Monday, November 07, 2016

Hearthstone Constructed Revisited

I've spent the last week or so watching a lot of constructed Hearthstone VoDs. Blizzcon was this past weekend and the World Championships were held there, so I've been watching 16 of the top Hearthstone players compete in a format where they had to bring 5 decks from 5 different classes to the table. The opponent bans one of them and then you each pick a deck and play. Winner's deck gets removed from the pool and you repeat until someone has won games with all 4 of their unbanned decks.

I find this kind of format fascinating, though it has pretty much nothing to do with the constructed available to me. Laddering is a very different beast since you have very different goals and opponents to play against. In a very real sense laddering is just a grind so playing a faster deck tends to be better because you can pound out more games. Everyone is aware of this too, so your opponents skew way more towards faster decks than they probably should. In the tournaments you're more choosing decks that are very powerful on their own, or that all target a specific weakness you're expecting to exist in your opponent's decks. One of the players swapped his warrior deck between the top 16 and the top 8 because he anticipated his opponents in the single elimination portion would target his control warrior. He switched to an aggressive dragon warrior instead, which was way better against his first opponent's heavily controlling decks.

Watching all these cool powerful decks has me itching to play cool decks. Watching these top players made me realize that I really would be just as good as they are if I put in the time practicing. And if I actually had cards. One of the interviews they kept showing between games at the tournament talked a little bit about how the player bought tons of packs each time a set came out. Now, maybe he does that to get golden cards, but I simply can't do that. I've slacked a lot on getting my quests done, and I haven't drafted much at all of the last couple sets, so my collection is really pitiful...

I did a bit of thinking about that, and it's not all bad. Sets rotating out after a couple years is actually set up to help me out now. Goblins vs Gnomes leaving was terrible for me since I played a ton when that was the newest set, but the next set to leave is going to be The Grand Tournament, where I don't even have half of the commons and have none of the legendaries. That rotation is expected to happen sometime around March, so I'd still have 5 months of suffering through not having any cards from that set, but I'd have plenty of time to work on picking up cards from the more recent sets.

Another thing I realized is that I don't actually need to keep any of my GvG cards. I have 6 legendaries from that set and a lot of the lesser rare stuff too. I could just dust all of those to give my collection a shot in the arm.

So I went and updated my collection spreadsheet and reality punched me squarely in the face. All of my cards that will not be standard legal come March are worth a total of 8165 dust. To craft all of the cards I'm missing from Classic and Old Gods would cost 115640 dust, and that doesn't account for the fact that TWO sets will be released between now and then.

Of course I don't need every card. I can survive without crafting up a Lorewalker Cho, a Milhouse Manastorm, or a Nat Pagle. There are 11 legendaries from Classic that seem completely unplayable, and 10 more from Old Gods. That shaves off 33600 of the dust from that number above. And even though something like Lord Jaraxxus is playable, I don't need him unless I really want to play control warlock.

So it's still kinda feasible to build up a collection capable of playing the tournament formats, but I won't be able to have all the options that everyone else does. That puts a damper on the whole thing. I even went and checked out some of the coolest decks from Worlds and most of them cost way more than the 2205 dust I have on hand. Throw in all the dust from GvG and I can make any single deck... There's a lot of overlap between the decks too (almost every deck at Worlds played Ragnaros, for example, so if I crafted him it would make all the decks 1600 dust cheaper).

I think this all means it's time to start putting in some time playing Hearthstone again. I need to earn another 445 gold in order to buy the last wing of the Karazhan adventure, and then I'll want to save up some gold to do a bunch of arena runs when the new set comes out to start building up cards from Gadgetzan. I am still missing half of the rares and 13 commons from Old Gods, and it's a set sticking around for a year and a half of standard, so maybe I should draft before Gadgetzan too even though I don't know a ton about the format.

I also need to craft up a Ragnaros and then play some decks. I'll probably hold off on disenchanting all my GvG stuff in case I come up with a good reason not to, but I suspect I'll be doing that soon.

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