Hearthstone balance changes for February 2017

With the Hearthstone metagame dominated by Shaman and Pirate Warrior for an extended period of time, balance changes were expected. Now, Blizzard has finally announced the upcoming changes, of which there are only two: changes to Spirit Claws and Small-Time Buccaneer. How will they affect the metagame?

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Will ranked play floors save the Hearthstone ladder?

In an announcement yesterday, Blizzard revealed an upcoming change to the Hearthstone ladder system. Alas, it was not longer seasons or new matchmaking, but new ranked play floors. What are they and how will they affect the Hearthstone ladder?

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Hearthstone 2017 HCT Europe Winter Playoffs – what progress has been made in a year?

One year ago, I examined the 2016 Hearthstone Championship Tour Europe Winter season on this blog. Back then, there were several lessons to be learned. Now with the Hearthstone 2017 HCT Europe Winter Playoffs just finished, it is a good time to take a look at what was discussed one year ago and compare it to how this tournament went.

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There are not enough worthwhile games in Hearthstone ladder

Lately, I have been losing my drive to play Hearthstone despite the new expansion and the interesting changes to the metagame that it has brought with it. I have reflected on this quite a bit and can clearly identify why I find it so hard to find the motivation to play, and the reason is the ladder system.

In this post, I will first elaborate on my personal experience on the ladder system and then move on to a more general level to see how the issues affect many kinds of players.

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Heroic Tavern Brawl – more gambling than competition

heroic-tavern-brawl

Yesterday, on 17th October 2016, Blizzard announced a different type of Tavern Brawl. While Tavern Brawl has usually been a casual experience with a special set of rules that rewards the players who win a game in it with one pack of cards each week, the Heroic Tavern Brawl running for the next week is a different type of experience.

In the announcement, Blizzard describes that the “Heroic Brawl is not for the faint of heart, and is a unique experience meant for the extremely competitive and experienced Hearthstone player” and that they “hope that our Heroic Brawl scratches the competitive itch of the players looking for a high risk, high reward experience.”

Let’s take a look at Heroic Tavern Brawl and see how competitive it really is.

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The 10 best digital card designs in Hearthstone

Hearthstone has been through a lot in the past couple of years. It finally gave rise to true digitalization of collectible card games, a market that has already surpassed physical collectible card games. At times Hearthstone has went overboard in using randomness enabled by the digital nature of the game, but there are also many examples of great digital card design in the game.

In this post, I’ll take a look at the best designs made possible, or at least significantly more convenient, by the digital nature of the game.

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Does Blizzard have what it takes to make Hearthstone a good competitive card game?

Game balance and card design are obviously key parts of making a good competitive card game, but in this post I will not discuss them. Instead, I want to take a look at processes and scheduling: the hardcore operations side of the equation.

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Review of Hearthstone balance changes for autumn 2016

2016_autumn_balance_yogg-saronIt is an exciting time to be a Hearthstone player. Yesterday, Blizzard announced a number of balance changes that will go live before the Last Call tournament, so we are looking forward to a new metagame in around one week!

The state of the game had become worrying. Yogg-Saron was a dominating force, especially in Druid, and the decks that could truly challenge it, Shaman (actually the most popular class) and Hunter, relied on ending the game before Yogg-Saron’s crippling effect. Warrior was the only truly competitive control deck, as it possessed an abundance of removal tools and the ability to gain a significant amount of armor on top of health, thus effectively having no health cap unlike other classes.

With the upcoming changes, however, hope has by and large been restored, and life looks better again. Let’s take a deeper look into the changes.

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Tinkmaster Overspark – a weapon against inevitability

Tinkmaster OversparkOnce upon a time, in the early days of Hearthstone, Tinkmaster Overspark was a superstar. The Classic set legendary minion that nowadays is a three-cost 3/3 with a battlecry to transform another random minion into a 5/5 Devilsaur or a 1/1 Squirrel (at random) used to have a 2/2 statline but the battlecry effect was targetable. As such, it was generally a superior form of silence.

Then, on 11 March 2014, Tinkmaster Overspark was nerfed to oblivion, or so we all thought. I was actually one of the many players who disenchanted their Tinkmaster Overspark, as it was no longer worth running over a simple silence effect.

However, times change, and with the nuances of the Standard format becoming more clear, Tinkmaster Overspark has already seen a slight return back to the metagame and there is every reason to believe that this gnome will see more play in the near future.

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The Hearthstone ladder is fundamentally broken – and how to fix it

HCT_2016_logoIt 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.

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