Hero Battle

By | September 14, 2014

In this post, we are going to take a look at how each hero’s ability affects their performance.

In Hearthstone, there are 9 different hero classes. Each hero has a hero ability that cost 2 mana

Setup

We will once again take the all minion super basic deck and have the deck played with different hero classes. Each of the 9 hero classes will play against a “no hero” player with the same deck, and we will look at the various statistics to see how each hero ability affects the outcome.

This time around, we will randomize the player’s play order. With this randomization, two identical deck/hero/ai combination played against each other are each expected to achieve a 50% win rate. We run 10,000 games for each hero combination.

As a side note, because the deck that we are using is composed of minions only and because there aren’t too many synergies between the cards in the deck, the simulations here are more analogous to arena games. We will see how our results compare to real arena stats (e.g., HearthStats).

Results

First, let’s take a look at the win rates of each hero class played against a no-hero player.

We see that there are broadly three categories:

  1. Mage — > 85% win rate
  2. Druid, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock — ~70% win rate
  3. Hunter, Warrior — ~53% win rate

Mage

The Mage class is clearly in a league of its own. The Mage hero ability is so versatile and effective; able to efficiently finish off weak or weakened enemy minions and to do extra damages to the enemy hero when there’s nothing else to do. Not too surprisingly, Mage is one of the most effective class in the arena, and it consistently ranks among the top win rate in HearthStats arena data.

Druid, Paladin, Rogue

These three classes are also very strong. Not surprisingly, the three hero abilities are quite similar to Mage’s ability; they are effectively ways to deal 1 damage to any enemy character. This 1 damage can be used to efficiently gain board control. The key difference between these abilities and the Mage ability is that these abilities have drawbacks. A druid or a rogue typically end up taking damage when using their respective abilities, putting them slightly closer to death. As for Paladin, it’s hero ability effectively has a 1-turn delay; the ability can be used for efficient trading only on the next turn, and there is no guarantee that the summoned minion will survive the enemy’s turn. These drawbacks show up as the ~10% win rate difference.

Warlock

Hearthstone is a card game, so it’s not surprising that an ability to let a player draw cards is powerful. Warlock hero ability is particularly useful because it can be used many times, as long as the hero doesn’t die from the 2 damage it takes to use it. Warlock will typically play with a sizable (1 – 2 cards) card advantage against a no-hero. One puzzling thing though is that it is one of the least effective class to play in the arena, and the reason for this discrepancy is the result of interactions with the enemy’s hero ability. In this simulation, we had Warlock play against a no-hero, but in real arena games, it plays against other hero classes that typically has abilities that hasten Warlock’s death. Coupled with the fact that a warlock damages itself every time it uses its ability, it ends up dying before it can take full advantage of its extra cards. For example, Warlock versus Hunter using the same deck has Warlock pretty much even with Hunter, even though Hunter fares much worse against a no-hero than Warlock facing a no-hero.

Shaman

Shaman ability is decent, but it is random. The bigger problem is that one of the totem that it summons, Wrath of Air Totem, is completely useless in with this deck because the deck does not contain any spells. Given a deck with some spells, Shaman will probably fare slightly better.

Priest

What we see from the results is that healing is not as effective of a mechanics compared to dealing direct damage. It can still allow efficient trades by prolonging the life of cheaper minions, but the opportunities to use it is somewhat limited. Consider the situation where you (playing Priest) just killed an enemy minion with your own minion and your minion survived (yay, efficient trade!). The question then becomes, do you heal the damaged minion or do you use a card in your hand and place a new minion on the board? I’d usually go with the new minion…

Hunter, Warrior

These two classes have abilities that do not affect the player’s ability to control the board. Hence, in this game of board control (typical arena), their abilities do not really help them win games. Both of these classes are typically near the bottom of the arena win rate stats on HearthStats, though I think the strengths of Warrior class cards help it somewhat.

Miscellaneous Data

Here are some other data that might be of interest.

Most hero abilities hasten the game. Not surprisingly, Warrior ability significantly increases the average game duration.

We can see clear differences between abilities that help with board control and abilities that don’t.

Summary

So, the results so far are largely consistent with the actual arena stats. It will be interesting to see the complete all classes vs all classes results, though this takes a long time to run. It will also be interesting to see the results using other decks… perhaps that will be the next post.

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