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Hearthstone Players!

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07 Feb 2019 17:25 #291799 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Hearthstone Players!
There are two Hero Power issues that influence minions, one more germane to Kibler's style of play. Lifetap means Warlock will crush in a Control game, the card advantage is just too much. How many MtG players would have liked to have Necropotence in play all the time? Firebat has pointed out that Hunter also suffers poor minion quality, especially in the early game, because their Hero Power would just win them the game in any game where they curve out efficiently. We actually have plenty of evidence of this.

Given all this Hunter, I wonder why we aren't seeing more Tar Creeper. That card always spoiled my Midrange plans. It either soaked up a Kill Command or took two hits and probably killed my board. Neither was attractive.

Enough grousing. I played some Reincarnate Shaman in Wild. It's still hilarious. I Devolved some Paladin's uber-Mechan-o-Egg (I think it was like a 6/15 Taunt Divine Shield with all the Magnets he stuck on it). Killed him with a board of five Flamewreathed Faceless and some other junk.

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07 Feb 2019 17:32 #291800 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Hearthstone Players!
I agree with Firebat to a certain degree, but they've taken steps in the last couple years to really address that issue, with the ever-increasing frequency of high quality Beasts that finally forced Hunters into playing one of the themes that the devs always wanted, in addition to giving ammo to the Rexxar hero card. Warlock demons, OTOH, have always been kind of subpar with a few recent exceptions (Dreadlord, Voidlord.) Put it this way: Hunter Beast decks are competitive in a variety of styles. No one plays Warlock demon decks and expects to ladder regularly. I know. I've tried.

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07 Feb 2019 18:24 #291802 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Hearthstone Players!
As I recall, Blizzard was hectored into making new Beasts in scope for DK Rexxar's Hero Power. It came out without Kobalds & Catacombs Beasts in scope, even if they otherwise satisfied the Build-a-Beast conditions. Blizzard was trying to dodge that bullet, but gave up.

I remember seeing Dire Mole and thinking, "I think that's a mistake." The chances that Hunter could just roll went up dramatically with that, even on the heels of Alley Cat. No one has concerns about the Penguin, but Dire Mole is recognizably good. You see that thing everywhere.

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09 Feb 2019 19:42 #292011 by Scott Rogers
Replied by Scott Rogers on topic Hearthstone Players!
Hey Hearthstone Players,

I just played a match where a player used a character that cost 25 points!! Where the heck is that card from and which one is it??!!

Thanks in advance!

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09 Feb 2019 20:21 #292012 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Hearthstone Players!
Ha. You have encountered the only deck in which Holy Wrath is a viable card. That card that costs 25 is Shirvallah, one of the Paladin legendaries from the latest set. hearthstone.gamepedia.com/Shirvallah,_the_Tiger

He's a 7/5 with Divine Shield, Rush, and Lifesteal. He cost 1 less for every mana you spend on spells, so he appears pretty regularly in Paladin control decks (Holy Wrath, Hakkar, OTK) which have a ready supply of spells (especially now that Equality costs 4) that can bring him down to zero cost late in the game. He still counts as a 25 mana card, though, which is why he's used in the Holy Wrath deck. They try to draw all of their deck, use Baleful Banker to put him back into their deck, and then cast Holy Wrath to draw him and hit you for 25 damage. Pretty simple combo and often an OTK (0 for Shirvallah, 2 for Baleful Banker, 5 for Holy Wrath.) Interactive!
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11 Feb 2019 10:31 #292072 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Hearthstone Players!
Following up: Iksar (one of the lead devs) did an interview over the weekend where he stated that they 1) didn't anticipate the number of odd/even decks that would emerge; 2) realize that it's a problem; and, 3) are looking for a solution before the next set comes out.

#1 says to me that they still don't have a clear design vision for things they're trying to do. They figured that some hero powers are better than others (which is a screaming imbalance in the game, but something we're all aware of; see: Warlock) and so only some classes will take advantage of a game-wide design. Obviously, no one is going to play even Priest because there's no early game advantage to it. No one is really going to play odd Priest, either, because the hero power doesn't really win you games. It just delays the current game state. But what that means is that they expected some classes to simply take off with their superior hero powers and that Shaman, one of three(?) classes to get an odd/even class card, was one of them...

#3 seems insane. What solution could there be if you haven't shifted some of the design of the new set in response to what's happening? It's either keep Genn and Baku or remove them.

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11 Feb 2019 13:24 #292083 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Hearthstone Players!
They could make some 2-drop Epic that resets a Hero Power or some shit and wrecks the game in some other way. There's all kinds of ways to "fix things."

On a weirdly topical note, Zetalot has been trying Even Priest around Rank 400 Legend the last few days and concludes, like you do, that's it's not good. He says, "Value!" every time he gets to use the 1-mana Hero Power, but eventually Priest goes Shadowreaper anyway and it doesn't matter. His choice quote was, "Remove Genn and add Benedictus and this deck is better."
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11 Feb 2019 14:08 #292092 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Hearthstone Players!
The problem of Priest's hero power used to be magnified by Warrior's. Armor Up doesn't affect the game state. If just means people have to hit you a couple turns longer. But when they developed all kinds of cards that do the same thing that Shield Slam does AND everyone realized that Armor Up is superior for the player, since there's no upper limit on how much of a beating you can take and not lose (see: why Quest Priest isn't really competitive and never will be), Warrior got over that hurdle. Priest still hasn't, in that the hero power isn't really the identity of the class, so much as it is an ancillary benefit. I remember trying to play Zoo Priest and in almost every instance, it was always better to spend mana on something other than Lesser Heal. That, again, is another of those imbalances in the game that they're never going to be able to properly "fix". It's why Warlock's cards are generally lower quality and why Priest's have had to be higher quality to bring it up to where the other eight classes are (see: Mean Streets of Gadgetzan.)

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11 Feb 2019 15:25 - 11 Feb 2019 15:26 #292099 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Hearthstone Players!
I am not as gloom and doom about things, I suppose. I play a lot of Priest, and it does just fine. I imagine I could do better with other Heroes (or at least not worse), but they are boring. Quest has been great in these Aggro metas, as long as you can get there. They run out of steam and just die if you reset. Against Control, it's tougher, but only if they have lifegain/armor up the yazoo; because Alex++ will kill pretty much anyone else over two turns.

I built the greediest list in Wild. It's just so over the top. Dragon Priest, sure. N'Zoth, yeah. Quest, fine. Alex++ package? Why not? It's ridiculous. I don't even run enough DR minions to complete the Quest unless I fire N'Zoth off: Sylvanas, Chillmaw, Cairne, Bone Drake, Sludge Belcher. That's it. Played against a Big Priest that was arguably even greedier, but couldn't draw N'Zoth. Insane game.
Last edit: 11 Feb 2019 15:26 by jeb.

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12 Feb 2019 07:43 #292114 by Matt Thrower
Replied by Matt Thrower on topic Hearthstone Players!
Years ago - I can't be bothered to find it now - I had the chance to interview one of the HS team via email. One of the questions I asked was around how the balance was tested prior to an expansion being released.

The reply astonished me. They actually gently mocked me for imagining they bothered balance testing lots of different combinations - obviously they didn't: there were too many, so what was the point? Rather they designed upfront, unleashed it onto the community and then tidied up afterwards.

This maybe worked at first. But the need to provide clever new toys with each expansion means the diversity of decks way outstrips this approach to balance. And this is how we end up with things like Death Knights and Even/Odd.

I'm a HS junkie and I'll be playing it until the servers go down. It's a great way to fill ten minutes. But as a competitive challenge, it feels pretty broken to me right now. Almost all decks are running combos versus combos, and very few games actually involve the best bits of the game, working out optimal plays and trades on a given turn and doing your best.

I don't think there is a short-terms fix, other than potentially wiping down what's permitted in Standard and starting again.
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12 Feb 2019 08:26 - 12 Feb 2019 11:07 #292116 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Hearthstone Players!
I think that may be how they handled things when the game first started. I'd be astonished if that was still their practice since Mike Donais has been there, especially as lead developer. Donais was involved with MTG for a long time. It was he and his brother who helped Brian Weissman develop The Deck in the early 90s, which took a lot of testing. Donais has said multiple times on Reddit that they do a lot of in-house playtesting with a number of devs who reach legend every month. By the same token, he's also acknowledged the truth that most game designers/devs have: a few dozen testers will never match the hivemind of millions once the game/expansion is released.

I thought Genn/Baku were a poor design decision because of the way they would restrain design and card changes. Equality is a perfect example. It's a hugely powerful card that has always been undercosted at 2. They stated that they wanted to make it less of an auto-include for Paladin control decks. My response/complaint has always been: Then give us something different! Equality, Consecration, and Pyro have been auto-includes for every Paladin control deck since the beginning of the game because Paladin has no other way to deal with wide boards. But they really wanted to get Equality away from being an auto-include for Even Paladin. Following the same pattern with other adjustments, you'd think it would have been bumped to 3. But Odd Paladin would LOVE to have Equality, since they normally have more Dudes in play than Even does. So they had to move it up to 4. At that point, it's probably not a great include for Even. But every control list I've seen since the nerfs still has it. I'd still play it in Egg, OTK, and Hakkar. Even at 4 mana, it serves the purpose of those decks and its effect is just too good.

So they doubled a card's cost, nominally to take it away from a class of deck that's been in existence since the beta, but really to get it away from a new deck type that they've established since Witchwood and because they couldn't leave it in the hands of the other Witchwood deck type. Again, they just don't have a clear vision of what they want to do and Iksar saying that the new expansion doesn't even have any answers for the current meta indicates that they need something to change or the new meta is going to be the same as the old meta, where no Witchwood cards get played except the two that warp the entire thing.
Last edit: 12 Feb 2019 11:07 by Jackwraith.
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12 Feb 2019 12:26 #292122 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Hearthstone Players!
The development team has to test a lot of things though--as noted above, the competitive game isn't the ONLY game. They need to make sure it's still fun and accessible to newer/casual players. I think what they may have been naive about was the fervor with which the game was taken up. Honestly, the tools available to support HEARTHSTONE are as good or better than those supporting the now middle-aged and vastly larger MtG games. "Netdecking" was a problem there, too, but it's just on a scale so profoundly large on HEARTHSTONE as to boggle the mind.

Something we've talked about on this thread in ye olden tymes is how HS differs from MtG by allowing the attacker to control combat. This makes the game by default much faster than MtG, and if they tune Aggro wrong in development, the games can be lopsided and feel unsatisfying. Not to mention the impact of "known mana," meaning Aggro can always skew low and be assured of curving out across the first three turns. You can take chances with this in competitive MtG, but you might just lose if you don't draw lands.

I wish that players would be more creative, in general, but the game is expensive. These are just electrons sitting in a server at a company that is going to hemorrhage employees later on today. How much $$ do you want to put in there? It's saner to spend a little here and there, accumulate dust and craft the "good cards," where "good" is defined by the collective wisdom of metagame websites.

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13 Feb 2019 11:21 - 13 Feb 2019 14:55 #292159 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Hearthstone Players!
My guess is that "fun and accessible" is where the weekly games come in. I have a friend who really likes the game, but has neither the time nor the $ to keep up on a competitive basis. I see her on a few times a month, solely playing the Rumble, or whatever the latest version is. Plus, with the lower ranks now tied to collections, I think there's more than enough room for so-called "casual" players to find entertainment. Hell, I'M a casual player and I still think about the competitive scene because that's where the heart of the game is; just like with MTG.

I don't think the "paying for electrons" argument is really relevant anymore. No one complains about paying for new maps in an RTS or FPS. Those are just electrons. No one complains about paying for new expansions for those types of games or for things like WoW, where micropurchases are now rampant and are those same non-material particles. What people are paying for is entertainment and if they'll pay for time on WoW or time sitting in a movie theater (or, these days, time sitting in front of their TV renting something from Amazon), they'll pay for electronic "cards". I think it's still irksome that you have to play the lottery to get cards that you want, rather than trading them to someone else, but I think the latter is an artifact of the past, rather than a real concern for the designers or marketing team.

You're absolutely right about the difference in pace of the game. That's been my argument about Overload since the beta for precisely the reasons you mention: you can tune your deck to be a mana efficient machine because of the consistency of resource gain. Overload detracts from that efficiency, which is why it's never really worked until they introduced an undercosted minion that exploited it to the fullest. Since then, they've been putting in cards that are far more powerful than the Basic or Classic set to compensate for the fact that players inherently don't want to play them, but still have enough of a drawback that they're not seen in every deck. Take Volcano. It's 5 mana and 2 Overload, which is awful, but it's also an almost certain board clear in the vast majority of situations. The problem is, it clears your board, too. You know... Shaman? The class based on board control when it's not the king of RNG?

Cards like Thunderhead actively promote the idea of paying poor Overload cards, because he's so good. Cards like Drakkari Defender will never see play except in targeted decks that want to exploit something like Sapphire Spellstone. Notice how the good Spellstones show up in a variety of decklists and the bad ones don't? Spellstone is one of the bad ones because it costs too much for aggro decks playing Lightning Bolt and is only useful to max control decks playing Earth Elemental and Defender. That right there should tell you that Overload is a poor mechanic, since even Shaman decks don't want to use it all the time, like Warlocks don't want Discard. That's why Likkim won't ever see consistent play. To get value from it, you want consistent Overload. But aggro and midrange decks don't want/can't handle consistent Overload.
Last edit: 13 Feb 2019 14:55 by Jackwraith.

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13 Feb 2019 11:51 - 13 Feb 2019 13:38 #292163 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic Hearthstone Players!
Speaking of the Spellstones, now might be a good time to look at them, as they're about to rotate:

Emerald- Total success. So good it was nerfed. One of the best cards ever printed for Hunter. Not only did it continue the Beast theme, but it encouraged the play of other cards that most Hunters considered subpar (Secrets), which led to further deck experimentation and success.
Amethyst- Total success. Played across multiple archetypes, although less so than Emerald. Emphasized the Warlock theme of self-sacrifice and Life Tapping with abandon. Targeted removal without a real drawback.
Diamond- Success. The mainstay of a deck archetype (Resurrect) that the devs had been attempting for some time.
Jasper- Success. Cost efficient and targeted removal for a class still reliant on Classic cards for that. Encouraged the development of a new archetype (Armor Druid) and still found use in other decks.
Sapphire- Mild success? Enabled one deck archetype that was never truly competitive because it's based on a poor mechanic.
Ruby- Mild success? Was an option in spell-heavy Mage decks with appropriate legendaries (Alanna) but not much more. Too much RNG.
Onyx- Failure. Not even played in the archetype it was intended for. Rogues require card efficiency because of Combo and the setup condition, cost, and random results work against this when you could just use many other cards to get rid of what you really want to get rid of; even Assassinate (same cost.)
Mithril- Failure. Inefficient setup condition combined with way too high a cost for vanilla minions that don't impact the board state when they arrive.
Pearl- Failure. Mana efficiency is not something that Paladin control has ever worried about, having multiple options for defense, so gaining one almost-vanilla minion of low or moderate size for 2 mana wasn't that enticing. Not played even in healing decks which still aren't a thing even after new options provided, as healing is generally an inefficient (i.e. non-board affecting) move in HS.
Last edit: 13 Feb 2019 13:38 by Jackwraith.

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13 Feb 2019 16:35 #292194 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Hearthstone Players!
I would move Ruby up to Success and Sapphire down. I play Sapphire, it's neat; but it's not good and we don't gain anything by saying it is. It's really slow and the effect can be washed away with too many effects (Psychic Scream, burning your face off, ignoring the minions unless they had Taunt). It just comes out so late. The set up is hard, the payoff is hard.

Ruby was huuuuge in the Exodia decks before Ice Block was HoF'd. How else could they get Ice Blocks #3 and #4? Very important to make the game suck for an extra few minutes while they finish gathering everything they need.
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