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Blizzard on the State of Hearthstone

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IGN have conducted an interview with Mike Donais and Peter Whalen on "The State of Hearthstone". The interview discusses their opinions on what they feel is good and bad about Hearthstone at the moment.

The ongoing theme throughout the article is that Blizzard are very pleased with how Standard has turned out. It is clear that they wanted people to have fun with cards like C'Thun and Yogg-Saron, Hope's End, and Donais believes that this goal has been achieved. Due to the fact that the win rates of deck archetypes are close together, he is also happy that the nerfs at the start of The year of the Kraken have worked out well.

There are several references to the diversity of ladder in the interview. Donais seems to be surprised just how many archetypes of some classes, particularly Warrior, are available. He warns that having more than two playable archetypes within a class is probably unrealistic in the long run, due to the nature of how the metagame picks out the best decks. He believes that although Miracle Rogue and Freeze Mage are uninteractive, they add a necessary richness to the game. He mentions that Blizzard do keep a close eye on such decks to make sure they don't become overly powerful. 

Going forward, it seems like the next changes will be related to social aspects of the game. Donais mentions that the ladder system is imperfect, but is not a high priority. Fireside Gatherings get mentioned a lot, and the fact people want the game to be more social is brought up. It also seems that there is a sense from this article, and also from Ben Brode's older interview with Hafu, that Arena needs to change. I get the impression that they are not entirely sure how, but that they will be playing around with it to see where it leads. Blizzard have shown that they are not scared to experiment when it comes to exploring ideas in Hearthstone. They are also keeping an eye on China's Arena rewards scheme, where players can get rewards for getting multiple 12 win finishes but have no plans to follow suit at this time.

There is plenty more in the interview, and reading what Mike Donais has to say is always interesting. He spends quite a lot of time in streams and forums, and usually has his finger on the pulse as to what is going on from the players' perspective.

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7 hours ago, L0rinda said:

The ongoing theme throughout the article is that Blizzard are very pleased with how Standard has turned out. It is clear that they wanted people to have fun with cards like C'Thun and Yogg-Saron, Hope's End

and of course Flamewreathed FacelessEternal SentinelDarkshire Councilman or Possessed Villager. Why didn't they picked the most played cards, that is what I don't understand. 

7 hours ago, L0rinda said:

Donais seems to be surprised just how many archetypes of some classes, particularly Warrior 

or Shaman. Wait, not that. Or Warlock. Oh, it isn't Warlock either. Was it Druid? Nope, one archetype as well. So, Paladin? Nope, N'Zoth is the only viable archetype now. Nice diversity for sure. Only Warr and Priest have more than 2 viable archetypes (imo).

7 hours ago, L0rinda said:

Freeze Mage are uninteractive, they add a necessary richness to the game

What the H is necessary richness? Like, Each CCG has to have an annoying uninteractive and boring-to-play-against deck to be really good? Is that what he's saying?

This seriously disappointed me. I hoped that they would see that their tries to slow meta down has done the exact opposite. I was also hoping for some changes in arena to make it a little bit more "fresh", but eh, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Anyway, nice article from you, even though it was disappointing for me.

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2 hours ago, positiv2 said:

What the H is necessary richness? Like, Each CCG has to have an annoying uninteractive and boring-to-play-against deck to be really good? Is that what he's saying?

There are people, like me, who love playing Freeze Mage, Miracle Rogue, and other combo/control decks.  I've been a fan of that macro-archetype since 2002 when I got my first taste of Psychatog decks in M:tG, and the possibility of playing decks like that is one of the biggest things that drew me to Hearthstone and keeps me playing.  I'll grant you that they aren't the most fun to play against, but they are complex, challenging, and highly rewarding to pilot. 

 

I also thing it's dishonest and misleading to call them uninteractive simply because they do not focus on combat and trading minions.  These decks all have a high number of cards that affect, or interact with, their opponent's board, and learning the appropriate use for them is a large part of learning to play the decks.

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5 hours ago, Dawnblade said:

I also thing it's dishonest and misleading to call them uninteractive simply because they do not focus on combat and trading minions.  These decks all have a high number of cards that affect, or interact with, their opponent's board, and learning the appropriate use for them is a large part of learning to play the decks.

Both decks just keep stalling until they find their combo pieces. So, all the opponent can do is just bash the face of freeze mage or miracoli, while the deck (let's use freeze mage as the example) keeps freezing minions, plays Doomsayer+Freeze, AoEs, health gain (Ice Block and Ice Barrier) and so on. Then, if the uninteractive deck survives, it launches the combo, which cannot be avoided for most classes and it's game over. That is why I play control warrior. Last match against freeze mage, I got about 80 health in armor.

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10 hours ago, positiv2 said:

or Shaman. Wait, not that. Or Warlock. Oh, it isn't Warlock either. Was it Druid? Nope, one archetype as well. So, Paladin? Nope, N'Zoth is the only viable archetype now. Nice diversity for sure. Only Warr and Priest have more than 2 viable archetypes (imo).

 

Face shaman, midrange shaman, fatigue shaman, zoolock, combolock, renouncelock, c'thun druid, token druid, beast druid, aggro pala, n'zoth pala, reno pala. All perfectly viable decks that I run into regularly. I can't say I've ever seen ladder as diverse as it is atm.

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7 hours ago, PaasHaaS said:

fatigue shaman

Never met one. We don't even have a fatigue shaman deck on the website. Also, 

7 hours ago, PaasHaaS said:

zoolock, combolock, renouncelock

Haven't met a single combolock since WotoG, and only one renouncelock, and Peter Whalen said himself that he can't win with the deck, which, I would say, signifies that it isn't exactly competitive. 

7 hours ago, PaasHaaS said:

token druid, beast druid, aggro pala, reno pala

One token druid, not a single beast druid, about 4 aggro paladins (counting the secret version as well), one reno pally (but he ran N'Zoth as well). Hearthstone deck tracker says that druids are 4% of my matchups. Now, isn't that a dead class - who cares if there are more decks for that class, when nobody plays those decks? (Rogue has 3%, by the way)

7 hours ago, PaasHaaS said:

All perfectly viable decks

So, you would be able to hit the same rank with beast druid as with zoo or face shaman?

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Alas, I'm late to the party. 

If you ask me, Hearthstone is in its best shape right now. Tons of decks, less punishment and generally longer games = more room for mistake = more skill = balanced gameplay. Design issues like Druid comboing you off, Freeze Mage being wildly unbeatable and Secret Paladin sealing the game t6 regardless of what you do are (thankfully) gone. You actually have to work to win your games now.

I was expecting combo decks to be a problem in slow metagame, and ever since Patron Warrior nerfs Blizzard's hypocrisy in that matter was leaving me wondering if they have an idea about what they are doing. Game is tied to very basic mechanics and there is a very small room for actual combo-interaction cards, like Loatheb, that's not even Standard anymore.  However, consistency is a major factor and that's exactly why Freeze Mage and Miracle Rogue are relegated to tournaments mostly. This is not a long-term solution, however.

Such combo decks are very important to the whole design balance thing, essentially filling the Paper thing where Rock is Control and Scissors is aggro. In Hearthstone they are interactive because they are bad and they have to include some "not gonna die for some time" pieces and that is distilled, pure interaction. Without Combo, game would be reduced to midrange fiesta of different sorts where you try to draw more gas than your opponent. Combo decks have a solid timer and force you to pressure them or lose, instead of durdling with your Old Gods and removal for 15 turns. Not to mention playing them is a complex puzzle task that's generally enjoyable and rewarding (do it = win, fail it = lose, sometimes even if you are against them: plus Combo player and his opponent both are signed up for free wins if solitaire goes south.

The whole diversity thing vs you play against 5 different decks but they are all Warrior - it is a natural state of things. Metagame shares are based on what is the most consistent and more optimal against those most consistent. There are flaws but such thing cannot be done perfectly. With 2 different decks for pretty much all classes I think Blizzard are doing OK.

Regarding Old Gods - I thing Yogg-Saron, Hope's End is the biggest design mistake made ever, period. It is a card that always leaves one player frustrated - either the caster when it does some nothing (most cases), or his opponent when it OTKs you from 30 health. This card exemplifies the bad RNG that Hearthstone is getting so much slack for, but turned into overdrive. 

Not to mention you can go to the tournament with Yogg.deck and have stars aligned so you win the whole thing riding Blessing of KingsBlessing of KingsChargeBlessed Champion.

Memorable? Certainly.

Fair? Skill-intenisve?

P.S. @positiv2, you're a consenting adult with moderator blue thing under your profile pic. At least back up your salt with some reasonable claims.

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