Hearthstone Arena Curvestone.
Original image via Hearthstone Wikia.

Hearthstone: Arena ‘Curvestone’ Issues

Feb 14, 2017
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Original image via Hearthstone Wikia.

For those unfamiliar with ‘curvestone,’ it’s a way to describe playing on curve in Hearthstone. Some decks are built to play on curve, while others are more adaptable–unfortunately, due to the current state of the game, playing on curve is extremely strong, making the game more luck-based since the cards you draw are largely out of your control. While this is certainly a problem for standard, the issues associated with curvestone become far worse in arena.

HSReplay

HSReplay is a site and program that helps you record your games. They track stats and other things, as well as allow you to save replays. Their servicves work in conjunction with Hearthstone Deck Tracker, which many pros and players use. Recently, HSReplay took their data and wrote an article about the strength of one drops in arena. It can be found here.

Their research focuses around the strength of going first, as well as drawing a one drop. They charted out the win rates for each class, then used that to create a graph of first vs. second win rate improvement. The graph below charts three variances of ‘lucky’. 2x Lucky means they went first and had a one drop by turn one. 1x Lucky means they went first without a one drop. 0x Lucky means they went second.

Arena win rates

Now, having a higher win rate when you draw a good curve is to be expected. However, with any given class, going first with a one drop is so much better that it’s insane. If you end up in a mirror match and your opponent goes first with a one drop, they are 10-15% more likely to win, simply due to their turn one advantage. Shaman‘s the worst instance of this, where going first with a one drop makes you 13% more likely to win. If you assume a mirror match, you can have an 18% advantage on account of a lucky turn one.

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Why this Matters: The Kripparrian Rant

It should be fairly obvious off the bat why this matters. Having such massive variance off simple random drawing is not great. Several pros have discussed why randomness is important to the game, but all agree that the earlier it is the worse it is. Randomness that the card you need is on the bottom of your deck? That’s annoying, but fine, because you’re drawing through your deck anyway to find it. Randomness that a one drop is in your opening hand? Awful, because you had a four or five in thirty chance. The earlier it is, the worse the probability gets skewed, as you’ve seen less of your deck. Therefore, Hearthstone stops being skill and quickly turns into pure randomness.

I call this the Kripparrian rant because he talks about this issue all the time. He was named the best arena player in North America for January, so he knows what he’s talking about! Here’s his video discussing the issue:

What is Blizzard Doing?

Usually I have that question put there as a sarcastic remark about how the developers aren’t doing anything. However, this time, they are! A lot of players have discussed the fact that games are very linear because they are so minion based. A player takes the board, then simply holds it. Blizzard has acknowledged this, and they are working on a fix. They are testing a 20% increase in the number of spells offered. The goal, it seems, is to allow players who are behind to find more ways back into the game. (Post found here.)

Notably, Blizzard are also looking at adjusting the rates of individual cards. At this point they are only targeting Abyssal Enforcer and Flamestrike with this adjusted rate. Iskar stated on the forums that they are looking at toning those two down by 30-50%.

I’m happy to give credit where credit is due, and, personally, I think this is a great potential solution to mitigate the effects of curvestone. I hope it works as well as everyone wants it to.

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Stephen Draper
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Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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