Thoughts on Ladder System

Lack of accomplishments, lack of rewards. Can the Hearthstone ladder be improved? Nuba shares his thoughts on what's missing!


Hello everyone, for those of you who don’t know me, I am Nuba, and I have been getting to the legendary rank since the beginning of Hearthstone, before the game release during its beta phases and I have not missed a season ever since I started playing this game. I write a lot in this website and you can find a ton of content posted by myself here and today I am going to talk about my feelings regarding the actual ladder system, its flaws and how I think it can be improved.

The Ladder System: How it Works

We are very familiar with Hearthstone’s current ladder system, a group of ranks that you have to go thru in order to progress in the game’s ladder, until you reach the final ranking: Legend, where you’ll then start your competitive Hearthstone.

The Ladder System: The Flaws

Now this is the point I wanted to talk about, I probably spoiled a little on the last section where I explained the system: The grind.

What is the most fun aspect about Hearthstone? Many people have different answers for it, for me its the competitive possibilities there are, the meta shifting and everything, I just love that. Making different decks, innovating and testing stuff is my favorite thing about this game. so why am I writing this article?

Every month, the same thing repeats: The grind. You have to, starting from rank 16(in my case), play countless matches until you reach the Legend rank, and while that is easy, the time it consumes is just huge.

Keep in mind, that as I said before the game only starts once you reach legend rank, before that is just an if you want to play, you’ll have to play before you play” (yo dawg)

The repetitive grind is starting to get boring, and although I could simply not play it, I have to in order to be able to play only against the players in my level.

Another thing that I completely dislike is the rank system itself, which is the biggest flaw here: Blizzard has had a ton of experience with ranking systems, Starcraft Ladder, WoW Ladder, they know what they do in all their games, but for some strange reason they seemed to lack that in Hearthstone.

First, the ranking system is only good once you play it and get Legend for the first time, then it becomes repetitive and boring. Then the legendary system which includes all types of players, from random Hunter players to known professional players. It just feels wrong to put the guy at rank 2000 and the guy at rank 1 with the same title: Legend.

I belive this game should move towards a ladder system that looks like Starcraft’s (with Leagues and everything else). And altho Brian Kibler said he thinks another system should be implemented that is not ELO Based, we both agree that this current system is just too weak.

Then we move to the other wrong part about this game’s ladder system: The lack of rewards. Yes, it feels like there is literally no reason to play this game rather than just the fact you are playing it. No achievements, no rewards, nothing! The first thing I saw this game needed the day I started playing it was an Armory, just like Wowarmory where you can click someone and see their accomplishments, what they did, how many lifetime/seasonal wins/losses they have, and while Blizzard does not do that arguing that some players would feel bad for knowing they lose too much, they could just add an option to allow or not for their stats to be displayed online!

Back to the rewards, I think changing the Ladder system would allow for more of that to happen. Different league card backs, etc. Another fact, is that both rank 1 and 20 non-legend players are getting rewarded the same prize at the end of a season regardless of how much time both players invested in the game.

Now, to defend the slowness of Blizzard’s work on improving their own game, we can argue that Hearthstone was a game created aiming to be a casual game for a player base not larger than 500k players, but now we just passed the 20 million players mark, and the game has become more competitive than any other game Blizzard has ever had (it’s even more played than Starcraft!), and to adapt to that the company has to invest in improving their game’s quality for the players. Free to Play Gaming is not only about playing and giving a company money whenever you feel the game is good enough, it’s also about getting an improvement from that company as a response for the money we throw at them.

The Ladder System: Listing what could be Improved

Alright, so after last section, we can now organize a list of what could be improved in the game’s ladder system:

  • The ranking system is, once you get to legend for the first time, boring and repetitive, that should change immediately.
  • The seasons are too short, a possible new ranking system should be improved so it can handle a season that takes longer than it currently does, I think 6 months is a fine number.
  • The game needs more rewards desperately. There should be incentive to keep playing and to keep getting better: cosmetics, hero voices, animations, card backs, I don’t even know!
  • I did not mention this before because this article is not about it, but I’ll just reinforce it: Spectator mode!! Blizzard please!!

Alright, so, 4 little topics that would make the game much better, and although implementing them is really hard, I belive is a must for this game to improve in order to maintain a bright future.

A Decklist!

Alright, this is the decklist I used to get to Legend. Actually, one of the decklists, but the one I played the last 2 ranks. The reason I used this is because I was playing Control decks and I wanted to get to Legend asap so I could start playing real hearthstone matches and playing this deck was literally the fastest way, because one Control match, time wise, is around 3 to 4 matches with this deck.

The list:

Now, you’ll notice some things are lacking from this not-so-usual Zoo list: defender-of-argus and argent-squire. These cards were cut off because most decks are now aiming for a very consistent play, as I said before in the post-nerf Theorycrafting articles I made, and because of that, getting consistent-but-slow cards such as these 2 guys are not insta-pick anymore because most likely you’ll end up always getting out-consisted (what????)

Well, basically you can choose to go for more aggressive/explosive choices in order to obtain a win before you lose control of the board to the opponent.

In the end, its Zoo, and its extremely easy to play. So I will not go into details on how to play this specific deck, but if you want to know my win-loss ratio with the deck itself, here are the last few games I played on my way to legend with this thing.


And this is it for tonight, I hope you all enjoyed reading and understand some, if not all, of my points. Hearthstone is a very young game, but still the expectations for it are already huge, and while there is still a lot of days until the end of times, I think Blizzard should consider improving their game a little quicker than they currently are, I am sure they are getting more money here than they do in games like Diablo, yet their Diablo team seems to be doing a much better job at trying to satisfy their player base.

Bye byes, see y’all in my next article!