#497: The Reaper

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The data reaper is a series of Hearthstone reports put out by an organization called Vicious Syndicate, a group of elite Hearthstone players and personalities, all of whom are dedicated to accruing the most up-to-date data on the Hearthstone ranked ladder at all levels of play. This includes ranks Legend through 25, and it even includes both Wild and Standard formats, though the Wild data reapers usually take a bit longer to update considering the popularity of the format compared to Standard.

Above all, it’s nice to have a resource anyone can look at, that’s publicly available and for free, that you can use to look up the meta in Hearthstone. The game itself is such a meta-dependent game, in that you need to have an up-to-date understanding of each of the decks that might ravage the format in order to best understand what’s going to hose you down in a few minutes. If you’re not aware of the decks, you won’t know how to handle their aggressive or controlling strategies, and thus it will prove difficult for you to figure out how to beat them. It’s a simple sort of dynamic that Vicious Syndicate has created, and speaking as someone who’s never reached Legend rank but has gotten close a few times, I would be nowhere without those people and their resources. I regularly send my data over to them, though I don’t play enough for it to be that relevant, unfortunately. I hope, in the future, should I play more and eventually reach Legend, that the popularity of this website continues to grow and eventually lead to even more advanced strategies and builds for decks. Even now I’m pretty sure people are still optimizing the decklists that are put out by VS, and people will make them their own in their own different ways.

#487: The Disconnect

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While writing the last blog post about getting a fat pack of cards, I disconnected from a game of Hearthstone. I like to play that game while still having time to do other things, like Destiny, Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, or writing blog posts. Whatever the occasion, I like the opportunity to multi-task and accomplish two things at once, if possible. Most of the reason why I end up writing so many blog posts about the same subjects — the games I play — is because I end up writing while doing those things. It’s just the natural way of how I write.

Now, when I’m trying to pay attention and actually home in on a particular idea, in those cases I definitely don’t multi-task. Like if I’m writing a story or a chapter, I find that I have to commit myself to only writing that story or chapter in order for it to make sense. In any other circumstance, it’s just straight up impossible. There’s sometimes a disconnect between how I write and how I play, but above all it’s caused by my brain and how it manages itself. More than anything, I’m not the kind of person to just let things pass me by, and I want to commit to writing this blog with my full attention at times.

The disconnect is what happens when I lose a game of Hearthstone because the Internet connection here is a bit unstable and doesn’t always like to cooperate. The disconnect is how I handle frustration, and it’s also how I handle situations that are just straight up difficult to manage on my own. I disconnect from them, and I move away, like I did this January. It’s crazy to think it’s still been two months since what happened changed everything.

#483: The Golden

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The other day, while playing Hearthstone and having not much else to do, I reached 500 wins with the Hunter class for the first time. It’s a great milestone to achieve in Hearthstone because, after all, it means I’ve sunk a ridiculous amount of hours into this game and thus I finally have the golden Hunter hero, Rexxar, unlocked. Is this a significant achievement that warrants respect and admiration? Not really, not at all. It’s more of a matter of time if you play as often as I do, not really a mark of skill or anything like that. Also, though this is my first time reaching the milestone on Hunter, it is not the first time I’ve made it to 500 wins with a class; I also have the golden hero for Warrior. In fact, I’m at around 800 wins with Warrior, which is pretty ridiculous when you think about it. I hope to get 1000 to unlock the even better portrait that comes with it.

Golden heroes are unique and stand out among the crowd, in that they look cool, shiny, and designate a certain level of dedication to playing the game. It’s like my card back, which I might explain at a different time on this blog in order to preserve the ability to write about that topic. But regardless, I use it to show the people I’m playing against that basically I mean business, if that makes sense. It’s nice to be able to communicate that sort of information without actually speaking to the other person.

My friend Dan actually reached 500 wins with Hunter before I did, so he had the golden hero in advance. I remember seeing it while playing against him and thinking it was really cool, so now that I have the opportunity to use it myself, I likely won’t stop.

#324: The Legend

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Reaching legend rank in Hearthstone has been a dream of mine for awhile, though I’ve never quite achieved it yet. It’s still one of those few gamer achievements that’s eluded me, like getting above gold rank in Overwatch competitive league. At least in this case, this is a fairly achievable thing that I can imagine myself getting. It just involves a lot of grinding and working towards a goal, without stopping anywhere in the middle. If I actually put some effort into it, I’m sure I could reach legend some day with the right deck. And then I’d memorialize that deck forever, if it were to happen. I’d keep the deck in my collection as a standard and then wild deck, with the title “this is what got me to legend, I will never get this rid of this ever.” Although that’s probably too long a title to have at once. I think it only allows a few words at most!

I mention getting to legend because I’m currently playing Hearthstone, and it’s something I can maybe see myself achieving this season. It’s within my reach and I can almost taste it. Unfortunately for me, there are only a select few amount of days left in the season, as each season lasts a month and you’re given until the end of the month to reach legend before your rank is reset back down a bit and your progress is mostly lost. The rank reset has been more forgiving in recent months, after they updated it so that you didn’t lose all of your progress. Now that I’ve made it to rank 7 this season, I’ll probably drop down to about 13 or so when the season resets, unless I can manage to climb up the ladder higher before that happens. We’ll have to see!

#210: The Wild

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Recently, I’ve been experimenting with a new game mode on Hearthstone, called “Wild Mode.”

That’s what I’ll be discussing a little bit today. I like to play Hearthstone on my phone, because it gives me the chance to do something during my downtime. Whether it’s the adventure mode or something else, there’s always something interesting to check out in this game. I can climb the Wild ladder, for example, and explore what that world has to offer as compared to the Standard ladder.

Hearthstone has two modes of deck construction: Standard, which includes the last two years of cards that have been released, and Wild, which includes all cards from all previous expansions and other content releases, such as solo adventures. Both modes are separated on the ranked and unranked ladders, allowing for people to pit Wild decks against Wild decks and Standard decks against other Standard decks. That way, it’s fair, and people aren’t playing at a disadvantage against each other based on what cards are available to them. Having Wild cards available to you changes what’s strong and what isn’t strong.

I generally like to play on the Standard ladder, but recently, I’ve been exploring Wild because of the different deck archetypes available to this mode. The two modes have drastically different metas, with different classes superior in this mode versus what classes are superior in Standard. For example, Warrior is a strong class in Standard right now but is considered one of the weakest in Wild. Shaman is great in Wild but mostly mediocre in Standard right now. The diversity of decks is what entices me most to this mode. I’ve been running an Even Shaman deck on the ladder and have won many of my games so far. It’s pretty dominant over casual, constructed decks that aren’t as refined as it. It’s unfortunate for my opponents, but great for me!

#207: The Solo Mode

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When it comes to playing Hearthstone, one of my favorite parts is the solo adventures mode. There are other modes, like the ranked and practice and arena offerings, but to me, the solo adventures are the icing on the cake that is Hearthstone. It’s considered PVE (which stands for Player vs. Environment, rather than Player vs. Player), so it’s against computers rather than actual human beings. That’s fine with me, as it takes a lot of the stress out of playing the game. Consequently, there’s no turn timer, so I can take as long as I want on my turns and not have to worry about it being too long. Patience is key and, especially while doing other, more productive things, I can focus on one while ignoring the other and not feel rushed around.

The solo mode typically features around 8 bosses, one faced after another, and you have to build a deck of cards by picking from 3-card offerings after each boss. You have to build your deck from a basic starting deck up to something more meaningful and powerful. You pick treasures that are absurdly powerful after every few bosses, but you soon realize that the bosses themselves have absurd powers as well that you need to counter somehow. It’s difficult to predict what bosses will come and when, but your goal at the end is to survive all the way through the run. It’s a lot of fun to try and compete this way. I have the card back for completing the original dungeon run in Kobolds & Catacombs with all 9 classes, which is something I cherish and will likely never take off. It’s one of those accomplishments that not everyone has, so you feel special for having earned it against the odds. I’m glad they’re still coming out with these modes, even though people may seem them as being stale.

#186: The Infinite

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Infinity. Not about Infinity War, we’ll be talking about “going infinite”: a process in Magic: the Gathering and Hearthstone that involves getting enough rewards from each limited run that you are able to keep going without paying for more gems or other in-game currencies.

Allow me to explain. In a previous blog post, I discussed what “limited” runs are. Sealed, draft, and more. In Hearthstone, there’s a mode called “The Arena” which is very similar to drafting, except you don’t keep the cards you collect there and you draft from picks of 3 each time. In the arena, you can pay either 150 gold or $1.99 to enter, and every time you enter, the price stays the same. When you wrap up a run, after 3 losses or 12 wins, whichever happens first, you get rewards at the end, including gold and dust and packs. The gold you can use to then purchase another arena run, thus going infinite. If you’re the kind of person who’s talented enough to always have an arena run going, it’s because the gold you earn from your runs succeeds the gold spent to play arena.

In magic, while doing sealed runs, I went infinite for awhile. Probably about 5 runs in a row. Not very long, but my sealed runs would consistently reach around 6 to 7 wins, thus earning about 2,000 gems, the requirement to enter a sealed run. Again, it’s going infinite because you’re always earning enough currency to enter another time.

The reason I’m discussing “going infinite” here is because it’s a really cool process, and if you do well enough, you can really just continue playing as much as you like. You can always have a limited run going regardless, depending on how good you are and how good the cards were that you got. It’s up to chance, in some ways, but it’s also up to you. I like to think the impetus is on you more than anything else.

#135: The Card Expansion

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When I think about collectible card games, the first one that comes to mind is always Hearthstone, and for good reason. First of all, you can’t trade cards in this game, but you just collect them by opening packs. Secondly, it’s available on smartphones and computers and tablets, so it’s incredibly versatile and useful. When you open packs, it gives you five cards, with at least one being rare quality. There are other qualities of cards, though, such as epic and legendary, but those have a less likely chance of appearing when you open packs and they aren’t guaranteed, either.

The reason I bring all of this up is because a new expansion for Hearthstone has been announced, titled “Rise of Shadows.” It features lots of homebrewed villains from the Hearthstone universe forming an evil league to take down Dalaran, the city of magic in the sky. I have no idea what will actually take place in the adventure portion of this game, when the story is actually relevant to the gameplay, but I’m interested regardless. Whenever a new expansion is announced, I always look forward to the spoilers season, when new cards are slowly trickled in and unveiled by the development team through publishers. I always get caught in the hype and am interested in what’s coming next to the game. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype when things are getting exciting like this!

My favorite time is when the legendary cards are revealed, as they usually have the most ridiculous, over-the-top effects and abilities. Those are usually meta-defining and absolutely shape and warp the way the game is played in standard and wild. The past few sets haven’t been that impactful, but with there being a rotation in standard with it being Year of the Dragon now, this new expansion set is bound to change things up.

#78: Card Games

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Instead of talking directly about Hearthstone again in another blog post, I decided to talk about card games in general, considering Hearthstone is indeed a card game.

I love playing card games, of all shapes and sizes: collectible card games, trading card games, battle card games, card games with boards. Poker, blackjack, uno, crazy eights, war, solitaire, Hearthstone, Artifact, Yugioh, Pokemon, Magic: the Gathering, Duel Masters. No matter what kind of card game I’m playing, I’m interested in it.

I spent a lot of time (and money) on Magic: the Gathering back in high school and college, as it became a common hobby among our group of gamers. We built Standard-format decks first, then moved into Modern and EDH (Elder dragon highlander) formats. EDH is still my favorite, offering players decks of a hundred totally unique cards. There’s so much room for creativity in the deck-building process, but inconsistency in the playing of the game; because the deck is composed of totally unique cards, the odds of you drawing the exact card you want at any given time is around 1-100. My friend Joe probably still plays Magic to this day, as he invested much more money into it than I ever did; however, Joe is smart and knows how to make money back by selling his old cards on eBay. He even helped me when I decided to sell my stock of cards away.

Oddly enough, despite my interest in card games, I’ve never learned successfully how to shuffle cards. I still smash two titanic halves of the deck into each other, mushing them together until it looks as if they have disappeared into one deck. Then I repeat it, again and again, until I’m somewhat confident that there won’t be any major repeats of cards when we start drawing through the deck. Every time I have the responsibility of shuffling the deck, that’s my biggest fear: that the deck wasn’t shuffled well enough, that there are repeats and errors throughout, and that we have to go back and shuffle it all again, prolonging the beginning of our game.

#75: Hearthstone & Teeth

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Careful! There’s a fire burning above here, for some reason. It has no relation to today’s blog post topic, “Hearthstone & Teeth,” it just showed up under the Free Photo Library for the search term Hearth. I guess it works.

Hearthstone is a video game I’ve put tons and tons of hours into, probably more than I ever should have. It’s kept me occupied on study abroad trips, on Michigan plane rides, and after pesky orthodontist appointments. While I was abroad for six months in London, I spent a lot of my free time playing this game, as it had just released and I wanted to grind out games with my Control Warrior build.

But I also remember when the game first came out in 2014 as the year I got my wisdom teeth pulled. The release of the game’s closed beta — a pre-release copy of the game, with no strings attached, that you have to have been sent a “beta code” to enter — coincided with my wisdom teeth, actually. Maybe the beta came out in 2013, then. Either way, as I explained, a beta code is hard to get. Famous video game streamers on Twitch were offered codes in exchange for streaming the game, so that it would attract the attention of the general video game-playing audience. (Twitch.tv is a website that people stream playing video games on. It’s a massively popular site, where the highest earning streamer earns over $1 million a month.)

Well, I remember coming home from my wisdom teeth appointment, feeling super numb all over myself and in no mood to entertain anyone, and after opening up my email on my phone, I saw a message: “Beta Code for Anthony!” How cool of a coincidence is that? It blew my mind at the time, and I remember spending the next few days of numbness and frustration building decks and trying out all the cool new strategies available in this special card game.

I realized after writing this that I didn’t spend much time talking about Hearthstone itself, just its personal relation to me. Maybe I’ll talk more about the actual game in another post. So, don’t be surprised if it makes a return coming up.