A lengthy preview of the upcoming Hearthstone patch hit today. While it doesn’t contain the patch notes themselves (those will come when the patch hits), it does describe some of the incoming changes for the game and provide some hope for those of us sick if being pummeled by Valeera.
My favorite announcement is a simple one:
After the patch, daily quests that require you to win with a specific class will now give you a choice between two classes, allowing you some additional flexibility.
Thank you. Thank you so much. There are some hero balancing acts coming as well which should make Anduin more fun to play but the variety is greatly appreciated. He’s not a bad hero, I just like Thrall so much more.
Some golden cards are getting new animations, there’s means to craft specific golden cards, and the wins for the Arena are being retooled to be more valuable. Nine wins now guarantees another card pack or a golden card.
The trickle rate for gold income is also getting a desperately needed buff. Rather than 5 wins for 5 gold, it’s 3 wins for 10 gold. It now takes 30 wins for a card pack, not 100.
I’m waiting eagerly for the patch. The full preview is available here, with a link for beta opt-ins at the bottom.
More than flair, Hearthstone’s Arena is about solid cards that carry themselves. Synergy is something to spot as the deck is drafted but each pick is more about the best card at face value and not its potential when combined with a complex strategy. Constructed decks are where theme and flair can manifest with real power and presence.
But what cards have the best potential in a draft? Exact favorites vary from drafter to drafter, from deck to deck, but four out of five times I pick these cards over anything else presented. I wish I could swap most of these for a rare or even an epic when my choices are things like Angry Chicken, Coldlight Seer, or Hungry Crab.
Venture Co. Mercenary
Its effect isn’t great, but he’s a nasty threat. It also puts your opponent in an uncomfortable position – they have to deal with him or risk him running over a weaker taunt minion or chopping the health pool down in big swings. But dealing with him removes the minion inflation cost, usually meaning you’ve baited out a polymorph, hex, or a heavy hitter of the enemy’s. Not bad for a five cost.
Well, this is a surprising thing. First it appeared in New Zealand — as reported by MMO-Champion yesterday. Now the trademark has appeared on the United States Patent & Trademark website too.
I have been skeptic after “The Dark Below” one seemed as if it was a hoax, but now Heroes of the Storm has appeared on two different countries. Mind you — on United States a hoax would cost about $275 to trademark.
I visited the US Trademark website and indeed it is under Blizzard Entertainment, filed on September 24, 2013.
Now I am not acknowledging this to be a legit trademark. Let’s keep it as a rumor for now. BlizzCon is barely 39 days from now. This is a usual timeframe for Trademark sites and Game Rating sites (PEGI,ESRB) to accidentally leak game titles not yet announced officially.
I remember when “Wrath of the Lich King” and “Cataclysm” appeared as a trademark a few days before BlizzCon. Forums and social media were speculating for days on end what “Cataclysm” meant.
“Heroes of the Storm” could be a real Blizzard trademark or it could be an expensive hoax.
What could “Heroes of the Storm” be, however, if it was a real trademark of an upcoming unannounced Blizzard game?
Hearthstone: Heroes of the Storm
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has a similar ring to it. Could it be Hearthstone: Heroes of the Storm?
Maybe. Since Ben Brode announced Hearthstone at PAX East 2013 this past February, it is widely known that Hearhtstone is targeted to be released at the end of 2013. Of course, there could be delays if they decided to reset, or further iterate. Let’s have Project Titan as an example which got the reset button to work on a new core programming and other aspects. If Hearthstone is released as a free game by December, it would make sense if Blizzard Entertainment announced the next Hearthstone expansion at BlizzCon in November 8th.
This is a smaller team of developers aiming to ship a new game yearly-ish, after all. Hearthstone was announced on February, and beta started in about 5-6 months after it was announced.
Diablo III: Heroes of the St—huh?
We know it is not a Diablo title. Obviously. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is the next Diablo expansion. This game was announced at GamesCom 2013 — check out our Developers Panel videos & the interview with Josh Mosqueira.
StarCraft II: Heroes of the St–nah!
StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void is the next StarCraft II expansion and the finale of the series(?). So, nope. That’s not it either.
Blizzard All-Stars: Heroes of the Storm
Ok … this one sounds interesting. Why would Blizzard name Blizzard All-Stars with a secondary title? Interesting in that this trend would mean the DOTA-style game would have expansions rather than a stand-alone game. One would think the next installment would be — I don’t know … Blizzard All-Stars 2. However, it is hard to see Blizzard not launching an expansion to one of its leading franchise titles.
What makes it very unlikely for this trademark to be a Blizzard All-Stars expansion is that — WE HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN THE BETA OF THE FIRST GAME YET.
So, could it at least be the title for the first Blizzard All-Stars game? It is plausible. Why not? I mean … hello? Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (instead of plain Warcraft II). Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (instead of plain Warcraft III). This could be argued because for some odd reason Diablo III was titled simply … Diablo III (sans-any-sort-of-secondary-title). And the original StarCraft was simply “StarCraft”.
Blizzard All-Stars: Heroes of the Storm … it has a nice ring to it. Me likes.
Update: Blizzard All-Stars was formerly known as Blizzard DOTA. The name was changed to what we known today. Warlock (“Scrolls of Lore” Admin) and another fan point out the most likely scenario is that Blizzard All-Stars is no longer to be known as “Blizzard All-Stars”. It is possible that “Heroes of the Storm” might be the name of the upcoming DOTA-style game from now on.
World of Warcraft: Heroes of the Storm
Now the most logical name trend seems to fit Hearthstone: Heroes of the Storm — but it could also be World of Warcraft: Heroes of the Storm.
I am not very convinced though. I an open to both sides of the coin here.
1. It can’t be a World of Warcraft expansion, because it breaks the trend. The Burning Crusade. Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria. All of these titles spun around the concept of either an entire legion, a bad guy or a culture. Heroes of the Storm? I mean, that would be sort of fun naming it after the players. If the trademark was for the next World of Warcraft expansion then we are the central figure of the expansion. Heroes … of … the Storm.
On one end, Alexstrasza clearly stated the Dragon Aspects were no more and from that day forward this was The Age of Mortals. Heroes like you and me are the new guardians and defenders of Azeroth.
The name scheme has a nice ring to it. Makes you wonder what Blizzard creative team might be cooking around the player becoming the protagonist of a WoW expansion.
Think about it. Throughout Patch 5.1 to 5.4, Wrathion has been preparing his champion (YOU) and any of both factions to take their rightful place as the line of defense of Azeroth.
Wrathion was a mere uncorrupted black dragon egg during the level 30-ish quests in The Badlands during The Cataclysm expansion. A red dragon sought the help of a gnome to help with the process. It was during one of those quests that we uncovered a Titan chamber with one of those Norgannon library Databanks.
The gnome used the databank on the egg. In Mists of Pandaria we learned that this databank actually did something to Wrathion — who was in that egg. It infused him with Titan knowledge and maybe even magic. It caused him to have visions of the future — where he saw an incoming “Storm”. The Burning Legion is returning to Azeroth. If you haven’t checked it out yet — I have almost all the Legendary Wrathion Questline quests archived with a transcript and videos.
Wrathion: Very good. Let’s talk. Tong! Drinks, please. My father, Deathwing, tried to destroy the whole of Azeroth.
He was misguided, of course, but he was right about one thing: Our world is… so fragile. We are a point of light in a universe of shadow. A candle in a tempest. Sometimes I think it was the very precariousness of our world that drove my father to madness.
Ah, thank you Tong.
Now, to my point. I believe we are headed towards a reckoning. And no, I am not talking about the current conflict between the Alliance and Horde. Believe me – what Garrosh Hellscream achieved in Theramore is nothing compared to the horrors that are even now bearing down on our fragile home.
But the war deeply troubles me. Do you see my concern? A divided Azeroth cannot possibly stand against the darkness. The war has to end. Soon. Before it consumes our strength!
You can rest assured that my loyalties lie with your Horde. How do we bring a swift and decisive end to the conflict? I believe the answer lies with heroes like you. We must ensure that you are up to the task… and then equip you accordingly.
As those words were spoken, Wrathion shows a sort of holographic projection of the world of Azeroth bombarded by fel fire or Infernals falling through the sky into Azeroth. The Heroes of the Storm trademark might be a reference to the upcoming storm — the return of the Burning Legion.
During the Sunwell Plateau raid dungeon in The Burning Crusade, the draenei Prophet Velen foretold about agents of the Light battling the Burning Legion in a near future. M’uru the naaru knew this too and willingly energized the Sunwell to be the new source of magic of the Blood Elves. Velen knew the Blood Elves had a role to play in the upcoming storm: The return of the Burning Legion.
On the other hand, it is possible that Blizzard might want to set Queen Azshara as the next expansion’s center villain as a trampoline to introduce the Burning Legion expansion.
It has been hinted before in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. During the quest The Return of the Resting, we find four Kvaldir spirits. These are similar to the Vrykul, but these Kvaldir are a underwater civilization.
Fengir the Disgraced says: Your offering has come too late, little one. Can you feel the mist closing in upon you? The Kvaldir return…
Rodin the Reckless says: From the mist and fog the Kvaldir approach. Flee while you still breathe the air of the living…
Isuldof Iceheart says: Look to the seas, as your doom comes with the swell of tides.
Windan of the Kvaldir says: My brothers have awoken. Your efforts are wasted…
That kinda sounded pretty stormish. The Kvaldir actually gave pause to the naga later in the Cataclysm expansion during the Vash’jir quests. The naga are planning something wicked. In the Cataclysm expansion they were seeking an artifact off the coast of Desolace to level entire continents. In Vash’jir the naga allied with the underwater Faceless Ones to take the power of Neptulon in the name of Azshara.
Recently, when asking about the Timeless Isle’s underwater content — a Blizzard developer — Cory Stockton told to Blizzplanet: “There are definitely some stuff in the water; but we know that water doesn’t always provides the best gameplay experience for WoW.”
Doesn’t seem like Blizzard was too satisfied with Vash’jir’s underwater gameplay after all. What if the naga somehow managed to rise the bottom of the sea to the surface though? There is actually one item of power capable of such a fit. It has been used already as a weapon in World of Warcraft. The Focusing Iris. In the Christie Golden novel — World of Warcraft: Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, Jaina is the last person to take possession of the Focusing Iris at the end of the novel — even masked its presence from Kalec the blue dragon, keeping its location a secret.
“This trademark could be the real deal or it could be an expensive hoax by someone who has the cash to place fake trademarks.” — you might think.
However, if you look it up in the US Patent & Trademark website — The Dark Below was never seen as a finalized trademark, and it was never in the Blizzard Entertainment trademark list. “Heroes of the Storm”, however, can be seen on the Blizzard Entertainment trademark list, registered by the Blizzard lawyer. Now that’s something to ponder.
The World of Warcraft: Heroes of the Storm is less likely to be it. I am going with Warlock’s gut guru-”ing” here. It does sound like Blizzard All-Stars might have been renamed for good.
BlizzCon is in 39 days. Not long before we can sate our curiosity and hunger. What is “Heroes of the Storm”? Grab one of those BlizzCon Virtual Tickets to watch the entire Blizzard panels on DirecTV or to watch the livestream on your internet browser to find out what it is.
This post was originally published on September 30, 2013. It’s been 17 days since posted. On October 17th, Blizzard Entertainment launched the official Heroes of the Storm website with a Carbot Animations video to debut the news that Blizzard All-Stars is now known as “Heroes of the Storm”.
Hearthstone provides a useful graph of information when constructing an Arena deck: the mana curve. It’s an invaluable chart that can help smooth out the transition from early to mid to late game, fix problems as you construct a deck (too many high costs cards, or no beefy minions at all). Certain deck strategies can subvert the curve or ignore it entirely, but most decks and their players watch it carefully. I’d like the mana curve added when making custom decks in Play mode because of how useful it is. I consider its absence an oversight and it hopefully appears later.
I’d like to see another graph added to Hearthstone’s deck construction: a minion versus spell chart. While not as vital as the mana curve, displaying a bit of info about the number of minions in your deck as well as the number of spells would be helpful. A mana curve taken at face value can be deceptive because it doesn’t distinguish between card types. Lots of cost spells may keep your curve smooth but a lack of early minions may leave you vulnerable. It’s not too troublesome to count the totals or track them externally but implementing such a feature seems like a natural addition to an already robust and informative UI.
As long as I’m talking about things I’d like added to a free game, how about showing cards by type? Neutrals and class cards, basics and experts, commons, rares, epics, and legendaries. The growing list of charts could be situated across from the deck list, or a button could be added next to the deck list to flip it over and display the information. Swap, swap.
These are minor suggestions from an immensely satisfied customer, however. The game is kinetic and fun, the cards well illustrated and expansive. I’d still really like banter from the heroes to each other. There are potentially more boards in the works, which is great, but I hate waiting for them. Personally I’d love to see an Undercity board with rats scurrying across the play area, maybe dodging cards. And anything from Northrend.
What about you? Any locales you’re waiting for? Any information you’d like Hearthstone to display?
Update: I am a fool. The mana curve is available in constructed: hover over a hero’s image and you can see your current curve.
Well, he probably does. Who doesn’t? But he’s careful and doesn’t leave the construction of Hearthstone to chance and whimsy. In a previous column I discussed the issues with the coin that most players are stirred up about. It’s a hot button issue – the coin has proponents and detractors. Hearthstone’s forums are brimming with threads discussing, at length, the impact of that little card.
But none carry as much weight as the words of Mr. Brode. In a post on the Hearthstone forums Brode details the history behind its inception, the logic for its purpose, and the hard numbers of the coin’s actual significance in games. With Hearthstone’s systems closely monitored by developers the figures aren’t amorphous, specific samples from a handful of games but rather a complete and exhaustive data set. And they provide some incredible insight into the coin’s impact.
Across all leagues, 52.2% of wins are for the player who goes first. In master league, where the giants fight, that imbalance shrinks to 50.4%. The advantage of going first isn’t insurmountable and the coin seems to be fulfilling its role as a field leveler. The passionate responses it stirs may be more related to its potential for momentum shifting: dropping a heavy minion a turn before it’s expected or delivering a powerful combo attack (as has been done to me with frustrating regularity).
Arena statistics aren’t provided, but further in the thread a player asks and Mr. Brode answers. The results are similar to standard mode, a slight advantage to going first but it isn’t significant. The coin is here to stay. I’m happy the developers provided numbers about the coin’s use and impact during a game rather than simply stating a position and expecting the players to live with it. The statistics and comments may not convince everyone but it convinces me. It’s not a game breaker, just a light touch on the scale.