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Hearthstone: Mage nerfs in latest patch

A new Hearthstone patch is being applied today. Arena players will be happy to learn that their issues with actually getting into it will be fixed. Other big changes? Nerfs to the mana cost of mage spells Blizzard, Cone of Cold, and Frost Nova. You disenchant Blizzard and Cone of Cold for their original costs temporarily. I'll outline my thoughts on the mage nerfs after the jump and provide a few mage decklists that were used prior to the patch.

Hearthstone Update: Arena Issue and Upcoming Changes

We've been keeping an eye on Freeze mechanics for the past few months, and we've decided to make some changes to certain cards that utilize Freeze in this patch: Cone of Cold, Blizzard and Frost Nova. These cards are all having their mana costs increased by one. We understand that the Freeze mechanic can be frustrating to play against, and we feel that these changes should allow the opponent some additional time to be aggressive with their minions and well as slow the overall pacing of the control-based Mage play style while still keeping Freeze playable in many different types of decks.

Thank you for continuing to test Hearthstone and giving us your feedback!

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Hearthstone: Rating the legendary cards

In between Hearthstone matches, I've been busy furiously writing tips and pointers for you to check out. The other day we looked at the top neutral rares that were available to players. If you're going to buy rares, those were the ones you should get as they offer the best bang for the buck and can be included in more than one deck type.

Today, we look at the more glamorous cards. We're going to look at the big guns in Hearthstone: Legendaries.

Style key

Bold: Craft it.
Italics: Nice to have, not a necessity.
Unformatted: Walk away.

Al'Akir the Windlord - Okay for shaman decks. I feel that he's a little weak in the punch area, but has incredible staying power with the divine shield. The ability to strike twice with windfury means that he can't take down most mid-sized minions effectively.

Alexstrasza - Can be used offensively or defensively on any player. It's not a damage dealer but she does set the life. Warriors that are armored up should still have their armor active. A warrior with 5 life and 10 armor with Alexstrasza on them will have 15 life and 10 armor (This was fixed in the recent patch).

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Top 10 must-have rare cards in Hearthstone

Looking to spruce up your Hearthstone deck? Not sure which cards will get you the most bang for your buck? I've taken the liberty of compiling a shortlist of neutral rares that you should definitely craft with your excess dust. Keep in mind that what you buy will depend largely on what class deck you plan to pilot and your personal playstyles. Rares will set you back 100 dust per card. If you're like me and want to create gold versions, expect to drop 800 dust.

Argent Commander

Despite the slight nerf to the Argent Commander in the most recent Hearthstone patch, Argent Commander remains a strong must-buy for any aspiring player. It was nerfed from a 4/3 to a 4/2 putting it in range of a Consecration or a Blizzard, but the fact is, it can still immediately remove most threats on the board the moment it comes out and survive. 6 mana is a bargain for the ability to knock out any 4 health minions (or get 4 quick damage in) and the Divine Shield gives it a little extra durability. Good in just about any deck.

Read on for the rest of the recommendations!

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BlizzCon 2013: Hands on with Warlords of Draenor

"If you could describe the upcoming expansion [Warlords of Draenor] in one word, what would it be?" I asked an anonymous Blizzard developer.

"Savage describes it."

They weren't kidding. I'll tell you why in a moment.

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Hearthstone Highlight: Frostwolf Warlord

Hearthstone Highlight Frostwolf Warlord

While the Frostwolf Warlord may not be all that great in constructed decks, I highly consider it a bomb card in arena play.

Battlecry: Gain +1/+1 for each other friendly minion on the battlefield.

If I see this card, I will almost always pick it. Your opponent needs to have something that can remove it or stall it long enough to take it out of play and it'll trade favorably for you in most conditions. It costs 5 mana. If you manage to get it out during the mid to late game stages, you're bound to have a few cheap minions up. All it takes is a few minions for it to turn into a hulking monstrosity that will clobber anything in its path. The fact that Frostwolf Warlord is a part of the basic set means that it becomes immediately accessible for just about any deck. Great card to include if you're just starting out any need to add some much needed muscle and firepower to your decks. I've encountered the Warlord mostly in paladin decks because it synergizes extremely well with their hero power (Generate a 1/1) but it also works well with shaman decks.

Playing with Frostwolf Warlord

The Warlord is especially effective in any heavy minion decks like beasts or murlocs. Basically, if you have a ton of minions, the Warlord becomes that much better. Hold some minions in your hand though in the event of any board clears like a Blizzard or an Explosive Shot. You can drop your cheap minions first then hit the board with the Warlord after the fact. Some of the other decks I've seen run it in tandem with cards like Dragonling Mechanic or Murloc Tidehunter (essentially, two minions for the price of one card). The battlecry effect is just a bonus. If you have no other minions in play, you can dump it on the battlefield as a simple 4/4 and it'll be able to hold off anything coming toward it. Given the choice (and if the situation warrants), you're almost always better off waiting until you can get some minions to help buff it up.

Playing against Frostwolf Warlord

Blow it up! Hit it with a Fireball! Maybe a Kill Command! A Lightning Bolt! Whittle it down to size with your spells so that you don't have to trade it with your minions! No removal? No problem! Say hello to my friends Spellbreaker and Ironbeak Owl. Using any silence effects immediately removes the Warlord's Battlecry effect and turns it into a mortal-sized 4/4 (which is still a threat but becomes much more manageable). No removal or silence effects? At that point, it turns into a race. You need to beat your opponent before you get beaten down by the Warlord. Lastly, keep an eye on your opponent's mana. If you're anticipating a Warlord coming out, consider dropping an AoE spell and clearing the board. You might not be able to stop it from coming into play but you can make sure it doesn't come onto the battlefield buffed!

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone Highlight: Eaglehorn Bow

Hearthstone Highlight Eaglehorn Bow

We looked at Battle Rage from warriors last time. Today we're going to check out a hunter specific weapon called the Eaglehorn Bow. It gives the hunter 3 attack and comes with 2 durability. Namely, it can only be used twice before the weapon breaks. However, it has a special ability:

Whenever a Secret is revealed, gain 1 durability.

The Bow can stay in play longer whenever Secrets are triggered. This includes not just your Secrets but your opponent's secrets as well. That's 3 damage every time! The Eaglehorn Bow is a rare card and it might take you a few packs before you manage to pull one.

Playing with Eaglehorn Bow

When it comes to weapons, you can use them against minions or against your opponent (assuming there are no minions with taunt in the way). You need to have secret cards of your own to maintain durability. I suggest running a nice mix of Snake Traps, Explosive Traps, and Freezing Traps. Should you use them against opposing minions or go all in and deck your opponent? That largely depends on the game state. If they're low on health, start applying pressure to them directly. If there's an army of low health minions on the board, then start clearing out any threats that might be in the way or innocuous minions that might mean trouble for you later. You can only use it once per turn if you so choose by attacking with Rexxar. You don't have to use it. Sometimes the better play is to attack with it once and hold on to the 1 durability until you can deploy and reveal more traps. Just the threat of a free 3 damage will make most players think twice before putting out any low health minions. Just remember that when you're attacking a minion, that minion also deals damage to you. It might not be worth it to attack the 11/3 Gurubashi Berserker since you're taking 11 damage back the other way!

Playing against Eaglehorn Bow

The power of the Eaglehorn Bow is the potential longevity of it. The traps allow it to replenish the durability. If you're playing a hunter deck, run a Flare to help pop traps and starve the Bow of any durability. If you're not playing a hunter deck, then it's mostly tough luck! You're going to have to do a bit of trial and error. Remember that the Bow comes with only 2 durability. Force him to use the Bow on threats of your own by deploying taunt minions or minions that can't be left alone at all (aura minions like Timber Wolf or Raid Leader make great bait targets).

If you're looking for a simple deck to put together for Hearthstone, Eaglehorn Bow is an excellent card to build around. Definitely want to include two of it if you can. The next step after that is to load it up with traps (like the ones I suggested above). Stick to traps that provide you with board control or have a high probability of activating. After that, the rest is up to you. I've encountered hunter decks that rely on assorted beasts. Others go for an approach that overwhelms the opponent with Battlecry effects that create additional minions or Deathrattle effects that ensure the opponent gets penalized somehow.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone: Is conceding a game bad sportsmanship?

Hearthstone Is conceding a game bad sportsmanship

The title says it all. Is conceding a game bad sportsmanship? This is one of the threads I ran into when I was browsing the official Hearthstone forums. The original poster laments that conceding the game (or rage quitting) is ultimately bad form. Players who concede are sore losers.

Is it really though? Let's take a look at both sides of the argument here. Sadly, the lack of chat and relying heavily on emotes means that many actions can be taken out of context.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone Highlight: Inducing Battle Rage

Hearthstone Highlights Inducing Battle Rage

A patch recently deployed to Hearthstone brought a heavy nerf to the warrior card Battle Rage. The original iteration of this card was extremely powerful and one of the best card replenishers in the entire game. The card text originally said "Draw a card for each damaged character." You didn't use this card right away in the early game, but warrior decks are known for throwing their weight around and dishing out as much damage as possible. Pair it with a card like Whirlwind which pings every minion on the board for 1 damage and that can provide you with much needed cards. Note that Whirlwind says minions whereas Battle Rage says character -- Yes, that does refer to players who have also taken damage.

Thankfully, Battle Rage has since been nerfed. It has been reduced from 3 mana to 2 mana and the text now reads:

Draw a card for each damaged friendly character.

Playing with Battle Rage

Most players don't typically need to bust out a Battle Rage early on. The nerf means that your minions have to be wounded (and not dead) in order to take advantage of it. Thankfully, your minions have multiple ways to take damage. The tried and true method is to throw them at your opponent's minions. But if your opponent has no minions, there's a few things you can do. Cruel Taskmasters can ping a friendly minion for 1 damage and provide it with a +2 bonus attack. The Injured Blademaster comes into play pre-damaged. You can Slam your own minion (an extra card). You know what else is a beauty about warriors? Think about all the different interweaving minions that play off of your minions taking damage. Just look at Armorsmith and Frothing Berserker. Lastly, if your minions aren't going to be able to go toe to toe with your opponent, drop a Commanding Shout and charge their lines to soften them up.

Playing against Battle Rage

Battle Rage by itself doesn't represent much of a threat to you. The potential threat is based on the amount of cards it can draw into. If you're engaging your opponent's minions, make sure you actually finish them off. Warriors don't many methods to refill their hand, so Battle Rage, Shield Block, and Slam play key roles in that. Starve a warrior of their cards and minions and you'll be able to choke and stifle their offense. Obviously, there isn't much you can do if your opponent chooses to damage their own characters but you don't have to make their job easier.

Warrior decks are stronger now then they were prior to the reset and Battle Rage continues to play a key role there so don't completely discount it after the nerf. It is still strong enough to help you dig into your deck and find you the cards you need to win.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone Highlight: Sylvanas Windrunner

Hearthstone Highlight Sylvanas Windrunner
Sylvanas Windrunner is a legendary rarity card. She can be crafted for 1600 arcane dust straight up (or alternatively by being really lucky in booster pack draws). Only costing the player 5 mana and coming out as a 5/5, her bang for the mana buck is pretty darned good. The fact that she's a neutral legendary means she can fit into any deck you're piloting. In my case, I like to utilize her in my shaman control deck. While Sylvanas doesn't have any combat abilities like taunt or charge, she does possess a rather special ability:

Deathrattle: Take control of a random enemy minion.

When she dies, take control of an enemy minion. Not many cards in the game will allow you to do that. Mind Control is the obvious one with Mind Control Tech being another. The funny thing about this card is that it's pretty amazing to watch players squirm and make weird plays to ensure that Sylvanas doesn't take over a random minion of theirs. I've seen players intentionally kill their own big guns by throwing them against my taunt minions. Sometimes they'll even kill 3 of their own minions and wipe out their side of the board just to explicitly make sure I don't gain control.

Think about that for a moment. Players are willing to trade 3 of their own minions for 1 to ensure that I don't steal their stuff. She really can mess with your mind.

Playing with Sylvanas Windrunner

At her core, Sylvanas is a card that punished your opponent for killing her. Your opponent can kill the 5/5 but only if they're willing to trade it for a random minion they have at their disposal. I would happily let Sylvanas die in exchange for a shaman's Al'Akir or a hunter's Savannah Highmane. Opponent has a juicy legendary in play? Try to use your spells or minions to pick apart the rest of theirs. As a mage, you can use the mage hero power to sort of "ping". I generally don't do this unless the opponent's legendary is something really awesome. In most cases, Sylvanas is an excellent threat just by herself.

Playing against Sylvanas Windrunner

Silence effects, guys! Anything you can use to silence Sylvanas to prevent her from stealing your Ragnaros or your King Krush! Do it! Alternatively, take a stock of your hand and the board. Is there anything worthwhile for Sylvanas to steal? If all you have is a Searing Totem (from Totemic Call) out, killing Sylvanas in favor of your opponent taking a Searing Totem isn't a bad idea. On the other hand, if you have a valuable minion on the board, you might not have a choice. Paladins and shamans can generate random minions with their hero power to hopefully get Sylvanas to take control of one of those.

Suppose the worst case scenario happens. You lose your bomb creature to Sylvanas. Analyze your hand or your deck and see what other removal spells you might have at your disposal. Obviously if you can Polymorph it or Hex it, you should. But if all you have is damage spells, you might have to save it and execute your own minion to prevent your opponent from taking command and benefiting from it.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone Highlight: Animal Companion

Hearthstone Highlight Animal Companion
Today we're going to focus on hunters. Normally in World of Warcraft, I scoff at hunters. Why? Well, just because I can. I know hunters and priests don't exactly have a rivalry the way mages and warlocks do so no one will really understand it. With Hearthstone, that's a different story. The hunter class is one of the few classes that I main. I run an aggressive beast mastery deck in ranked play. One of the staple cards I use is Animal Companion. This card is also a part of the basic hunter deck so no booster pack luck is needed to draw him. Hunter loyalists can obtain the gold version of this card at level 40.

Playing with Animal Companion

When the card is played, it gives you a 1 of 3 different beasts that correspond with Rexxar's beast companions back during the Warcraft III: Frozen Throne expansion Orc campaign:

Leokk - Of the three beast companions, Leokk provides the most utility. I feel that Leokk is the "weakest" in terms of head to head but if you can play Leokk with beasts on the board, you're in a great position. If Leokk is by his lonesome, he's fairly weak. He'll still do a decent job picking off any of your opponent's low health minions though.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider