I have been doing some laddering in Hearthstone, aiming to hit Rank 5 to get my free stuff each month. Hitting Rank 5 isn't particularly challenging, but actually pushing past that to Legend has so far eluded me. Mostly it is just the time committment - getting to Rank 5 and then winning 25 more games than I lose is going to take a lot of time even if I play well and have the right deck.
And that is not to say I am playing perfectly! I still only have 30 games or so logged with my current favourite deck (Reno Handlock) and it is clear that I have a lot to learn. I have all the cards for it, so I can't blame my collection, but it is a really complicated deck and requires a lot of practice to use correctly.
My brain doesn't quite read this game right. I know that there are some matchups that I am going to struggle with massively and some I should find easy, but somehow my brain keeps suggesting that since I can reach Rank 5 I should be just steamrolling everyone at Rank 13 without any losses. After all, I am better than the Rank 13 players!
But it doesn't work that way.
If I face off against midrange Hunter all day then sure, I will crush it big time. They can't deal with a deck with a lot of big threats and 30 points of healing in it. Even face Hunter seems like a good matchup because all I have to do is find Reno, play him, and laugh all the way to the bank.
Unfortunately I get totally wrecked by the new Entomb control Priest that seems to be a huge force on the ladder. Even if I am better than the Priest player I doubt very much I can pressure them into making serious errors. Their play against me is extremely straightforward. When I face them, I just accept that I have a 66% loss rate at least.
I need to rewire my brain somehow, to make my instincts get in line with reality. Even when I am only middling on the ladder there are still terrible matchups and terrible luck that can easily hand me a bunch of losses in a row. I shouldn't expect to win each game, only expect to win enough games that I will slowly push my way up the rankings. Even though my instinct says I should win until I face people that are better than me, reality says otherwise.
Hearthstone is definitely a game of skill, though clearly luck plays a big role in individual games. Strange how I can't seem to convince myself of that emotionally, even though I understand it intellectually.