Update 7.1 to introduce Floors to Ranked Ladder, nerfs to Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws

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Hearthstone's next patch will make major changes to the game, including nerfs to Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws as well as floors to the ranked ladder, according to a Reddit post from Blizzard community manager Christina "Zeriyah" Sims.

Small-Time Buccaneer, a card credited for the dominance of the "Pirate Package," will have its health reduced from two to one, making it easier to remove from play. The +2 attack buff it receives when its owner has a weapon equipped has not been changed.

"The combination of Small Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate has been showing up too often in the meta," Sims wrote. "Weapon-utilizing classes have been heavily utilizing this combination of cards, especially Shaman, and we’d like to see more diversity in the meta overall. Small Time Buccaneer’s Health will be reduced to 1 to make it easier for additional classes to remove from the board."

Spirit Claws, a one-cost Shaman weapon, has had it's mana-cost increased to two. According to Sims, the card paired too well with Bloodmage Thalnos and the Wrath of Air Totem for its cost.

"Spirit Claws has been a notably powerful Shaman weapon. At one mana, Spirit Claws has been able to capitalize on cards such as Bloodmage Thalnos or the Shaman Hero power to provide extremely efficient minion removal on curve. Increasing its mana by one will slow down Spirit Claws’ ability to curve out as efficiently."

RELATED: Developer QA details possible Ranked Ladder, Arena changes and the state of Pirates

The Ranked Ladder Floors will make it so that once a player reaches Ranks 15, 10, and 5, they can no longer go below that rank regardless of numbers of losses. Sims says the Hearthstone teams the change will reduce Ladder Anxiety and make players more willing to play non-meta decks.

"When a player achieves Rank 15, regardless of how many losses a player accumulates within the season, that player will not de-rank back to 16," she wrote. "We hope this promotes additional deck experimentation between ranks, and that any losses that may occur feel less punishing."

While no exact date was given, Sims wrote that the patch will be implemented at the end of the month.

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Arena moving to standard, card appearance rates changed

us.battle.net 23h ago
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The Year of the Mammoth isn't just bringing changes to Hearthstone's Constructed play format, Blizzard is also bringing significant changes to the Arena as well.

As of the next Hearthstone update, Arena will be limited to cards in the Standard format, meaning Curse of Naxxramas, Goblins vs. Gnomes, Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers will all be removed from the pool of available cards. On top of that, basic and common cards will show up less often, neutral minions from the Classic set will appear less, the cards Flamestrike and Abyssal Enforcer will appear less often in drafting and spells will appear more often overall.

According to a Reddit post from Hearthstone game director Ben Brode, the change from Wild to Standard is experimental and could be reverted in the future.

"Changing Arena to Standard is a big experiment. If players play it for a while and don't enjoy it, we're happy to revert it. We're also likely to experiment with other, crazier formats in the future. Naxx cards only? Only Legendaries and spells?" Brode wrote.

"I think we just need to take a more active role in the Arena experience. Internally, I don't think we expected much out of the Standard Arena change. But after playtesting, we felt it was pretty fun. I think players will enjoy it, but like I said, try it and let us know."

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DrJikininki wins HCT Americas Winter Playoffs

by 3d ago
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DrJikininki has won the HCT Americas Winter Playoffs with a 3-0 win over DocPwn.

DrJikininki took the last game of the Grand Finals with a RenoLock deck, beating out DocPwn's Pirate Warriors. Both players had already qualified for the HCT Winter Championship in the Bahamas after placing in the Top 4 of the playoffs.

For his victory, DrJikininki took home 20 HCT points. On his way to the Grand Finals, he defeated Jeffery "Tarei" Liu and WoT, while DocPwn beat Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang and Leomane.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

docpwn, fr0zen, Tarei, Dr.Jikininki to represent North America at HCT Winter Championship

by 3d ago
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Canada's docpwn, Luminosity's Frank "fr0zen" Zhang, Jeffrey "Tarei" Liu and Dr.Jikininki will be advancing to the HCT Winter Championship in the Bahamas following their quarterfinal victories at the NA playoffs on Sunday.

docpwn defeated Brazil's Leo "leomane" Almeida 3-1 in the first quarterfinal match after going undefeated in the Swiss.

The most high profile match of the day was between NRG Esports' William "Amnesiac" Barton and fr0zen. Both players included off-meta decks in their lineups, Amnesiac with an Aggro Rogue and Tempo Mage while fr0zen had a Murloc Warrior variant. However, Amnesiac's Rogue had poor luck against fr0zen's Reno Mage and Reno Warlock, though it did get a win against the Murloc Warrior. However, the Young Savage ultimately lost after his Tempo Mage fell to the Murloc Warrior.

Tarei, who previously came in second at the 2016 HCT Americas Summer Championship, defeated Lucas 3-1.

Finally, the good doctor, Dr.Jikininki, defeated Brazil's WoT 3-1 to clinch the final spot at the Bahamas.

Last week at the European Playoffs, James "GreenSheep" Luo, Team Liquid's Yevhenii "Neirea" Shumilin, Aleksey "ShtanUdachi" Barsukov and 2016 World Champion Pavel "Pavel" Beltiukov qualified for the championship as well.

docpwn will next meet fr0zen in the HCT NA Winter Playoffs semifinals, while Tarei takes on Dr.Jikininki.

Sasha Erfanian is a Dirty Rat for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter.

A guide to Control Warrior in MSoG

by 3d ago
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Sick of nuking newbies with your Pirate Warrior? Love seeing that Armor total rise all the way to the stratosphere? Well then, here's a guide to Control Warrior for Mean Streets of Gadgetzan.

Basic List

Whirlwind/Revenge/Brawl/Ravaging Ghoul: Your AoE options, Whirlwind, Revenge and Ghoul can pair nicely with Acolyte of Pain for card draw. Brawl is great for reigning in a out-of-control board, but there's always a risk of your opponent's biggest, baddest minion surviving. Try to have something up your sleeve to deal with it.

Execute/Shield Slam/Gorehowl/Fiery War Axe: Your primary single-target removal, Execute and Shield Slam are some of the cheapest. Unless they give you lethal, Gorehowl and Fiery War Axe should only be used for removal.

Justicar Trueheart/Shield Block/Alley Armorsmith: Justicar Trueheart will be your primary armor generator as two-mana for 4 armor can quickly snowball out of control, as there's no cap on how much armor you can have. Shield Block is also great for card cycle mid-game while Armorsmith is a beefy Taunt minion with the ability to give you armor.

Bash/Acolyte of Pain: Your best options for card draw, Bash is an excellent activator for Execute, while Acolyte presents an annoyance for your opponent and a huge generator for you.


Fiery War Axe, of course, is absolutely what you want to see in your opening hand. Against Pirate decks, Ravaging Ghoul is great for clearing early minions like Patches and Southsea Deckhand while also putting something on your board for the other side to deal with.

Player Variants

Fibonnaci's Gadgetzan Control Warrior: Fibonnaci might be the best Warrior player in the world, and under his steerage, this Gadgetzan-ified Control Warrior list at one point had a 67.2 percent win rate.

Fibonnaci's N'Zoth Control Warrior: If you're looking for a more creative, if less optimized, variant to try, Fibonnaci's N'Zoth Control Warrior list brought him to Legend in January.

Hard Counters

Midrange Jade Shaman: MSoG's version of Shaman can do a little (or a lot) of everything. It has the Pirate package to dominate the early game, powerful direct damage spells like Lava Burst, versatile removal like Hex, AoE like Lightning Storm which pairs well with Spell Damage minions which in turn buff Spirit Claws, and all that's ignoring its ability to generate powerful Jade Golems. Remember, if you lose to one, your opponent didn't beat you: Ben Brode did.

Pirate Warrior: While Control Warrior can deal with anything aggro decks can throw at it later in the gamer, early on, it's still vulnerable to the massive damage its scurvy-ridden cousin can push on it early in the game.

Miracle Rogue: Left unchecked, Miracle Rogue's burst potential always runs the risk of one-shotting you before your armor is able to scale out of its reach. However, even a Concealed, 20/20 Questing Adventurer can fall to a Whirlwind/Revenge+Execute combo.

Tech Choices

Dirty Rat: This card has gained a lot of popularity in the current meta for its ability to pull out one of your opponent's powerful Battlecry minions, Reno Jackson for instance, and let you destroy it quickly. It should never be played on Turn 2 or before you have a removal option that can neutralize whatever it pulls out. Skilled players will keep an eye on their opponent's hand for whatever cards have been in their hand for a while, as chances are its a finisher they're holding back.

Deathwing/Grommash Hellscream: If you want to run a Control Warrior with a battle plan besides "let them hit me until they die to fatigue" one or both of these cards provide a great option to end the game quickly (for a control deck).

Acidic Swamp Ooze/Harrison Jones: Don't want to get wiped out by a Upgrade!'d 7/4 Arcanite Reaper? Pack these handy weapon removal cards. Harrison Jones traditionally works well with Control Warrior both due to card draw potential and its decent stats.

Elise Starseeker: In addition to putting off fatigue by two turns by putting Map to the Golden Monkey and The Golden Monkey in your deck, Elise also gives you an endgame win-condition as well as a decent stats to contest the board. Might also be replaced by Prince Malchezar.

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Panda Global enter Hearthstone by signing HotMEOWTH and rayC

by 5d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Panda Global

Panda Global has entered the Hearthstone scene with the signing of Edwin "HotMEOWTH" Cook and Raymond "rayC" Cipoletti, the organization announced Friday.

HotMEOWTH was the HCT Americas Summer Championship 2016 champion, defeating Jeffrey “Tarei” Liu 4-3 in the Grand Final of the tournament. That win punched his ticket to the HCT Global Championship at BlizzCon where he would ultimately place 8th. He is currently sitting at the top of the circuit points leader board.

rayC was formerly a pro Pókemon Trading Card Game player, who is currently ranked 15th on the circuit points leader board for the winter season. In addition, rayC recently placed second at the ONOG PAX South Major in January, defeating William "Amnesiac" Barton on the way to the finals.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

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