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Hearthstone Public Test Realm Rumours Resurface

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A few days ago, rumours started to circulate about a possible Public Test Realm (PTR) for Hearthstone.

The original post on Reddit linked to datamining by Hearthpwn, which indicated that the latest patch included encrypted data for a Hearthstone Test Client. This was pretty much written off as an internal testing platform. Lead Designer Ben Brode had already stated on Reddit last month that:

Blizzard LogoBen Brode

There are real downsides to a PTR. Because we ship on so many platforms, it would take at least a month of cards being fully spoiled before they release. (Source)

That seemed to be the end of the matter. Blizzard's official page on PTRs shows the following, with no Hearthstone link:

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However, today on Reddit, several users are reporting that they have the option to claim PTR packs with codes. 

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It still seems highly unlikely to me that they would go this route, as Brode's older comment about spoiling cards early seems to be valid. Blizzard do have a history of working around such issues though, and it does have some positives. Obviously testing cards for balance before they're released will help to prevent troublesome decks from taking over the meta, but there are other positives too.

Allowing players to test new cards in advance of a set could, for instance, lead to big tournaments taking place just after release to test deckbuilding skills before a meta settles. This is already possible, and implemented, in physical card games due to the easy proxying of cards for testing purposes.

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