“Fear Makes The Wolf Bigger Than He Is.”
Most of us have heard this German saying at some point in our lives. We tend to fear change especially when that change concerns stepping from somewhere comfortable and into an unknown. The talk is still going on about the changes to Hearthstone and the split into the two formats of “Standard” and “Wild”. There is a very vocal part of the community that believes this will ruin Hearthstone, destroy it’s momentum, or that the “Wild” format will be a ghost town where only the scrubs go to play because all the “good” players will be playing to win in “Standard”. The truth of the matter is that we don’t know what Blizzard has in store for “Wild”. Heck, I don’t think Blizzard knows what it has in store for “Wild”, but I can assure you that they will not just let those cards die. Why, you ask? It’s simple, some of them are just too good, otherwise you wouldn’t be upset with them leaving.
Growing up, I was scared of the dark. I think most children think they are scared of the dark, but are they? I don’t think so. Most children, like I was, are scared of what is IN THE DARK, but not of the dark itself. I think change is the same kind of fear. We don’t fear the change, but more we fear what is coming after the change because we can’t see it.
I broke through this fear as a child by memorizing every aspect of my room, and eventually my entire house, and how it looked in the light. Then, when the lights went out, I memorized every aspect of my house in the dark and compared them to each other.
Yes, I am a cerebral person, and yes, I was a cerebral kid. Everyone has their quirks and coping mechanisms, right?
So what’s my point. My point is that, as a child, I went through my house day in and day out not really paying attention to it until I couldn’t see it anymore. Then I couldn’t see it and I freaked out. We don’t know what is coming, the wolf may be bigger, or he may be smaller. It may be a different kind of wolf, but what is important is to see the wolf as he is now.
How will we do that in Hearthstone?
With numbers that you can see. Like most wolves, Hearthstone’s meta is elusive, and hard to track, so I took the section of the meta that most of the players (according to Blizzard) “live” and decided to take a good look at the wolf. I played 81 games of Hearthstone starting one star into lvl 19 and ending at three stars into lvl 10 over the course of 2 days and tracked the decks I played against every game along the way. I was hoping to get to 100, but I didn’t have the time before I wanted to get this blog post up. So here are my numbers. Face Hunter came in as the deck I played the most against at a 30% of all decks played. As a side note, I only played against 2 Face Hunter decks after reaching the rank of 15 meaning I had to play against 22 Face Hunter decks between the ranks of 19 and 15. So out of the 11 stars I had to move through to get to the rank of 15, and not counting in win streaks, it averages out to be almost 1 out of every 2 games in the lower ranks I was playing against Face Hunter. I actually only played against 1 Secret Paladin, 4 Zoolocks, and only 1 Aggro Shaman after reaching the rank of 15. It took me 54 games to move from rank 19 to 15 (largely because I refused to play Face Hunter until 16 hours ago, in which I moved from rank 16 to 10 in just 4 hours of play), so that means that in order to move through the rank that Blizzard says approx. 75% of their playerbase ranks, I had to play against a deck that averages a kill before turn 7 an astounding 69% of the time.
Let that soak in a minute.
The devs want to encourage new players to play and feel as though they have success. If you were a new player, just starting out at Hearthstone, how would you really feel about having to go through that field of decks to advance. Is it any wonder why so many players feel as though they don’t do well and Hearthstone isn’t for them. Think about that for a second.
To add another element to this, I played most of expiriment with several decks. I used Control Priest, Handlock, Combo Druid, Midrange Shaman, Reno Lock, Midrange Hunter, Dragon Priest, Dragon Warrior, Freeze Mage, and Tempo Shaman. I averaged somewhere around a 50% win rate, climbing as high as 14 and losing back down to 19. Then, further prove my point, I took Chakki’s Face Hunter Deck, changed out 2 cards (because I dusted both of my [Glaivezooka] a long time ago and swapped them out with a [Flare] and a [Powershot] to tech against other Face Hunters, Freeze Mage, and mostly Secret Paladin) and then I went on a rampage. I ranked from lvl 17 to my current rank of 10 in just 4 hours of play. My win rate was 85%, and to add a little more to that, my win rate when I had the coin was an astounding 96% (rounded down because I hate decimals and fractions). I ran the numbers several times just to make sure that I had it correct, because math, and I still can’t believe the win rate when I had the coin. Granted this is a small sampling, but one that felt familiar as it has plagued us for more than a year now. The nature of Hearthstone’s matchmaking will make this experience different for everyone, but after executing this experiment, it has never been more clear to me that if Hearthstone is going to survive in the long term, the meta needs to be able to be altered so that creativity in the lower levels of the ladder can flourish. Standard has to be that answer, and this new expansion has to work to balance the Classic and Basic cards in a way that Goblins vs Gnomes utterly failed to do.
People are wondering why they felt the need to cycle some of the cards out, and some of the most vocal about the change are complaining that the Midrange Combo Druid is too powerful. They say that no deck should be able to do 14 points of damage straight from their hand. They say that [Force of Nature] and [Savage Roar] need to be nerfed. I can tell you that I did this repeatedly and consistantly with Face Hunter, if not before turn 8. What would you say about Face Hunter then? Nothing, because you know that wolf and it isn’t as big to you anymore. You see it everyday and you aren’t scared of it anymore. People haven’t really had to worry about Combo Druid in a while, but now they plan to take away [Loatheb], [Sludge Belcher], [Mad Scientist], and [Dr. Boom]. Now an unfamiliar wolf is out there, and the fear of it is making it bigger than it is. Rest assured that you will be given new weapons and tactics to keep the new wolves at bay.
My point to all of this that the current meta, the wolf as I am calling it in this post, is a Face Hunter driven aggro meta that we have come so used to seeing, that we can’t tell that it is chewing on our leg while we are petting it’s head. While my little experiment isn’t conclusive by any stretch of the imagination, I feel it should start everyone asking themselves exactly why they are so scared of the wolf they can’t see, when the current wolf they face may very well be much worse than the one lurking in the dark.
P.S. Included below is the breakdown of the decks I faced in this expiriment. As a key, the decks with an (*) beside them did not show up at all until after I entered lvl 14 or above.
Decks Played Against
⦁ Face Hunter – 24
⦁ Secret Paladin – 13
⦁ Zoolock – 10
⦁ Freeze Mage – 4
⦁ Control Priest – 3
⦁ Control Warrior – 4
⦁ Aggro Shaman – 4
⦁ Midrange Shaman – 2
⦁ Oil Rogue – 2
⦁ Miracle Rogue – 3
⦁ Demon Lock – 2
⦁ Midrange Warrior – 2
⦁ Tempo Mage (*) – 2
⦁ Midrange (Combo) Druid (*) – 1
⦁ Control Paladin(*) – 1
⦁ Combo Priest (*) – 1
⦁ Patron Warrior (*) – 1
⦁ Hand Lock (*) – 1
⦁ Midrange Hunter (*) – 1