Well, there’s a reason why I’m a literature person and not a math person; I managed to have two Hearthstone (Free) Touchstone Tavern #18, which means that this week’s TT is the 20th! Amazing how time flies, isn’t it? So, sorry about my “misplay." Blizzcon is getting closer guys, and all the qualifiers are wrapping up. I’m definitely looking forward to the Hearthstone World Championship this year, looks like it’s going to be a close one. As for the rest of the Hearthstone world, we still have debates about RNG and about whether it’s good for the pros and for the game in general. We also got our first Blizzard hint at upcoming content (?) to be announced at Blizzcon.
We don’t know anything about that yet, but it looks like we’ll hear something about something in a month or so. Other than that, this hasn’t been the busiest week of the year, but there’s always plenty to talk about. And I wanted to thank all of you who are enjoying reading Touchstone Tavern as much as I enjoy writing it. Thank you for your kind words and please feel free to post this column on any site you visit or enjoy; the more readers the merrier. So, pull up a chair by the hearth.
Ladder Play System Needs to be Rethought
Blizzpro had an interesting article on Hearthstone‘s Ladder system and the need for some changes to Ranked play. After explaining how the Ladder system works, the article discusses the Ladder from the perspective of a casual player, emphazing how the current system rewards quantity as much, if not more than, win percentage. So, that skews the Ladder meta towards fast, aggressive decks at least in the early part of the month because it takes a great number of wins even if you are winning more than losing to make it to Legend rank. While piloting control decks is for most players much more rewarding than playing Aggro decks, it would take easily three times the playing time to go to Legend using control decks. According to the writer of the story, when the design of a ranked play system dictates a preference towards one play style over others, that design is flawed.
It takes so many games to go to Legend that players will even just concede if they feel a game will go on for too long rather than play for the win. After discussing a few solutions that others have talked about, the writer claims that the best solution would be to increase the season’s length to two months to allow average players who don’t play Hearthstone for a living to still hit Legend rank if they are skillful enough. The writer goes on to detail the way a longer season would help all levels of players and talks about having “checkpoints," snapshots of the season at specific times of the month that would award world championship points. That way the whole length of the season would matter, not just the last few days. I have to be honest, I agree that something needs to be done with the Ladder system because I’m tired of playing the same Aggro decks over and over again in the early days of the Ladder; it really makes me wait a couple of weeks before bothering with the ladder. What do you think about the Ladder system as it is now?
Blizzard is Unveiling…Something at Blizzcon
Are you ready for more Hearthstone? Well, we might be pretty close to hearing more about future expansions or adventures since one of Blizzcon’s panel talks about “a tale of adventures yet to come." Now, this might mean that we’ll hear about an upcoming adventure, which wouldn’t be a surprise since it’s been a while since the last expansion. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if this reference to “adventures" is something different since, as I wrote the other day, there are some issues that Hearthstone players keep bringing up that might need to be addressed first before any new content is added. Well, not too long to wait until we know what Blizzard has in store for us. What do you think it is? An adventure, or something else?
Hearthstone Tavern at Blizzcon Will have a Fireside Gathering
Blizzard is organizing a Fireside Gathering of epic proportions at Blizzcon that sounds like a really fun time for any Hearthstone fan. You’ll be able to take a seat by the hearth (not very cold in Anaheim, CA in November though), sip on some “Hearthstone-themed refreshments, and challenge other players to matches so you can get the Fireside Gatherings card back. This Hearthstone Tavern will debut the Fireside Gatherings pin so you can show everyone how much you love Hearthstone and bling. There will be Micro Tournaments where 8-16 players will compete in a best of three, single deck format, and the top four players will be awarded the Fireside Gatherings pin. You’ll also be able to partake in a round of Duel the Devs, which is pretty much what you can imagine, and there will also be Hearthstone Trivia competitions throughout the day. In other words, sounds like a great time!
Potential Tavern Brawl Spoilers
HearthPwn continued its datamining of the latest patch and has found a very interesting background image for Tavern Brawls that shows a few adventure bosses. Since an enchantment for “WhosTheBossNow" was added in the patch, it could mean that your heroes change through the duration of a game or your hero is randomized at the start of the game. If you want to check the 12 boss hero powers, go here.
Forsen Says He Hasn’t Been Happy Playing Hearthstone in a Long Time
PC Gamer continued its great series of interviews of Hearthstone Pros, and this time it was Forsen’s turn. Forsen first talked about the common mistakes of Ladder players, saying that many players are too focused on copying others’ decks without actually thinking if the deck is good for themselves and whether they know how to play it well. It usually takes a lot of time to understand how a deck works, so by just copying a deck without knowing its strengths and weaknesses, players end up playing badly. The card he would delete is (no surprise) Warsong Commander, and he thinks Strifecro is one of the best deck builders in the world while Kolento is better at copying a deck from someone else and then playing it perfectly.
Then he went into some more interesting topics, going so far as to say that he hasn’t been happy playing Hearthstone in a long time because the game is too RNG now and that doesn’t amuse him. Since he comes from Starcraft II, which is all about skill, he doesn’t enjoy getting beat by a Hearthstone player ten levels beneath him in skill. Interestingly, though, he says that the game’s RNG is what makes it a casual game and draws higher viewerships and more players playing it. This distinction was very intriguing because it does point out that what’s good for the Hearthstone pro (esports) scene isn’t necessarily good for the rest of the players. RNG does make the game more fun to play for the vast majority of players, and Blizzard is going to have a hard time trying to keep both pro and casual players happy at the same time.
Hearthstone Was Supposed to be a Small-Scale Blizzard Game
While this story has been told again and again, it’s still funny to hear how Hearthstone was supposed to be a “small" experiment for Blizzard. According to former Blizzard Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo, the fact that Hearthstone is so different from the other Blizzard games was very deliberate. Pardo said that Hearthstone was born out of Blizzard trying to develop a game with a smaller team, and the space of online card games seemed ripe for such an experiment. So, Blizzard didn’t really see an opportunity and jumped in head-first but, rather, ended up arriving at this hugely-successful game while pretty much testing a developing concept of smaller versus larger teams. This is a fact we should keep in mind because I think it offers some perspective to the game’s evolution. Lacking an ambitious long-term plan at its birth means that the developers have been making their future plans as they go along. And so far, they’ve been doing a fine job.
Hearthstone Overtakes Dota 2 on Twitch
Shots fired, I think, as Hearthstone has overtaken the huge MOBA Dota 2 in terms of minutes watched on Twitch during the month of September. While League of Legends and Counter-Strike continue to reign supreme, it’s interesting to see a card game overtake a game like Dota 2 with its huge tournaments and the might of Valve behind it. There are of course many factors that contribute to such a change, one being that Dota 2‘s yearly championship ended in August while Hearthstone released its latest expansion in August, so the timing was great for the CCG to attract max viewership. Still, I don’t see Hearthstone‘s popularity waning any time soon, but I’m not so sure that’s true with MOBAs as they are becoming more and more niche (in my opinion) because of how demanding the genre is.
This Week’s Tavern Brawl Was All About the Curve
Clockwork Card Dealer was in a good mood during this week’s Tavern Brawl as it let you draw your cards at just the right time providing you planned your deck right. On Turn One you drew a 1-cost card (if you had one of course), on Turn Two a 2-cost card, and so on. This wasn’t a bad Tavern Brawl, but I have to be honest; I don’t feel like making decks for Tavern Brawls, especially since I don’t often play too many games in that mode. I prefer the tap and play Brawls where I don’t have to spend time thinking about what cards to add where. Yes, I know, there’s fun to be had building decks to take advantage of the week’s specific rules, but I build decks for Arena and I build decks for Ranked; in Tavern Brawl I just want quick, ludicrous fun.
We Have the New Americas Hearthstone Champion
After two days of fun Hearthstone matches, Purple was crowned Americas’ Champion (pocketing $10,000 in the process) and will be joining Hotform, Nias, and JAB at Blizzcon to compete for the 2015 Hearthstone World Championship. The Americas Championship had many close series, with even the final between Purple and Hotform ending 3-2. In what came to many as a surprise, Trump didn’t manage to make it to Blizzcon. I’ll have more about the AC next week since the matches ended late yesterday. Until then, enjoy the VODs from the second day.
Play it Cool Hearthstone Ladder Marathon Back on October 16
One of the most entertaining tournaments of last year is coming back October 16th. Play it Cool Hearthstone ladder marathon will make its return and set four top Hearthstone players against each other in a 24-hour ladder marathon. Forsen, Savjs, Firebat, and Reynad (great lineup) will take on the ladder using new accounts and try to acquire as many cards as they can and climb as high as they can in 24 hours. Last year Sanvjs won the event (although with some controversy since part of the rules was unclear). As expected, aggressive decks abounded since players tried to go up the ladder as quickly as possible. The event will take place in Stockholm, and Frodan will of course host the stream (starting to wonder how many Frodan clones exist in the world). Last time the highest a player reached was rank four; let’s see if anyone can beat that this year.
European Champion Thijs Talks Road to Blizzcon Decks
As you all probably know by now, Thijs became European champion a week ago, and a few days later he went on reddit’s AMA to talk about his experiences in the finals. He said that he sees card bans as unavoidable in the future because when some cards are stronger than others over a period of time, it gets frustrating. More importantly for competitive players, Thijs included his Handlock, Midrange Druid, and Patron Warrior decklists from the European Road to Blizzcon, so go here and check them out.
European Championship VODs
With the four players to represent Europe at the Hearthstone World Championship finally decided, we can now watch the VODs from the very exciting series. Ostkaka, Neirea, Lifecoach, and Thijs will be heading to HWC, with many believing that Europe is the favorite to win because of the strong lineup. If you want to watch the various matches, go here.
Team Archon Re-signed Orange, Firebat, and Signed Amnesiac Too
Team Archon went shopping this week. The team renewed the contracts of Orange and Firebat (which really wasn’t a surprise move), but, more interestingly, signed wonderkid Amnesiac (who I talked about recently). The 14-year old has really been making heads turn both with his play but also his understanding of the game. After all, he often coaches other pros and has recently joined the TempoStorm Snapshot team. He really is fun to watch, and I’m glad we’ll be seeing more of him as part of Team Archon.
Xixo Wins Esports Arena Invitational
Brian Kibler hosted the esports Arena Hearthstone Invitational, a fun event with a $25,000 prize pool. The tournament featured many of the NA big names along with Apostolos “Hawkeye" Karaiskos from Greece and Xixo from Germany. The two European players defeated their American opponents and met each other in the quarters. Xixo went on to defeat Hawkeye and met JAB at the finals, beating him too to claim the $10,000 first place prize. He used a Midrange Druid, Demon Handlock, and Patron Warrior to prevail. Visit the Gosugamers story to see Xixo’s decklists.
Asia Pacific Champion Has Been Crowned
Well, Kranich did it, he won the APAC and he’ll be heading to HWC for the second time, the only player from last year’s finals to even reach the Regional Championships. He will be joined by Pingingho of Taiwan, Neilyo of Vietnam, and Kno of Japan. LoveCX, NoTomorrow, Zihao and Zoro will represent China.
Not much has changed this week according to the weekly Tempostorm Snapshot, especially in Tier 1 decks, other that Aggro Druid joining the party. This deck has jumped all the way to Tier 2 and features a lower mana curve than any previous Druid deck featured on the Snapshot. It runs a lot of conventional aggressive minions, like Leper Gnome and Knife Juggler, and then uses the Force of Nature – Savage Roar combo. However, the big addition is Fel Reaver. This deck is for real and could stick around for a bit. Malylock has rejoined the Snapshot after doing well in the competitive scene. Fatigue Warrior was also a new addition, leading Tier 3 decks.
Hearthstone Lore – Anub’arak
Random Moments #5
The Worst Card of TGT
Strifecro’s Midrange Paladin
Maximizing Gold Acquisition
Epic Plays #83
Nerfed Cards Only Challenge
Best of Sneed’s Old Shredder
Amaz’s Golden Cards Mage
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.