I became the first legend player on EU this season by playing straight for 32 hours. Here’s how.

Via Hearthstone: http://ift.tt/2sAuhIf


Hey guys, JohnnyBlack here. Specifically, I played straight for 31 hours and 36 minutes. After sleeping for most of today and catching up on some non-HS related activities, I figured I’d post the two decks here with a discussion of the differences from the norm, and why they matter.

Proof

Victory Screen

32 Hour VOD

Quest Rogue

Decklist

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Burn Mage

Decklist

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I’ll split the discussion into 3 parts. The first two will be the sections on quest rogue and burn mage as it relates to the climb (I won’t reiterate all the analysis that’s already been done on these decks), and the third will be about how to actually play for 32 hours and keep your winrate positive. Feel free to read any or all of it.

Quest Rogue

In my opinion, there are 32 quality cards that quest rogue should run (my deck, +1 backstab +1 igneous). I could include my reasoning for why these 32 cards are better than wisp, tar creeper, doomsayer, stoneshaper, etc, but I’ll leave that for another discussion. Instead, I’ll talk about why I cut an igneous and a backstab.

Cutting 1 igneous elemental (credit to wabekaHS for suggesting this to me) is perfect, because you rarely ever want to draw two igneous elementals in the same game. In the same vein, it’s also a terrible mimic pod target. Igneous costs 3 mana for a 2/3 body, so it’s just too slow to play two of. In almost all matchpus, the quest rogue is staving off an onslaught of face damage while desperately trying to control the board until it plays the quest between turn 5-7 to quickly flip the board and win. In this plan, one 3 mana 2/3 that gives you 2 bodies with the same name is fine, but 2 is overkill. Therefore, igneous makes sense as a 1 of. (Also, you rarely ever do the quest on ingeous; I did it once in 200 games in which I was playing a 2-of).

Backstab make sense as the other cut candidate just because every other card has synergy with the quest. The reasonable quest minions need to be 2-of’s in order to add outs where you draw both copies, thus making the quest easier. Prep is amazing with the quest, and mimic pod and vanish synergize with it, so having those as 2-ofs increases prep’s consistency (although you could make an argument for 1 pod). Lastly, backstab is simply an anti-aggro-don’t-get-snowballed-on tech card. It doesn’t synergize with anything; it’s just there to aid you against cards like flametongue, enchanted raven, and vicous fledgling. Due to this, it’s benefit is significantly higher when using the first copy than the second, so it makes sense to run as a 1-of, too.

I can do a write-up on the ins and outs of quest rogue, some of the common pitfalls and strategies, as well as some of the basic fundamentals of pre and post quest play if you guys are interested, but I figure that’s probably been done pretty exhaustively.

Burn Mage

The burn mage list I use is pretty similar to most of them out there with 2 critical differences: 2 volcanic potion, 2 acolyte of pain, 0 kabal courier.

The volcanic potions were essential on this particular climb. In the beginning token druid was by far the most common deck I faced. I played at least 15 token druids before my first jade druid, and druid was by far the most common class I played against. Closer toward legend, the most common deck I played against was token bloodlust shaman with evolve. Against these two decks in particular, volcanic potion is extremely potent. In my last game (vs evolve shaman), I actually kept double volcanic potion and frostbolt in the mulligan. You can never have too much AoE clear against that token deck.

The most fundamental change I made is acolyte over kabal courier. This comes down to my contention that the cards in the deck are better than a random discovered mage, priest, or warlock card. For every game that you cheese out with a doom, or cabal shadowpriest, or extra healing card, there are two games you could have won by drawing your actual cards. For example, instead of getting a heal from courier, you can draw into your alex faster. All the cards in your deck work together. The burn cards allow you to go face, and are better in pairs. They are also great with alex. The board control cards help you clear, and often a two turn clear with potion and flamestrike can answer a board you’d otherwise lose to. Alex synergizes with block and barrier for defense, medivh wants you to have big spells in your hand for value, valet needs you to have a secret active. Your deck is a fine tuned combo machine teched to beat the meta. Why would you want a random decent card from some other class over a card from that well-oiled machine?

Additionally, because of your hero power, you almost always get at least 2 cards from acolyte. This means that you’re not choosing between a courier card and an acolyte card, but rather between a courier card and two acolyte cards (using some extra mana sometimes). Obviously, stating it like this assumes that the game isn’t going to fatigue. With this deck, almost every game you lose doesn’t involve fatigue. You get rushed down by aggro, killed by a midrange board you can’t handle, or run out of resources in your hand against control. Even when losing against control, your deck isn’t drained, you just run out of steam and eventually lose the board to big cards you can’t handle. The 2/2 body and 1/3 body are pretty similar, but even then I’d argue acolyte is better because of how people treat it. Ever seen somebody spend a turn using jade lighting on a courier? I didn’t think so (unless they had no other reasonable plays). People don’t want your hero power to turn into “draw a card”, so they use frostbolt, jade lighting, and weapon charges on acolyte to prevent it. Against shaman specifically, they MUST address it, or it will likely draw 3 cards and eat 2 or 3 small minions in the process.

P.S. Acolyte + volcanic potion is a nifty little draw 2 combo

Like with the quest rogue, I’d be happy to write up a guide for this burn mage, how to play against various things, how to decide between offensive and defensive alex, the kinds of game flow you see, etc. if you guys are interested.

Playing for 32 hours

If you want to grind to legend in one sitting, or even just play hearthstone for an extended period of time, the first thing you have to remember is to take care of your body. Drink. If you get to focused on the game, or tilted when you lose, it becomes very easy to forget this. I had a water bottle and a half-gallon of milk with me the entire time. I refilled them whenever they ran out so that I could absentmindedly take sips during down time. The milk is great because it provides a constant stream of calories in addition to hydration.

You can probably guess the next piece of advice already. Eat. During a 32 hour period, your body needs a lot of calories. Case in point: towards the beginning of the stream, I got stuck at rank 9 for literally 4 hours. Why? Because I started to get hungry, lost a few games, and wanted to keep playing. I kept playing, and not eating, and saying “after this game I’ll get food” for 4 painful hours of 50% winrate game play at rank 9 before I finally cracked and made myself some hotdogs. I quickly laddered to rank 5 after that. Also, don’t forget you need more than one meal in a day. When I got hungry again, I brought a box of mini-wheats up with me and ate those with the milk as my sustinence for the rest of the climb. I figured they’re pretty rich in carbs, and my brain would appreciate the energy when trying to navigate a complex dopplegangster-evolved board with my mage removal, or figure out which turn to vanish to barely survive and stabilize from there.

As a last quick note on the body, keep yourself moving around in your chair. I tweaked a muscle in my hip from sitting in one position for too many hours on end, and my quads were feeling a little strange at one point too. Also, take the headphones out occasionally and give your mind and ears a break from the game sounds. You can only hear “ice to meet you” “drink with me freind” “ice to meet you” so many times before you go crazy.

As for the actual game play, the key is conscious focus. Being good at Hearthstone is fundamentally about considering all your plays and then correctly picking the best one. It becomes difficult to do both of these when you’re exhausted. You need to consciously force yourself to look through your whole hand and consider every option each turn. Your tired brain will see one play that looks okay and want to just roll with it, but as we all know, the first play you see is often not the best one. Force yourself to ask the question “okay, what other options do I have?”. By consciously doing this, you can mitigate some of the tiredness. The tiredness sets your default mode from careful thinking to auto-pilot. It can be a little overwhelming to try to think through the thousand different ways you can send your removal at an evolved board over the next few turns when you’re running on 0 sleep, so if you feel overwhelmed just consider things until the rope, and then when it starts burning pick the best thing you can come up with. When you’re rested, you see things faster, but if you have discipline, even when exhausted you can still identify and analyze most of the lines available.

When you being to reason about a line of play, force yourself to defend it. And I mean actually defend it. I threw a game where I went face instead of trading and gave myself some nonsensical surface level justification for why it made sense based on certain topdecks, but if I’d just stopped to actually critique that justification for even 3 seconds I would have realized what I was saying sounded like it could be true, even though it wasn’t. Don’t just justify your plays to yourself, but actually think about if those justifications make sense. Again, your tired brain will be okay with any sort of pat, surface level explanation you can give it.

“Let’s trade so we don’t lose to bloodlust.”

Actual brain: “can you ever beat bloodlust? Aren’t you just going to lose to it next turn? What if we block and he pops it, is alex enough to win if he doesn’t have a second one? I feel like we’re pretty far ahead if he doesn’t have it, maybe we shouldn’t give that up.”

Tired brain: “k”

Force yourself to really think. The more tired you get, the harder it becomes, but by consciously making yourself defend the lines you pick, you can avoid some of the tired misplays that are responsible for your winrate falling.

Lastly, if you can, play a deck you have experience with. I played hundreds of games of quest rogue during season 1 of Un’goro and thus was very familiar with the kinds situations and game flows that you see. I understood the basic mechanics of using the quest, counting your mana over multiple turns, committing to brewing a certain minion, and min/maxing value post quest before I started the stream on May 31st. In contrast, I’d never played mage before the climb, because I thought all the random cards were so c a n c e r o u s (freakin auto-mod rules) I didn’t want to subject my opponent to that. Of course, I abandoned this notion when I realized mage was well suited against the meta I was facing, but that’s not the point. The point is that because all the situations I was seeing were new to me, my tired brain had to do a lot more work to analyze them. As I got more tired, it became difficult to win with the mage and the quest rogue had to pick up the slack. Luckily, after having played so many mage games during the climb, at the end, when I really needed the mage to carry me through the shamans, I was experienced enough to win. If I’d played those same games, at that level of fatigue, having had 10 games on the deck instead of 100, I would have probably lost.

So that’s it guys. After 32 long hours I became the first player this June to hit legend on EU. In case you’re wondering, this was really not a very efficient climb. The decks are decently complicated right now, and as a result it becomes difficult to keep the winrate up through 24 hours+ fatigue. Additionally, Blizzard now forces you to queue into someone with a rating a lot closer to yours than it had in the past. This leads, first, to you only facing the best players over and over who are also trying to get fast legend and thus tons of counter queueing (instead of someone who’s pretty good, but still like 7 ranks below you), and second, to upwards of 3 or 4 minute queue times. This was a pain; I probably spent at least 1 hour total of the stream simply staring at the queue screen. It doesn’t have to be a worthy opponent every time guys, just give me the really slow guy 🙂

Final record: 122-69 (63.8%)

Mage: 62-40 (61%) – overall the weaker deck, since I was worse with it, but carried me at the end; 5-0 in my last 5 with mage for the final push. Necessary because of all the counter queuing.

Rogue: 60-29 (67.4%) – overall the stronger deck, but got countered a little too hard by secret mage and evolve shaman, and also isn’t great vs token druid.

tl;dr – played 32 hours of quest rogue and burn mage to get first legend on EU by talking to myself and drinking milk

Shout out to the one guy playing renounce warlock at rank 8 (pretty early on, too). It felt like I was playing arena, except my deck had firelands portals and meteors and medivh, and you had random warrior cards. gg tho 🙂

Edit: For those commenting on the health risks, I forgot to mention I consumed a total of 0mg of caffeine during the stream. I would wager those random heart attack cases are more about the body’s reaction to various drugs and stimulants, as well as the unhealthy or a complete lack of food or hydration (or using the bathroom even) than they are about the actual sleep deprivation. Further, as strange as it sounds, lots of studies have been done on extended sleep deprivation and it has no real adverse effects. Prolonged chronic sleep deprivation does, but extended deprivation followed by catching up on sleep doesn’t. I think there was one guy they had take an aptitude test, kept him awake for a week, let him catch up, then take it again, and he scored the same. As a recent college grad I can tell you my body can handle 24+ hours awake pretty easily, and I can be high functioning mentally again in a day or 2.

As for the screen part, yes, I admit, it’s not great to stare at a screen (or sit, for that matter) for that long. The truth is just that I’m a new streamer and in order to attract attention I have to do things that no one else is willing to do. Why watch the guy with 4 viewers over someone with 2k? Well, this is a reason I guess 🙂 It’s the free market at work, forcing me to make my product exceptional at the beginning to attract attention in the market.

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