Two Wings down, two to go. Time is flying by, isn’t it? We are only half way through the Hearthstone (Free) League of Explorers Adventure, and the community is already feeling rejuvenated, from the pros to the casuals. I have to hand it to Blizzard, they knocked this one out of the park. While many players have been complaining that the game was getting a bit stale, the new cards and the Discover mechanic have got everyone’s deckbuilding gears spinning like crazy. This sense of possibility has really done a lot to re-energize the game; I’m not saying the game was losing players or anything like that, it was more of a worry about the game’s future direction.
With only half of the cards released, we are already getting hints at new archetypes, and the resurgence of classes that have been missing from the top tiers in recent months. This week we have some discussions about RNG (again), hints at the game’s future, analysis of the Discover mechanic, and more. So, let’s go ‘Discover’ what happened this week in the world of Hearthstone.
Lead Designer Eric Dodds Talks About the Game’s Future
In an interview over at Game Planet, Hearthstone Lead Designer Eric Dodds talked about the game and about what the future might hold. He opens the interview with a discussion over the issues created by the many available cards that are making it harder for newer players to get into the game. They are trying to solve the problem, and he feels that it won’t be long before they find a solution. He says one of the challenges the game’s facing is the variety of its players, who range from casuals to pros, from players who enjoy Arena to players who only care about Constructed. So, it’s hard to design let’s say a Tavern Brawl that will please all of the players.
They are considering additional single player modes in the future (which is how the Co-op Tavern Brawl came about), but they’re not sure how that will look like. As for the financial side of the game, Dodd says that the game is doing great and working out just like the designers hoped it would. Of course, he doesn’t go into details about that side of the game. When it comes to Secret Paladin (which is quickly falling out of favor in the current meta), Dodds finds Secrets a fun mechanic because of they various mind games and bluffs they can bring about. With each expansion and adventure, players take a variety of routes with their deckbuilding – from netdecking to crazy experimental decks – so it’s hard to have one clear idea of how new cards affect decks. The topic of card trading also came up with Dodds feeling that the disenchanting and crafting economy works fine for the game without the need for a trading system.
Analysis of the Discover Mechanic
Not everyone was excited about the Discover mechanic when it was revealed, but after the first two Wings of League of Explorers, pretty much everyone has grown to appreciate the new mechanic. BlizzPro has an interesting article about the Discover mechanic which describes this journey from disappointment to excitement. The writer changed his mind because of the kind of RNG that Discover brings to the game – a more controlled, constrained RNG – that really brings strategy to the front and doesn’t just introduce another layer of luck into the game. The article then has a quick analysis of some of the Discover cards. Discover seems to be here to stay, and I’m glad because I find this mechanic really fun to play around with.
Five Upcoming Tavern Brawl Images
Hearthhead did some good datamining of the latest patch and found five upcoming Tavern Brawl images that are signs of good things to come. One of them looks like some kind of a deckbuilding or Discover-based Brawl, one is clearly Murloc related (just in time since Murloc decks are becoming more popular), and more. Go here if you want to see them all and try to guess what they might actually be. One thing’s for sure though; Tavern Brawls are getting more exciting by the week.
Learning to Love the Discover Mechanic
Polygon has a fun video where they try to discover the Discover mechanic and see how it will change the game. They talk about how we get to see cards in the game that we don’t usually see and how this kind of randomness doesn’t get rid of strategy.
GosuGamers Rankings at the End of the BRM Era
With the Blackrock Mountain Adventure era coming to an end, Gosugamers has a story about its current rankings and who the top three player are. After listing the various winners and runners-up of the various tournaments, the story then lists the top 3. ThijsNL is at number one, still, with just below 1400 points. Even though he lost points from not winning the World Championship, he’s still top of the rankings. Reigning World Champion Ostkaka is currently at number 2, which is unsurprising given that he went through the World Championship finals without losing. Of course he’ll need to be doing a lot more winning in the next few months to stay in that position. StanCifka is in third place after doing good well in various tournaments. Go here to see the rankings for the various regions.
Patron Warrior was a Weak Deck, Says Senior Game Designer
In a recent interview, Mike Donais, Senior Game Designer, stated he doesn’t agree that the Patron Warrior deck was that strong. In fact, he believes it wasn’t dominating at all. The deck had 49% winrate at high levels and a 46 percent winrate at mid and low levels. So, that makes the deck a bad deck. Even in tournaments, the deck had a 49% winrate. Donais admitted that the winrate was probably influenced by other players building decks to counter Patron Warrior. It wasn’t the winrate that made Blizzard step in, it was the way it made players feel when they lost to it. The huge OTK that it could pull off was harming the game’s fun, which is why they stepped in and took it out.
This Week’s Tavern Brawl was Captain Blackheart’s Treasure
After a small glitch a few weeks ago, we finally got Captain Blackheart’s Treasure, the Tavern Brawl that was supposed to prepare the Hearthstone world for the Discover mechanic. In case you don’t remember, a few weeks ago we got this Brawl for about 10 minutes before it was pulled due to a bug (instead, we got Webspinners, again). This week everything went as planned and we got Captain Blackheart’s Treasure. This Brawl had you playing with preconstructed decks and each turn you got to see 3 cards and pick the one you wanted to put in your hand, much like the Discover (and Tracking) mechanic. It really showcased the strategic flexibility of this mechanic and would have hinted nicely at the League of Explorers adventure if we had got it in time. I had fun playing this Brawl, did you?
The League of Explorers Uldaman Wing Was Fun, and Tricky Too
2 Wings Down, 2 to Go. This Week we got the Uldaman Wing, which in many ways resembled the mechanics of the first Wing. We got two typical Bosses, Chieftain Scarvash and Archaedas, along with Mine Cart Rush, a race against time as you try to survive for 10 turns against a constantly-growing army of enemy minions. Chieftain Scarvash‘s fight would make either minions or spells more expensive each turn, forcing you to build a deck that would curve accordingly. Archaedas kept giving both you and himself 0 Attack minions, and he would then proceed to buff his own. Both fights were entertaining with the first one showing players the importance of curving your decks properly.
The other ‘Boss,’ Mine Cart Rush, felt more like a Tavern Brawl than a Boss. You only got two mana a turn and all your cards cost 1 mana. The enemy kept pumping out relatively-strong minions and you had to deal with them. While the idea behind this one was fun, it ended up being highly-dependent on your draws because if you didn’t have the right cards in hand, you couldn’t really do much with just 2 mana. Still, it was an entertaining idea. We got some fun cards too like Unearthed Raptor (which copies Deathrattle) and, of course, Brann Bronzebeard (which triggers Battlecries twice). If you are still having a hard time with this Wing, check our Normal and Heroic Guide.
Blizzard releases the NA Ladder Rankings
As at the end of every Ladder season, Blizzard has released the NA rankings (which I’m nowhere near joining). Kuhaku captured the envied Rank 1 overall. If you want to see the top 100 and see whether you managed to either make it or to find out whether those players who beat you were really that good, go here.
The Last Major of the Year Will Have a $220,000 Prize Pool
As GosuGamers reports, World Cyber Arena, the last major of the year, will be giving away quite a bit of cash. The tournament, which is scheduled for December 16-21, will have a prize pool of $200,000, which is almost as much as Blizzcon had. The four-region qualifier process for the tournament started back in April and featured both open and invitational portions. Although we don’t know the full list of players yet, we do know that Zalae, Amaz, Lifecoach, StanCifka, Kolento, Neilyo, Season, Lovelychook, and Gaara will be clashing for that prize. This tournament will be the most diverse one after BlizzCon, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Is Hearthstone an Esport?
In a recent interview, Hamilton Chu, Executive Producer for Hearthstone, talked about the nature of the game as an esport. He said that since there are esports activities concerning Hearthstone, the game is an esport. After all it’s competitive, centered around PVP, has a high skill cap, and is entertaining. Of course, as he admitted, the whole definition of an esport is a bit vague. He said that they were focused on making an entertaining game, and as people began to want to play and watch tournaments, they started trying to improve that aspect of the game since it makes Hearthstone more compelling. He said that as they are developing the game, they are trying to make sure the game is competitive for those who like that kind of an experience with the game.
He said that he disputes the idea that RNG is inherently against competitiveness. RNG is an important part of Hearthstone and it serves different purposes. One is that it makes it enjoyable to watch. The other is that it makes the game more skill-testing because it forces players to think about and prepare for many possible scenarios. If you want to read the whole interview, go here.
There’s only one place to start this meta report, and that’s Mr. Reno Jackson, the LoE Legendary that everyone has been plugging into their decks this past week. His ability to heal you back to full (as long as your deck only has one copy of each card) provided a great tool for Control decks that helped them really flourished on the Ladder this week, much to the surprise and delight of many players. Most players (and the Tempostorm Snapshot) don’t think that Reno will stick around for too long, but that’s what we said about Grim Patron back in the day, so we’ll see. The fact that he can’t be silenced or countered is quite a plus, and it doesn’t seem like the restriction the card places on deckbuilding has been too big of an issue for players.
RenoLock is a deck that might stick around. While it looks like a classic Handlock list, there’s also a slight RenoLock variation that turns the deck into a combo-based deck with plenty of burst and Reno as insurance. The other deck that looks promising is Raptor Rogue, a Rogue that (finally) doesn’t rely on the Oil-Rogue Combo. It utilizes the Deathrattle ‘borrowing’ mechanic of Unearthed Raptor and provides the flexibility of either boosting the early game (by copying a Nerubian Egg for example), the mid-game, or even the late game. This kind of flexibility helps the deck match either Aggro or Control decks. Outside the LoE decks, Mid-Range Paladin is still doing well and so are Freeze Mage, Aggro Druid, Secret Paladin, and Zoolock.
Best Moments #8
Best of Noxious
StrifeCro’s Reno Paladin
Funny Reynad Highlights
Top 5 Funny Falls and Lucky Moments #41
OTK Yourself With Every Class
Funny and Lucky Moments #138
The Giants Challenge
StrifeCro’s Reno Handlock
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.