Blizzard have announced that they’ll be tweaking the ranking system for collectable card game Hearthstone next month, making climbing the ladder a slightly less grindy experience.
Beginning on February 1st, players at most levels will only need to gain three stars by winning games in order to advance a rank, reduced from its current five.
Blizzard’s announcement says they’re responding to feedback since shaking up the system last year. The five-star requirement was applied across the board back when they ended the reset that put everyone back at rank 20 at the beginning of the month and replaced it with a straight forward four-rank decay from wherever you had previously finished. Before that, lower ranks required fewer stars, in a format almost identical to the system that’s being reintroduced now.
These changes will be especially useful for new players. Back in October Blizzard introduced extra beginners' ranks, making new folk start at rank 50. This gives them time to learn the game and open some packs, before they’re dropped in with the existing player base at the midpoint of rank 25. After that there's no going back - 25 is a hard floor once you've passed it.
But climbing all that way must have been a daunting task when each step required five wins, even though there was no way to lose stars like there is at higher ranks. Reducing the requirements by 40% seems like a reasonable way of easing the path without overwhelming newcomers.
It’s also good news for busy people like me, who never quite seem to find the time to rank up those four automatically lost levels, though watching the HCT playoffs and building a mean one-turn-kill Paladin deck has been threatening to hook me back in, responsibilities be damned - and an easier climb certainly won't hurt.
It’s not so useful for players who want to shoot for the very top of the ladder, though – ranks ten to one (and legend beyond that) still require five stars to advance. It’s commonly said that levelling from rank five to legend takes twice as long as reaching rank five itself, thanks to the higher quality of decks and the fact that winning streaks no longer award bonus stars. This is something that I can confirm from my one and only visit to legend some months ago, a feat that I do not understand how I pulled off to this day.
I also stumbled upon another very important news item on the Hearthstone website: a small collection of the developers’ pets.