Today, the Hearthstone team at Blizzard has announced changes that will be implemented in Hearthstone’s Ranked Play system. This update aims to minimize the grind that usually comes when attempting to climb the top of the ladder during each new season. Improved matchmaking while still prioritizing a sense of progression throughout all levels has also been promised.
This change in the game’s ranking structure ensures that players will be matched more evenly at the beginning of each season, with skill being the leading factor attributed to climbing the ladder. Beginning in March, all current players will reset four ranks back. This means a player that ends the February season at a Rank 10 will begin March with a Rank 14. Legend players will begin March at Rank 4. This change has been implemented to mitigate the concern various players at the top of the ladder experience when having too many ranks to climb, as well as the adverse feeling players at the bottom of the ladder experience in that they feel they’ve hit a wall too quickly. This update will narrow that gap as players will start each month higher than they did the last. Each rank will also contain 5 stars, making each rank the same, while allowing all players the same experience regardless of their placement on the ladder.
These changes also ensure that players will need to win five games to receive their monthly card back instead of the previous requirement of needing to hit Rank 20. This change is brought upon by the change in stars as a way to balance the ranking system. For instance, the monthly card back reward at Rank 20 was only ten wins away from a Rank 25, but starting in March, will be set to 25. This change makes it so monthly rewards do not increase in difficulty. Though, reward chests will still continue to increase in value with each rank.
These changes will be fully transitioned in March, but there will be a brief window of time where elements from both systems will be in use. During the February Ranked Play Season players must reach Rank 20 to receive their seasonal card back. Following this, their rank will reset to four ranks below what they have achieved during the season. During the March Ranked Play Season and forward, five games must be won to receive the seasonal card back. Ranks will reset to four ranks below what is achieved during the season.
These changes are set to take effect officially during the March season, but it is important to note that how one plays in February will also impact where players begin on the ladder during March.