Hearthstone in-client tournament mode: an agile approach

Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone is the market-leader in digital collectible card games. In addition to a considerable casual user base, the game is also a popular esports title with several small online tournaments played around the world every day and multiple global live tournaments taking place every month. According to Esports earnings data, the prize money awarded in Hearthstone tournaments is the seventh-largest amongst all esports games.

Despite all of this, the three-and-a-half-year-old game has no in-client competitive play support whatsoever. The developers have expressed interest in adding such support, but according to their latest statements, they are planning a full in-client tournament experience with no estimated completion date.

This seems to contradict all modern software development methodologies. We have agile sprints with new functionality delivered each sprint. We have minimum viable product (MVP) methodologies that identify the essential features and start by delivering those and expanding later. Yet, the development of Hearthstone does not seem to follow such methodologies.

What if it did?

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Hearthstone Americas Spring Playoffs 2017 Top 8 decks, results, and analysis

Hearthstone Americas Spring Playoffs 2017 were played on the weekend to determine America’s participants in the upcoming Spring Championships. The metagame is moving with every tournament, and that applied to this tournament as well.

In this post, I will take a look at the decks and results of the single-elimination playoffs stage (top 8), including class distribution, archetypes, archetype performance, and ban decisions.

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Hearthstone EU Spring Playoffs 2017 Top 8 decks, results, and analysis

Hearthstone Europe Spring Playoffs 2017 were played last weekend to determine Europe’s participants in the upcoming Spring Championships. The metagame is moving with every tournament, and that applied to this tournament as well.

In this post, I will take a look at the decks and results of the single-elimination playoffs stage (top 8), including class distribution, archetypes, archetype performance, and ban decisions.

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Hearthstone CN vs EU 2017 Top 8 decks, results, and analysis

Hearthstone China versus Europe Championship 2017 was played over the past two weeks, and what a tournament it was! Top-level players and lots of good games.

In this post, I will take a look at the decks and results of the playoffs stage (top 8), including class distribution, archetypes, archetype performance, and ban decisions.

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Broadcasting Hearthstone: Lessons from EU vs CN 2017

The annual EU vs CN invitational tournament is underway in China with a number of Europe’s and China’s best Hearthstone players competing for a huge grand prize.

Fitting the level of play, the production value of the tournament has far surpassed its Western counterparts, and features a number of spectator-friendly elements that I can only hope other broadcasters will take note of.

In this blog post, I will take a look at all the little details in the broadcasts. All images are from the official stream, and are used under fair use for discussion purposes.

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Dreamhack Austin 2017 Hearthstone Top 16 decks and analysis

The first major open Hearthstone Journey to Un’Goro tournament took place at Dreamhack Austin. With more than 200 players, including known pro players from around the world, competing over nine rounds of Swiss followed by top 16 playoffs, this tournament really put the meta to the test.

Obviously, as this tournament will be heavily analyzed, the meta in the following tournaments will probably look a lot different, but we nonetheless have a nice snapshot of things that work in a tournament environment right now.

Dreamhack published the decklists of the top 16 players – here they are, if you are looking for the lists themselves – so it is possible to get started with analysis straight away.

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A deeper look at the Hearthstone Americas Winter Playoffs 2017 tiebreakers

The Swiss portion of Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) 2017 Americas Winter Playoffs was played yesterday, and the drama in the Hearthstone community over the Swiss format continues. Let’s take a deeper look at the tiebreakers and how different formats can change the results.

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What is the most fair and exciting Swiss format for Hearthstone?

For the 2017 season, the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) switched to Swiss format. While this change was requested by many players during the previous seasons, the implementation elicited a bunch of criticism. To be honest, I do not think it was as bad as the loudest critics said, but I think a proper examination into a fair and exciting Swiss tournament format for Hearthstone is warranted.

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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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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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