Going Rogue: Oil, Miracle, and Malygos

Rogue is a peculiar class in Hearthstone. It has never really been a mainstream class – the closest it got was pre-nerf Miracle Rogue – but even then its representation was not representative of its power level.

The old Miracle Rogue died in two hits. First with the Leeroy Jenkins nerf from four mana to five in September 2014 and then the Gadgetzan Auctioneer nerf from five mana to six a couple of months later. All that was left was the ever-green balancing meme from Blizzard’s announcement:

“Leeroy Jenkins created a strategy that revolved around trying to defeat your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. Fighting for board control and battles between minions make an overall game of Hearthstone more fun and compelling, but taking 20+ damage in one turn is not particularly fun or interactive.” Source

Throughout all this time, however, Rogue has remained viable and enthusiasts insist on playing it both on ladder and in tournaments. The latest successful example is Dog’s second-place finish in the Insomnia57 Truesilver Championship. Rogue was also part of Amnesiac’s lineup in his first-place finish in the Americas Winter Championships 2016, part of lineups of both Orange (winner) and SuperJJ (second place) at Dreamhack Leipzig in January 2016 as well as part of Ostkaka’s World Championship winning lineup at Blizzcon 2015. Clearly podium finishes are not strange for the class.

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Possessed Villager, the Argent Squire of Whispers of the Old Gods

Possessed VillagerI have written before about the multitude of deathrattle minions that will be leaving the Hearthstone Standard format upon the release of Whispers of the Old Gods expansion. Two days ago one of the replacement cards was announced: Possessed Villager, a Warlock class card one mana 1/1 minion with a deathrattle to summon another 1/1 minion.

As sticky boards have proven to be a formidable asset in Hearthstone, any cards with summon effects as their deathrattle are highly interesting. So, how good is the Possessed Villager?

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The Many Varieties of Zoolock

The many varieties of ZoolockThe Warlock Zoo deck is a combination of three elements. First are the efficient minions to claim the board. Second are the buffs which enable trades. Finally is the Warlock Hero Power to keep the engine running.

The Zoo concept that will never be completely out of fashion. Playing more cards than your opponent always creates opportunities and the Warlock Hero Power is ideal to support such a game plan. Zoo decks existed in Hearthstone already before the first expansion – and while the Shieldbearers, Shattered Sun Clerics, and Harvest Golems were replaced – the archetype itself is still alive and kicking.

The fortunes of Zoo have varied, but it has always been present. Right now, Zoo is living its golden age, and is one of the strongest decks for many players. Both Midrange Druid and Secret Paladin are weak to an aggressive board control strategy. Given the popularity of these decks there is plenty of prey for Zoo to hunt. The Druid population also keeps the greatest nemesis of Zoo, Freeze Mage, at bay.

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Is G2 Esports the only real team in Hearthstone?

Teams in HearthstoneSomething new to Hearthstone happened in the recent Curse Trials tournament that really caught my eye. G2 Esports (Lifecoach, RDU, Thijs) had spent time creating and testing decks together and they all brought the same lineup to the tournament, much like teams in Magic do (for example, think ChannelFireball, Face-to-Face Games, and East West Bowl in the Pro Tour Gate of the Oathwatch recently). This had not happened in Hearthstone before, but it is interesting to speculate whether this kind of team environment could become commonplace.

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Flame Juggler: The sleeper star of The Grand Tournament (Hearthstone TGT)

Flame JugglerWith the Standard format fast approaching, it will soon be time to re-evaluate some of the established truths and choices when it comes to selecting cards for Hearthstone decks. However, there are some cards that are already great when used properly, but that do not receive the appreciation they deserve – much to the delight of the few players who have realized their power.

One such card is the Flame Juggler.

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The Curse Trials was not Standard format Hearthstone, but can we learn something anyway?

Curse Trials Class distribution overallAn invitational tournament that was widely characterized as the first Hearthstone tournament to use the Standard format, Curse Trials, was played out over the past three days.

Now, the big caveat here is that Curse Trials had very little to do with Standard: it was the current card pool with Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes banned. So, it was trying to emulate Standard by banning the cards that will rotate out of Standard with the next expansion while not incorporating the upcoming changes to cards that will stay nor, obviously, having access to the spring 2016 expansion that will be part of the first Standard rotation.

Nonetheless, maybe we can learn something from the tournament. Let’s dig deeper into the lineups and their performance to see what we can find.

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Netdecking is good for Hearthstone and good for competition

Netdecking is good for Hearthstone and good for competitionNetdecking, the practice of finding popular or successful deck lists online and copying them card for card, is a controversial subject. Most people do it, but many people consider it to be bad, whether because of the homogenization of the metagame or because of the perceived lack of deckbuilding skills by people who netdeck.

However, I believe that netdecking and the availability of deck information online is ultimately good for the game as well as good for the competitive environment within the game. Let’s take a deeper look at the effects of netdecking to see why this is the case.

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Lessons to be learned from the 2016 Hearthstone Championship Tour Europe Winter season

HCT_2016_EU_Winter_PreliminariesAt the time I’m writing this, the 2016 European Winter Preliminaries are currently underway to determine the participants for the 2016 European Winter Championships. It has been a long and winding road already, and Blizzard is no doubt working hard to improve their game when it comes to promoting Hearthstone as a top-class esports title.

That said, a lot has happened on the way that should warrant careful examination by Blizzard staff in order to really make Hearthstone a legitimate contender with the level of professionalism associated with such status.

In this post, I will go through some of the glitches that have caught my attention, and that should have caught Blizzard’s attention as well.

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Is Standard the end of sticky minions in Hearthstone?

With the Standard format coming out soon, huge changes are about to take place in the Hearthstone metagame. The first expansions to rotate out, Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes, have been cornerstones of many decks. One notable feature of these expansions has been sticky minions, many of which are thus now about to rotate out of the Standard format.

While the contents of the upcoming spring 2016 expansion are not yet known, it can still be useful to examine what is going out and how it can potentially affect the metagame.

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What is the difference between the Standard format in Hearthstone and Magic?

A new way to playIn the most significant Hearthstone announcement since the release of the game, Blizzard introduced a new way to play, the Standard format, which will take over as the main competitive format for Hearthstone.

This is reminiscent of Magic: The Gathering, in which the main competitive format is also called Standard. Not only is the name the same, but the format itself is in large part copied over from Magic. Given that Magic has been a successful game for decades, this is not necessarily a bad thing!

In this post, I take a look at the Standard format in both Hearthstone and Magic and see what the differences between the two are and why such differences exist.

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