This is a fun time to be playing Hearthstone (Free), isn’t it? With all the new cards that appear to be shaking things up and all the players trying to figure out what should go where and why, the game is all alive again (in my best Dr. Frankenstein voice). I’ve been playing the game quite a lot this last week, and I’ve been enjoying both the ladder and the casual games. I still haven’t figured out how much and in what way the meta has changed, but I do know that it feels different enough to be more enjoyable than it was before The Grand Tournament came out. I’ve also had a fun time going back to Blackrock Mountain Adventure and Curse of Naxxramas and playing those challenges with my new TGT-infused decks; they really break the challenges. Okay, let’s see what news this week brought us, shall we?
September 2015 Ranked Play Season Is Upon Us
The eighteenth official Hearthstone Ranked Play Season has commenced, and it’s the first all-TGT Ranked Play Season ever. This month’s card back is Exodar’s Exodus, a reference to the enchanted capital city of the draenei who chose to depart from Draenor. According to the WOW wiki, the word Exodar is likely a play on the word “Exodus" and references the draenei’s flight from Draenor and their search for a new home along the lines of the Hebrew Exodus. Remember, if you hit Rank 20, the Exodar card back will be all yours, and if you play Hearthstone even half-seriously, you should have no issue reaching Rank 20. Also, keep in mind that the TGT expansion brought changes to Ranked Play; now, the game offers a bonus chest according to the highest rank you hit during the season, so even if you end up dropping down the ranks by the end of the month, you get rewarded for the highest rank you hit.
Blizzcon 2015 Giveaway
Blizzard is promoting BlizzCon 2015 by offering a virtual ticket and Goody Bag giveaway. The Goody Bag contains a WOW collectible pin, a Heroes of the Storm Funko Mini, a Hearthstone Vinyl Luggage Tag, and more, all packed in a very nice Blizzcon Messenger Bag. The giveaway also includes a Virtual Ticket so you can enjoy Blizzcon from the comfort of your house (the actual tickets are all sold out anyway). I’m expecting some kind of a Hearthstone announcement at Blizzcon, so if you get your virtual ticket, you’ll be able to see that too. The way the contest works is by liking Blizzard’s various social media pages, and once you do, you get one or more entries. Winners will be selected on September 21st.
Is Hearthstone Too Random To Be A Serious Esport?
The discussions about Hearthstone‘s high level of RNG have been part of the conversation pretty much from the moment the game was in Beta. Using a video by NoxiousGLHF as the seed, an article over at Polygon wonders whether Hearthstone has really reached a point where it’s simply too random to be taken seriously as a competitive sport, especially since some tournaments recently have gone the way of the luckier of the players.
While many argue that most RNG is controlled RNG (you can ensure that the chances are on your side), as more RNG-based cards enter the fray, the voices calling Hearthstone an RNG-based game are growing louder, especially as the game’s competitive scene is growing constantly. Other voices, though, claim that the game is supposed to be casual and fun, and those RNG elements do make the game more entertaining to watch and make it so weaker players can beat stronger players occasionally. Where do you fall on the divide? Is Hearthstone’s RNG out of control, or is that how a game like Hearthstone should play?
What Legendaries Card Really Do In Decks (Honest Legendaries)
Philip Kollar over at Polygon wrote an interesting article for Hearthstone beginners who are trying to demystify the role of Legendary cards in the game. As he claims, Legendary cards trick new players into thinking they are the cure-all because they are the rarest. Despite their stats and rarity, Kollar notes, these cards are very situational and while they might swing games, they might also sit in your hand doing nothing at all. Many beginner players craft a Legendary as soon as they can without first sitting down to see whether that Legendary will work in their deck or whether they know how to play to that cards’ effects.
That’s why Reddit user elveszett has created a very funny gallery of “Honest Legendaries" where he tries to cut through the noise and, in an amusing way, explain what will usually happen when you play those Legendaries. In other words, Legendaries in Hearthstone aren’t simply super-powerful versions of cards you already own but, rather, cards that can win a game if they are used properly and in the right deck.
Blizzard Fixes Nozdormu “Issue"
As we wrote about the other day, the long Jousting animations have exacerbated the already-present issue of animations taking so long that your opponent will end up losing part, or all, of his or her turn. In case you don’t know how Hearthstone‘s animations work, the spectacle that takes place on your screen is actually not on the server side but, rather, on the client side, which means while you may be marveling at all the magic on your screen initiated by your opponent just as his turn was ending, as far as the game is concerned your turn clock is already ticking away. Nozdormu, the Legendary card that cuts your turn clock from 75 to 15 seconds, only made that issue worse to the point that when combined with Joust cards, the other player could only watch instead of play.
Upon listening to all the complaining from some of the game’s top players, Blizzard quickly jumped in and provided probably the quickest hotfix in the history of the game. According to Blizzard, the issue with Nozdormu and Joust has been resolved. While it’s good that Blizzard took care of this issue, the company’s quick fix raised all kinds of questions since the community has been asking for the animations to be either sped up or to become shorter for a long time and nothing had been done. We’ll see whether Blizzard decides to take more action on this issue.
Confessions of a Hearthstone Addict
Ben Popper’s story on The Verge raised the interesting issue of CCG addiction (although in a very light way), how the game can get people playing for hours on end because of the way it combines elements of chess, poker, and the need to collect into one very potent product. Surprisingly, Popper claims that the game’s RNG, where cards that the two players don’t have in their decks drop into the game (from the great Hearthstone sky), is what makes the game becomes more addicting than its Magic counterpart (always in respect to each game’s digital client). Without having to put a lot of money into the game, you can play non-stop (even if not competitively), and that can make it a very difficult drug to say no to. Well, who needs books, movies, or friends who don’t play Hearthstone after all.
This Week’s Tavern Brawl Was All About Mana Rain
Blizzard gave us an all-new Tavern Brawl with a fun little twist. Instead of getting one mana crystal a turn, you got 1,3,5,7,10, which resulted in matches where Legendaries were dropping like rain. While many had loads of fun with this Brawl, I also heard some legitimate complaints about Tavern Brawls like this one. Specifically, those players who don’t own a great collection of cards yet were complaining that Brawls like last week’s aren’t fun to play for them.
When the game offers pre-made or random decks, everyone is pretty much at the same spot (minus skill differences, of course), but when you get to build your own deck, then those with better collections have more fun. Legitimate point, I think, but I believe Blizzard is giving us both kinds of Brawls because it wants to offer experiences for all different types of players, including those with great collections and those without.
Amaz Presents ATLC Caster Jeoparino
Now, this is going to be an entertaining little tournament on Friday 11th. ATLC‘s casters, Kripparian, Noxious, and Frodan, will battle it out for $5,000 at the Archon House. This is probably going to be very fun because all three of these guys are very knowledgeable and know their Hearthstone quite well. So, we’ll see what happens when they pit their knowledge of the game against each other.
— Amaz (@Amaz) September 3, 2015
All decklists from ONOG Summer Playoffs
The ONOG Summer Circuit finals were the first big LAN after TGT, so that makes it an interesting one as a way to measure the changing meta. The players who reached the finals had to play through open qualifiers and features tournaments, so the four who made it, Tom60229, Kolento, Trump, and Pavel, had to struggle a lot to get there. All four brought one Warrior deck (Dragon, Patron, and Control), three brought a Paladin deck (two Secrets and one Midrange deck), and only two brought a Hunter deck, one Midrange and one Face. If you want to take a look at their decks, go here.
ATLC Stats Analysis
RexVayu gave us a great analysis of ATLC over at GosuGamers, with some very interesting insights into the current competitive scene. He first talked about the classes players brought to ATLC, showing how all teams brought Warrior decks all the time with Hunter and Warlock both being brought 54 out of 56 possible times. Mage came next with 49 out of 56 picks and Rogue was picked 38 out of 56 times. Priest, of course, was barely played as it’s been always the case. The Class Winrates and Archetypes part is quite interesting too. Druid had a 40% win rate, which probably means teams wished they didn’t pick the class as often as they did. Hunter dominated with a 60% winrate with Midrange and Hybrid doing better than Face Hunter.
Mage got a 46% winrate with Freeze, Tempo, and Mech Mage all making their presence known. Paladin had a 46% winrate too, with Midrange and Aggro seeing pretty much equal amount of play and with Midrange doing a bit better than Aggro. Priest also saw 46% winrate, Rogue 53%, Shaman 40%, Warlock 54%, and Warrior 51%. Patron Warrior had a 52% winrate and Control Warrior a 46% winrate. If you want to look at all these numbers in even more detail, go here.
Speaking of ATLC, the Finale Schedule was announced this week, and it will take place on September 11th-13th, with the cream of competitive Hearthstone crop present. Cloud9, Nihilum TempoStorm, and ValueTown will all clash for the $150,000 award. I expect some great battles in this one!
China Welcomes a $163,000 Team League This Month
China’s competitive scene saw the rise of more teams this year, with Yolo Miracle, ViCi Gaming, Valiant Knighthood and Kapai-Cabbages. This month, NetEase will be replacing its Esports League (which was the only high-profile team league in the Chinese Hearthstone scene) with Hearthstone Team Story (HTS), a league with a $163,000 prize pool. The distribution of the prizes will be determined by a point system. HTS will not feature a Challenger league, will remain invite-based for the time being, and will be played totally offline.
TeSPA Collegiate Hearthstone Championship Announced
If you are a college student in North America, I have some good news for you. TeSPA Collegiate Hearthstone Championship is coming this fall, and the rewards are over $100,000 in scholarship money. This is a team event where three-player teams from the US and Canada will work together to make it to the live finals event later this year. The rules are that each team must consist of three part-time or full-time students enrolled in the same four-year college. Teams will work together to prevail, and I do mean together as all three players will play a single deck, strategizing and making moves as if they were one player. This is bound to be entertaining. Go here for more info about the tournament and to register for TeSPA.
Popular Streamers’ TGT Decks
As TGT is stirring up the meta, the pros are trying to experiment and see what works and what doesn’t. Since the meta is still in turbulence, I wanted to include this Gosugamers story that offers a collection of current decks from popular streamers so you can see various decks in different classes and maybe use these examples as a useful netdecking resource. Go here if you want to see the decks of players like Kibler, Ama, StrifeCro, Firebat, Reynad.
TGT‘s Meta is still shifting, so all meta reports are shaky at best. Still, they can give you an indication of the current trend so you know the environment around you. According to TempoStorm’s Snapshot, Mech Mage, Aggro Paladin, Midrange Hunter, and Echo Mage have been adjusted to fit the new meta. Midrange Hunter has been effective in the aggressive meta mostly because of Bear Trap. In general, all the Hunter secrets now make the deck a pain to play against, which is why it’s been doing quite well. Echo Mage also benefited from TGT in the form of Frost Giant. Of course, the dominant deck is Secret Paladin (or Christmas Tree Paladin) because with all those secrets in play, it can be very hard to figure out how to go about taking this deck out. Go here if you want to look at the various Tiers in detail.
Hearthstone Mythbusters #10
Legendary Trap: The Mistcaller
Blizzard Cares About Arena
Confessor Paletress Great Moments
Varian Wrynn‘s Crazy
Mukla’s Champion OP?
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.