Ranked Play: Hearthstone

I’ve always been pretty competitive, especially when it comes to video games. Many an argument has arisen over my skill level vs. another person’s skill level regarding whatever game is in question. A long time ago, I would demonstrate my skill level in games like Twisted Metal or Street Fighter and to my friend’s dismay, I usually put my money where my mouth is. Further down the line it was in FPS games where I would at least be able to say I was on par with most of the people I played with. I got away from competitive games when I was into MMOs, as most of the time co-op was more important. More recently through in games like League of Legends and Awesomenauts I have tried to get better and be competitive as well. The former game has a Ranked queue, and I managed to break into Silver last season, despite not really participating for most of the season. The latter doesn’t have ranked play, but does have a Leaderboard and I have climbed close to the top.

Hearthstone is the most recent addition to my competitive play list. As such, I am inclined to try and improve and do my best to climb the ladder. At this point in time it doesn’t appear that there is any sort of Leaderboard, either that or I am unaware of how to locate it. Still, there is casual play, or ranked play, and I finally felt like I had built a deck able to withstand constructed ranked play. Not only have I been playing the game for a while now and building up my decks the “free” way, I bit the bullet the other day and dropped a few bucks in the store for some more packs, and because of the sweet reward you get for helping Blizzard test their store.

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I’m guessing there’s going to be some sort of achievement system in the game, because things like this pop up from time to time and seem like something they would keep track of on a profile page of some sort. It’s not present in game now, but I think it might be on the way. Another one of interest that popped up for me a while back was called “Chicken Dinner” (as in “winner-winner-chicken-dinner”) that gave me 300g for having won 100 matches. I’m curious as to what other gems are hidden. But I digress.

With the purchased packs and the above freebie, I ended up with a total of 4 legendary cards, and man do they make a big difference. Game changers, all. As of late I had been getting more and more cards for all my decks, but my Hunter seemed to be getting beefed up the most, so I used any dust I had gathered to construct a few missing pieces from the Hunter deck, and then practiced with it a bit. I was unstoppable in casual play. This boosted my confidence and I decided it was time to give ranked a try.

Right away, I got on a win streak that wouldn’t quit. Fresh out of the gate you are rank 25, an “Angry Chicken.” There are two stars above the ranking, and each corresponds to a win you need to get in order to progress to the next rank. Ranks are descending, in that you start at 25 and drop one number each time you earn the required amount of stars. I’m not sure if you get to rank 1 and that’s that, or if there’s something else going on. Also, with no Leaderboard it’s hard to tell where you rank as compared to “pros” whom already exist.

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Pretty quickly I ran through the ranks, and was aided further by the fact that if you get on a win streak, you start earning extra stars that can potentially jump you to the next rank right away. This happened to me a couple of times, but there eventually came a point where I lost a few as well. I think I won 5 or 6 in a row before the initial loss, and had started feeling pretty invincible, so it was grounding.

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Somewhere around rank 20 I started losing more than winning, but thankfully there wasn’t a penalty for losing at this point. A message popped up that said as much, but eluded to loss of stars at a later rank. I did manage to get back on track and finally started moving forward again, until I got to rank 18. I was on another winning streak when I actually hit 19:

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But that’s where my parade came to a complete stop. I made it to 18 with 2 stars, and then my longest losing streak began. Down to 1 star. Down to rank 19. Down to 1 star. I quit playing at that point, and figured because I had been playing for a big chunk of the day, maybe I was tired and it was time to cut my losses — for now. So I’m currently rank 19, but I think I’ll be able to get back to 18 in no time, and beyond. I had a blast running this deck, and have a small anecdote from one of the games:

This is now my closest game ever.
This is now my closest game ever.

Above is the screen where I was about to make the final attack and seal my victory. As you can see, my opponent has two minions to my six, and 2 health to my 1. I don’t think he had any cards left in his hand (but I cut off the image), I had two. But this picture doesn’t tell the story of how all of that happened, it just concretes my victory. I love the fact that this happened against a Paladin though. You’ll know me and Paladins (at least in this particular game) don’t get along.

So how did this all end up happening? Strangely this game started off where I was at a severe disadvantage. My opponent was hitting me at every opportunity, and maintained control of the table for most of the round. When I was floating around ten health, he was still over 20, and I was seriously considering hitting the concede button. But as I have said before, you have to know when to concede, and I felt like I might still have a chance. I’m glad I stuck it out, because despite getting me down to 1 life, I managed to win the game. So we had been trading minions and he was the only one really damaging me, but I got some hits in here and there. Then I drew a Houndmaster, and was able to use his battlecry on my already in play Jungle Panther. For some reason he had no minions that could take my defense out, and I managed to build my table control advantage, all the while whittling him down with Steady Shot. Finally, my game changer Onyxia showed up. Onyxia is an 8/8 dragon that costs 9 mana. Doesn’t sound all that great until you realized that she will continue to summon 1/1 welps until your side of the table is full. As you can see above, that is exactly what happened. Unfortunately for the Pally, I then proceeded to wipe out anything he got on the table. In the screen, he has two minions he had played on his previous turn, and that’s probably when he realized that he was done. Game over.

More on Ranked play as I progress.

EDIT: Apparently between the day I did all of the above and today, Ranked stuff reset. I was greeted with a message that I earned such and such ranked medal last season. I’m not up on how the Ranked system works in this game, so I guess I get to start over already!