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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone's October 2014 Ranked Play Season ushers in Hallow's End

It's a new month, which means a new season of Hearthstone ranked play is upon us -- and a new card back. This month's theme is Hallow's End. These card backs seem to get consistently better, evolving from glorified palette swaps to artwork with far more detail.

To earn the card back, you must reach rank 20 in ranked play before the end of the month. If you're an inexperienced Hearthstone player, we would advise waiting a few days before giving it a shot. A new season of ranked play means a ranking reset. Much more experienced players will be aggressively working their way up the ranks to their usual place and are apt to stomp you if you get in their way up the ladder.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone season 6 ending soon

If you count today, there are only 5 days remaining in the current season of Hearthstone ranked play -- and thus only 5 days remaining to earn your pirate-themed card back. You need only reach rank 20 to earn the card back. As we've mentioned many times before, that isn't too difficult a task. You can't lose stars (or ranking) until you've surpassed rank 20. Until then, you have nowhere to go but up. The impending weekend is a good opportunity to do it.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Most Hearthstone players don't surpass rank 15

If you follow any number of prominent Hearthstone players, your perception of ranked play might be a little skewed. Being above rank 10 -- or even top 5 -- seems perfectly standard. When you play the game yourself, frustration mounts quickly because you can barely make it into the teens. However, Blizzard has recently stated you may be better than you think. According to the stats they've released, 75% of players are between rank 15 and 25. Only 2% of players are in the top 5 ranks, with only 0.5% of the playerbase at the Legend rank.

While Hearthstone had no difficulty hitting 20 million registered players, I often wonder if competitive games based on ranked played have issues with retention. When ranked play is the central game option, the simple nature of the beast means the majority of your players will sit at the lowest rungs of the ladder. The truly dedicated will invest significant time and energy into overcoming that hurdle, but certainly not everyone. The answer isn't to give people free victories, but is there another way to keep them engaged?

If you're interested in the full infographic, it can be found below or on Battle.net.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone hits 20 million registered players

Hearthstone header
Blizzard hit a milestone recently with the free-to-play digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft breaking 20 million registered players. For scale, that's double the number of players WoW had at its peak during Wrath of the Lich King in 2010. The most amazing thing about that is Hearthstone has yet to release on all intended platforms: Android tablet, Android phone, and iOS phone versions are still forthcoming.

All in all, the registration numbers indicate that there is very widespread interest in Hearthstone indeed, and for good reason. It's a ton of fun to play!

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone expansion coming 'soon'

The release of just a handful of new cards with Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas had a notable impact on competitive play -- the priest deck is considered by some to be a powerhouse with a suite of deathrattles, for example. That's often the case with collectible card games such as these, so an inevitable expansion has the potential to make Hearthstone feel like a whole new game again. Eric Dodds, Hearthstone's lead designer, told our sister site Joystiq at PAX Prime that just such an expansion is coming "soon."

It seems likely an official expansion announcement awaits us at BlizzCon. We have to wonder what approach they'll take with an influx of new cards. Power creep is always a concern -- Curse of Naxxramas's relatively few, deathrattle-themed cards is one thing, but the addition of a hundred new cards might be something else altogether. An oodle of new cards needs to hold some allure over the old ones to draw players in, but does Hearthstone have room for that many additions, given its simple rule set? An increase in base power-per-mana would be one approach, but unlikely to be endearing to players. That works fine in MMOs, but not card games. Brand new mechanics are also possible, something beyond Battlecry, Deathrattle, and Charge. Other CCGs have attempted to modify their tournament rules to limit the use of cards from previous sets or hold tournaments/ladders where only specific sets are allowed for use in play, requiring competitive players to dip into each and every set. That feels like a very un-Blizzard thing to do, but a CCG is new territory for them. Who knows?

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone season 6 reveals Pirate card back

The sixth season of Hearthstone ranked play has begun, which means a new card back to earn. This month's theme is Pirates and presents, in my opinion, one of the best-looking skins yet. To earn the card back, you must reach rank 20 in ranked play before the end of the month. Anyone who does it with a pirate-themed deck gets a thumbs up from me.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Curse of Naxxramas launch event ends September 30

The Arachnid Quarter of Curse of Naxxramas has been available free of charge since the game mode's release. However, we knew that was only a limited time offer. Now that all four quarters of Naxxramas have opened, Blizzard has announced the offer will end September 30 at 11:59 p.m.

Beginning October 1, if you have yet to access the Arachnid Quarter, you will need to spend real money or in-game gold to gain access. That gives you a full month before the offer concludes. Even if you aren't a current Hearthstone player but think you might pick it up one day, we recommend popping into the game before September 30 just long enough to open up the Arachnid Quarter. It only takes a few moments and it's better than paying for it down the road.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

The latest season of Hearthstone ranked play ending soon

The latest season of ranked play in Hearthstone is coming to a close in just a few short days on August 31. This month's participation reward is the Chill of Icecrown card back seen above. You only need to hit rank 20 before the end of the month to earn the skin, which isn't a particularly difficult task. Losses prior to rank 20 don't cause you to lose ranking, so as long as you play enough to work your way up to that point, you have it in the bag.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Uther has too many justice

We recently stumbled across this song by Youtuber haigh152 -- a Hearthstone song made entirely of Uther's voice clips and other game sounds. The comedic approach to Uther's lyricism reminds me of classic Mr. Voletron mixes and that's a very good thing -- they're catchy, easily lovable, and often hilarious, a fine recipe for an earworm. Part of me wishes the song was longer, but with Uther's limited vocabulary, it might lose its charm if it was. I hope to see more of these from haigh152 in the future.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Warlords Collector's Edition Hearthstone card back revealed

Among the oodles of goodies included in the Warlords of Draenor Collector's Edition is a new Hearthstone card back. The artwork has been revealed, which can be seen above or over on the @PlayHearthstone Twitter account. The art has an Iron Horde theme, exemplified in random spikes and furnaces. The Warcraft Twitter account confirms that this card back is also included in the Digital Deluxe version of the expansion.

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider, Warlords of Draenor

Hearthstone: Arachnid Quarter guide


Curse of Naxxramas' initial wing launched on Tuesday, much to the delight of eager fans. The Arachnid Quarter features exactly what Warcraft veterans should expect, that being a lot of spiders. Anub'Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina and Maexxna serve as the first trials thrown at adventurers looking to fight their way to the nefarious lich Kel'thuzad. Today, we'll go over a bit about what these baddies do, and how best to crush them.

Anub'Rekhan

The Traitor King boasts a couple of unique mechanics that are worth making note of. His hero power Skitter allows him to summon a 3/1 Nerubian for two mana. On heroic mode, it's a 4/4 Nerubian for two, which is pretty brutal. Anub'Rekhan also has access to a unique card called Anub'ar Swarm, which can really just ruin your day if you don't expect it. It costs a whopping seven mana, but does three damage to all of your minions and heals Anub'Rekhan for three health. Definitely prepare yourself for that, come turn seven. Beyond that, this fight's not too difficult. Anub'Rekhan has access to the rogue specific Curse of Naxxramas card Anub'ar Ambusher, and while 5/5's nothing to scoff at, destroying it will force another random minion on the board back into his hand, assuming there's anything he has anything else in play. It doesn't permanently deal with the threat, but it does buy you time to develop your board in response. Also of note, expect a strange blend of warlock and mage spells, specifically Shadow Bolt, Mortal Coil and Frostbolt.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas livestream

Check out WoW Insider's live stream for the new Hearthstone expansion pack: Curse of Naxxramas! Our own Robert Wing will give you the scoop on all the new cards and how they play. If you're interested in Hearthstone, here's your chance to get a glimpse of all the new features in action. Happy card slinging!

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Latest Curse of Naxxramas cards revealed, and more coming! [Updated]

With Curse of Naxxramas, Hearthstone's first expansion, slated to be released tomorrow, we're seeing a lot of last-minute previews of the soon-to-be-live cards. We know Naxxramas will feature 30 brand new cards and though we haven't seen them all yet, it seems Blizzard plans to reveal each of them before the expansion goes live.

So far, we've seen:
  • Mad Scientist, a minion with a deathrattle effect that puts pulls a secret from your deck.
  • Stoneskin Gargoyle, a minion that returns to full health at the start of every turn.
  • Stalagg, a legendary 7/5 minion with a deathrattle effect that summons Thaddius if Feugen has died in the same game.
  • Sludge Belcher, a 3/5 minion with taunt who summons a 1/2 minion with taunt on death.
  • Maexxna, a legendary 2/8 beast that destroys any minion it damages.
  • Zombie Chow, a 1-mana 2/3 minion that restores health to the enemy hero when it dies.
  • Deathlord, a 2/8 minion with taunt and a deathrattle that lets your opponent put a minion from their deck onto the battlefield.
  • Echoing Ooze, a minion that summons an exact copy of itself at the end of the turn.
  • Feugen, a legendary 4/7 minion with a deathrattle effect that summons Thaddius if Stalagg has died in the same game.
  • Spectral Knight, a 4/6 minion that can't be targeted by spells or hero powers.
Added since earlier this afternoon:
  • Haunted Creeper, a 1/2 beast that summons two 1/1 spiders on death.
  • Kel'Thuzad, a legendary 6/8 who, at the end of the turn, summons all friendly minions that were killed during the turn.
  • Nerub'ar Weblord, a 1/4 that causes all minions with battlecry to cost 2 more mana.
  • Unstable Ghoul, a 1/3 minion with taunt that deals one damage to all minions on death.
  • Wailing Soul, a 3/5 minion that silences your other minions when summoned.
  • Thaddius, a legendary 11/11 minion who's summoned when both Feugen and Stalagg have died in the same game.
We expect more cards to be revealed throughout the day, so stay tuned to Hearthstone's Facebook page for the latest! Update: With the latest additions, all 30 new cards from the set have been revealed.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Loatheb revealed for Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas

Another new card from Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas set was revealed this afternoon: Loatheb. Loatheb is a legendary with one heck of a Battlecry. On the turn after Loatheb has been played, enemy spells cost 5 more mana. Any spell-heavy deck will be crippled for at least one turn, including the ever-infuriating Miracle Rogue.

Loatheb's 5/5 stat spread falls right into the standard range for a 5 mana minion. However, combined with its Battlecry, many players are already shouting overpowered. They may not be entirely wrong; 5 mana for a minion that can briefly cripple an entire deck and is quite beefy through raw stats alone is a huge threat. Loatheb may go down the same road Sylvanas did. Sylvanas was also once a 5/5 for 5 mana, but her cost was later changed to 6 mana to better reflect the actual threat she posed.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Curse of Naxxramas release date announced


Brace yourselves, Curse of Naxxramas is coming. Blizzard just announced that Hearthstone's first adventure pack will be available to the public on July 22nd. Curse of Naxxramas' first wing, the Arachnid Quarter, will be available for free to everyone who logs in during the release event. After the event ends, the Arachnid Quarter will join the other wings in costing 700 gold, or $6.99. Bundle options are also available for savvy consumers.

The adventure pack boasts 30 brand new cards, nine of which are class specific. Players will be given the chance to traverse the depths of Naxxramas, doing battle with familiar bosses from the iconic Warcraft raid. Curse of Naxxramas features both normal and heroic modes, and besting all of the bosses on the heroic setting awards players with a unique card back.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

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