With a couple of weeks under its belt, Hearthstone‘s (Free) Whispers of the Old Gods is already showing the world how it came to change the game for the better, and the consensus is that it has succeeded so far. It’s incredibly fun to see crazy decks on ladder or see cards you barely remember having in your collection rise to some kind of – temporary- prominence. I’ve been enjoying the game a lot these last two weeks because deckbuilding is fun again; I actually feel the deck I’m making might have a chance to do well even though it didn’t come straight from a website. This freshness has definitely rejuvenated the game, and I hope Hearthstone will continue to feel as it does now.
Of course, not every deck is new, with Aggro Shaman ripping the Ladder apart. But hey, you can’t have everything in life. This week we have plenty of news about the impact of the latest expansion as well as tournament news and, finally, a sense of how the meta is shaping up. Let’s begin.
7 Things We Learned From Standard’s First Week
PC Gamer’s Hearthstone expert wrote a story about what he learned from the first week of Whispers and Standard. The first thing he’s learned is that Shaman is really good now, especially because of cards like that lovely 4-mana 7/7 (Flamewreathed Faceless). Shaman isn’t just strong as an Aggro deck but can have viable decks all over the mana curve. For him, Shaman is high on the list of classes that Blizzard should be keeping a close eye on. The second topic he brings up is the Old Gods are working, at least at the moment. He feels that at least one C’Thun deck should end up becoming a strong deck, N’Zoth works well, Yogg-Saron is half-viable because of his inconsistency, and Y’Shaarj seems to be the weakest of them all.
He then goes to talk about Rogue, claiming that while players felt that the huge nerf to Blade Flurry had doomed the class to irrelevancy, it’s actually still pretty strong because of its new Legendary, Xaril, and can create decks with strong board control. The other topics he brings up is that Druid is still much-hated, Patron and Zoo are still viable, and Wild is a pretty scary place where everyone’s decks feel unbeatable. Go here to check out the story.
Zoo Continues to Thrive in Standard
As we talked about last time, Zoo seems to have once more found a house in Standard. While some of its best minions left for Wild (Nerubian Egg, Loatheb, etc), we got cards like Forbidden Ritual and Darkshire Councilman to fill in the gap and once more make the deck one to be wary of. This story goes in depth as to how the various new cards work in Zoo decks and is a must read if you’re planning on playing that deck – or countering it. The story also includes 3 strong examples of Standard Zoo decks and proceeds to offer a good analysis of each of them as well. Check out the whole story (and Zoo) here.
12 Strong Decks for Laddering
If you feel like using some solid decks to navigate the currently-chaotic meta and climb the ladder quickly, check out these 12 decks in this HearthHead story. Most have either reached Legend or jumped plenty of ranks quite quickly. There are decks in here like Thijs’ Reno C’thun, and Amnesiac’s new versions of Handlock and Renolock, Ramp Druid as well as Midrange Tempo Shaman. You can also find other strong decks here like Kolento’s Deathrattle Priest, Trump’s Renounce Darkness 1.1 Warlock, Strifecro’s Reno Mage, Hotform’s Miracle Druid, and a few more strong decks. So, one-stop quality netdecking shop here. Check the decklists here and build accordingly.
Firebat Asks for Improved Esports Communication
Hearthstone is still growing as an esport, and with that growth come a myriad of problems. Firebat, Hearthstone‘s first World Champion, called on Blizzard to help improve communication between players and tournament organizers who promise HCT points. What prompted this outburst was Firebat flying to an event in Brazil only to find out that he was missing points because of the tournament’s finish time. I won’t get into the technicalities of how the system works (you can read it all here), but what is clear is that there’s too much confusion on the competitive side of the game, and that’s definitely hindering the game. Add to this the many complaints pros have about the Hearthstone client (no in-game tournament mode, no delay mode, etc), and it’s easy to see that while Hearthstone is rapidly growing as a game, its esports side still needs work.
Watch Thrall and Rexxar Face Off in this Funny Cartoon
You don’t need a big intro here, but be prepared for silly shenanigans with some well-placed shots at the game’s RNG. Really well made all around.
April 2016 Americas Standard Ranked Play Season
With April being the first month where we got the double-ladder (Wild and Standard), it’s interesting to see who managed to rise to the top. April’s Standard rankings saw NoobOwl get number 1 with ThaLucky1 coming second and Tazmynn third. Muzzy came fifth, Amnesiac tenth, SilentStorm 13 with Phonetap 14, sjow 19, Amaz 22, and TidesofTime 25. So, unlike many other seasons, this time around we got plenty of big names close to the top. Check the full list here.
Firebat Talks Hearthstone Recent Changes
In this HearthHead story, Firebat talks about the recent nerfs, explaining that he thought most of them were pretty good. He likes that they nerfed most hard removal because it was too easily accessible (like BGH) and that kept payers from playing class-specific removal. As for the lack of a Freeze Mage nerf, he feels that the deck was nerfed in a roundabout way because of how many 2 and 3 drops from the new set are much stronger than in the past so Freeze Mage has to sustain much more early pressure than before. And he agrees that Shaman is going to be really strong, both Face and Midrange, but it’s still a bit too early to say how the meta will settle. Read the whole interview here.
Hearthstone‘s Quarterly Revenue Up 20% Just Prior to the Expansion
As this VentureBeat article describes, Activision Blizzard’s Q1 financial results (a period ending on March 31st) show the game’s revenue rose 20% possibly in part because of the Whispers pre-order bundle. While it’s hard to know how much of the rise was due to the WoG bundle, we can say with some certainty that the game is doing quite well and still growing. Read the whole story here.
10 Highest-Earning Players so Far
With Hearthstone becoming a bigger and bigger esport, pro players’ earnings have gone up, but how much are they making? According to this story, the ten highest-earning players have made between $64 thousand and $218 thousand dollars, not a bad haul. Number 10 on the list is StrifeCro, and then come Rdu, LiBo, DawN, Lifecoach, Thijs, Ostkaka, Kolento, Tiddler Celestial, and at number 1 is Firebat. Interesting list, with some surprising inclusions and exclusions. Check out the whole list here.
Confessions of a First-time Caster
Kevin Hovdestad was recently asked to be part of the official commentary team for HCT Americas Winter Preliminary, and he decided to share his experience. He initially talks about how he ended up casting and how though he had no formal casting experience, he had done plenty of public speaking growing up. As for the experience, he talks about the casters’ schedule prior to the tournament and the many hours he spent making notes and studying the players.
Interestingly, despite having access to the actual decklists, he and the rest of the casters didn’t look at them because they didn’t want that knowledge to taint the broadcast or provide information to their opponents. He then talks about how ridiculous the set looks from any perspective that isn’t the camera’s, the immense quantities of free-flowing Red Bull, and more. Check out the story here; it’s pretty cool.
Spring Preliminaries Will Take Place Between May 20-22
Blizzard has announced Hearthstone Championship Tour‘s Spring Preliminary for players across the Americas, with the action starting May 20th. According to the announcement, the winners of the Tavern Hero Qualifiers are going to battle it out on May 20th in the Spring Season Tavern Hero Tournament. The top 32 finishers will then join 128 of the Americas’ top ranked players in the Spring Preliminary on May 21st and 22nd to determine the participants in the Americans Spring Championship and, from there on, a chance to qualify for HCT at BlizzCon 2016. The story includes all the Prelim Locations (which are open to the public) and details on how to watch the matches online. Check out the story and the details here.
StarSeries Season 2 16 Challengers Announced
StarSeries S2, starting May 10th, announced the 16-player roster for its invitational qualifier, and there are some great names involved. On May 10th, sixteen players – including big names such as Amnesiac, StrifeCro, Xixo, Neirea, Purple, Firebat, Rdu, Kranich, and many more – will fight it out and the four winners will join the 12 invitees – among them Kolento, ThijNL, Lifecoach, JAB, Orange, Ostkaka – on May 17th. These are easily the best players currently in the game, so it’s going to be a series to watch for sure.
GosuCup HCT Europe Details Announced
During May, GosuGamers is organizing its GosuCup HCT Europe, which will run every Friday at 17:00 CEST starting May 13th. The tournament uses the Single Elimination Bo5 format, and it should be quite fun because of all the fun decks brought about by Standard. The circuit gives 7 HCT points a week and will be streamed live on GosuGamers Twitch channel.
Meta Report – Aggro Shaman is Killing it
Many pro players were worried that with the new Shaman cards released in WoG and Blizzard’s nerfs, Aggro Shaman was going to have a party, and apparently they were right. As Tempo Storm Snapshot’s points out, the first two weeks of the meta were crazy and surprising (N’Zoth ended up being very strong even though many pros counted that card out). Many undervalued cards are rising to prominence while decks that many thought would’ve been damaged by the loss of core cards (Patron Warrior, Zoolock, and Aggro Paladin) are actually still very strong.
As foretold, Shaman is Rank 1 this week since it was a strong deck prior to Standard and now got such cards as a 4-mana 7/7, which makes it very hard to compete with the deck at that stage of the game. Miracle Rogue, Zoolock, and N’Zoth Paladin round up Tier 1 decks while Tier 2 includes decks such as Patron Warrior, C’Thun Druid, Midrange Hunter, Maly Rogue, Control Warrior and more while Pirate Warrior had boarded Tier 4. Check out all the decks and their matchups here.
Random Moments #21
Kripp’s Gone Wild
Best of Evolve
The Best Double God Deck
Renounce Darkness Funny Moments
The Murloc Apocalypse
One Deck, Four Gods
Kolento’s N’Zoth Priest
Deck of Legends Old Gods Edition
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, although with all the recent changes to the game, we’ll probably be updating our guides.