Some rank play changes are coming at the start of the March 2018 ranked play season! You will now only drop exactly 4 ranks at the end of a season, all ranks are now 5 stars, and you will earn the seasonal card back for winning five ranked games during the season. These changes should help make it so newer players aren’t playing against high ranking players early in the season.
Ranked floors will still exist. – Source
Ben Brode is on the Hearthstone Subreddit answering some questions, here’s a few of the more interesting responses (I’m paraphrasing the questions):
“Which rank will you receive rewards from and which will the reset be based upon?”
The ranked rewards go by your highest rank, and the reset is based on your ending rank – same as it was before.
“Why do we have to wait?!”
The patch containing these changes goes live in February. The biggest change is to the Reset, and the first reset moment after the patch is March 1st, when these changes take place.
“This could’ve been done sooner!”
The first phase is coming up with the right solution. Often when you land on the right solution, it feels “obvious”. Derek’s GDC presentation has some great examples of hard problems that look like they had obvious solutions in hindsight.
We actually went through multiple rounds of brainstorming and testing pitches – everything from completely changing the system, to subtly tweaking it to reach our goals.
Once we have a pitch, we model it. We run a simulation and test what the results will be after 1, 2, 3, 6 months, and a year. Does it spread players out more, to improve matchmaking? How much rank inflation does it cause over time? What’s the experience like for players at each rank? We have a team of Data Scientists who try and model player behavior to give us as accurate a picture as we can, to help make the right decision.
Once we have a design we are confident in, then it’s ready for implementation. Often during the implementation process we identify edge cases or other snags. For example: We can’t line a patch up to launch at midnight in all regions and all platforms on March 1st, so we need to have both ranked play systems live in the client, and build a way to transition between them at the exact right moment. The current design requires a significant change to how players earn their monthly ranked rewards, and we added several warnings and UI call-outs to help reduce the chance players miss out on their card back for March. We had to change the victory screen and the Quest Log screen to accommodate the new flow.
But implementation isn’t the biggest factor in a system like this. In this case, it was testing. When we create a new card, it’s pretty straightforward to make sure that it works. One tester plays the card in a large variety of weird situations and logs bugs related to it. Our automation engineers force it to be played millions of times and check to make sure the servers don’t explode. But a system like this presents a more challenging testing requirement. It involves large numbers of players, normal season resets, feb->march season resets, and coordination between developers, testers, and automation engineers to make sure everyone has the tools they need.
I’m glad people are enjoying the changes – please make sure to give us feedback after you play with it!
Here are the upcoming changes you can look forward to:
- You’ll earn card backs by winning five Ranked games during the season, regardless of what rank you achieve. It will no longer be necessary to reach Rank 20 to earn these card backs.
- After each game, the UI will let you know how many wins you still need to earn the Ranked season card back. You can check your progress between games by visiting the Quest Log.
- All Ranks will now have 5 stars.
- Player ranks will reset to exactly 4 ranks below your current standing, including the number of stars in that rank you earned. Here are some examples:
- Rank 14, 2 stars resets to Rank 18, 2 stars
- Rank 1, 3 stars resets to Rank 5, 3 stars
- Rank 10, 0 stars resets to Rank 14, 0 stars
- Players at Legend reset to Rank 4, 0 stars
Moving to the New System
Some elements of the old and new systems will exist simultaneously when we first make the transition:
- During the February Ranked Play Season, you’ll still need to reach Rank 20 to receive your Ranked season card back. At the season’s end, your rank will reset to four ranks below your current standing.
- Starting with the March Ranked Play Season, you’ll only be required to win 5 games to receive your seasonal card back. At the season’s end, your rank will reset to four ranks your current standing.
The update should allow players at the top of the ladder to jump into the action immediately by matching them against similarly-ranked opponents, providing more engaging matches while reducing the time it will take for them to climb to a rank appropriate for their skill-level each season. This in turn should improve matchmaking for everyone who plays Hearthstone, including those climbing the ladder for the first time. Since players will be more evenly matched at the start of each season, they can make immediately meaningful progress toward their ladder ranking against players of similar caliber. We want the experience of climbing the Hearthstone Ranked Play ladder to be fun, challenging, and satisfying for everyone.
We hope you enjoy the updates to Ranked Play, and we’re looking forward to your feedback. See you on the ladder!