Blizzard Announces Big Changes for the 2018 ‘Hearthstone’ Esports Season

Depending on which areas of the Hearthstone-niverse you find yourself wandering in, chances are you’ve seen some pretty harsh criticisms of the way Blizzard has structured their Hearthstone [Free] esports over the years. Pro players often complained about the uncertainty of what it took to make it into different playoff events, rewards were really top-heavy, and a bunch of other super valid issues. When I’ve asked Blizzard about these things in the past, the answer is always some variation of, “Just wait to see what we announce for next year.” Well, that announcement was here, and once again Hearthstone esports has been drastically shifted around, seemingly for the better. There’s an entire visual guide to dig through, but here’s the highlights:

Aside from shifting the Hearthstone year into three distinct seasons, they’re also introducing the “Hearthstone Masters” program, which sounds like taking a stab at the way Wizards handles pro Magic players. Basically, you have a rolling total of the points you earn over the previous three seasons and there’s three tiers of point targets which at the bottom include invites to monthly online tournaments with cash prizes and at the top includes appearance fees, invites to seasonal playoffs, and more. The goal seems to be to reward consistent play, which is a great direction to move towards.

I think what will likely have the largest impact on the overall competitive scene is drastically shifting the playoffs prize structure. This year, the way it worked was that if you played in a playoffs event you needed to be in the top 8 to get any kind of meaningful prize payout. Everyone 9th place and beyond got $ 100, which hardly even covers the cost of getting to an event. Now, everyone who competes in a playoff event will get $ 1,000 and the prize tiers ramp up quickly with 16th place rewarding $ 2,500, and every place beyond that rewarding another $ 250 with 7th, 6th, and 5th rewarding $ 5,000, $ 5,500, and $ 6,000. (And everyone beyond that gets an invite to the championship.)

Additionally, individual teams will also get prize payments depending on where their team is, with 1st place getting $ 7,500 per player and 10th place getting $ 750, with rewards scaling in between. I love this change too, as it only further serves to rewards all the top players for participating instead of having huge prize pools for the top players and (effectively) door prizes for everyone else.

Of course, as a dude who just really enjoys watching competitive Hearthstone, what I think of these changes is sort of irrelevant. Now that they’ve been revealed, I’m super curious to follow what some of the more outspoken members of the Hearthstone pro player community think… Which means watching lots of Hearthstone streams. We’ll have those reactions in next Monday’s Hearthstone roundup, unless anything particularly bombastic happens before then in the esports structure reaction scene.

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Blizzard ‘Overwatch’ installer may herald macOS version coming soon

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An executable which appears destined for a macOS version of shooter "Overwatch" has been discovered — but after completing an install process, the binary delivered appears to be for Windows.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

Blizzard Reveals Additional Details and Card Reveals From “Kobolds & Catacombs”

Blizzcon opened with a bang with Ben Brode taking the stage and revealing the next expansion for Hearthstone [Free], Kobolds & Catacombs. We already knew a few tiny snippets about it, like the single player vaguely roguelike dungeon crawl mode, but in the main Hearthstone panel, loads more details and cards were discussed.

First off, all nine classes are getting legendary weapons and each of these are said to have their own flavor with unique powers that reflect the theme of each of the classes. For instance, the legendary weapon Aluneth draws three cards each turn players have it equipped. It seems like the entire meta is going to revolve around weapon destruction like Acidic Swamp Ooze.

Continuing with the theme of discovering treasures is unidentified item cards. These cards will have a persistent base effect and an RNG component which varies a bit each time you draw them. The card revealed showing this in action is Unidentified Elixir which always gives a minion +2/+2, along with another random effect. (You can see all the varieties below in the card dump below.)

Oh, and Spellstones which were only teased earlier got a lot more detail revealed. Basically, each class now has a spell which “levels up” as the game goes on. They initially start in their ‘lesser’ form and by completing mini-objectives (like gaining armor and a variety of other stuff) they get more powerful. It’s a bit like quests, but with individual cards instead of one overarching effect.

Tasos and Eric are on the scene at Blizzcon and have some interviews scheduled, so expect a bunch more coverage of the event. In the meantime, here’s all the cards that have been revealed so far (and if this was 10 years ago it’d be prefixed with a huge 56k WARNING!):

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Blizzard is making a ‘StarCraft II’ campaign free to play

Blizzard is taking StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty's campaign free to play. As Polygon reports, come November 14th, you'll have access to the entire narrative and if you already own that, you'll get the Protoss-themed Heart of the Swarm campaign for fr…
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Blizzard Responds to ‘Hearthstone’ Fireside Gatherings Issues

As you probably know if you play Hearthstone [Free], Blizzard has recently introduced new, fancier Fireside Gatherings and has used the new Warlock Hero, Nemsy Necrofizzle (which can only be gained at a Fireside Gathering), as a way to promote the new social elements of the game. However, those plans quickly backfired partly because Fireside Gatherings aren’t easily accessible to everyone and, more importantly, many players have taken advantage of this initiative and created all kinds of shady and even dangerous Fireside Gatherings. There’s even a story where people turned someone’s house into a Fireside Gathering without his knowledge.

Today, Blizzard provided an update regarding Fireside Gatherings, and, after addressing some known bugs, talked about the false or inappropriate Gatherings popping up. The update mentions how they wanted to make Fireside Gatherings easy to organize, but that ease also made them easy to manipulate. So, Blizzard will be dedicating additional resources to vet and review Fireside Gatherings better, and it of course encourages players to report any suspicious ones. And there will be actions taken against those who use Fireside Gatherings for any malicious purposes. Hopefully these new measures will help make Fireside Gatherings pleasant and safe.

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