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GvG Meta and You

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Goblins vs. Gnomes has been out and a part of the Hearthstone scene for nearly a month now, and the game's first true expansion and its 123 new collectible cards have absolutely had a demonstrable impact on the shifting meta game at all levels of play.

 

Early on in the life cycle of the expansion, we're seeing the two expected trends - a handful of new cards slotted into existing archetypes (see: Sjow's early success with the Control Warrior variant that added Shieldmaidens and Doctor Boom), as well as a strong resurgence of aggressive, snowballing aggro decks - Brian Kibler's Mech Mage was one of the first well-popularized ones, but modified Zoo and Hunter decks have also appeared in the last couple of weeks.

 

The rapid pace of Hearthstone's evolution has left a lot of people struggling to figure out what to expect next, both in terms of the ladder meta game and where the game is headed. Here are a few thoughts that might help you plan your approach to cardslinging over the coming months:

 

1. Hearthstone officially launched in March of 2014. Since then, we've seen two major content releases - Curse of Naxxramas in July, and Goblins vs. Gnomes in December. Blizzard absolutely intends to either maintain or accelerate this rate of production, in no small part thanks to its platform accessibility with the recent Android release and ongoing iPhone development. You can realistically expect another Hearthstone update - likely another Adventure Mode entry - in the spring.

 

2. In the alpha and later in the beta, Hearthstone's meta cycle emerged, and a lot of the same expectations continue to hold. The powerful snowball effect of well-curved decks, which everyone set out to construct initially, gave way to aggressive decks that could establish earlier board control. In turn, those decks fall prey to decks with control elements - board clears, taunts, and healing. Eventually, those decks give way to mid-range decks with explicit win conditions and more traditional curve, and then the cycle repeats.

 

3. Hearthstone's balance is actually in a really great place! There are very few outlier cards that Blizzard should be looking at. If you find yourself losing to particular decks or cards frequently, it might be time to look at some new strategies yourself - and remember, even the very best players are only winning around 65% of their games.

 

4. On the subject of switching up decks, the tournament meta is going through some very rapid changes, for two reasons: tech and format. GvG introduced a ton of tech cards designed to explicitly counter certain classes, archetypes, or cards, and while those explicit counters may not see a ton of day to day use in your ladder decks, they're the sleepers that can absolutely turn tournaments around. Previously, cards like Harrison Jones or Big Game Hunter were some of the only tech options available; now, you have things like the Troggs, the Scarlet Purifier, or the Kezan Mystic to counter your opponent's deck designs.

 

The second half of that consideration is tournament formats. A number of tournaments are trying new and different things to get away from the de facto format introduced at BlizzCon 2013 Hearthstone Innkeeper's Invitational - a King-of-the-Hill styled format designed to showcase a variety of classes and cards, as much for publicity as anything. Several pros and tournament hosts have come out in favour of alternate solutions, and a clear top choice has yet to emerge.

 

5. With few exceptions, such as professional players and streamers, not many players have access to exhaustive GvG card collections. In fact, the far and away majority of players didn't have complete collections prior to Curse of Naxxramas, and likely still don't. As time passes, more players will have broader selection of cards from each of the game's sets, but most will barely manage to complete a collection prior to the next content release, if that's even possible. Focus on using the cards you do have access to!

 

Hopefully you're seeing success out there on the mecha-ladder. If you've got a deck that's doing wonders, link it for everyone else to see!

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