You constantly ask for 'data' young apprentice, whilst you must know data is scarce. Well hidden and mask from the investigative eye. Courtesy of Blizzard. Yes there's HS-replay and VS, but these pale against what lies behind closed doors.
More than once people ask for data if they want to defend, or believe in the good intentions of developers. Knowing data acces is limited case closed. Hiding behind 'no proof' so everything is fine. Well Is it?
These are the gullible ones. Who stand ready to throw 'conspiracy theory' in your face. Fellow travelers and bandwagon commentators, doing Blizzards bidding without any proof either.
There's a lot to see with the naked eye. If you want to see it.
Data that proves your case beyond reasonable doubt is what you need if you want to make an allegation. At the very least a logical argument could spark a debate, but there doesn't appear to be either in this circumstance. Blizzard can and should put profit at the forefront of their actions, since they are a business and the purpose of a business is to generate revenue, however there is no financial gain to be made by keeping aggro as the dominant archetype, or by rigging games based on how much the players have spent on the product. Keeping one dominant archetype (this isn't actually the case as you will see if you review the available data on vS and HSR, which use sample sizes more than great enough to determine trends and provide accurate matchup win rates) would only serve to make the majority of consumers bored and less likely to spend money on the product. It makes more sense for strong archetypes to rotate, which incidentally happens all by itself on a weekly basis anyway due to the Aggro-Control-Combo trifecta in TCGs/CCGs warping the metagame on a regular basis. Match/RNG rigging makes no sense from a business standpoint for two reasons - Firstly if you reward the player who has spent more on your product with better RNG and higher win rates, you drive away the casual player - still a valued prospect - who may spend money on packs at any given moment (but not so much if they feel like they are out-lucked all the time and have a horrible gaming experience). And secondly, Hearthstone is a young game in the grand scheme of things, it has had plenty of predecessors in the TGC/CCG world. Many professional players from other card games play Hearthstone. Among these are brilliant-minded mathematicians and statisticians - with the sheer volume of these people that are playing Blizzards game, match rigging would be sniffed out quite quickly.
My intention is not to defend Blizzard or believe that they have good intentions, but rather seek proof or sound logic suggesting that they have bad intentions. I imagine their intentions are strictly business oriented, but that certainly does not suggest that they are going around rigging matches against ftp players and making it so that decks with a low skill floor are the most powerful (again the data suggests that at the latter of these two is not the case anyway). Regarding the question "is it fine?" well that depends on your parameters for defining "fine." Is Hearthstone the pinnacle of skill in which a Grandmaster will beat a lesser opponent 100% of the time through superior play? Absolutely not. Is Hearthstone a complete RNG fiesta in which a three year old child can win 50% of their games by clicking randomly and dribbling on their keyboard? Again, absolutely not. Hearthstone is somewhere on the scale between these two. Is it perfectly balanced on that scale? Probably not, I think most of us would appreciate a game that favours the skilled player a little more, but Hearthstone is not, and has never been marketed as that, so in terms of "doing what it says on the tin," Hearthstone is indeed "fine."
I haven't seen anyone on here mention conspiracy theories, so I'll go ahead and breeze past that one... Without data on match rigging and RNG favouring the patron, and data that conflicts with the theory that aggro is ever dominant, we can only go by our own gaming experiences if we want to make a case against Blizzard - in my case, my gaming experience very much agrees with the data provided by vS. Control generally dominates aggro, aggro generally dominates combo, and combo generally dominates control. These numbers hold up whichever side of the board I am playing on and I don't feel that I suffer from unfair loss streaks at the hands of rigged matchmaking/RNG or low-skilled players beating me with "brainless" decks.
"There's a lot to see with the naked eye. If you want to see it." - As someone who is fact/data oriented, I'm not looking for what I want to see. I am looking for what is there.
If you do the math you'll notice that Zeph. is played predemonantly in aggro/aggressive decks. Logically most effective.
I never stated that the card isn't used by non-aggressive archetypes. I implied that it is most effective in aggressive archetypes and as such an extra check on a strategic and skillfull gameplay. Control using it against aggro is less effective due to lesser survival time against anything aggressive. Do you think that e.g. control Priest has any regular advantage of Zeph. against some mindless hordes of Murlocs in Paladin/Shaman?
Burn - Buff - Chargers - Summon are the cornerstones of a mindless win condition. Zeph. as a minion has been added to that equation since the AI calls the shots based on the current boardstate. No skill, no strategy, just puzzling.
Zeph is desastrous against board oriented gameplay and as such an extra advantage for damage - out- of - hand - don't care - about - the - board - go face - win condition.
Conclusion: Zeph. makes a polarized meta even worse. But elsewhere I've already argued that card design = creating a sustained polarized meta. In the end Zeph. is about maintaining a dominant aggressive meta. Serving the target audience, who simply buys the most packs.
Aggro decks by design aim to consistently achieve a strong curve. As such, including 2 ofs in an aggro deck is generally superior to not including 2 ofs - you want your Flame Imp into your Knife Juggler etc and playing 2 copies of each ensures that a strong curve is more consistently achieved. If Highlander Warlock out-represents standard Zoo at Grandmasters or its win rate on ladder remains higher for a couple of weeks I will reconsider my opinion on this - but at the moment I believe the concept is a flash in the pan, and will soon fade away when people realise that consistent reliability is better than one above average 2 drop. Murloc Paladin is a slightly different creature, but its power lies in being able to play out 20 mana worth of cards as early as turn 5 (or 4 with coin). Ironically Zephrys > Shadowflame will answer this almost every time with the exception of Nightmare Amalgam or trading off a Bluegill Warrior to create board space and playing a Coldlight Seer. In any case, Zephrys in MOST aggro strategies is actually counter-intuative (with Hunter seeming to be an exception).
I don't think we are in full agreement over what comprises "strategic and skillful gameplay." I'm not entirely switched off to the fact that there is a skill set required for playing aggro correctly that is completely different to the skill set required to play control correctly. As a matter of fact in both cases, the skill factor is significantly greater when the hero deck and enemy deck are similar in strategy - aggro playing against control simply has to try and win as fast as possible, while avoiding potential AoE, while control playing against aggro simply has to preserve their life total until the aggro deck has run out of steam. Aggressive gameplay requires skill, however control decks do not allow aggro players to display their skill, because they are on a strict clock to win before the control deck stabilises and unless the control deck opens nutty with a lot of low drops, there are very few micro decisions for the aggro player to make outside of "how many minions is it safe to play into my opponent's brawl?" It is aggro vs aggro, and control vs control where you will see decisions matter significantly more. Zephrys serves a different function in a slow deck to a fast deck, and depending on the matchup - he isn't strictly better at one than the other.
Burn, buff, charge and summon, are the majority of win conditions available in Hearthstone and do not equate to mindless gameplay. All of the aforementioned have counter play - heal, remove, taunt, and trade - and make up the motions of a game of Hearthstone. Freeze Mage is widely regarded by many as one of the hardest decks to pilot since Hearthstone's inception. It a slow deck that relies almost entirely on burn to win the game. Is it mindless aggression? Vanilla Wallet Warrior relied on a 15 damage burn into a swing from Alex and Gorehowl to win games. Is that mindless aggression?
The majority of aggro decks since the start of Hearthstone have required the player to have a board in order to get the majority of their damage through. Take "Tempo" Mage from Gadgetzan - it would absolutely use burn cards to finish the game, but it had to get in a significant amount of minion chip damage before transitioning into a burn game plan. Even Face Hunter and Pirate Warrior, the purest forms of aggro Hearthstone has ever known, couldn't win unless they got in a few swings with their 1 and 2 drops.
Have you any data that proves or at least suggests a correlation between predominantly playing aggro and spending more money on packs? Certainly a counter-intuitive idea considering aggressive decks generally have a significantly lower dust cost than heavier ones trying to abuse big legendaries. For a personal anecdote - I buy a lot of packs. When a set comes out I'll usually make sure I have access to everything so I spend a decent amount on the game. I play just about every deck that has a reasonable win rate but tend to favour control and slower midrange strategies. In any case without any data there's an absolute non-argument with regard to Zephrys being designed to make aggressive gameplay dominant for financial reasons. I won't dismiss the idea as impossible (although I still disagree that Zephrys promotes aggressive gameplay in the first place) but without so much as a logical reason for the aggro player to be the supreme patron of Hearthstone, I cannot take this argument too seriously at this time.
This is a list of various decks (across numerous archetypes) that play Zephrys and their respective win %s. It doesn't give any information about how Zephrys affects the aggro vs control matchup, and it supports my argument that Zephrys is not strictly an aggressive card.
I won't argue against Zephry's being a crazy powerful card, but suggesting that it was printed to make aggro the dominant archetype and "keep control in check" doesn't make any sense, as it is just as efficient at denying tempo as it is at creating it. It can be used proactively by an aggro deck to generate tempo, of course, but it can equally be used by a control deck either reactively to deny tempo, or preemptively to set up their own tempo play before the aggro deck has taken hold of the board.
In addition to the above, "control decks" as a concept literally exist to keep aggro in check, it doesn't matter what classic or basic card you slip into an aggro deck, it is still going to get hosed by control 60%-70% of the time (with these number increasing at higher ranks due to players having a deeper understanding of control strategies). I have pulled some stats from vS Data Reaper report 22/08/2019 (link below) and it shows that at the time of the report, Control Warrior was favoured against every deck that would be classed as aggro* that appeared on the report (Mech Hunter, Aggro Rogue, Aggro Warrior, Murloc Shaman, Murloc Paladin, Zoo Warlock (decks in bold usually include Zephrys)). And while it is true that 2 of the 3 matchups Control Warrior is weak in do play Zephrys, as I mentioned previously, they are anti-control strategies by default irrespective of Zephrys' inclusion because they play things like Luna's Pocket Galaxy and Dinotamer Brann, which already give control decks a lot of trouble.
It also makes sense to ask ourselves, is it even true that aggro is dominating control and keeping it in check? Well if we look at HSReplay, it would suggest that the aggressive Murloc Paladin and Murloc Shaman sit alone in tier 1, which on the surface looks promising (although this is highly likely inflated by the data not being filtered to ranks of a reasonable standard of gameplay). Interestingly enough however, Murloc Paladin in particular punishes greedy, inconsistent and highly popular Highlander decks, with both also able to destroy experimental new decks that have come about as a result of the balance patch. Meanwhile both Murloc aggro decks get utterly dominated by Control Warrior, which has declined in popularity since the patch. In conclusion we can see that aggro is indeed doing well, but it isn't pushing control out, it is simply taking advantage of a meta full of super greedy and/or experimental decks and fewer Control Warriors. These stats will prompt people to play more aggressive decks, which will present an opening for control decks to step in and punish an aggressive meta until the hyper greed takes over again and the experiments become refined.
Unfortunately unfairness will not stop devs from printing cards like these. Not only for midrange decks problematic, control also suffers. For now I settle for the observation that Zeph. is mainly used in aggro/aggressive decks and most likely as such devised to keep the meta aggressive, control in check.
If you run with your aggro deck into problems against a control archetype, just play Zeph. cleverly. Problem likely solved.
Please elaborate on these points. Zephrys sees play across the board in terms of archetypes. Highlander Hunter is an aggressive midrange deck, Highlander Mage is a slow midrange deck. Quest Druid has variations of tempo builds and combo builds. Murloc Paladin and Highlander Warlock are aggro decks, while Holy Wrath Paladin is strictly a combo deck. Control Warrior has also been known to splash Zephrys when the meta is slow enough. It certainly doesn't seem to appear "mainly" in aggressive decks.
Additionally, I have certainly not found a single copy of Zephrys to be a problem when dealing with aggro decks while using their natural counter - a control deck. They can steal a win from time to time when you don't consider Zephrys > Savage Roar when they have a wide board, but your job as a control deck is to keep the aggro player off the board, which a control deck is extremely efficient at doing.
I'd be interested to see more data on this but as far as control decks struggling with Zephrys goes, according to Vicious Syndicate's last report (released 22/08/2019) Control Warrior was favoured against every single deck that contained Zephrys except for Highlander Mage and Hunter (43% and 42% win rates against them, respectively), both of which are anti-control strategies with key cards that give Control Warrior a very hard time (Luna's Pocket Galaxy, Conjurer's Calling, Zul'Jin, Brann), with Zephrys not really being a key player in either matchup, like it is playing against Control Warrior as Quest Druid, for example (which is unfavoured against Control Warrior, or at least was before the last patch).
Any data that suggests that cramming Zephrys into a poorly optimised aggro deck gives you an edge against Control strategies would be most appreciated.
Zephrys is precisely one card that can discover something outside of what your hero class is designed to do. That is a one time reward for building your deck with a certain limitation. This does not shit on the concept of class identity - your class still plays to its strengths and can be beaten through its weaknesses, but you have one card that plug one of those weaknesses. Its not like you've got Rogue decks running around with 6 AoE board clears or Druids packing quadruple Siphon Soul. Zephrys is a fun card and certainly adds more to the game than he takes away from it.