Well, we are almost there, aren’t we? With just two days to go until Blizzard’s big Hearthstone (Free) reveal, I, and I’m sure many of you, wonder what might Blizzard have in store for us. Most people are still leaning towards an expansion announcement with, maybe, something extra, too. I wonder whether Blizzard will manage to thrill or disappoint its increasingly-demanding Hearthstone player base. We need to keep in mind that Hearthstone has been changing rapidly this year, going from a fun card game to an all-out e-sport with thousands of dollars on the line. I believe Blizzard is aware of the changing landscape around its originally-niche card game and has adjusted its future plans accordingly. Still, sometimes a company defines a game’s direction while other times the fanbase does. So, we will see what we will see. Not long to wait, now.
Fan Designs System for Randomly Generating Cards
One inventive Hearthstone player, scfdivine, has trained a neural network to produce cards that follow the patterns and ideas of previous Blizzard cards. The system uses the normal card list as input and predicts words and digits on new cards. The results are quite impressive. The network does have some weaknesses, though, like giving Taunt to a Weapon because it can’t distinguish between all card types that well, and it doesn’t understand the relationship between abilities and mana cost. The results, though, are still entertaining, with Blood Manos being especially funny.
Theme Overview of Murlocs, Pirates, and Demons
DjBigRuss over at TeamArchon.com wrote an interesting article on the current minion tribal themes in Hearthstone, and how viable they are in competitive play. Having already looked at Beasts, Mechs, and Dragons, this week he went with the more “fun" tribes. His conclusions overall is that Murlocs used to be a very powerful Aggro deck in the early days of Hearthstone, but time hasn’t been good to them as they haven’t really seen any good cards added in a long time, so they don’t really work well competitively at the moment. Pirates might have some strong support cards in their arsenal, but there simply aren’t enough of them right now to build a competitive deck around them. Without any additional cards to take advantage of some of the strong cards that currently exist, Pirates will continue to be stranded at sea. Finally, Demons are a perfect example according to DjBigRuss of how well a tribal deck can work after getting support in expansions and adventures. While there have always been strong Demon decks, it wasn’t until recently that they got enough extra cards, like Imp Gang Boss and Imp-losion, and have become a powerful theme in the current meta.
This Hearthstone Deck Stops Your Opponent From Taking His or Her Turn
Many often talk about the long animations and short turn limits in Hearthstone, with people often roping turn after turn and sometimes not getting all their moves out in time. Well, a deck detailed by Asuryan, called the Drunken Dragon, makes Hearthstone literally one-sided as it doesn’t allow the opponent to take a turn by manipulating delayed animations. This deck relies on three cards, Nozdormu and two Youthful Brewmasters. Nozdormu cuts down the turn timer to 15 seconds, and then you play the one Brewmaster and then the other one targeting the first one, and on and on as many times as possible until your turn ends. While the rope will explode, marking the end of your turn, the Brewmaster animations continue, and by the time they are done, it’s your turn again and your opponent is staring at the board. In addition to having the Panda dance, you attack with Nozdormu, which means in a few turns the match’s done.
Top 10 Cards That Defined Hearthstone‘s Various Metagames
A very interesting article over at Gosugamers listed the ten cards that have had a huge effect on metas in the game’s 2-year lifespan. The honorable mentions were Muster for Battle, Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, Sludge Belcher, Nat Pagle and Tinkmaster Overspark.
Blood Imp came at Number 10 because back in the day this was the scariest minion you could see in a Warlock deck as it made the board very strong and hard to clear. Mountain and Molten Giant came at Number 9 because of how deadly they made Handlocks and were pretty much one of the main reasons Big Game Hunter became so popular during that period.
Savage Roar came in at Number 8 because in association with Force of Nature, this card had made Druid able to deal huge amount of damage in one turn (and, for this reason, often called a problematic card). These ramp spells have kept Druid decks viable in the current metagame. Mechwarper came at Number 7 since it single-handedly made many Mech decks viable. Even though most Mech decks aren’t as powerful as they used to be, this card had really shifted the meta for quite a while.
Gadgetzan Auctioneer came in at Number 6 as it was responsible for Miracle Rogue, an absolutely dominating deck that was called Miracle for its ability to draw an amazing amount of cards in one turn. Dr. Boom made Number 5, since it’s the card that many still call incredibly OP and had become an auto-include for pretty much any deck that wasn’t Aggro or Midrange because of his ridiculous ability to finish games. In turn, his dominance brought Big Game Hunter’s dominance which, in turn, made most large-attack minions obsolete and, in turn (again), led to faster, Aggro decks.
Number 4 is Unleash the Hounds, which was one of the really broken cards before it was nerfed. In its early form, it gave all friendly beasts +1/+1, which meant really bad things for the opponent. The threat of UTH alone changed the way many played Hearthstone because it made decks that relied on building a strong board pretty much obsolete. Leeroy Jenkins got Number 3 because this was a card seen in pretty much every deck as it benefited all kinds of different decks, from Aggro to Control. Grim Patron came at Number 2 because, well, the card has dominated and defined the current meta like few other cards have. While the deck it has spawned is a tricky one to pilot, this card made combo decks incredibly powerful.
Finally, Undertaker gained the coveted Number 1 spot because this card shaped the meta more than any other card in the (short) history of Hearthstone. This card was the best early game card and was found in numerous decks. As the only counter was an early Ironbeak Owl, it created an easy, early snowball effect that finished games quickly.
Last week’s Tavern Brawl was all RNG, to the disappointment of many. Encounter at the Crossroads allowed players to pick a class and then gave them a fully-randomized decks, with all the craziness that that might entail. Many complained that this week’s Brawl was a bit too random, but, again, it really depends how you treat this mode. If you treat is as a fun way to play with friends, then RNG Brawls can be a lot of fun. If you look at it as a quick way to get rewards every three wins, then definitely high-RNG Brawls aren’t your thing. Personally, I enjoyed it.
The 22nd is Almost Here!
We are two days ago from Hearthstone‘s big announcement, and I personally can’t wait. Blizzard continues to tease us about it while barely giving any actual information of what’s to come. The announcement will start at 2:30 pm PDT and will be live on the official Hearthstone Twitch channel. Apparently, there will be a few very special Hearthstone matches, shop-talk with developers, and “one momentous announcement." We’ve speculated enough, so I won’t continue to do so. I’ll just include all the new teasers and see if you can figure out what exactly awaits us on the 22nd.
— Hearthstone (@PlayHearthstone) July 16, 2015
— Hearthstone (@PlayHearthstone) July 14, 2015
Hearthstone Pro League Week 6 Recap
DannieRay23 over at BlizzPro wrote up a good recap of HPL’s week, which was an entertaining one (that’s becoming the rule with this League recently). Sjow extended his winning streak to 6 but couldn’t make it lucky 7 when he came up against Zalae’s Berserker – Grim Patron combo.
JJ, Dog, Purple, Neirea, Muzzy, and Zalae all managed some lovely 3-0, but the rest of the games of the week were all 3-2; so, either you won easily, or you had to grind it out. Sjow still stands first with Dog and Zalae following pretty close behind. As of this week we only have Liquid, Complexity, Archon, and Hearthlytics represented in the top 8.
Vulcan Deckmasters Tournament Canceled
In a surprising twist, the $100,000 two-season Hearthstone tournament that launched last month won’t be returning for a second season for some interesting reasons. When the tournament was announced, it immediately jumped to the front of the high-paying tournaments, and its first season’s started quite smoothly. However, according to company officials, the reason the tournament won’t be returning is that:
We’ve decided to cancel Season 2 of Deckmasters. This wasn’t an easy decision, but overarching issues regarding Hearthstone have put us in a position where season 2 of the event is not feasible.
Immediately, reddit detectives came out in force and started speculating on the “Hearthstone issues." Some blamed the spectator mode being supper buggy currently, others said the lack of in-client tournament support meant the organizers had to do too much work themselves, and others blamed the high RNG of the game. Of course, it could just be issues with sponsors. Nevertheless, this was an interesting moment in competitive Hearthstone.
Archon Team League Championship Week 3
With ATLC Week 3 having concluded, Nihilum remains the only undefeated team. While it had some tough matches, beating Archon 6-5 and Celestial 6-4, it still reigned supreme mostly thanks to Rdu, who has been the team’s “closer." He even helped the team reverse a 2-5 against Team Liquid, defeating Sjow’s Patron Warrior. Nihilum leads the way with Value Town (the surprise of the League so far) a close second and Team Archon in third place. TiddlerCelestial’s Team Celestial is dead last, which is interesting considering Tiddler’s considered the best player at the moment. It really shows that in team leagues, the team really counts.
If you want to take a look at the decklists from Week 3, go here.
Analysis of the StarLadder Meta
Gosugamers put together a good analysis of the meta as it came out of the StarLadder Kick-Off Season, the 16-man tournament won by Firebat. The tournament featured a 3-deck Conquest but allowed for change of decks and classes between the group stages and the playoffs. As is the current fashion, Warlock, Warrior, and Hunter continue to be the most popular decks. Warlock saw some Zoo, Handlock, and Malygos decks, Hunters saw mostly Midrange decks, and Warrior had, of course, the Patron decks.
However, only Hunter did well in this tournament, with Warlock and Warrior only having a 49% win-rate, below Mage and Druid. According to the article, this relatively low win-rate was because of the many Warlock decks that were played, and since that deck is a strong counter to the Grim Patron, the Patron’s win-rate dropped. Yet, since there were many Hunter decks, Warlock decks were kept in check as Hunter counters Warlock well and Warlocks also played a lot of mirror decks, which kept the decks win-rates low.
As the rules allowed for a switch in classes and decks between decks, it was interesting to see which decks didn’t make the cut. Apparently, the few Shamans and Priests that appeared in the group stage never appeared in the playoffs since the players piloting them didn’t make it through. Six classes were brought to the playoffs, which shows a relatively balanced meta.
Tempostorm’s Snapshot this week is all about Counters. Patron Warrior is firmly in Rank 1, which in turn has brought with it plenty of Control Warriors as a counter deck. The presence of Control Warrior has re-energized mid-Range Druid, which is why the deck jumped all the way to Tier 1. Control Warrior is more present on the ladder with Face Hunter and Aggro Paladin becoming more rare, which has led to an increase in power of Handlock. The increase in Handlocks and Mid-Range Druids have forced Control Warrior to drop in frequency and power. Demonlock is the biggest surprise this week according to the Snapshot, going from Tier 3 all the way to Rank 3 in Tier 1, primarily because it’s such a strong match-up against the top two tiers (the Warrior variations), while the decks it struggles against (Freeze/Echo Mage) aren’t seen as often. Malylock has dropped because it takes too long to get going and relies too much on executing combos.
Trump’s Teachings: Mid-Range Paladin
Funny and Lucky Moments #117
Kripp on Promo Cardbacks & Marketing
Epic Animated Legendaries #14 – Darion Mograine
A Race to Kill Yourself
Epic Hearthstone Plays #73
Will Grim Patron be Nerfed?
If you could ban just one card from the whole game, which would it be and why?
As always, we have some good resources on the site for you in case you are new to the game or simply want to sharpen up your game. There’s never such a thing as too much help in Hearthstone.