After my heartfelt post last week about the difficulties I was facing getting beyond 13-14 in Hearthstone guess what? I’ve just reached Level 10!! I think it’s my best rank ever – I certainly don’t recognise the Level 10 picture (whereas I see the Level 14 one in my dreams). I can’t believe it. I’ve achieved this with a Priest deck – a miracle in itself. I’m notoriously bad at Priest decks. I do stupid things like bringing out Auchenai Soulpriest & then healing myself (although once amazingly I was playing a Priest & he watched me do it & then did the same thing himself a few turns later – oh how we laughed – well I did anyway).
This is a fun Priest deck – full of Naxx deathrattles. I was dubious about Zombie Chow as it gives 5 health back to your opponent unless Auchenai is on the board (& I’ve not done something stupid). But it’s a good turn two card if Undertaker is out & seems to be working. Auchenai & Circle of Healing are amazing together of course – I’ve been at the receiving end of that move one time too many so it’s good to dish it out. And if the Priest staple Northshire Cleric lives to see any healing action she can be a real asset.
The deck also runs Stalagg & Feugen – both Naxx cards – basically if both die in the game you summon Thaddius (an 11 11 monster). In one spectacular game I also had Baron Rivendare out at the same time which meant the deathrattle triggered twice – so I ended up with two 11 11s on the board. I could almost hear my Shaman opponent weeping as he desperately threw down some Feral Spirits for me to scoff at. It was awesome.
It’s not been all plain sailing though. I keep losing my nerve when I face a Warlock. They’ve all been Zoo & I am always unprepared when the Doomguard comes out (yes after hundreds of defeats this card still seems to surprise me … I’m clearly living out a version of Hearthstone Memento and I need to get to a tattoo parlour fast). However, my last game before coming on here to post was Zoo & I beat him/her. But generally when the nerves get to me I tend to make far too many unforced errors – indeed my opponent must think some toddler has got loose on my account – I mess up my mana, I put cards down in the wrong order, I generally go all Patsy Cline and fall to pieces.
It’s a funny thing this ladder anxiety. I was reading an article in PC Gamer the other day after coming across a thread on the Hearthpwn forums about it. I was amazed to see so many people admitting they suffer from it. In fact I felt rather heartened (yes I’m that kind of person) – but it just made a change not be the one stressing about this stuff. Long term readers will know the real pain dungeons & raids have caused me in the past – particularly when I was trying to tank or heal. I would find myself shaking as I queued – terrified that it would all go wrong. It would be great to report my worries were unfounded – “Yes children, Bravetank realised she had nothing to fear at all – everything worked out in the end.” But it NEVER did!! I always got lost, pulled random & rather aggressive mobs, screwed up some mechanic (even though I had Deadly Boss Mods screaming in my ear), died (frequently) and generally made a total fool of myself. It was never a happy occasion. And the more nervous I got, the worse it became. I tried repeating the “It’s only a game mantra” but that didn’t work – after all it might only be a game but these were real people being patronising or critical in chat. So pretty soon I stopped going in – it just didn’t seem worth it.
But in Hearthstone – while I do get nervous at certain points (usually after I’ve won – this is why I’m here now in fact – I’m reluctant to play another game in case I break my winning streak!), it never stops me playing (indeed once I post this I will be going back in for at least one more game – see I’ve recovered my nerve!). And sometimes it’s less about anxiety anyway – it’s really excitement. I WANT to face my next opponent and I WANT to see if I can pull another win out of the bag. And when I lose – as I frequently do – while I feel annoyed & frustrated (and sometimes angry if the opponent has really milked it at the end), it usually only lasts seconds (unless I’m having a real hissy fit & threatening to quit the game of course!). I’m never too scared to have another go – far from it. I’m always excited to get stuck in & to learn from my mistakes (now how does this Auchenai card work?).
Have I changed or is it just that this game is very different? After all there are just a few emotes so your opponent is pretty much wordless. Am I only “braver” if I don’t know what my opponent thinks about my performance (although sometimes I can guess – some players have mastered the subtle art of sarcastic emotes of course – they snidely emote a “Greetings” halfway through the game after a masterful boardwipe). And I guess if it is the wordless nature of Hearthstone that has removed my fear than maybe I’m not really brave at all – I’m just enjoying the wordless protection Heathstone provides.
Long may it continue.