Saturday, January 31, 2015

Constructed Hearthstone

Hearthstone runs a ranked constructed ladder each month. I had no chance at all of getting to the top of the ladder in previous months because I simply don't own very many cards. Hearthstone is a game that put a lot of power into the really rare cards. You rarely want to fill a deck up with legendaries since they tend to be higher up on the curve but if you don't have any at all you basically have no late game. It's certainly possible to play a deck that tries to win early and then gives up if it gets stopped but enough people are playing decks that beat those kinds of decks that it's not likely to work to get up to the very top of the ladder. Even if it was, those decks still require a bunch of specific cards and chances are pretty good that I don't have them!

Part of the problem is I didn't really play the game until recently and the packs awarded in draft prizes are exclusively the new set. So I actually have almost a complete set of Goblins vs Gnomes commons, most of the rares, a few of the epics, and I even have 3 of the legendaries. But for the classic set I have 44 commons total and would need 188 to have a complete set of commons. The more rare stuff is really out of reach!

There are three potential solutions to the problem. The first is to pay a bunch of money to buy packs. It's pretty clear this is what Blizzard is hoping I'll do! The second is to get even better at drafting since you can spend the same currency you use to join a draft to buy packs of the classic set. But I'd probably need to pay 40 drafts worth of gold just to come close to having the commons! The third option is to use the crafting system to selectively acquire specific cards that I need. I earn a non-negligible amount of dust by drafting since I have no use for any of the GvG commons other than blowing them up. You can also win 'foil' cards when you do really well in a draft and those blow up for lots of dust! (I imagine many people want the foil cards because they're cool but with a limited collection I'd rather keep 2 copies of a normal version and blow up the foils.)

I've been browsing around decklist sites recently and I've watched a few people who stream constructed and have tried to keep an eye for decks that seem competitive, based mostly on GvG cards, and cheap to fill out the stuff I don't have. I finally found a deck that seemed pretty reasonable. It only runs a single legendary and I've picked up enough dust to be able to buy exactly one legendary. It uses almost exclusively GvG cards because it's a tribal deck based on the new tribe (mechs) introduced in that expansion. It's also a pretty fast beatdown deck trying to win quickly before people with real decks can take control of the game. The one legendary adds in some substantial reach to finish off a game and is pretty crucial to the deck. What he does is gives you a fireball spell card each time you cast any spell with him in play. A lot of the mechs give you 1 casting cost spells when they die and he only costs 7 mana so in the late game it's entirely plausible to play him and immediately pick up 3 new fireball spells. That's 18 points of direct damage to throw out over the next couple turns... If you're close to winning that should seal the deal!

Will this deck be good enough to get to legend rank on the ladder? I have my doubts, but it's worth a shot. I suspect a key to getting to legend is actually having a variety of decks so you can swap up to beat the people who happen to be online at any given time, but that's sure not an option for me at this point in time.

1 comment:

Sthenno said...

People have streamed themselves getting to legend with entirely commons and rares - and I think it could probably still be done. One of the things about HS is that if your games are all actual 50-50 coin tosses you'll get to legend is you just play enough (about 1700 games a month should do it).

For me I was pretty sure I was stuck at the rank I was more because I sucked* than because of my cards. I'd keep doing these dumb things that I'd realize were dumb the moment I did them.

* "sucked" here is a work that means I wasn't playing perfectly all the time. Probably by some objective measure I was somewhere between "better than average" and "okay, pretty good I guess."