Yesterday I made Legend rank in Hearthstone for the first time. I talk about the game a lot but mostly I spent my time drafting Arena decks instead of playing ranked constructed games. One of the reasons that I never much bothered with playing ranked games on the ladder is that I always assumed it would take an incredible amount of time to get to Legend rank. Hearthstone has some real randomness to it and there are plenty of good players out there so I figured I couldn't realistically expect to have a win rate higher than 55% or so, and at that rate it takes 300 games to get from Rank 6 to Legend - that is a *lot* of games!
It turns out I underestimated myself.
Or maybe I overestimated the skill of other people on the ladder? Hard to say.
In any case this month so far I have played 64 games on ladder. If I was only able to maintain a win rate of 55%, as I had assumed, I would only have advanced a fifth of the way. However, I actually went 47-17 for a win rate of 73%. Now that I look at it that seems completely nuts. Are there really enough decisions in games that I can beat people at to maintain that kind of win rate? Apparently yes, even though I constantly make mistakes and throw games away with foolish choices. Other people must be absolutely rubbish at Hearthstone!
My perceptions of the game do not generally reflect reality I have found. For example, one day I played for a few hours and felt like I was really getting nowhere. I was losing more than felt right and I thought perhaps I should just give up on my deck and try something new. Then I checked my status... and realized I had advanced from rank 3 to rank 1, with a net gain of 9 wins. I had gone 15-6, a 71% win rate, and made it most of the way to Legend, and yet it still felt like I was playing badly and losing too much.
Clearly my emotional brain expects to win every game. Wins come as a thing I expect, just the status quo, but every loss is etched in there and I can't look away. I remember that my opponent Barnes/Y'shaarjed me on turn 3 and then I died, and I remember playing my Mistress of Mixtures on turn 1, delaying my Mountain Giant by a turn, and then losing the game based on that tempo loss. In the first case I simply got blown out by luck, and in the second case I lost because of a chain of events that most players would never have linked together. But I see the link, and I know that I shouldn't have done the thing I did. I lost because of garbage play, not RNG.
Now I suppose I need to start grinding away at Legend rank players and see how I stack up against them. I know I can beat them more than 50% because I played against lots of them when I was at rank 1 trying to get that final victory to tip me over into Legend. I don't expect I can maintain a 73% win rate in Legend, but I am certainly going to give it a try.
For reference, here is the deck I am running. It is Cubelock teched against aggro. I dropped out some of the slower cards that are great in the warlock mirror match and added in Tar Creepers and it makes a huge difference in beating aggressive decks like Secret Mage, Spell Hunter, and Aggro Paladin, and interestingly it actually works well against Priest too because it is a minion that can kill a Northshire Cleric without allowing a heal. (Plus having a cheap taunt to avoid OTK combos is good.)
This is the core of Cubelock, which pretty much everyone uses:
2 Mortal Coil
2 Dark Pact
2 Mistress of Mixtures
2 Kobold Librarian
2 Amethyst Spellstone
2 Possessed Lackey
2 Carnivorous Cube
1 Skull of the Man'ari
2 Void Lord
1 Bloodreaver Gul'Dan
The rest is mostly tech cards, tailored to your tastes. Some people go full combo with 2 Faceless, Prince Taldaram, Spiritsinger Umbra, and 2 Mountain Giant. That sure does blow people up sometimes, but it gets absolutely rolled by aggro. My list is a bit more flexible, using N'Zoth to win late game wars, Tar Creeper to stall aggro, and a grab bag of midrange tech cards. I am quite pleased with the list right now, but these choices absolutely are based on the metagame I faced, and shift based on what you see on the ladder.
2 Tar Creeper
1 Faceless Manipulator
1 Mountain Giant