The Hearthstone ranked ladder, where players compete to get a higher rank by the end of the season, is named by both professionals and casuals to be fundamentally broken. Some argue that that climb from the lowest rank to the highest rank relies on luck and a bit of skill, rather than complete skill. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about how the rank system works, what is wrong with it, and what can be done to fix it.
How ranks work in Hearthstone is that players start at rank 25 and earn stars based on the wins they get, when they get a few stars the go up a rank, they go to rank 24. Each rank increases the amount of stars needed to pass into the next rank, and starting at rank 19, players can lose stars in the matches they lose. If you win multiple games in a row you receive bonus stars, as a way to reward you. But from rank 5 to rank 1 bonus stars are not allowed, meaning you need a total of 25 wins (five stars for each rank), before you hit Legend status. Legend status is when a player beats rank 1 and the stars to earn are replaced by showing a number, indicating the player’s matchmaking rating. The number shows what rank you are in your region, so some climb to number 1.
Every season this gets reset, and to keep in mind, a season is a total of one month.
So what’s the problem?
Well the new player experience is getting botched. High level players that hit levend every season are reset to lower rank (somewhere around teens) because of some bonus star that are rewarded from last season. Even with the rank boost at the beginning of the month, new players are constantly encountering these high level players throughout the month, because it’s inevitable that some high level players will get bad luck and derank all the way down, ruining the playing field for new players.
Some fans have came up with a few fixes to this issue. Some say to just increase the amount a season takes up, maybe make it a seasonal thing. Others say to give more bonus stars at the start of the month for those who made it to legend and higher ranks. And the third request I’ve seen is to set a checkpoint at ranks 10 and 5 so that if someone goes on a lose streak, they won’t go all the way to rank 20 and ruin new player experiences. Time will tell what actions Blizzard will take, but they are sure looking into it.