Rob Pardo started Hearthstone’s day out with some big announcements on the Elite Tauren Chieftan card, hints on the future of ranked Play Mode and the bomb that Hearthstone would eventually be coming to iPhones and Android smart phones. That was more than enough, and frankly, I didn’t think the news would get much bigger, but the Fireside Chat absolutely proved me wrong. Eric Dodds and Ben Brode took to the stage and covered just how Hearthstone came to exist in its current incarnation, and followed up an awesome story with details on balance changes, the possibility of future expansions and more details on ranked Play Mode.
Mind Control has, all puns intended, been on the minds of a number of players of late. It’s either too strong or incredibly unreliable based on your personal opinion, but it looks like Team 5 agreed that it needed to be toned back. Mind Control’s mana cost will be jacked up to 10 mana in a future patch, making the deck that much slower. It might not be an ideal change, but it’s one that stuck with their overall vision of simplicity, as opposed to a long, convoluted change.
It appears Hunters are also due for a nerf or two, almost assuredly due to the success of the Hunter Unleash the Hounds combo deck. Starving Buzzard’s toughness will be brought down to one, making it incredibly easy to take out (especially for Mages) and further perpetuating the vicious rumor that birds are very easy to murder in Hearthstone – Thanks, Ironbeak Owl. Unleash the Hounds is also set to be changed, but Ben Brode had no hard information on just what was going to be done.
It’s worth noting that, along with these changes, the next patch is set to bring about the golden Elite Tauren Chieftan card to those who paid for the Virtual Ticket or attended BlizzCon.
Eric Dodds made it quite clear that the team is definitely down to do expansions in the future to release new cards. He explained though that the team’s current vision hinged on an an Adventure idea, wherein players competed against bosses in a PvE setting, with relevant cards being doled out to the player as they continued along the adventure, similar to the opening Mage tutorial. That would be a deft move, considering the desire on the part of the player base for more boss/tutorial encounters. Dodds also took the time to explain that the team was aware that, when releasing new cards, it was important to consider three groups of people: hardcore players, casual players and thrifty players.
Given that we’re still in closed beta, it was not surprising to see zero mention of potential dates or timetables. Still, it was great to hear such a promising vision for the future of the game.
Ranked Play Mode
Those clamoring for a bit of meaning behind their struggles through ranked play, fear not. Your anguished cries have been heard and justice will soon be met. Each month, players will have their rank set to the lowest one possible, Angry Chicken. Winning will move players up along the ranks while, and this is new, losing will move players back down the ranks. The ultimate goal is to make it to the number one rank out of the 25 different ranks (each represented by a different Hearthstone minion) and, if you get there, make it to the highest rank of all, referred to as ‘Legend’. Upon becoming a Legend, your rank in your region will be calculated nightly and revealed to you, telling you just where you sit against your peers.
Participation in ranked play will reward individuals (in future patches, not the one coming next) with special card backs, and, if a player wins 500 matches in ranked with a specific hero, a golden version of that hero and subsequent hero power will be unlocked. The sheer amount of wins required will obviously make those boons incredibly exclusive. This is promising news for those looking for more cosmetic unlocks as the game continues.
Three additional arena keys will be added in coming patches, boosting the number of possible wins from 9 to 12. Are you a bad enough dude?
Joyous news for all, a reconnect feature is also being worked on, which is fantastic, given the amount of frustration that comes with having to forfeit an arena game because of a poor internet connection or a game crash.
There were a fair amount of statistics dropped, a lot once more reinforcing that the difference between going first and second was generally somewhat trivial, as the win rates were incredibly close, especially while playing as classes such as Druid. The most incredible statistic to me was that, of all the players at 3 Star Masters currently, 44% had never spent a dime on the game. That’s a fairly strong dagger in the side of those holding to the notion that Hearthstone is a pay-to-win title. It’s incredibly promising that, in closed beta, Team 5 has created a game that is both fun and reasonably balanced to those playing at all levels.
While that’s it for the Fireside Chat, be sure to check in tomorrow as we cover the remainder of the Hearthstone Innkeeper’s Invitational!