Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones has only been playing Hearthstone a couple of months, but he’s reached Rank 5 with his Warlock play, and took 2nd place in the TBG Cup. We ask him what he thinks of the Sideboard format “Duel”, and how he crafted his deck for this unique tournament.
Eliot Miller: Hit there, I’m here with Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones. How are you doing today?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: Yeah good thanks. Really good.
Eliot Miller: How is your Razer Orochi gaming mouse?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: It’s amazing, I absolutely love it. I’m using right now, and I’m drinking coffee from my Hearthstone mug! It’s great because its something I would never go out of my way to buy myself. Having such a cool mouse is awesome. I’ve wanted something like this for ages.
Eliot Miller: So tell us, why are you “Randalthor7” when Battlenet gives you a number?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: It was name on Battlenet back on Warcraft III. I thought that, since it was another Blizzard game, I’d keep it. I still play it from time to time. There are some really good, fun RPGs on it, and my laptop can’t run many other games.
Eliot Miller: That’s good hear, I’m a big Warcraft III nut myself.
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: Yeah its crazy that it’s still going, even though it was released….?
Eliot Miller: 2002 was the release date!
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I used to play Warcraft II as well when I was younger. I’ve always been a big fan of Blizzard games, so that sort of led me to Hearthstone.
Eliot Miller: So how long have you been playing Hearthstone?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: This season is my second season. So between 2 or 3 months.
Eliot Miller: For me, I came into Hearthstone during the beta, so I’ve had the time to accumulate my card collection, as new ones were released.
How did you feel then, coming in at Blackrock Mountain – with two expansions already out – was it overwhelming for you?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: A little bit, but it wasn’t too bad. You can still do quite a lot with the basic cards, but I did feel a bit at a disadvantage compared to other players on Ranked, because they’ve played longer (probably) and know the cards better.
Eliot Miller: So can I assume then, that the ToBeGosu cup was your first Hearthstone event?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: Yeah it was my first cup.
Eliot Miller: How did you find it then, coming to your first event and competing?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: It was really fun, but really stressful at the same time. By the Grand Finals, my nerves were completely frayed.
Eliot Miller: Was there a reason you decided to come to the ToBeGosu Cup as your first event then? What drove you to actually take up competition?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I got to Rank 5 last season, and I thought, “Well, I may as well go enter a tournament. I’m like an average player”. Even if I do lose all my games, it will still be a good learning experience. But I was interested in the ToBeGosu Cup because of the format. I played Zoo-lock all last season, but I didn’t have two other decks needed for Conquest. I was really happy when I saw that I just needed one deck and the sideboard for ToBeGosu.
[Duel] was a lot more fun than Conqeust could ever be
Eliot Miller: So what did you think of the sideboard format, “Duel”?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I spent a little while trying to think what I should put in my sideboard. I mainly teched against Hunters, but I don’t have much experience deck-building. At one point I even considered completely changing my Sideboard, so that I could switch to a Demonology deck, but it was a bit too gimmickey I guess. It would’ve been really cool though.
People would’ve been like “What? What the hell is this?? This is completely different!”.
Eliot Miller: That is exactly the kind of meta I want to see emerging from these “Duel” format events. Are there kinds of hybrid decks you could build, that you can change from a kind of Tempo deck to a Control deck, just by swapping out just a few cards on your sideboard? Perhaps Demons could be a very good catalyst for that.
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I’d love to see that as well. I probably should’ve taken that sideboard I wanted to, just for the fun of it. I actually ended up wasting dust on two Demonfires just for the Sideboard, and then after I decided I wasn’t going to use it, but I had already lost 800 dust on two cards I’ll probably never use.
On occasions I didn’t [Sideboard], but I would pretend that I was…to “Mind Game” my opponent
Eliot Miller: So what made you choose Warlock?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: It was pretty much my only option, because I only played Zoo-Lock last season. If I played anything else, I wouldn’t of had as much experience. I wouldn’t be as familiar with it, so I couldn’t sideboard it as well, because you need to know what the core cards are, and what can’t be taken out.
Eliot Miller: Let’s talk a little bit about your deck then. There’s some staples of Zoo-Lock here. Power-Overwhelming, Abusive Sergeants. Knife Juggler + Imp-plosion is a great combination. What are your thoughts for your sideboard? What drove you to some of the choices you made?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: Mostly, I was just thinking about Hunter because I thought the tournament would be very Hunter heavy (Alistair wasn’t wrong there!), because it seems so popular and I hate Hunter so much. But, I wish I had done more of a general sideboard, that probably would’ve helped me a bit better.
Eliot Miller: So how did your sideboard fare against Hunter?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: In my first game against Hunter, I think I put in a Sunfury Protector, a Dark Iron Dwarf, a Loatheb and Sea Giant. The Sunfury definitely worked out well. I had two Hellfires in my Sideboard, but I never put them in. I usually only sideboarded around 3 cards. It was mostly just putting in Taunts and some heavier minions.
I found it very hard to take out cards, because I’ve played this deck so much I was like “Awww. I really don’t want to take this out, even though I don’t need it that much”.
[Duel] is definitely way more accessible…. it is more open to new and intermediate players
Eliot Miller: Where there any matches you didn’t use the Sideboard?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I did consider it, but I wanted to sort of “Mind Game” my opponent. So, on occasions I didn’t use it, I would pretend that I was trying to change my deck so they wouldn’t expect me to have the same deck. I think once or twice I just kept it the same. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!
I absolutely love Zoo, just the combinations are all great. Like Power-Overwhelming your Nerubian Egg, then Void Terror-ing it. It’s amazing. Seeing that get Big Game Hunter-ed though sucks.
I think my favourite card is Imp-plosion definitely. A card that implodes…Imps?
Eliot Miller: Is it an explosion with Imps, or an implosion with…”Ex”s?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I wish they’d incorporate that into World of Warcraft.
Eliot Miller: Looking at the sideboard format then, if I were to run another ToBeGosu Cup, are there any changes you’d like to see to the Duel format?
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I like the fact that it was more open to new and intermediate players. It think it was a lot more fun than Conqeust could ever be. But, I think there’s more chance for luck to be involved than skill compared to Conquest, because in that, you have to win with three different decks.
You could increase the amount of games I guess. Personally, I loved it. I can’t get enough of Zoo-lock at the moment, so getting to play my favourite deck all through the tournament was brilliant.
My favourite thing about [Duel]: how random it can be. It definitely adds another layer of excitement!
Eliot Miller: When I did the interview with Kevin “Odinn” Hovdestad, who devised the format, he noted that there was this whole other side to how a Hearthstone tournament could be run, that we’ve just not explored yet. I don’t propose this is the best way to a sideboard, or to play Hearthstone, but I think its fun, and worthwhile, to explore it.
So its nice to hear that it can offer something more accessible and fun to new and intermediary players.
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: Yeah its definitely way more accessible. You don’t need to have a set deck, you can always add in the counters from your sideboard. Even if you don’t have all the best cards, you can still win if you can counter well.
I’d love to see this kind of format more. I think Conquest is boring to play, and to watch. I read the interview with “Odinn”, and he said many formats are very “Rock, Paper, Scissiors”. You know what’s coming (so you know what to play against it).
Whereas in Duel, if you’re watching it live, you could see this card that could come out of nowhere and you’d be like “OH MY GOD!! I was not expecting that card to be played!!”. Rather than, “Oh there’s his Dr. Boom, and there’s his Mind Control etc.”
Eliot Miller: That’s what I love about the format, it gave players the chance on a match by match basis, to introduce cards that aren’t “viable”. A great example was the Grand Finals of our first event, Raven vs. Fire. Fire was playing Miracle Rogue, and Miracle Rogue has certain cards for a certain combo, so you know exactly what it’s going to do. So Raven went to his sideboard and added in two Snipe secrets, and when Fire’s Gadgetzan Auctioneer went down, *snipe!* When the second Gadgetzan Auctioneer went down, *snipe!* It completely demolished that Miracle Rogue, just by sideboarding in a card you never see in professional matches.
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: Yeah it definitely makes it more interesting, the reason I was considering changing my whole sideboard, was ‘cos I was watching a guy stream and he jokingly said “Oh you’re not going to play around Demonwrath are you?”. Its not viable in ranked because Warlock is so popular, but I thought Demonlock with Demonwrath would be so amazing for the TBG Cup, because I could switch it out if I was against another Warlock.
Eliot Miller: There’s definitely a lot which is possible, and we’re really only just scratching the surface.
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: I think that is my favourite thing about it, how random it can be, cards you never normally see being played. It definitely adds another layer of excitement
Eliot Miller: Excellent, well thank you for taking the time to talk to me today Alistair, and thank you for supporting my event.
Alistair “Randalthor7” Jones: No problem!