Let the games begin! Blizzard’s first official Hearthstone Ranked Play season started on April 1st, three weeks after the official launch of Hearthstone. Many players had a chance to take part in Ranked play during the Beta, and Blizzard is ready to bring their lovingly crafted Ranked Play system to the general Hearthstone public! Unlike many ladder systems, it’s not just for hardcore players, as there are rewards which can be earned at lower ranking levels as well as at the highest.
In the Ranked Play game mode, players can duel other players in order to increase their rank, climbing in rank from Rank 25 (Angry Chicken) to Rank 1 (Innkeeper) or even Rank 0 (Legend)! All new players will start at Rank 25. Rankings are reset each season, and any players who have earned a rank in the previous season will be automatically awarded stars based on the rank they had earned in the prior season. One star will be given for each rank earned, which will automatically move seasoned players up to a higher rank. This will allow for a better environment for new players, and will preserve challenge among players of similar skill level.
Stars are awarded upon ranked play victories, and the number of stars needed before ranking up is displayed on your rank medal. Earn enough stars and you will advance in rank. Players who have won three games in a row will be granted a bonus star on all consecutive wins. However, this Win Streak bonus will no longer be available once you hit Rank 5 and will cancel at the first loss. When you hit rank 20, you will start losing stars when you lose matches, which can make the climb up the ranks more challenging.
When a player has reached the rank of Legend (Rank 0), they will not be able to lose their rank until the season ends (each month). The top 10,000 Legend players will be ranked against each other with a visible, numerical Legend rank displayed inside of a special orange mana crystal. The number will designate the rank of that player within the top Hearthstone players (so a player with a Legend rank of 150 is the 150th best Hearthstone player in the region).
Players who have successfully moved up in rank will be rewarded with alternate card backs. In Ranked Play Season 1, players can earn the “Pandaria” card back for reaching Rank 20 (Shieldbearer). This card back will be awarded at the end of the season. Players who manage to reach the rank of Rank 0 (Legend) will be awarded a special “Legend” card back, which will be awarded immediately.
In addition to earning awesome new card backs each season, players can also earn special Golden Heroes through Ranked play. Win 500 Ranked games with any single hero and your Hero will gain a golden border and snazzy new animations! Even their Hero Power will shine and animated (though these effects are purely cosmetic)!
Ultimately, Blizzard’s Hearthstone Ranked Play game mode allows players of all skill levels the opportunity to play competitively and be rewarded with special rewards. As of this time, Blizzard has announced only card backs as a potential reward to be earned through Ranked play. However, the special Legend-only card back and competitive ranking system is reason enough for players to invest some serious time into working up the ranks! In the future, the highest level Legend players will have opportunities to play in a grand tournament event and other future Hearthstone events, so if you’re into competitive play, earn those ranks! Blizzard will be watching! If not, all you have to worry about is having fun! Rank 20 isn’t too tough to obtain, and you'll get to enjoy your awesome “Pandaria” card back. Hearthstone has something for everyone!