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As originally announced on the official Hearthstone page (link), Hearthstone will be hosting its second live stream developer Q&A tomorrow, February 21, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. PST. This Q&A intends to cover the Year of the Mammoth, the accompanying standard rotation, “expansions and missions” (“missions” apparently being the name for the mini-adventures that will now come out with the expansions instead of as stand-alone content), and the Wild format. As was the case last time, you can submit your questions to the team via twitter and/or the official forums. You only have one day left, so get those questions in soon! Don’t forget to check back in here after the stream for the official Blizzpro hot take. The entire original post was as follows:

 

January 2017 Arena Rankings

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This morning, Blizzard published a list of the top 100 arena players in each server during the course of the month of January, 2017. The players were ranked by average number of wins over a minimum of 30 arena runs. Unsurprisingly, longtime arena-aficionado and streamer “Kripparrian” topped the NA rankings with an average of 7.78 wins over his 37 runs. Other notable professional arena-streamers Hafu and Merps also made the list (at ranks 30 and 90, respectively). Self-proclaimed Chinese arena fangroup, “Meow,” also made a big mark on the NA rankings, taking 13 of the top 100 spots. The player with the highest average number of wins (an astounding 9.32!) was the aptly-named EU champion, “twlevewins.” Twelvewins also took rank 48 on the NA server with 6.76 wins per run, indicating that either EU arena is a lot easier and/or he started a new account on EU and benefited from the

A few hours ago, Game Director Ben Brode took to the Blizzard forums to discuss the meta, Shaman, and upcoming potential nerfs. As was the case in his recent Reddit post regarding design philosophy (discussed in our “Brode Post Roundup“), Brode’s post included some interesting, fairly-detailed explanations of Hearthstone balance philosophies. Here are some highlights: The post began with explanations of the terms “meta” and “balance.” Brode thinks the defining characteristic of  “meta” decks is frequency of use. Brode thinks “balance” has two meanings: 1) relative power levels of decks, and 2) relative frequency of use within the meta. He notes that usually people flock toward powerful decks, so the two forms of (im)balance tend to converge. “ believe, at its core, Hearthstone is more fun when you are having a variety of experiences… one of the biggest ways to give you different experiences (and problems to solve)

 

Another Shot at a Missed Card Back

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Every season, each player who hits rank 20 or higher gets a fancy new card back, and each player who did not get there does not. The vast majority of card backs are, presently, only available once. Earlier today, Blizzard announced that it is giving us a gift! That is, they are giving us another shot at the Gift Exchange tavern brawl and, as a prize for winning a brawl this week, the Winter Veil Wreath card back. Players who already have the card back will receive the traditional classic pack upon winning, so everybody wins. Official announcement here.

 

Brode Post Roundup

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Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode continued his developer communication tour de force this past week with another published interview, a Reddit post, and an admittedly “cheesy selfie.” Here’s what you need to know: I. Polygon Interview Goes Live on January 27th. On January 27th, Polygon.com published a recent interview with Brode. The interview covered a lot of topics that have been touched on in other interviews recently but is a good recap for those who, understandably, might not have been able to keep up with the recent onslaught of developer insights and other communications. A few key points of the interview: The team is euphoric with the amount of classes seeing competitive play in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan meta but is unhappy that most of those classes are either Reno or pirate decks. The team is “starting to believe” pirates are a problem, and will continue to monitor them

PC Gamer  recently sat down with Ben Brode following last week’s livestream Q&A. The conversation focused heavily on possible nerfs and rotations related to pirates and the upcoming standard rotation. Here are some highlights from the interview: Of the “pirate package” cards, it is Small-Time Buccaneer, not Patches, that is the problem. The team prefers to announce nerfs a short time before the nerfs go live, even if the nerf is decided a week or two prior. However, there are currently no plans to nerf either Small-Time Buccaneer or Patches. Brode does not even know what a Small-Time Buccaneer nerf would look like. Brode prefers nerfs that minimally change the card text, but that do not confuse players who are used to playing the former versions. Hence, he likes changing the “big numbers” on cards, such as the mana cost. In response to Brian Kibler’s video-response to Ben Brode and

Yesterday morning, Blizzard launched new, official Hearthstone Esports dedicated Twitter (@HSEsports) and Facebook (facebook.com/HearthstoneEsports) accounts. The inaugural post for both accounts was an announcement about the recently-announced HCT Bahamas location. The announcement was two-fold: 1) Blizzard has negotiated reduced hotel rates with the hotel that will be hosting the event; and 2) attendees of HCT Bahamas will receive the Power Core card back, a second unrevealed card back, and a “unique souvenir.” The team has confirmed that the mystery card back will be available at future HCT events (source), but “unique souvenir” sounds like it will be limited to this event. I guess we’ll just have to see you all there! Read the entire announcement in the blue post below.

On the heels of Ben Brode’s comments that the next Standard rotation may come with additional nerfs-to or rotations-of evergreen cards that threaten the “freshness” of the format (Brode’s comments may be found here), Vicious Syndicate has run an analysis of the most commonly played cards since Mean Streets of Gadgetzan was released. An idea behind the compilation is that the most commonly-played cards might be some of the worst offenders in terms of “freshness.” While such may not be completely accurate, for instance, if some lesser-played cards were to limit design space and thereby indirectly cause “staleness,” the raw numbers seem to be a great place to start. The entire Vicious Syndicate list and analysis may be found here. Here are a few points of consideration: The list is of most commonly played cards, not cards most commonly included in decklists. This means that early-game cards will inherently appear higher

 

Developer Roundup

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Following the January 13, 2017 live Q&A session, the Hearthstone development team has continued its whirlwind be-more-open-with-the-community-tour with formal interviews, tweets, and Reddit posts. Starting right after the Q&A, Dean “Iksar” Ayala and Ben Brode took back to Twitter and Reddit to tackle some of the questions that didn’t make it into the stream. Some highlights include: Any classic cards moved to Wild could be disenchanted for full dust.  (cite) However, there are currently no plans to make it cheaper or easier to collect Wild-only cards. (cite) Arena will be standard-only as “an experiment” for players to try (editor’s note: he specifically said “it’s” an experiment, not “it would be”). (cite) The team has considered rotating card pools in Arena, but first want to implement Standard and tweak rarity distributions before trying other options. (cite) The team has examined methods of encouraging subthemes and synergies but does not want to