If you've been tired of the long, slow road to the middle of the table, there's good news afoot. In a blog post - complete with Ben Brode video update - Blizzard's Hearthstone team has announced some significant tweaks to the ranked ladder, with a big focus on keeping you closer to your 'natural' ranking after each month's reset.
The big news: at the start of each new month (from March season), your account will drop exactly four ranks. You'll even keep the stars you were up to wherever you were along the road to your next rank up.
At the same time, all levels are shifting to a 5 star system. In the past, 25-21 was 2 stars, 20-16 was 3 stars, 15-11 was 4 stars, and 5 stars only kicked in at 10.
Naturally, complaints are already flowing on the blog post. People upset that higher ranks will now need 5 stars to complete, for example. 25 stars from 25 to 20 when there were only 10 in the past.
But for mine, this is a great update to make the whole ladder feel more like a better reflection of wherever someone's skill level currently lives.
It's no longer a fast path into the middle of the table where a massive mix of skill levels were stuck together, where the all out grind would be caused.
And no longer a giant climb for elite players who would reset to somewhere in the teens at the start of each month.
Add to all this a change that gives you the monthly card back after 5 wins (instead of reaching rank 20 or your first win if you were already beyond that) and the rank starts to feel less like a required climb and more about tiers of competitive play that people live in.
For someone who previously lived in the higher teen ranks, it'll feel like a slower road... but it also rewards aiming to push beyond your past 'natural' limits and aim higher. The old system only gave one more 'bonus star' for the next season for each rank you achieved. Now you'll only ever fall four ranks lower than you finished, so you'll only ever need 20 stars to get back to where your last season ended.
Down the track, this new system could easily tweak toward a Bronze, Silver, Gold, etc set of tiers and it would make sense.
I like it.