I have to say, right now the Hearthstone (Free) universe is probably at the best it’s been for a long time. With the League of Explorers Adventure giving us some great cards that should change the meta, with all classes suddenly looking viable enough to see a decent amount of play, and with the competitive scene feeling refreshed after the recent changes to the World Championship, all is well for us Hearthstone players. This week we have people trying to figure out where cards like Sir Finley Mrrgglton will fit, a crazy Tavern Brawl that confused everyone, the start of the new Ranked season, a peek into Hearthstone‘s Winter-y future, and much, much more. Good times, indeed.
League of Explorers Wing 3, The Ruined City, Was Fun
After a week-long break from the latest Adventure, Blizzard released the third wing of League of Explorers this past Thursday. The Ruined City was an adventure full of Murlocs and Naga but was missing the more inventive bosses of the last two wings (no minecart escapes in this one). Still, the bosses had some fun mechanics and, most importantly, gave out some very interesting cards that should do well in both competitive and experimental decks. Entomb seems to be an amazing removal card, Sir Finley Mrrgglton should offer some interesting deck-building choices, and Naga Sea Witch can turn decks that rely on big late game minions into mid-game ones.
Overall, Blizzard continues to do an amazing job with this Adventure, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that never in the history of this game have so many players owed so much to so few cards (sorry, Churchill). If you are still having a hard time beating the heroic Bosses, we have two guides up on the website to help you with that.
This Week’s Tavern Brawl Was a Bumpy Ride
Blizzard has been running into some Tavern Brawl issues recently, with Captain Blackheart’s Treasure clogging the wheels so much that it had to be taken down. This week wasn’t very different since Decks Assemble was so buggy that Blizzard had to take it down for a few hours. At least at the end they managed to get the same one up and we didn’t end up with Webspinners, again. Blizzard even apologized for the issues and hopes that this won’t happen again. The Brawl itself was a very interesting and challenging one with a very high level of complexity. For the first time in Brawl history, Blizzard had help bubbles popping up turn after turn to help players figure out how to play the Brawl.
The way the Brawl worked was an exercise in deckbuilding since you started with a preconstructed deck that changed depending on what cards you played each time. Each turn, you got to pick a card through the Discover mechanic. When you played a card, you got an extra copy of that card in your deck, and each turn you got 4 brand new cards from your deck. As you can guess, if you decided to play the Brawl seriously, there was a lot of thinking and strategizing going on as you had to balance the needs of the current turn with the needs of future turns. Personally I enjoyed the Brawl, even though it was a bit on the long side, and hope to see more similar crazy ideas from Blizzard. After all, that’s the purpose of the Brawl mode.
How to Counter Aggro Decks
For many playing Ladder, Aggro decks can be a quite a pain. As this Hearthhead article describes, those who like Control decks got a boost when Reno Jackson was released, but after the Second League of Explorers Wing and cards like Tunnel Trogg and Mounted Raptor, we are back to having plenty of Aggro decks on ladder. While some of the newer LoE cards, like Entomb and Naga Sea Witch, might help Control rise once more, for the time being Aggro continues to be an issue. The short video below has some tips on how to counter Aggro decks, so enjoy.
Latest Patch (4.1.0) Has Plenty of Cool Stuff
The latest Hearthstone Patch is live, and it includes plenty of little cosmetic things as well as some changes on card texts. First of all we have evidence of the upcoming Winter Veil Event, Blizzard’s way of celebrating the season by turning most game boards winter-y, giving us a special Tavern Brawl called Gift Exchange (the text is “Great Father is dropping crates on the battlefield! Get a gift each time you smash your opponent’s crate…or your own!), special winter-y emotes, a preview of the upcoming card backs for the next three months, and much more.
All of these changes should be pretty fun and should help make playing Hearthstone in the winter a little bit more special. There are also references to future Tavern Brawls that you can check out by going here. We’ve also had some Card Changes for the sake of consistency, with the word ‘Whenever’ being replaced with ‘After’ in Fan of Knives, Ship’s Cannon, and Djinni of Zephyrs, and some other changes that you can check out here.
December 2015 Ranked Play Season
December’s Ranked Play Season is upon us, and it’s a Shaman month! If you reach Rank 20, you’ll get the Shaman Thrall Card back, which looks pretty cool (especially since I’m a mostly Shaman player). I wonder if Blizzard knew that December would be Shaman month because of the rise of Aggro Shaman that’s been devastating on the Ladder. No idea if it’s planned or a coincidence, but I’m glad to see Shaman getting some card back love.
Hearthstone Producer Admits Nerfing Will Never End
Production Director Jason Chayes recently declared the self-evident by saying that he’s a 100% sure there’ll be more nerfs in the future of the game. While Blizzard has been notoriously hesitant to nerf cards, it’s hard to imagine a future where no nerfs are required. Nerfing is pretty hard to get right because the developers will often hear it from both sides; those unhappy that the card is weaker and those unhappy that there are any changes at all. As Chayes points out, having a digital game like Hearthstone that’s so popular, weaknesses and exploits surface very quickly, which makes nerfs inevitable. While Chayes said that they won’t nerf cards unless they absolutely have to from here on, it’s hard to imagine a future where the nerf hammer doesn’t occasionally drop. Chayes even said that there’s a couple of cards that are candidates for nerfing, although he wouldn’t say which ones. I wonder which they might be…
Ben Brode Will Address Text Consistency
As this Hearthhead story points out, there are many Hearthstone players who complain about how some cards lack consistency. For instance Druid of the Claw and Ancient of War have the exact same text but behave in very different ways. This has been an issue for many players, especially those new to the game who expect a card to behave in one way only to see it behave in another. Apparently, Ben Brode, the game’s Lead Designer, plans on doing a video soon explaining the current philosophy and how it might change.
— Ben Brode (@bbrode) December 1, 2015
The BlizzCon Awards: Best World Championship 2015 Stories
The 2015 World Championship was a great success, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. GosuGamers‘ writer Nydra did too, so he collected the best stories from the 2015 WC. We have the best match award for (of course) ThijsNL vs Ostkaka, the Play of the tournament for Ostaka’s self-ping that helped him avoid ThijsNL’s lethal for one more turn, the “RNGesus Saves" award for Hotform vs Kno, the biggest disappointment award (sorry North America), and many more. Go here to check them out; they are really fun and give you a pretty good idea regarding Hearthstone‘s potential as an esport.
Pros Talk League of Explorers
Since we are more than halfway through the League of Explorers, SK Gaming decided to ask a few Hearthstone pros what they think about the Adventure so far. When it comes to the Discover mechanic, MartinCreek and Spo have grown to like it and think that it will be pretty important for the pro scene and should help have a more stable and solid deck-building process. The classes that have come ahead so far are Priest (because of Entomb) and Shaman, and their favorite cards so far are Desert Camel, Unearthed Raptor, Djinni of Zephyr, the Eerie Statue and, of course, Reno Jackson.
They feel that Brann Bronzebeard has made Warlocks with HeaIbot or Twilight Drake/Guardian pretty OP. They don’t see Murloc decks becoming a thing, and don’t believe that Beast Hunter or Beast Druid will become strong decks. Overall, some interesting insights and another sign that this Adventure has been received quite well.
Brainstorming With Sir Finley
TempoStorm has a good article on Sir Finley Mrrgglton, which the writer expects to see in competitive play. This in-depth analysis of the card talks about how the card’s stat are pretty good for its cost, which is a big factor when deciding whether a card will see constructed play. Also, Finley benefits a lot from being a Murloc because of all the possible synergies that go with that tribe. The card’s effect is what makes it a truly unique card because of the control you have over which Hero Power to get.
And if you pick the right Hero Power, you’ll get plenty of return from this little guy, especially if you play him on turn 1. The big question is where does this card fit. Because of its mana cost, it’s probably more of an Aggro deck card and should do well in Murloc aggro decks. The writer of the article says he does think that Finley will find a place in Aggro decks though not necessarily in Murloc Shaman deck.
Invited Players for Insomnia Truesilver Championship Announced
Eight of the best Hearthstone players will join the qualifier winners in the Insomnia Truesilver Championship this week, among them ThijsNL, AKA Wonder, Lifecoach, Kolento, Trump, Xixo, Kranich, and Rdu, a pretty good group of players that should give us some great matches. The tournament will run between the 11th and the 13th, and will be live on the Hearthstone Twitch channel.
Celestial Invitational 9-deck Tournament Gave Us a Very Diverse Meta
While Celestial Championship Series looked like any other tournament, this Gosugamers story shows how because of the series’ rules, we got an amazing variety of decks. In CCS players brought 9 decks, and they had to split them in three equal parts for their round robin opponents. Then they had to use the same decks for the playoffs stage, announcing in advance their line-ups for quarter, semi, and grand-finals. While this system is often used in Chinese tournaments, this was the first time we say it in the west, and the results were great.
The series’ rules along with the new League of Explorers cards have done a lot to diversify the meta. We actually ended up seeing 28 different archetypes across all nine classes with Combo Druid still remaining the primary Druid deck, Mage and Warlock continuing to be very diverse, Rogue having three archetypes (who knew!), and more. Aggro Shaman is, of course, a thing, and Paladins are getting highlander-style control decks. Fun times for competitive Hearthstone, I think.
We officially live in fantasy land, ladies and gents. According to this week’s Tempostorm Meta Snapshot, Shaman has reached Tier 1, Rank 1. Yes, you’ve read correctly, Aggro Shaman has overtaken every other deck and is sitting nicely at the top of the heap. Unless a direct counter appears, Aggro Shaman could very well be the King of the Meta after LoE‘s release. Of course, this Aggro deck is aided by the fact that we are in the first week of the Ladder month, also known as ‘get your Aggro decks going’ week.
Malylock and RenoLock are also strong decks still (holding the top two ranks in Tier 2), but Zoo decks have fallen because they can’t keep up with aggressive decks. It’s great to see that almost every class has a Tier 1 or Tier 2 deck outside Hunter, which bodes well for the health of the game and also, more importantly for me, for the fun of the game; I like being able to play different classes and still know that I might actually do well.
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