Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Grind to Legend

The last few months I’ve been trying to hit the legend rank in Hearthstone. I’ve only tried to hit legend in the last two seasons because Blizzard finally offered a reward, the legend card back. The road to legend is an interesting one because it doesn’t seem too hard to obtain but many have struggled to attain the rank.  Hitting legend boils down to having at least a 51% win rate on the ladder and then playing a lot of games. Obviously you want to hit higher than a 51% win rate because the amount of games required to hit legend at 51% is just absurd. I want to offer some tips for those who are struggling for the next season.

The first thing you should do is keep a track of your win ratio through an excel spreadsheet. You should try to write down all the different deck types such as Control Warrior, Aggro Warrior, Zoolock,  Handlock, Aggro Mage, Ramp Druid and Token Druid. You should have a win and loss column for each and along with a win percentage next to those. You should also have a total win percentage so you can check your overall progress. One thing I should have done that I didn’t was to write down the name of your opponent in another column that corresponds to the deck they were playing. You can also fill in some extra information such as if you notice they played a card that isn’t part of the usual deck list.

You should use this spread sheet to reflect on what you need to do to improve you games. Since you are not aware of what deck your opponent will be playing you can’t que up with a specific class to counter them. However you can notice through the spread sheet what classes you are facing more often and how well you do against those. It gives you an idea of the current meta that you’re facing and what cards you might want to consider swapping in to have a slight advantage.

Understanding the current meta is important but so is understanding your current deck. I personally believe that you should stick to one deck that you completely understand. You need to know the multiple ways of obtaining lethal and what cards to mulligan when you face different classes. Using the spread sheet with the one deck will help you see the deck’s weaknesses. You can then try to modify your deck to improve it against those match ups that you frequently lose. When choosing a deck you should try to make one that is unique or not well known. Finding a deck on the internet is very easy but it also means that your opponent will know most of the cards in your deck which puts you at a disadvantage. You should constantly look at new decks that people are playing on various internet sites. Understanding and recognizing what deck your opponent has is one of the best advantages you can have on the ladder. It will allow you to make better decisions when you mulligan and when you have multiple plays.

One thing I really recommend to do after every match is to take a short break. If you won the last match, take a quick one minute break by walking around your house, getting a glass of water or using the bathroom. If you lost the last match take a longer break to cool off and try to understand why you lost the previous match. It is tempting to say well my opponent just top decked me or had the perfect hand but its important to really take time to reflect on your last loss in order to avoid it in the future. Maybe a play you did three turns ago set you up for this loss. If you had multiple losses then you should take a very long break. Losing a few times in a row can force you into a negative mindset and hinder your progress through the ladder. I’ve had a few moments last season where I let the anger cloud my judgment and I just went on a horrible losing streak.

I’ve learned a lot from my experience climbing the ladder. One thing for certain is to play early in the month. Nothing is worse then trying to hit legend with only a day or two left in the season. The grind to legend takes a very long time especially from ranks 5-1 since there are no longer any bonus stars for win streaks. I personally liked playing a control type of deck from ranks 25-5 since winning multiple times will get you to legend faster with the win streak bonus. However the downside to a control deck is that the matches are longer than average since control decks generally win past turn 10. I switched to an aggro deck after rank 4 since there were no more win streak bonuses and I just had to win as many games as I could. Faster games were much less aggravating to lose which helped me stay on track. I was lucky enough to find a deck that seemed to have an incredible win rate against my current meta which was the push I needed to hit legend. If you find a deck that just keeps winning you should play it as much as you can right now because the meta will change very quickly. I tried playing on my friends account with the same deck later that night and the meta was completely different. I kept running into decks that my deck was completely weak against. This was within a few hours of me hitting legend on my own account.

I also noticed that Leeroy Jenkins is in almost every deck I’ve faced. The current meta seems very bursty especially with the popularity of Leeroy. I have a feeling that there has to be some sort of nerf in the works for Leeroy or at least the new expansion will reduce his value with introduction of new cards.

The grind to legend is a very difficult one for those who lack patience. Getting to legend from rank 25 will take a lot of games, somewhere in the range of 80 to 100 games. It’s a huge time sink and it may not be worth it to everyone. However I love Hearthstone and I knew I was capable of hitting legend. I needed to focus all my attention on to the ladder and keep pushing forward. After hitting legend, I have a new found respect for those players who can hit legend in a month without spending a dime on the game.