Welcome everyone to Touchstone Tavern, TouchArcade’s weekly roundup of the best stories and videos from the world of Hearthstone (Free). Just like every week for the last many, many months, this week we gathered all the news of the last seven days in a single article so it’s easier to get a good sense of the state of the Hearthstone universe. While usually we have all kinds of diverse stories, this week the news was, unsurprisingly, all about the upcoming expansion, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. And speaking of the expansion, Blizzard gave us a present to give you all of you: three brand new cards from Mean Streets, and they are all about conditional Charge. In addition to our card reveal, there’s also all kinds of news from BlizzCon, various opinions on what the expansion is bringing to the game, tournament news, and, of course, many card review videos. So, a pretty full and exciting week. Let us begin.
We’ve been seeing more and more cards from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan throughout the past week, and today is TouchArcade’s turn to join the reveal party with three thematically very cool cards. The cards are Spiked Hogrider, Tanaris Hogchopper, and Leatherclad Hogleader, and even if we hadn’t included the screenshots below, you could probably guess that these three are members of a biker gang. I’m not surprised the developers wanted to have a biker gang in the expansion because thematically, bikers fit perfectly with the rest of the members of Gadgetzan’s rough gangs. Personally, I especially like the huge Spiked Hogrider on that tiny little bike, although I also like Hogchopper’s gun with a scope that has its own scope.
Looks won’t be why you might pick these guys for your deck, of course; what makes them intriguing is their Battlecries, which all have Charge but under specific conditions. For their Charge to activate upon playing them, your opponent needs to either have no cards in hand, have six or more cards in hand, or have a Taunt minion. Charge has always been a pain for the developers to balance, and we’ve seen that in how often Charge cards get nerfed. Very recently we saw Charge nerfed to only attack minions, and that change reminded players that Blizzard doesn’t like huge OTK combos where you buff up a minion (or many) and then have them charge for 30 plus damage (looking at you, Raging Worgen).
The developers actually like Charge as an ability, since it’s a cool way to gain tempo advantage, but the OTK instances don’t agree with their overall philosophy. So, they’ve decided to give us more conditional Charge cards to see if this type of Charge is more in line with how they want the game to play. This is pretty much like when they introduced the Discover mechanic to see if controlled RNG would be better for the game. I like the idea of conditional Charge cards overall, although whether these specific ones will see play is a whole different story, especially since they are on the slow side. If the meta ends up being Taunt-heavy – and there are a lot of Taunt cards coming in Mean Streets – then Hogrider might be a way to break through. The other two might end up being too conditional to play.
Regardless of whether we see this biker gang played or not, I always like to see new design spaces explored. The developers are willing to develop more conditional Charge cards if these ones are well received, and I hope we get more cards like these ones in the future because this is a very fun design space to explore.
TouchArcade BlizzCon 2016 Interview
While at BlizzCon, I got a chance to interview Mike Donais and Yong Woo regarding the latest expansion and the game in general. Although time was limited, I managed to get some interesting tidbits about how they see the latest expansion and the game’s current direction. They talked about how they wanted to continue giving deckbuilders different possibilities, and they brought up Priest as an example. They see Priest going three ways after Mean Streets: Dragon Priest, Tricky Priest (which uses cards like Potion of Madness and Shrinking Potion), and a Kazakus Priest deck. They also believe that AOE cards like Dragonfire Potion and Madness Potion should help the game shift away from the current dominance of play-on-curve decks (which Donais agreed aren’t the most skill-testing ones).
As for the Tri-Class cards, the developers were worried that mixing up the classes could mess up class identity, but they feel that because of Standard, they can go ahead and mix up the classes temporarily. We won’t be seeing more class-mixing than this apparently, so forget two-class decks. There was also talk about Heroic Brawl, iOS improvements, and more, so check out the whole interview here.
BlizzCon Hearthstone Q&A Offered Interesting Arena Insights
The Q&A with the Hearthstone team at BlizzCon was entertaining as always, but there was also some interesting information revealed, especially in terms of future Arena plans. The developers said they are working on infrastructure that will allow them to dictate how often a specific card appears or ensure that when you pick one card, you’ll get the option of picking a card the synergizes well with that one . They also said they if you pick let’s say a Murloc, you’ll get many more Murlocs to pick from. Keep in mind that this infrastructure is still a work in progress, so it won’t be coming soon. They also talked about the issues with Ladder and the stars that carry over each month as well as their current and future release schedule. Read all about this here.
Inside the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
The official Hearthstone page gave us a fun insight look at the lore of Gadgetzan as it’s been reimagined for this expansion. The story goes through how Gadgetzan became a bustling port town and how that led to its “unfortunate occupation" by some unsavory elements, the crime families at the center of the new expansion. There’s also a description of each of the crime families along with the Tri-Class cards. While by now we know more information about the expansion, this is still a fun way to get into the spirit of Mean Streets. You can read all about the expansion here as well, and there’s also another story that’s all about the first of the families, the Grimy Goons, so go check them out, too.
Mean Streets Concept Art
If you enjoy seeing the art behind the product, check out this story about Mean Street’s art. You can see art by Rafael Zanchetin, Jim Nelson, and Mike Azevedo, and it’s pretty cool. Go see how Talan and Alley Armorsmith came to life. Personally, I enjoy seeing art concepts behind games and figuring out what made it and what didn’t, and Mean Streets has some fantastic art.
Mean Streets Pre-Purchase Bundle
If you, like me and many others, want to get a good head start with Mean Streets, you can grab the pre-order deal that Blizzard has been doing with previous expansions. You can buy 50 Packs for $49.99, a very good deal if you’re willing to put money into the game. The deal will be around until just before the expansion comes out in early December, so don’t wait too long if you’re planning on grabbing the bundle. You can buy it here.
Hands-on With Mean Streets
The writer of this story talks about her first experience with the new expansion, and the bottom line is that these new cards will change the way you play the game. She sees the new Tri-Class Discover mechanic as game-changing because you can draw cards that can really pull the class you’re playing out of trouble since you can get tools that weren’t in your class on purpose. She also talks about specific Priest cards and how they “should" lift the class up when Mean Streets hits. You can read the whole story here.
Mean Streets Will Attempt to Fix Priest
This story focuses on what Mean Streets will hopefully do for Priest, admittedly Hearthstone‘s worst class for some time now. Using the almost complete lack of any Priest decks during the World Championship as evidence, the writer argues that Priest has been in the worst place it’s been for some time now. The reasons? Primarily the hero power, which is slow and ineffective compared to the other hero powers, as well as mediocre cards in recent expansions and adventures.
Hopefully, we are now heading for a time when Priest will be once more playable – if not very powerful – because of the introduction of cards like Drakonid Operative, Dragonfire Potion, Potion of Madness, and in general almost all the Priest cards revealed so far. Tri-Class cards should also help Priest since they’ll allow for Priest players to discover strong Mage spells for instance. Do you think it’s time for Priest to rise again?
Mean Streets and the Meta
What will the new expansion mean for the Hearthstone meta? That’s the question this story seeks to answer, although it’s hard to do so before we even know what the new cards are let alone how they play. The writer expects to see faster decks once the expansion hits because of all the cheap legendaries we’re getting like Kazakus. He sees the focus on cheaper, faster legendaries as evidence that Blizzard is trying to speed up the game, especially considering how much the game slowed down after Whispers and Karazhan. Paladins seem to be getting big buffs, and he suspects the class might become the premier aggro archetype. We’ll also see more flexibility because of all the new Discover cards. He sees these cards as a sign that Blizzard wants players to become adaptable. Finally, he sees Priest as finally becoming a good class to play with.
Mean Streets Will Finally Offer Counters to Aggro Decks
If you believe that Mean Streets will offer some good counters to Aggro decks, this writer agrees with you. He sees the game as typically favoring aggressive decks, and even though there was a moment where aggro was getting under control, some important cards were cycled out (Healbots, etc) and we went back to aggro. Now he sees cards like Mistress of Mixtures, whose Deathrattle restores 4 Health to both players, Second-Rate Bruiser, Fel Orc Soulfiend, and Dragonfire Potion as the cards that will help take aggro decks down a notch. Go here to read the explanation behind those picks.
Iksar Sees Patches Deck as the Hardest Deck to Play
The very cool Patches the Pirate Legendary has gotten quite a lot of attention because everyone loves pirates. Don’t get too excited, though, because in this interview Iksar points out that a strong Patches deck is actually the hardest deck he’s played this last year. It takes a lot of thinking to get it right. No matter what, if I get my hands on that unwashed swashbuckler, I’m making a deck immediately. Is this a card you’re excited about, or are you not into pirates?
The New World Champion is Pavel
At the end of a very entertaining World Championship – and one that generated all kinds of talk on the role of RNG in the game – Pavel rose to the top. Defeating Dr. Hippi 4-2 in the final, he defied all those who saw him as an underdog and got to pocket quite a chunk of change along with the title. If you want to see all the decklists as well as some interesting stat on class win rates, go here.
Red Bull Team Brawl Returns Next Weekend
If you want to watch a fun tournament, tune in on November 18th and 19th to watch four teams of three take a 240-card pool, build one deck for each of the three members of the team, and then take on their rivals. When a deck wins, it’s removed from play and the match continues until one team has won a game with all its decks. And to make it more fun, all players will be wearing microphones, so expect to hear all kinds of crazy things. The teams taking part are Tempo Storm, Team Liquid, Team Kibler, and Cloud9. Go here for more details on this very entertaining tournament.
ATLC 2 Qualifiers Took Place This Week
The original Archon Team League Championship was a fantastic tournament, drawing great viewership and giving out $250,000 in prizes. When Amaz announced he was leaving Team Archon, many thought that we wouldn’t see another ATLC since he was the one primarily behind organizing the tournament. Then out of nowhere, ATLC 2 – which is now Amaz Team League Championships – popped up on Kickstarter. The funding goal was a bit over 200 hundred thousand dollars, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to make the funding goal (many stories have been written that the Kickstarter is canceled, but as far as I can see it’s still live).
— Amaz (@Amaz) November 12, 2016
This week we had Week 1 of ATLC 2 Qualifiers, and you can see the results above. Week 2 qualifiers will take place November 17-18 at 10AM PST, so tune in if you want to catch some fun matches just before Mean Streets releases and changes the meta completely.
Trump Reviews Mean Streets #1
Trump Reviews Mean Streets #2
Trump Reviews Mean Streets #3
Kripp Reviews mean Streets #1
Kripp Reviews Mean Streets #2
Kibler Reviews Mean Streets #1
Kibler Reviews Mean Streets #2
Kripp on the Grimestreet Hold Mechanic
Noxious Talks Grimestreet Boys
Legendary Madam Goya Reveal
First Thoughts on Mean Streets
Mechanics that Didn’t Make it Into the Game
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, so check out our guides.