It is not a rare sight to see competitive players complain about the ladder system in Hearthstone: it happens at the end of every season as the competition for those coveted top 100 spots is fierce, and perceived to be in in a large part a matter of luck in addition to skill.
In this post, I will examine the current ladder system, showcase why it is fundamentally broken for this particular environment, and propose an alternative model that could be used to fix it.
Dreamhack Summer 2016 Hearthstone Grand Prix, a huge 200-player open Swiss tournament, was played a week ago and broadcasted on Twitch. While the overall arrangements of the tournament were fairly good, the broadcast of the tournament was not exactly the epitome of hype and excitement. Typical breaks between matches lasted for 20-30 minutes with no content whatsoever.
Why does this happen and is there something that can be done about it to improve the broadcasts? The general consensus at the Dreamhack venue seemed to be that if the organizers had just thrown in a bunch of player interviews, everything would have been fine. I believe the situation is a bit more complicated than that though.
Recent days have seen quite some debate on the income available to players and teams from professional Hearthstone: Hearthlytics disbanded despite a competitive roster as they were not able to make ends meet and Orange left Archon as he wanted to take a different direction than the team – something generally interpreted as meaning that Orange wants to focus on competitive play and Archon has become more and more of a streaming organization as of late.
This is not new: Reynad has led Tempo Storm to the direction of streaming and content creation for a good while already, and after Ostkaka won Blizzcon in 2015 there were several discussions where people wondered why he was not making the most out of his win by streaming a lot to generate a steady source of income. Streaming, not competition, has been recognized as the most steady source of income available in professional Hearthstone.
Chillmaw received a mixed reception during its introduction in Hearthstone’s The Grand Tournament (TGT) expansion in autumn 2015. A card designed to challenge Patron Warrior as a seven mana 6/6 dragon with a deathrattle to deal three damage to all minions if you are holding a dragon, it saw modest play in Dragon Priest and even many Dragon Priest lists chose to not run it.
Let’s face it, Chillmaw is not a fancy legendary when compared to the dragon powerhouses such as Chromaggus, Nefarian, or Ysera. However, it seems to always find a spot in all dragon decks I build, whether Priest, Druid, or Warrior. It is also the card that I get the most inquiries about replacing – people are generally unwilling to craft Chillmaw as it does not do anything fancy at first sight.
Perhaps people should be more enthusiastic about crafting Chillmaw though, especially now with the Standard format making it more powerful than ever. Let’s take a deeper look.
The new Warrior class legendary introduced in the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, Malkorok, has received a mixed reception. It has seen some play in both Tempo Warrior and Control Warrior, but many people also avoid the card.
Let’s take a closer look at this seven mana, 6/5 minion that also equips a random weapon for you.
With the release of Whispers of the Old Gods expansion and the associated Standard format approaching, there were many questions about the viability of Zoo in the new meta. Zoo was going to lose a number of its best cards, such as Haunted Creeper, Nerubian Egg, and Loatheb, and with all those sticky options gone, would a board-control based strategy still be strong?
As it turns out, yes, it is still strong. In fact, it is scary strong.
When Blizzard announced that they would introduce rotating formats to Hearthstone, they also remarked that Basic and Classic cards would remain playable in the upcoming Standard format that otherwise rotates card sets out on annual basis. In order to achieve this, there would be changes – in practice, nerfs.
Aggro Shaman, or Face Shaman, is one of the most recent deck archetypes introduced into Hearthstone. While it traces its roots to Mech Shaman, it was the League of Explorers and especially the Tunnel Trogg that was released in it that gave life to this highly aggressive deck.
The early story of Aggro Shaman was covered on Liquidhearth when it was brand new, but it has since evolved, especially so in the past few weeks, so it is a good time to take a look at this cheap and effective deck.
When the deck was covered on Liquidhearth, builds still had two distinct directions. Luffy’s Overload style and Reynad’s more mech-based approach. In the next few weeks after the article, Luffy’s core emerged victorious as a faster and more stable variant.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play collectible card game. If that sounds strange, collectible card games are known to cost a ton to play, after all, it kind of is. Hearthstone does live up to its name in the sense that if you play a lot, you can actually unlock everything in the game for free and even have a full collection.
Typically collecting cards for free involves becoming a good Arena player and playing Arena a lot for the rewards as other means of collecting in-game gold and cards are rather slow. However, you really need to be a good player to benefit from Arena, as with mediocre performances you are better off simply buying card packs instead of Arena access with your in-game gold.
So, let’s say you want to improve your card collection a bit faster or just don’t have the time or dedication to grind for everything – games are played for fun, after all, and if you have the means to have fun faster, why not go for it. You are probably still interested in getting a good deal though, so what is the best way to spend real money on Hearthstone?
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.