Reynad did it.
Trump did it.
Now, your friendly neighborhood Shoctologist will be taking on the challenge of taking a free-to-play (F2P) deck from the spellbook to Legend rank.
We all know it’s possible; it’s been done at least twice now. I’ve accomplished the achievement of Legend rank with my beloved Warlock Aggro deck that’s been making the rounds somewhat (though Reynad’s near simultaneous posting of his Warlock Aggro deck has led that deck to be widely accepted as well); however, doing that again in the Beta won’t prove anything.
What I want to accomplish is twofold. First, I want to prove to myself that I can reach Legend with a deck other than Warlock and Druid Midrange. Second, since the Warlock Aggro deck started making the rounds, people have been asking for budget replacements for the most expensive cards in the deck. I’ve also seen numerous complaints that the game is “pay to win” and that everyone in the Legend ranks got there “just because they were willing to spend money.” Reynad and Trump did a good job of showing how this isn’t the case, but people still need convincing. So, I’m going to run a F2P deck to show that, again, it can be done with no money. (I have a rant on Pay to Win complaints, but I’ll save that until the end.)
Today’s article is simply going to cover the rules/guidelines by which I’ll abide. I’m going to try to apply as much structure as possible to this since 1. I don’t have much spare time and 2. I have diagnosed ADD/ADHD and forget things incredibly easily. While this article won’t be too long, it’s just a precursor for my series documenting this climb.
So, let’s jump into it!
Last week on Reddit, I posted asking for feedback on which character I should run for this F2P climb. Before I posted that, I had already dismissed Warrior and Mage, as Reynad and Trump (respectively) had used those classes to get to Legend already with a F2P deck. The classes I gave as options were Shaman and Hunter; I simply asked for votes.
The votes came in, mostly for Shaman, though we did get a vote or two for Hunter. The biggest surprise was the number of people requesting I do it with Priest; I’ll admit, I hadn’t previously considered Priest.
After some thought, I made an announcement on Twitter that I’d decided to go with Priest; this was before I ran some games with a Priest deck on my main account. I would win with the Priest deck, but it took longer than it takes for pond water to move. I started dreading the challenge knowing that the games would take that long…
You see, as I’ve mentioned before, I already have kids, work, and school on my plate. Compounding the time issue this month is the fact that my fiance and I are closing on a house and eventually moving. (If I remember correctly, April 6th is the day the contract says). Free time is… Well, let’s just say that it’s a precious commodity. I’m going to have to be super efficient to get Legend this month; unfortunately, the way that Priests play out, efficiency is the furthest thing from my mind when asked how to describe them.
So, to the dismay of some (especially my friend, Priest FanClub Prez Bill), I had to go back on my word somewhat. Instead of Priest, we’re going with this guy:
The votes for Shaman outweighed the votes for Hunter by quite a bit, so, in the absence of a Priest to use for the run, we’re using Thrall himself.
That means that we need a deck. So, here’s the decklist…
Wait, I don’t have one yet. That is because there is no deck yet; I’m going to start livestreaming my run tonight (Wednesday, 5 March, 7:00 p.m. EST on my Twitch stream) and my first order of business will be building my deck on air. This also means a lot of trial and error, as I’ve yet to play a ton of constructed Shaman decks.
Rules/ Guidelines/ Challenge Outline
1. No Cash: First, the big one – I can’t spend a penny. This is obvious, based on the title, but I want to include it in the rules/guidelines.
2. Every Class to Level 10: I’ve started a brand new account. I’ve gone ahead and leveled each class to 10 as well. These are things that not only new players (or players who refuse to spend money) can do, new players should be doing this when they first start. The gold reward is nice; you acquire all of the basic cards, and you get plenty of experience in actual gameplay. In the process of doing this, I decided to play a casual game to rank faster; I realized after I won the game that if I did it that way that I’d have more gold than I should when I start climbing. So, I have the quest reward for your first match win (an expert pack) already, though I would have gotten this almost immediately anyway (just so you know why I have the extra pack).
3. Arenas: Here’s how I plan on handling arenas/gold with this account. Since new players are probably not going to be able to “go infinite” with arena runs (meaning 7+ wins that pay for the next run, plus whatever else you get), I’m not going to use that to get a ton of cards. What I’m going to do is this: use my initial gold rewards from quests (this should be 300 gold) for two arena runs. With each of these, whatever gold I get goes into a “separate” fund that I’ll keep track of myself (I’ll have the running total on stream so we can all keep track); this fund will be used only for buying packs. In other words, my arena runs won’t fund further arena runs.
I do plan on running arenas when I get the gold to do so, but I have to acquire 150 gold through dailies and the three win 10 gold reward. Once I hit 150, I’ll do another quick arena run. While I know that I’ll probably acquire more gold than a new player would be able to get, I’m ok with this, as my goals are going to be slightly higher than what a new player might have. I can’t completely replicate the new player experience, but I’ll try to come as close as possible by funneling my arena rewards into just buying new packs.
4. Disenchanting: This is the rule that might venture the furthest from what a new player might do; however, if a new player wants to climb the ladder, this is exactly what I would suggest to them. I’m going to disenchant anything that wouldn’t (or couldn’t) go into my Shaman deck. This will allow me the dust needed to start acquiring better and more powerful cards. While I understand that a lot of new players will want to keep their cards, my goals are slightly higher than what most new players will have; again, I can’t fully replicate the new player experience, and this step is the one that might deviate more than most.
5. Streaming/Recording: Everything will be streamed and/or recorded; if I run some games at a time where I can’t record (say, if I’m on my laptop where the stream would be splotchy, jumpy, and terrible), I’ll still record games and post them to the Shoctologist YouTube Channel. Basically, I want a full record of this climb, even the arena runs.
Cards to Acquire
While I don’t have an initial decklist yet, that doesn’t mean that I’m unaware of what I’m looking to acquire. Below are three lists: Cards I Need; Cards I’ll Need Afterwards; and Cards I’d Like To Have. The cards I need are simply the common-rarity cards that I’ll want to get up front; the cards I’ll need afterwards are harder to acquire cards that I’ll need to climb with Shaman. Finally, “Cards I’d Like To Have” is a list of cards that would be nice to have, but only if I can get everything from the first two lists (or I open one in a pack).
Cards I Need
Look at the non-Hex removal available in the Basic Shaman set: Frost Shock and Rockbiter Weapon. That’s it. If you need to kill something dead, you better hope it has one health or that your opponent doesn’t have a Taunt creature. These four cards give us a better early game and Harvest Golem is a card that any collection needs and can use.
As for Unbound Elemental, it’s a card I’ll want, but it’s low priority because it does me no good until we get enough Overload cards. This probably means that it’ll come after I get some number of Lightning Storms (and possibly Feral Spirits), but I do aim to include them eventually.
Cards I’ll Need Afterwards
Defender of Argus(?)
I’ll cut it straight with you: those first two cards are really high on my list of “I Need This Card” cards; probably higher than everything but Lightning Bolt. The bad part is that they’re rares, so acquiring them early probably won’t happen (and the other cards improve my deck while being affordable, dust-wise). However, the sheer number of Warlock Aggro decks running around (both Murloc and otherwise) means that we need some sort of board wipe. We simply can’t keep up with the quality of one drops that Warlocks have using only what we start with (and Reynad’s version with Shieldbearer makes Rockbiter even worse). Feral Spirit is just a really good card, one that I have a feeling will be the Keeper of the Grove for Shaman decks (in that its the most skill-challenging card to play); timing Feral Spirits is probably my biggest issue when I try to play Shaman and this is something I’m definitely going to try to rectify.
Azure Drake is almost like the rare version of Harvest Golem; it’s a good card, one that gains card advantage, and it’s one that pretty much every player should own two of. (I’m not saying it’s like Harvest Golem in how it works/is played out, just that every player should get them when they can.) You’re almost never unhappy to drop a 4/4 that replaces itself and has upside.
The Defenders I’m not 100% sure about yet, but I think I’m going to try to get them. When paired with large Unbound Elementals, Defender can easily get out of hand. We’ll see how that experiment works when we get that far.
Cards I’d Like to Have
Any of the Playable Legendaries
Mana Tide Totem
Any other good cards I open
This list is short and sweet, but it’s also quite ambiguous. Roughly, my top 15 Legendary cards from my ranking scale will probably be kept and used in the Shaman deck (as the benefit of having them outweighs the 400 dust). Below that, I’ll disenchant and use the dust. Ditto for other class legendaries.
Mana Tide Totem is an outstanding card once the deck is set up to protect it. Think “Nat Pagle who actually knows how to fish and can catch something each turn.” However, it’s more fragile than ol’ Nat, so we need to get the shields up before we acquire this card. It’s also not necessary by any means; it’d just be nice to have eventually (or if I open it).
Finally, I have the ambiguous catch-all of “any good card I open”. In other words, I’m not going to disenchant an Argent Commander for the measly amount of dust I’ll get – that won’t even get me a common card – when I can keep the awesome 4/2 charge with Divine Shield. While this isn’t necessarily in line with the deck’s plans, until I acquire quite a few cards, the Argent Commander will just be better than most of what I have.
Well, there you have it. The gauntlet has been thrown down and the challenge accepted. Join me tonight on stream when I put together the deck that dreams are made of (and that only a mother could love) as we push for Legend without paying a penny.
Now, about that pay-to-win rant:
I say the following with every bit of love that I have for each of you who takes the time out of your day to stop and read what I have to say: Please stop calling the game “Pay to Win” when you aren’t immediately successful.
First, it would only be pay to win if you got stuff you couldn’t otherwise get by paying money. In Hearthstone, you only pay to expedite the card acquisition process. I got almost all of my cards through Arenas, as my kids/family prevent me from dropping a ton of money on a game.
Second, people in the 10-15 range last season had plenty of decks with legendaries in them. If acquiring legendaries is the key to winning, why then were those people not automatically given Legend status? Legendaries aren’t how you get to higher ranks; skill dictates that. Having access to a high number of powerful cards just increases your options on what you can play competitively.
Lastly, I can say this without a hint of negativity based on the fact that I had to realize this myself when I was playing Magic: You’re losing because you’re making mistakes that are costing you games. Look at it this way – Trump and Reynad both did a F2P climb and got Legend without spending a penny. You may be thinking, “But they’re really good…”
That’s my point exactly. Their skill dictated their potential, not their collection. Simply complaining that the game is “skill-less aggro facerollers” or “pay to win” is only holding you back. When you make these excuses, you’re ignoring your own shortcomings in favor of an easily packaged “solution” that you can sell to yourself as to why you’re not winning. Start inspecting your own game; it’ll help immensely.