Many players think that there are only two ways to play: Wild and Standard. But if you’ve seen Blizzard stream their Hearthstone esport events, you’ll have seen and come to know the other ways to play standard: Conquest and, the new one, Specialist. Many players who have never seen or heard about these playstyles will have many questions on what they are and how to play them, as well as their differences from normal competitive ladder.
This style of play is most known to the Hearthstone community. Players choose a deck and hit play. Players are then matched with someone of a similar rank to battle. The winner of the match will receive a star to increase their rank and the defeated player loses a star, possibly going down in the ranks. Winning multiple times in a row gives you two stars instead of one. Players will be unable to fall below ranks with intervals of five. This is a very cut and clear way to play.
Many players choose decks that have the best chance at winning against most decks. These decks are crafted to work off themselves with value cards to counter what your opponent is using. Players will then build decks to counter the most used decks. Then this process repeats, or patches come out to fix the unfair decks.
This form of competitive play was mostly used between professional players, collegiate players and esport events. The premise of it is that each player or team would bring four decks and submit the deck lists to the opponent. Then each side would choose a deck to ban from the opponent. After the banning process, the two sides would play each other until one side wins three games. Additionally, if a deck wins a game, that deck cannot be used for the rest of the matches. This was meant to bring a variety of decks and show of many mechanics of the game, as well as different playstyles.
The way players would prepare for these events were completely different from normal competitive ladder. These decks don’t have a consistent meta, per say. The players simply pick the decks that work best for them, can be used to counter other common decks, or simply a deck that could go up against what they think their opponent is bringing. Practicing decks and learning their weakness and how to avoid said weakness is the only real way to prepare for these games.
The new format that players in the collegiate level and esport level will be known as Specialist. Players choose one class to play as and build a primary deck. They then build a secondary and tertiary deck, both of which have 25 cards in common with the primary deck. The players play with their primary decks first and then can choose between any three they want. The first to three victories wins.
To prepare for this, many players will test out what the strongest class is, and then find the most versatile deck from this class. None of these classes or decks are perfect and have a clear superiority over the others. Every deck has a counter and with the secondary and tertiary deck, it could be possible to change the deck drastically with the difference of five cards.
Which one to play?
All three formats are incredibly fun and change the way you build a deck and how you play the game. Try grabbing a friend and battle it out with each of these formats to see how they really play. Playing with these formats changes the way you view strategies in Hearthstone and makes watching the professionals play all the more exciting.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via their official website.