Tag Archives: tavern brawl

Hearthstone: How Heroic Brawl Makes Conquest Look Good!

Well, we all got to try our luck at Heroic Brawl finally. According to this Reddit post, people were actually getting to 12 wins, so the dream of all those packs, gold, dust, legendaries, and bitches raining from the sky was real for a small segment of the population. I personally played it once, and while I didn’t do great, I came away with some powerful insights about why tournaments in Hearthstone are conquest format.

Nice Top Deck, Brah

Maybe it was obvious to some, but I never realized how much the Conquest format shields players from RNG, both in terms of in-game single event randomness and other, not-actually-random-but-feels-like-it like tech choices by players in deck building.

In Heroic Brawl, every single game is important, and affects your record. Some Tempo Mage top-keks you, game over. You rip that Brawl off the top after your opponent casts N’Zoth, hey you get to win! In Conquest, the same amount of luck is involved, but the impact it has on your tournament chances doesn’t change. Let’s say you get sucked out on in two games to start a match. That sucks, but if you win the next three, what’s your record after the match?

1-0. Not 3-2, 1-0. Those times your opponent got lucky are erased.

You’re Playing That? REALLY?

The other way conquest helps prevent ‘random’ events from determining matches is that if your opponent is playing a strange card, say, Eater of Secrets, that surprises you when you think you’re safe with Ice Block in play, it isn’t the end of the world unless they are crazy enough to play Eater in ALL their decks.

If you’re playing Freeze Mage in Heroic Brawl, and you happen upon someone packing Eater of Secrets, and they draw it, you’re almost certainly going to lose the game, and there’s no way to play against that. You take your loss and move on, but just as before, in Conquest, that single outcome may not affect your actual tournament record.

Other Thoughts on Heroic Brawl

I assumed the incredibly lopsided event structure wouldn’t matter too much, that I would just enjoy playing against solid competition (which I certainly did). However, it turns out that when everyone just plays the same 25 or so cards in their Shaman deck it actually wasn’t that fun. It was interesting to notice that at points, I couldn’t tell if they were just lucky, or if small things like proper mulligans or whatever really improved the sometimes clunky openings of midrange Shaman. I’m leaning towards my opponents just being very skilled at piloting the deck, always thinking about stuff like Thing From Below’s current cost and overload penalties multiple turns down the road. While I said earlier I did not meet my own expectations, I had a few friends tell me they did quite well, including one guy who I don’t think plays all that often who started 6-0 with midrange Shaman. I’m fairly sure his run is still in progress, so good luck to him!

I don’t think I would play in another Heroic Brawl unless it was a completely unknown format. It wasn’t terribly fun playing against the same cards I’ve been seeing for some time now. That said, it would be very interesting to see who would pony up 1000 gold just after a new set release when everyone’s gold is almost certainly depleted. Now THAT’S how Blizzard could squeeze the community $10 at a time.

Some friends and I have been talking about starting up a Hearthstone podcast where we could talk about topics like this one, do set reviews, and share our experiences, so be on the lookout on all my social media outlets, especially my Facebook page, for announcements, news, and my random thoughts on the game.

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The Hearthstone Tavern Brawl RNG Scale

This is probably going to devolve into a rant with no actual point(hint: it did not), but damn if I’m not tired of every Tavern Brawl being “Hey, let’s make the game so random you can’t plan for anything, and there’s basically no strategy whatsoever! HAHA TURN ONE RAGNAROS, THAT’S SO FUN!” We don’t need that level of randomness. For fudge’s sake we’re playing a card game, there’s enough RNG burned into the core gameplay already.

Don’t worry, I found a point to make, now I just need to get there, and it’s not going to be “Every Brawl should be Top 2 so there’s a serious metagame and many different levels of thinking.” I admit I liked that one, but really I liked reading about the meta and how it shifted more than actually playing it.

Why do we play Hearthstone?

Answering this simple question is the secret to good design in both set construction and Tavern Brawls. Unfortunately, this question has few simple answers, and I say few because it’s a little different for everyone. For example, I play Hearthstone for two main reasons. One, I enjoy the Warcraft universe, and especially enjoy the way Hearthstone manages to both incorporate elements from that universe and place its own whimsical spin on them. I think the phrase “keeping with the fantasy” has been thrown around alot when talking about the Legion class changes, and that also applies to Hearthstone. My other reason for playing is to satisfy my need for competition. I played Magic: The Gathering for about 20 years, and used to do a fair amount of traveling to play in big events. My life now doesn’t really have room for that sort of stuff, and Magic Online is a money pit, so I play Hearthstone.

The point is, no one’s answer to our simple query will be simple at all, at least not if they thought about it for more than a few moments. But our collective answers all share something in common, even if we don’t include it in our answers. I didn’t even include it in my own, because its not how we consciously think about how we enjoy games, but that reason to play is there. It’s the same reason why people watch television, or read books, or gamble- the idea that we are watching something awesome unfold and we don’t have the full story, there are just enough hints to make it interesting.

Is It That Simple?

Um, yeah, pretty much. We may curse RNGesus for how stupid the Firelord can be, or how Arcane Missiles might as well read “Deal all the damage exactly where your opponent needs it,” but the reality is that if we didn’t want randomness in our games, we would all be playing chess.

But how much is too much before we begin to lose agency over the ability to actually win the game? There’s a very fuzzy line that we don’t want to cross, and it so happens that it’s the least fuzzy when you examine the various Tavern Brawls.

If one were to quantify the amount of randomness in every Tavern Brawl and list them in order, one could accurately determine where their Goldilocks area is, where it’s not too much, not too little, but just right.

And hey! Look at that, a list from least to most depicting my own quantification of the RNG in Tavern Brawls, summarized because many Brawls are similar in nature. It’s almost like I’m trying to make a point here.

  1. Top 2
  2. Premade games (Showdown at BRM, Boombot v. Annoy-o-Tron)
  3. Base Game Rule Changes (It’s Raining Mana, Heart of the Sunwell)
  4. Decks Assemble
  5. Game Actions Trigger RNG (Idols of Azeroth, The Masked Ball)
  6. No, Really, They Trigger RNG (Who’s the Boss Now?)
  7. The RNG Swingset (Yogg Tryouts, Too Many Portals)
  8. Might As Well Flip Coins (Shiftcon, Randomonium)

The Brawls that stand alone, like Decks Assemble, are unique enough in terms of the RNG they generate that they warrant their own spot on the scale. Sitting at one end, the least RNG possible since you only have two cards in your deck and a hero power, and at the other end, the Brawls where you just play the best stuff you have each turn with minimal planning.

Personally, I sit somewhere between three and five. I want a little more than just a game rule change, but less than not knowing what five minions my opponent Unstable Portaled for. The occasional six or seven is fine if done right. The Servant of Yogg-Saron Tryouts was actually amazing, and I would play that Brawl a bunch again because the games didn’t feel super slow like Portals/Idols and I never felt like the game was over until it was, but really the fun behind that Brawl is an entirely different article.

Where do you sit on the RNG scale? Are you too serious for The Masked Ball, or are you not happy until you’re watching Shifter Zerus do his thing? Do you think my scale is accurate, and if not do you have your own? Let me know in the comments!

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