Not a bad Hearthstone(Free) week this one, right? Although the week was relatively light on tournaments, we got the new mode, Tavern Brawl, which has been a lot of fun. Today’s Touchstone Tavern talks about Bad Cards, why the Patron Warrior deck might need nerfing, and a post-mortem of sorts on Tavern Brawl. Overall, quite an interesting week in the world of Hearthstone. Find a place around the hearth, and let’s start.
Ben Brode and Kripparian on Bad Cards
Kripp talked about the need to buff “bad cards" a few days ago, and Ben Brode, Senior Game Designer for Hearthstone, decided to respond. His reply to Kripp was a great look into the mind of those who make all the design decisions, and a great peek into Blizzard’s design philosophy. Brode first cleared the misconception that simply changing an existing card is easier than making a new card. Yes, you save on animation and design fees, but it still requires a lot of testing to see how decks are influenced. Having to spend weeks testing these buffed cards would slow down release of new cards. He also said that some players prefer to play for a bit, take a break, and then return, and suddenly giving them the cards they knew but with different stats might produce a negative response. Additionally, Brode pointed out that the period after the meta settles down right after a release is very important for the game since some players love the tinkering part where they get to perfect their builds. They wouldn’t want to have constant “churning." According to Brode, Tavern Brawl is precisely designed for players who love the constant churning and upheaval in the meta.
Then, Brode goes on to talk about why it’s impossible to not have bad cards. Cards are judged in relation to other cards, so power level is relative and will always force some cards to be considered “better" than others. No matter what Blizzard does, the game will always have unplayed (and, therefore, bad) cards. Some cards are not “good," but they are good for Hearthstone because they inspire a certain kind of player (like Nozdormu, for example). Also, some cards seem bad but they might become better later when other cards/decks come into play. And the reverse can be true with some cards seemingly good but ending up being “bad." Brode even discussed bad cards as a teaching tool; when players slowly understand why a card is bad, it helps them become better at card games. Finally, some bad cards become touchstones (thank you for the shoutout, Mr. Brode) for the community as they become universally hated and, therefore, are always at the center of many player conversations.
Now Kripp’s response:
Kripp said that besides testing, Blizzard also loses a lot of time thinking of the theme of new expansions and adventures and tying cards to that theme, which accounts for development time. For him, Blizzard overstates the balance aspect of Hearthstone as the game usually has a fairly good balance, but it doesn’t really have to have a great balance anyway. Decks change often, so a lack of balance won’t really break the game; it actually even helps Hearthstone stay fresh. He also thinks that the people who come back to the game usually buy new expansions or adventures, so it’s not like they go back to their old decks since those decks aren’t as good after a year or so. For Kripp, the tinkering phase is cool but does not apply to everyone. Kripp does agree with Brode’s idea of Tavern Brawl as the chaotic space of Hearthstone. When it comes to some cards being necessarily bad because they are good/bad by comparison to other cards, he compares Bloodfen Raptor and Knife Juggler and talks about how some cards are really bad and not exciting or cool. We don’t need cards that are only a 2 out of 10, Kripp says, they could be a 6 or a 7 out of 10 instead so they are “bad" but still playable.
He agrees that Nozdormu can blow your mind, but he wants his mind blown more often by Nozdormu and that can’t happen because right now he sucks and no one is playing him. The Vanilla cards are getting less and less valuable because their tribes are becoming irrelevant. As for bad cards as teaching tools, Kripp considered that a profound reason for bad cards and agrees completely. By having to start with bad cards and gradually get better and better cards, players learn how to evaluate card value.
Brian Kibler Talks About Patron Warrior and Nerfs
Kibler, whom we talked about in last week’s Touchstone Tavern, wrote a very interesting article on the need or nerf or not nerf some cards in order to stop decks like Patron Warrior. Kibler talks about how the problem with the Patron decks is the kind of problems that got Leroy Jenkins nerfed: the deck consistently allows huge amounts of non-interactive damage. When Warsong Commander and Grim Patrons kick into gear, the opponent can only sit and watch while they go from 30 to 0. Kibler has stated before that he hates non-interactivity in CCGs, so it’s not surprising that he has an issue with the Patron deck. He also doesn’t mind when crazy things like a one-turn-kill happen, but with Patron Warrior they happen way too often because of the way the deck can protect itself while looking for the big combos. Unlike other players, he enjoys Emperor Thaurissan because he might enable some of the crazy combos that frustrate players, but he also breaks Hearthstone out of its linearity of mana progression and card playing.
Kibler doesn’t say that Patron Warrior is unbeatable or even a good deck, but he doesn’t like the kind of card-playing it promotes. He thinks that the best nerf for the deck is to hit at the consistency the deck currently has by nerfing Battle Rage. He wants that card to allow the player to draw a card for each damaged minion rather than for every character damaged. That way, the deck won’t have such good card draw early on while still being able to follow its current strategies.
Blizzard Continues to Fight Bots
Blizzard continues to fight the good fight against bot accounts, which are apparently still around. According to some users, a number of players are even looking for bots that can play Tavern Brawl, which isn’t the best news for those of us who invest a lot of time playing Hearthstone. Blizzard invites players who think they’ve encountered bots to email firstname.lastname@example.org to help the company deal with this very annoying problem. And remember, winners don’t do bots.
Blizzard is Aware of the EU Server Issues
As many EU players have noticed these last few days, European players have been experiencing some serious issues logging into Hearthstone, which was a problem a few weeks ago, too. If you’ve been having any similar issues, It isn’t the fault of your internet connection but, rather, Blizzard’s own servers as a tweet by the company verified the other day. Be patient and expect to get more packs as an apology from Blizzard (in case you aren’t aware of it, Blizzard gave two free packs to all EU players to apologize for its server issues). One has to wonder whether demand is outstripping supply because of Tavern Brawl’s popularity and because of the huge influx of new players (or players spending more time with the game) after the game went to mobile.
Blizzard Releases Another Hearthstone Commercial
On the heels of the first commercial that aired during the NHL and NBA Finals, Blizzard has released a new commercial, this time with Tinkmaster Overspark as the star. What’s interesting about the commercial is that it draws attention to Hearthstone‘s RNG (since Tinkmaster transforms a random minion into a 5/5 Devilsaur or a 1/1 Squirrel).
Hearthstone Card Back Mount for Heroes of the Storm (HOS) Available
Earlier this week Blizzard announced that the Cardback Mount, awarded in HOS for winning 100 games in Hearthstone‘s Play mode, was finally unlocked. If you’ve won at least 100 games, you’ll get a pop up in Hearthstone like the one below. Once you do, you have to log back into HOS and receive your new, trusty mount.
Tavern Brawl “Post-Mortem"
By the time you read this week’s Touchstone, the first Tavern Brawl will have officially closed its doors. As I wrote a few days ago, the new mode is a lot of fun and fills the gap between Constructed and Arena quite nicely. I believe this week’s Brawl teaches players how different decks play; Nefarian’s deck is an Aggro deck that needs to get the match done quickly while Ragnaros’ deck plays more like a Control deck that tries to minimize damage until it can get stronger later in the game. Like the Adventures, matches like these help players understand how CCGs play without having to go through a boring tutorial.
What I saw as a problem was the great amount of conceding from Rangaros’ players who didn’t like that they got to play the more “difficult" deck of the two. They would literally concede immediately, making for a less than enjoyable experience. I don’t know how this can be mitigated in the future, but it definitely wasn’t fun having to start four games to play one. Having two decks where one was “easier" to play than the other was a great idea by Blizzard. As some players have talked about in reddit, having decks with a noticeable power level differential in Tavern Brawl enables the company to give weaker players a chance to win and more experienced players a tough challenge. That way, the weaker players won’t get discouraged and will continue to play Tavern Brawl.
Here are the decks from this week’s Tavern Brawl. I know they wont’ be of much use as this week’s Tavern Brawl has already concluded, but they might give you an idea of Blizzard’s philosophy for future Tavern Brawls.
1x Baron Geddon
1x Coren Direbrew
1x High Justice Grimstone
1x Moira Bronzebeard
2x Molten Giant
2x Flame Imp
2x Fire Elemental
2x Living Lava
3x Son of the Flame
2x Whirling Ash
2x Lava Burst
2x Core Hound Puppies
2x Living Bomb
1x Rend Blackhand
2x Dragon Consort
2x Blackwing Corruptor
3x Blackwing Technician
3x Chromatic Drake
2x Dragonkin Hatcher
2x Drakonid Slayer
2x Open the Gates
TiddlerCelestial wins DreamHack Trophy
Xieyu “TiddlerCelestial" Wang is now officially the highest-earning player in Hearthstone after his win in the DreamHack championship. TiddlerCelestial beat David “Dog" Caero 3-2 to win his first major title. The champion lost only one game in the Swiss round and then went undefeated in the playoffs, emphasizing his great current form. He defeated Amaz, AKAWonder, and Dog in the final. The champion earned $12,500 and is now officially the highest winning player in Hearthstone, topping the previous title holder, Firebat.
Tempostorm provided a great write-up for the DreamHack finals with plenty of statistics for the number-hungry among you. Warlock, Hunter, Druid, and Warrior were the classes most used, with Druid winning all 5 games it played while Hunter wining only 38% of its 13 games. Warrior decks won 58% of their 12 games and Warlock 47% of their 19 games. Unsurprisingly, we saw mostly Mid-range and Control Decks, but also saw three Zoolocks and one Demonlock. One “fun" statistic: eight Grim Patrons were played from hand, but twenty Patrons ended up on the board.
Hearthstone Pro League is Slowly Finding its Rhythm
Even though he lost the DreamHack final to TiddlerCelestial, Dog is doing very well in HPL, leading the league after two weeks. He has won all his series so far, unlike the DreamHack champion, TiddlerCelestial, who hasn’t won a series yet. Of course, the HPL format is different than other championships (since this league has no bans or similar restrictions), so skills in one tournament format don’t always translate to other formats.
Now for some interesting statistics, which is the reason why I’m enjoying reading PVP Live’s website. Druid is the class that has caused the most damage to enemy heroes, with Paladin a very close second and Hunter close behind them. Shaman is the class that has done the least damage to the enemy hero. The Priest leads the “minions kills" category, with Hunter coming dead last. This statistic makes sense since the more Aggro-oriented classes go for face rather than minions while Control decks go the other way around.
Current Meta Report
Not much has changed in the meta since last week’s report. Mid-range and Control decks still rule with Mallylock, Zoolock, and Demonlock (to a lesser degree) still doing well. Mid-Range and Aggro Paladin decks are increasingly becoming more popular since they are a good matchup against both Patron and Control Warrior. Paladin can take care of Zoo and Hunter with Consecration, Antique Healbots, and Sludge Belchers, while Shielded Minibots, Muster for Battle, and, of course, Piloted Shredder help control the board. Overall, if you plan on building a strong deck, go with Mid-Range or Control (as we saw in the Dreamhack archetypes earlier in this article).
Enjoy Some Fun Tavern Brawl Moments
Epic Hearthstone Plays #69
Epic Animated Legendaries
I really enjoy the creativity that Hearthstone brings out in many players, and this series of videos is a great example of that.
Kripp Throws Bombs With Wildest Bomber
This is a fun video but also a discussion on the game’s RNG.
The Original “Missed Lethal" Video
In the very first public Hearthstone match (PAX East 2013), the player missed lethal…
Trump Messing Around in Tavern Brawl
Lifecoach is really funny to watch sometimes, so enjoy this video.
As always, we have some good resources on the site for you in case you are new to the game or want to get better at losing to Patron Warrior.
That’s all I have for you today, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little roundup and it has helped you have a better idea of all that’s going on in the world of Hearthstone. I’ll let you all know about the next Tavern Brawl the moment we have some new information, so keep an eye out. Till then, go build a strong Control deck.