What a week this one has been! Blizzard finally stopped teasing and started announcing, and we now know that at some point in August, Hearthstone (Free) will grow by 132 cards because of The Grand Tournament expansion, and it looks like it’s going to change the meta quite a bit with a new keyword, new mechanics, and, perhaps, a strengthening of some existing tribes. No matter how much the meta ends up changing, I’m glad that Blizzard has decided to really shake up the game rather than go conservative with more of the same because that bodes well for Hearthstone‘s future. Unfortunately, I won’t be writing a Touchstone Tavern for next week because I’ll be really far from my keyboard, so I’m sure that when we meet up here again in two weeks, we’ll have plenty to talk about.
Hearthstone Recreated in LEGO
Who doesn’t like LEGO, and who doesn’t like Hearthstone LEGO? A Youtube user by the name of LEGOParadise recreated the Hearthstone board in LEGO, and it looks quite nice. There are some very nice touches, like the cards on the side of the board, but, even better, the cards and the heroes have been replaced by LEGO ones. Watch the video below and enjoy the amount of detail LEGOParadise added to his Hearthstone board.
Hearthstone Is Making More Money on Mobile Than Desktop
As we wrote about a few days ago, Hearthstone on mobile has recently surpassed the desktop version of the game in revenue, with the desktop version revenue plummeting and the mobile version revenue rising. The reasons for these shift are probably quite a few, with Amazon discount on packs being a possibility, but, perhaps, the ease of playing the game on mobile and the TV commercials that emphasize the mobile version of the game might have something to do with the increase of revenue on the mobile version. As Carter notes, this is all good news for game developers who might be able to find an extra revenue stream by porting their games over on mobile.
Ladies-only Hearthstone Tournament Doesn’t Get it Right
China hosted the International Women’s Invitational, a female-only Hearthstone Tournament. The Tournament was watched by 150,000 people, and it consisted of only eight players, which was disappointing. According to the DailyDot article, the competitors wore matching white dresses set against a very weird and too-colorful backdrop. The players had to sit on white stools while the male commentators sat on pink (!) gaming chairs. Unsurprisingly, some on the internet reacted to the peculiar feminization of the Tournament, and the event re-ignited discussions regarding the way e-sports tournaments should be organized in terms of gender participation. The general opinion is that Tournaments like this one encourage women to become more active on the competitive scene, but these events don’t have to be so peculiarly gendered.
Last Week’s Tavern Brawl Was Like Playing Backwards
Heart of the Sunwell, last week’s Tavern Brawl, was all about starting from the end. The Brawl let you build your own deck and then go to battle. The trick, though, was that you had ten mana the whole match, which meant most common strategies went out the window. Starting with ten mana meant you didn’t have to build up your play towards your big creatures or wait for enough turns to go by to play your combos. However, many complained that the matches ended a bit too quickly and that whoever went first had a huge advantage because of the starting ten man. Overall, most people were disappointed with this one because they felt that the best cards won and there wasn’t enough skill involved.
The Grand Tournament Has Been Announced!
Finally, we know. After a few weeks of speculations and teasers, Blizzard finally announced that we’ll be getting a whole new expansion, The Grand Tournament, in August. The theme of the set is a silly version of the Argent Tournament from World of Warcraft, and it’s bringing more than a 130 cards, a new keyword called Inspire, which triggers when the player with the Inspire card on the board uses the Hero Power, and an emphasis on Hero Powers.
I’ve written three articles so far discussing the various cards and announcements, and the general feeling I have so far is that the Inspire cards will really make Hero Powers relevant, as long as those cards aren’t too slow because as much as Blizzard wants to slow down the meta, that’s easier said than done. Still, the new emphasis on Hero Power provides many opportunities for Blizzard to really change up Hearthstone. You can vote for card reveals now over at The Grand Tourney website, and this week, Blizzard will open up pre-orders for The Grand Tournament. You’ll be able to buy a bundle of 50 packs for $49.99, and the bundle will also include a new card back. The special offer will be a one-time purchase only and will end upon the release of the expansion.
If you want to see all the revealed cards so far, go here.
How Arena rewards and Tavern Brawl will be Changing
As I talked about recently, Eric Dodds, Hearthstone game director, told Polygon that they will be changing Arena rewards when The Grand Tournament expansion releases. If you aren’t aware of how the rewards work at the moment, after GVG released, the Arena rewards became exclusively GVG packs, which annoyed some players who wanted to get original packs. After The Grand Tournament goes live, the Arena rewards will be random: either an original pack, a GVG pack, or a Grand Tournament pack. I don’t know whether Blizzard will be giving more Grand Tournament packs than the other two types. Dodds also talked about Tavern Brawl, saying that the developers are treating this mode as an experimentation chamber where they can try ideas and see how they work. They want Tavern Brawl to play totally differently from the rest of the game so as to offer different experiences to the players. He said that in the future, we might see Tavern Brawls repeat themselves, and he wouldn’t answer a question whether Blizzard might start charging an entry price in the future.
Hearthstone Director Says No Grim Patron Nerf and No New Classes
In an interesting article over at Shacknews, Greg Burke got to sit down with Eric Dodds (he’s everywhere apparently) and talked about many aspects of the game. Dodds promptly shut down any possibility of new classes being added because he believes the 81 possible matchups that each player needs to master are more than enough at the moment. Then he talked about everyone’s “favorite" card, Grim Patron, and said that while Blizzard is monitoring the situation, the company isn’t planning on bringing out the nerf hammer any time soon. Dodds said there’s a lot of feedback from the community about this card, but they don’t want to make any changes unless absolutely necessary. He also said that with the new expansion coming, big changes will come to the meta so there’s no reason to make a move at the moment. Check out the whole interview below.
Pro Players React to The Grand Tournament Expansion
A few of the best players in the world, Strifecro, Kripp, Amaz, and Reynad, have given their first impressions on the first 20 Grand Tournament cards revealed on the day of the announcement.
Reynad was not very excited about most of the cards primarily because he feels that either they are slow or they don’t help build up a strong early board presence, which he considers a necessary strategy for high-rank play. He does find Lock and Load very, very strong, to the point that it’s probably going to be broken. Overall, he isn’t that excited about most of the cards revealed so far, and he finds most of the high value Inspire cards too slow for the upcoming meta game.
Strifecro is more positive overall and believes the new cards with breathe new life into the game. He things that Inspire is the most exciting part of the expansion and is going to be very healthy for the game because of its interactivity and because it can slow up the game a bit by giving value to minions over the long run.
Amaz thinks The Grand Tournament is awesome and hopes that we’ll see new play-styles and cards that counter Grim Patron and the likes. He really likes Coldarra Drake, he likes the class cards overall, he disagrees with those who think Shaman is going to get much stronger, and he believes the Hunter cards are fun but they’ll probably not see that much play. Overall, he thinks that this expansion is going to be really fun.
Kripp also likes Coldarra Drake, especially for Arena, and Effigy, among others. In general, Kripp thinks that what Blizzard is trying to do is slow down the game, which might make older cards more relevant than they have been. For Kripp, Hero Powers will matter for the first time, which will change the meta quite a bit.
Nvidia Pro/Am Controversy
According to a story broken by DailyDot, apparently, some pros playing in the Nvidia Pro/Am Tournament have opened an interesting Pandora’s box by claiming that when they took part in the pro division of the tournament, they didn’t actually play many of the unstreamed matches. Instead, these matches were settled via a coin toss. This claim was made on Twitter by Archon’s Sebastian “Xixo" Bentert last week as he attempted to get those coin-flipped losses removed from his GosuGamers ranking score. According to the story, this issue arose as a consequence of the tournament’s structure and scheduling that didn’t offer an incentive that would motivate the players not to coin-flip. Nvidia denies these reports, but many players have been admitting off the record to actually participating in the coin-flipping. This is, perhaps, another sign that we need a tournament mode in Hearthstone so we don’t have such issues in the future.
Challengestone #3 Announced
Challengestone, the fun tournament that offers interesting deckbuilding challenges, will be back for a third time on August 1st and 2nd. Kibler won the first one and Kolento the second. The participants for the upcoming tournament are Noxious, Forsen, Lothar, Freshca, JustSaiyan, Stancifka, Neirea, Jondo, and a qualified player from the ESL Tavern Brawl League. I enjoy this Tournament because it’s fun to see great players have to build crazy decks in a very tight time limit and then pilot those decks against other players. In a way, Challengestone was Tavern Brawl before Tavern Brawl was announced. The tournament will offer a $3000 prizepool, and you can watch it here.
Trump Wins Vulcun Deckmasters
Despite the disappointing news that Vulcun Deckmasters season two has been canceled, the first season was a fun one and Trump handily won the whole thing, beating Cipher in the finals with 5-1. Trump did very well in the club stage, which gave him a bye for the first round of the playoffs. He then went to beat Theude in the most difficult series for him since he had to reverse a 0-2 to win 3-2, and then rolled over Surrender with a 3-0 and Cipher with 5-1. Trump did very well with a Warrior-Warlock-Hunter lineup in the semis and then Paladin, Rogue, and Hunter in the finals. So, Trump is continuing his winning ways.
Archon Team League Championship Week 4
We’ve hit the half-way point of ATLC, and the picture isn’t getting any clearer. Value Town beat Nihilum in a tight 6-5, with Kibler’s Shaman beating Lifecoach’s Handlock, and Dog’s mech mage beating Thij’s Druid. Lifecoach then took his Handlock against Thump’s Control Warrior, but he lost to a top-decked Grommash. Rdu beat Trump’s Handlock with a midrange Hunter while Lifecoach brought the Patron Warrior to bear on Trump’s Warlock, and Kibler improved to an amazing 8-0 tournament score with a quick Hunter victory over Rdu’s Shaman. Rdu then took revenge by beating Trump’s Handlock with his Shaman, but Trump insisted on bringing his Handlock and beat Thij’s Druid. Thij’s then beat Dog, and Dog finished the series with a win against Lifecoach’s Handlock.
Cloud 9 took an easier, 6-3 win over ForsenBoys in the battle for the last chance playoff round. This series wasn’t as fun as the Value Town-Nihilum one, but it still entertained enough with some good wins by Chakki against Kolento and Kolento over Ekop. Tempo Storm denied Team Celestial its first win in head-to-head matches, taking a 6-4 win even though Celestial was at one point looking good for victory. The last match of the series ended in Hyped winning through fatigue damage. Finally, Team Liquid beat Archon with the tight 6-5.
Team Celestial remains winless at the bottom of the standings, while the 3rd place is a crowded one with too many teams vying for it. Overall, the League continues to be fun, and it proves once more than great players provide great matches. If you want to see the decklists from this week, go here.
Tempostorm’s Weekly Snapshot seems a bit like previous weeks’ snapshots, with Patron Warrior, Oil Warrior being in Tier 1, but we do see some new additions to Tier 1 decks: Demon Handlock, which is currently the strongest Warlock variant in the meta, Mid-Range Druid, and Mech Shaman. Control Mage is also doing very well all of a sudden, with Emperor Thaurissan continuing to help Control decks become viable against Aggro decks. God bless the Emperor!
Kripp’s Miracles in Tavern Brawl
Funny and Lucky Hearthstone Moments
Epic Hearthstone Plays
Scaling Hero Powers in The Grand Tournament
Top Hearthstone Fails
Trump’s Teachings: Patron Warrior
Emperor Thaurissan is a Stupid Card
Are you happy with the reveal? Is The Grand Tournament what you hoped for?
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.