Welcome to another edition of Touchstone Tavern, our Hearthstone (Free) weekly column where I cover everything and anything that’s happened in the world of our favorite game this week. This week we had plenty of discussions around the game’s development pace, with the developers responding to various player comments. We’ve also started having discussions on a possible Reno Jackson nerf down the line, a sign of how effective that card has been. You’ll also read about possible breakout stars of 2016, the best class cards of 2015, Blizzard’s battle against the ever-present issue of bots, and watch the most entertaining videos of the week. Not the busiest week, but definitely one with plenty of discussions and debates over the state of the game. Let’s start then, shall we?
Ben Brode Talks Content Updates
In a very interesting video, Ben Brode discussed the (welcome) “problem" of working on a game with such a big and pretty devoted following. Among the issues Brode discussed was the importance of underpromising and then overdelivering features, and how the team is constantly working on a variety of features that they don’t announce for a variety of reasons (for instance, those features might end up getting dumped along the way). He acknowledged the importance of developers communicating with the community, but explained how tricky that communication can get. In an interesting note, he pointed out that they’ve been working on Tavern Brawl since before Hearthstone came out of beta. Check out the whole (short) video below.
Is Reno Jackson Destined for a Nerf?
In an interesting article, Hearthhead asks whether we’ll see a Reno nerf down the line. This card has slowed the meta single-handledly and has either become a much-hated or much-loved card. Regardless of which side you fall, it’s hard to deny that Reno has had a major influence on the game since the first week of League of Explorers. While the card seems fine at the moment – the balance between its ability and the way it forces players to sacrifice consistency seems okay – many are suspecting that the card will become broken as more cards are added to the game. With sub-par cards seeing less and less play as better cards enter the game, having a highlander-style deck won’t have many drawbacks.
Reno will be a hard card to nerf because any change in its power will directly affect the card’s identity. If the healing is reduced, he’ll probably see much less play since the deck restrictions won’t be worth it anymore. What do you see in Reno’s future? Is a nerf inevitable, or do you think the restriction of having only one copy of a card in the deck is enough to balance this card for the (foreseeable) future?
Blizzard Continues to Fight Bots
Apparently, many of those players beating you on Hearthstone aren’t even human; the game has a relatively-bad bot infestation, so much so that Blizzard once more talked about its efforts to take bots down. The company announced the other day that it continues to permanently ban accounts found to be using third-party programs that automate gameplay (what used to be called Face Hunter). Secret Paladin bots seem to be quite popular, so keep an eye out if you’re playing that deck. One way to recognize a bot is that it will play at the same pace throughout the game. If you believe you’re facing a bot, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your server, your opponent’s name and your BattleTag.
Six Under the Radar Hearthstone Players to Watch in 2016
PC Gamer put together a list of who it considers will be the six best Hearthstone players of 2016 that not many are talking about. According to the writer of the story, being a top player demands total discipline and dedication as well as some “left-field thinking." Jan ‘SuperJJ’ Janssen is the first to look out for in 2016 since his deckbuilding skills and the way he looks at the game are among the best in the game. Esteban ‘AKAWonder’ Serrano is slowly climbing the pro ranks, and he seems to be very close to breaking through and winning championships.
Victor ‘Vlps’ Lopez might have lost to Hotform at BlizzCon, but he’s done enough to shine in 2015 and should improve in 2016, and Tugay ‘MrYagut’ Evsan’s work ethic and versatility should help him come to the fore this year. Anton ‘Legendaren’ Danielsson has already won a major championship and is the kind of player that will pick a pretty standard deck but pilot it perfectly. Finally, Lan ‘Neilyo’ Tran might be relatively unknown to western audiences, but he’s had a fantastic year. He’s now the undisputed best player in Southeast Asia and uses his many years of studying math to great effect. With some more modesty, Neilyo should shine even more this year.
10 Most Impactful Class Cards of 2015
GosuGamers put together a list of the ten class cards that defined the Hearthstone landscape in 2015, and there are some intriguing choices. The cards in reverse order of importance are Entomb, Quick Shot, Dark Peddler, Wyrmrest Agent, Murloc Knight, Tunnel Trogg, Img Gang Boss, Flamewaker, Darnassus Aspirant, and Mysterious Challenger (with Tomb Pillager and Totem Golem as honorable mentions). Is there any card you think the article missed? Go here to read the justification behind every choice.
Top Decklists of the Week
If you want to up your game, here are the best community and pro player decks for some quality netdecking. You’ll find Bolster Dragon Reno Warriors (yep), OTK Murloc Paladins, Malylock, and even the good old Miracle Rogue.
Blizzard Addresses Communication and Deckslots
In a relatively-extensive article, Hearthhead pulled together the complaints of various Hearthstone players and the responses by the Blizzard development team. This makes for an interesting read as you can see Blizzard’s response to some oft-repeated criticisms from the community. Blizzard’s spokesperson states that the Hearthstone team is actually much smaller than many think, explains the decisions behind which communication avenues the company picks, and then a short clarification about older statements regarding deck slots. A good read, for sure.
This Week’s Tavern Brawl was the Return of Co-Op
Mr. Mechazod came back to visit us this week after his very successful first visit some weeks back but with a slight difference; while the first Co-Op had you playing either a Paladin or a Priest, this week’s Brawl had you playing as a Mage or a Druid. Add to that the addition of LoE cards, and the Brawl felt very different but equally as fun. With Blizzard having another Co-Op week, I think it’s fair to say that the developers feel confident with this mode and we should see it come back in some form or another soon.
Team Celestial’s Decks from Team Story Finals
Team Celestial recently won the Hearthstone Team Story regular season and seems to be in a good position to win the playoffs as well. Team Celestial had a relatively easy path, dropping only three games on its way to winning. As the GosuGamers story notes, Team Celestial was pretty badly beaten in the recent Archon Team League, and this more recent result is a sign that the team has bounced back. The team brought nine decks in this Bo17 tournament, although it only needed to play four of them because of its dominance. Check out all nine decks, ranging from Control to Aggro, here.
Tempostorm’s Beginner’s Guide to the Hearthstone Meta
If you want to up your game, Tempo Storm’s meta guide can help. Tempo Storm has written a breakdown of the four main play styles as a tool for new players trying to understand the basics of the meta and help those players figure out which style suits them. The guides cover Control, Aggro, Combo, and Midrange with both an explanation of the principles behind those styles and also with an explanation of how decks from those styles work. A very good guide that new players should check out.
As for the current state of the meta, not much has changed since last week with decks like Secret Paladin and Mid-Range Druid still working well. Murloc Paladin is still rising as is Murloc Shaman, but I’m not sure how high those two decks will end up going in terms of Tiers. Paladins seem to rule in terms of numbers, and I have to wonder if we’ll see Blizzard doing something about that in the next expansion. The meta is definitely still on the slow side, which is the kind that I like especially when sprinkled with enough viable Aggro decks.
How Good is Curse of Rafaam?
Funny and Lucky Moments #145
Epic Plays #96
Reasons to Play Hearthstone
Kolento Plays OTK Paladin
Best Moments #20
Controlling a Paladin
Three Easy Ways to Win
Stealing the Golden Monkey
Funny and Lucky Moments Best of 2015
20 Damage Mindblast
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.