One of the biggest frustrations with Blizzard for the past 20+ years is that they do things on there own schedule, and it’s rarely a schedule we like. Although frustrating most of the time, few can argue against the opinion that most of what they put out is pretty darned good right out of the gate. It’s been their method, and we begrudgingly accept it as part of the process. It builds hype, which we feverishly buy into, and we are usually pleased with the result. Once an IP finally comes out, so does our crazy, and it’s usually unwarranted. When improvements are needed wanted, or new content is teased for the games we love, Blizzard takes the same slow and methodical approach to making changes/adding content, and it drives us crazy. We lose our everloving minds over it. Just like we always do.

Yet, each time something new comes out, it is usually stable (in comparison to the support patches/content implementations from other companies in the industry), has well designed content, and is well supported. Just like it always is.

Take a moment to read that last statement again, as I want you to take a minute and think about what implementation from other companies typically looks like. To put it bluntly, we are spoiled. We take it all Blizzard normally gives us for granted because Blizzard has delivered on content and features time and again. I know I do. I have liked 90% of what Blizzard has done with all of their IP’s. I honestly can’t say that about ANY other company. It is why I am, admittedly, a Blizzard fanboy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset when things don’t go the way I want them too (because I know exactly what will save the game and rake in a bunch of cash, just like you do),but that doesn’t mean that I don’t do my best to evaluate what they do objectively (it’s my job as a reported of all things Hearthstone). For instance, I really don’t like the new expansion. I don’t like the new mechanics, I don’t like the flavor, and I don’t think the meta it created is fun at all. I know, unpopular statement and all, but still my opinion. With all that being said, I still have an overall positive opinion of Hearthstone and I have confidence that the design team will still do right by the community, if we don’t lynch them first.

If you haven’t heard by now, they have shelved the In-Game Tournament Mode for the foreseeable future. That has a lot of people upset. You can read the announcement here (https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/hearthstone/22483774/hearthstone-in-the-works-september-18) if you haven’t already seen it. Here I go with an unpopular opinion again.
I think we should be happy for this, not angry.

Now, if you know me, then you know that I am not a fan of this feature being implemented. I have said so many times on the show. The biggest reason that I am not a fan is the difficulty in implementing and managing this feature properly so that EVERYONE can enjoy a new and fun mode that furthers the enjoyment of the Hearthstone community across the board. My fear has always been sloppy implementation due to rising pressure from the community and a tournament circuit that seems continuously plagued by one technological issue after another. Whether that is true as far as the numbers go or not I couldn’t say, but it seems that way, and that perception could be dangerous for the overall reputation of the game. If Tournament Mode is implemented improperly, then it could create more headaches that it is worth, for us and for Blizzard. I could go on and on about the dangers and community pitfalls, but no one really wants to hear about that, they just want to know why I think it is good they have shelved it now. Okay, I’ll try and keep it short as this piece is already longer that I expected.

In a nutshell, with a large portion of Hearthstone falling into the casual realm, the reality is that Blizzard needs this to be relevant to the majority of Hearthstone players. They need it to feel rewarding, instructive in the sense of players learning and progressing, and they need it to generate income. I know that no one wants to talk about that last bit, but it’s the truth. If they are going to support it, it needs to support them. There has to be some kind of in-game or real life fee attached, or it won’t get the support they need to give it. That means that people need to be willing to grind for it or pay for it. If you are asking the casual player to choose between tournament mode or buying packs with their in-game, then the reward system needs to be good and the match making needs to be on point or they are going to pick packs over the mode every time. Then it will just turn into a place were elitist play and complain about changes needed in the overall game so that they can be more productive in Tournament Mode, and they will complain loudly. At that point, Tournament Mode won’t give Blizzard anything more than a consistent and persistent community relations nightmare.

In the article, Blizzard states that “Tournaments can serve many different audiences, but the implementation we’d arrived at catered to a very specific audience of players”. They also state “We no longer felt that the end result would deliver on everyone’s expectations of the high standards we have for Hearthstone.” These statements should make everyone very happy, but the reality is that Blizzard has spoiled us, so to social media we go to level our typical barrage of insults and blistering posts. Thankfully though, Blizzard will be Blizzard and do their level best to soothe our tantrums and weather the storm, just like they always do.

I personally feel like Tournament Mode could do as much harm as good to Hearthstone, and the fact that Blizzard is once again taking their time to do it right is somewhat comforting to me. Poor implementation, or features that do not contribute to the overall player experience, can really set a game apart in a bad way these days. With new and ever improving competition in the online CCG market, a miscalculation could give ground that would be hard to gain back. The part that gives me hope, which may turn into excitement, about Tournament Mode is that it appears Blizzard realizes how important it is to get it as right as possible out of the gate. This shouldn’t surprise us, it’s Blizzard, and by this point we know they will take their time until they are happy with it and we will be thankful they did, just like they always do.

Cheers,
Virsica

If you are reading this, then you have probably at least heard of an email that I received and read on the Episode 120 of Hero Power. From the moment I finished reading the email in a local restaurant until I began writing this post I have been through a gauntlet of emotions, but not the same gauntlet I feared I would run almost two weeks ago. After the show aired, support began flooding in from virtually every major Hearthstone linked network in which I take part, and even some in which I haven’t yet been invited. Please don’t be offended when I say that I was shocked. I intentionally kept the details of the email from Avanties and Zerotio so that I would get their honest and raw reactions, and I knew I would have their support, but the support the community brought forth was amazing and humbling. Discord, Twitter, Facebook, BNet, and even as far as airtime on multiple podcasts, you all came forward fiercely and publicly to show your support for me. For that, I cannot express enough gratitude. You lifted me up and stood with me as a community, and while I didn’t want to be at the center, the amount of positive reinforcement this community leveled at the negativity surrounding the situation was inspiring. With all that being said, and me being me, I felt like I should respond to the email. I didn’t want to read it on air, but I wanted to be transparent and bring what I hope is closure to the situation. Below is my response.

Hello NMG,

Thank you for writing to me with your critique. Out of respect for your signing you correspondence with your full name, I have kept your name private. I apologize for the delay in my response, as I was surprised by your email and I wanted time to respond appropriately. I would like to respond to your criticism by first saying that I am truly sorry that you do not enjoy my contribution to Hero Power. I wanted to start with this first because I want you to believe that if I, my co-hosts, or the community ever felt like it would benefit the show if I left, then I would. I would hate to do it, but I love the show, and I love this community, so I would. With that being said, I hope you listened to Episode 120. Due to the intensely negative tone of your email, and your personal attacks on me throughout, I only read the parts relevent to your actually criticisms. Avanties and Zerotio responded on the show, and the community responded afterwards. At this time, I do not feel like enough people share your view on my contribution, so I will continue to participate unless it were to change.

Your second critique was my “incessant attack on all things aggro” and I wanted to speak on that next. I have said, on multiple occasions, that I think Hearthstone needs a healthy balance of control, midrange, and aggro. In my opinion, it seems aggro suffers from balance issues more often than the other two playstyles, but that is just my opinion. If yours differs, then that is more than okay. There is more than enough room for people to have their own opinions about the state of the game, and I will try to do a better job of delivering my opinion from an objective point of view.

Next I believe you talked about my “complaining about Ranked Play” and I am going to go ahead and lump in the not respecting Legend as proof of expert play. It’s true that I don’t find the current rewards of ranked play to be worthy of the time committment to achieve them, but Blizzard has made changes, and I am certain they will continue to make changes so this isn’t a belief set in stone. As for Legend, it goes back to the current ranked system. It takes a lot of games at a professional win % to get to Legend in one month. That number of games instantly cuts the number of players that have a legitimate shot at the rank by a great margin. The new system will allow a player to progress upwards until they reach Legend at their own pace. To me, this will allow players to make it to Legend based more on skill than number of games played in a single month, thus making Legend more about skill than time now. So that’s a good thing.

On to my “disdain for proven and successful meta decks”. I would like to state that, while it is a complicated relationship depending on the meta, my general attitude towards meta decks is not disdain. Have you ever seen the movie “Quigley Down Under”? There’s a line in the movie where the main character states “Said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn’t know how to use one.” I use this example in trying to say that I don’t use meta decks when I am playing for me because I don’t want to use them, not because I don’t like them or because I look down on people who do. It’s simply a preference.

Lastly, I want to talk about United Hearthstone League. I entered the league as the least accomplished player having never truly competed in anything but an online cup on a whim. I had never tried to compete on this level before and my co-hosts thought it would be good to get my name out there because I am the shy one of the bunch. I haven’t done any other podcasts or tournaments, so people only really saw me if they watched the show. I went into the league making only one promise, that I would play my way and try to entertain the people watching, and my fellow competitors, all in which I hold in the highest regard. While I attempted to win every match, winning was never my focus. You can pull up any Hearthstone channel on Twitch and see meta decks being played, and I wanted my matches to be different. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but I wanted that “What was that?” moment to come up in each of my matches. The players in UHL and FairstBiscuit deserve your respect because they are great players in their own right, plus they have other jobs AND put out tons of Hearthstone content every week yet still find time to play in a league in an effort to grow the community of Hearthstone. As far as looking up #TeamVirsica? I don’t need to. The important # for UHL was #UnitedWeCan and #UHL, and those numbers looked pretty good to me. I am not embarrassed at getting beaten by my fellow content creators, I was honored to have played them.

You never mentioned your skill level, and I do admire that, so I will end with this offer. If you ever want hop on a stream and play a best of 3, 5, or 17 and/or compare Hearthstone theories and strategies in an open and respectful forum, you can find me at this email and at Virsica#1364. I will be more than happy to show you how I like to play Hearthstone. Who knows, you might just like it.

Thanks,
Alex Franklin – Virsica

I know, I know, the title of the article is far from original, but I like it just the same. One of the things we love to do here at Hero Power is to see the decks you are playing. We REALLY LOVE it when you send them to us and ask us to look over them! The deck below was submitted by one of our listeners.

The Decklist
cme-priest

As per my usual, I spent some time playing it “as is” in both Read More →

(The opinions in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire cast of HeroPower)

From DreamHack Winter meta disaster to Mean Streets of Gadgetzan scatter, the meta has changed so quickly and violently that you may be experiencing Hearthstone’s own version of whiplash. I don’t know about how everyone else feels, but I love it. I feel like I can play just about any class, or any style of play, and have a chance to win. So, does that mean that the folks at Blizzard finally found the secret mixture to put out a balanced expansion? Only time will tell, but for now at least, it’s looking good so far.

I was working on an article after watching the DreamHack Winter tournament a couple of weekends ago in which Read More →