Friday, August 28, 2015

[Hearthstone] How to Allocate Gold Post TGT


I base my gold spending on Rare cards. In probability, we look at the possible outcomes. You are guaranteed to get at least 1 Rare card from each pack so we can set the probability of that event to 100%. With Epic or Legendary, we would first have to calculate the chance of even getting an Epic or Legendary in our pack and then calculate which packs had the best chance of giving a Legendary I didn't already have. I consider pulling a Legendary or Epic a bonus and not something to use as a basis for decisions. In the same vein, I can't see basing a decision on Common cards because they are too...well, common. If there's a particular one you really need, craft it, its cheap. I had to do that with Spider Tanks. Those suckers would not show up for me. If I ever get a wild hair to play Rogue, I'll have to craft my second Tinker's Sharpsword Oil.

Collection Manager

In order to know what you need, you need to know what you've got. I'm using a Collection Manager to track my collection. My personal choice is Hearthhead, but a simple spreadsheet would work equally as well. The core piece of data we want is how many Rares of each set we are currently missing. I don't consider a card 'gotten' until I have both copies. Sure, I could run one and I often do, but most of the time, you want to run cards in pairs. From my collection manager, I see that I'm missing 53 Classic, 22 GvG, and 16 TGT Rares.

Do the Math

Classic has 81 Rares, GvG has 37, and TGT has 36. The core question we need to answer is which pack gives me the greatest chance of pulling a card I don't currently own. Of course, not all cards are equal, some Rares are more powerful than others, but we don't know which card we will get so we treat all Rares equally. We do a simple 'sharp pencil' exercise to answer the question.

Classic has 81 Rares, and I'm missing 53. That means that each Classic pack I open has 53 chances in 81 of being a card I need. We express that as 53/81 or 65.4321% which we can round off to 65%. We repeat this exercise for GvG (22/37) = 59% and TGT (16/36) = 44% .

A Classic pack has a 65% of having a card I need, GvG has a 59% chance and TGT has a 44% chance.

In my particular case, Classic packs are the best use of Gold, but not by a whole lot. You can run the numbers for yourself and see what you stand.

Monday, August 10, 2015

[WoW - Legion] Ashbringer

I looked forward to the announcement of the new Expansion and I wondered how much information we would get. Since I've stopped raiding due to my new schedule, I've been playing around more with alts. My favorite has been my old Alliance Hunter (the one that got Rhok'delar back in the day) and I was giving quite serious contemplation to going Hunter for the Expansion. I'm doing so much more solo these days and no class solos quite like a Hunter.

One picture was all it took to change that.


THE Ashbringer.

My son, there will come a day when you will command the Ashbringer, and with it mete out justice across this land. I have no doubt that when that day finally comes, you will bring pride to our people, and that Lordaeron will be a better place because of you. But, my son, that day is not today. - Alexandros Mograine


I don't know if I can properly describe what The Ashbringer means to a Paladin player steeped in Warcraft lore. It is the the quintessential Paladin weapon. Forged by none other than King Magni Bronzebeard, wielded by Alexandros Mograine, purified and wielded by Tirion Fordring himself, and shattered Frostmourne at the peak of Ice Crown Citadel.

Now, Theogrun Bronzebeard, better known by the moniker Honor's Hammer, will join the line of Mograine and Fordring and wield The Ashbringer as part of a reformed Silver Hand to mete out justice to the Legion and all its followers.

The only question left now is if I will keep him Tauren or if I will bring him back to the Alliance. It almost feels like Ashbringer needs to be in Alliance hands. Its never been wielded by any other than a human, though it was forged by Dwarves. It feels like an Alliance weapon. That said, I'm not sure it would look right on a Dwarf. Ashbringer needs to look big. It won't look right scaled down to a Dwarf. Human or Draenai would work, but man it would look HUGE in Tauren hands, especially male Tauren.

While the lore reasons are good, I'm in a solid guild right now, and I've started forming gaming friendships with some of the members. Granted, I'm not raiding, but my schedule should open back up in a couple of months.

It would be great if I could be Alliance and still be in my same guild. Its not like the factions really matter anymore. Pandas can be on either side and with Mercenary mode, you'll see people PVPing for both sides. We have banded together time and again to take down threat after threat: The Old Gods in Silithus, Illidan in Outland, The Lich King himself in Northrend, Deathwing all across Azeroth, The Thunder King and Garrosh in Pandaria, and the Iron Horde of Draenor. Why do we even keep fighting each other?

Friday, August 7, 2015

[WoW:Legion] Expansion Conjecture - Two Specs For All?

In World of Warcraft: Legion, the new Demon Hunter Hero class will only have two specs: one for tanking and one for DPS. I wondered if this might signal that all WoW Classes were going down to two specs. They did prune many abilities going into WoD. Is pruning specs next?

WoW currently has 11 classes with 3 specs each. You could argue that Druids actually have 4. That's 33 or 34 specs to add new abilities for Legion and balance for PVE and PVP. That's a ton of work. Now you add two more. We've already seen they have problems with the existing set of specs to the point that they nerfed one of the Warlock specs TO THE GROUND because it was so much better than the others it felt like the only right choice and said 'We don't want you playing that spec'. I think it was Demonology but don't quote me on that. Warlocks are my least favorite class in the game.

The designers also struggle to make each spec unique, especially the pure DPS. An Assassination Rogue kills stuff with daggers and poison. A Subtlety Rogue kills stuff with poisons and dagger and ... subtlety? With less specs they have more room to make each distinct.

Taking each class to two specs gives you only 24 specs to create new abilities for and balance. That's more manageable, but how would get you there?

The first thing I'd do is separate out the support classes (Tanks and Healers) from the pure DPS classes. In WoW, your pure DPS classes are Hunter, Rogue, Mage, Warlock, Your support classes are Shaman, Monk, Paladin, Priest, Warrior, Death Knight, Druid. The way I would do it is give every class a solo focused spec and a group focused spec. For the support classes, the support spec is the group spec and the DPS spec is the solo spec. For the pure DPS, I'd make one spec better at soloing and one better for groups.

Healers (Heal/DPS)
Shaman (Restoration/Enhancement)
Priest (Discipline/Shadow)
Paladin (Retribution/Holy)
Monk (Mistweaver/Windwalker)
Druid (Feral / Resto)

Each armor type is represented from Cloth to Plate. Shaman and Priest were obvious choices for healers since they are Heal/DPS hybrids. As an old time WoW player, I found Windfury too iconic to let Enhancement go. Discipline is something of a unique healing style so I kept that over Holy. I'll talk about Druids in the Tanks.

Tanks (Tank/DPS)
Warrior (Protection / Fury)
Death Knight (Blood / Frost)
Druid (Feral / Resto)
Demon Hunter (Tank spec name / DPS spec name)

The Tanks break down to either Plate or Leather. Death Knight, Demon Hunter and Warrior were obvious choices as Tank/DPS hybrids. I didn't want to have Paladin and Warrior both as tanks because they are a similar sword and board archetype. I went with Druid as the fourth tank because Feral lets me cheat them a DPS spec and keep their healing Resto spec.

Druids are the biggest challenge because all their forms are so iconic and they really have four different specs (Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree). You can keep Bear and Cat by keeping Feral but I wouldn't envy the person who had to decide between Moonkin and Tree, but in the end I decided that Boomkin and Cat were redundant DPS forms and went with Cat.

DPS (Solo/Group)
Hunter (Beast Mastery / Marksmanship)
Rogue (Assassination / Combat)
Mage (Frost / Fire)
Warlock (Demonology / Destruction)

Frost, Demonology and Beast Mastery are all pet assisted DPS specs so it made sense to make them more solo focused. Assassination sounds like something you'd do alone. I don't know Rogues well so I'm spit-balling that one.

The biggest impediment is that players think of themselves more as their spec than their class. Brewmaster Monks think of themselves more as Brewmasters than Monks. There are Beast Mastery Hunters who probably wouldn't play anymore if Beast Mastery was gone.

I realize this will probably never happen but it was a fun thinking exercise nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

[Hearthstone] Season 16 (July)

Hearthstone's 16th season wrapped up and I'm happy to announce I made a new personal best rank this month. Previously, my best rank was Rank 17, but this month, I hit Rank 16.

I realize no one cares what happens at Ranks 15 or above, but I'm pretty pleased with it. If we compared Hearthstone to WoW Raiding, Ranks 25 to 20 would be like the LFR level of Hearthstone. Ranks 19 to 15 are Flex, 14 to 6 are Heroics and Ranks 5 to 1/Legend are Mythic.

I used a couple of different decks to climb this month. I try to keep one deck of each class so I can always do the daily quest to get gold to buy packs. It also helps me learn the tools the other classes have so I can try to anticipate what my opponent might be able to do on his turn.

My main deck was a more of a taunt heavy Priest deck. My preferred play style is more mid-range or board control (Tank) but the current environment in Hearthstone promotes a faster, rush (DPS) style. I got tired of constantly losing to those hyper-aggressive, rush decks that aim to finish the game before Turn 6. I had two choices. I could either make my own hyper-aggressive rush deck or I could try to make a deck that countered that play style. I chose the latter.

Taunt forces your opponent to attack the minion with Taunt rather than another minion or your hero. You can still target minions without taunt with Spells or certain Battlecry effects, but if you want to attack with a minion, you have to attacked the Taunt minion first. The aggressive decks generally have lots of small, cheap minions and attack your hero at every opportunity.

I'm not sure my deck can climb a whole lot higher, but I'm going to aim for Rank 15 next season before the Grant Tournament drops. Your rank is reset at the start of each Season (each month). The early part of the season tends to be even more dominated by aggressive decks. Those decks typically have faster games allowing people to climb the ranks more quickly.

I'm not sure I'd recommend using this deck. It can go horribly, horribly wrong. It runs quite a few high mana cards, and buffs. If you wind up with a bunch of buffs and high mana minions in your opening hand, its probably going to be loss. Against aggressive decks, Deathlord won't hurt you much since all their minions tend to be small. Against other Control style decks, it can lose you game as I found out when I a Control Warrior got Ysera on Turn 4. Oops.

The deck also lacks a bit of late punch. Many times you will rely on your opponent to provide you with the pieces to kill him. One time, I Mind Controlled my opponents Ragnoros the Firelord for a win. Another time I wiped my opponents board with Unleash the Hounds that I got from Thoughtsteal.

But you are doing well in Hearthstone with a 50% win rate, and given the current state of the game, you are more likely to run into an aggressive deck than a slower one.

I've had some epic games with this deck and I enjoyed the playstyle. I'm looking forward to seeing what it will do next season before everything gets crazy as people try out new decks from the expansion.

ProtHoly (Taunt Heavy Priest)
Circle of Healing x 2
LIght of the Naaru
Power Word : Shield x 2
Northshire Priest x 2
Resurrect x 2
Shadow Word : Pain
Annoy-o-Tron x 2
Deathlord x 2
Shadow Word: Death x 2
Thoughtsteal x 2
Shade of Naxxramas
Arcane Nullifier
Auchenai Soulpriest
Sludge Belcher
Holy Nova x 2
Sunwalker x 2
Mind Control x2

Friday, July 24, 2015

[Hearthstone] The Grand Tournament

Hearthstone announced a new expansion called The Grand Tournament. It looks like it would be fun and I've been playing a more Hearthstone lately. The fact that I can play on my Phone at lunch or when the kids are on the computer is a big help.

Blizzard has also announced a preorder bundle where you get 50 packs and an exclusive card back. You can buy the packs with gold and 50 packs would take 5000g to purchase. I have almost 1100g saved up, and I could probably save more in the 3 or 4 weeks before it goes live.

I'm still considering buying the preorder bundle with cold, hard cash and then spending the gold I've saved up on the existing card packs for Classic cards and cards from the Gnomes versus Goblins expansion. I've got 1500 dust for the first time thanks to pulling a second Alexstraza out of a free pack I got from my first victory of the week in Tavern Brawl. You can only have 1 copy of any Legendary card so I disenchanted her for dust.

I'm still missing many 'key' cards from the first two expansion. My only Legendaries outside of the Naxx and Blackrock Mountain Adventure ones are the aforementioned Alexstraza and The Beast. Alexstraza is considered to be a good card, but The Beast isn't. I'm still missing  many of the Epics (Cabal Shadow Priest for Priest, Force of Nature for Druid, Big Game Hunter, Piloted Sky Golem) and even some rares like Coldlight Oracle, Kezan Mystic, and Injured Blade master. I also could use a second Auchenai Soul Preist and Light of Naaru.

I've got my WoW subscription paid up for months thanks to the WoW Token which frees up some dollars I had budgeted for gaming.
I also like the artwork on the cardback you get with the preorder, but that is a minor consideration only.

Preorders go on sale next week. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, July 10, 2015

[WoW] Stepping Down

I got assigned to an extra project at work that requires me to put in about two hours during my normal 'off hours' in the evening. The good news is I'm being compensated for my time. So, woot, IRL loot. The bad news is that I now have two less hours of free time each night. I still would like to eat dinner with my family and spend a little time with them each night. My time reading bedtime stories and tucking my kids in each night is sacrosanct. It's my gaming time that I will be forced to cut back. I'll be on the project for a minimum of two weeks, but it could go as long as two months.

The new guild is still coming together from the merger of the raiders of Dirty Casuals and Athanatos. I haven't gotten to know many people from the Athanatos well. My position as one of the tanks certainly helps. It's a situation where I don't know nearly as many guild members as know me. If I take two months away from raiding, they will have to get a new tank and I will become old whatshisname.

Oh, I'll never forget old whathisname.
I don't remember. 

Things don't get any easier even after I come off the project. We raid on Wednesday night and Thursday night. Two months puts us into September. I've got Fantasy Football drafts to prep for and once the season starts, I'm going to be really torn between WoW and Thursday Night Football (college and pro - but mostly pro (#KeepPounding #GoPanthers)). We also finally found a house (yeah!) and it looks like we'll be moving again in mid-September which will provide another disruption to ability to raid.

I have no idea what the situation will be like when I return. For now, most of what I will see of Hellfire Citadel will be either on YouTube or as an LFR hero. I'm afraid you won't be seeing much on the blog about new raid boss kills or the like. Hearthstone fits in the limited windows I'm going to have a little better so I might post about that. Maybe you'll even see a Fantasy Football post or two. Honestly, right now, I just don't know.

Raiding has always been one of my favorite activities in World of Warcraft. I play a support role and that sort of demands group content to have other people to support.

I going to miss it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

[Hearthstone] Defeating Lord Victus Nefarious (Normal)

Nefarian is the final boss of the Blackrock Spire wing, but I had much more trouble with Chromaggus than I did with Nefarian. You are aided in your battle with Nefarian by none other than Ragnaros who gives you an additional card each turn from his own deck. His cards are powerful and make more of a difference than whatever deck you might be running.

As I usually do for a first pull on a new boss, I went with my Bloodlust Shaman. Ironically, it is the very deck I used to defeat Ragnaros himself.

Earthshock x2
Forked Lightning x2
Vitality Totem
Whirling Zip-o-matic x2
Powermace x2
Feral Spirit
Hex x2
Lava Burst
Lightning Storm
Unbound Elemental
Dunemaul Shaman
Piloted Shreader x2
Windspeaker x2
Bloodlust x2
Silver Hand Knight x2
Fire Elemental x2
Lord of the Arena