[appicon]Earlier today Ben Brode made an announcement regarding some changes that are coming soon to the standard ranked play format for Hearthstone [Free]. Now all ranks will require 5 stars to advance and players will only loose 4 ranks at the end of each monthly season. To adjust for the longer initial trek to rank 20, the first card back monthly reward will now require winning just 5 games. He said that experience is different depending on where you end up on the ladder. At the top of the ladder players experience a little too much backsliding from one season to the next. People at the bottom of the ladder feel like getting to rank 20 feels like a wall you hit very quickly.

So how will this play out? Higher ranked players are going to love this. If you play enough ranked hearthstone to get past the point where ranks require 5 stars, this is clearly a win. For players just getting into or coming back to ranked from a hiatus, the required amount of stars to get into the low teens is going to be almost doubled. Ultimately this is a push towards the people that play the game enough to get high ranks but don't want to grind back to their previous position each month. The unfortunate side effect of this is that without any controls, people will start congregating at higher and higher ranks. The low-end star inflation seems like it may just be a stop-gap and Mr. Brode even came back to confirm that additional steps may need to be taken to prevent rank bloat.

This seems like the type of move that might have a vocal backlash but end up affecting far fewer players negatively than first perceptions may indicate. How many low rank players are out there worried that they can no longer easily get to 13-15 and then stop for the month? How many players starting out have hopes of only bouncing around in the high teens? Even if the initial journey takes longer, the appeal and prestige of the better ranks should now be even more palpable. I guess it will be up to the players to see long term gains outweigh potential short term frustration. In the mean time, Legend and upper numbered rank players can rejoice!

[applink url ="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hearthstone/id625257520?mt=8"]