Returning To Hearthstone

Hearthstone Logo via IGN

Hearthstone, the game about the Random Number Generator (RNG) and skill. I remember playing Hearthstone during its beta and thinking how incredible the game was. I wrote a few posts about my excitement at Polygon titled: Hearthstone: Beta Notes and Experience, Hearthstone: The Perks With Arena Mode, and Hearthstone: Top Decking Can Make or Break You. Strangely enough, I have not touched this game since the beta. Reason? To be honest, I was never that good at Hearthstone. However, all of this changed after I understood the meta and strategy behind this wonderful card game.

Meta

After the release of Hearthstone, the word “meta” was thrown around all the time. These concepts (cards) are abstractions (ideas) from the overall concept (cards) of its creation (Hearthstone). As Ben Brode once said, “The metagame is the mix of different decks that players bring… If you know what decks players are bringing, your deck can be especially good against ‘the meta’.”

2013 Hearthstone Meta by Liquidhearth

Ben Brode was referring to the behavior of all the players within Hearthstone. The trending decks, cards and classes create this ‘meta’ or ‘metagame’ that keeps all the players on their toes. Once a powerful deck is created, people tend to notice its potential when their win/loss record is positive. For example, Aggro or Aggressive decks were very popular in the beginning. These decks are meant to be fast-paced where the player destroys their opponent as fast as possible. Part of the strategy was to summon a large number of low-value minions, use direct damage spells and spam the hero powers.

When the Aggro deck was peaking, the opposite side of the spectrum are Control decks. These decks tend to reign victorious in the latter half of the game because it combines cards that remove low-value minions, use excessive taunts and summon powerful cards in the late game. When an Aggro deck faces off with a Control deck, the winner is still undetermined because of RNG. Whoever draws the best cards at the right time with little to no mistakes, will usually win.

To learn more about the history of the ‘meta’, view the video below:

The Learning Curve

It may sound like I know a lot about Hearthstone, and I should, after watching thousands of hours of Twitch and YouTube. The two players I have to thank for all my education is Trump and Kripparrian (aka Kripp). I discovered both of these fine gentleman through Twitch since they always receive the most viewers. I never gave Twitch a chance before these two streamers, and I tend to stay up later and later to watch Hearthstone.

The Mana Curve via GOSU Gamers

Learning Hearthstone is fairly easy when both players compete on opposite sides of the spectrums. Trump normally plays Ranked matches and reaches the top of the Ladder each season. He dabbles in the Arena Mode, but most of his videos and streaming focus on reaching the top. Trump’s nickname is “The Mayor of Value Town.” He obtained this nickname by getting the most value out of every card he plays in Hearthstone which shows how much he respects his cards, their abilities and strategy.

While Kripp does enjoy the occasional Ranked matches, he focuses more heavily on the Arena Mode, crazier meta decks and Tavern Brawl. I try to catch all of his YouTube videos he posts since his streaming times can be too late for me. I find his demeanor quite fascinating because he can go from sheer rage to all smiles with one card draw. I hope to write more about Kripp in a later post, so keep a lookout for that!

Tavern Brawl

Tavern Brawl is the newest game mode in Hearthstone. This weekly event only lasts from Wednesday to Monday, and it is well worth the limited number of days. These brawls are special matches with unique rules that change the games meta. Players may have to create their own decks with specific requirements, use premade decks or even offer abilities to cards at random.

Too Many Portals! via Hearthstone Wiki

Currently, the most popular Tavern Brawl was Too Many Portals! This description made me the most excited since I started playing Hearthstone: “The master mages of Dalaran have gone too far this time, opening up hundreds of portals! Choose a class and use a few spells and a WHOLE lot of portals to defeat your rivals!” The “portals” discussed in the description is the Unstable Portal card. For two mana, players are able to add any random minion to their hand. Plus, it costs three mana less. This is a crazy card that is centered around RNG and all its glory. Not only did both players receive nearly an unlimited amount of Unstable Portals, but they also had pre-made decks with seven randomly selected spells for the class of their choosing.

I thought this would be easy, but I happen to lose most of my games. The RNG was against me in every single game, except for the three that I won. It did feel great to have an opponent rage quit after playing Archmage Antonidas.

The Masked Ball

The Masked Ball Menu Screen via Hearthstone Wiki

The last Tavern Brawl was called The Masked Ball. The description reads: “At the SI:7 mansion in Stormwind they have a grand masked ball every year. Everyone is in disguise! When a minion dies, its disguise is revealed, showing the minion to actually be a different random minion that costs two mana less and ready for another fight!” When I first read this, I was confused. I was given the chance to create my deck. I chose to create a crappy Druid deck with whatever cards I had.

Note: I am missing tons of cards within the game. I have not paid real-money for Hearthstone card packs, wings or challenges. Any cards I have are from gold earned in the game.

When my first match started, I was surprised to see that my one mana minions did not trigger a Deathrattle that spawns another minion that is two mana or less. After watching my opponent’s two mana minion die and saw a minion appear, I finally understood the fundamentals. I was still able to pull out a win against my opponent, but changed my deck to include more two mana minions.

My strategy and basic deck was nearly perfect. I was able to win four out of my five matches with this free-to-play deck. RNG and skill were on my side since my plan was to kill my opponent as fast as possible (much like an Aggro deck). I am very proud of my deck and posted it below:

Created on GOSU Gamers

Created on GOSU Gamers

What’s Next?

The New Expansion via Hearthstone Wiki

With the new addition of Tavern Brawl and new expansion just around the corner, I have dedicated more time towards Hearthstone. I am having fun instead of competing to be the best. I want to thank both Trump and Kripp for showing me how to have fun with Hearthstone while making smart decisions with my cards. I respect my cards and believe each one is valuable no matter their abilities.

I am continuously earning gold and saving up for the new expansion that will add more meta to the game than ever before. My goal is to have fun and play casually in my spare time.

Guinness World Record Time via Kotaku

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One comment

  1. Glad you’re enjoying it. I’ve tried it before and though I do like the game quite a but while it’s quite accessible to pick up on its own, it’s when you add other players that the game puts me off.

    The metagame is a big one.Hearthstone is a game that feels like you need to know the meta from the start when playing against other players. Deck building, classes and strategies are the first things the game teaches you and then… you’re on your own. For myself, I feel like a game should be fun, approachable and allow players to come up with basic strategies and find success without any concern for a meta. It’s when I’m having so much fun that I’m playing the game a lot that I want the meta to be something for me to dive into and sort of pick up on my own.

    For me, the meta game is there for when players want to start getting more competitive and move out from casual fun into something a little rougher. Not that it’s a bad thing to require that from the outset but for me, it’s a big reason I quickly went “this is fun but I gotta go”.

    The second thing is the way the game handles free cards. I thought it was great how the game handled them at the start, how you can throw money at the game to have a better chance at getting great cards quicker but if you’re patient enough, you can get by just playing the game and having fun, grabbing the occasional pack of cards when you have enough gold saved. I feel like (and I’ve seen this mentioned by a pretty hardcore Hearthstone player or two) there are too many cards in the game now for that to really stay viable for new players. There’s getting to the point where there’s so many cards that the default cards you get now just aren’t going to cut it with the sheer amount of variety on offer within the game for those that have been playing a while. It seems like for new players, this could be what pushes them away.

    I think it’d be a good idea to periodically bring new and infrequent players up to speed by providing them with just enough cards to still have a chance when there’s enough new ones thrown into the pool. With a card game especially, that’s a pretty important thing to do.

    For myself, that was something that put me off the game when I played it sometime last year with a friend. We had good fun and he was helping keep me up to speed with what sort of things to do and we got a little competitive but.. I just didn’t have a chance against him. I got moments where I got the upper hand and I had strategies that would work but I just didn’t have the card variety to compete. I was a new player against someone who had been playing it for a little bit and it was the card variety that lost me the games rather than a combination of my own skill and luck.

    I like how much they’re supporting it and how people such as yourself are getting a lot of enjoyment out of it but I would like to see a few changes just so new players can jump in and still have a good time. It’d at the very least help keep the game growing.

    Like

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