Thursday, October 8, 2015

Enter the Arena!

Having acquired all of the Hearthstone adventures I am now investing all my spare gold into drafting.  Doing so introduces the question of whether or not I should be using automated deck builders to make my choices.  I am signed up on Hearth Arena where I can input each of my card choices and it tells me which of the three cards to pick.  It isn't just going off of a single rank - it actually figures out synergies between cards, tries to build a good curve, and works on building a strategy.  It isn't perfect obviously but I am actually really impressed with just how good it is.

Thing is, it feels like cheating.  I am not picking my own cards, but rather I am asking a computer to pick them for me based on a pro's theories.  I do overrule the site's suggestions, but not that often.  Once I get to the games I am on my own but while drafting I am a proxy for a robot in some ways.

Certainly I look forward to abandoning my cybernetic drafting crutch.  It will feel good to toss it aside once I am better than the algorithm, but at this point I am not.  I am focusing on using it to teach myself though so I figure out my pick before asking it for its opinions and then adjust my sense of the game based on what comes up.  Sometimes I end up being surprised at how wrong I am - I thought Ironbeak Owls were pretty good, and the computer does not! - but I pick the correct card about 90% of the time according to Hearth Arena.

I would like to test it thoroughly, to check its results in actual play when cards come up, but that is a tough thing to do.  After making a tricky pick I change my drafting in response so I can't just imagine that my Azure Drake is a Knife Juggler when I draw it because the fact that they cost 5 and 2 mean that I draft later cards differently after making that choice.  Sometimes I really do get smacked in the face with why a card is good though.  Today I used Mind Vision based on the advice of the site even though it looked totally janky to me... but I saw a Mind Control Tech in my opponent's hand and seeing that changed my game completely and let me play around his card.

My learning is progressing nicely.  Since I started recording drafts my win rate is 65.91%, which seems pretty great for only having ten drafts under my belt in total.  I am certainly not at the point where I go infinite yet and I will have to improve substantially to achieve that but I am definitely on my way.

Mostly I figure I shouldn't feel guilty for using external resources to draft.  I am learning quickly, enjoying myself, and using a resource that everyone has access to.  Add onto that the fact that the algorithm is fall from infallible and it is hard to see it as The Dark Side Of Gaming.

Someday I am going to be someone who can say "Pah, people who use bots to draft for them are noobs."  I look forward to my opportunity to be an elitist asshole.  Someday!

I must say though that I am so happy with the format of Hearthstone drafts compared to all the Magic drafts I did back in the old days.  I don't have to haul myself across the city to draft, it doesn't take tons of setup, and I can commit to it in fifteen minute chunks if I am so inclined.  I remember needing to devote several hours and ten bucks to a Magic draft and the fact that I can have that same experience spread out over several days for no money (or, I suppose, I could pay $2 for it) is just ... magic.

1 comment:

  1. That's so weird - I assumed you were drafting already, which is why I was confused that you had no gold and were paying for stuff. As soon as I could leave constructed play I got into draft.

    The auto-drafter (Nick pointed it out to me) was a similar experience - it made me better quickly, and now it feels like I'm not really drafting it myself. It also feels like I'll never beat "the index" because I am using the index (in stock market terms). I need to add some beta. But I ran out of time to play half a year ago (and you can't draft yourself to the Hearthstone pro tour!)