck. Alternatively if there is a particular match-up you really cannot seem to win you could ask someone from your friend list to play with you the match-up with you playing as the class which always beats you. Getting the opposed perspective of the match-up should help you understand it better. Overall take your time with you decision, nobody is chasing you and this will probably save you time in the long run.

Identify your Win-Condition

This part is a subsection of thinking about the game but I thought it would be important to emphasize it, I see too many players making this mistake against me. Every turn the first thing you should ask yourself is: “how am I winning this game?” This is essential as different situations will warrant you to act in different ways.

For example, the other day I was playing Aggro Shaman and was facing against a N’Zoth Paladin. He had 18 health and only 5 cards remaining in the deck. I knew he had no more heals but I didn’t see any weapon removal, he had two turn clock on me. My hand was composed of Doomhammer, Rockbiter Weapon, Lightning bolt and a couple other minions. I had 8 cards in my deck and still had another Rockbiter Weapon in it. I decided that my only win condition was to wait on equipping the Doomhammer and hoping to find the Rockbiter, I decided that my 1/8 to win from hand was more probable than him having his weapon removal in the last 5 cards of the deck. I got rewarded for this play and won. Obviously I don’t know if he actually had the Ooze or Harrison in hand, overall though I felt my only win condition was bursting him from my hand.

Some games of Hearthstone will be straight forward in how you win, others will require you to find the correct way in the middle of the decision paths. Overall the games which really matter for your win-rate are not the ones you blow out or get blown out, are the ones where the correct line of play is hard to identify. So I repeat, every turn stop and ask yourself: “how am I winning this game?”

Learn from the Pro’s

The reason these people can make money out of the game is that they spent an incredible amount of hours perfecting their skills and improving as players. When you see people such as: Thijs “Thisj” Molendijk, Cedric “Senfglas” Sander, Cong “Strifecro” Shu etc. playing the game you see that their decision making is on point, they know what they are doing and rarely make mistakes. Obviously everybody will lose because of a draw, but consistency is all that matters in a game of probability (and no nobody is never lucky). If you watch Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk beware he will tell you the secret to become Legendary is visiting tempostorm.com! Visiting the site might help but is certainly not enough to get your game perfectly on point!

What I like to do when watching a stream is to try guess the line of play before the streamer makes the final decision, this should really help your analytical skills. If you manage to guess the line of play consistently it should mean your game is on point. Additionally the streamers which I talked about above usually talk about their decision making so you can compare yours and see where you have gone wrong, I assume it is correct to say most of the time the pro’s will have made the correct decision.

Overall actively engaging in viewing these people and understanding their deck choices and thought process should help you become a better player in the long run, obviously there is no substitute for practice.

Don’t Surrender!

I believe that anyone who really puts their head to it and really tries to step up their game will eventually reach Legend, the important thing is to not get demoralized by the loss-streaks that statistically will happen. All that is left for me to say is: “may the RNG God’s be with you” and good luck in your Hearthstone endeavors!

 

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A Closer Look at Karazhan’s Legendary Cards

Without focusing too much on the cover page, you can find the reference in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8FUE_-Ai2A (it is funny go watch it). With all the focus on Purify, the new Priest toy, I thought it would be interesting to try shift the talk and go into a really detailed analysis about the five legendary cards which will be released with the new expansion. Hope you enjoy!

The Curator

the curator

I consider The Curator a control and midrange card, I doubt any aggressive deck would ever want to play it as it is too slow for their game-plan. First off then, it is important to consider Beasts, Murlocs and Dragons which you might want to include in your control or midrange deck.

Murlocs: Corrupted Seer, Vilefin Inquisitor (Paladin), Murloc Knight (Paladin).

I didn’t include Sir Finley Mrrgglton because apart from Control Hunter and maybe Druid, no other archetype would actually want to play it. All control decks tend to be built around the Hero Power they will use, this is because they need to try extract as much value as possible from it. Since no new Murlocs came out it seems that Paladin is in the best shape to make use of the draw a Murloc part of the Battlecry. I usually don’t really like including Corrupted Seer in my decks as I think it is not strong enough in most control decks, but I may have to change my mind once The Curator comes out.

Dragons: Dragon Consort (Paladin), Coldarra Drake (Mage), Twilight Whelp (Priest), Twilight Drake, Twilight Guardian, Azure Drake, Chillmaw, Alexstrasza, Ysera, Nefarian, Malygos, Deathwing, Book Wyrm.

What jumps out to me straight away is Malygos. If you run a combo deck drawing your combo initiator is invaluable. Running The Curator and thus having double the chances to draw Malygos means you can pull off the combo more consistently. Thus in Malygos Druid one could try running only Malygos as a dragon accompanied with some Beast or Murloc in order to thin the deck and find the combo initiator. On the other hand if you do this your opponent will always know you have Malygos in your hand (if he knows your deck-list) meaning that he can play around the card. On the whole in Malygos decks I would definitely include The Curator, the defensive aspect of the card and the fact it and help you draw Malygos seems a perfect fit for the archetype.

I could also see The Curator working in Dragon Paladin. In this archetype you do not need many dragons to have a really powerful synergy. Dragon Consort is an Innervate for a Dragon which persists until used, meaning  that even without too many dragons playing Consort and a 9 drop is a viable game-plan. Additionally running Beasts like Stampeding Kodo and a Murloc Knight shouldn’t hurt your deck too much.

Going back to the discussion about Dragons, the first reason you consider The Curator is because you know you can fit some sort of Dragon in a deck. From the low drops to the higher end minions this tribe can offer a lot, especially considering that Azure Drake is one of the strongest 5-drops in the game.

Beasts: Savage Combatant and company (Druid), Hunter has loads, Fierce Monkey, Jeweled Scarab, Ironbeak Owl, Tomb Spider, Stampeding Kodo.

Curiously enough even the Beast tribe offers some options for control and midrange decks. In classes like Shaman running Jeweled Scarab is a viable option, their 3-mana slot is filled with good cards. Additionally the discover mechanic should be flexible enough to give you at least one decent option in most games. Druid and Hunter I won’t talk about as the options are unlimited. For classes without beasts I think Stampeding Kodo could also make the cut. I say this because even if without the Paladin tools, Stampeding Kodo usually finds some sort of target against most decks. Additionally Tomb Spider is also not the worst option as again it generates value for an OK body on board. Lastly in a metagame where silence is useful our “Hoot Hoot” friend can always be played.

Overall I think this card will really shine in Paladin. I feel that once Karazhan comes out Paladin from one of the least played classes will climb quite a few ranks as the tools it received in this set are invaluable. Overall I will certainly play around with this one a lot! I believe it to be decently powerful even if it draws just 2 cards.

Moroes

Moroes

Obviously, the first thing you think about when you see Moroes is: “which ways can I buff him or the tokens to make it more useful?” 2/2 worth of immediate stats isn’t worth it at 3-mana. In Wild the answer would be Hobgoblin, but unfortunately this combo won’t be available in Standard. Another answer one could give is Steward of Darkshire, making Moroes and his tokens have Divine Shield could potentially make it very annoying to deal with; AOE’s wouldn’t work to sweep them out. The problem with this is that it is impossible to set this up in a realistic turn frame, Steward of Darkshire will rarely persist more than one turn, the opponent will usually try clearing it as soon as possible. On the other hand turn six is probably too late in order to combo Moroes with Steward, if you play the latter card you are probably playing a fast deck you want to threaten lethal by that time. Additionally it is not like the combo is going to win you the game.

The other possible use for Moroes is a guaranteed target for a buff, Stealth minions are hard to interact with. I don’t know if many recall when Gilbin Stalker was used in Priest in order to guarantee a target for the turn 3 Velen’s Chosen. This was a really hard combo to counter, a turn three 4/7 in Priest can be quite obnoxious to deal with! Moroes could do the same for classes like Paladin (Blessing of Kings) and Druid (Mark of the Wild and co). Both Paladin and Druid have also multiple ways to make use of the tokens Moroes produces, meaning that it could be a decent inclusion in these buff token decks.

On the other hand one has to consider what other Stealth minions are available when building a buff deck. The answer is the following:

Stealth: Druid of the Saber (Druid), Patient Assassin (Rogue), Worgen Infiltrator, Twisted Worgen, Jungle Panther, Silent Knight, Stranglethorn Tiger, Ravenholdt Assassin.

What looking at the Stealth creatures tells me is that this card won’t be used in Druid, Druid of the Saber is just better. Additionally I think the upside of Patient Assassin is also better, so also a no from Rogue. The last thing that kills Moroes is the existence of Silent Knight. If you are looking to play a buff deck including a minion which has Divine Shield and Stealth will always be better than one which has Stealth and produces a 1/1 body.

Overall I think the card is bad but for different reasons than people have proposed. I have seen some  criticizing it because it just dies off to AOE’s, but consider that if the opponent has to use an Aoe to deal with Moroes you should be pretty happy given the fact you are probably playing a token deck (the only really clean answer is Ravaging Ghoul). The main problem for the card is that Silent Knight is just better on average.

Barnes

barnes

pala

Somewhat Standard N’Zoth Paladin list.

When I look at this card I fear it will be the next Tuskarr Totemic, or in other words a card which can swing the game in your favour if you win the roll. Additionally I only see people claiming that it is useful for control decks, but I think there is an argument to be made for at least thinking about it in Zoolock.

I will start with this latter point. In Zoolock you like playing tokens, you can buff them and trade them with your opponent’s expensive minions. Additionally you don’t really mind playing Deathrattle minions as there are some good low drops such as Harvest Golem. It might be the case that if Zoo can be made more Barnes friendly the card could actually be played. I think that even if it grants you a vanilla 1/1 it should be fine most of the time, even if I don’t think it would be powerful enough to reserve it a spot in the deck.

In control N’Zoth decks this card is insane, looking at the control Paladin list on the side you can see that the following obtains:

There is 4/19 (21%) to get a beastly minion: Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros the Firelord, Tirion Fordring or Cairne Bloodhoof.

6/19 (32%) to get a decent effect minion: Loot Hoarder, Ragnaros Lightlord, Acolyte of Pain or Infested Tauren.

9/19 (47%) to get a bad minion (vanilla 1/1).

As said before, these stats remind me of Tuskarr Totemic; instead it is a turn four drop instead of turn three! There is very little way to come back from an early Tirion or Sylvanas! Additionally consider that the above percentages don’t keep in consideration that the probability of having Aldor Peacekeeper in your opening hand are higher than having Tirion, you keep the former in your mulligan. The Paladin deck I built for the screenshot is a very generic Paladin deck, probably if you build the deck around Barnes you could achieve even higher odds than the above. The only real problem I see is that not running cards like Doomsayer could really hurt the match-up against aggressive decks.

In other type of control decks I doubt this card would see much play. Most of the minions you play would just come out as vanilla 1/1’s, you need Deathrattle and end of the turn effect to make Barnes worth it. In aggressive decks the card would be too slow, plus there is not much you really want to summon in play.

Overall I don’t have too much else to say about this card, I think that it will see play in N’Zoth decks and maybe in some Deathrattle variant of a Zoo deck.

Prince Malchezaar

prince malcheazaar

The most important thing to consider is that the effect goes off after the mulligan, this is very good since it keeps the mulligan percentages the same (you really want the same odds on cards like Fiery War Axe). Additionally the Legendries added to your deck will be legendries you didn’t include, this means that you could potentially play this card in a Reno deck without blocking your Reno. It also means the Legendries you will get are cards you would probably not want to play in the deck in the first place.

Trying to make this card work is tough, the first thing that comes to mind is obviously a Fatigue deck. Having the possibility to have 5 more cards in your deck should guarantee that your opponent will fatigue before you, I think Prince Malchezaar is trash for such a purpose as Elise just does the job better. This is especially true because it makes any draw in your deck harder to find after your mulligan. Assume you need brawl by turn 5 and you have 2 copies in your deck, if you didn’t find it in your mulligan your chances to find it are:

Going 1st :  34%

Going 2nd : 36%

Going 1st Prince: 29%

Going 2nd Prince: 30%

The percentages might not be super distant between each other but that inconsistency you add to your deck might hurt your top decks in the long run.

What I think this card is good at is at giving you a tech card against Mill decks (did we need that?) If you think about it, adding 5 cards to your deck means that decks such as Mill Rogue will have a much harder time finishing your deck before you can kill them. Now if you do not draw cards you will be even with them in fatigue. The real question is will there ever be a situation that we need to tech a card for Mill decks?

In arena this Legendary can potentially be really strong. Arena games usually consists of minion battles, not many minions compare well to big Legendaries. Lastly the card is just a fun card for new players and players who don’t like to play to win but to have fun. It could be a good fit in the famous Totalbiscuit’s 30 legendries deck and I am sure people like Noxious will play this card. Overall I am fine with this card I will probably test it and discard it.

Medivh, the Guardian

medivhatiesh

forbidden shaping

All the credit goes to https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/4bbgfs/forbidden_shaping_statistics/)

In my Reno Mage deck I will include this for sure! The first thing to consider is that since you are getting a 7/7 for 8-mana you need to get good value from the weapon. Looking at the table you can see that currently in standard the sweet spot for Forbidden Shaping (and thus even for our spell casting) is 8-mana. If you follow the spreadsheet on the link you can find the updated statistics for Karazhan, unfortunately I couldn’t load it up because my internet/computer lacks the ability. Special mention at the different mana slots goes to:

3-mana: In general many fine cards like Imp Gang boss and Darkshire Councilman, nothing really stood out for me.

4-mana: Savage Combatant, Water Elemental, Tomb Pillager, Flamewreathed Faceless, Pitlord, Korkron Elite, Violet Teacher.

5-mana: Earth Elemental, Doomguard, Leeroy Jenkins, Nexus Champion Saraad.

6-mana: Savannah Highmane, Cairne, Emperor, Sylvanas.

7-mana: Archmage Antonidas, Confessor Paletress, Hogger Doom of Elwynn.

8-mana: Ironbark Protector, Rhonin, Ragnaros Lightlord, Tirion Fordring, Al’Akir the Windlord, Grommash Hellscream, Ragnaros Firelord.

9-mana: King Krush, Ysera.

10-mana: Deathwing (10 mana cards are quite underwhelming because of the Old Gods)

For sure we do not want 0/1/2 mana minions (3 mana is borderline ok) because they would provide too little value considering how much Medivh costs. What this means is that if one looks at the different spells available at 3+ mana for the different classes one can have a general idea of what class can play Medivh with a decent return.

Druid: Healing Touch, Mark of Nature, Mulch, Savage Roar, Astral Communion, Bite, Swipe, Soul of the Forest, Force of Nature, Nourish, Starfall, Moonglade Portal, Starfire, and Wisps of the Old Gods.

Hunter: Animal Companion, Deadly Shot, Powershot, Unleash the Hounds, Multishot, Explosive Shot, Ball of Spiders, and Call of the Wild.

Mage: Forbidden Flame, Secrets, Arcane Intellect, Forgotten Torch, Frost Nova, Polymorph: Boar, Fireball, Polymorph, Cone of Cold, Cabalist Tome, Dragon’s Breath, Flame Lance, Flamestrike, Firelands Portal, and Pyroblast.

Paladin: Divine Favour, Seal of Champions, Blessing of Kings, Consecration, Hammer of Wrath, Silvermoon Portal, Holy Wrath, Blessed Champion, Solemn Vigil, Stand Against Darkness, Avenging Wrath, Enter the Coliseum, Lay on Hands, and Anyfin Can Happen.

Priest: Forbidden Shaping, Shadow Word: Death, Thoughtsteal, Shadowform, Mass Dispel, Mindgames, Shadow Madness, Shadow word: Horror, Excavated Evil, Holy Nova, Power Word: Tentacles, Entomb, Holy Fire, and Mind Control.

Rogue: Beneath the Grounds, Burgle, Shadow Strike, Fan of Knives, Headcrack, Blade Flurry, Assassinate, Thistle Tea, Vanish, and Sprint.

Shaman: Elemental Destruction, Far Sight, Feral Spirit, Healing Wave, Lightning Storm, Lava Burst, Hex, Bloodlust, Everyfin is awesome.

Warlock: Forbidden Ritual, Demon Wrath, Drain Life, Sense Demons, Shadow Bolt, Spreading Madness, Fist of Jaraxxus, Hellfire, Shadowflame, Bane of Doom, Dark Bargain, Siphon Soul, and Twisting Nether.

Warrior: Protect the King, Bash, Blood Warriors, Charge, Shield Block, Mortal Strike, Brawl, and Ironforge Portal.

The classes I think cannot make Medivh work are: Hunter, Paladin, Rogue, Shaman and Warrior. Hunter spells are too low in cost, and given the Hero Power the class wants to close out the game by the time you play Medivh. Even Lock and Load Hunter would have a hard time justifying Medivh as they run a lot of low cost spells. Paladin suffers of a similar problem. The buff cards that it runs are usually for more aggressive builds which don’t want to include Medivh in the deck. Rogue wants to gain tempo by making spells cheaper with Preparation, what this means is that you would never get the full mana worth from the staff. Additionally all the expensive spells are really underwhelming. Shaman’s spell are mostly in the 3 drop slot. I wouldn’t say Medivh it is too bad in Shaman, it might actually work in a Spell Power archetype, the main problem I see is that the staff will never really get much value. Finally Warrior is good for cheap removal, Medivh is good with expensive cards; they do not fit each other at all.

I think the card would be fine in Druid since the 5 and 6-mana spells are all playable. The key thing about this class is that since it doesn’t have any 8-mana spells you will never get maximum value from the staff. Additionally Druid can make very good use tokens on board. Warlock should be ok, even if it won’t excel with it. The class has innately a lot of draw, this means that even if you cannot get too much value from the Staff, casting the midrange spells should be enough to give you a good edge over your opponent. Mage is generally good as it has a lot of spells. Again there is no 8-mana spell for the class but the other slots are filled with high value playable spells. Lastly Priest, the class which in my opinion can make the most out of Medivh. A big problem I find when playing the class is that I never have the ability to develop anything, I just sit there passively throwing spells and defending myself. With Medivh you can transform incredible cards like Entomb in high value minions which can be used by Priest. Additionally having access to Forbidden Shaping means that you can save the charge of the weapon for the perfect moment.

Overall I think Medivh is playable. I have seen people claim the card is similar to Summoning Stone, the key difference these people haven’t noticed is that Summoning Stone can be good with low cost spells, Medivh cannot.  For sure it will get better as time goes on and more spells get printed, additionally in Wild it will always have the chance to shine as more spells are available. Overall the card seems slow but I think that if you can include it in certain classes it can give you a great edge in control match-ups, plus it seems fun!

Concluding Remarks

Overall the legendries that Blizzard decided to print this time around are interesting but, I believe, nowhere near as good as the ones from League of Explorers. The expansion which came out last December was amazing for everybody, from the most casual to the most competitive player. Overall I am happy that Karazhan is coming out and I can’t wait to play around with the Legendries, I think Barnes and The Curator will make the cut for sure, Medivh will be a solid card which is slightly too slow in most decks. Finally I think that Prince Melchezaar and Moroes will be fun cards which won’t see play in competitive scene.

Reno Madness – N’Zoth and Load Reno Hunter

Hello everybody, I am Matteo Ghisoni and I love Reno Jackson decks. Sorry Hunters! This article is the third installation of a series focusing on different Reno builds. What I will do is: build a deck, play 50+ games with it and write about the experience. The article should not be seen as a guide but as a discussion about deck-building.

The Idea

To find a Reno Hunter deck-list which I was happy with I had to spend more than an hour in the deck builder swapping cards in and out, as the archetype can be built in numerous ways. I decided to settle with a two Old Gods build as both N’Zoth and Yogg’Saron are powerhouses which are playable in the class. I thought that if I could get away with running 2 win conditions it would help the consistency of my deck. Additionally in a Reno Hunter deck you want to absolutely run Tracking, the card thins out your deck whilst drawing you a card, the problem is by itself the card isn’t great. This means that having Yogg’Saron, Lock and Load and other cheap spells in the deck could potentially help me get more mileage out of my cards. Another  thing to state is that a lot of the Hunter spells which help you control the board are low costed and only effective against small minions, thus you can never go for the with the complete control game-plan. This is why I geared my deck to be a Midrange build with a strong late game plan. I thought Yogg’Saron wouldn’t be enough to consistently close out game, so given the insane Deathrattle arsenal at Hunter’s disposal I thought wise to push in a N’Zoth. In this deck. Reno Jackson should be seen as an equivalent to what Healbot and Lay of Hands were for Midrange Paladin, cards which are useful but not required in order to win.

All in all it was the start of the season (all the games were played between the 1st and 2nd of August) and as usual if I got 50% win-rate I would be happy. The deck surpassed my expectations in the 50 games I played (56% win-rate, more detailed statistics below) and thus here I am giving you all you might want to know about this strange but functional deck-list!

The Core of the Deck-List

The final 30 cards.

The final 30 cards.

In the 50 games I played I maintained the same deck-list throughout to have a decent sample size when analysing the cards.  I consider the following cards the core of the deck: Reno Jackson, N’Zoth, Yogg’Saron, Deadly Shot and Hunter’s Mark. On Reno Jackson I don’t really have to spend too much time, he is the reason you want to build a highlander deck in the first place! I already said why I wanted to build the deck around the Old Gods, both provide insane potential for finishing the opponent and I wanted a slightly more top heavy midrange deck. One can see that both Gods do not have the full support as if you were playing a deck fully centered around them. In the deck there are 13 spells, meaning that on average your Yogg’Saron will cast 6 spells. This is not great but I found it is consistent enough to get some decent enough value for the 10-mana cost. The same applies to N’Zoth, the deck has only four Deathrattles. If one looks at these cards though one will notice the quality of these cards is very high, meaning that getting back 2 is usually enough to gain mileage out of N’Zoth.  Hunter’s mark is really solid, even after it was nerfed to 1 mana it still provides huge tempo swings when you are able to hit a big minion with it. Additionally it is one of the best removal spells hunter has access to, basically it is an auto-include in any controlish Hunter deck. Finally Deadly Shot is the best single target removal Hunter has at its disposal, it needs to be played in a Reno deck.

Bloodmage Thalnos, Tracking and Azure Drake can also be all considered core to the deck. These cards all cycle through the deck meaning that when they are played you are one card closer to Reno. Tracking especially is insane as it can cut 3 cards of your deck making the chances you get Reno substantially higher. Throughout the games I never felt I was missing too much card draw, especially because sometimes I could just tap like a madman with Finley. Overall though I could see it making sense adding a couple of cantrips, making the deck more consistent. Keep in mind King’s Elekk also serves as a cantrip most of the time, the card drew for me more than 65% of the time I played it.

The Rest of the Deck

Arcane Shot: In general a card which deals two damage for 1-mana is not very good. On the other hand the fact you play Yogg’Saron and that Hunter does not have too many early spells, makes it so the card is not to be analysed in a vacuum. Additionally since Lock and Load has a place in this deck, playing Arcane Shot makes it so that it is easier to pull off a strong combo turn with the card. All in all Arcane Shot is not the strongest card in the deck by far, but since it hits most of the breaking points for early minions it usually will trade one for one. Lastly with the inclusion of Bloodmage Thalnos sometimes you can make it so that your Arcane Shot hits slightly harder, even if this is rarely essential.

On the Hunt: On the hunt is a strange version of Elven Archer which produces a Beast, not the greatest of cards. Given the fact we play Yogg’Saron and Lock and Load, On the Hunt can be cycled for another card and an additional spell from the God. Additionally it also has to be considered that even if not great this card does enable you to get on board early game in order to make some trades. Lastly Hunter doesn’t have the best way to deal one damage thus On the Hunt can provide utility when coupled with Hunter’s Mark.

Sir Finley Mrrgglton: This deck is an attempt at a Controlish Hunter deck, consequentially dealing face damage is not the first priority. What this means is that whenever Sir Finley is played there is a 100% chance of increasing the utility of your Hero Power for the game. In no game I played him I was unhappy about the fact I didn’t have the ability to deal 2 damage a turn since I had other ways to push for lethal damage by controlling the board and using big swing turns. One last thing I wanted to add is that Sir Finley can interfere with the King’s Elekk Battlecry sometimes, when this happens I will admit it is pretty annoying.

This Shaman is going to have nightmares!

This Shaman is going to have nightmares!

Acidic Swamp Ooze: I think in this metagame if you are playing a Reno Jackson deck you have to play weapon removal, Shamans and Warriors are rampant on ladder. The choice was between Harrison Jones and Acidic Swamp Ooze, I chose the latter because Ooze is more flexible as it can be played alongside other cards. Overall it is very close between Harrison and Ooze, but I think Ooze’s flexibility makes it potentially better by enabling to set-up decent tempo swings.

Bear Trap: This trap is OK, it helps in establishing some sort of board presence on turn two. Additionally, given early on very rarely you will have board control it should be more consistent than Snake Trap in order to grant yourself some minions. Also to consider is the fact that you can usually bluff a Freezing Trap and impede you opponents attack (I pulled it off a few times), making it useful for preserving your life total. Last consideration is that all the traps help make Lock and Load more consistent as they are low cost spells which can be played alongside the 2-mana by turn five. Overall the card isn’t great but I think it is solid enough to run, a 3/3 for two is decent value.

Doomsayer is just so good!

Doomsayer is just so good!

Doomsayer: This card is really good, it enables you to survive the early game against aggressive decks whilst also providing late game utility by potentially having the ability to deny key turns if the timing is guessed right (for example a Gadgetzan Auctioneer Conceal turns). Also take in consideration that against control decks you can potentially make them waste resources if you play Doomsayer when the opponent has 10 cards in hand, this will force a discard. In general it is very important to learn to play this card correctly, it one of the most powerful tools in the game if timed correctly. I think I would never consider taking this card out of the deck since it performed amazingly well in all aspects of the game.

Explosive Trap: The Hunter class doesn’t have access to very much AOE, so Explosive Trap is one of the only cards which falls under this category. The card is very useful against a wide array of aggressive decks, it is usually possible to set up a board so that it will die to the 2 damage AOE. Like Bear Trap it can also be used to bluff Freezing Trap, in my experience people very rarely play around any other trap. In some situations I could see substituting Explosive for another spell, this is if there are not many aggressive decks, but as of now we do not live in that kind of metagame.

Freezing trap: I think this is probably the strongest trap Hunter has access to for board control decks, given no charge minion you can usually guarantee hitting the minion you want. Additionally most of the time it makes it so that the card which goes back to hand will become unplayable, the 2-mana increase is a big deal because the opponent will lose a lot of tempo if he decided to replay the card.

King’s Elekk: If it draws you a card King’s Elekk is probably the best 2-drop in the game. In the deck we have five 3-mana or less creatures, two 4/5-mana creatures and six 6-mana or more creatures. What this means is that if we have not drawn any other creature we have 6/11 (54.5%) to nearly guarantee a draw and 8/11 (72.7%) to have a good shot at it. Usually though you want to keep in the opening hand your low drops, meaning that your odds of hitting a high cost minion are even higher than the ones stated above. I will say that Sir Finley did ruin my plans a couple of games, but overall I found that the card drew me consistently enough to guarantee it a spot in my deck.

Lock and Load: The card performed decently, most of the time I could cycle two or three spells. I found this to be enough value. A couple of times I managed to pull off a really big Lock and Load turns, but certainly I cannot say that this happened very often. Since compared to normal Yogg and Load Hunter you run only half the low cost spells and only one Lock and Load, you won’t be able to pull off the effect as consistently. Overall I feel that if you want to run Yogg’Saron you have to run a few of the low cost spells and this should already provide enough basis to include Lock and Load in the deck.

An awesome Load!

An awesome Load!

Quick Shot: In 50 games I have never drawn once from Quick Shot, the only reason it is in the deck is for removal purposes. A dark Bomb is not exactly the most appealing of cards for a Hunter deck, on the other hand there aren’t that many tools in the Hunter arsenal to control the board early. I feel Quick Shot is needed in the deck even if most of the time it will just be used as a defensive Dark Bomb.

Animal Companion: This card is all around good. Firstly it is a spell so it is a 3-drop which does not interfere with your Elekk. Secondly every option is fine: Huffer is usually a Shadowbolt, Misha is a very solid wall and Leokk is slightly underwhelming but can trade with 2-drops. In general since you can make use of any of the options you will never be sad when you have this card in your hand.

Dreadscale: This card was very underwhelming in the deck, whilst it can be situationally awesome most of the times it was a dead card in my hand. Additionally the stats are very easy to deal with, two health nearly guarantees the opponent will be able to deal with it. The synergy to consider is the one with Hunter’s Mark, the kill is very clean when these two cards can be comboed. Overall I think this can be relegated to a Zoolock tech, since I didn’t face that many Zoolock’s, so the card was mostly useless.

Eaglethorn Bow: Given that I run 3 traps in the deck including Eaglethorn Bow is a must. For one the card is really solid early game giving you the possibility to go 2 for 1 most of the time. Additionally the fact it can gain charges means that the mileage you can get out of this card can be much above its mana cost. In my experience most of the time you will use the two charges in order to fight for the early board control game, this though is enough for the mana cost you pay for it.

Kill Command: You don’t run many beasts and I found that most of the time Kill Command was just an over costed Quick Shot for turn 3. The card wasn’t great but it was helpful to be able to transition from the early game to the mid game, I cannot complain too much about it. I think it would be interesting trying substituting in some other spell removal in place of Kill Command in order to see if it would perform better.

Value Powershot!

Value Powershot!

Powershot: This card was surprisingly good, usually it basically served as a consecration for 3 mana. Against Zoolock it is the only match-up where it is never equal to the Paladin staple, the board is usually really wide. Running spell power besides this card also makes the card substantially stronger, 3 health is the breaking point you really want to hit against Shamans (Flame Tongue, Tunnel Trogg, Spirit Wolfs, Mana Tide Totem). Overall this is another unsubstitutable piece of removal!

Unleash the Hounds: Unleash is one of those cards which you are always happy to see when facing a token heavy deck, it is usually a life saver. Additionally the card is not bad if the opponent has at least 3 minions on board, three 1/1 minions with charge can be equated to a Wolfrider you can split. Overall since the card acts as removal in a deck which really needs removal I think it is safe to say it is nearly unsubstitutable, this is unless the metagame becomes so that there are never more than two minions on board.

Infested Wolf: Infested Wolf is a pretty solid Deathrattle, given we play N’Zoth it seems a pretty straightforward choice. 3/3 in stats is kind of weak for a 4-drop, but the fact that there are annoying 1/1 minions left behind makes it so that it is usually hard to clear. Overall the card is just solid enough given the fact we play N’Zoth, by no means though I would consider mandatory to play it in the deck as other Deathrattle creatures can fill the same spot as Infested Wolf.

Emperor into Call is pretty good...

Emperor into Call is pretty good…

Emperor Thaurissan: I think Emperor is a perfect fit in this deck for multiple reasons. Firstly it enables you to unclog your hand and make it so you can set-up high tempo turns. Secondly it is a threat your opponent has to absolutely deal with, the card can snowball easily out a game. This means that if you Emperor turn six into a Call of the Wild turn seven the opponent will rarely have clean answers to both. Additionally it makes it easier to pull off the Lock and Load as you need only a couple of discounts to really go crazy in value. I think I would never remove Emperor from this deck!

Savannah Highmane: One of the best 6-drops in the game (if not the best one) and it has Deathrattle, it would be crazy to not play it in a N’Zoth deck. Additionally even if N’Zoth brings back only Highmane, this is already valuable enough for the ten mana you spent. Overall even in a more control Hunter builds it would be silly to not play Savannah Highmane, the card is just that powerful.

Sylvanas Windrunner: Basically the same reasoning as Savanah Highmane with an added twist. With the advent of standard and silences being rarer, Sylvanas is usually a pseudo board clear which allows to come back from difficult board states. This alone makes it an excellent card as the deck really lacks board clears. Additionally getting it back from N’Zoth is usually enough for N’Zoth to get value, you really don’t need much more.

Call of the Wild: Everybody knows how powerful this card is, by itself it makes it so that Midrange Hunter has a place in competitive play. The card is busted, not playing it would be a mistake!

Cards to Consider

Flare: This card provides a cantrip, always useful in Reno decks, whilst countering secrets. Flare also synergises well with Yogg’Saron and Lock and Load. The card nearly made it in the final 30, I decided to not included as Secret classes are rare on ladder thus often it would just be a card draw. I could see it being played if Mage and Hunter become very popular on ladder.

Snake Trap: If you already have board presence Snake Trap could make the board even harder to deal with. The problem with this card is that currently Warriors infest the ladder, Ravaging Ghoul is a really clean answer to a popped Snake Trap. On the other hand if one was to amend the deck a bit there is a really cool combination of cards you can add: Houndmaster, Tinkmaster Overspark and Snake Trap. Tinkmaster Overspark can transform minions into beasts, what this means is that it can provide more consistent targets for Houndmaster to hit. Additionally Snake Trap makes it so that half the time if you play a Tinkmaster Overspark on the snake board you will get a 5/5 beast! Overall though I think this is thinking way too much into the best case scenario, I doubt this combination will ever work.

Snipe: Very rarely people play around Snipe thus it will probably surprise your opponent most of the time. Additionally if you are facing a lot of Worgen Warriors it can potentially block their whole combo if you time it correctly. Overall I feel that whilst it might shine every now and then the other traps I included in the deck are probably more consistent overall.

Loot Hoarder: Including this card in the deck would give you the possibility to add more consistency, you would have more draw, as well as another turn 2 play you could keep in your hand. On the other hand I find most of the time it is enough to have tracking in order to find Reno, I never really felt I was lacking draw in my deck. I won’t consider the card being brought back with N’Zoth because an additional 2/1 will very rarely make the difference.

Huge Toad: It is a Deathrattle, potentially giving your N’Zoth more targets to revive. I decided to discard this card last minute because I said to myself I would rather have one more trap rather than a minion which will only trade one for one most of the time, at the time I felt I needed more spells in the deck. All in all, this is not the worst choice you could make but consider that it does make your Elekk less consistent.

Acolyte of Pain: More draw is always welcome in Reno decks, the problem of Acolyte is that in Hunter except for On the Hunt and Dreadscale there is no good way of activating the draw more than once. If you look at the decks which play the card you will notice there is always some combo potential: Paladin runs Humility type effects, Warrior has Whirlwind and Priest couples is with Pyromancer. I think a Loot Hoarder would be better for this build.

Brann Bronzebeard: Brann is always good if you build your deck to include more Battlecry type effects. In this deck running good Battlecries wouldn’t harm the build, cards such as Defender of Argus and Earthen Ring Farseer are all usable. Additionally you could include Tomb Spider and potentially Jeweled Scarab, both provide more Beast Synergy and more value. The problem I see with including Brann is that the idea behind this deck-list wasn’t to have a value oriented deck but a more Midrange deck built for the late game. It seems to me the Brann game plan doesn’t seem to be in line with the N’Zoth and Yogg one.

Harvest Golem: The reasons you would run Harvest Golem are similar to the reasons you would run Huge Toad, a Deathrattle for the early game. The pros of Harvest Golem are that most of the time the card will trade well against early enemy minions, you should always go at least 1 for 1 with the potential of going 2 for 1. The cons are that it comes one turn later and on turn 3 you usually want to Animal Companion or Eaglethorn Bow. Lastly it has the Mech tag instead of the Beast tag, obviously the latter is better in hunter. Overall if one were to consider Huge Toad it is probably also worth thinking about Harvest Golem.

Mindcontrol Tech: Reno Jackson decks very often run this card as it can provide huge swing turns whilst answering large boards. Mindcontrol Tech is basically a removal for wide boards. The main problem with playing it in the current state of the metagame is that since Dr Boom is gone, wide boards with 4 or more minions are rarer. On the other hand Mindcontrol Tech being rarer means players will play around it less often, making the card potentially more valuable. It has to be emphasized though that most of the time around the midgame you will want to be proactive on board making Mindcontrol Tech hard to pull off consistently.

Elise Starseeker: Control Warrior is an awful match-up for this deck, you lack the pressure to be able to finish them off before they get crazy amounts of armour. Elise could potentially help you in that match-up making it possible to just steal a win thanks to the Golden Monkey. The problem with this plan is that against C’Thun Warriors most of the times the Golden Monkey will be useless, you will never be able to play it before C’Thun comes down. Additionally in other match-up you really do not need a third win condition as N’Zoth, Yogg and Reno should be enough to end any Midrange deck.

Refreshment vendor: It provides a 4-drop and some heal, it is not the worst card you could think of including. The problem I have with it in this card is that I think you would rather have a proactive card to play rather than a defensive one for turn 4, cards like Tomb Spider or Houndmaster would probably on average do better.

Houndmaster: Before Turn 4 there are only 4 beasts you can have in play, what this means is that usually you won’t have a beast for Houndmaster on board by the time you want to play the card. Additionally in total in the deck you have only 8 beasts, and the opponent will remove them most of the time from the board anyway making Houndmaster just a vanilla 4/3. I think the card would be too inconsistent to play in the deck.

Tomb Spider: This card would be an excellent fit in the deck even without the Brann package (even if I feel in the Brann package it really shines). A 3/3 which cycles itself for another Beast is not bad at all as it provides a good amount of value for a deck which wants to control games. Additionally the card is a Beast so it could make Kill Command slightly more consistent. Also to consider is the fact that it can potentially find you more Deathrattle minions in order to make N’Zoth even better. I think it was wrong to not include this card in the deck as it has a lot of potential!

Spell Breaker: Running this card could be ok if there is something in particular in the meta you wish to silence, but with Naxxramas and Goblin Vs Gnomes gone from standard most of the Deathrattles which are worth silencing are also gone. If Control Paladin becomes a prevalent deck in the meta I would consider putting Spellbreaker in the deck as Paladins run many targets worth silencing, including: Sylvanas Windrunner, Tirion Fordring and Carine Bloodhoof. The card overall is not bad but needs a specific metagame in order to be played.

Infested Tauren: A more defensive Deathrattle to substitute Infested Wolf, I really don’t like stat distribution on this one. A 2/3 will trade with nothing most of the time, the 2/2 minion which spawns from it will probably have the same fate. I think Infested Wolf is just a better option when compared to Infested Tauren, on the other hand there could be some other slot in the deck (e.g Dreadscale) Infested Tauren could fill.

Explosive Shot: It is removal, in certain conditions it can be the best card in the game! The reason why I didn’t play it is exactly that, most of the time it will just be a worse Fireball which does nothing to improve your board state. I think a good summary of Explosive Shot is the following: if I get the card from Lock and Load I am pretty satisfied, but I would never waste a slot in the deck for it.

Ram Wrangler: The reason I decided to not include this card are similar to the ones for Houndmaster, it would just be an inconsistent card. I want to also add Ram Wrangler has an added problem, super high variance inconsistent effect.

Ball of Spiders: Drawing 3 random beasts is great! The problem is the cost of the card! At 6 mana summoning 3 1/1 minions is less than ideal, most of the time they will just do nothing. On the other hand it does add a spell for Yogg and it is a great tool against Control decks which try to run you out of resources. I think I would consider subbing in this card if ladder for some reason was filled with control decks, as of now it will just grant more time to the Dragon Warriors and Agro Shaman to end the game.

Cairne Bloodhoof: Cairne is not a bad 6-drop, especially since N’Zoth is in the deck but I think it is too slow for the curve. In this deck you don’t need to get huge value from N’Zoth as usually you will have pressured your opponent enough that getting Sylvanas plus Infested Wolf will be the game closer. If on ladder there were to be a lot of Control decks then running Cairne would probably be the correct choice as you could actually have the time to develop it, against aggressive deck playing Cairne turn 6 will probably guarantee you will lose the game.

Baron Geddon: If there are a lot of token decks this card could find a lot of value. The problem I see is that usually as a Control Hunter you still want to have at least some board presence as you do not have too many tools from hand to control the board (you really lack hard clears). Thus I think that you could run Geddon but most of the time it will probably do you more harm than good given the aim of the deck.

Gladiators Longbow: This card can provide pretty good value whilst preserving your health total. The 5 damage break-point is pretty important as card like Sylvanas and Emperor are prevalent in this metagame. The main problem is that paying 7 mana for a weapon which clears only two minons is bad. On average the minions which you will get to clear won’t be Sylvanas an Emperor but lower cost cards, the metagame is full of more aggressive decks which try to end the game fast. Against a Zoolock or a Shaman, Gladiator Longbow will be a dead card for most of the match-up, you cannot afford this. Probably in a more midrange metagame running this Gladiators Longbow could be viable.

Ragnaros, the Firelord: He is the God of flame and he has been a decent card to play since the start of Hearthstone, whenever you don’t know what to put in a deck you can always put Ragnaros. I decided to not include the card because I believe Ragnaros is better in mid-range decks which want to pressure on the board and close out games rather than decks more geared towards the control playstyle. Whilst Ragnaros could potentially provide more removal, it is in the form of unreliable eight damage that could go face and do very little. Overall though Ragnaros is not a bad choice at all for a Reno Hunter build.

King Krush: As a finisher the king isn’t bad, 8 damage is nothing to laugh at. Additionally the card is flexible as it can always be used as very expensive removal if needs be, even if this is not ideal for sure. The reason I decided to not include it in the deck is that I already had a high cost finisher in N’Zoth and thus thought it was probably overkill to add another win condition. Additionally only against C’Thun warriors I really felt handicapped by the fact I could not deal enough damage, in every other match-up I never felt I needed an added 8 burst to finish the game.

Statistics

Matches Played:

W/L= 28/22 (56% win-rate)

Representative Data (no data about match-ups which I faced less than 4 times):

Hunter 2/3

Tempo Mage 4/1

Control C’Thun Warrior 1/3

Face Shaman 5/2

Deathrattle Rogue 2/3

Tempo Dragon Warrior 4/1

Zoo Lock 2/3

Midrange Shaman 3/2

Tempo Mage, Face Shaman and Dragon Warrior all seemed insane match-ups looking at the statistics, part of the merit though I have to attribute it to the fact players were misplaying hard against my deck. Obviously if you are a ladder player and you see a Hunter you will play as if he is playing Midrange Hunter not N’Zoth and Load Reno Hunter. Overall though I felt that given a decent draw and the ability to find Reno most of the times you should be able to survive the match-ups.

Control C’Thun warrior was an awful match-up, I have to say every game felt nearly impossible to win. The problem with this match-up is that if you cannot out pressure the C’Thun warrior in the first 10 turns they will snowball out of the game with the huge health gain. The one match I won was thanks to the God curve, and even there I won thanks to a lucky Quickshot top-deck.

Out-pressuring a Midrange Hunter!

Out-pressuring a Midrange Hunter!

Zoolock, Midrange Shaman and Midrange Hunter all fall under the same category of match-up, if you manage to stay on board you should be able to play it out but you cannot beat their God curve. A particular thing to note is that against Zoo I feel it is nearly mandatory to find either Unleash the Hounds or Explosive Trap, if not you will just be left like a sitting duck with your face being hit.

Lastly Deathrattle Rogue (there were a few, I know weird), the race was to N’Zoth and obviously they were faster thanks to the draw the deck runs. The games I won were thanks to either the Rng God, Yogg, or the fact I managed to out pressure the Rogue.

I did face a couple other match-up but after only 1 or 2 games I didn’t feel I could comment too much on how good or bad the match up was, I will expand my general thoughts in the next section.

General Match-up Thoughts

Against Control decks it should be pretty hard to win, you are a greedy midrange deck with not much burst potential. Every now and then Yogg’Saron or Emperor into Call of the Wild will provide with the pressure required to close out games, don’t expect too much success though. Adding Elise Starseeker could potentially make the match-up more bearable and probably win you some games. The problem I see is that today’s metagame control decks tend to have big threats like C’Thun and N’Zoth, meaning that if the other person knows how to play he will stall his threat until you will play the Golden Monkey. Overall you can win the control match-up if you make the deck much greedier, probably even taking out Tracking as the card burns too many resources in a resource war. If I were to tech the deck for control I would switch in Ball of Spiders in exchange for Tracking, on the other hand ladder is mainly midrange and agro as of now.

Poor Patron.

Poor Patron.

Against some decks you can actually grind out every single threat the deck has without dying. I managed to do this both against a Patron Warrior and three Tempo Mages. Against the Patron I just kept my resources and got really high value trades, with N’Zoth acting as a finisher. In the Tempo mage match-up I just removed every threat and got armour up from Finley, what this meant is that I could out heal any damage they inflicted since I also had Reno. I found that against aggressive decks you have to really think your Finley choice, very often Life tap is not the best one. Additionally usually you will require Reno in order to stabilize as we all know how explosive a Tempo Mage start can be. On the other hand if you are facing Patron Warrior you can only do one thing: get creative!

Aggressive match-ups can be won on the back of Reno Jackson most of the time. A Reno Jackson into Ooze will make most aggressive Shaman concede instantly (and that is the reason why I play Ooze instead of Harrison). Additionally since we play decent curve threats, with only turn 5 plays severely lacking, sometimes we will just out race some aggressive decks. Overall since people don’t really know what you are playing  most of the time you can trick your opponent into a misplay.

Combo decks should be really tough, I won both my Worgen Warrior games just because both times I got Snipe from Lock and Load and timed it correctly to kill the Worgen. The instant concede was glorious! The hidden Snipe is the deadliest! Overall I didn’t find any Malygos Rogues or similar on ladder, the archetype is dead at the moment. Overall though I imagine they should be really tough match-ups as your Reno will count for nothing.

Overall when I look at my deck-list I always wonder how in the world I managed to win even one game, but I did. I think given the metagame as of now you should have a decent fighting chance thanks to all the aggressive and midrange decks, you should be able to give them a fight for their money.

Concluding Remarks

I think the deck-list, even if weird, has a decent shot against decks across the board. The main thing about this deck, and most of the Reno decks I build in general, is that you need to get creative to win. What I mean is that I like to include a few win conditions in my builds, I want to feel as if every game is a different adventure, thus sometimes you will find yourself fatiguing your opponent whilst other aggressively hitting face. Overall to I wouldn’t say this is the most consistent list to ladder with, a meta decks will probably serve you better, but if you are bored of the old same decks this list should be consistent enough to not make you lose too many ranks in the meanwhile. One last thing to say is that the new card from Karazhan “The Curator” can be a really good inclusion in this deck as you run a Murloc, a Dragon and Beasts! I hope that if you try the deck you will have success, happy hunting people!

Greeting Traveller!

Greeting Traveller!

One Night in Karazhan – Initial Impressions

Reddit got it right, the new adventure announced by Blizzard is Karazhan. I think though nearly nobody expected what twist the Hearthstone developers would give to this iconic World of Warcraft raid, that the once dark halls would host a party! Apparently the aim of the adventure is to find the host, Medivh, and try to save the party! In this article I wanted to give my first impressions of the announcement as I was super hyped after seeing the first sneak peak of what we will get.

The Announcement

The adventure was announced in Shanghai at a big videogame EXPO called China Joy. The event for us English speakers was hosted by the great partners in crime: Dan “Frodan” Chou and Tj “Azumoh” Sanders. As usual both of them did a great job in entertaining the public during the pre-show and giving us interesting insight in the brief segments where they spoke, I followed it even if it was 6:40 in the morning for me. I really laughed when Tj said that he liked the theory that Ben Brode brought all the famous hearthstone personalities at the China Joy just to show his famous Unicorn Priest deck!

When the funky music started my body was ready for whatever announcement Blizzard had to make, I was really pumped up! Initially I was disappointed, the start of the event wasn’t great as there was no translation for us non-Chinese speakers. Overall I felt the organizers were trying to really milk the moment and tease all the Hearthstone players tuned in to know what the new adventure was going to be. Probably the most iconic moment of this section of the show was a Chinese player which when asked if he wanted to say something to the Hearthstone dev team, he replied he wanted to tell them that the Chinese community gives them a big hug. That is some Love!

Looks better than the Old Gods one for sure.

Looks better than the Old Gods one for sure.

As soon as I heard the loud Ben Brode’s voice I was ready, as usual Ben was great orator and managed to enthrall all the people watching with his unique presentation style. I want to emphasize this was the first time Blizzard announced new content outside the United States, Ben just made history right there! The rest was awesome, we got to see a sneak peek of a few fights, cards and also the board which looked amazing! This part was really short but by no means was it not worth it, I will admit I did watch the presentation another time on VOD and enjoyed it even more than the first time round. Maybe announcements are like wine, they get better as they get older? Really doubt it…

 

The Setting

I for one was very confused when I realized the theme of the expansion, the music and the trailer looked amazing but I do mostly like Darker themed expansions like Naxxramas. I settled with the idea that since the Hearthstone devs have done a wonderful job until now in setting the mood for past expansions the flavour and the setting of the adventure will be awesome even if not exactly in my taste.

Look at the characters!

Look at the characters!

The trailer merits a mention all by itself. I watched that video about 10 times now, there is just something about the music and the images that enthralls me. The start of the video with the announcer announcing the party (as he should do) is fantastic, it creates so much hype! Then we get to see the look of a young Medivh, it is absolutely perfect. When the door’s to the party open there are too many characters to see the first time round. The curator, Prince Melchezaar and many more, so cool! The most iconic scene is probably the moment you see: Reno, Finley and a cow chilling in a pool, it is just hilarious! In this particular scene you can also see a kobold and a gnome flirting in the background and Rafaam stealing books. Whoever made this you are geniuses! I bet that if I looked at the video once more I would probably find even more Easter eggs which I didn’t notice the first time round. One last thing is the music, I am a sucker for Funky music I really wish there was an extended piece of the tune!

The Wings

The expansion is composed of four wings plus a bonus mission, this bonus mission will be available to everybody for free. I won’t comment on the boss fights because they will probably be loads of fun as usual. There is only one thing I wanted to talk about, 4 wings and only 3 boss battles per wing seems a low number. The adventure will have 13 fights in total, when we compare this to the other adventure we see that: Naxxramas had 15, Blackrock had 17 and League of Explorers had 13. I guess this probably mean that 13 boss fights is the new standard for adventures. A part of me wishes to go back to more boss fights rather than less boss fights as I had loads of fun when completing those adventures, but I understand that a full wing more must be resource intensive for an aspect of the game which gets played and then discarded by most players. Not much more here to say, just a bit sad about the number of boss fights staying around 13, I am sure though the content will be awesome to play.

The Cards

I want to start by saying that I will do a more in depth analysis of the cards when the whole set is revealed, for now I will just give an initial impact thought. Additionally I only will focus on the announcement cards, the ones that have been revealed in the days after the announcement I will look at in another article.

card 1 kara

Enchanted Raven: Reddit went crazy when it saw this card, the call for it being OP were heard nearly immediately. I think the card is solid, stat wise is a vanilla 1 drop, the distribution is unique. Obviously when coupled with Mark of Y’Shaarj it can be an insane turn 2 play. The question is if this will be broken enough to support an archetype, Beast Druid, which has no way to come back on board once it loses the early game.

card 2 kara

Kindly Grandmother: This card is insane, the only thing I can think of it not being broken is because it is in Hunter and not in Warlock (Warlock already play Infested Villager which is a 1/1 which spawns a 1/1). Yep I am an idiot, when I first saw the card I thought it was 1 mana not 2 mana. Anyway, coupling this card with Abusive Sergeant in a Hunter deck will probably make Board control for the deck much easier as now you can run have a pretty scary early game. This coupled with the fact Hunter has late game bombs like Savanah Highmane and Call of the Wild, makes it a good inclusion in a curve Hunter deck.

card 3 Kara

Firelands Portal: This card is kind of neat and it is one of the card every player will get, regardless of the fact if the expansion was bought or not. People on reddit were complaining about this card since it seemed to be over the top for arena, I cannot comment as last time I played an arena was more than a month ago. What I can say is that for competitive play you will probably never include this card in your deck, but you won’t be unhappy if you get this card off of an Ethreal Conjurer or Cabalist Tome.

Card 4 Kara

Ivory Knight: I was reading on the competitive sub-reddit that Paladin has eleven 1-mana spells, meaning that a lot of the time at least one choice will be a Secret. On the other hand Paladin has many high value spells such as Consecration, Equality, Lay on Hands, etc. These can always come useful in any match-up and all provide card advantage by themselves. The stat line of the card is obviously bad, but at least it is off-set by a heal, potentially providing with some chance to get a good follow up turn with an Equality play. Overall I fear this card will probably not see too much play, it mainly depends on what other spells and cards are printed (anyway it is not like every card will always be playable).

Card 5 Kara

Ethreal Peddler: It has vanilla stats plus an effect, I guess this means in arena it should be decent. In constructed probably this card will not see that much play because even if you Burgle cards, you do not care about playing them for less. I say this because if you are running Burgle you are probably playing a control Rogue archetype which tries to win through card advantage not tempo. Whilst some may argue that innervate on cards is always good, you would probably run Emperor Thaurissan if you are going for that type of play-style.

Card 6 Kara

The Curator: This card is really interesting as it is one of those cards which is very hard to evaluate. I will say that with the current choice of Murlocs and Beasts the only deck that could really run this is some sort of Control Paladin. On the other hand in order to fully assess this card we need to see what other Beasts, Murlocs and Dragons get printed, as depending on this it could be this card provides an invaluable tool when deck-building.

card 7 Kara

Barnes: I fear this card might be really un-fun to play against, it can win the game on the spot if it gets the right card. A turn 4 Sylvanas or Tirion might be impossible to deal with. On the other hand it might be that I am looking at this card only through the perspective of best case scenario while ignoring the average or less than average ones, meaning that on average it will just be bad and not worth running. Overall I am not sure, I think this one will probably make the cut in control decks as it seems strong enough. One last thing to consider is that maybe it won’t be bad in a more Deathrattle focused Zoolock, as Zoo can always make good use of tokens and Deathrattles.

Concluding Remarks

Overall I am really excited for this new adventure and I cannot wait to get to play it in two weeks’ time. I think that whilst for now the setting might not be my cup of tea, as the Hearthstone team has managed multiple times they will change my mind and make me love this adventure even more than the past ones. You can find the VOD of the announcment at: https://www.twitch.tv/playhearthstone/v/80582512 if you missed it and want to watch it!

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Disclaimer: All the pictures were taken from the Hearthstone Facebook Page owned by Blizzard Entertainment.

Sir Finley Mrrgglton – A Meta Defining Card

When new cards are introduced, if they are playable, they will impact the metagame in different ways. The most obvious example was the infamous Dr Boom, the reason why nearly every deck played Big Game Hunter for more than a year. In this article I decided to consider a unique designed card which I think is given less credit that it is owed for the success of decks like Dragon Warrior and Agro Shaman: Sir Finley Mrrgglton.

The Math on Finley

In order to make my case I have to start by considering the probabilities of finding any number of Hero-powers.

Any 1 Hero Power: 37.5%

One of 2 Hero Powers: 64.2%

One of 3 Hero Powers: 82.1%

One of 4 Hero Powers: 92.8%

One of 5 Hero Powers: 98.2%

One of 6 Hero Powers: 100%

It can be seen that when searching for at least 2 Hero powers there is a 64% chance of getting at least one, this means nearly 2 every 3 games you will get the desired results; for a game like Hearthstone this is very good odds. Even if you are looking for only 1 hero-power the chances you have are not the worst in the world, even if 37.5% cannot be considered consistent it is still pretty solid. It must be emphasized that if there is only one positive outcome it is probably better to not run the card (as I have argued in my N’Zoth Reno Rogue article).

This though doesn’t conclude the math. Ideally Finley needs to be played in the first 3 turns in order for the player to gain full benefit from it during a game. Assuming that you mulligan for Finley, the probability of having Finley in the opening hand is 23% going first and 29.5% going second. It is fine to draw Finley in the first 3 turns if you want to get full value from the hero power, so the actual value is 32% going first and 38% going second. Now this means that in any game the probability of getting the hero powers you want in the first 3 turns of a game are:

Any 1 Hero Power: going first: 12% going second: 14.3%

One of 2 Hero Powers: going first: 20.5% going second: 24.4%

One of 3 Hero Powers: going first: 26.3% going second: 31.2%

One of 4 Hero Powers: going first: 29.7% going second: 35.3%

One of 5 Hero Powers: going first: 31.4% going second: 37.3%

One of 6 Hero Powers: going first: 32% going second: 38%

If a deck is searching for 3 Hero powers the player can expect to have that hero power in the first three turns of the game 26.3% or 31.2% of the time, not bad! Obviously we have to also keep in mind that usually decks which run Sir Finley don’t mulligan just for Finley, they usually have other 1-drops. In general though any deck which runs Finley will be searching for at least 2 different Hero Powers in order to maximize the efficiency of the card, meaning that around 20.5% or 24.4% of the time you will start with a better hero power and a 1 drop into play in the first 3 turns of a game.

Evaluating Results

the warrior match up really feels better when you roleplay hunter

The Control Warrior match-up feels so much better with the Hunter Hero Power.

Before Finley was introduced the primary aggressive classes were Warlock and Hunter, because their hero powers were the only ones which permitted and supported an aggressive game-plan. Whilst it is true that Paladin and Warrior had some aggressive builds, none of them were ever tier 1 or 2.  With the advent of League of Explorer’s a new aggressive class emerged, Shaman. This has been mostly attributed to Tunnel Trogg and the early game synergy it provides with the deck, but I think Finley also has some merit in the success of the deck. The Hero Powers which on average are better for Agro Shaman are: Warlock, Hunter and Druid. The situational ones are Paladin, Mage and Priest, with only Rogue and Warrior being a downgrade from Totemic Call. What this means is that whenever Finley is played as a Shaman you have 82.1% to increase the value of your hero power and 100% to at least go even. Additionally at the start of any game you have 26.3% or 31.2% to actually gain a better hero power in the first three turns and 32% or 38% to at least go even. Overall this is pretty damn high odds when including only one card. One thing to emphasize is that the second statistic is slightly wrong as it assumes you mulligan for Finley, which in an Agro Shaman deck you don’t.

Some might argue that aggressive Shaman builds can win even without drawing Finley, and I think this is entirely true. The question you have to ask is how much does it improve your match-ups against different classes. I know that when I play Rogue, if I am against an Agro Shaman and he gets the Hunter Hero Power on turn 1 this is one of the most soul crushing things which can happen, as the clock just got a lot faster. Additionally as Agro Shaman if you want to beat Zoolock changing your hero power to either Druid, Warlock or Hunter is nearly mandatory, if not the Zoo will just out value you with their hero power and good trades. It would be interesting to see the Vicious Syndicate report on how much different match-up’s improves if you play Finley in the first 3 turns of a game against different classes (I tried looking for the statistic but couldn’t find it).

Still better than armour up!

Still better than armour up!

Until now I only argued what was known, Finley is pretty good in Agro Shaman. My case for it being meta defining is a little more elaborate and the first class to consider is Warrior. The Warrior Hero Power is the most passive in the game, it can never impact the board unless you play Shield Slam in your deck. What this means is that in order to play towards the correct game plan any aggressive or mid-range deck would rather have any other hero power rather than the Warrior one. Thus Finley has 100% chance of giving you a better Hero Power if you are playing the class. If one looks at mid-range and aggressive Warrior lists, one will notice many cards already existed before League of Explorers came out. I think Finley gave the class a push as now it can play different styles without worrying of not being able to close out games because of the passive Hero Power. I think it can be said Finley is part of the reason Warrior has so many different archetypes as of now (I do acknowledge the very strong Classic set also plays a role).

with paladin you really want the original

Two things. 1 yes I was playing a really weird deck. 2 I would rather have the Paladin Hero Power rather than the Mage one.

Any deck-builder has to consider Finley when building an aggressive deck, as there are always at least two options which are good: Warlock and Hunter. I have seen the card played both in aggressive Beast Druids and in Aggressive Paladin builds, even if when I tried it in the latter archetype the card heavily under-performed (tokens are too important for Paladin builds). Overall though even in Paladin getting a different Hero Power can often help you deal with certain match-ups. The card is good in any aggressive deck since aggressive decks tend to be flexible with how they use Hero Powers, nearly any hero power can be put to good use. Additionally aggressive decks tend to prefer playing a lot of minions in the first few turns using the Hero Power later in the game, meaning that all Hero Powers can be used to some extent.

On the other hand it can also be seen why Finley cannot be played reliably in control decks, with maybe the exception of Hunter. Control decks usually tend to use their hero power a lot, it is an important tool when trying to grind out games; you overspend mana in order to gain value. Control Warrior wants to stall out the game, thus Armour Up is the best Hero Power for the archetype. Renolocks are built around the idea of drawing a lot of cards, thus even here Finley is unplayable. Priest synergises well with healing, one of the main strengths of Priest is out valuing opponents with good trades. Mage hero power is versatile and good for extracting value, additionally Control Mage mainly focuses on extracting value whilst preserving health. Paladin really needs the tokens as it is hard for the class to get on the board since it is very reactive. Control Shaman really relies on the totems in order to benefit off the different effects. The last possible control archetype would be Hunter, which honestly would be happy with any other Hero Power as the Hunter one doesn’t help the control game-plan. I didn’t mention control Rogue or Druid as the classes are hardly built for this archetype since they lack removal and survivability, with both sets of cards focused on being able to cheat the mana curve and out-tempoing the opponent.

Now it can be seen why Finley is truly meta defining. The card existing means that more of the available decks will be aggressive, Finley opens more possibility for different classes to adopt this play-style. For now control decks are less prevalent also because they have less tools to be built on meaning that any class can capitalize on this weakness by trying to go for an aggressive build.

Conclusion

Overall I think Sir Finley is a very well designed card and people under-estimate how much effect it had on the post League of Explorers metagame. Its effect has been especially relevant after Whispers of the Old Gods came into play as very powerful cards such as Shredder and Avenge rotating out of Standard meant new deck archetypes could finally become top tier. Overall I believe that when Sir Finley will rotate out the aggressive decks which will be viable will become less. Warrior will have to go back to just armouring up and decks like Shaman will become less consistent. If any other aggressive deck will be created whilst League of Explorers will still be available in Standard I think I can bet my socks that part of the merit is Finley’s.

 

Resources used

Mulligan spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kMuhDdRw3bVVY2h5EcGFdx12JaJU0LGx1gh7sLfSIbQ/edit#gid=1108841593

Finley initial probabilities: https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/3sbap4/sir_finley_mrrgglton_hero_power_probabilities/

Thanks Tap! And Goodbye!

Thanks Tap! And Goodbye!

 

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new hearthstone adventure

New Hearthstone Adventure Teased by Blizzard

Blizzard is teasing the announcement of a brand new Hearthstone adventure. In a blog post on the official Hearthstone site, Blizzard announced that a livestream will take place on July 28th at 11 pm pacific time, and will show off brand new content for the game. Many speculate the new adventure content would focus on the World of Warcraft raid Karazahn which was released during the Burning Crusade expansion. Karazahn is a highly beloved raid in the World of Warcraft community that contains imagery like ballrooms and palaces. The livestream will be watchable on Blizzard’s official Hearthstone twitch channel.

Source(s): Hearthstone Official Site

Beyond the Team: Team 7Boom

This article is the first of a series focusing on different Esports organizations. The idea is to expose the Esports public to realities that usually are inaccessible to most of us, the life and struggle of teams and players which are attempting to break out in the Esports scene. This article will be dedicated to a German team called 7Boom, the team is decently known in the German Hearthstone scene and has been an active organization for around a year.

Team 7Boom: The Story

chart esports

Clash of Cards League 2 table

The team was founded in August 2015, and it is entirely composed by German Hearthstone players. 7Boom was started by Jan “Godie” Eichhorst, Leon “Vanhinten” Seyb, Falko “xRockedx” Schindler and Tobias “Tobmatz” Reinhardt (currently inactive).  The initial idea was to have a competitive roster which would allow players to have solid practice partners in order to dominate the online tournament scene. In the months between the founding and January 2016 the rooster underwent numerous changes, slowly improving as time went by. Finally in January 2016 a core for the team was found. In January 2016 they also decided to participate in the Clash of Cards League, an event organized by the German streamer DarkwhisperL. He invited some well-known teams, for example Penta Sports, and gave the chance to 4 amateur teams to qualify for the event. Team 7Boom managed to qualify, they destroyed the competition and won each of their series’ at the qualifying tournament. Once in the real league their streak continued, where they lost only one series in the whole event. The league lasted from February to May. All the series were best of 11, meaning that 3 players per team each fought one player from the opposing team, players brought 2 decks each. Due to their successes 7Boom was invited to the grand final against Penta Sport, unfortunately the event was cancelled due to DarkwhisperL deciding running the tournament wasn’t worth it anymore. Here the streak stopped, the morale of the team fell down and 2 players decided that they didn’t want to continue competing with the team and quit.

After this the team morale fell and those who continued playing did so with lost hope of being able to break into the competitive Hearthstone scene.  For a month and a half they continued competing but the team didn’t go forward, with the business side of the team left on the side-lines. In mid-July 2016 a part of the team decided to give the project another shot and they reformed the team, they kicked out inactive members and restarted actively pushing their brand on social media. This was a rough process, coming back from a disappointment is never easy; nonetheless they since have participated in a lot of Strivewire tournaments and having really good success. As of now without sponsors they are having difficulties attending big events like Dreamhack, so they are focusing on expanding their brand. The team currently has players and a web-designer, they are considering an expansion for the management aspect of the team but the main priority is sponsors. You can make Business enquiries at: sevenboom@yahoo.de

Team 7Boom: The Team

leon

Leon “Vanhinten” Seyb

Name: Leon “Vanhinten” Seyb

Age: 18

Team Role: Captain.

About him:  His in game tag is “InYourFace” but he prefers to go by the name Vanhinten, he is a mysterious guy in that sense. As I last checked he is the 25th best player on Strivewire, but he has held the number 1 position numerous times before. In real life he is a student, currently completing his Abtour (German diploma). He started playing during the Hearthstone beta but only started playing seriously in January of 2015. His favourite deck is the long gone Combo Druid, which means some would call him a scumbag. As of now he substituted comboing people down with brawling them out of the game, being very proficient with Control Warrior decks. Before Hearthstone he played Yu-Gi-Oh on a semi-competitive level, not an uncommon theme amongst top players. One last thing to mention is that he doesn’t like RNG effects, especially Yogg’Saron. He feels that you can play a whole game of Hearthstone which is then put aside and completely put in the hands of a coin-flip, this is neither fun nor interactive. The tournament finishes don’t do this guy justice, looking through his tournament history one will notice he consistently gets very close to top 3 finishes.

Tournament finishes:

1st place Arachnicon Team League: Flowesports (128)

1st place Tuesday Night Cup #4 by Vctory.com (256)

2nd EUSKO eSports CUP #11 (256)

3rd Battle of Nations #2 [Germany Qualifier] (256)

3rd place Wakeful Wednesday #8 by Team Pyrolyse (128)

 

rabe

Hraban “AlbinoRabe” Falk

Name: Hraban “AlbinoRabe” Falk

Age: 23

Team Role: Coach and supporting role for the team, meaning that he will fill any hole which needs filling. As a coach he helps analyzing the games and helping the players get prepared for tournaments. For now, he also competes as a player.

About Him: In real life he is a networking administrator, in game he loves to play Freeze Mage in order to make other people suffer. He is the only one in the team with no Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic background; he is more of a Pokémon TGC guy. Fun fact, his favourite card is Flying Pikachu First Edition. He initially got picked up as a substitute to compete as part of the second team. After a while the second team got dropped, but since he was a valued member of the team he was kept. Even if he is officially the coach he is not to be underestimated as a player, he has numerous victories in various Strivewire tournaments and is constantly competing in the Legend ranks.  As mentioned before he is cruel, his all-time favourite deck is any variation of Freeze Mage. As many know right now there are many Warriors and running Freeze Mage might not be the best choice, thus he likes running the control version of Dragon Warrior. If there is one thing to define him, it is that he likes drawn out games, he is a thinking kind of guy.

Tournament finishes:

1st place flowesports.com Cup #6 powered by Pokerstars [Standard Mode] tournament with several top (256 competing)

1st place White Teeth Tournament powered by Zahnzusatzversicherung-experten.de (256 competing)

2nd place flowesports.com Cup #5 powered by Pokerstars [Standard Mode] (256 competing)

2nd place Beatdown Hearthstone #1 (128 competing)

 

georg

Georg Rene “Fartstone” Buske

Name: Georg Rene “Fartstone” Buske

Age: 22

Team Role: Player and social media expert for the team.

About him: He is doing the Abtour second wave, meaning that he decided to defer his diploma by a few years and gain work experience instead. The first card game he experienced was Yu-Gi-Oh, where he played the game semi-competitively. As he got older and the Yu-Gi-Oh metagame became anti-fun he decided to switch to Hearthstone, this was during season 2. From there he continued improving at the game, watching streamers and constantly playing the game. After a few months he joined a clan in order to be able to improve at the game. He soon realized that his ambitions were higher than his teammates, that he wanted to be in a more competitive environment and thus he decided to leave. This is when he joined Team 7Boom, an ambitious group of players looking to try break into the competitive scene. Since then he has been one of the driving forces behind the team, providing both invaluable insight as a player as well as working on expanding the brand. Additionally he managed to improve as a player, getting himself into Legend every season since he first joined the team. He expressed hope for the future and he is giving his 100% in order to succeed.

As a player he likes Control decks, his favourite deck was Handlock. Due to the Whispers of the Old Gods nerfs and Handlock becoming unplayable, in the current metagame he enjoys playing as a Control Warrior. On the other hand, he is competitive and thus will play what he feels is best to climb the ladder with. With the advent of new Worgen Warrior for the last week he has devoted himself to learning this deck, he both thinks it is really strong and really fun to play. One last bit of trivia, he has been doing magic for 8 years, if you are ever around him check your wallet it might disappear!

Tournament Finishes:

3rd StriveWire’s Little John #79

4th Hearthstone Hamburg Fireside Gathering #7

 

andre

Andrej “Bequiet” Traudt

Name: Andrej “Bequiet” Traudt

Age: 27

Team Role: He is a player, in fact he has an impressive track record of tournament wins.

About Him: He is an industrial mechanic, he joined the team 4 months ago hoping to be able to improve as a player. He was consistently hitting the Legend ranks but he felt he could never break the top 100 barrier unless he found someone to train with. He decided Team 7Boom was a good place to start as he saw them play in the Clash of Cards league and was impressed by their winning streak. Before Hearthstone he played Fifa professionally for 4 years, he quit Fifa 7 years ago because he had to concentrate on his studies. When the Hearthstone beta started he was invited and fell in love with the game, from then, like in any relationship, it has been on and off, but he has been playing consistently since December. He is more of the SMOrc type of guy, preferring aggressive and midrange builds. He has some interest playing combo decks, but mainly he likes winning; he will play whatever he feels is good in the current metagame.

Tournament Finishes:

2nd place Double Weekend Tournament #96 [Standard – Conquest] (32)

2nd place Palringo EU Cup #1(512)

3rd place White Teeth Tournament powered by Zahnzusatzversicherung-experten.de (266)

3rd place Wise Wednesday #107 [Standard – Conquest] (32)

4th place Gunnybären Turnier #4 (64) and 165 euros prize pool.

 

falko

Falko “xRockedx” Schindler

Name: Falko “xRockedx” Schindler

Age: 26

Team Role: Team Manager, sometimes competes in tournaments.

About Him: he works as IT system electronics technician for a telecom company, this means he keeps the servers stable in order for people to enjoy their calls and internet. Before Hearthstone he played other trading card games, namely Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic. He is one of the co-founders of the team and still believes in the project he started building one year ago. He would like to keep competing as a player, he thinks he would enjoy playing in tournaments more than managing the team, but he is open to possibilities and is happy to be the team manager for now.

In Hearthstone he prefers Midrange and Control decks, as Fartstone he really used to like Handlock as an archetype. Nowadays he mostly plays Renolock and Midrange Hunter when trying to climb the ladder, even though every now and then he likes to play Malygos Rogue in order to one shot poor priest players.

Tournament Finishes:

1st place: StriveWire’s Thirsty Thursday #43 (256 competing)

3rd place:  Wise Wednesday #74 [Standard – Hero Elimination] (32 competing)

3rd place: Tailored Tuesday #126 [Standard – Conquest] (32 competing)

 

jan

Jan “Godie” Eichhorst

Name: Jan “Godie” Eichhorst

Age: 26

Team Role: Web and Graphic Designer.

About Him: He is the founder of the team and the guy who decided the name. His thought process when naming the team was simple, everybody knew and hated Dr Boom, the name would stick inside people’s heads. He studied graphic design and I must admit it paid off, the site for Team 7boom looks really on point (www.7boom.de). As is a common theme with many Hearthstone players he comes from a Yu-Gi-Oh background and he is currently studying media and management. When he has time to play Hearthstone he enjoys playing Tempo Mage despite it not being very effective. He said the reason he likes the deck is that he likes to grow his Mana Wyrm and well who doesn’t?

Tournament Wins:

2nd place Tireless Tuesday #63 [Hero Elimination] (32)

 

Final Remarks

Overall talking with all the members of Team 7Boom was a pleasure, hearing about their experience in the Esports world gave me insight in a scene which I never knew about. The inner struggles of smaller teams very often gets overshadowed, with only the success stories such as Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk’s are known to most of us. As usual any feedback on the article is always appreciated and you can comment on reddit or the Game Haus forums, I will attempt to answer everybody’s queries. This concludes the article, and who knows maybe next time I will get to interview Team 4mana7/7!

If you want to know more about Team 7Boom you can follow team 7boom on twitter at: https://twitter.com/7Sevenboom

To know when I post new articles you can follow me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/matteo_ghisoni

If you are part of a team and are interested in an article please send a couple of paragraphs of your team history and biggest achievements to K1332823@kcl.ac.uk, I will make sure to reply to you with my decision in maximum 2 business days.

Boom!

Boom!

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Should the Classic Set be Evergreen?

When Blizzard announced Standard I felt there was a flaw in the plan, the Classic set would never rotate out. In this piece I will analyse the set as a whole and give my arguments to why I believe the Classic set should rotate out. As always, I want to emphasize that whilst this is my opinion I am always curious to see what other people think, any feedback is appreciated.

Why the Classic Set and not the Basic one?

If it was up to me I would probably like the Basic set to rotate out, but I believe arguing against eliminating the Basic set from the game would be really rough. First of all, implementing this would require Blizzard to spend a lot of resources on a project which wouldn’t provide any revenue. The early level system and all the card rewards for leveling Heroes would have to be rethought and implemented again. Additionally new players should have access to some cards, if not they can’t start playing. Remember, unlike other card games, Blizzard’s business model is free to play, this means that they have to provide the player something to start with. Lastly if one analyses the Basic set one will notice these cards define the class identities: Druid has Wild Growth and Innervate, Mage Fireball and Frostbolt and so on, these are all class specific iconic spells. On the other hand the Classic set is just a set, as Goblin vs Gnomes was, it just came before and it is not tied to the newer player any more than any other set.

The Classic Set: Analysing the Cards

Druid Classic cards

Druid Classic cards

Druid: Before the “Whisper of the Old Gods” nerfs, ten of the cards Druid used to run in the infamous Combo Druid deck used to come from the Classic set. With the nerfs and cards rotating out of standard, the new Yogg Druid still runs ten cards from the Classic set. I think this is problematic as cards such as Wrath will constantly appear in Midrange Druid lists because the card is just too good to not play if you are trying to ramp up to mid-range threats. Additionally consider that since Violet Teacher and Power of the Wild exist in the set alongside each other, Token Druid will always revolve around similar card combinations, limiting innovations in the deck. Overall the Druid cards are not busted, but they are a set of cards which remain core to the class and will never change. It is important to note that I am not referring to cards such as Innervate and Wild Growth which establish the identity of the class, just a bunch of cards that have been played in forever. Overall the classic set for Druid is not broken, but it is solid enough that it will affect deck-building for a long time to come.

Hunter Classic cards

Hunter Classic cards

Hunter: The first thing to consider with the Hunter class is that if Hunter ever plays traps it has to be Freezing, Explosive or Snake Trap, as I really doubt you can print traps which can do better than the current ones. Explosive Trap is the tech against Zoo like decks, Freezing Punishes control, and Snake is the board control one. Secondly Unleash the Hounds is an interesting design for a card, it punishes wide boards, but cards which synergise with beasts coming on board can never be printed because they would risk breaking the class (cough cough Starving Buzzard). Lastly the best six drop in the game is in Hunter’s Classic cards: Savannah Highmane. This card is so powerful that by itself back in the days of Face Hunter it made it possible to play a deck called Hybrid Hunter, basically Face Hunter with Savannah Highmane thrown in the mix. Having this card forever available in Standard means that we will never have a six drop which can be played in Hunter, unless something unbelievably broken gets printed. I don’t particularly enjoy the prospect of turn six Savannah Highmane until the end of time.

Mage Classic cards

Mage Classic cards

Mage: The Mage Classic set is my favourite set of cards in the game, the card pool is very diverse lending to different play styles. You can go the more aggressive route including Mana Wyrm and Sorcerer Apprentice or the more control route with Blizzard, Ice Block and Archmage Antonidas. The problem is that not rotating out Blizzard makes it so that you will never be able to print any other AOE’s as having access to Blizzard, Flamestrike and all the Freeze is already very frustrating to play against. Additionally early spells have to be printed with caution, Mana Wyrm and Sorcerer Apprentice might benefit too much from the new cards. Overall the set is very cool and is full of iconic cards, but this is exactly the problem, too many good cards which leave less space for new cards to come into the metagame.

Paladin Classic cards

Paladin Classic cards

Paladin: With Paladin the problem is the opposite, in order to give support to the class you will always have to print some strong cards as the Classic set is very weak. The Secrets, 4/15 cards, are all basically worthless. Equality is a very decent clear, nothing more to say about it. Tirion Fordring will be played in any Paladin deck, it is just too much value to pass over. Aldor Peacekeeper is a really cool card, it works perfectly in Paladin decks neutralizing large minions on board. The flavour of the cards is on point and it is not broken in any way, I compliment Blizzard on this one. The last decent card is Lay on Hands, which for a Control and Midrange type of deck can function decently. The rest of the cards are barely playable. On the whole the Paladin set of cards is severely handicapped because of the really weak Secrets and some underwhelming cards, such as Avenging Wrath.

Priest Classic cards

Priest Classic cards

Priest: Priest is in even worse shape than Paladin, it has 5 playable cards: Auchenai Soulpriest, Circle of Healing, Cabal Shadowpriest, Thoughtsteal and Shadow Madness (I was kind for the last two). This means that if no decent Priest cards are printed the class will be impossible to play, as it is now. I am not enough of a Priest expert to say what the class needs, what I know is that maybe rotating out Auchenai Circle combo could be damaging as every Priest deck includes those two cards. On the other hand the set as it is now seems to have some Control cards, but none of them are strong enough to really clear the board late game. Other Control Classes have access to hard board clears, Warriors have Brawl, Warlocks have Shadowflame and Paladins have Equality. I think Priest could really benefit from the Classic set rotating out and more cards being printed, as this could potentially bring a core set of cards to really distinguish the class from the rest.

Rogue Class cards

Rogue Class cards

Rogue: With Preparation, Gadgetzan and the general high quality spells, the strongest Rogue archetype will probably be Miracle for a very long time. Additionally this means that Control cards cannot be printed as these would help stall the game, probably making a Miracle deck very frustrating to play against. Also consider that there is no Rogue deck which doesn’t play SI:7 Agent, the card  is just the best early game tool a class can have. This makes deck-diversity harder to achieve. Finally: Edwin VanCleef. Even if I love the card, my problem is that we have seen enough of him, I just want to play with something else! Overall the problem is not that Rogue is a heavy spell class, just that it would be nice if those spells would actually change from time to time. This would enable more creative deck building instead of having Rogue decks built around the same 20 cards.

Shaman Class cards

Shaman Class cards

Shaman: Shaman is my only non-golden class alongside Priest, so I don’t want to over extend in a set I haven’t played that much. When I look at the set there are four main cards which come to my attention: Lightning Bolt, Lava Burst, Rockbiter Weapon and Doomhammer. What these cards tell me is that an aggressive Shaman archetype will forever have these cards in it. I want to emphasize I am not an aggressive deck hater, what I hate is decks which hardly change the core of their cards. I find it interesting when players find new ways to play an older deck archetype, with Agro Shaman this is just not possible. The rest of the set is cool, it also has Ancestral Spirit which is one of my favourite cards in the game. In general the problem Shaman has is that it is missing cards in the early game making it impossible to play the class if cards like Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem are not printed constantly.

Warlock Classic cards

Warlock Classic cards

Warlock: The Warlock classic set is a mixed bag, it has some staple cards and some cards which have never seen play. The existence of Shadowflame alongside Twisting Nether means that Warlock will probably always have a decent Control variant as these are some of the strongest AOE’s in the game (I still remember the days where everybody called Twisting Nether unplayable). Siphon Soul is an ok card, even if slightly underwhelming single target removal; it is on the same level as Assassination which is a notoriously bad card. It must be emphasized that the Warlock class has weaker cards when compared to other classes because of how fast they can cycle through their deck with their hero power, so technically Siphon Soul is much better when compared to Assassination. The set also includes Lord Jaraxxus, one of the best cards in the game, he has a unique effect which is very flavourful. Lastly Power Overwhelming, Flame Imp and Doomguard are all Zoo staples. These are all very strong but I would like to see Zoolock type decks have a bit more diversity, seeing turn one Flame Imp for the next few years to come isn’t the most appealing of thoughts.

Warrior Classic cards

Warrior Classic cards

Warrior: The cards in the Warrior set are all really solid lending themselves to numerous different archetypes. Looking at the cards there is not one card which hasn’t been used competitively throughout Hearthstone’s history. The card draw mechanics of Warrior are the best in the game, with cards such as Battle Rage not being very hard to set up and potentially granting seven mana worth of draws for two. Slam is also really flexible providing removal, card draw and enrage potential in one card. Inner Rage when coupled with Worgen, another card from the standard set, makes it so that it is always possible to play a combo variant of Warrior. On the other hand cards such as Brawl and Gorehowl make it possible for Warrior to always have a solid basis for a control deck. Lastly the midrange cards Warrior has access to aren’t the worst, with some support from other sets they will forever provide a solid basis for a “Tempo” Warrior deck. Out of all the classes Warrior has probably the strongest set.

I divided the neutral cards into 4 sets because for obvious reasons I couldn’t fit all the cards in one picture.

Neutral Classic cards 1

Neutral Classic cards 1

Neutral cards 1: In the first 4 pages what comes to my eyes is the typical aggressive deck package: Abusive Sergeant, Argent Squire, Dire Wolf Alpha and Knife Juggler. All these card are too good to not include in a deck which wants to get board early game. Additionally cards like Loot Hoarder will forever appear in decks which want to cycle fast, the card is just a too good of a cantrip to not play. Doomsayer is also an insane card for Control decks, it can provide early game control as well as setting up let game turns. Additionally Freeze Mage will forever revolve around Freeze plus Doomsayer as a key clear for the deck because the combination is just so strong. One thing which makes me sad is that I always wished for someone to come along and manage to make Lorewalker Cho a viable card, but I guess this is not much of an argument to keep a whole set. On the flip side, generalizing this point, some cards like Lorewalker Cho might get their moment to shine if the right cards get released. I feel though that this is the reason why we have wild, cards that used to be unplayable might find new synergies with cards of different sets.

Neutral Classic cards 2

Neutral Classic cards 2

Neutral cards 2: These 4 pages have some good cards but they do contain a lot of trash. The 5 cards which are very strong in these pages are: Sunfury Protector, Wild Pyromancer, Earthen Ring Farseer, Harvest Golem and Injured Blademaster. Taking Wild Pyromancer and Injured Blademaster out of Standard would make Priest even worst, these are two cards which have been consistently good cards for the class. Sunfury Protector was a key when coupled with Molten Giants, and I think this is one of the main reasons the giants were nerfed. It was very easy to create a taunt wall early against aggressive decks (not that this was a bad thing). Harvest Golem and Earthen Ring Farseer are both mediocre cards which usually come back into play in moments where decks do not have enough good cards to play, they are decent but not extraordinary. The rest of the cards are mediocre at best, with some cards such as Coldlight Oracle which feel a niche which no other card can currently replace.

Neutral Classic cards 3.

Neutral Classic cards 3.

Neutral cards 3: These four pages are intense, they contain some of the staple cards which have accompanied the Hearthstone metagame for a long time. First of all Dark Iron Dwarf and Defender of Argus have both been extensively used in Zoolock, with the latter providing utility in numerous decks. Violet Teacher is staple for any Token Druid decks, whilst Spell Breaker, Twilight Drake, Azure Drake, Faceless Manipulator, Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner are all strong possibilities when building a control deck. Harrison Jones is also a very important card providing weapon tech in a weapon heavy metagame, as it is now. Leeroy Jenkins is a card which, since it was first introduced, has been used extensively in both aggressive decks and combo ones, even after it was nerfed. I should not forget to mention Gadgetzan Auctioneer, one of the most broken cards in the game if one builds a deck around it. Overall these four pages contain some of the most iconic cards of Hearthstone’s history and them departing would leave an immense hole in the Standard metagame, this though wouldn’t necessarily be bad as new cards can always fill the whole left by the departure of the old ones.

Neutral Classic cards 4

Neutral Classic cards 4

Neutral cards 4: These last two pages include a lot of staple cards which have been used in many different decks. First of all Black Knight is an important card in the set as it can be teched in a taunt heavy metagame. Ragnaros is one of the strongest legendary cards from the classic set and has been a staple for midrange decks for a very long time. The other legendary cards have nearly all seen play at different moments in time. Don’t get me wrong, they are very cool, but they are all very strong in the niche they fill and other cards which get printed might get overshadowed by them. Malygos is my second favourite card in the game and I would be really sad to let it go, but maybe some other spell legendary can be printed with some other crazy effect! Alexstrasza might mean the death of freeze mage, or maybe a new incarnation of it! Overall this set of cards is really cool and well-designed and I might be sad if they leave Standard.

Special Mentions: Some special mention needs to go to Murloc and Pirate synergy as a lot of those cards are contained in the Classic set. On the other hand tribe decks can always be created by creating new tribes, Mech Mage was a thing during GvG but now it is impossible to play and nobody really misses it. On the other hand dragon variants of different decks have finally gained some grounds. I feel tribes cannot stay forever in the metagame, they have their moment to shine and then drift away to the plains of the Wild metagame.

Concluding, don’t get me wrong the Classic set is inherently interesting, there are a lot of cards which we have grown accustomed to and which have very interesting designs. The problems I see has more to do with the relative strength of the set, providing less meta shifts when new cards are introduced.

Argument 1: Class Identity will Hardly Change

Will Control Warrior ever not run Shield Slam? Probably not the cards is too good. Will Rogue ever not run SI:7 Agent? Again, probably not the cards is too good. What this means is that in general around 30-50% of any deck will forever be fixed, the archetypes will revolve around similar cards from the classic set. This then makes the space to create new innovative decks more limited, as the innovation can only revolve around half the deck. One could argue that this is normal in card games, in Magic the Gathering the different colours always have a general type of game plan which they tend to be strong at. Taking Magic as an example though shows that if we want to keep class identity consistent throughout the expansion a Classic set is not needed, you can do it even changing the cards.

On the other hand maybe this is what Blizzard wants, they want classes to feel familiar to those who like playing with them. It must be considered that in other Collectible Card Games, time after time cards are reprinted in order for them to be played in the newest format, thus there is no reason Blizzard couldn’t allow this (maybe allowing players which already have the card to play with the old version of it). In general maybe class identity is the wrong wording, something like archetype identity is what I am referring to; the different builds of decks will always feel the same.

Argument 2: Some Cards will always be Played

Take the first paragraph of the above section and you will basically have my argument. What I want to add is that every set has some power cards which dominate a certain mana slot from certain decks, this is the nature of card games, thus having a set permanently in the metagame means that some card will forever be present in some archetypes. During the set analysis I already touched on some cards, for example Ragnaros and Savannah Highmane, which have been in the metagame for ages. The question we have to ask ourselves as a community is: do we want more Ragnaros or do we want something else? I would prefer the latter, what about you?

Argument 3: Every Card Limits Design Space

This is a point I feel is very important, Blizzard before Whispers of the Old Gods came out decided to nerf some cards because they limited design space. I think that the reasoning behind the nerfs made sense, card like Big Game Hunter did prevent a 4-mana 7/7 to ever show up in the metagame. One thing to consider though is that every set of cards makes it so that some cards cannot be printed without being broken, this is an essential part of card synergy. Take the Mage class as an example, giving board clears which target the early game could break the class, as then the Mage class could for two years stall and clear every minion on curve before burning the opponent down to death. Or the Warrior class, any more removal and the class would become really hard to defeat. Additionally cards like Fiery War Ax mean that Blizzard has to be careful with how they approach the Warriors early game. In general every card will have some potential synergy with some card and break it, even card like Totemic Might could become insane. In conclusion, by rotating the Classic cards out you could potentially free some design space for the developers.

Argument 4: The Basic Set is all you need

I think this is one of the points which I am the most convinced about, the Basic set contains enough staples to not need any support from the Classic set. Cards such as Innervate, Wild growth, Fiery War Axe, Northshire Cleric etc. all see a lot of play, meaning that we do not need another set to keep players familiar with the game. In my ideal world the Basic set would also be rotated out but, as I already said, I do acknowledge that as a business Blizzard has to also think about how to maximise income when using their time. Overall the Classic set is not needed, the Basic set already does everything the Classic one should do.

Some Ideas

There are three main solutions which came to my mind when I thought about this issue. Firstly one could rotate cards from the Classic set, meaning they would never all be available at once. This is somewhat of a patchy solution which keeps the Classic set whilst shifting the cards available in the metagame every year, potentially making the game more interesting. The problem with this suggestion is that it would confuse players if their cards are worth disenchanting or not as keeping a Ragnaros might be an investment for future years. I must admit this is the solution I like the least.

Secondly, Blizzard could do away with the Classic set and print more cards but make the newest cards more accessible for players. What I mean by this is that, like with Whisper of the Old Gods, make it so that players get a sufficient start (7 packs or so) logging in during the launch so that even returning players have some cards they can play with.  The problem with this idea is that deleting the Classic set would mean that Hearthstone would have to be reduced to the bone if a lot of cards are not released, Blizzard would really need to print a big expansion to enable this.

Lastly, this is the idea I am most proud of, make a base set, starting with the classic set, which lasts for four years instead of two. This is the idea I like the most as it provides what Blizzard wants whilst giving the players a metagame in constant evolution. This would both allow for returning players to have card to play with if they didn’t quit more than four years ago, whilst granting constant players with a fresher game every so often. Additionally the base set would still be an investment for newer players which could buy those packs knowing those cards will last for a longer period of time. Overall I feel that if this idea is thought through enough it is realistic to implement it.

Conclusion

I believe that the reasons to rotate out the Classic set outweighs the reasons to keep it, the Hearthstone Standard metagame would become really unpredictable and interesting. On the other hand I can see why Blizzard wants to keep it a certain way, it makes for a more consistent experience for returning players; they can always rely on having a core part of their collection usable in standard. Additionally the Classic set staying in Standard allows for new players to invest in a type of pack knowing that they can rely on those card remaining and being able to build a solid collection of cards. Lastly it does seem that Whispers of the Old Gods proved that if cards which are sufficiently innovative are printed then the metagame can change quite dramatically, despite the classic set remaining in Standard. Before jumping to conclusions it is important to see how the metagame will actually work in this Standard cycle, it might be that all my points are just wrong and that actually the game will be fine like this. Overall though I think that making a base set which lasts longer is all Blizzard need to fulfill their aims, they don’t need the Classic set to be evergreen.

 

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