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Touchstone Tavern #4 – Your Weekly ‘Hearthstone’ News RoundUp

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And the news keep rolling in the world of Hearthstone (Free), with some huge announcements coming earlier this week. As you’ve probably heard by now, Hearthstone is getting a new mode, three new cosmetic hero skins, and, also, many more features that should be dropping at some point this week (that’s a guess, but I think a pretty educated one). Thank you for all the comments last week; it’s good to know that you are finding all the info useful. With the way Hearthstone is getting bigger by the day, I don’t foresee me running out of things to write in Touchstone Tavern. So, on we go.

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New Mode, “Tavern Brawl," Coming to Hearthstone

After a GIF that teased us about a new mode coming to Hearthstone, Blizzard went ahead and revealed the new mode for all to see. The new mode, called Tavern Brawl, should be coming out any day now and will add more gameplay variety to most people’s favorite iOS game. As we wrote when the mode was officially announced, Tavern Brawl will be a weekly affair (probably Wednesday to Sunday and then a few days off for Blizzard to reorganize) and will offer players the opportunity to play some unconventional matches; for example, one week the players might have to use a preset deck. In general, Tavern Brawl will have different rules than normal Hearthstone play, which can only mean more variety of play. You’ll also be able to challenge your friends to Tavern Brawl matches, so I expect some crazy matches to take place as soon as Tavern Brawl opens its doors. Keep in mind that you need at least one Level-20 Hero to enter the new mode, so I would start playing more games if I were you.

Thanks to Hearthpwn.com, we’ve had access to plenty of leaks from the upcoming 2.7 patch. For example, this is the Tavern Brawl Main Theme Music.

However, if you don’t mind spoilers, here’s video footage of the new shop, collection manager, and hero picker! What do you think? I think Blizzard is gradually improving Hearthstone‘s UI (which although it’s pretty good, it still has some clunkiness and the occasional too-many-taps syndrome), and I’m glad the company isn’t resting on its laurels (aka as plenty of dough).

If you’ve been wondering about what Blizzard has in mind for Tavern Brawl, I do have a nice surprise for you; Hearthpwn’s peak into the upcoming patch has revealed some possible Tavern Brawl Cards, and they really do hint at some fun matches to come. The good thing with this new mode is that Hearthstone‘s developers can go wild with card design because Tavern Brawl cards don’t need to be balanced, they just need to be a lot of fun.

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If you want to see more spoilers from the upcoming patch, visit Hearthpwn’s site here.

Two New Cosmetic Heroes Announced

We talked in last weeks’ Touchstone Tavern that Blizzard’s adding new, purely cosmetic heroes to the game, with Magni the first to be introduced. Now, Blizzard has introduced two more, Alleria Windunner the Hunter and Medivh the Mage. Each hero will cost $9.99, just like Magni, and will come with new hero-specific emotes, art, card backs, and animation. While some people originally complained about Blizzard’s priorities – claiming that more content would be better use of resources – I think the addition of Tavern Brawl along with those heroes has allayed any fears about Blizzard’s priorities and probably silenced all but the most vocal detractors of Magni, Alleria, and Medivh.

Customizable Card Backs

The upcoming update will also allow players to customize their decks with deck-specific card backs. That way, you’ll be able to give some more personality to your (only) 9 decks. This is a nice way for players to make better use of their huge card back collection, but, seriously, we desperately need more decks in the game. I understand that most CCGs can get away with just giving their players 5 or 6 deck slots while Hearthstone has to give 9 by default, but with so many cards and so many possible decks, having to stick to one deck per hero is incredibly restrictive.

 

Hearthstone is Becoming a Gaming Staple

You’ve probably heard that Youtube will soon be launching a new site dedicated to gamers. If you haven’t, the site will try to steal Twitch’s throne by having dedicated pages for thousands of games as well as live broadcasts. The reason why I’m talking about the new Youtube site here is because when you visit the page with the announcement, you’ll find a fun little animation that evokes some of the most iconic video games when clicked. And, guess which game made the cut; yes, you are correct, Hearthstone. It just goes to show how big the game is right now and how recognizable its sounds are to the general gaming public.

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Team 5 Talks About Designing Blackrock Mountain Adventure

In an extensive interview with IGN, Team 5 members, Ben Brode and Mike Donais, have talked more about the thought process and the ideas behind BRM’s card designs. Some of the most interesting bits were:

  • Smaller adventures are harder to do than full expansions because each card needs to be relevant, change the meta, be more exciting, and fit into a class flavor more.
  • Grim Patron was a 4/2 at some point to avoid the ability to get Charge, but he wasn’t good enough as a 4/2. They love that he has been the impetus behind a whole new deck. They also like that he fits the Warrior theme of damaging your own minions.
  •  Axe Flinger is a sleeper card, he might be in a different place in a month or six months (maybe they have more plans for cards that combo well with Axe Flinger?)
  • They don’t believe that Grim Patron’s success is at the expense of Paladin decks because the meta shifts often.
  • They see Emperor Thaurissan as a balanced card because sometimes he just ends up being an expensive 5/5 minion and is trash if your hand’s empty. He is one of their “blow your mind" cards, and they want to continue designing similar cards.
  • They wanted Ragnaros to be one of the rewards of BRM, but since he already exists, they designed Majordomo Executus. They made him turn your hero into Ragnaros to give BRM rewards some Ragnaros love.
  • They love when nine-cost minions like Nefarian are playable because of the huge swings and crazy stuff such cards can cause when the player is able to play them.
  • Chromaggus was one of the hardest legendaries to design. The design was not very thematic because ideas like giving debuff cards, like he does in World of Warcraft, just didn’t work well.
  • The “hold" mechanic (where cards do different actions if you are holding a dragon when you play them) came out of long deliberations regarding dragon-related mechanics. They primarily went with this mechanic because they wanted people to have big dragons in their decks.
  • They had some smaller, 2-drop dragons originally (Dragon Egg was Dragon Whelp and Blackwing Corruptor was also a dragon), but they got rid of them because they didn’t want people to be holding on to those smaller dragons rather than the big guys. In general, they want to have expensive dragons. The fantasy of the deck is giant dragons.
  • The idea of dragons being Control is intentional because they wanted that deck to play differently than let’s say a Murloc deck or the mech deck. They plan to continue making dragons forever, so the deck might become more competitive in the future.
  • They are excited that people are playing Rend Blakchand. They wanted to make a really exciting version of “dragon matters" mechanic, and that’s what Blackhand is.
  • Arena mode influences their card design decisions in many and significant ways.
  • They consider Imp Gang Boss one of the best cards, or maybe even the best card in the set, by their rating system.
  • The cost reduction mechanic (card cost reduced based on minion deaths) was chosen because it’s interesting to have card cost tied to board state. More of them will be coming in the future.

The designers talked a lot more about other specific cards, like Gang Up, Resurrect, and more, so go read the full interview if you are interested in learning more about BRM and Team 5’s design philosophy.

 

 

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ESL Legendary Series Season 2 Finals

As I briefly talked about last week, Phonetap was the big winner of this tournament, defeating Reynad 3-1 in the finals. As PVP Live’s account of the event points out, Phonetap’s lineup surprised many as it didn’t include a Patron Warrior or any Warlock decks, two of the most dominant decks in the current meta. Instead, he won the finals with a Shaman, a Druid, and a Hunter deck (more on those later). Phonetap had to really fight his way through the tournament; the only series that didn’t end 3-2 was the final. Phonetap has recently joined Team Hearthlytics, and he has just given the team its first major victory. As a reward, Phonetap took 100 Hearthstone WC points and $10,000.

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Hearthhead.com explains how the tournament showed us once more the importance of teching cards into a deck (teching means adding specific cards that will counter strong meta decks or cards). Reynad’s Midrange Hunter did predictably well. Reynad went with two Piloted Shredders and two Sludge Belchers instead of the commonly-used Quick Shot and a second Unleash the Hounds. He also added Loatheb in an attempt to strengthen his late game. Phonetap also brought a Midrange Hunter, a more traditional one than Reynad’s, but he included a Harrison Jones in it, a move that I’ve seen in many tournaments by many competitors recently. Reynad also brought a Flamewaker-based Tempo Mage and, of course, a Grim Patron Warrior. Reynad added a Sludge Belcher in this deck too, probably in an attempt to add some meaty resistance during mid-game. Phonetap’s Mech Shaman was relatively standard outside of Lava Shock, which I run too in my Shaman decks. Finally, Phonetap’s Midrange Druid was a fun one to watch as he teched in a Harrison Jones, Big Game Hunter, and Acidic Swamp Ooze to defend against Warriors and Hunters while waiting for combo time.

If you want to take a closer look at ESL’s decks, check out PVP Live’s website.

 

Nvidia PRO/Am Tournaments Becomes a Battle of the Unknowns

The Nvidia Pro/Am tournament concluded this week after three and a half months of hard battles, with some big names getting eliminated early and some unknown players doing very, very well. ThijsNL, Trump, Strifecro, and Forsen were all eliminated early, with only Reynad doing well among the bigger names. The winner was Russian player ViktorStay, who defeated Reynad and then Liveon in the finals to earn 100 WC points and $10,000. These were ViktorStay’s first WC points.

 

Hearthstone Pro League’s (HPL) Inaugural Week Mixed

HPL got off to an…interesting start this week as we had some great games but also some relatively mixed reactions from those watching the event. I won’t report any results because since the tournament is still in such an early stage, it won’t really make much sense. What I will say is that there’s an unusually-negative reaction from some towards the tournament’s flavor, which is more WWE than CCG according to a reddit poster. The tournament stream had some sound issues in the beginning, and some of the replay VODs had sound sync issues, but those are teething problems that are to be expected. The production values, I have to say, are fantastic. Now, the problem many are having is with the bombast that the League is trying to create, an atmosphere that some say doesn’t gel well with Hearthstone‘s more “casual" flavor. Take a look at the VODs and tell me what you think.

Challengestone 2 Full Player List Revealed

Challengestone 2 is coming at the end of this month, and Tempostorm has finally announced the full player list. We already knew that Brian Kibler and Trump will be playing, and now we know the whole group: Kibler, Trump, Kolento, Kaldi, Freshca, Eloise, Silentstorm, and Noxious. I’m looking forward to this one, although now it’s not as “special" as it was a week ago because Tavern Brawl will be a kind of Challengestone. So, kudos to Kripp and the rest for coming up with this idea first.

 

Meta Report

Tempostorm’s analysis of the current meta describes a predictable shift as the race to legend has toned down and many who had been using Aggro decks to race up the ladder have now switched to Control decks. In a surprise ascendance though, Control Warrior has jumped all the way to the top of the list as 4 of 5 players in Top 5 Legend are piloting Control Warrior decks. Sadly for all those who love Grim Patron, he has fallen off the pedestal this week to a lowly number two. Malylock has also jumped to number 4, becoming more competitive after a bit of experimentation . Other interesting changes were two Paladin decks, Mid-Range and Aggro, jumping quite a few spots. I’m glad to see the meta shifting as players are trying to counter other strong decks of the current meta and constantly experimenting, a move that’s bringing surprise decks to the meta’s fore.

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This is a funny video that “sums" up Hearthstone

Epic Hearthstone Plays

Dr. Boom Goes Boom

Kripp Talking About Hearthstone Changes He Wants to See

Fun Hearthstone Puzzles

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We have some good resources on the site for you, so if you are new in the game or want to get better at playing, check them out.

Hearthstone Beginners’ Guide

Hearthstone Deck-building Guide

That’s all for today. I hope you’ve found all the information useful. I expect next week’s Touchstone Tavern to be discussing post-2.7 patch news, so stay tuned for that one. Till then, enjoy “killing" Patron Warriors.

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