Category: Uncategorized

The Hearthstone Ladder

Hearthstone has a strange ranking system.


For the uninitiated, Hearthstone has 25 numbered ranks (25 is the worst), along with the legend rank for top players. The system is fairly transparent. To advance in rank, a player must earn a given number of stars. Players earn a star with each win, and lose a star with each loss. A zero sum system. Almost. Almost….

A second star is awarded for a win during a “winning streak” (three or more consecutive wins), and players cannot lose stars for lost games below Rank 20 or at Legend rank.

The steady influx of these extra stars gradually inflates ranking over time. Basically, the rank distribution over time looks like this elaborately crafted MS Paint graph:


This is clearly a ridiculous dynamic. Over time the entire population climbs the ladder, so a Rank 14 game played on January 2nd is significantly harder than a Rank 14 game played on January 28th.

This dynamic interacts unfavorably with the Hearthstone’s in-game reward system. Players earn end-of-month rewards based on their highest rank achieved during the month. If you set yourself a given goal, the most efficient way to achieve it is to play at the end of the month, when your climb will be filled with lesser-skilled opposition. Likewise, ranked games at the start of the month feel mostly irrelevant.

Setting aside the absurdity of a ranked system that cares about what time of the month you play during, we see that this system undermine ones of the core principles of matchmaking by increasing the likelihood of pairing players of disparate skill levels.

Personally, my issues with the ranking system are likely compounded by Hearthstone’s free-to-play trappings. With other games, I only play them when I’m in the mood to enjoy them, but with Hearthstone my motivations aren’t always so pure. Am I playing to enjoy the experience, or to add more cards to my collection?

I know it’s not wholly rational. In terms of actual currency, the hourly value of Hearthstone play is abysmally low. And if it at any level it feels like work, then grievances like this one are bound to annoy.

For me, it’s difficult to fully ignore and disconnect from Hearthstone’s reward system. And I can feel it affecting my behavior in tangible ways. In other games, I climbed to the equivalent of Hearthstone’s “Legend” rank simply for the sense of accomplishment. There were no in-game incentives. The value of obtaining, say, Master rank in Starcraft 2 was simply the pride of your achievement.

Yet in Hearthstone, the in-game reward for reaching Legend is only marginally better than the reward for reaching Rank 5. So that’s where I’ve stopped my climb. I didn’t feel properly incentivized to climb higher, yet in other games I continued to climb with no tangible incentive at all. Achievement can feel priceless, but what about when you give it a price?

It’s getting better though. I’m forcing myself not to grind, and to only play when I’m actually excited to play. I still think the ranking system has some fundamental flaws, but at a certain level I think the onus is on me to not let myself get annoyed and burnt out on my own hobbies.

Contest: Design a Cube Card

by: Jason Waddell

It’s contest time! For this contest, we’re looking for you to submit one and only one custom made, cube-able Magic card. The card should follow the spirit of my recent article ‘Building a Cube: Archetype Design‘. Specifically, I am looking for cards that:

  • are independently playable
  • have synergies with one or more cube themes or subthemes

Although the focus is on design, we will also take into consideration the aesthetics of the card, including name, art and flavor text.

Contest Rules

  • each entrant may only submit one card
  • a card image must be provided
  • although the design should be grokkable on its own, entrants may provide a description the design. the description can have a maximum of 200 words
  • entries must be sent to me on the forums via PM, by midnight, Friday, February 5th. 

The winner will be awarded $25 in ChannelFireball store credit.

Discuss this article in our forums.

Too Many Cooks

ChannelFireball: Journey to Nyx Cube Review

by: Jason Waddell

It’s that time again. The quarterly review, where I evaluate cards I’ve never ever played with. You should read it.

Ode to Tinder: Part 1

Ode to Tinder

“It’s a Match!
-Send Message
-Keep Playing”

I always keep playing. Welcome to Tinder, the interactive “Hot or Not” game where acceptably attractive locals occasionally interrupt your day with mundane conversation. Tinder: train your stereotyping in minutes a day. Tinder: where something better is surely out there.

For the unacquainted, Tinder is a multiplayer filtering exercise wherein one attempts to eliminate from contention potential matches in the dating pool as ruthlessly and efficiently as possible.

Phase 1: The Photo

Your goal here is to train your mental algorithm to reject candidates mechanically and without error. You’re the motherfucking Henry Ford of the dating: the more optimized your assembly line, the higher your profits. Humans are a commodity, act accordingly. Here are some tips to jumpstart your own algorithm.

Rule 1: Isolate or bye-solate

Screenshot_2013-11-22-20-08-00 (1)

Have they chosen a photo that leaves them with an ambiguous identity? Is your match not competent enough to recognize the function of a dating site photo? Chances are, they don’t legally possess the mental faculty to grant consent, even while sober. Avoiding sexual assault allegations starts with you, and it starts by swiping left.

Rule 2: Bot recognition


Does their pic seem too good to be true? Can you count the bumps on her areola? Is there a URL in the photo? Courting a robot only ends in heartbreak. There are other (living) fish in the sea.

Rule 3: It’s me or the dog


Rule 4: The Duckface

Screenshot_2014-01-11-13-34-30 (1)

I downloaded the wrong picture from my phone, so you get this instead.

Rule 5: Gender-Bender

Screenshot_2014-03-01-12-43-34 (1)

Occasionally a user will register as the wrong gender. If they can’t properly navigate a registration form, chances are they can’t hold their own while you attempt to verbally navigate the intricacies of financial reform. I’m not saying you shouldn’t swipe right, but should you do so, you’ll find that Hector can only service you as a physical, not intellectual, sparring partner.

Rule 6: What’s in a name?


Okay, this was a little misleading. I love the name. This was actually a test for you all. Take a second. Have you figured it out?

Here we stand in clear violation of Rule 1. I don’t actually know which one the account holder is. I’m looking for a date with Doritos, not with Chris Hansen.



Join us next week, when we discuss Phase 2: Texting, Breeding Between the Lines