Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I did two Hearthstone drafts yesterday but it turns out I'm a little incompetent at this whole streaming thing. The first draft I did with my microphone off so while I can replay the draft and games to see what happened I can't know what I was thinking at the time. OBS crashed between drafts and when I restarted it an hour later to do my second draft I didn't check to see what scene it was on. (I assumed it was on the last one used. Turns out it was on the top one in the list. But SolForge wasn't open, so nothing at all was getting captured.) So while I had my voice for the second draft I didn't have video until more than halfway through when I realized what was going on. No one was watching so from a streaming standpoint it wasn't too bad (and if people had been watching they would have told me about both issues pretty quickly I would hope), but it again makes reviewing the draft impossible and the play for most of the draft useless. Oh well. Live and learn!

I did find a website, HearthArena, that has some interesting arena related features. The big thing is that Hearthstone drafts don't have any time pressures on them. (You don't draft with other people like in Magic, instead you just pick 1 card from 3 options over and over again.) This means it's pretty easy to get outside help if you wanted to. Call up a buddy, ping them on Skype or something. Ask a hard question about what to take. A couple of guys with pretty good arena records got together and built a website to be your buddy. They assigned values to every card for each class and then wrote some algorithms to modify the value of the cards based on what you've already picked and what you probably need for your deck. It also justifies any value changes to a card so you can see why they they're thinking what they're thinking. It's really cool...

It also feels a lot like cheating. I've been doing a lot of arena reading the last couple days and it seems people are in agreement that play skill matters a lot more than draft skill when it comes to getting a really good record. You certainly can't be drafting badly by any stretch, but even if you were drafting perfectly you'd probably struggle to win a lot. I can buy that argument. I also think a lot of drafting does come down to algorithmically making decision while the play has lots of probability and psychology to it on top of raw numerical skill. So a draft buddy feels like cheating, but I don't think it actually is cheating.

My bigger concern would actually be trusting that these guys know what they're talking about, and that the algorithm they wrote properly accounts for different factors. Absolutely for someone starting out it would help tons, but blindly following it once you know what is going on is probably suboptimal. Especially since a lot of the choices will come down to playstyle concerns, and someone who falls in a different default spot on the tempo--control spectrum will have different correct choices than the website. On the other hand they claim an 8.5 win average (~74% win rate, which is bigger than anything I considered putting in my table yesterday) and have lots of streams to somewhat back their claims up.

What I used it for yesterday was to redo my draft after I was done to see what it thought about my choices. I wanted to do this for both drafts but the lack of video in the second one made that impossible. I still put the draft into the website, but with the first two cards alphabetically competing with the card I took. This took away drafting advice but still let me see what they thought about my deck as a whole.

My first deck was a paladin deck that the website termed as 'classic aggro'. I wasn't really sure how I was going to actually win games since I only had one thing that cost more than 7 and therefore was pretty screwed in the late game. So I guess aggro is a pretty good idea for what I had to be. I went 4-3 with the deck. My losses were to a mage who had board control the whole game and got off a big topdecked flamestrike with 8 power in play on his side, a druid with a lot of huge taunt dudes, and to having my turn 5 sludge belcher stolen with a mind control tech while I had an imp master, an imp, and a nerubian egg for a complete blowout. I may well have been able to avoid the last loss by going up to 2 or 3 guys instead of 4 on turn 6, but the other two felt like matchup blowouts. Oddly enough 6 of my 7 opponents were mages.

The website mostly agreed with my picks but it had a few big ones that it disagreed with. At pick 4 (after taking a 5, a 7, and a 4) I took a frostwolf warlord over a mechanical yeti. I was thinking that as a paladin the warlord was going to be pretty good. But in retrospect a 4/5 for 4 is actually pretty good too, and I was already leaning pretty expensive as it was. I agree. The very next pick I took a fen creeper over a mad bomber. I like taunts and my deck seemed pretty slow so I thought I would mostly be on the back foot and therefore wanted more taunts to try to stabilize. I was also worried that the bomber would just kill my tokens. I think I definitely overvalue those tokens and the bomber would have been a better choice. Later on it disagreed with both of my undertaker picks. I had 4 deathrattlers in my deck and 18/16 picks to go when I took them. I disagree with the website and think undertaker is really good early and is a 1 drop that is actually ok late game too. Assuming you get enough deathrattlers. Which luckily are pretty good in general so putting a preference on taking them wouldn't have been bad anyway.

My second deck was a rogue deck that I didn't think looked very good. I didn't know how I was going to win games. I actually had lots of draft options that I wanted to see what the website had to say, but I can't because I'm bad at things. The site did say that the cards I ended up with make a tempo deck. My cards seemed good in general, but that 4 slot is really full. At any rate, I managed to go 6-3 with the deck. I can't talk about my first loss since I can't see it... But both of the last two I lost because of a backbreaking legendary card. Oh well!

10-6 is way better than I was expecting heading into these drafts. For my next one I hope to have both video and sound at the SAME TIME! *gasp*

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