The BattleTag Saga

Last week, I wrote about how a new feature in the latest Hearthstone game client means that one’s BattleTag will be shown to your opponents post-game. I questioned the wisdom of this feature (to put it lightly) and then embarked upon a journey to see exactly how difficult it might be to remove my BattleTag from my account.

I opened a ticket.

Since the patch to Hearthstone this week (version 1.0.0.4217), my BattleTag is now purposely made visible to any random opponent against whom I play. I do not wish for this information to be visible. In fact, I don’t actually want to have a BattleTag at all. Hearthstone is the only Blizzard game I currently play and even if I returned to World of Warcraft, I would not wish to use a BattleTag for that game.

I know BattleTags are required for Diablo III, but I assure you, I will never again play Diablo III and I do not play Starcraft II. As such, I would like for my BattleTag to be removed from my account so that it doesn’t show up against my random opponents in Hearthstone.

(The BattleTag FAQ does not state that BattleTags are required for Hearthstone, only for Diablo III, so I would assume that I could continue to play Hearthstone without a BattleTag.)

Thanks for your help!

My first response:

Hello there, this is Marcus,

I understand your concern, however if you want to play against another player there has to be some way to identify you, the Battlenet tag was created for this purpose, an anonymous way to be represented in game. No personal information is shown to the other player.

However I see that your BattleTag has your first name in it, so if your concern is your actual first name being show I recommend using the BattleTag change option On Battlenet. If you have already used the change we can offer one more change for you :–)

Should you ever find yourself again besieged by the forces of evil feel free to reply to this ticket. If you would rather speak with a representative directly, please use our phone support or Web Chat, Our contact information can be found at https://us.battle.net/support/en/ticket/status

Have a great day!

Marcus, d=(^_^)=b
Customer Services
Blizzard Entertainment

https://us.battle.net/support/en/ticket/status

First, that’s not true. My BattleTag’s portion before the random numbers was not my first name. Since I opened the ticket at the website, my real name was visible through this whole thing, so I don’t know what Marcus was smoking.

Second, this guy doesn’t actually understand my concern. At all. But it was pretty nice of him to offer me a free change if I needed it.

Here’s my response:

Hi Marcus,

Thank you for your reply. I still have a couple more questions, though. :)

1) Does this mean that a BattleTag is required in order to play Hearthstone? This information is not in the BattleTag FAQ. (It lists only Diablo III as needing one.) That’s to say, if I had an account without a BattleTag and got a Hearthstone beta invite on that account, would I then be forced to create a BattleTag before being able to play?

2) What if I would like to quit playing Hearthstone altogether due to this displaying of my BattleTag? If I no longer wanted to play either Hearthstone or Diablo III, I should not need a BattleTag. Is that correct?

3) If I no longer played Hearthstone or Diablo III, would it THEN be possible to remove my BattleTag? As it stands, I will never play Diablo III again and I am seriously considering never playing Hearthstone again due to this forced display of my BattleTag.

4) Last year, in September of 2012, Blizzard said an Invisible Mode would be implemented “in the coming months” for BattleTag/RealID stuff. Any update on this Invisible Mode?

Finally, I appreciate your offer for another change to my current BattleTag, although I believe I still have one available to me. That’s really kind of you, but it’s not my primary concern in terms of privacy. Still, it’s nice to be reminded that I have the option to change it.

One further bit of clarification:

“if you want to play against another player there has to be some way to identify you”

I don’t want to play against another player that I know. I want to play ranked and arena matches with random people. I have no desire to play against anyone I know.

Thanks very much, hoping to hear back soon.

So here was their next reply…

I took a look at the ticket for you and I wanted to let you know that the Battle Tag is required for playing Hearthstone and we don’t have a way to remove it from the account once it is added. That being said, while people can see your Battle Tag in Hearthstone the only way they would be able to see if you are online is if you accepted a friend invite from them.

I would be happy to help you out further if you have any further issues with this about this or any other issue, simply reply to this ticket. Or, if you prefer, you can contact us via Webchat. https://us.battle.net/support/en/article/contact They are available between the hours of 10 am to 6 pm, Pacific Standard Time, 7 days a week. Or please call our Account and Technical Services personnel at 1-800-592-5499, or 1-800-041-378 if you are in Australia. Best of luck!

Finally, I have some answers to my questions.

a) BattleTags are required for Hearthstone play, despite the FAQ stating only Diablo III requires a BattleTag.
b) This means that if I don’t want to play D3 or Hearthstone, I shouldn’t need a BattleTag.
c) However, they do not have a way to remove a BattleTag from an account once it’s been added. (I call bullshit, but whatever.)

So here’s what I sent back:

Hi Rotohiel, thank you for your response. You have adequately answered three of my questions. So, as I understand it, a Battle Tag is required for playing Hearthstone and once a Battle Tag is attached to my account, I cannot remove it, only change it.

If this is correct, then as of this latest build of Hearthstone, I will not be playing the game any longer. This is due to the fact that my Battle Tag is being displayed to the random players against whom I’m matched up. I feel this is an awful change. Were it reverted or if I were able to opt-out of this, that would be fine, but there’s no way to do so.

Let’s be clear: I do not wish to share my Battle Tag information with anyone. I do not even wish to HAVE a Battle Tag. I have no intention of chatting with anyone in any Blizzard game through this system. I understand that I would have to accept invitations in order to have people see my online status and the like, but I have no intention of using the system and do not want to have spammers spam me with Battle Tag invitations the way other users are suffering in other games.

My remaining question, which went unanswered, is how is the Invisible Mode coming along when it comes to RealID/BattleTag chat? Blizzard announced it would be implemented “in the coming months” more than 15 months ago. While this would not solve all the problems inherent with your current chat system, it would make things somewhat more palatable.

In short: I want to play Hearthstone, but I don’t want my Battle Tag being displayed. If it’s displayed, I won’t play. I would consider playing despite it being displayed if there were a properly implemented invisible mode in the Battle Tag chat system. Please advise on how these efforts are coming along.

Thank you very much for your time.

And their response:

I appreciate you taking the time to contact us! I’m Game Master Toyoshu, and I want to thank you for your exceptional patience which has allowed me to work with you on your issue! I hope that this finds you well and in good spirits. :)

Sorry to hear about your frustrations with the battle tag system and hearthstone. As for your last question, I am afraid that customer service has not be told about a timeframe in which the invisibility feature will be implemented. One thing I may suggest, is putting your feedback on our forums to help keep this topic on the radar of our developers so they can keep working on it.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and Happy Holidays.

Thank you for the contact and if there is anything else we can do to make sure you have an excellent time in Azeroth, Sanctuary and beyond, let us know. :).

Of course, the other issue here is that posting on the Hearthstone forums also reveals your BattleTag. I felt obliged to bring that up.

Hi Toyoshu, thanks for your response.

I appreciate you letting me know that there have been no announced updates regarding the invisibility feature.

The last issue I want to mention is that posting on the Hearthstone forums ALSO reveals one’s BattleTag! Further, anyone who thinks this matter is important will also be reluctant to post on the forums. It’d be appreciated if you could inform the devs that there is a subsection of the playerbase that are really very much opposed to the recent change.

For more on why I (and others) have an issue with BattleTags being revealed, you can take a look at my blog entry about this: http://kurn.apotheosis-now.com/?p=2641

Thank you and have a great day.

And their final response:

Well met adventurer.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. However, as previously mentioned several times, Battletags do not reveal any personal information. That’s why they were chosen to represent players wherever a tag is required. We do not currently permit anonymous play or posting, and may not ever permit it. If you do not wish to share your feedback with Development, you are not required to post on the forums. Customer Support does not currently accept complaints or suggestions as we do not have any method of implementing changes – we are not Developers. I notice you have a WoW account. You may instead submit feedback via the lightbulb icon in the “submit a ticket” section, which will be sent straight to Development. I am sorry we cannot assist you further, but I hope this has clarified that Customer Support is not the correct department to assist you with changing how battletags are displayed.

So, after that many back and forth tickets, they still don’t actually grasp the concern I (and others) have about BattleTags being displayed. They say “we do not current permit anonymous play”, but they did, just a week ago! Sure, you saw the first bit of the BattleTag (minus the specific number), which, to be fair, was okay with me, but it’s the same difference as knowing someone’s name is José vs. José Theodore. One could be anyone, the other was an NHL goalie. Adding the last part of the BattleTag removes any kind of privacy regarding the BattleTag and opens you up to spammers, harassment and the like. Combined with a lack of news about the previously-promised Invisible Mode, I’m done playing Hearthstone. It was nice while it lasted. I really did enjoy the game and I’ll miss playing it, but it’s not worth it, to me, to open myself up to various methods of harassment using my BattleTag. I have never given out my BattleTag and, until there’s an overhaul of the entire system, I have no intention of giving it out.

Honestly, in these days where there’s all kinds of crap going on about privacy, you’d think a publicly traded company would be smarter about this sort of thing and wouldn’t give out identifying information without your permission. Alas, that is not the case.

 

Hearthstone & BattleTags

Well, it’s been nearly a month since I last posted and, thus, last ranted in this space. ;) (Actually, my last post wasn’t too bad and actually included praise, so hey, go me!)

A new Hearthstone closed beta patch launched this week (1.0.0.4217) and lots of things changed. I’m in favour of many of the changes, ambivalent about others, but I’m quite annoyed at a specific change.

“New Feature: Recently played Opponent – Your friends list now displays the last person you played against, provided they were not a Real ID or BattleTag friend. If you had a particularly great match against someone, you can now friend them for future play!” (Source)

How do they do this? By actually displaying the BattleTag of the person against whom you last played. Here’s a (slightly obscured) screenshot of my “friends list” that shows the BattleTag of the person whose ass I kicked to get to rank level 23.

hslastplayed

It does NOT seem to persist after a logout, so if I played you and then logged out and then logged back in, your name would be gone. (Such was the case with DJNOclue.)

Kurn, you may ask, Kurn, why is this a problem?

Quite simply, I feel strongly that my BattleTag should not be displayed to anyone but me without my permission.

Uh… why the hell not? It’s not as though it’s your RealID or anything.

Excellent point. (Although I should note for full disclosure that I have actually turned RealID off on my Battle.net account.)

Putting aside all the issues I have with the incredibly inelegant RealID/BattleTag chat stuff (and boy, do I have issues!), let’s look at how things came to be in order to perhaps better understand my issues.

Once upon a time, Blizzard created World of Warcraft. Then, they added RealID. Then, they added BattleTags. None of these things were actually necessary to play this game or, another contemporary of WoW, Starcraft II. However, when Diablo III was released, suddenly, BattleTags were not only created, but were required to be created in order to play Diablo III. Since I played D3 for a short period of time, I was forced to create a BattleTag. Even once I abandoned the game, my BattleTag persisted. Even though there is no requirement for BattleTags to be used in World of Warcraft, I still have one and I cannot get rid of it. (Actually, I just opened a ticket through the website to try to get it removed. I am not optimistic, but we’ll see!) I believe that they are planning to make BattleTags required for everything, but as it stands, you can still play World of Warcraft without a BattleTag. (I just created a new Battle.net account and was never prompted to create a BattleTag when creating the account, although there was an option to do so once I was in my account management.) Further, there is absolutely no way to go “offline” or “invisible”, despite the fact that, more than a year ago, Blizzard said Invisible Mode would be implemented “in the coming months”.

Why do I need a BattleTag? Well, I don’t believe I do. So let’s take a look at the Battle.net BattleTag FAQ:

A BattleTag nickname is a player-chosen handle that identifies your Battle.net account in Blizzard Entertainment games, websites, community forums, and more. Similar to Real ID, BattleTags give players on Battle.net a way to find and chat with friends they’ve met in-game, form groups, and stay connected across multiple Blizzard Entertainment games.

BattleTags are required for Diablo III play, where they are used to publically identify players in groups or when chatting in-game, as well as on the Diablo III forums.

As a player who has been in the Hearthstone beta for a few months, I have never once wanted to find and chat with anyone I’ve met in-game. When playing WoW, I hadn’t really found a compelling reason to even keep RealID enabled on my account and never found a compelling reason to give out my BattleTag, even while recruiting for my guild. (It would have made things easier, but I wasn’t prepared to let potential applicants know where I was in-game, on which server and which character at any given time.)

Further, I do not want to “stay connected across multiple Blizzard Entertainment games”. As of right now, I’m only playing one of them, anyhow, and even then, I don’t even want to play Hearthstone any longer because my BattleTag is being displayed to every random player I play against!

My objections largely stem from the fact that:

a) I was forced to create a BattleTag in order to play Diablo III, which I played to level 50 and haven’t touched since (more than a year ago)
b) It is always on.
c) It is now being displayed to random players without my permission. (Unless, by “permission”, you mean playing the game with another random human being, which is basically all the interesting gameplay in Hearthstone. It would be like your BattleTag being displayed to everyone you hit a random dungeon or raid with, in WoW.)
d) Further, your BattleTag, in case you were unaware, is publicly shown to people in the Hearthstone forums when you post there. (Just discovered that one tonight.)

But you can always decline the invitations!

Due to my various objections, due to the clunkiness and inelegance of the entire system (see previously linked posts about RealID and such), I have no intentions of accepting any BattleTag invitations. Since I will not accept them, I do not want people to bother me with invitations. So I don’t give out the information. Period.

Is it such a big deal to decline invitations?

Why don’t you ask people who are on the receiving end of dozens of invitations from gold selling spammers?

While you’re probably still being overly weird about this RealID/BattleTag business, I accept that you’re not going to change your mind on this. So what do you want out of this situation?

It’s simple: allow me to remove my BattleTag entirely or, if BattleTags are required for Hearthstone (despite the FAQ not saying so), allow me to opt-out of other people being able to see my BattleTag if I play against them in Hearthstone, or allow me to turn off BattleTags the way you can turn off RealID. (For all I know, removing my BattleTag would happen if you could turn them off, but in case it’s a different process or whatever, I include the turning off option.)

It’s been more than 15 months since Blizzard promised various changes to the chat system, including invisible mode, and the fact that they haven’t yet implemented anything gives us the impression that they’ve dropped the ball on this. As such, let us turn the thing off. I don’t even see why it’s precisely required for Diablo III play, to be honest, but it’s not required for World of Warcraft, I’m pretty sure it’s not required for SCII and I’m hoping it’s not required for Hearthstone, even after this latest patch. I like Hearthstone and would hate to feel like I can no longer play it because my BattleTag is on display for all my opponents to see.

Various Current Thoughts

I have something like four draft posts that I’ve written chunks of in the last couple of weeks that will probably never see the light of day, simply because they’re no longer timely or perhaps even relevant. (One might question the actual relevance of ANY of my blog posts, though, I suppose. ;)) That said, I’ve obviously wanted to blog, so here I am.

New on Twitter

One of the blogs I’ve been reading for, oh, forever, is Blessing of Kings. It’s written by Rohan and every time I see he’s updated, I run to his blog to read his thoughts. We don’t always agree on things and there are some topics (SWTOR, for example) that I’m not interested in at all, but he’s a smart guy who writes very well. Happily, he’s now on Twitter! Go follow him, ASAP: @rverghes

New (to me) Blog

So I started up my Guild Chat forum a couple of weeks ago (go, read, ask questions, post your guild recruitment ads, etc!) and one of the members introduced himself and joked about me not following him on Twitter. I searched my emails to see if it was someone I knew or whatever and I saw a couple of emails exchanged between us — and it turns out that the guy is the amazing individual who runs WoW Lemmings. Not only is he awesome for running that site (because that site has SAVED MY GUILD’S ASS more times than I can count), but he’s got a WoW blog. It’s called “Eight Years in Azeroth: Memoires of a Casual/Hardcore Raiding Guild Leader“. Basically, he tells the story of his guild, from its inception to… well, he’s up to somewhere in Wrath now, I believe. I’m only a couple of entries in, but I’m really enjoying it. He’s a good storyteller and, of course, he’s currently talking about Vanilla, so I’m enthralled. ;) (Hilariously, I just noticed the URL can also spell out “Eighty Ears”, but I’m pretty sure it’s “Eight Years”. ;))

First entry is here: http://eightyearsinazeroth.blogspot.ca/2012/03/1-1.html

Hearthstone

I admit it. Since losing my King Krush card in the wipe, I’ve been a bit sad. I LOVED that card. Sure, I could craft it — if I had 1600 Arcane Dust lying around. I have, oh, 380. I’ve already spent some cash in the beta (pre-wipe), so I’m not particularly inclined to spend any money right now, so I’ll just have to deal. That said, I do still quite enjoy the hunter deck. It feels really good and I think it’s got a lot of synergy.

I do plan to post something about card synergy for hunters, but, well, not today.

Hearthstone 2

The hot topic today, I expect, will be the fact that Hearthstone ranked players have just experienced their first rank wipes. Prior to the patch and general overall wipe last Tuesday, I’d made it up to Platinum 2 with some half-hearted playing in the weeks beforehand. I got to Gold 3 this last week with some occasional play and experimentation with new hunter deck builds. And yet, I logged in today and it was like “Last week, you hit Gold 3!” And I’m now apparently back to the start. Since I haven’t put in a lot of effort, I’m okay with that. But I can see why some people are annoyed.

On the one hand, if you hit the top rank (Masters 3, I think?), what else are you going to do if ranks don’t reset on a regular basis? Plus, eventually, most people will be somewhere between Gold and Masters, I would imagine, leaving newbies to die hideously. There would be too much of an advantage for the older players, no? Something like that.

But on the other hand, why bother playing ranked if your progress is just going to vanish on Tuesday? That’s… it’s sort of like levelling a WoW toon for a week and hitting, I don’t know, 77, and then getting it wiped. There’s talk about “weekly tournaments” or rewards or whatever, but I haven’t seen too much info about this yet (not that I’ve been looking particularly hard). Still, one needs to ask what kind of rewards are viable for each type of player. Card packs aren’t useful to players who have all the cards (and there are people who do — or almost all of them). Dust isn’t useful to those people either. Gold, then? Gold allows Arena entry, so that’s a possibility, but ranked play is very different from Arena play. Ranked play is all about you customizing your own deck and painstakingly tweaking it and testing it out. Arena play is “hey, here are three heroes. Pick one. Oh, good, you picked one! Now, here are 90 cards, pick the best 30 you can and, by the way, you have no idea against whom you’ll be playing, GOOD LUCK!”. Arena play is basically throwing you into the deep end, because you can’t change your deck and you can’t even choose your hero (okay, you can, but the choice is one of three — if a hunter, for example, isn’t offered as a choice, guess what? That’s right, no Rexxar for you.). You have to be really familiar with all the classes and all their abilities in order to do well in the Arena, IMHO. (This would explain why I’m not good. Yet.)

So my question is, what kind of rewards would be good for BOTH new ranked players that would get them to work to be better in ranked play AND highly-ranked players who have clearly mastered ranked play and have the vast majority of cards in the game?

Good God, it’s like Blizzard’s replicated the WoW “casual vs. hardcore” in Hearthstone, too! ;)

World of Warcraft

It’s been a year since I got back from my trip to Italy which means it’s been about eleven months since I last played WoW (barring a 30m quick bit of testing on a trial account – on my laptop – for Module 2 of my GM Guide, to properly ascertain which Horde race can get to Trade Chat the quickest). I last properly played on November 10th and, I admit, with all the talk of 5.4, it’s tempting to go back and screw around a bit, maybe form some flex raids or some such thing.

Then again, it’s not all that tempting.

But Proving Grounds seem interesting. And it’s tempting to see how long it would take me to get a legendary cloak, since I’d be starting from scratch…

Yet every time I get the urge to play, I question if it’d be worth it. I know myself well enough to know that I’d play a LOT until all the newness has worn off and then I’d be like “why am I even PLAYING if I’m not RAIDING?” and honestly, do I want to learn boss strats? Nope, not particularly. And since I don’t have the client on my desktop, I’d be in for something like a 17GB download, which is enough to dissuade me from impulsively signing back up.

I will go back at some point — apart from anything else, I’d like to try to get server-first skinning in the next expansion, which has LONG been a goal of mine — but I don’t think that time is now. Plus, going back now seems silly when I’m so close to a year without playing. Maybe after NaNoWriMo, when it’s December and it’s cold and snowy outside.

Speaking of Majik

Majik and his wife are coming up to Montreal in November. Those two, plus my brother, Fog, and his wife, and I will all be going up to our parents’ cottage in mid-November for a three-day weekend. Should be fun, although cold. Plans currently include a lot of board game playing: The Resistance (which I just picked up this week), Pandemic, Settlers of Catan and possibly more. We may also get to canoe if it’s not TOO cold, perhaps have a short hike up a small mountain (assuming my brother and I can remember where in the hell the mountain is and where the path is) and possibly have a bonfire while keeping an eye out for the shooting stars stemming from the Leonid meteor shower. It should be a good time. And maybe I’ll get him to SING for the old Blessing of Frost podcast listeners.

(I still have a very short mini-episode thing I need to finish editing, one of these days, that was recorded back on Maj’s wedding day.)

Kick-Ass Raider’s Guide

Writing my GM guide this summer was a fantastic experience. I was really into it and very passionate about what I was doing and wrote a lot. I haven’t found the same energy for my raider’s guide, but I do plan to get some serious writing done this week. I feel like I keep saying this, but hopefully I’ll have a sneak peek for you guys Soon ™. Right now, it seems as though each time I try to write, I end up going through my GIGABYTES of screenshots, trying to find examples for what I’m talking about and then I, invariably, get caught up in old memories. Not useful for writing something, surprisingly. ;) Anyhow, you should sign up for my announcement list at Kurn’s Guides for info on when things are launched and released. :)

Okay, I think that about sums up what’s up with me and current stuff. Maybe I’ll get some guide writing done, now. :)

More Hearthstone Thoughts

So I got a Hearthstone beta key the other week and, while I haven’t been playing it as much as I would have liked to, I’m quite enjoying it.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Hearthstone is properly known as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and it’s a digital CCG (collectible card game) that Blizzard is working on. It’s currently in closed beta. It is, in a word, fun.

There are nine decks, one for each of the original World of Warcraft classes, each represented by a different “hero” of that class.

Druid: Malfurion Stormrage
Hunter: Rexxar
Mage: Jaina Proudmoore
Paladin: Uther (the) Lightbringer
Priest: Anduin Wrynn
Rogue: Valeera Sanguinar
Shaman: Thrall
Warlock: Gul’dan
Warrior: Garrosh Hellscream (post-5.4 spoilers, perhaps!)

What’s interesting about this is that, basically, the decks don’t need a hero associated with them, but having them there means that you can use all kinds of lore and story affiliated with those characters. There’s a hunter card, for example, that will summon a random beast companion, and these beasts are well-known pets of Rexxar’s. It gives great flavour (and fun) to play as/against these “heroes”. (Although, let me just say that perhaps Garrosh wasn’t a great choice, given that the 5.4 raid is the Siege of Orgrimmar… But who else? Cairne or Baine Bloodhoof? Saurfang? Grom Hellscream? Lothar? VARIAN? Meh.)

So you have a deck of 30 cards and, using these cards, your goal is to bring down the opposing hero from 30 health to 0. In these decks, you have various cards that will do various things. You can basically break them down into two types of cards:

1) The ability card. This type of card will generally not leave a minion on the board. A prime example is the hunter’s Multi-Shot card. All this does is three damage to two random enemy minions.

2) The minion card. While minion cards will often also have an additional effect, this is the kind of card that just drops a minion on to the board for you to play (typically the next turn). Here’s an example of a plain, basic card.

Your job is to make sure your deck of 30 cards will be appropriately balanced between abilities and minions to get you to kill the opposing hero. What’s awesome is that how you go about doing this depends largely on your class.

For example (and this is my experience, so I could be very wrong), I find that Rogue decks are very much tuned for direct damage and they also have a lot of great defensive moves. By that, I mean that it feels as though they have a ton of ability cards. You could build an entire deck around just abilities, though it might not be very successful. There are 17 ability cards in a Rogue deck and you can have two of each in your 30-card deck. Among them are cards like Assassinate, Sap and Vanish.

By contrast, Hunter decks (again, my experience) seem to be a decks that work very well with lots of minions, specifically Beasts (which only makes sense), and there’s a lot of synergy with the hunter-specific cards. The Starving Buzzard lets you draw a card when you summon a beast, the Scavenging Hyena gains attack and health when a beast dies, while the Houndmaster gives a friendly Beast extra attack and health AND a taunt.

So one of the things I like best about the game is that each deck really feels like the class they’re named for. I feel like Rogues are a bit squishy, but can do great crowd control and fantastic damage. I feel like Hunters are at their best when taking advantage of all the synergy with various bonuses for beasts. I also feel as though the Paladins are slow to start, but have great staying power and will eventually overwhelm you.

It all just feels very “right”, if that makes sense.

So, as I said, your goal is to take a 30-card deck and kill the opposing hero. Each hero starts with 30 health and no one can have more than 30 health (although some characters have shielding abilities which means you’ll be required to hit them for more than 30 total damage for them to die).

The other part of the game that I very much enjoy is that it’s like a chess game. There are good times and bad times to use certain cards and a long-term strategy is likely required when you’re planning out your deck. However, that strategy isn’t always available and you will end up changing ideas as you progress through a match because your awesome opening cards could be at the very bottom of your deck! Every time you pick a card, things can drastically change. Every time your opponent plays a card, things can drastically change.

Then there are Taunt cards to deal with, Charge cards, cards that spawn MORE minions, Deathrattles and more mechanics, all of which can completely screw up your plan. So it’s a chess game, but with a few separate elements of surprise thrown in.

Here’s one of my earliest matches:

And you can find more on my YouTube channel (here’s the direct link to my Hearthstone Playlist!). Occasionally, I may also stream over at Twitch, so you can mock me. ;)

Next time I write about Hearthstone, I’m going to talk about going first, going second and The Coin, including some really interesting information about how it helps even the playing field, posted by one of the devs.

Round Up

One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about my blog is that it’s Kurn’s Corner. That’s to say that I feel free to talk about whatever it is I want to talk about. I usually try to relate it to gaming (generally World of Warcraft and other Blizzard games, because most of my audience knows me from WoW), but if I wanted to, I could branch out and talk about other things entirely. I really enjoy that freedom.

(Having said that, this particular blog post will still be about gaming. :) I just thought I’d share with you that I enjoy the freedom my blog allows me, which probably explains why, even 10 months after I stopped playing, I’m still writing at least occasionally.)

There are a couple of things going on in the Blizzard Entertainment world these days that are interesting to me. Tuesday brings us Patch 5.4 in the World of Warcraft and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is in closed beta.

First up, 5.4!

While the content of 5.4 is of less actual interest to me than it is to people who, you know, actually play the game, it’s still an interesting time for me because I’ve spent several months attempting to do my part to help solve (or at least alleviate) The Recruitment Problem. What IS The Recruitment Problem? It’s that guilds are constantly struggling to recruit. Recruitment has always been one of the most difficult things to handle in a guild. If you over-recruit, you may lose people who feel they’re not getting their fair time in guild events. If you under-recruit, you may not have guild events in the first place! It’s a difficult balance to strike. Plus there’s the turnover that causes you to almost always be searching for new players. So while I was writing my guide, Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Guild Master, I decided to start spotlighting guilds to help guilds get a bit more attention. While I had a ton of submissions up front, I’ve exhausted all of those and now need NEW submissions, so if your guild is recruiting, I will happily craft you a Guild Spotlight. Just go fill out the form. Did I mention it’s free?

Speaking of free, there’s also a brand-new addition to my guide site, over at Kurn.info! It’s called Kurn’s Recruitment Checklist and you can find it in the new Free Stuff section of the site. It’s a basic list of all the tasks you should be doing on a daily basis to maximize your chances as you attempt to recruit. They’re all tried-and-true methods — it’s what I did when I was recruiting for my own guild. (Speaking of Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas, they’re currently ranked #1 on the server at 11/13 HM – they’ve been frantically working on H Lei-Shen to down him before the patch and still have a raid night to do it! – and they’re seeking rogues, windwalkers, warriors and a talented resto druid, though they’re open to other melee classes. Raid nights are Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday from 9pm ET until 12am. Check them out for quality 25m heroic raiding!)

And in not-so-free-but-still-discounted news… In honour of 5.4′s imminent release, this past week has seen Module 2 (How to Recruit) of my aforementioned Guild Master guide at 25% off! The sale ends Monday night at 11:59pm ET, so make sure you’re prepped for the recruitment rush at the start of this new patch! Check out Module 2 here!

In other guide-related news, my next project is not going to be Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raid Leader. It’s going to be Kurn’s Guide to Being a Kick-Ass Raider. (The Raid Leader one will come eventually.) I just started writing it and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all Soon(tm)! (Probably a couple of months, although it’s going to be much shorter than the Guild Master guide. I hope.)

And now… Hearthstone!

I was extremely fortunate and won a Hearthstone Beta Key from Sas148 at Wowhead! Again, my thanks to Sas!

I’ve really been enjoying it. Hilariously, it plays well on my laptop, too, although a bit laggier (unsurprising), but considering this laptop is the one that granted me a blazing 3-6fps in raids in WoW, that it plays this game pretty well is impressive. They’re really casting a wide net in terms of system requirements, it seems.

I’ve got a couple of videos up (Uther vs. Uther and then opening up 15 packs), which you can watch over at this YouTube playlist. I’ve also streamed a bit here and there over at Twitch and really need to go through the streams I’ve done to pull out some highlights.

Overall, I’ve been enjoying the hunter (I know, it’s a shocker) and the paladin (also shocking). I really enjoy how the different decks really “feel” like the classes they’re supposed to represent. Paladins feel like they’re in plate, with lots of defenses. I feel as though they play a long game with buffs to their many potential minions and defensive moves. I feel as though hunters are very dependent on their beasts — lots of hunter cards for buffs to beasts in particular. On the flipside, you have Jaina (the mage, obviously) and she feels like she can deal an insane amount of damage, but has very little to help her last terribly long. Playing the mage deck makes me actually feel like a fire mage/glass cannon.

I haven’t spent a lot of time playing the other decks as of yet (although I’ve unlocked them all), but rogues seem very direct-damagey, while shaman seem interesting in the sense that you can kind of borrow against mana from the next turn (certain abilities will “overload” you and remove some mana crystals from use in the next turn). Warlocks are, typically, self-destructive, which cracks me up, but they’re very potent, from what I’ve seen. They seem almost OP the way the class was in Burning Crusade. Ah, memories! ;)

Something I really enjoy about Hearthstone is that so many things are familiar. There’s a card that’ll play a minion, the Acidic Swamp Ooze, which has a battlecry effect of breaking your opponent’s weapon (if they have one). I laughed out loud at that because there’s a mob by the same name in WoW, who drops a grey junk item called… Broken Weapon! Plus there are legendary cards like Gruul, whose special ability is that he gains one attack and one health after each turn, which basically mimics his actual, in-game mechanics. (Although gaining health in WoW would have been kind of counter-intuituve, it’s a great addition to his Growth ability in Hearthstone!)

So I’m enjoying it. It’s reminiscent of WoW without actually BEING WoW. I enjoy the ranked play (Platinum 2-star at this point) as well as the arena. (I am SO BAD AT ARENA, ahahahaha!) Overall, I can’t wait ’till the game actually comes out. I think it’ll be a lot of fun, especially with more players.

Okay, I guess that’s it for this post. Remember, Module 2′s sale ends Monday at 11:59pm ET and that there’s a new, free recruitment tool for you to download at my site. Not to mention that I’m still seeking submissions for my free guild spotlights!

Enjoy Patch 5.4 and good luck getting into the Hearthstone beta if it’s something that interests you!

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