04/13/2014 04:39 PMAbout the “tournament play” argument
Posted by StCecil
So, first, I want to say, look, the game is not about tournament play for the most part. The game and balance is more about the average player and balance on a broader scale. In a sense I understand this argument, it is the argument that says “well, since hunters don’t come out on top in tournaments this proves they’re not OP.” But, we can all agree, tournament level play is not the average and is not what determines whether a card is balanced or not. For example, I do not think Tinkmaster or Nat Pagle was changed because of how they were performing in “tournament” play, I doubt tournament play has much to do with nerf influences at all. If you do think tournament play influenced the changes in the past, fire away and give your reasons for thinking why. My reasons for thinking not is because Blizzard state why nerfs were made and tournament play was never mentioned and I doubt will ever be a factor in a card change.
No, this game, and any other game for that matter, is indeed not about tournament play for the most part. However, all games, including this one, are indeed balanced around tournament and top level play. This is fact, and the fact that you don't think so as you've put it shows just how little you understand the concept of balancing a game. Games are balanced around tournaments and top level play not because most players are at that level, as that's obviously an impossibility. The reason games are balanced around tournament and top level play is because at this level, and only at this level, players are able to maximize the efficiency of all the tools at their disposal(cards in the case of Hearthstone), which is the only way to truly assess how strong or weak said tool is. Balancing games around the average player as you put it will create a ton of issues because the average player simply doesn't have a clue, so anyone better than the average player will be able to exploit all these things that the average player isn't even capable of seeing, and this will make for a terrible game with no balance whatsoever.
Since you used the Tink/Nat patch as an example, let me correct you here again. Tink and Nat were both nerfed strictly because of tournament play, especially Friday Night Fights by esgntv, which you can easily find on YouTube if you don't know of it already. Pros like Artosis, Krip, etc, who competed in that tournament, as well as other pros, were complaining about these 2 cards and blogged about them, and almost immediately afterwards Blizzard nerfed both cards. That's balancing around tournament play and that's precisely what Blizzard did.
The “no one has a real good argument against UtH” argument
Well, sure, many arguments out there are pretty simplistic and don’t actually touch upon the overall game balance. Whilst I agree with most of the arguments, low mana cost of UtH, too much card draw etc. I think the real issue is that unleash the hounds effects paladin and shaman hero abilities and makes the hero abilities a liability when they are meant to be spammed and over used as that classes advantage (yes, the side note is, its no fun to play without being able to use your hero ability without extreme caution). Unleash the hounds is too hard of a counter to these hero abilities, and that’s an actual issue and reason to nerf it.
Is there any other class card in the game that makes the Hunter hero ability not worth using? (Priest and warrior negate it, but that will never make "not using" your hero ability part of the strategy)
There is no way to play around it and use the hero ability for shaman or paladin, the more hero tokens I spam out, the more cards and hound damage the hunter gets (im sure ppl may mention flame strike or other aoe as a hard counter, but, wiping them out is much different than feeding a card draw engine).
So, ya, I’m in the boat of nerf unleash the hounds.
And here comes the crux of your argument, which makes no sense whatsoever by the way. Hero powers can't be played around, they're always going to be there and available if you choose to spend your mana on them. I have no idea how you can play around any hero power, not just the Hunter's, they're simply available to you and your opponent to use when both of you see fit. Also, hero powers aren't so powerful that they need to be played around in the first place, they're just something you know your opponent can use against you if you give him a good reason to do so. The only thing you can do is play into hero powers, like playing a 1 health minion on turn 1 against a Mage when you know he will just be able to ping it the following turn, or attack it and kill it if your opponent is a Rogue/Druid rather than a Mage. This scenario is an example of a terrible play that you should never do unless you have a very specific and very good reason to do so, and those times almost never come on turn 1 against these 3 specific classes. Well, you can also try to bait out hero powers, like giving your opponent a decent time to use his hero power at the expense of not dropping a more powerful card if he has 1 in his hand. Again that's something you can do proactively to gain an advantage, not reactively to minimize damage which is what playing around something means.
And lastly, to your point about Shaman and Paladin hero powers. Conventional wisdom does indeed tell you that using them against Hunters is bad because it inflates your board position and only make their UTH stronger for no real gain. However a Shaman or Paladin player, actually any player for that matter, should have a game plan. So we're going to have to make a little detour first and discuss this very basic and fundamental concept of any game but especially a TCG game.
A game plan begins with how you build your deck, what specific cards you include and what you keep out, and especially why you made these choices. The next step is the game plan itself, how are you planning to win with the deck you constructed? There are generally 3 main deck archetypes in Hearthstone, there are actually 4 in TCGs but Hearthstone doesn't really have the depth for true combo decks, only Miracle Rogue comes close but even that is far from being a true combo deck. So in Hearthstone the 3 basic deck archetypes are: aggro, mid-range and control. Each archetype, as its name suggests, plans to win in a different way. Aggro decks plan to win early or die trying, that means either victory is achieved on turns 4-7 or you're most likely going to lose. Control decks are the opposite, their plan is to drag the game on as much as possible and win late by dropping too many big threats for your opponent to be able to deal with. Mid-range is the middle ground, it tries to play the aggro game against control decks and the control game against aggro decks. So it's crucial for you to determine what deck your opponent is playing so you can attack it accordingly. Also, as a side note, aggro decks tend to use their respective hero power the least since their entire deck consists of very cheap cards and what they don't have is time to waste on hero power since they need to win fast, while control decks tend to use their respective hero power the most since they usually don't have much to do early on in the game, so they spend their mana on the hero power rather than nothing at all for the first few turns(exactly how many depends on the specific deck and in game situation).
So now that you've constructed a good(hopefully) deck and have a clear game plan, at the very least based on your chosen deck archetype, we can go back to the specifics of Shaman and Paladin vs Hunter as you requested. Both Shamans and Paladins are fully capable of constructing very good decks from all 3 archetypes, though for both aggro is definitely the weakest archetype(but it's still a very viable option for both classes). So, if you don't feel comfortable using your hero as a Shaman or Paladin against a Hunter than I suggest you start with the aggro version of both classes first. Still, as I said, all 3 archetypes are viable and are fully capable of beating aggro Hunters. The key, as I mentioned earlier, lies within the game plan. If you're playing mid-range or control against aggro Hunter than you know you're going to use your hero power quite often, especially early on. You also know what your hero power is, some kind of minion in both cases, and you also know what tools Hunters have at their disposal, most notably UTH. So what do you do? Well, if you've constructed your deck properly than you should have ways to mitigate the potential damage UTH is going to be able to deal to you if you present him with a half decent opportunity to play it against you. That means that you better be able to defend yourself against the hounds you know will eventually be coming after you, whether you use your hero power or not. If you have the right tools in your deck than there's no reason you shouldn't use your hero power in those situations, if you don't have the right tools than your deck simply isn't a good deck and you should go back to the drawing board as you simply built it poorly.
I know that this last paragraph was still pretty general and you obviously want some more specifics about Shamans and Paladins, so without going on for too much longer, as this post is already pretty long, I'll cut to the chase and list the methods that you can use to protect yourself against the inevitable UTH onslaught. The 2 obvious tools are taunts and heals. Shamans only have access to the former, Paladins have access to both. So if you're playing Shaman vs Hunter, even if playing swarm(aka aggro) Shaman, you better pack some taunts in your deck, especially cost efficient ones like Spirit Wolves but also neutrals like Sen'jin Shieldmasta and Sunwalker, and in the current meta I'd definitely use Earth Elementals again. As long as you have 1 or 2 of these taunt minions on the board, you can flood your board as much as you want as UTH won't do much to you, at worst it the Hunter will burn all his hounds after being buffed by Timber Wolf to clear your 1 or 2 taunt minions, which completely neutralized the Hunter's main weapon: UTH, for no significant damage to you. As a Paladin you have more leeway, as you can fall back onto your various heals to simply ignore UTH and outlast the Hunter if you so choose, you can also ignore your heals and use the same method as the Shaman, just without any class taunts only neutrals, but the best option is to mix taunts with heals like the way Paladin Giants does: by using Sunfury Protectors and Defenders of Argos to taunt Ancient Watchers/Giants/Drakes and use Earthen Ring Farseer/Holy Light/Lay on Hands/Guardian of Kings to heal back up when needed, to keep yourself out of lethal range.
So hopefully, after reading this very long post, you'll understand precisely why you, and many others on these forums, are wrong and realize that the situation is far from bleak. In the end I hope you'll leave the boat you're currently on.