Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hearthstone: The First Failure of Driving to Legend, and Arena April Challenge

Figured we are at the end of March, so a good time for a Hearthstone update. Unlike the last few entries which have been heavy analysis and predictions (which still haven't been announced), this will focus more on my current game play in Hearthstone.

I decided to try for Legend this month as March is a low time in my other hobbies like sports writing. Climbing the ladder up to Rank 5 was done mostly on the back of my pet deck Dragon Hunter and Warlock Zoo. Because Zoo felt like it was optimally placed in the current metagame, I stuck with that and beat my head against the "lack of win streak" zone for over a week.

The only truly failed departure from this approach was a trip to Druid to do a couple dailies. Lesson learned...if you aren't pro with a deck, do your dailies in any other mode but ladder.

I would normally say put dailies aside if grinding for legend, but the reality is that sometimes you need to step away from ladder for a game or two to get things right. Just like in any other game, there's no reason to be on tilt when playing serious games (and all games are serious competition at rank 5 and above, in my view).

Although I never dipped back down to rank 6 over the course of a week, my games (mostly with Zoo and a little Secret Paladin, because Lady Liadrin hype) pretty much leveled off near 50% and thus I was stuck between a couple stars in rank 5 and full stars at rank 4. Indeed, I played against more rank 2 players while at rank 4 than rank 3 players (must have been odd times of day for matchmaking).

This week came with four days left in the season, and me back at rank 5. I'd decided to give up and just have some fun with Shaman to do a couple dailies. Then, what do you know, aggro shaman went and won like 10 out of 11 games, pushing me to rank 3 (tied for a personal best). When Shaman leveled off, as I expected, it was back to Zoo and Secret Paladin. And alas, it put me back to rank 4.

So no legend for me in this first serious try. I'm curious to see if the Legend card back reward stays the same or becomes two separate rewards for Wild and Standard, which will be a change we see at some point in April. I'm tempted to try hard again sometime soon, especially now that I've gotten a taste of true competition at the top ranks of the ladder. But April is probably not a great choice with a truly unsettled ladder coming thanks to the release of Whispers of the Old Gods.

The struggle and my challenge for now is to figure out when to stay with a deck and when to audible. I will end the March season about 8-12 games about .500 since reaching Rank 5...and you need 25+ over .500 for Legend. It's definitely doable, just a lot of games and tight play required.


Looking ahead to April, it may be time to rekindle my Arena game, to build up packs and dust. Indeed, the challenge going around for Arena streamers has been "100 in 10" which means trying to net 100 total wins in 10 consecutive Arena runs, while always picking a new class if available and not picked during the 10 run stretch. Only one player/streamer has been reported to achieve this, thus far.

Let's modify this for April (and because like setting goals with a FitBit, you need to tailor goals to what may actually be achievable first). I feel like I average 5-6 wins per Arena run, so let's set the bar low with the new cards coming in and the format changing before "raising the bar."

My challenge: 65 wins in 10 arena runs.

Stay tuned for updates, and if you want to join in, let me know how it goes on Twitter!

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