Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rolling dice

I have been playing Hearthstone drafts as often as gold will allow (since I am not yet good enough to go infinite) and it has been interesting to see both how my wins work and how it works for other people.  I see a lot of claims from people talking about Hearthstone drafting online that they expect to go 7-3 all the time and that doing so is standard for them.  I found these claims dubious - there cannot be enough people out there drafting for so many people to get to 7-3 in every match... after all, half of the 6-2 decks lose to another 6-2 deck at that point!

To be honest, it blows my mind how many people must be going 1-3 to support all of the really top notch players, to say nothing of people like me who generally get 5.5 wins per arena.

However, something I read about suddenly made these claims of constant 7-3 drafts make sense.  There was a thread talking about the Retire button that allows you to quit a draft partway through instead of playing it out to get all your losses, and a lot of people were talking about how they keep good decks and play them and just retire bad decks right away.  It strikes me that it is much easier to constantly go 7-3 when you retire all of your poor decks and only run the ones where the draft went perfectly!  I would never do that because I am gold limited, but someone who has a job and just pays cash for Arena runs has no particular incentive to play out crappy decks - it is just 2 bucks to start up a new one.

The simpler explanation is of course that people on the internet are just full of it, but I wanted to find something a little more complicated than that.

Not to say that there is nobody who can manage a 7-3 standard, but no way no how are all the people claiming that telling the truth.

My last two drafts were both with mage and they felt similar.  Each one had 3 removal spells, a couple of good lategame bombs, and a bunch of solid midgame cards with a couple of duds that I wasn't happy playing.  Deck 1 had better quality removal and a more reliable curve because Deck 2 had way too much in the four slot and not nearly enough in the two slot.  Hearth Arena ranked Deck 1 higher, and I certainly felt that way both after the draft and upon later inspection.  It wasn't a huge difference, but Deck 1 was a better deck.

So I went 1-3 with Deck 1, and 8-3 with Deck 2.  Maybe you can say that I am just a bad player and I don't know how good a deck is, but given that 90% of my picks agreed with the Hearth Arena picks I can't be *that* far off.  Basically what happened is good proof that there is an awful lot of randomness in Arena.  As much as anecdotal evidence can prove anything, at any rate.

I know that there is a lot of skill in drafting.  I am getting better at a tremendous rate and soon I won't need a website to help me make strong picks.  But what is clear is that very often in Hearthstone draft you just play things on curve and end up hoping that your opponent doesn't have Consecration because you can't avoid it.  Do they have it?  Lose!  Not have it?  Win!  You can play around things to some extent, but you are often left looking at the board facing either passing the turn or throwing down a minion that will just blow up to Consecrate and you get blown out if you guess wrong.  Of course you can substitute Flamestrike, Holy Nova, etc. for Consecration and get the same result.

It is fun as hell in the same way that Magic drafts were always fun, and I am feeling that familiar feeling of deep seated addiction setting in.  Must draft MOAR!

1 comment:

  1. Assuming your friends are good at games, and people who lose don't generally brag about it in public, I would expect you'd hear mostly from people who do at least reasonably well in drafting.

    Similarly, a few years ago when a site popped up that showed your Magic win percentage overall and in various tournaments, a few people wondered the same thing - everyone was posting their record with 60-70% win rates. Where were the 30-40% people?

    Well, most of them weren't Facebook friends with former PT players, and the rest weren't bragging about their worse than average performance. I assume.