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At BlizzCon we had a chance to sit down and talk with TSM's Kripparrian regarding the convention, the state of Hearthstone, and the upcoming League of Explorers adventure! He's one of the most popular Hearthstone streamers on Twitch, routinely puts out helpful content on his YouTube channel, and despite all this has only made Legend once. Regardless, his opinions have always been among the loudest in the community and he may have been one of the driving forces behind Tavern Brawls.

How do you think Hearthstone is now that Warsong Commander has been nerfed?

So the Warsong Commander was nerfed. I think people agree that the deck was overpowered, but what the deck was accomplishing was keeping down aggressive decks and it’s very hard to do that in Hearthstone.

It seems like the only thing that keeps down aggressive decks is combo decks, at the point at which they are overpowered. So it seems like Blizzard really loves to kill every combo deck that’s any good, ever. And unfortunately right now it’s not that there are just a lot of aggro decks, there are a lot of aggro decks that are really easy to play and extremely effective, particularly the Secret Paladin. And I think that combination is really what is the problem.

Blizzard kind of avoided nerfing Grim Patron Warrior even though it was such a powerful deck because they said, “Well, people on ladder don’t have a very high win rate and it’s really hard to play.” But if you take the opposite of that it’s literally Mysterious Challenger Paladin: it’s super easy to play and has an extremely high win rate. So by their own definition this deck shouldn’t really be out there. But still in general I think we need more tools to combat aggro decks.

Is Secret Paladin an issue? Some think that because we don’t see it in competitive play it isn’t, while others say it is because it’s so prevalent on ladder.

I think the tournament scene is almost completely separate from the ladder scene. In most tournaments people just bring their three favorite decks, but those are not usually people that win. I mean we came into, even BlizzCon here, we had almost all the players just bringing three good decks. The two players that didn’t do that were Ostkaka and Thijs and they’re in the top four. And then we had very few players going with Midrange. There was like Pinpingho which made top eight and Kno who played Midrange, and Kno is also top four. Just bringing the three most powerful decks to a tournament is actually not a winning strategy overall. I think the counterplay is more important so that’s why there’s quite a big disconnect between ladder and tournament play.

Do you think we need or will see more frequent balance changes? Patron just sat there for so long and now everyone is on Secret Paladin.

I didn’t really mind Patron Warrior; I think they mostly nerfed it so it wouldn’t be Patron versus Patron every match at BlizzCon. Even though it was a deck that was overpowered, I think it had a good role in the game. The problem with aggressive powerful decks is that you’re just helpless from the start of the game. With the Grim Patron you often [had] the situation where you lose unfairly but it’s like Turn 12, you know? It’s not like you’re playing against Secret Paladin and you realize you have no chance by Turn 3.

Paladin has all of best drops and that's the issue to many. How would Blizzard go about dealing with that?

The reason that works is because board clears are just generally awful in this game. Every single board clear seems like it costs too much compared to the aggressive minions that are being played. And it’s not only that, they’re not actually helping the situation with the new expansion. The only board clear that I remember is Excavated Evil which I would argue is considerably worse than the ones that Priests already have which aren’t even very good against aggro.

Obviously you've gotten a chance to look at those. What's your general takeaway? Anything in particular you're excited for?

I’m pretty excited. Blizzard has continuously released Control Rogue cards for over a year now and I finally think we have enough with the new, Steal a Deathrattle effect. I feel [like] Unearthed Raptor is so powerful it might actually launch Control Rogue. And I think the difference between a Control Rogue and Oil Rogue is you remove all your weapon and Blade Flurry tech which means you run Dark Iron Skulker. And that deck might actually counter Secret Paladin. So if the new top dog counters the old top dog and it’s not that unfun to play against, it might actually fix some of the situation.

Still think Shaman is at the bottom of the heap?

Well they want to make Murloc Shamans work, but we’ve seen this process go through a few times now. It hasn’t worked yet, but this seems like a pretty big push. I’m a bit excited about Everyfin is Awesome, it seems kind of fun, maybe playable. But the other Shaman cards, no not really.

Will Warrior do better in the Arena?

Obsidian Destroyer is an extremely powerful Arena minion. In Constructed that card probably won’t see play, [but] Fierce Monkey might actually see Constructed play. Not because it’s a particularly overpowered card, but the Control Warrior list has no three drops. You’re often playing a two drop on three, which is not very efficient. Or you’re putting a YOLO Acolyte of Pain to just get rid of your hand, which again, would be better served if you had a 3/4 Taunt. A lot of Control Warriors are running Sludge Belcher. I think often you have the Belcher on [Turn] 5, but if you had to play the Monkey on [Turn] 5 with Armor Up, it wouldn’t be that much worse. Plus you’d have the option to play it on Turn 3 if you draw it on [curve].

How’d Challengestone go?

Yeah, Challengestone went pretty well. We wanted to appeal to the World of Warcraft audience style. But unfortunately in the end I believe the costume contest was scheduled at the end of the first day which is exactly when Challengestone happened. So we kind of missed the goal because of the scheduling I guess, but eh, maybe we still got a few people interested.

How was casting in front of a live audience?

Casting Challengestone was great. I think overall it was pretty well received. It was really an honor to present people with that style of tournament that we’ve been trying to push for. The idea that deckbuilding should matter in some competitive way. It’s so satisfying to see that others share that opinion.