Developer Comments, ‘Gadgetzan’ Mechanics, Budget Decks, and More ‘Hearthstone’ Weekly News in ‘Touchstone’ #80

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Hello everyone and welcome to our weekly roundup of Hearthstone (Free) news and videos. And it’s the eightieth issue, which means I’ve been doing this for over a year and a half. So, I might just bake a Hearthstone-shaped cake and eat it all by myself. My apologies for last week’s absence, but I had to hop over to Europe for work-related reasons (they had to really twist my arm to do so). This past week was an intriguing one in the world of Hearthstone because we got to hear quite a lot from the game’s developers, both in numerous interviews and in a live Q&A. So, we got to hear about the Gadgetzan design process, ideas regarding how to fix the game’s problems, and much more. In addition to those stories, there’s also tournament talk, the current state of the meta, as well as plenty of entertaining videos and commentary on the developers’ recent ideas. So without further ado, let us walk over the image below and unto the text.

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2017 Hearthstone Wishes

What kind of changes do you want to see in the game this coming year? The writer of this story has quite a list, and it starts with (as expected) a complete Ladder revamp that sees the grind reduced and the matchmaking fixed (among other intriguing ideas). He’s also hoping for better communication from the developers, the Heroic Tavern Brawl made a permanent feature, Standard rotation tweaked with some overplayed cards moving to Wild and some staples of older metas returned to Standard, the client improved, better stat tracking, an Arena practice mode, more regular card releases, pre-built decks for sale, and much more. I like most of the ideas on this list, although I know it would take quite some time for all those to become realities. What’s your 2017 wishlist?


Jade Golem Used to be Very Different

As senior game designer Peter Whalen recently pointed out, Jade Golems used to be quite different earlier in the design process. Apparently, as you played jade cards, they got better. Initially, you had a jade count on your hero and several jade-related cards. So, you could cast a Jade Lightning spell with a damage equal to your current jade count, or summon a number of 1/1 minions, where the number was equal to your jade count, and so on. As you can already see, this mechanic got too complex too quickly, so the developers decided to unify that idea into the Jade Golems we know and love today.


Hunter Class Was Originally in a Different Gadgetzan Gang

Gadgetzan’s gangs were a very smart way of tying the classes together with an interesting narrative twine, but according to this story, Hunters almost missed the Grimy Goons train. Instead of being all goonish, they were almost in the Jade Lotus with Druid and Shaman because they all fit the wild, mystical theme of the gang. However, as the Jade Lotus evolved, their stealthy side become more prominent, which then made the Rogues a much more natural fit than the Hunters. So, we ended with Hunters in the Goons.


Designer Insights Q&A Roundup

Last Friday, we got the long-awaited Designer Insights Q&A with Ben Brode and Dean Ayala, and, as expected, we got some interesting reflections from the developers but no concrete plans for changes. They talked about Patches Pirate decks, of course, and said they are keeping a close eye on them as they are too popular right now, even though the winrate isn’t that fantastic. Add to that how playing against Pirate decks tends to feel the same, and you can see why the deck might be facing changes in the near future. They weren’t surprised about Pirates being as strong as they are, but they were surprised to see those cards end up in Warrior, Rogue, and Shaman decks and still work well.

We also got to hear more about possible ladder changes in the future, with Brode revealing that the team has been considering changes such as setting up breakpoints that will keep players from sliding all the way down the ladder once reached, increasing the number of bonus starts, and more, but nothing concrete came out of that answer. Arena might also be changing to Standard instead of Wild, and the team might rethink the type of cards that appear together since rarity isn’t always a good indicator of power level. The team will also start releasing the top 100 Arena players each month to give Arena players some kind of pride. You can read the whole story here.


Mike Donais on Jade Design, Red Mana Test, and Reno Jackson

It’s been the week of interviews, and in this one, senior designer Mike Donais revealed all kinds of interesting tidbits about Gadgetzan’s design process (and more). He first talks about the technical issues of getting the Jade mechanic right and how that mechanic scared most of the development team because of its potential. He sees Jade control decks as more entertaining than Control Warrior and more skill testing. We shouldn’t expect any more Jade cards in the future, because they came out of the theme of Gadgetzan, but there might be cards in the future that work well with Golems.

Donais then goes on to talk about the Grimy Goons mechanic and how they tried to retain a sense of class identity with Paladin, Warriors, and Hunters despite all of them using the same overall mechanic. As for the Kabal, the potion mechanic was quite different early on, and there was this idea of red mana crystals, a new mechanic that turned your mana crystals red, but that one quickly went out the window. He ends the interview talking about the Reno effect on the various classes and how the Reno Legendaries came about. The interview includes many other interesting information on Gadgetzan, so go check it out here.


Game Not Doing Well, But We May be Getting Answers

This story doesn’t paint a very rosy picture of the game but expresses hope that the team will now start addressing the issues that plague the community. And he does point out that a “terrible" Hearthstone experience is still better than many other games, so take everything comparatively. Despite the game currently having a balanced meta and a Priest class worth playing, it also suffers in terms of how Ranked Ladder plays (grind, short seasons, etc), small number of viable decks, a meta that feels more like rock-paper-scissors than one that depends on player strategy and skill, and a Wild that’s been ignored. The writer also talks about the game’s lack of features – like clans, tournament mode, stat tracker- which has made it feel stale by now, and a new player experience that suffers on all fronts.

He does end on a positive note and the hope that the developers will continue showing a willingness to address these issues as they have done recently. What do you think? Are the concerns valid, is he being unfair to the game, or is the truth somewhere in the middle? I can see where he’s coming from personally, but most of these issues aren’t the kind that one can hastily attempt to fix. For example, Ladder is directly linked to the esports side of the game, so the developers can’t just go in and tamper with the rules to see what works and what doesn’t. Let’s see what the near future brings.


Playing on a Budget

This first of three articles focuses on helping newer (and poorer) players by providing strong budget decks. The first deck consists only of Common or Basic cards, the second version throws in rares, and the third one is top of the line. There’s an Aggro Shaman, a Pirate Warrior, and a Dragon Priest deck for you to try, so if you’re one for netdecking but don’t have all the best legendaries in the game, check out the decklists here.



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Breaking Into the Pro Scene

If you are a really good Hearthstone player and have been considering dipping your toes into the professional scene, here’s an article to help you do so. In the first in a series of articles, the writer explains what HC points are and how to earn some. He goes into detail on the various types of tournaments, how you can participate in them, and what kind of points you can earn in each one. Definitely a good resource if you’re considering going pro (or at least taking a chance).

December 2016 Final American Standard Rankings

If you’re curious who the best in the Americas were during Standard Ranked Play Season 33: Paid in Jade were, here they are. Kolento is number 1, ntR number 2, Georgec and Leoric 3 and 4, and Amnesiac rounds up the top 5. You can check the top 200 players on the American side here and the European ones here.



Hearthstone Championship Tour Winter Championship Goes to the Bahamas

When I first heard that the HCT Winter Championship would be making a trip to Bahamas, I briefly felt pangs of envy, only to quickly remember that those players will spend the majority of their time locked up in a room instead of out enjoying the sun. The 16-player tournament will take place March 23-26 and will bring together the top four players of each of the four regions. The tournament will use the best-of-seven Conquest format, with the top two players of each of four groups feeding into a single elimination bracket. The overall prize pool is $250,000, and the winner gets $60,000. I hope we see some very entertaining matches

Meta Report

As the Vicious Syndicate meta report points out, the meta seems quite frozen at this point, and there’s isn’t much variety within classes. There’s class diversity but not much strategic diversity, which is a complaint I’ve seen circulate the internet recently. If you’re playing Ladder right now, you’ll face five decks with varying frequency depending on the Ladder level. Shaman and Warrior have dipped a bit, but the writer points out that the drop has more to do with being early in the season rather than a change in the meta. Rogue is going strong but might not last, and Patches classes are still doing well. Reno Priest is still not refined enough to be a major threat, and Paladin and Hunter are doing as poorly as you’d expect. Druids aren’t doing that great either since Jade Golems ended up being better with Pirates in Shaman.

Pirate Warrior is still Tier 1 – having adjusted to the decks trying to counter it – Aggro Shaman is seeing more play than Midrange Shaman, and Control Warrior is great overall but has some really bad matchups. In the higher ranks, Aggro Shaman, Pirate Warrior, Miracle Rogue, Reno Warlock, and Reno Mage dominate, with Miracle Rogue and Reno Warlock losing more often to the other strong decks. The meta report has a ton of extra information (which you could study for days), so go check it out here.



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Kripp on Rank 20 Experience

Best RNG Moments #10

Best of Evolve

Epic Dirty Rat


WTF Moments #50

Best of Calculations and Finding Lethals

Best of Shaku, the Collector

Trolden’s Funny and Lucky Moments #211

Is Face Hunter Back?

Spot the Lethal

Are Dragons OP?



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.  

Hearthstone Beginners’ Guide

Hearthstone Deck-building Guide




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