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Creator Joey Magidson
Resume: Staff Writer for The Awards Circuit, Q&A Moderator, Oscar Prognosticator/Pundit, Freelance Film Critic/Awards Analyst, BFCA member and Rotten Tomatoes certified

Directed by Eliza Hittman. Genres Drama. A pair of teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania travel to New York City to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy. actor Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin. USA. creator Eliza Hittman. It’s no secret that Arena mode is at what may be an all time low. Many streamers have quit the mode and viewership is down. Fewer games are being recorded on HSReplay and matchmaking times in the game are way up. As a huge fan of Arena who yearns for it to be the exciting, robust, popular game mode I know it can be, I thought it would be useful to write this (very long) post about why Arena is on a downward trend and how to fix it. Part I: Background and Why I Love the Arena First, a little background on myself. I have played Magic: the Gathering (MTG) on and off at a very competitive level since 1995. I have played all formats of the game, but my favorite has always been booster draft. If you don’t know what that is, here is the simple version: you have eight people sit around a table. Each person has three 15-card packs. Each player simultaneously opens a pack, picks one card and passes the pack to the left. Then everyone takes a card from the 14 cards that were passed to them and again passes to the left. Repeat this process until all the cards have been drafted from the packs, then do it twice more for the other two packs. At the end, each player has 45 cards from which to build a deck. Then you play an 8-person tournament. Booster draft was almost certainly the inspiration for Hearthstone’s Arena, and as I discuss Arena throughout this post, several of my comparisons will be to Magic because of the long-standing success of the game as well as their robust and well-supported limited modes (draft and sealed) that are analogous to Arena. When I got married shortly after the time of Hearthstone’s release, I had less time to play MTG and travel to tournaments, so I started playing more Hearthstone. A friend encouraged me to try Arena (when it was just basic/class and Naxx) and I was blown away by the simplicity and brilliance of the game mode. Blizzard found a way to simulate the fun of a booster draft that I could do at home and play at my own pace! I still got to make tons of interesting decisions and build my deck however I wanted, but instead of needing to dedicate four hours for a single draft and needing to get together a good group of 8, I could play a couple games here and there when I had the time. The games were varied, interesting, and skill-testing, and I loved the feeling of getting higher in wins and being matched against better players with better decks. I never got sick of a deck, because as soon as each run was over, I got a new class and a brand new set of cards! Drafting my deck was super fun and playing my games was awesome too! Since then, over 90% of my Hearthstone time has been dedicated to Arena mode. I have played close to 1, 000 runs and gone for the leaderboards (more on those in just a bit) a few times when my personal life has allowed and my highest finish was number 11 back in January of 2019. I religiously listen to the Lightforge podcast and I check the r/ArenaHS subreddit daily. I love Hearthstone and I love the Arena. Part II: Why Arena Can Be Great At its best, Arena is an exciting and dynamic game mode. Every game is different, and there are close to 1000 possible cards you can play with and against at any given time. Unlike constructed where a small subset of cards actually see play, you will play with almost every single card in the game and discover interesting and fun interactions. To be successful, you need to be good on a variety of different axes. You need to be good at deck-building AND playing games of hearthstone. You need to be able to play at least 5-6 classes (and probably more). You need to be able to play against all 9 classes and be aware of tons of different things that your opponents can play. You need to be comfortable playing with and against aggressive, midrange AND control decks. You need to know tons of different card interactions and you need to be able to adapt on the fly as you figure out what your opponent is trying to do with his deck.. To succeed at higher levels, you need to know the metagame and what cards/classes you will be seeing at high levels. You need to know when Furious Ettin was very good two weeks ago but horrible right now (well not currently “now” because it’s not in the current rotation but you get what I mean) because Burly Shovelfist is everywhere, and you need to know when Burly Shovelfist is unpickable because decks are too fast. You need to know when you need to draft a bunch of two-drops in your deck and when you can skimp. You need to be able to get 10+ wins with good decks and you need to figure out a way to squeeze out 4 or 5 wins when your deck does not come together. Success in Arena requires all of these skills, but it also teaches you these from experience. Once you have started your run, Arena is not pay-to-win. There is no advantage to be gained by having a larger collection or by having the entire set a day after the expansion hits. Some people are surely offered better cards than others, but that averages out over time and everyone starts on a level playing field. Blizzard also has a fantastic way to balance the win rates of the classes (adjusting class by class offering rates for certain cards by small amounts using what are called “microadjustments”) so that every class is viable. When they have used this, the results have been fantastic and the classes are often very clustered together (as of this writing, there are 8 classes with win rates between 51. 8 and 45. 2 percent on HSReplay). You may have a run where you face opponents from all 9 classes, which gives variety and excitement in addition to balance. Part III: How Blizzard Screwed up the Arena The common theme throughout this section is a lack of attention from Blizzard. Most of these missteps are very low effort items that could have been taken care of very quickly. Leaderboards - In January 2017, Blizzard started publishing Arena leaderboards on a monthly basis. They quickly settled on a format (best average wins over a set of 30 runs) and it was great! People had something to work for even though there was no tangible in-game reward. It was awesome to improve your average and make the leaderboards, and awesome when you were playing against someone who had made them in the past. They had a few special event leaderboards (for halloween, for example) and when the format switched to two-month arena rotations instead of standard, they just went to one leaderboard per two-month event. But then, all of a sudden, the Arena leaderboards… just stopped. We haven’t had a leaderboard since the June/July 2019 season and no one knows why. No replacement, no reason, no explanation, no communication whatsoever. People have asked Blizzard employees on Reddit, Twitter and the official forums and there has been radio silence. In my eyes, this is their most egregious sin. Buckets - Almost two years ago, Blizzard brilliantly decided to start offering cards in buckets, adding another layer of intricacy and decision-making to drafting. Instead of just picking between three random cards of varying quality, they put cards into different buckets/tiers of cards and you would choose from between three cards in one or two adjacent buckets. The top bucket would have absolutely premium cards (think Flamestrike, Vilespine Slayer) and the bottom bucket would have very bad cards (think Alarm-o-bot). There were obviously still some autopicks, but for maybe 15-20 picks per draft, you had to choose from between 3 cards that were all good in different ways (think Hellfire vs. Dread Infernal vs. Siphon Soul)! It was challenging, skill-testing and truly allowed you to build your deck as you wanted. There were several agonizing decisions in every single draft that had a real impact on the style and success of your deck. Compare this to today’s drafting system where all three cards are random and there are comparatively few difficult decisions per draft. Here are a couple examples from a draft on the most recent GrinningGoat stream - Archmage vs. Bonemare vs. Corpsetaker. Hippogryph vs. Dark Prophecy vs. Banana Buffoon. Arena Fanatic vs. Amani War Bear vs. Book Wyrm. Wild Pyromancer vs. Twin Tyrant vs. Tasty Flyfish. These are not interesting, fun or skill-testing picks. However, their implementation of buckets suffered from two major faults. First, there were too many buckets of mismatched sizes. Blizzard decided to have a system using 14 different buckets which is, uh, ambitious. Some buckets had as few as 3 cards in some classes, which led to the same three-card decision over and over again while drafting. The bottom two buckets had well over 100 cards and were rarely offered. Because of this decision, only a small fraction of the cards in the entire pool were actually seen in the draft and many people complained that the decks all felt like the same - which was true because the bucket sizes were unbalanced. Second, whoever was doing the initial bucketing of the cards (deciding which bucket each card would go in at set release) in some sets had very little idea of how to rate cards for Arena. For example, Night Prowler was originally placed in one of the top two (of 14) buckets. Three-mana Conjurer’s Calling was placed in the 12th (of 14) bucket. Eccentric Scribe was placed around 8-10 buckets too low. Obviously this is a challenging thing to get right, but any significant kind of arena experience or playtesting with these cards would show these ratings are wildly inaccurate and be able to get at least in the right ballpark. Some people prefer the world without buckets, but I think most good players recognized they were very good for the game. They reduced variance in drafting while adding skill-testing, challenging decisions and allowing people to really think how they wanted to build their decks. With a few adjustments, they could have been truly outstanding. However, instead of making these changes, Blizzard decided to take a step backwards and remove buckets altogether! One reason u/IksarHS gave for this change (source:) was this: “One positive part of not doing buckets is that the micro-adjustment patches should happen faster in the future because there does not need to be a preliminary bucket adjustment patch to set the stage” Lack of Microadjustments - In hindsight, the above quote is hilarious (and depressing), because Blizzard then stopped doing microadjustments on anything remotely approaching a timely basis. A year ago, the adjustments were timely and effective. Now they are sporadic. They have a terrific system in place to bring the class win rates closer together that works very well, they just need to use it. When K&C came out, Hunter was dominant because of Spellstone, Flanking Strike and a few other powerful cards. The class had a 56+% win rate within a day. Blizzard took quick action and in less than a week, it was toned down and all 9 classes were brought closer together so they were all viable. When DoD came out two months ago, the class balance was HORRIBLE. Priest was under a 40% win rate!! There were only 3-4 real classes (the ones with explorers) that were viable with Hunter and Druid putting up extremely strong win rates, and the rest felt awful. The meta was unbalanced and it didn’t even feel like you had a chance with several classes. It took Blizzard OVER A MONTH to make the microadjustments despite the comment about buckets. This was a boring and unbalanced time to play the game. Blizzard took some quick action during this period (correctly banning dragonmaw poacher after only a couple days) but mysteriously took over a month to make this change. Whereas microadjustments used to happen once every couple weeks to keep the meta balanced and fresh, now it is a once every two-month occurrence. Very little playtesting - I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that Blizzard does little to no testing of Arena changes before they go live. For example, after Dragonmaw Poacher was banned less than a week after the set came out, it mysteriously reappeared in drafts a few weeks later when something unrelated was changed. No explanation or anything, it just started being draftable again. Had they done a few tests on their end about cards being offered, they would have seen this mistake (I would also argue that had they played a couple runs of Arena, they could have seen how stupid and unfun the card was and it should never have been offered in Arena to begin with, but that is neither here nor there). When KFT first came out, there was a small group of cards (I think around 7) that were just not offered in drafts. Once a reddit user (probably Tarrot) pointed this out, the issue was fixed. When they tried out offering synergy picks (if you don’t know what this means, don’t ask, it was horrendous) several years ago, they were widely panned and removed quickly. The idea was OK, but the cards chosen were terrible and had Blizzard actually done a couple drafts before implementing this change live, they would have known it was bad. The common thread here is that there has been little quality control. No professional scene - As far as I know, there has been no arena component of any professional or college tournaments. Magic includes limited in all of their pro tour events. Why can’t Hearthstone include a limited mode sometimes (either Arena or sealed deck or something else entirely)? This is something that could draw a lot of interest and excitement to the Arena. The front screen - It was a minor change, but a couple months ago, Blizzard moved Arena off the front screen when you open Hearthstone. It is now under the “modes” section. Sure, being next to battlegrounds is not a terrible spot right now, but to many of us in the Arena community, moving Arena off the main page while keeping Tavern Brawl there is a slap in the face. Poor Communication - In addition to the complete lack of communication on leaderboards, there have been other issues where Blizzard has just not given relevant information. When a new set comes out, will there be an offering bonus to the newer cards as has sometimes (but not always) happened in the past? If so, what will the offering bonus be? Sometimes there have been microadjustments or other changes without any notification to players. Right now (2/20/20 as of this writing) we are more than a week past when the usual arena rotation would be, and we don’t even know what new sets are being rotated in or even when the rotation will occur! These are things that could easily fit in patch notes or a blog post or something but we are not getting that. Part IV: How Blizzard Can Make Arena Great Again -BRING BACK LEADERBOARDS. It would also be nice to include some type of in-game prize for making them - perhaps a card back? -Come up with a schedule to regularly balance classes and stick to it. They have a great system for parity and they should use it! -Put buckets back in to increase decision making while drafting. Have fewer buckets (I would suggest 5 or 6 but I am no expert) and put a roughly equal amount of cards in each. Have arena experts decide how to bucket cards when a new set rotates in. -Have more arena events to increase interest in the mode! They used to have several on a semi-regular basis - taverns of time, wildfest, that weird event where everyone started 1-0. It would be cool to offer everyone more free Arena runs (even just one per new set would be nice and get people excited about the event or new rotation) and more publicity in general. They missed a golden opportunity for this a few weeks ago when the entire Galakrond’s Awakening set was available in Arena weeks before it was all purchasable. I do not know whether this was intended, but it could’ve been great to announce and let people know about it and get some folks in the Arena playing the new cards early! Even an Arena quest would be nice - something like win an Arena game or play 3 Arena games. They have quests for Tavern Brawl and some single player modes, so why not Arena? -Start thinking about implementing Arena or some type of limited event in high level tournaments. Get pros and popular players excited about the game mode again! -Implement some sort of in-game stat tracking for arena runs. They got it done in a month for battlegrounds. Arena has been waiting 6+ years. Part V: Responding to some anticipated counter-arguments “Why should Blizzard put any effort into Arena? It doesn’t make them any money! ” First off, Tavern Brawl and Battlegrounds completely invalidate this argument as both modes have frequent updates and explicitly make Blizzard zero money. Second off, this argument is false. The vast majority of Arena players are not infinite or soft-infinite. Most of them are not sitting on 30-50k gold reserves. The average run is slightly under 3 wins per run, and a small percentage of runs go 7+ wins. This means the great majority of runs are a gold sink for users. If users have less gold, they will probably spend more money on packs. Third off, there are other effects down the chain as well. I know that due to my positive experiences playing Arena, I have directly convinced two people to start playing and spending money on the game. I am not currently recommending Hearthstone to any of my friends. There are other people like me. Furthermore, it is up to Blizzard to find a way to make the mode profitable and I am sure they can figure it out. Wizards has done this just fine with drafting in MTG and MTG arena. “Why should Blizzard care? No one cares about or wants to watch Arena! ” It wasn’t too long ago that Kripp’s Arena streams often had 10k+ viewers and were amongst the most popular of all hearthstone streams. Last year there were several large money events run by Twitch Rivals that were exciting, engaging, and popular. Many top pros and streamers participated in the events and viewer excitement was high. There is clearly a market. “Arena is too random to be a serious, competitive game mode. ” While there is randomness involved (just as there is in constructed or any other card game), having success in arena requires considerable skill in both building your deck AND playing your games. The decisions you make matter on both the micro and the macro skill as the cards/combos are typically not good enough to erase all of your mistakes. MTG has included a booster draft component in all of their Pro Tour events for years now and most pro players will tell you that drafting a lot is one of the best ways to improve your overall skill. Furthermore, if the mode is so random, why are the same people always at the top of the leaderboards month after month? How are the top players always able to put up consistently excellent results? Furthermore, Blizzard puts way more effort into Tavern Brawl than they do Arena and that mode is random city. “Blizzard doesn’t even design cards for Arena” Of course they do. Every set has several cards which are obviously not designed for constructed modes. I might be wrong, but I don’t think that cards like Hippogryph, Blackwald Pixie, Fishflinger, Candletaker, Hench-clan Sneak, Former Champ, etc. are seeing much constructed play. These are curve-fillers designed to make Arena more balanced and enjoyable, and I would guess that there are some serious constructed players who don’t even know what these cards do. Arena is the mode where you get to play (almost) all of the cards rather than just a small subset! Conclusion Thank you for reading my long essay on this topic. I love Arena but I have been really dismayed by the changes that have happened over the past 6-12 months. I know I am playing the game and caring about the game less than ever and I know I am not alone in this. I see the incredible potential this game mode has and it bothers me that Blizzard does not. I have spent thousands of hours playing, discussing and reading about the Arena and I really want the best for this mode. I don’t think it would take much effort at all to get people excited to play Arena once again. Booster drafts have long helped the creators of Magic sell cards, retain players and garner excitement for their game and I see no why reason why Arena could not do the same for Hearthstone. I would love to get your thoughts and feedback in the comments! Tl;dr - Arena could be an incredible game mode but it is currently not. Blizzard has the tools to make arena awesome but they are not using them. This is sad.

Watch never rarely sometimes always movie soundtrack. Amy Adams is so beautiful and so talented. Watch never rarely sometimes always film. Back to selection Premiering today from Focus Features is the trailer for writer/director highly anticipated Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always. Produced by Adele Romanski, Sara Murphy and Rose Garnett, shot by Hittman’s Beach Rats DP Hélène Louvart, and edited by Scott Cummings, the film is described as “an intimate portrayal of two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania. Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) embark across state lines to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion. ” The trailer is set to a track by Sharon Van Etten, who the cast list notes, also plays a role in the movie. (Julia Holter scored the film. ) Never Rarely Sometimes Always  will premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Dramatic Competition and then be released by Focus on March 13.

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Normal People: Imagine meming world war III Nolan: Hasn't happened yet. Just saw that at my local theatre. It is Brillant. Finally a movie about the inadequate procedures in place that let young women suffer in College. Can't wait to see this. Watch never rarely sometimes always never. Happy voice 60's innocent time parent going around beating the children do not care if they are rape but when they are gone they become worried WTF. Never Rarely Sometimes Always Directed by Eliza Hittman Produced by Adele Romanski Sara Murphy Written by Eliza Hittman Starring Sidney Flanigan Talia Ryder Théodore Pellerin Ryan Eggold Sharon Van Etten Music by Julia Holter Cinematography Hélène Louvart Edited by Scott Cummings Production companies Tango Entertainment BBC Films Mutressa Movies Pastel Productions Distributed by Focus Features Release date January 24, 2020 ( Sundance) March 13, 2020 (United States) Country United States United Kingdom Language English Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a 2020 American-British drama film, written and directed by Eliza Hittman. It stars Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold and Sharon Van Etten. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020. It is scheduled to be released on March 13, 2020, by Focus Features. It was also selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival. [1] [2] Premise [ edit] Two teenage cousins from Pennsylvania embark on a journey to New York City following an unplanned pregnancy. Cast [ edit] Sidney Flanigan as Autumn Talia Ryder as Skylar Kim Rios Lin as Anesthesiologist Drew Seltzer as Manager Rick Carolina Espiro as Michelle/Financial Advisor Production [ edit] In April 2019, it was announced Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold and Sharon Van Etten had joined the cast of the film, with Eliza Hittman directing from a screenplay she wrote. Adele Romanski and Sara Murphy will produce the film under their Pastel Productions banner, while Rose Garnett, Tim Headington, Elika Portnoy and Alex Orlovsky will executive produce the film under their BBC Films and Tango Entertainment banners respectively. Focus Features will distribute. [3] Principal photography began in February 2019. [4] Release [ edit] It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020. [5] It is scheduled to be released in the United States on March 13, 2020. [6] Reception [ edit] Critical response [ edit] On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 28 reviews, and an average rating of 8. 88/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Powerfully acted and directed, Never Rarely Sometimes Always reaffirms writer-director Eliza Hittman as a filmmaker of uncommon sensitivity and grace. " [7] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 92 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". [8] Accolades [ edit] Never Rarely Sometimes Always competed at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival for the U. S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Neo-Realism and U. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize, with director Eliza Hittman winning for the former. [9] References [ edit] ^ "The 70th Berlinale Competition and Further Films to Complete the Berlinale Special". Berlinale. Retrieved January 29, 2020. ^ Dams, Tim (January 29, 2020). "Berlin Competition Lineup Revealed: Sally Potter, Kelly Reichardt, Eliza Hittman, Abel Ferrara". Variety. Retrieved January 29, 2020. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (April 15, 2019). "Focus Features, 'Moonlight' Outfit Pastel & BBC Films Team For Eliza Hittman Drama 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always ' ". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 15, 2019. ^ "Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always".. Retrieved April 15, 2019. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (December 4, 2019). "Sundance Unveils Female-Powered Lineup Featuring Taylor Swift, Gloria Steinem, Abortion Road Trip Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 4, 2019. ^ Obenson, Tambay (January 31, 2020). " ' Never Rarely Sometimes Always': Eliza Hittman Was Inspired by the Flaws of '4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days ' ". IndieWire. Retrieved February 3, 2020. ^ "Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 2, 2020. ^ "Never Rarely Sometimes Always Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 2, 2020. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 1, 2020). "Sundance Film Festival Awards: 'Minari' Scores Double Top Honors – The Complete Winners List". Retrieved February 2, 2020. External links [ edit] Never Rarely Sometimes Always on IMDb.

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