Card draw power creep is a major issue

  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    I've been going back and forth on writing this thread for a couple of months because I couldn't find a way to frame it that I was happy with, and if I couldn't convince myself I'd never convince anyone else. But the early Stormwind meta has added some clarity to the picture, so here goes...

    I'm pretty sure the state of card draw is one of, if not the biggest problem in Hearthstone right now. Put simply, its more efficient than is good for the game. There's too much of it, it's too cheap, and it too often tutors key cards. It's not just the classes that are supposed to be great at drawing cards, its everyone. To varying degrees sure - rogue is still better at it than most - but not to much significance. Even the classes that are supposedly bad at it have card draw that would have been powerful enough to be confined to classes like rogue a couple of years ago. Not to mention super powerful neutral options that guarantee any class has draws for days.

    Take Elven Minstrel for example. It was a good card in a very strong expansion in a class that has always had good card draw. Compare it to the likes of Refreshing Spring Water and Primal Dungeoneer, both of which are in classes that were traditionally so-so at drawing cards, and the Minstrel is laughably weak.

    Why it's an issue

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    OK, so there's a lot more card draw, why is that a problem? At it's heart, the problem is that card draw benefits different archetypes to wildly different extents. In particular, aggro can avoid running out of steam (as demonstrated in the Barrens meta, and quite a lot of last year too) and combo can find everything really quickly (as demonstrated in Stormwind). Normally that wouldn't be too much of a problem because card draw is slow so aggro can't afford to use it and combo has to be careful not to fall too far behind when using it, but it's all so cheap these days that it's not a problem for either archetype.

    Meanwhile, control and value benefit relatively little. Both try to get as much as possible out of each card in the deck and clog up their hands if they draw too much. Plus, their win conditions barely exist when they cannot exhaust aggro's resources and they die too quickly to put any pressure on combo.

    Control can at least try to respond to heavy card draw in aggro by running more removal and making use of their own card draw as best they can. That didn't work super well in the Barrens, though priest at least managed it. (It was a horrible deck to play against, but that's besides the point.) I was actually hopeful the defensive tools in Stormwind would make up the difference though. Perhaps they did? We can't say because Stormwind made a bunch of powerful combo decks that, thanks to the copious efficient card draw, can completely mess with the natural order of things and win as fast as aggro does.

    In an ideal world we have the cycle: aggro > combo > control > aggro. In Standard things are set up so aggro = combo >> control <? aggro. Wild has been like that for a long time, and it's an inevitable result of lots of great cards existing, but Standard should be small enough to let control function.

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    A more subtle issue is that it frankly makes the game less interesting. Decks always find the right cards, reducing variety of gameplay. There's no hope of the opponent not finding their key cards, so your decks have to be able to handle a high-roll every game. That's utterly crippling for meme decks.

    Plus, from a design standpoint, classes like rogue now often receive card draw as their main payoff for synergy because that's how they establish themselves as the classes that are great at drawing in a world where everyone is. Fine, but I want to see fireworks and interesting effects, not the hundredth bloody way to draw more cards when I already have 5 times more of that than I know what to do with.

    How did we get here

    It's difficult to say for sure since I'm not part of the development team, but I can identify a few possible causes, all of which occurred at a similar time.

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    First, we had an overload of card generation in the Year of the Dragon. By the time the devs decided they had taken it too far, they had already dug the hole: how do you introduce decks that can compete with that level of resource generation without doing the same thing? Well, give them lots of card draw instead. Unless the game goes to fatigue, it will serve the same purpose.

    That's all fine and dandy during the Year of the Phoenix when excessive card draw and generation existed side by side, but once the Year of the Gryphon rolled around we had some classes that weren't given the strong card draw during Phoenix and no longer had the value generation to compete with. This is where the problem really became apparent to me: shaman needed more card draw to compete with everyone else, but the problem wasn't really that shaman had too little, rather that other classes had too much. But by this point it was too late. It would take sweeping nerfs to Phoenix's draw to resolve the issue properly, verses adding 1 super strong bit of card draw to shaman. The latter route is the easy quick fix, but committing to it fundamentally changes the balance of archetypes.

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    There was a related issue that is specific to aggro: demon hunter was introduced as a figurehead for the change in philosophy from value to draw. It immediately set a high bar for how much card draw a class that's good at drawing has, and continued adding to it as more expansions came out. Other classes with great draw followed suit, with rogue quickly finding itself with great card draw for every conceivable occasion.

    So what, 2 classes that are meant to be good at card draw have good card draw, surely that's sensible? Well, yes, except that those 2 classes are also high tempo, aggressive classes with hero powers that help win the board. So other aggro decks struggled because they would lose on both tempo and resources. They can only really catch up if their own draw is improved substantially. That was achieved via both neutral and class cards. In any case, the end result is that all aggro decks now need to have good draw because otherwise rogue and DH will stomp on them.

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    There was another factor at the control end too, especially with priest whose card draw was gutted in its Classic set rework. In line with its class identity of being poor at card draw, it was stripped of its primary sources: Northshire Cleric and Power Word: Shield. This didn't work out too well for the class, which performed fine overall but only through obscene value generation that the community complained about (it is no coincidence priest had the last surviving bulls*** value deck).

    The reaction from the devs seems to have been that perhaps no class should be bad at card draw after all, which freed them up to print good card draw everywhere. I think the mistake here was not class identity, but how they handled priest's Classic rework. Classic always had cards outside of class identity to ensure every class had at least some options to work with. You might be able to strip away some things for the sake of class identity (e.g. they could take away rogue's AoE, as indeed they did in the Core set), but card draw is too fundamental a mechanic to take away. Leaving priest with only neutral options that don't compliment the class was bound to hit it harder than intended.

    (For the record, I think priest's card draw is actually in the most sensible spot of all classes right now, so they've been doing something right.)

    What's the fix

    If I'm optimistic, a few nerfs to the classes quickly completing game-winning questlines will open up enough space that control can at least test how effective the defensive tools in Stormwind are against aggro. That might be able to reset the archetype match-ups.

    Failing that, the best solution probably requires a lot of patience and a change in philosophy from the developers. I say change, but it's really just taking a few steps back. Just as they decided they went too far with the amount of value generation, they would need to believe they have gone too far with card draw too. Tone down card draw in the best classes (DH, rogue and warlock), and let other classes be kinda bad at it again. I appreciate that is quite difficult when DH has a questline that requires crazy card draw, but still.

    They cannot realistically nerf their way out of this problem since it affects way too many cards, so we'd probably need to wait for things to rotate.

    What I fear is that they 'solve' it through more power creep, by giving control completely broken tools to combat the situation. That would be the point where I might finally consider leaving since so much of my enjoyment in the game is derived from making fun but weak cards work, which is already tough enough as it is.

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  • dapperdog's Avatar
    Dragon Scholar 1590 3883 Posts Joined 07/29/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    Its a nice analysis on card draw power creep.

    But I'd argue that its deliberate made that way by the devs, to increase interactivity (and therefore, subjectively, fun). Play a couple of games in classic and suddenly the game may be fairer (Lack of removals means more minion activity) but honestly unless you're specifically playing miracle rogue you're basically playing 1-2 cards per turn. The mechanics were simple, and there's very little reason to think because nearly everything is predictable: druid ramp on 2, zoo curvestone, turn 4 giant, etc.

    In order to break that cycle you have to either 1) increase the rate and efficiency of card draw, or 2) increase card generation. They balance that out by designing the cards with a lower statline or at a higher cost. So in effect you're trading tempo for card draw/generation.

    I wouldn't say that an increased in card draw efficiency makes the game less interesting. Looking at the meta in the earliest history of hearthstone and honestly, the games were fairly predictable and repetitive. The most extreme example would be to look at hunter's history. The early parts were entirely made up of face/midrange hunters that practically played nothing but curvestone. It was not until Master's Call was introduced that we had hunter actually playing off curve and keeping cards in hand for a bigger finish. Similarly shaman in barrens didn't really got anywhere until Primal Dungeoneer was introduced, which then proceed to make possible elemental shaman, doomhammer shaman, and arguably control shaman.

    We are moving towards a phase where the old definition of control can no longer exist because hearthstone has evolved past curvestone. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. The ultimate objective should be to keep the value just low enough that control decks can exist, but high enough to give decks stuff to do instead of having their stuff repeatedly removed from board every turn. In my view, the best meta should ideally be 50-50 no matter the archetype, and avoiding polarising rock-paper-scissors games.

    Finally, will reducing the card draw efficiency of classes that feature this identity solve the problem? Not really in my opinion. Looking at the past barrens meta, miracle rouge can draw their whole deck but not necessarily win the match, while controlock hardly ever draws outside of hp. No gameplan can exist solely by drawing cards, because card draw options are inherently tempo-losing.

     

    That is...until we were given this freakish meta to exist in.

     

    The current meta we live in currently isn't normal. Its that polarising rock-paper-scissors bs that pits combo on one end and hyper aggro on the other. Mage transcends that by literally having a good matchup no matter what the opposition is, and will lose only because they didn't draw their Incanter's Flow early enough, or the opponent scored a combo for lethal from 30 health at turn 5-7.

    Its not the card draw. Its because team5 have ramped the power level of certain cards like Ignite, Stealer of Souls and Garrote that enabled lethal setup by turn 5. Card draw facilitated it, sure. But without these super-saiyan blue levels of bs it'll be all for naught. As I said, you can't have a gameplan that ignores everything but card draw...unless that is the very win condition in itself (which is what we have now). And that's something team5 can easily design around.

    I don't like calling for nerfs this early into an expansion. But not since the bs of pre-nerf small spell mage and Solarian Prime have I ever been so desperate for a change. Even when lunacy mage was raising hell, I can still play midrange decks with a gameplan to stop them. But this meta denies me even that. I dont like playing tier 1 or hyper aggro decks; but what choice do I have?

     

    A small note: You referenced Primordial Explorer in the third paragraph, which I assume should be Primal Dungeoneer instead

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  • YourPrivateNightmare's Avatar
    Skeleton 1865 3965 Posts Joined 03/25/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    I'm sorry but no, the biggest thing that had been holding half the classes back for years and forced them into the same streamlined archetypes was the fact that they weren't allowed to actually play their cards.

    NOw we're finally at a point where Priests, Hunters, Shamans and Warriors are actually allowed diverge into different archetypes.

    Power Creep is not only inevitable but also necessary unless you wanna go back to the boring slogfest that is Classic.

    I tried having fun once.

    It was awful.

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  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago
    Quote From dapperdog

    ...

    1) But I'd argue that its deliberate made that way by the devs, to increase interactivity (and therefore, subjectively, fun). Play a couple of games in classic and suddenly the game may be fairer (Lack of removals means more minion activity) but honestly unless you're specifically playing miracle rogue you're basically playing 1-2 cards per turn. The mechanics were simple, and there's very little reason to think because nearly everything is predictable: druid ramp on 2, zoo curvestone, turn 4 giant, etc.

    In order to break that cycle you have to either 1) increase the rate and efficiency of card draw, or 2) increase card generation. They balance that out by designing the cards with a lower statline or at a higher cost. So in effect you're trading tempo for card draw/generation.

     

    2) I wouldn't say that an increased in card draw efficiency makes the game less interesting. Looking at the meta in the earliest history of hearthstone and honestly, the games were fairly predictable and repetitive. The most extreme example would be to look at hunter's history. The early parts were entirely made up of face/midrange hunters that practically played nothing but curvestone. It was not until Master's Call was introduced that we had hunter actually playing off curve and keeping cards in hand for a bigger finish. Similarly shaman in barrens didn't really got anywhere until Primal Dungeoneer was introduced, which then proceed to make possible elemental shaman, doomhammer shaman, and arguably control shaman.

     

    3) We are moving towards a phase where the old definition of control can no longer exist because hearthstone has evolved past curvestone. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. The ultimate objective should be to keep the value just low enough that control decks can exist, but high enough to give decks stuff to do instead of having their stuff repeatedly removed from board every turn. In my view, the best meta should ideally be 50-50 no matter the archetype, and avoiding polarising rock-paper-scissors games.

    ...

     

    4) That is...until we were given this freakish meta to exist in.

    ...

     

    5) A small note: You referenced Primordial Explorer in the third paragraph, which I assume should be Primal Dungeoneer instead

    Responding to each point in turn:

    1)

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    I agree it was very likely deliberate, and I don't disagree with improving draw a bit, but I do think they have massively overshot what was necessary. I actually think priest's card draw is in a good and healthy spot right now it has some again, but it's the outlier. As with shaman a couple of months ago, it looks like it hasn't got much, only because everyone else has a tonne.

    Whether it increases interactivity is questionable though. If it mostly benefits aggro and combo, then where is the added interactivity in practice?

    Regarding the simple mechanics of Classic, I think that's an entirely separate matter. Part of why I disliked the Barrens meta was because it felt a lot like Classic in terms of its simplicity, and certainly not for lack of card draw. Meanwhile Hearthstone's history is riddled with fancy and interesting cards/effects that didn't need the amount of card draw we have today.

    As for the statline reduction - or lack thereof - that's arguably where a lot of power creep exists. Vanilla stats haven't moved an inch since Classic, but the stat cost associated with effects (not just card draw, but including it) has reduced significantly. Tempo loss for card draw is small to nonexistent these days, which is exactly why aggro and combo can afford to run so much of it.

     

    2)

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    Since you raise hunter, I would point out you have forgotten spell and big-beast-recruit hunter, both driven largely by K&C, and both existing before Master's Call arrived. Neither had much in the way of card draw, but they still functioned fine without taking the usual play-minions-on-curve route, partly because there wasn't such a strong need for card draw. The best anyone had was Elven Minstrel, so the amount needed to compete with other classes was far lower than what we have today. Master's Call helped bring (aggro) beast hunter back, but it wasn't required for hunter to be effective as a class. 

    This is why I think shaman's problem in Barrens was the amount of draw other classes had, rather than truly lacking any itself.

     

    3)

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    I agree a redefinition of 'control' isn't the end of the world, but it does come with problems. Whether we are talking about control as fatigue decks or in the more Classic sense where they actually had finishers, there's a large part of the playerbase that most enjoys those decks. Those players have already taken an in-game beating for the last 16 months, and while I can only speak for myself here, I'm coming to the end of my tether with it.

    The collateral damage to meme decks is huge too. These decks often only find success against slow control decks. If those are removed, then cool meme cards like Elwynn Boar might as well not exist.

    Idyllic as a perfect 50:50 win rate spread would be, there must always be some degree of rock-paper-scissors, because decks are built to counter other decks. We don't want things quite so polarising as OG quest rogue, but there should be some deviation from 50:50.

     

    4)

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    I fully acknowledge that card draw is only so good as the cards it draws, and it cannot be held solely responsible. Mana reduction and burst from hand are also playing a part that is greatly inflated compared to previous years. Those two again benefit aggro and combo over control. Both have been problematic over the years of course, with a lot of burst damage being sent to the Hall of Fame and mana cheating often being cited as a load of bs. 

    What really concerns me is the current design philosophy seems to be to push all 3 to extreme levels, which runs completely counter to the design philosophy of the past, which had been explicitly stated to limit burst damage, and was clearly much more reserved with draw and cost reductions.

    They might not be changing the core mechanics of the game, but between them they are completely changing what aggro, control and combo even mean. If aggro's not worrying about eking out every last bit of damage because it never runs out of cards, and if combo can play everything so fast it doesn't need to worry about its own survival, and is control doesn't even know what to do anymore, is it really still the same game?

    I'm sure lots of people like the changes in design philosophy, but for me it is committing to every design choice that undermines the reason I was playing in the first place. Neither Wild nor Standard really let me play out the shenanigans I log on for anymore, and Classic doesn't even have the cards to try it with. The really frustrating thing is that it isn't burnout. There's lots I want to try in Stormwind, but deep down I know I'd much rather be in any meta between TGT and SoU. (I'd include DoD if it didn't mean pre-nerf Galakrond shaman *shudder*.)

     

    5) Whoops, yes, thanks. It shows how much I use that card! I have now corrected it.

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  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago
    Quote From YourPrivateNightmare

    I'm sorry but no, the biggest thing that had been holding half the classes back for years and forced them into the same streamlined archetypes was the fact that they weren't allowed to actually play their cards.

    NOw we're finally at a point where Priests, Hunters, Shamans and Warriors are actually allowed diverge into different archetypes.

    Power Creep is not only inevitable but also necessary unless you wanna go back to the boring slogfest that is Classic.

    Were those classes really that limited in the middle years of HS? Looking between Old Gods and Descent of Dragons, before card draw started becoming really strong, you find:

    Priest had res decks, Raza singleton, value-control (e.g. Galakrond), various dragon decks (including a strong tempo version in Gadgetzan), Lyra miracle stuff, tempo while Extra Arms was buffed, Mecha'thun, deathrattle quest + Seance, Nomi miracle.

    Hunters had lots of beast-focused aggro/midrange sure, but also secret/spell decks, big beast recruit, Odd, mechs, singleton, Unseal the Vault was meta for a little while, hero power secret/aggro, dragons.

    Shaman had totems (including Even), overload, evolve, jade, murlocs, elementals, many Sudderwock/battlecry variants (including Uldum quest and Galakrond), big decks with Muckmorpher

    Warrior had C'Thun, pirates, taunt, Dead Man's Hand fatigue, Odd control/fatigue, mech control, dragons, bombs, aggro with Bloodsworn Mercenary, Galakrond (both aggressive and value focused).

    None of them were one-trick ponies, and none of them needed lots of card draw to get there. Nor were these games just massive slog-fests. Some were when the intent was to go to fatigue, but most did have an actual win condition.

    And yes, power creep is inevitable, but it has been far too sharp recently to be natural 'creep'. It has been propelled much faster than it needed to be. Whether that is a detriment to the game is subjective, but certainly for me it has changed the game for the worse.

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  • SLima's Avatar
    The Undying 560 415 Posts Joined 08/17/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    Priest's card draw is in a healthy spot but only for Control. The class will never find any success outside of Control without real card draw. Shadow Priest is just another Control Priest. Quest Priest is Control as well. Priest literally can't do anything else. It doesn't have access to burst for any sort of Combo and fast strategies will die from an inability to reload efficiently throughout the game.

    "True mastery takes dedication."

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  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago
    Quote From SLima

    Priest's card draw is in a healthy spot but only for Control. The class will never find any success outside of Control without real card draw. Shadow Priest is just another Control Priest. Quest Priest is Control as well. Priest literally can't do anything else. It doesn't have access to burst for any sort of Combo and fast strategies will die from an inability to reload efficiently throughout the game.

    I thought I'd do this comment justice by trying out Shadow Priest (SP) before responding. Over the Barrens months I let myself slide from a diamond 5 player to only getting 4 bonus stars at the start of the season, so I'm not exactly against the best players, but still here are my thoughts...

    Oh, I also met a lovely questline mage player who flamed me after they lost, accused SP of being cancerous, found the effect of Psyfiend "DISGUSTING" and ended the conversation with "So hope you die soon". It all seemed a touch hypocritical given he was playing something rather more prevalent in the meta, and doesn't even have the good grace of playing minions before shooting the opponent's face. Clearly it doesn't matter what priest does, some people will always hate it :P

    Anyway, I wouldn't categorise SP as a conventional control deck. I'm sure you could make it into one, but the version I played with Psyfiends and Voidtouched Attendants was more towards the combo side. Not enough to qualify as a proper combo deck either, more like a deck that can choose between game plans depending on the situation. Like hunter, the hero power provides enough chip damage that you don't need to find anything close to 30 damage when you choose to finish off the opponent.

    Somewhat analogously, the card draw situation was a mix between actual draw and card generation. I hadn't appreciated going into it how useful the generation would be for the combo side of the deck. You could afford to use up some combo pieces because you could either bring them back with Raise Dead or find replacement shadow spells.

    I did play the quest too a couple of days ago. That felt like a control-y midrange deck more than true control, which again can get by with priest's mix of draw and generation. So priest's current position is similar to usual: you can make genuinely different archetypes, but they are always anchored to control. 

    I'm personally not sure if that's a problem or not. I could say something similar for rogue, for example, and replace 'control' with 'tempo'. A benefit of having 10 classes is that they can each have their own 'anchor', or put less esoterically: each class feels like the same class even when playing different archetypes.

    With that in mind I guess the long term failed archetype in priest is tempo priest, which has worked a couple of times but usually thanks to cheesing wins with Divine Spirit + Inner Fire. There's 2 ways I can think to view this: either tempo priest just doesn't mesh with priest's 'anchor' (partly because it would need the draw that the control-centred anchor lacks); or because limiting priest's attack buffs stifles the tempo playstyle, so that it will always struggle against slow decks because it's too slow to put on pressure. It's a shame, and I'm willing to accept the limited card draw's role in it. I'd love to see how well it works with DS+IF around AND the more card draw-heavy environment. Unfortunately they just missed each other in Standard, making it tricky to know which conclusions to draw.

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  • Sykomyke's Avatar
    Grand Crusader 780 984 Posts Joined 05/30/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    I don't feel like typing out a super long reply, but in reply to your Primary post Shuckle, I 100% agree.  Right now it feels like card draw is overtuned,  and the usual format of Combo>Control>Aggro>Combo doesn't exist.  Instead Combo and Aggro vie against one another for meta supremacy between expansions/mini-set releases/balance patches...while Control huddles in the corner in a fetal position.

    For the last year-ish, playing control has felt like "did I draw the perfect nuts draw and counter my combo or aggro opponent perfectly with an extremely refined and teched deck" Yes? Congrats.  No. You lose.

    My biggest issue with the current Stormwind meta is that back and forth interactions are no longer a thing.  Standard feels like wild now.  The reason I liked standard and play standard is for the back and forth decision making and interactions between two players playing decks.  Wild doesn't really care about the opponents deck.  It has it's own gameplan, and if it fufills it's gameplan before you fufill yours, you generally just lose....

    ....which is exactly what is occurring in standard now.  I'm honestly fed up with a lot of the design decisions the devs have made.  Vanilla statlines haven't moved that much, but extra effects sure have.  A 3 mana 3/4 with no special effects (aka spider tank) used to be the gold standard for 3 drops.  Now, unless your 3 mana minion has a special passive, deathrattle, battlecry, etc it's usually not worth running (see LuckySoul Hoarder or Razorfen Beastmaster, Dreaming Drake, Pack Kodo, Alliance Bannerman, etc).

    Now some of those are 3/3's or even 2/2's but the 3 cost is tied to a super strong effect.  I know those are all class cards, but even cards like Archdruid Naralex, or Devouring Ectoplasm exist).  Put simply,  we don't need to go back to "vanilla" hearthstone like PrivateNightmare was suggesting, but I think we are starting to see too many compounded effects being tacked onto cards.

    In short:  Too much "word creep" (special effects attached to vanilla or normal statlines).  Too much available card draw with little-to-no downsides attached.  And control has been pushed out entirely at this point. (the last surviving bastion of control was priest, but after the nerfs to Apotheosis and Renew, the deck has struggled to say the least.)

    Edit: looks like I ended up typing out a long reply anyways oh well.

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  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago
    Quote From Sykomyke

    Edit: looks like I ended up typing out a long reply anyways oh well.

    Lol. I know that feeling. I often think it'll just be a couple of paragraphs, then 17 paragraphs later I can't imagine how it could be made shorter.

    Anyway, yes, "word creep" is definitely how HS has handled power creep. We should be glad of that really, because if vanilla stats don't change then there's hope that Standard can undo power creep. At least in principle. It happened before with the Year of the Raven, which was a huge benefit to the game in the Year of the Dragon, but I'm not optimistic that they'll do it again since it requires a year of cards that don't impact the meta much immediately.

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  • Sykomyke's Avatar
    Grand Crusader 780 984 Posts Joined 05/30/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    My biggest concern is that even with potential quest/card nerfs for this expansion, we won't see any visceral change until the core set rotation of next year.  5-7 months is a long time to wait for the core set to rotate out all the changes/inherent neutral draw options available.

    Also, a comment I meant to make earlier was that my feeling is that Demon Hunter is the problem/crux of all this.  Demon Hunter set a "standard" for card draw with their initial release, and since then they've been a powerhouse class becuase of it.  Even after multiple nerfs I'd argue that the class is still inherently strong from a combo/aggro standpoint. (Which as an aside, I didn't think we needed another aggro/combo class.)

    It's funny to think that the Nzoth/Inquisitor build from last meta, is being completely shut out because the power level of the decks in this expansion is so high it's completely shut down any decks that require turn 8+ win conditions.

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  • SLima's Avatar
    The Undying 560 415 Posts Joined 08/17/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    DS + IF is probably the easiest combo to assemble in the whole game. When they announced the new core set for Priest and i saw that Inner Fire was gone, i became hopeful that Priest would be able to play a genuine buff based deck without resorting to a combo finisher. However, they also removed Power Word: Shield and Northshire Cleric which were the main cycle/reloading tool for the class. After that, they kept printing good tempo minions and buffs but all of these cards ended up as a complete failure. Priest doesn't have a hero power that creates minions like Paladin. Paladin can always throw their buffs into their 1/1s whenever they are out of minions. Priest, however, needs actual minions to buff and if their stuff gets removed there's a pretty high chance that they will become stuck with buff spells in hand that simply can't be used.

    I'm not desperate for the birth of a super good aggro/tempo priest because i'm sure it will be infuriating to deal with. What annoys me is the fact that they keep printing these tempo cards and buffs that serve no purpose outside of discover/generation. Precious slots in card sets are wasted with cards that are simply hopeless. The strongest example is Scholomance Academy. This set brought a few cards that see play all the time (mainly Draconic Studies and Raise Dead) but both dual class legendary slots failed completely within the class because they were supporting buff/tempo playstyles. High Abbess Alura was a huge success in Paladin and even took a nerf because of that but the card simply doesn't work with any reliable Priest strategies. And Disciplinarian Gandling was simply insanely overrated and failed even within Warlock. There's also Frazzled Freshman (people were worried because it was a 1/4) and Power Word: Feast. If they just gave Priest a basic Arcane Intellect, these cards would probably be playable, at least. If they have no intention of doing this then i would wish for them to stop printing useless stuff and give the class cards that actually support its slower nature.

    "True mastery takes dedication."

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  • PopeNeia's Avatar
    Darkmaster 575 789 Posts Joined 07/06/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    I actually rather like the fact that there is so much card draw in HS now. I like being able to know that I can find the power cards in my deck and it becomes more about knowing if I can survive my opponent’s power cards and resource management etc.

    However, I think the main crux of the issue is that too much Mana Cheating was introduced alongside this abundant card draw. Some obvious examples are cards like: Incanter’s Flow, Refreshing Spring Water, the Runed Mithril Rod and Octobot (and to a certain extent, the Loan Shark in Rogue giving then free coins).

    Card draw is not the problem, but when the cards drawn have basically 0 cost to them, you can do whatever you want with them.That’s why it feels so disgusting to play against because every card is basically free, you shouldn’t be able to fill your hand with cards and empty them at the same time! There should be a clear sacrifice to these things: draw cards or play them… not both! 

    This ain't no place for a hero

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  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago
    Quote From PopeNeia

    I actually rather like the fact that there is so much card draw in HS now. I like being able to know that I can find the power cards in my deck and it becomes more about knowing if I can survive my opponent’s power cards and resource management etc.

    However, I think the main crux of the issue is that too much Mana Cheating was introduced alongside this abundant card draw. Some obvious examples are cards like: Incanter’s Flow, Refreshing Spring Water, the Runed Mithril Rod and Octobot (and to a certain extent, the Loan Shark in Rogue giving then free coins).

    Card draw is not the problem, but when the cards drawn have basically 0 cost to them, you can do whatever you want with them.That’s why it feels so disgusting to play against because every card is basically free, you shouldn’t be able to fill your hand with cards and empty them at the same time! There should be a clear sacrifice to these things: draw cards or play them… not both! 

    I completely agree that mana cheating is not innocent in this, and I am also concerned about the number of cards that reduce mana costs these days. Even if they aren't all competitive, there was a whole 15 cards in Stormwind that reduced the cost of other cards or cast them for free. 15! And that's not even including the coin generators.

    However, I don't think we can just decouple it from card draw and blame the mana reduction by itself. Without lots of card draw mana reduction isn't a big problem either. No one would care about Incanter's Flow if only 1 card was drawn each turn.

    The two problems are deeply intertwined, partly through 0 mana card draw, and partly through what @Sykomyke described as "word creep", which is basically saying the minions have more stats for a given effect than they used to. Or equivalently, they cost less than they would have done a few years ago if they had the same stats and effect. With the latter viewpoint, minion-based card draw is effectively mana reduced, even if that hasn't explicitly happened.

    Whether it has explicitly had its mana cost reduced or its base cost is just a lot cheaper than it used to be, it's the same story: everyone can draw more and do more each turn than they used to, which helps aggro and combo more than control.

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  • meisterz39's Avatar
    925 1200 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    There is a real risk that too much good card draw can make the game stale by making it too easy for each deck to do exactly what it wants in every game - that's a very real challenge for the designers, and a big part of why Quest Mage is such a nuisance. However, I think the complaints about a lack of control decks and an overabundance combo and aggro in Standard feels like an overreaction to a few clear examples of "bad opening day meta," with no particular basis in where we are only a few days into the Stormwind expansion.

    It's already the case the majority of Day 1 and 2 combo decks that were terrorizing the metagame are taking a back seat to Handbuff Paladin, which fits squarely into a Midrange/Tempo archetype. Looking more broadly at the data on HSReplay, you've got three different Aggro decks (Face Hunter, Zoo Warlock, and Elemental Shaman), two Combo decks (Quest Mage and Quest Druid), and three Midrange/Tempo decks (Handbuff Paladin, SI Rogue, and Pirate Warrior) all with solid positive win rates. Quest Warlock has fallen off precipitately because unlike Quest Mage it crumbles against aggro, and the only classes that have no representation on that list are Priest and Demon Hunter. It's early yet, and the meta isn't solidified, but I think it's clear that a lot of classes and archetypes are finding success right now.

    Of course, you'll note that none of the archetypes I mentioned are strictly control decks, even though that very lack of control is called out as the central problem with too much card draw. To be frank, I think the idea that Hearthstone lacking traditional control decks is a problem reflects an overly dogmatic reading of the traditional Aggro > Combo > Control triange. It's a great tool for thinking about how archetypes interact, but it was always intended as more illustrative (because in any given match-up, your aggro deck might have to be the "control" rather than the "beatdown," etc.), and its MTG roots make very clear that it isn't a perfect tool for Hearthstone. MTGs rules about attackers and blockers create a fundamentally different control experience, while Hearthstone is designed to produce a faster gameplay experience that's intended as a mobile-first experience.

    Because Hearthstone has always been a tempo game first and foremost, I think it's natural that Midrange/Tempo decks replace Control most of the time in that triangle, which makes pretty clear that today's distribution of archetypes is actually pretty healthy. In fact, when I think back to metagames with prominent traditional control decks, those metagames were typically awful. Control Mech Warrior around Rise of Shadows is a great example of this - it was typical that these decks would generate 30+ armor in a game, leverage Archivist Elysiana to extend their deck, and drag any even remotely slow game into fatigue (and potentially to the 90 turn cap). That was a miserable time to play the game, even if you love traditional control decks, because every game felt super samey and super slow.

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  • Sykomyke's Avatar
    Grand Crusader 780 984 Posts Joined 05/30/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago

    So Dean replied to a Q&A and this was the response...

    Quote From Dean Q&amp;A

    Mass Nerf

    • Power creep will always be a decision, though in some ways it will be inevitable.
    • They have discussed doing a mass card nerf that could be done at the start of a rotation.
    • Goals would be to lower the power of the core set and the three sets from the previous year.
    • Dean doesn't think doing one would be unreasonable nor is it a crazy idea..
    • Dean also thinks that as the next year approaches, they will consider it very closely.

    While this makes me hopeful it also makes me concerned we won't see any REAL (aka visceral) balance changes until the core set rotation, where it looks like this entire year's worth of cards may be heavily nerfed in multiple ways.  This will help Hearthstone in the long term (which is a good thing) but I'm concerned that in the short term people will become frustrated.

    Anecdotally, I don't agree with Meister.  The "dogmatic" view of deck archetypes has and will always exist.  Just because hearthstone's interpretation of mechanics lends itself to a faster paced experience does not mean that's the way it *has* to be, nor does the existence of poorly balanced metas like Mech/Control Warrior indicate that's the status quo for control metas or decks.  (In fact during the Boomsday Project, I think it took them way longer than needed to make balance changes to the cards....that was during a phase of their existence where they were very "laissez faire" in their balance approach to Hearthstone ...hands off if you don't get the insinuation).

    To use a turn of phrase:  Don't piss on me and call it rain. And don't try to call midrange/tempo decks, control decks.  Midrange decks are the "jack of all trades" decks.  They exist outside the 3 major archetypes because they have the ability to *possibly* defeat any deck, but at the cost of diluting their gameplan and deck experience to be able to possibly shift gears to take on a different role.  A midrange/tempo deck can try to beat a control deck, but they may still end up losing because they don't draw well or lose too many resources.  A control deck however, knows that it's chance of beating a OTK deck are slim to none, barring specific tech cards or circumstances which cause the OTK to lose their win condition.  

    <Your Ad Here>

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  • meisterz39's Avatar
    925 1200 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 2 weeks ago
    Quote From Sykomyke

    Anecdotally, I don't agree with Meister.  The "dogmatic" view of deck archetypes has and will always exist.  Just because hearthstone's interpretation of mechanics lends itself to a faster paced experience does not mean that's the way it *has* to be, nor does the existence of poorly balanced metas like Mech/Control Warrior indicate that's the status quo for control metas or decks.  (In fact during the Boomsday Project, I think it took them way longer than needed to make balance changes to the cards....that was during a phase of their existence where they were very "laissez faire" in their balance approach to Hearthstone ...hands off if you don't get the insinuation).

    To use a turn of phrase:  Don't piss on me and call it rain. And don't try to call midrange/tempo decks, control decks.  Midrange decks are the "jack of all trades" decks.  They exist outside the 3 major archetypes because they have the ability to *possibly* defeat any deck, but at the cost of diluting their gameplan and deck experience to be able to possibly shift gears to take on a different role.  A midrange/tempo deck can try to beat a control deck, but they may still end up losing because they don't draw well or lose too many resources.  A control deck however, knows that it's chance of beating a OTK deck are slim to none, barring specific tech cards or circumstances which cause the OTK to lose their win condition.  

    I'm not saying that Midrange and Control are the same, I'm saying that the mechanics of Hearthstone lend themselves so much more to Midrange than Control that we shouldn't expect Control to play the same central role in the archetype balance triangle originally defined by MTG. I mentioned the differences in combat rules, but they go well beyond that. In Hearthstone, there's very little you can do to interact with your opponent on their turn (mostly just secrets, which your opponent can often play around). In Hearthstone you always play best-of-1 with no sideboard, which implicitly increases the cost of teching for particular match-ups. (The tradeable mechanic may change that, particularly if it becomes evergreen, but right now that's the world we live in.) 

    I am very aware of the differences between the two deck archetypes, and I'm not saying that strong Control decks can't exist in Hearthstone, all I'm saying is that Control archetypes don't generally play a primary role in balancing the metagame, and when they do the game is usually far less fun because it means they're over-tuned. Ultimately, my point is that the argument from AngryShuckie that the abundance of good card draw is a problem because it edges out Control is (I believe) wrong precisely because Control doesn't play the same critical role in Hearthstone that it does in MTG. A metagame can be very healthy despite a lack of strong/popular Control decks.

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  • dapperdog's Avatar
    Dragon Scholar 1590 3883 Posts Joined 07/29/2019
    Posted 9 months, 1 week ago
    Quote From AngryShuckie
    Show Spoiler
    Quote From dapperdog

    1) But I'd argue that its deliberate made that way by the devs, to increase interactivity (and therefore, subjectively, fun). Play a couple of games in classic and suddenly the game may be fairer (Lack of removals means more minion activity) but honestly unless you're specifically playing miracle rogue you're basically playing 1-2 cards per turn. The mechanics were simple, and there's very little reason to think because nearly everything is predictable: druid ramp on 2, zoo curvestone, turn 4 giant, etc.

    In order to break that cycle you have to either 1) increase the rate and efficiency of card draw, or 2) increase card generation. They balance that out by designing the cards with a lower statline or at a higher cost. So in effect you're trading tempo for card draw/generation.

     

    2) I wouldn't say that an increased in card draw efficiency makes the game less interesting. Looking at the meta in the earliest history of hearthstone and honestly, the games were fairly predictable and repetitive. The most extreme example would be to look at hunter's history. The early parts were entirely made up of face/midrange hunters that practically played nothing but curvestone. It was not until Master's Call was introduced that we had hunter actually playing off curve and keeping cards in hand for a bigger finish. Similarly shaman in barrens didn't really got anywhere until Primal Dungeoneer was introduced, which then proceed to make possible elemental shaman, doomhammer shaman, and arguably control shaman.

     

    3) We are moving towards a phase where the old definition of control can no longer exist because hearthstone has evolved past curvestone. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. The ultimate objective should be to keep the value just low enough that control decks can exist, but high enough to give decks stuff to do instead of having their stuff repeatedly removed from board every turn. In my view, the best meta should ideally be 50-50 no matter the archetype, and avoiding polarising rock-paper-scissors games.

     

    4) That is…until we were given this freakish meta to exist in.

     

    5) A small note: You referenced Primordial Explorer in the third paragraph, which I assume should be Primal Dungeoneer instead

    Responding to each point in turn:

    1)

    Show Spoiler

    I agree it was very likely deliberate, and I don't disagree with improving draw a bit, but I do think they have massively overshot what was necessary. I actually think priest's card draw is in a good and healthy spot right now it has some again, but it's the outlier. As with shaman a couple of months ago, it looks like it hasn't got much, only because everyone else has a tonne.

    Whether it increases interactivity is questionable though. If it mostly benefits aggro and combo, then where is the added interactivity in practice?

    Regarding the simple mechanics of Classic, I think that's an entirely separate matter. Part of why I disliked the Barrens meta was because it felt a lot like Classic in terms of its simplicity, and certainly not for lack of card draw. Meanwhile Hearthstone's history is riddled with fancy and interesting cards/effects that didn't need the amount of card draw we have today.

    As for the statline reduction - or lack thereof - that's arguably where a lot of power creep exists. Vanilla stats haven't moved an inch since Classic, but the stat cost associated with effects (not just card draw, but including it) has reduced significantly. Tempo loss for card draw is small to nonexistent these days, which is exactly why aggro and combo can afford to run so much of it.

     

    2)

    Show Spoiler

    Since you raise hunter, I would point out you have forgotten spell and big-beast-recruit hunter, both driven largely by K&C, and both existing before Master's Call arrived. Neither had much in the way of card draw, but they still functioned fine without taking the usual play-minions-on-curve route, partly because there wasn't such a strong need for card draw. The best anyone had was Elven Minstrel, so the amount needed to compete with other classes was far lower than what we have today. Master's Call helped bring (aggro) beast hunter back, but it wasn't required for hunter to be effective as a class. 

    This is why I think shaman's problem in Barrens was the amount of draw other classes had, rather than truly lacking any itself.

     

    3)

    Show Spoiler

    I agree a redefinition of 'control' isn't the end of the world, but it does come with problems. Whether we are talking about control as fatigue decks or in the more Classic sense where they actually had finishers, there's a large part of the playerbase that most enjoys those decks. Those players have already taken an in-game beating for the last 16 months, and while I can only speak for myself here, I'm coming to the end of my tether with it.

    The collateral damage to meme decks is huge too. These decks often only find success against slow control decks. If those are removed, then cool meme cards like Elwynn Boar might as well not exist.

    Idyllic as a perfect 50:50 win rate spread would be, there must always be some degree of rock-paper-scissors, because decks are built to counter other decks. We don't want things quite so polarising as OG quest rogue, but there should be some deviation from 50:50.

     

    4)

    Show Spoiler

    I fully acknowledge that card draw is only so good as the cards it draws, and it cannot be held solely responsible. Mana reduction and burst from hand are also playing a part that is greatly inflated compared to previous years. Those two again benefit aggro and combo over control. Both have been problematic over the years of course, with a lot of burst damage being sent to the Hall of Fame and mana cheating often being cited as a load of bs. 

    What really concerns me is the current design philosophy seems to be to push all 3 to extreme levels, which runs completely counter to the design philosophy of the past, which had been explicitly stated to limit burst damage, and was clearly much more reserved with draw and cost reductions.

    They might not be changing the core mechanics of the game, but between them they are completely changing what aggro, control and combo even mean. If aggro's not worrying about eking out every last bit of damage because it never runs out of cards, and if combo can play everything so fast it doesn't need to worry about its own survival, and is control doesn't even know what to do anymore, is it really still the same game?

    I'm sure lots of people like the changes in design philosophy, but for me it is committing to every design choice that undermines the reason I was playing in the first place. Neither Wild nor Standard really let me play out the shenanigans I log on for anymore, and Classic doesn't even have the cards to try it with. The really frustrating thing is that it isn't burnout. There's lots I want to try in Stormwind, but deep down I know I'd much rather be in any meta between TGT and SoU. (I'd include DoD if it didn't mean pre-nerf Galakrond shaman *shudder*.)

     

    5) Whoops, yes, thanks. It shows how much I use that card! I have now corrected it.

    Its taken me a while to respond back, mostly because Ive been a little busier than usual. But just comment on each of your points of response, to my original response to yours;

     

    1. Specifically on this point: "If it mostly benefits aggro and combo, then where is the added interactivity in practice?". If an aggro player can sustain a tempo reload against control up until turn 8 (which was fairly impossible back in the day), that's added interactivity as a result of card draw. Just because control players are forced to play one or two cards per turn up until then, that's not a signal that interaction has not been improved by increased card draw. Besides which, there are examples of control decks that benefited from the increased card draw/generation like control priest.

    Also, I stand by my opinion about the tempo loss tradeoff with card draw/generation cards. You are right in pointing out that effects have been added into the vanilla statline, but I'd argue where card draw/generation are concerned this is not exactly true. Most card draw options have either slightly downgraded stats or are conditional because whereby they aren't it tends to create polarisations, like Voracious Reader for 2 mana, Skull of Gul'dan for 5, etc.

    Which is why Im all for some nerfs to mage simply because Cram Session and Refreshing Spring Water are specifically making the meta unbearable, because the card draw is insane and the conditions non-existent. Outside of these though, most cards draws are either conditional, at a high mana cost (like Overflow), or comes with a tempo loss.

     

    2. This is not really relevant to the conversation, but I'd like to point out that outside of DK rexxar, deathrattle hunter before Master's Call was mostly a midrange deck. But of course, its not a strictly aggressive one, so you have me on that.

    Also, shaman's problem is not strong card draw from other classes. Ive played doomhammer shaman before the midset, and it was honestly card draw that's the problem, because if I have the god hand I just win, so it was never about other classes' reload factor, it was about shaman's own inconsistent gameplan execution.

     

    3 & 4 and conclusion

     

    Here's the thing: I don't think its preferable for there to be decks which plays nothing but removals with the win condition being solely attrition. Its even worse when these are the top decks in the meta (control warrior, odd warrior etc.). Curbing the card draw powercreep may help improve their game, but its not necessarily going to make the game fun. Its better, in my view, for control decks to actually have a win condition rather than fill their decks with reactive cards. Control shaman in barrens in a good example of that, being able to control the pace of the early game, while packing a win condition (al'akir + multiple nightmares, or headmaster keltuzad + perpetual flame) of its own.

    On the viability of meme decks, I will reiterate what I have said plenty of times, and is reflective in my own deck building philosophy: Everything you build must take into consideration of the current meta. And if aggro is commonplace, and your deck falls to that, it might be better to adapt by playing more anti-aggro tools like taunts. But bear in mind that the win rate will suck either way. You can't build a deck to meme out Elwynn Boar, then complain about the aggro decks farming you. That's exactly why its a meme deck: its a deck made entirely for fun, not for wins. If it were consistently winning, it wouldn't be a meme deck.

    I do sympathize with players who wishes to play more for meme than rank, but I feel its a little hypocritical to trumpet in favor of control decks - simply because it makes meme decks more viable.

    Also, I'd like to agree with meisterz39's assessment. In metas where attrition based control were prominent, it was mostly an awful experience. I like slower games myself, and was gleefully playing control bomb warrior before the last rotation, and was playing lots of control priest in the early parts of the barrens meta. But whenever I face up against a mirror match I often find myself silently praying my opponent just t1 concedes. And I think this is a general sentiment towards control decks in the community.

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  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 1 week ago
    Quote From dapperdog

    3 & 4 and conclusion

     

    Here's the thing: I don't think its preferable for there to be decks which plays nothing but removals with the win condition being solely attrition. Its even worse when these are the top decks in the meta (control warrior, odd warrior etc.). Curbing the card draw powercreep may help improve their game, but its not necessarily going to make the game fun. Its better, in my view, for control decks to actually have a win condition rather than fill their decks with reactive cards. Control shaman in barrens in a good example of that, being able to control the pace of the early game, while packing a win condition (al'akir + multiple nightmares, or headmaster keltuzad + perpetual flame) of its own.

    On the viability of meme decks, I will reiterate what I have said plenty of times, and is reflective in my own deck building philosophy: Everything you build must take into consideration of the current meta. And if aggro is commonplace, and your deck falls to that, it might be better to adapt by playing more anti-aggro tools like taunts. But bear in mind that the win rate will suck either way. You can't build a deck to meme out Elwynn Boar, then complain about the aggro decks farming you. That's exactly why its a meme deck: its a deck made entirely for fun, not for wins. If it were consistently winning, it wouldn't be a meme deck.

    I do sympathize with players who wishes to play more for meme than rank, but I feel its a little hypocritical to trumpet in favor of control decks - simply because it makes meme decks more viable.

    Also, I'd like to agree with meisterz39's assessment. In metas where attrition based control were prominent, it was mostly an awful experience. I like slower games myself, and was gleefully playing control bomb warrior before the last rotation, and was playing lots of control priest in the early parts of the barrens meta. But whenever I face up against a mirror match I often find myself silently praying my opponent just t1 concedes. And I think this is a general sentiment towards control decks in the community.

    I think you and @meisterz39 have conflated control and fatigue/pure attrition decks. You have recognised control decks sometimes do have proper win conditions, but nevertheless proceed to talk about them like they are all just fatigue decks that run nothing but removal. Really this is a failing of labeling decks as 'control', 'aggro' and 'combo' when they are on a multi-dimensional spectrum. The 3 basic archetypes are hazy regions within that spectrum, but the play-styles and win conditions can vary quite a lot. So when I talk about control, I mean anything in that hazy region, and certainly not just fatigue decks.

    While there are good arguments to be made for keeping the population of those decks reasonably small, they need to be present in some degree else there is no room for anyone to play meme decks. It's one thing to accept you're going to have a bad win rate with a meme deck, and quite another to have to give up because no games are slow enough to ever make any headway at all. Wanting control (or really anything that gives you 10+ turns to work with) to pit meme decks against is not a matter of wanting to up the win rate - I wouldn't be playing meme decks at all if that was the primary concern! - it's about wanting to be able to use our cards and enact cool strategies.

    Sure you build meme decks with the meta in mind (typically <10 cards in the deck are actually needed for the meme), but that is of limited help in achieving the meme when every game is either aggro, wherein your only focus is on survival, or super-quick combo, wherein your only focus is on doing as much damage as possible asap. Neither gives you an opportunity to do what you're actually there for. That's where the complaints come from: I don't care that aggro farms meme decks; I do care that the population of decks that give us a hope of enacting the meme is negligible.

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  • AngryShuckie's Avatar
    1595 1574 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 1 week ago
    Quote From meisterz39

    Of course, you'll note that none of the archetypes I mentioned are strictly control decks, even though that very lack of control is called out as the central problem with too much card draw. To be frank, I think the idea that Hearthstone lacking traditional control decks is a problem reflects an overly dogmatic reading of the traditional Aggro > Combo > Control triange. It's a great tool for thinking about how archetypes interact, but it was always intended as more illustrative (because in any given match-up, your aggro deck might have to be the "control" rather than the "beatdown," etc.), and its MTG roots make very clear that it isn't a perfect tool for Hearthstone. MTGs rules about attackers and blockers create a fundamentally different control experience, while Hearthstone is designed to produce a faster gameplay experience that's intended as a mobile-first experience.

    Because Hearthstone has always been a tempo game first and foremost, I think it's natural that Midrange/Tempo decks replace Control most of the time in that triangle, which makes pretty clear that today's distribution of archetypes is actually pretty healthy. In fact, when I think back to metagames with prominent traditional control decks, those metagames were typically awful. Control Mech Warrior around Rise of Shadows is a great example of this - it was typical that these decks would generate 30+ armor in a game, leverage Archivist Elysiana to extend their deck, and drag any even remotely slow game into fatigue (and potentially to the 90 turn cap). That was a miserable time to play the game, even if you love traditional control decks, because every game felt super samey and super slow.

    I agree we have to take some care when transferring terms between games, although my involvement with MtG has been basically nothing beyond watching ProJared play the old Shandalar game, so my conception of the term 'control' and its relationship to other archetypes is squarely within the Hearthstone setting.

    I think the bigger problem with the term is that, as with aggro and combo, it only vaguely specifies a hazy region in the multi-dimensional archetype spectrum. It is therefore easy for one person's interpretation of 'control' to be different to someone else's. E.g. you jumped to a fatigue/attrition deck in RoS's mech warrior, whereas my view defaults to being closer to control warrior in Classic, which had finishers like Grommash Hellscream. While fatigue/attrition decks might be the purest version of control, they are far from the only version and certainly not really what I'm hoping to reappear.

    So to clarify, by 'control' I mean a deck that favours the path of removal and/or armour/healing to survive long enough to reach their win condition. What that win condition is can vary greatly, including plain attrition, overwhelming the opponent with big minions, or maybe even an OTK. The biggest distinction with combo is the amount of draw they run. Combo will tend to draw as quickly as possible, only using stall/removal to buy a few precious turns, whereas control will draw their win condition more naturally, needing less card draw as they deny the opponent's attempts to pressure them.

    Of course combo will tend to beat control anyway because they don't play the minions that much of a control deck is geared against. The immediate problem with those match-ups is that combo is able to piece everything together before any of the control win conditions can come online. Obviously they'd outrace attrition decks, but there would normally be a bit of to-and-fro with big minion decks, for example. That's not possible with the super-efficient card draw enabling combo to wrap everything up before any control deck can mount any pressure.

    By itself, that might not be too bad, since those are bad match-ups for control at the best of times. Where it actually becomes an issue is in the aggressive strategies no longer running out of steam, making it much tougher for control to beat them (there's a reason midrange tends to beat control). That's not a knee-jerk reaction to the early Stormwind meta, that's a reaction to the majority of the post-Outland meta. 

     

    I think what people miss when they complain about long games is that those long games are a canvas for players to use any and every strategy they like. If you reach 10 mana, then all the options are available, and even if you don't win, at least you were able to put your plan into practice. If you never get past 7 mana, then that blocks a whole world of strategies from even seeing the light of day. If you want to play a deck that tries to win inside those 7 turns then great! You do you. Nothing is ever going to prevent you from trying. But the meta really needs to accommodate slower games otherwise it shuts out a significant fraction of cards and decks.

    I am not advocating for a return of attrition decks to the top of the meta. I just want there to be enough games that go on for enough turns to allow everyone to have the opportunity to try whatever they like. Super efficient card draw is enabling a two-pronged attack on that ideal by squeezing everything slow out of the meta.

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  • meisterz39's Avatar
    925 1200 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 9 months, 1 week ago

    Quote From AngryShuckie
    So to clarify, by 'control' I mean a deck that favours the path of removal and/or armour/healing to survive long enough to reach their win condition. What that win condition is can vary greatly, including plain attrition, overwhelming the opponent with big minions, or maybe even an OTK. The biggest distinction with combo is the amount of draw they run. Combo will tend to draw as quickly as possible, only using stall/removal to buy a few precious turns, whereas control will draw their win condition more naturally, needing less card draw as they deny the opponent's attempts to pressure them.

    I can mostly get behind this definition, though I think it highlights exactly how fraught drawing these lines is. I would argue that if your win condition is an OTK, you're a combo deck. Traditional control doesn't have to be strictly attrition decks, but the win condition is generally just to run the opponent out of resources, then play some big threats the opponent can't deal with.

    The "extreme" version of that is a fatigue/attrition match where running the opponent out of resources means eventually having them expend their whole deck (because the games are slow and the big threats that typically win games for control can't get a foothold in mirrors), but the principle is the same whether you're trying to run an aggro deck out of cards in their hand or a control deck out of cards in their deck. Your win condition is to eke more value out of your cards than your opponent so that you eventually have more threats than your opponent and win.

    Quote From AngryShuckie
    I am not advocating for a return of attrition decks to the top of the meta. I just want there to be enough games that go on for enough turns to allow everyone to have the opportunity to try whatever they like. Super efficient card draw is enabling a two-pronged attack on that ideal by squeezing everything slow out of the meta.

    I didn't mean to suggest that you were looking for super slow attrition. And I don't mean to suggest that having some long games is bad. All I meant is that because Hearthstone's design/rules emphasize more mixed archetypes like Midrange, when Control plays gets to play a major role in the meta, it often ends up warping the meta. RoS Control Warrior isn't the only example here - I think another good one is KaC Cubelock, which was able to generate a ton of burst with Doomguard and a ton of defense with Voidlord, enabling it to completely dominate any other board-centric deck.

    Control can and should find success by preying on popular decks through disruption rather than playing a major role in defining the meta. That can come in the form of AOE and removal against aggro decks, but you can also have hand and deck manipulation to mess with combo decks if those are a significant part of the meta. In that sense, I think the bigger problem is less about card draw and more about combo decks lacking interactivity. Mage Quest is a great example of this - it's really hard to disrupt it because they can play the quest before you can disrupt it (usually - I guess Oh My Yogg! is kind of an option), and can complete the quest and play Arcanist Dawngrasp in the same turn before you can disrupt that because their spells are so cheap. Typical combo disruption would destroy key cards (e.g. with Altar of Fire), but that doesn't do much when they have tons of spells that can complete the quest, and get to draw/play their key cards within the span of a single turn.

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