How High Can I Climb? May Ranked Season: Part 1

How High Can I Climb? May Ranked Season: Part 1

We're back with another article about a *casual* player’s attempts to climb the ladder. I consider myself a casual player because I play Hearthstone almost entirely for fun and not competitively (this experiment not withstanding). 


Previously On How High Can I Climb

Update on Last Season

First things first, I have an update for those of you who read my previous article in this series. With just a few days left in the April season after that article was published, I made zero extra progress. I finished the season at Rank 18. But don’t fret — I did a little bit better this time around.

Experiment Conditions and Confusion 

Before we dive into the how the new season is going I wanted to clear up some confusion from the last article. First, I want to reiterate that the decks shown in the last article were not the exact decks I was using, they were similar to what I was using (to give you guys an example of the general deck archetype I was going for) OR they were examples of what I was seeing my opponent’s play. Ditto for this time around. 

For example, the Rogue deck listed was one I saw other players using to great effect that included Tess Greymane. I had tried to build a deck around her but it was terrible. The deck the other players were using was great and effective, but way too expensive for me. At the time the only legendary I had that was used in that deck was Tess Greymane, who I opened with the new expansion (I actually just got Edwin VanCleef in the the classic pack for last week’s brawl).

Finally, I want to explain the conditions under which I started this experiment, especially since I started it right after the release of the new expansion. 

How Much Did I Spend?

I preordered the expansion bundle, the $49.99 for 70 packs deal. I didn’t buy any additional packs except what I got with in-game gold from daily quests. I didn’t have a hoard of gold saved up either (I’m much too impatient for that). All in all, with the free packs thrown in, I opened about 76 packs on day one. 

How Many Legendaries Did I Start With?

From those 76 packs, I got seven legendaries (including the free one they gave to everyone, which in my case was Houndmaster Shaw). This is a high amount of legendaries opened for me, but it is more packs than they usually give with the preorder bundle, so that accounts for some of it (the rest just comes down to luck). If you're interested, the six I opened were:

 

 

What About Dust? 

I went through my standard collection and dusted any duplicates (making sure I always still had two of each card, either golden, non-golden or a combo). If I had golden minions, I dusted the non-golden card, if I had golden spells I dusted them and kept the regular cards. I just don’t feel the need for golden spells, but that’s just a personal preference, and I like having the extra dust it gives me. I didn’t do this for my wild cards. I’m sure I’ll get around to it one day. 

It had been a really long since I’d sorted through my collection and dusted like this so I did get a nice sum of dust, enough to craft an extra legendary, plus whatever I got from using Mass Disenchant on the packs I opened. 

What Legendaries Did I Craft?

I crafted three legendaries back when the expansion first came out…which I would have crafted anyways, with or without this experiment to climb the ladder. I chose these because they seemed fun, I like playing priest, and I really wanted to try the new even/odd deck mechanic. (As I will mention in a bit, I did end up crafting two additional cards, much later, after the last article was posted). 

TLDR; I’m not a free-to-play player, but I only spend money on the preorder bundles. The rest of the time I use gold to buy packs. The decks that were listed in the last article were examples of the deck archetypes I was playing or facing, they were not the exact decks I was using. I do not have all legendaries that were in all the decks in the article, though wouldn’t that be nice?


Biting the Bullet

Onward, to the start of the new season! It’s a fresh start this time around, as I actually started at the very beginning of the season. It’s also a little further away from the launch of the new expansion and the new year, which certainly added to the difficultly last time around.

Last time I struggled with not only ranking up, but also dealing with losing streaks and knowing when to switch to a different deck. I lost a LOT of games and I will admit I got more than a little frustrated and bored. 

I decided that I was tired of losing and not making enough progress. Also, I wanted to be able to actually have something to report to you guys other than the fact that I suck at the ladder and you should feel free to mock me.

To that end, I decided to give in to the inevitable and just go with a Tier 1 deck already. And since I was in a MOOD and just couldn’t bring myself to play Paladin (I am so sick of paladins!) I went with the only other Tier 1 deck I was seeing — even though it would have been WAY cheaper to build an Odd Paladin deck, as the only cards I was missing were two key epics. At the time that I made this decision, Odd Paladin was Tier 1, though I think now Even Paladin has pushed it out.

So, I went with Cubelock. I had to craft BOTH Skull of the Man'ari and Bloodreaver Gul'dan and literally clean out my dust coffers (seriously, it’s like the Weasley’s Gringotts vault now). And even then I was missing some of the rares and epics, like Lord Godfrey. I figured Lord Godfrey wasn’t SUPER important and I have (and absolutely love) Rin, the First Disciple so I subbed her in for him.

I also subbed in a couple of Despicable Dreadlords, which I do not regret at all as they have been invaluable, and The Lich King. 

Cube Lock
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Minion (18) Ability (10) Weapon (1) Playable Hero (1)
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The deck above is basically the deck I based mine off of. I couldn't find the same one again, but this has all the exact same cards as the original one I was looking at, several weeks later it's likely the one I was looking for has evolved and adapted with new cards.  And like I said, I was missing some of the cards and made the substitutions I mentioned. 


First Impressions and Matchups

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this deck, I’ve never really been a Warlock player, and even if I did like it…would I get bored like I did last season? 

Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about it because my first impression of the deck, namely that it was super fun to play, did not wear off. After two weeks of steadily using it, I haven’t gotten bored yet. It didn’t hurt that after only a day of using this deck I reached Rank 18 (again, starting at Rank 20 with 0 stars) which as you have just read, is as far as I got last time. And that was just one day! One day versus the two weeks I spent playing with my Lady Priest deck and experimenting with others. 

As for matchups, in the early days of this deck (i.e. the first week of this season) I was able to reliably beat Rush Hunter (this deck was almost non-existent during my week 2 matchups). Spell Hunter was being a little wily, but I think the games I lost honestly came down to luck and some misplays on my part. I figured if I could ID the mistakes I was making, Spell Hunter wouldn’t give me any more trouble. In any case, I didn’t get a chance to really test this out as I only faced two more Hunters (both Spell Hunters, both wins) in week 2, which isn’t really a great sample size. 

Also during week 1, I was able to win matchups against Odd and Even Paladin, Shaman, and Quest Rogue (yay, Quest Rogue is a thing again). 

I couldn’t quite tell what the Shaman decks were playing. Out of the seven that I played against, I’m pretty sure three were Shudderwock decks, but two of them lost too quickly for me to say with 100 percent certainty that’s what they were running (the clues were there though, Saronite Chain Gang and other cards associated with the classic Shudderwock combo). The last one definitely was playing Shudderwock. I know because they successfully used their combo and got me down to 1 health, but somehow I managed to turn it around and I still won. All in all, I didn’t see Shudderwock nearly as much and not at all once I got past Rank 18. 


Upward Movement

By the end of my first day playing with Cubelock I was at Rank 17. And man did it feel good to already be past Rank 18 and see that kind of progress in a day. And yes, I did go with the top deck for Cubelock. And yes, I didn’t come up with it on my own, but you know what? I didn’t care after that first day and I still don’t two weeks later. I still had to make substitutions (some of which have served me very well, thank you Despicable Dreadlord) and I still had to make the right plays in order to win. So yeah, I was (and still am) very happy about this. 

The general impression I get from the community is that it’s split 50/50 on the topic of net decking. Either you love it (or are simply resigned to its necessity) or you hate it (and the players who do it). So, I’m expecting to get a fair amount of flack for net decking, but it seemed like it was the only way for me to make in progress in this meta. It worked for me and it definitely helped me smash out of the near constant cycle of Even Paladin followed by Rush Hunter around the earlier ranks. 

Two days later, I reached Rank 13 and that’s where my first slow down started. It was around this time that I first encountered the super fun combination of Witching Hour, Hadronox, and Carnivorous Cube. Something similar to, but not necessarily exactly like this: 

[WW] Taunt Druid (No Oakheart)
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Minion (11) Ability (19)
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I started to fall into a W/L pattern again and hovered around Rank 14 and 13 for a couple of days. I even went temporarily insane and tried to play a game with my Quest Warrior deck (thinking maybe it would work better at this rank than it did when I tried it last season). Fortunately, I regained my senses, took a step back, and resumed playing with my Cubelock deck after a bit of a break. 


The Arena Gods Grant Me a Gift

In the middle of the first week of this season, I decided to do an arena run because the Standard Brawliseum tavern brawl had given me 35 gold and I really hate having that extra 5 gold that just permanently floats around (yes, I know that’s a weird thing to be annoyed by, but whatever).

Anyways, I finished up my run and opened up my pack and LO AND BEHOLD…

I got Lord Godfrey! Lord Godfrey, who goes in my new (at the time) Warlock deck but I couldn’t craft because I’d just spent all my dust. The fates truly smiled upon me that day. 

I immediately put milord into my deck (I threw out a Mortal Coil to make room for him as it hadn’t been super useful) and let me tell you, he has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. 

I never would have crafted him, so this was luck of the highest order for me.


The Results

After I hit the rough patch around Rank 13, I took a break and came back the next day. After a bit of rocky start, I started to climb the ranks again. After another couple of days, I ended up at….drumroll…Rank 10! Which is where I am now. 

I know most of you are probably rolling your eyes at my excitement, but I’ve never reached Rank 10 before. My previous best, as I mentioned last article, was Rank 12. And that was a long time ago, and mostly luck, since once I hit Rank 14 so many people started conceded right off the bat. It was weird. I was playing a normal, not annoying deck too, there were just a lot of quitters back then. 

I’m thrilled about the floor at Rank 10 because no matter how much I lose I won’t fall behind it. That’s nice. I’m glad they made that change. It would really suck to have played all those games to get here just to lose it all to a bad streak. 

Before we wrap up, just a couple of things I noticed on my journey:

  1. People really don’t like it when you are about to play Azari, the Devourer
  2. There are a LOT more Druids around now. They were basically non-existent last time. 
  3. I’m seeing a lot more quests too. I encountered Quest Rogue, Quest Warrior, and Quest Shaman.
  4. I’ve also seen a lot of people (and many different classes) playing Prince Keleseth.
  5. I saw a lot more variety this time around, especially when I climbed a little higher. More people playing different classes and different decks within those classes. 
  6. The class I played the most games against this time around was Warlock, followed closely by Paladin, Druid, and Priest. I should note that the Warlocks didn’t start showing up until about Rank 17. 
  7. I also saw someone play Hagatha the Witch for the very first time!

So there you have it! Halfway through the May season and I’ve advanced further than last season and beat my previous all-time high score. I played an average of seven games a day this time around, so a few games less per day than last time. Here’s hoping I can advance even further before the season closes out. Make sure to keep an eye out for Part 2 after the season wraps for the *stunning* conclusion to this tale. 

What do you guys think about the current Ranked system? This is the first time I’ve considered it much, beyond the fact that I need to get more stars at the lower ranks to advance. But I have to say, I was glad to remember they added more floors in between Rank 20 and Legend. I feel a lot more confident now that I can’t fall below Rank 10 and I feel like it gives me more freedom to switch it up if I get bored with this deck. 

What about you guys? How is this season going for you? Do you think the meta has settled a bit better now that we’ve had some more time? Are you still seeing a lot of the same decks out there? Let us know in the comments below!

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