Recognizing talent within MaD Hatters is delightful! Recognizing that talents, achievements and success is an even more gratifying experience! Recently, a player has risen above the ranks in the DGL’s Hearthstone league and scored a third place finish!!! Hoorah!! I present to you Ryan “Arachne” Norden! Here is an in-depth interview detailing his view on the recent leg…
- Arachne, give us a little glimpse into the person behind the name…
I've been playing PC games as far back as MS-Dos, when I was a wee lad, and been enjoying them since. That said, I can’t say I was very good at them, as I know I’ll remember “IDDQD” and “IDKFA” to my grave.
- What other competitive titles/games have you competed in?
I have attended rAge for the last four years, twice for SC2 as a competitor, once for SC2 and LoL as a shout caster, and once for LoL as a competitor. My best finish of those was top 8 for LoL, with Mad Hatters. I played a non-DGL HS tournament last year, with three other players: Trend, Dracogus and G3nera, which we managed to win. It was a team-based tournament, using the old last-hero standing format.
- Prior to starting the hearthstone DGL league, did you believe you would make it into the top 3?
I came 5th in the Do Gaming Championships last year, beating Skunkzy, before going out the next round. and I was a (small) part of the winning team of a previous tournament, so I did know I could do well. My goal for the leg was to avoid relegation, and I started out 0/2, losing to Darkwingdan and Trend. My only real goals, besides finishing top 8, for the leg were to try and beat scant this time around, and try beat Skunkzy again.
- Going forward to the next leg, what expectations do you have aside from taking the crown?
Despite my results I actually had a bad time of things, getting to where I did, off the back of one strong deck that I tweaked quite successfully for the strong meta decks. My goal for next leg is try and have more than one strong deck that can do well, especially as there is a chance that the format might change away from the current one. I don’t think I have the best BMT, to be honest, so I’m hoping I can maintain my current standard.
- How does it feel to represent MaD Hatters and perform exceptionally well in the first major Hearthstone competitive event in SA?
I wouldn't exactly call this the first major HS event, especially as last year there was the Winter Leg for DGL, the Do Gaming Championships, and that team event. There was also the Valentines cup, which I placed top 8 in. There has also been some Orena events this year. In fact, I had to play Fafa right after he won the Battle for the Throne. I was quite nervous. I was also very nervous for my game against scant, for that matter. It’s nice doing well with the MaD tag as I know MaD Afro and played with him last year in LoL. He’s a really solid guy who looks out for his friends and always has time to lend an ear, or give a pat on the back.
- Being the first competitive event, you would inherently set the bar, and be instantly recognized as the players to beat in future competitions. Does that add more pressure?
I think people are starting to take notice of me, or at least I can hope that they have, since I have been performing consistently well for a while now. But I am sure there are some people who are also focusing on how some RNG went against them, or how they missed out on one damage turn 2. Myself, I know I tend to play too quickly, and I have definitely made some horrendous misplays with my Druids of the Claw this leg. I guess I haven’t really answered the question. I’m really happy I came 3rd, it was quite unexpected. I know for sure I made Trend happy, as my win over Skunkzy was good enough to affect the win rate and make him 1st. I hope that other people have noticed that I’ve consistently been up there. I don’t think it adds too much pressure to me, as I’m playing for enjoyment more than to win.
- I noticed there isn’t much communication with an opponent during a game, do you feel it is better, or would you prefer to psyche your opponent out mentally?
There is enough communication to get in people’s heads, especially with emote spams. I actually mute most of my opponents out of habit just to prevent some BM’ing of “Greetings, Traveller” before the Webspinner, Kill Command, Kill Command, hero power, that used to happen on ladder. There is also the in-game chat, as you are on the friends list of the person you are playing. For the most part, I try to keep it to “GLHF”.
- What keeps you enthralled to competitive gaming and hearthstone?….and yes I am referencing Thrall!
I've always wanted to do well in a card game, and while some people think Hearthstone is hidden behind a paywall, I've played Magic: The Gathering on-and-off for a very long time. Hearthstone has nothing on MTG. So, I saw this as an opportunity to show that my flair for deck-building and play style can do well. Unfortunately, a lot of the decks out there are net-decks, and for good reason. But I did have quite a bit of success with a home-brewed Ramp Druid that seems to have very unexpected strong match ups, and I know what to expect enough to shore up the weaker ones.
- Hearthstone is a game of luck, and strategy, would you say that luck precedes strategy in this game, as the cards you draw at any given time impact the way each turn would progress?
I think, without going into the heavy statistics, hearthstone can be very luck based. But at the same time if that was all there was to it, we wouldn't be seeing the same names do well every week. Trend and Skunkzy are often seen as SA’s top players, and personally I include scant in there as well. And if we look at the log, I expected them to come top 3, and if I wasn't here, they would have. You can only draw cards that are in your deck, and I think that is where a large part of the skill comes into it. You can’t draw a card that isn't in your deck. Where a lot of the net-deckers go wrong is that they will copy paste a list, but not understand why that card is there, and for what match up. My druid list, I can justify every card.
- Would it be safe to assume that a game of hearthstone is greatly influenced by the way you construct your deck? That being said, does the amount of money you have enhance your chances of obtaining more prolific cards?
I believe that there are unexplored decks out there that are unexpectedly strong. My brother recently got into Hearthstone and has built a very solid, cheap, paladin deck with sea giants, while scant has great success with home-brews. If you are really really really lucky, Hearthsone doesn't require significant investment. If you open your very first GvG pack and get 1 Golden Dr Boom, you are pretty much set. For us lesser mortals, I think it does require a significant pack investment. Whether you access the packs with your credit card, or gold from your infinite arena runs is up to you. That said, legendaries are just one card, I've found, and can be easily substituted for a card that fills a similar role.
- Yu-gi-oh is another card game that is entertaining, though not as well known. What makes Hearthstone more challenging and captivating than its predecessors?
Hearthstone kind of has three really important things going for it. The first is that it is really easy to get into (or at least it was ITO money/time investment), the second is that compared to other card games, there really isn’t that big of a paywall. And the third is that the game, for the most part, is relatively simple and straight-forward.
- What advice would you give to other aspiring Hearthstone competitors?
I really struggled in the first week because I played decks that I thought were the best. As it turns out, I’d rather have played decks that I enjoyed playing. I started the 1st week 0/2 and wasn't really comfortable on any deck other than my Warlock. I’d also tried to outthink the meta, and ended up playing an Undertaker Mid-range Hunter deck that wasn't performing as well as it should have. For the next deck submission I instead registered three lists I knew how to play, and for the most part enjoyed. And subsequently had very unfavoured Warlock matches from then on to the end of the leg, but at least I knew what needed to happen to win, and knew when I was behind. Instead if I was playing a list I was unfamiliar with, I would probably have been blaming draws or top decks, when in actual fact it’s just a bad match up. I do believe that there are opportunities for some innovative decks out there, and I don’t think the meta is as cut-and-dry as everyone thinks it is, as someone like scant shows every time he whips out his newest creation. Most importantly, play what you are happy with. Because sometimes, he will just god-draw you.