Zadina

Hearthstone's Best 2015 Moments

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With the end of 2015 being around the corner, this is the best time to reminisce Hearthstone's top 8 moments for this year.

 

 

8. Hearthstone available on mobile phones (April 14, 2015)

 

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Attending a boring university lecture? Have some time to kill while commuting to work? Can’t reach your PC from your bed? All these problems were solved when Hearthstone finally launched on iPhones and Android phones back in April. It was a pretty smart move and it definitely brought more players to the game. Lately, whenever I go out, I see young people everywhere playing Hearthstone on their phones and I feel like a hipster: “I knew that game waaaaay before you, kiddo”! Still, Hearthstone hasn’t yet been released on Windows phones. The app size in the other two operating systems is also quite big and every time there are updates, you basically have to re-install the whole game app. Here’s to hoping that all these issues will be fixed in 2016.

 

 

7. Highest Rank Bonus (August 24, 2015)

 

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Ranked mode finally started feeling more rewarding with the release of the patch for The Grand Tournament. Along with the usual card back, players are now rewarded at the end of each month with a special Ranked chest for progressing beyond rank 20. The rewards are better the higher rank you achieve; in general, they involve a specific amount of dust, as well as a number of golden cards.  A new chest is available every 5 ranks, with Legend rank rewards being slightly better than the rewards for ranks 1-5.

 

 

6. The Grand Tournament release (August 24, 2015)

 

 

The Grand Tournament is Hearthstone’s second expansion. Its major features were 132 new cards, the Inspire keyword and the Joust mechanic. The Grand Tournament enhanced the arsenal of some already existing decks like Midrange Beasts Hunter and Control Priest.  Other notable examples are Twilight Guardian for Dragon Priest, Darnassus Aspirant for Ramp/Midrange Druid and Spellslinger springing a variation of Tempo Mage, the Casino Mage. Justicar Trueheart proved to be a powerful card for Priests and Warriors. TGT managed to make one of the weakest classes in constructed play into one of the strongest ones: Paladin received all the love with Murloc Knight and, more importantly, Mysterious Challenger completely changing the meta. Hearthstone devs have admitted ever since that they didn’t expect that Mysterious Challenger would be that powerful. To sum up, though, we should point out that, apart from the Secrets Paladin deck, The Grand Tournament was perhaps the least impactful of all the Hearthstone expansions or adventures. At least in constructed mode, it merely provided some single card additions in already existing strong decks. However, it did provide some pretty good cards for Arena.

 

 

5. Tavern Brawl arrives (June 16, 2015)

 

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A new game mode was introduced in June: Tavern Brawl! Each week, from Wednesday to Monday, there is a set of different, unique rules and interesting mechanics. It awards a Classic pack for your first victory. Tavern Brawl has a casual and fun tone, overall. Some players have been wishing for more competitive new game modes, but Tavern Brawl is still entertaining and innovative. It certainly makes us look forward to every Wednesday!

 

 

4. Blackrock Mountain Adventure (April 2015)

 

 

Blackrock Mountain is Hearthstone’s second Adventure; it was split into five wings that were released weekly and added 31 new cards to the game. Blackrock Mountain re-introduced an already existing minion tribe: Dragons. Surprisingly, Dragons didn’t immediately catch on and it was actually a couple of months after this adventure’s conclusion that Dragon decks started showing up: Dragon Priest, Dragon Mage, Dragon/Malygos Warlock… Even though The Grand Tournament introduced 100 more cards than Blackrock Mountain, the Blackrock cards were far more impactful and overall stronger. Dragon Priest mostly and Malygos Warlock are still strong decks, Emperor Thaurissan is an invaluable card for control decks, and Hunters, Shamans and Warlocks gained some good class cards. In addition, three new decks became popular: Mill Rogue, Tempo Mage and the king of them all, Patron Warrior. The only fault we can find in Blackrock Mountain is that the PvE Adventure itself wasn’t as fun and memorable as Naxxramas or The League of Explorers.

 

 

3. Biggest Nerfs of 2015: Undertaker and Warsong Commander

 

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The Undertaker nerf happened so early in 2015 (January 29) that it already feels a long time ago and it’s easy to mistakenly assume that it happened the previous year. Previously, the original card’s text read: “Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle, gain +1/+1”. Undertaker was overpowered in the hands of Zoolocks and Hunters, promoting a very aggro-oriented meta. It was nerfed to increasing only attack by +1 each time a minion with Deathrattle is summoned, thus rendering the card useless. The other big nerf of the year is more recent and received way more attention: Warsong Commander was nerfed on October 20, 2015. As we already mentioned, Grim Patron Warrior was dominating the scene in constructed play ever since Grim Patron was introduced in Blackrock Mountain. Warsong Commander's ability to give Charge to minions with 3 or less attack synergised too well with Grim Patron and Frothing Berserker. Consequently, it was changed to provide +1 attack to minions with Charge. What the dev team may not have guessed is that Grim Patron Warrior kept being a very powerful deck even after the Warsong nerf. That’s why, in my opinion, the Undertaker change may not have been as talked about but it was definitely the bigger one out of the two: just think about the potential of that card with more recent decks like Feign Death Hunter or Raptor Rogue; Zoolocks and Hunters are as popular as ever, even without Undertaker in their arsenal. RIP to both cards.

 

 

2. The League of Explorers announcement and launch (November-December 2015)

 

 

The League of Explorers is the third Hearthstone Adventure. It had four wings, and it introduced 45 new cards and the Discover keyword. Its announcement was pretty memorable: it was announced at the Blizzcon 2015 opening ceremony (November 6) and the first wing went live less than a week after. That was a very pleasant surprise they had for us, don’t you agree? The boss fights of this Adventure were pretty fun and unique. More importantly, the cards introduced with LoE have caused the biggest stir in the meta after Naxxramas. We have discussed here in Icy Veins how much The League of Explorers has affected the game so far. Very good job overall!

 

 

1.  Ostkaka vs. Thijs World Championship semi-final, Ostkaka is the 2015 World Champion (November 7, 2015)

 

 

Out of all the amazing games we saw this year in tournaments or in streams, I believe the game of Ostkaka versus Thijs during Blizzcon 2015 is the most memorable and significant one. The semi-final between them lasted quite a while, but it’s not tiring at all; on the contrary, you get to admire the players' skill, strategical thinking and sometimes – yeah, we admit it – their luck. Thijs was on a winning streak and was the absolute favourite, but it was Ostkaka who snatched the victory and then proceeded to win an easy final against Hotform. Congratulations to Ostkaka for being the winner of the biggest Hearthstone tournament for 2015!

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