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Summary of Ben Brode and Dean Ayala Q&A

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The live Q&A with the two well-known Hearthstone devs took place yesterday and we've made a recap of the most interesting points.

First of all, if you want to watch the whole thing, the VOD can be found here (it starts at 14:10). If you prefer a shorter version, Redditor EpicMelon has made a 10-min video of everything important said. Ultimately, if you don't feel like watching videos, we've made a summary of anything worth noting from yesterday's Q&A.

Ben started talking about the new player experience, a topic he has discussed again this week. He repeated that most new players start off by playing versus A.I., some go to Casual and a minority goes to Ranked. The team has made it so that in Casual new players are exclusively matched against other new players and their MMR is kept to a 50% winrate.

One of the currently most discussed hot topics in the Hearthstone community is the Ranked ladder. The team is satisfied with how clear the current system is in how it works. However, they do realise that its grindiness and the monthly reset can be a disadvantage and feel repetitive. To counter that, they are looking into short-term increasing the amount of bonus stars players can gain. This will hopefully increase the number of players in medium and higher ranks and move veterans away from Rank 20. However, they don't want everyone to be a Legend player either, since this would devalue the ranking. New breakpoints are also an idea the Hearthstone team is considering. As far as winstreaks stopping at Rank 5 are concerned, the idea behind this is that they wanted players to get to Legend "legit"; this could change as well, though.

Moving to the topic of Arena, Dean announced that they are thinking of moving it to Standard format. Moreover, they want to try decreasing the amount of commons you get, as well as the amount of neutral Classic and Basic cards (especially minions). Some of these changes for Arena are already ready to be added to the game they are just waiting for the right time to patch them in. In early February, top 100 rankings for Arena will be published - just like the Ranked season ones. These rankings will be calculated based on highest average wins per run basis with a minimum requirement of 30 runs.

The guys had a few things to say about the current meta, too. Pirate Warrior represented 30% of the meta game near the launch of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, while there were also a lot of Pirate Shamans and Rogues. Thankfully, these numbers have dropped as other decks (like Jade Druid and Reno decks) started surfacing. Pirate decks are slightly more popular than Team 5 would like and decks with the pirate package feel same-y. If this persists, they might take a look at Pirates. Hunters and Paladins are having a hard time at the moment because they can't keep up with the aggro pirate decks. Overall, the internal meta report shows a stability in the meta: there is only a 3% difference between the winrates of the top deck and the 11th best deck.

Lastly, there was mention of the Wild format. Ben admitted that they could do some things better for Wild. For example, it's possible that Blizzard will encourage more Wild tournaments in the future. The upcoming rotation will be interesting since Wild will have more card sets than Standard. Wild is far from dead: it's just half as popular as Standard, although Ben hasn't looked in the numbers recently. Earlier in the stream, Ben also said that the team is considering two options to keep Standard fresh: either nerfing cards or just move them to Wild.

Lastly, Ben and Dean talked about various other small topics like the possibility of reprinting cards (no actual answer given), more Hunter and Paladin talk, wording inconsistencies and rewriting old cards, how a healthy meta is defined and Team 5 itself.

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6 hours ago, Zadina said:

Moving to the topic of Arena, Dean announced that they are thinking of moving it to Standard format. Moreover, they want to try decreasing the amount of commons you get, as well as the amount of neutral Classic and Basic cards (especially minions).

This makes no sense to me. They want to decrease commons, neutral and basic cards (i can only assume this is to make the format more diverse, which sounds like a good idea); but they want to move arena to standard cards only (less diverse).

Can someone explain to me why this is a good idea? I myself have not played arena for a while because i started feeling that every deck i drafted felt the same (within the same class).. taking wild cards out (especially in 2-3 months after rotation) will drastically limit the variation in arena decks. Probably best to shelve the standard arena idea imo.

6 hours ago, Zadina said:

Lastly, there was mention of the Wild format. Ben admitted that they could do some things better for Wild.

 

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11 hours ago, jojobonks said:

This makes no sense to me. They want to decrease commons, neutral and basic cards (i can only assume this is to make the format more diverse, which sounds like a good idea); but they want to move arena to standard cards only (less diverse).

Can someone explain to me why this is a good idea? I myself have not played arena for a while because i started feeling that every deck i drafted felt the same (within the same class).. taking wild cards out (especially in 2-3 months after rotation) will drastically limit the variation in arena decks. Probably best to shelve the standard arena idea imo.

 

Their stated aim was that they want to increase synergies and spells in arena drafts and make it less about picking the best curve minion thirty times over.

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3 hours ago, Bozonik said:

Their stated aim was that they want to increase synergies and spells in arena drafts and make it less about picking the best curve minion thirty times over.

This sums the expected result fairly well. The key point here is that their decision - less emphasis in Commons and Basics - is an exact countermeasure to what they are planning to do.

Because, let's face it, the majority of Rares and Epics in this game are totally unplayable or completely busted in the Arena. There is hardly a middle ground. When drafting you can at the very least expect some basics and commons to be there fairly reliably. Not having this backup will result in what Arena is right now - drafting good stuff on curve instead of anything synergistic. As paradoxical as it sounds, more diversity = less diversity here.

What I feel Blizzard starting to realize is that they screwed up this game royally with their Commons and Basics, because some of them for some classes are way too good, especially Basic and Classic sets. And that's a long standing problem they (probably)expect to fix with new cards, which is something that can't happen overnight. Scraping it all and starting from scratch, with limiting Arena to Standard that they have more control of - MSoG is fairly good example how, this set feels a lot like it's about Arena more than Constructed - is what appears to me is their plan. IMO they should reduce Basic and Classic for the Arena, but leave expansion chances same. I don't think they can execute it well enough, to be honest. But at least it's a start.

Magic thrives on having a living Limited that somehow is both same and different each year, that's because their set design is on point most of the time, and, of course, is much bigger. I think if Blizzard borrow these ideas and have the Arena planned out for each season, they can give us, the players, incentives to actually play Arena because it's a fun format, not because it's economical or something.

But one can only dream. Because their updated payouts basically took the last part of why I was even bothering with the Arena - I make literally more gold on going 6-3 in Play Mode, which happens much more reliably, faster and funnier.

Re: Ranked mode revamp 

Fix the lower ranks. Please. That's what the game is desperate about, because new player experience is ridiculous. I'm fairly content with 5-Legend being a grind, because that's a real challenge. And being one of the game's best players of the month is an achievement that should be behind that challenge. With what this game is, all the balance, RNG and stuff, the only real way to determine who is any good is to make them play a shitton of games. 

Edited by Paracel

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My main problem with Arena drafting - there are way to many no-brainer decisions. It is simply not fun when you get three choices and the choice is obvious to anyone but total newbie. 

 

 

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If they actually make it so you can get to legend with win streaks, that will just screw up the game on a competitive level even further. That would mean you can theoretically reach legend with below 50% win rate, which is just retarded.

I say people should accept it when they are just not good enough to get there, and rather than ask blizzard to feed them on a plate, should actually spend time trying to improve their gameplay. You already get basically all the rewards that matter for getting to rank 5 anyway, so it's not like legend players even get anything above you other than the card back.

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55 minutes ago, JooBatanete said:

If they actually make it so you can get to legend with win streaks, that will just screw up the game on a competitive level even further. That would mean you can theoretically reach legend with below 50% win rate, which is just retarded.

I say people should accept it when they are just not good enough to get there, and rather than ask blizzard to feed them on a plate, should actually spend time trying to improve their gameplay. You already get basically all the rewards that matter for getting to rank 5 anyway, so it's not like legend players even get anything above you other than the card back.

Why get to the trouble when whining eventually will get you what you want?

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There are definitely too many pirate aggro decks.  In Casual, if someone pirate-Patches on turn #1, I just quit the match.  It was fun for a couple of weeks, but now it's just boring.  

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20 hours ago, mimech said:

There are definitely too many pirate aggro decks.  In Casual, if someone pirate-Patches on turn #1, I just quit the match.  It was fun for a couple of weeks, but now it's just boring.  

At least it hasn't reached Grim Patron levels of play. That was just a joke. Every game was just Patron vs Patron.

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I think you're both overexaggerating.

Patron was quite dominant, but it never was 100% of the meta. It was a magical time when "I can't figure it out, the deck is too hard for me" was a legit reason not to run it. I think the dominance metaphor you're looking for is the Undertaker.

As far as Patches goes, he is abundant but not that dominant. There are fairly viable options that do not include this legendary, but I should admit its presence is strong enough to be called "meta-defining". However beating it is fairly possible.

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On 15. 1. 2017 at 4:57 PM, JooBatanete said:

That would mean you can theoretically reach legend with below 50% win rate, which is just retarded.

Actually, some sims were run and those sims proved you can reach legend with WR below 50% (even below 45%) anyway. So, the change would mean only that one will achieve it quicker.

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On 15/01/2017 at 1:50 PM, Paracel said:

Fix the lower ranks. Please. That's what the game is desperate about, because new player experience is ridiculous. I'm fairly content with 5-Legend being a grind, because that's a real challenge. And being one of the game's best players of the month is an achievement that should be behind that challenge. With what this game is, all the balance, RNG and stuff, the only real way to determine who is any good is to make them play a shitton of games. 

I think making the reset much less of a jump would help the lower ranks a lot. If Legends fell to Rank 6 rather than Rank 16, it'd have much less impact on the lower ranks.

Agree 5-Legend should be a challenge, although personally think the prize for making Legend is a complete joke. If Rank 5 is golden epic, Legend should be golden legendary...

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On 1/16/2017 at 6:30 PM, positiv2 said:

Actually, some sims were run and those sims proved you can reach legend with WR below 50% (even below 45%) anyway. So, the change would mean only that one will achieve it quicker.

I have run that sim myself. Here's the number of games you would need to go from rank 5 to legend alone, on average: 2033218.806(tests made with a 1000 test case sample size and a 50% win rate).

Yeah, I don't think that's doable before the universe's collapse, let alone before the end of a season.

Here's how many it would take you with win streaks enabled: 206.485(same test conditions).

Edited by JooBatanete

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14 hours ago, JooBatanete said:

I have run that sim myself. Here's the number of games you would need to go from rank 5 to legend alone, on average: 2033218.806(tests made with a 1000 test case sample size and a 50% win rate).

Yeah, I don't think that's doable before the universe's collapse, let alone before the end of a season.

Here's how many it would take you with win streaks enabled: 206.485(same test conditions).

Well, if you play 1k games with 45% WR during one season (which should take about 83 hours with a faster deck), you will have around 0.24% chance of hitting legend. This means it's possible to reach legend with 45% WR. [src]

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On 1/30/2017 at 1:27 PM, positiv2 said:

Well, if you play 1k games with 45% WR during one season (which should take about 83 hours with a faster deck), you will have around 0.24% chance of hitting legend. This means it's possible to reach legend with 45% WR. [src]

Yes, but there's a difference between being possible and feasible.

And anyway, reaching legend is already quite easy as it is, no need to make it even easier and further messing up HS on the competitive level.

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