Blog Archives

Unleash the Rage

How was my Hearthstone weekend? I’m glad you asked. See, I was playing a 3-star Masters game when this happened:



…nah, just playing. This was in my last Arena game. I wish I would have taken more screenshots of the setup, but how the fuck was I supposed to know there would be 16 damage on the field on Turn 4? Well, now I will. And in the off-chance you think you might have a better series of plays, let’s recreate it at home:

  • Turn 1 (me): Nothing.
  • Turn 1 (him): Shieldbearer (0/4 with Taunt).
  • Turn 2 (me): Hero power, hit Shieldbearer for 1.
  • Turn 2 (him): Secret (i.e. Snake Trap)
  • Turn 3 (me): Draw and play Novice Engineer.
  • Turn 3 (him): Stonetusk Boar + Ironbeak Owl.
  • Turn 4 (me): Attack with Engineer, trigger Snake Trap. Cast Mark of Nature (+0/+4 and Taunt).
  • Turn 4 (him): Animal Companion (Misha 4/4 and Taunt) + Unleash the Hounds.

The only real decision I had at any point there was on Turn 3, when I drew the Novice Engineer. Ideally, I wanted to play Raging Worgen, but I was concerned that the Secret the Hunter played a turn prior was a Snipe (deal 4 damage to next minion opponent plays). Given that, I figured Engineer was the safer bet, considering the Harvest Golem would have died immediately to a Snipe and wouldn’t have enough attack to kill the Shieldbearer either. Ultimately, none of that mattered.

It just… boggles the mind, you know? Whoever is designing class cards for the Hunter over in Blizzard HQ just really shit the bed when they imagined things like this:



…is anything approaching good design. The +1 Attack is even permanent! The worst part though, is that Unleash the Hounds is literally the only shtick that Hunters even have. Shaman have it pretty ugly too with an over-reliance on Bloodlust (which is itself a “I suddenly win!” card), but theoretically you could go some kind of +Spellpower route and then stack your deck with all the (Rare!) AoE and Lava Bursts and such. Hunters are just Bears, Bears Bears beasts, beasts, beasts, plus removal and (Common!) Unleash the Hounds. Snake Trap is an Epic (!) “trap” which is exceedingly useless at anything at all other than being Unleash the Hounds bait. And… that’s it. GG.

Blizzard has already committed to “fixing” Unleash the Hounds, but no matter what they do, it will essentially be a completely different card. Unless the devs punt and make it cost 2 mana or something, of course. If they increase the cost any further than that, the Attack boost will need to be higher, which transforms it into Bloodlust-lite. Anyway, the funny part is the explanation for why Blizzard will be changing Unleash the Hounds:

All of our changes are done with the utmost care. We don’t change a card simply because the community says it should be so. In the case of Unleash the Hounds, it was promoting a rather un-fun play environment in this particular type of deck. I believe we touched on this at BlizzCon, but games of Hearthstone should be like a puzzle, where decisions you make are important and have an impact on the game. Even if you made an incorrect choice when deducing the “puzzle”, you still end up learning something in the end and growing as a player by experience. With Unleash the Hounds, it went against that philosophy and left the opponent feeling more or less helpless when suddenly it’s BEASTS, BEASTS EVERYWHERE. While it’s an effective strategy of sorts, that feeling isn’t fun, and we want Hearthstone to be fun for both players.

I agree that the “puzzle” aspect of Hearthstone is by far my favorite part. And while there aren’t always many moving parts, when you hit one of those make-or-break turns, your internal clockwork will be spinning pretty fast indeed. For example:

Holy decisions, Batman!

Holy decisions, Batman!

What’s the right call, here? Arcane Missile and hope 2 or 3 of them hit the Injured Blademaster? If all three missiles hit the Priest, you could hypothetically Coin into the Counterspell and then trade your one lone creature for the Blademaster and then watch as the Lightwell erases all your damage. Or do you Coin into a Fireball targeting… well, it’d have to be the Blademaster unless you wanted to trade right away (the risk of the Priest healing the Blademaster and then just killing your dude is too high) and clear the board. Personally, I went with the Arcane Missiles, two of which did hit the Blademaster, allowing me to ping him dead with my Hero Power.

Of course, next turn, the Priest cast Divine Spirit + Inner Fire, turning his Lightwell into a 10/10 healing monster. But, hey, puzzles!

Incidentally, one of the exciting bits of news out of BlizzCon was that Hearthstone is going to feature Adventures, which are a single-player PvE-style experience against “boss” mobs. This Polygon article gives more details from the panel:

During the Hearthstone Fireside Chat panel, Dodds said an Adventure will be a “focused, single-player, PvE experience” where players will face off against a boss or series of bosses and earn cards associated with the Adventure. He expects there to be 20-30 cards associated with each.

“They are going to be cards that absolutely change the meta game, because we’re paying attention to that a lot and will make sure that these cards are going to shift the meta game,” Dodds said, “but they’re not going to be cards that specifically have crazy new mechanics in them just yet. Those we’re saving for the expansion side.”

Though he said Blizzard is “still figuring our way,” he said players could expect to see a series of alternating Adventures and expansions.

Good news for those who finally tire of the #AllSkill wins that frequently occur. Plus, the fact that you can actually keep/use the cards you earn in PvE-mode against other players (and perhaps the existence of PvE mode at all) is likely a dig at the upcoming Hex… whose Alpha test is something I’m going to be talking about soon. Pretty clever of Blizzard though, to give themselves the ability to release cards outside of an expansion in order to stabilize/upset a degenerative metagame. We’ll have to see if they have the gumption and card design chops to pull it off.

Based on Unleash the Hounds and Mind Control though… I dunno.

There Can Be Only One

With an odd sense of inevitability, I beat Don’t Starve’s Adventure Mode Sunday night.

This is what they call "overkill."

This is what they call “overkill.”

In one sense, my victory was all but assured the moment I zoned into the first world as WX-78. As I may have mentioned, each of the various alternate characters have different pros and cons. The default Wilson has no negative qualities, and has the benefit of growing a beard; if left unshaven, the beard acts as insulation against the cold, while shaved beard hair can be used to craft a Meat Effigy (placeable respawn structure). Wickerbottom has higher penalties for eating spoiled food and can’t sleep, in exchange for the highest Sanity pool, the ability to craft spell books, and can use a lower-level research structure to build higher-tier items. Meanwhile, WX-78 has the lowest starting stats and takes damage in the rain, but can eat spoiled food with no penalty and can eat gears to regain health/hunger/sanity while also increasing said stats by 20 each (to a certain maximum).

With the exception A Cold Reception – where it rains constantly – victory was more or less assured with WX-78 due to the gear bonus alone. While the locations of the Things you are hunting are random, the set pieces in which they are located are all the same. Thus, you know there will always be at least four mechanical enemies at the “exit” to a given world and they will drop two gears each. Gears stack up to 40 in a single inventory slot, do no spoil, and as mentioned earlier they provide a huge boost to all three meters.

In fact, it turns out that I wasted a significant amount of time cooking food throughout most of the worlds given that one gear snack would have been enough to sustain me for an entire day – I waltzed into the final world with 40 gears and left 4 days later. Compare that to my best Wilson run, where I was constantly in dire need of sustenance in a world where plants don’t grow and rabbits need to be dug out of the ground. Indeed, my death in that last level was due to stopping to dig up mushrooms to boost my health/sanity, which was completely unnecessary with WX-78’s gears.

Do I feel satisfied? Well… more or less. I definitely feel like a switch has been flipped off in my mind, allowing me to move on (for real this time). The difference in implicit difficulty sort of made it feel like I had godmode on, although I suppose I should not discount the fact that I had 50+ hours of experience and knew what to expect going in. Another part of it though? I think that I expected to have beaten it that last time with Wilson. The roguelike aspect of having to redo the whole thing generated more hours /played, but not necessarily more enjoyment.

Just shy of 60 hours.

Just shy of 60 hours.

In any case, there is actually more to do. The most recent update fleshed out the Cave system even more, which acts as its own mini-Adventure mode insofar as dying in a cave simply respawns you outside the entrance. I could also seek to, you know, actually survive in Survival Mode – the farthest I got was about day 40. Or… I could move on.

I’m going to try the latter and see if it sticks this time.