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Blizzard is finally trying to fix hearthstone

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Written by Kamil Arli

Tech Columnist James Plafke published an article on the blizzard that is finally trying to fix hearthstone. 

 For a while now, Hearthstone has been in a downward spiral. A single hero class has dominated the meta for around a year making the game as stagnant as it has ever felt, formats other than Standard have been severely neglected, subpar-to-terrible cards have composed the bulk of the recent expansions, simple quality of life improvements haven’t been made and Blizzard’s Team 5, Hearthstone’s development team, has either been infuriatingly quiet or frustratingly aloof in their communications. Just one month ago, we thought Team 5 would finally be delivering some answers, but it was just another exercise in how many words they can say without saying anything at all. Now, though — with a handful of recent changes and announcements — Team 5 seems poised to actually address every major (fixable) issue with the game.

TEAM 5 FINALLY SPOKE UP ABOUT AND DECIDED TO NERF TWO CARDS…

First, Team 5 finally spoke up about and decided to nerf two cards that wreaked havoc for three and (a whopping) seven months, respectively, in both Standard and Wild format: Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws. The announced nerfs were well-received by the community — a rare occurrence. Shortly after the nerf announcements, Team 5 revealed the theme of the upcoming Standard year rotation, The Year of the Mammoth, and this is where it seems Team 5 is finally starting to address Hearthstone’s longstanding problems.

Goodbye, favorites

(Image: Blizzard)

No Card Is Safe

Despite previously heavily implying that cards from the Classic set are safe from rotation, this is no longer the case. Team 5 will rotate certain powerful cards that see play at a frequency they deem too high — in this case, Azure Drake, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros the Fire Lord, Power Overwhelming, Ice Lance and Conceal. Despite some of these cards being fan favorites (or in Ice Lance’s case, the rotation being considered unwarranted), and despite the Classic set no longer technically being the “safe” investment on which to plop down some cash (since these cards can now rotate out of Standard), the community seemed overall pleased with the rotations.

A major issue with Hearthstone’s stagnation is that the Basic and Classic cards rarely got nerfed and, until now, never rotated, making decks have a very similar play style and win condition throughout the years. Now, with Classic cards no longer invulnerable to rotation, Team 5 can more easily make decks feel fresh.

A (Slightly) Better Ladder

One of the biggest complaints about Hearthstone for years is that the ranked ladder climb to Legend is too much of a grind and barely necessary. Breaking into the Legend ladder shouldn’t be an easy task, but since Hearthstone’s release, climbing the ladder was always more of a time investment than a skill investment for the kind of player that actually cares to climb to Legend in the first place. The ladder has always had floors — ranks you can’t drop below — at 20 and Legend. With Mammoth, Team 5 plans to add a floor every five ranks so you can’t dip below 15, 10 and five. Most climbers will tell you the real climb is from ranks five to Legend, where the loss of the win streak bonus and accumulation of seasoned players begins, but these floors will allow people to try wacky decks without fear of losing too many ranks, as well as save them some games where they’d otherwise fluctuate between ranks five and six.

The ladder will still be a grind, but a slightly less terrible one, and that’s something!

Wild and Arena

Both Wild and Arena formats were mostly ignored by Team 5 since their creation. Arena was rarely balanced and too susceptible to luck, and Wild was basically just a way for Team 5 to mollify players worried that their cash investment — with cards rotating out of Standard — wasn’t for nothing: “Don’t worry, you can still use these cards you bought in Wild!”

A couple days ago, Team 5 announced that Arena would be shifting to the Standard format, and some very unfair cards would be appearing significantly less frequently in drafts. Common, Basic and neutral Classic cards will also show up less frequently, and spells will show up as draft options more frequently. Most importantly, though, Team 5 said they have no problem reverting Arena back to its Wild roots if the Standard experiment fails. As for Wild, Team 5 cited another Heroic Tavern Brawl using the Wild format, as well as supporting third-party Wild tournaments. These aren’t ideal additions — like adding a way for players to actually purchase Wild expansions and Adventures would be — but doing anything at all with Wild is better than the nothing that was happening before.

Image: Blizzard

(Image: Blizzard)

More Cards, Simultaneous Adventures

Team 5 is also changing up the card release format. Now, instead of alternating and separating the releases of Expansions and Adventures, Team 5 is merging the two, and will release three Expansions per year that include optional Adventure content. This means Hearthstone will have more cards for both Standard and Wild formats per year, which in turn means the game shouldn’t be as stagnant as it has been in the past. Unfortunately, this also means the game will be more expensive for completionists and people who enjoy having a variety of cards for experimentation. However, it has been stated that Hearthstone will get new log-in rewards beginning with the next expansion, so this should help with the newly increased cost of collecting.

Best Of All

All of the above changes seem like Hearthstone will start climbing out of the hole it has been in for the past year or so, which is great. Best of all, though, is that Team 5 has said that they’re working on a way to better and more quickly deploy patches, which means we might not get stuck with, for instance, something like six months of pre-nerf Spirit Claws anymore. It’s a shame it took so long (for some complaints, since the game’s release in 2014) and so much community vitriol for Team 5 to finally start addressing longstanding issues with their game, but if they keep up this recent wave of communication and developer activity, Hearthstone might finally be the game we all knew it could always be.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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