Tell me how things have been going for you. It feels like you’ve gone from being in the mix of content creators to now being one of the big streamers. What do you you attribute that success to?
I guess a bit of luck, a bit of hard work and just understanding the community. I’ve been making content from the very beginning. I started off making those infographics, those pretty pictures. I did that for a few months. Then I tried video and that got picked up. Then I dabbled in a bit of streaming, and it’s blown up in the last few months. Now I’ve been trying to play more competitively as well.
Why? Most competitive players go the other way, and move into being personalities. It seems like you have to play meme decks to be a successful streamer.
It’s true. If you look at the competitive players streaming, a lot of them have slowly switched over to ‘I’m going to play this wacky deck.’ I’ve talked to competitive players and they’re like ‘I would never play meme decks, I only care about winning.’ Then a few weeks later, I see them playing Yogg-Saron over and over again. You kind of have to.
You’d go crazy otherwise, right?
For sure. That’s one of the big discussions in Hearthstone. How much fun versus how much serious strategy do you want? Most people just want to see fun decks. Because at tournaments you see all the strong, good plays from the top-level guys. But when you’re just trying to relax with a stream, let’s play something fun, something with a bit of randomness or a wacky win condition. That’s how Twitch has been with Hearthstone.
At times I’ve felt you’ve started to look a little less happy-go-lucky on stream. Have you felt burnout start to creep in?
Yeah, 100 percent. Hearthstone is a great game, but I don’t think it’s a game you can play eight hours a day with a smile on your face. There’s a lot of things that happen—topdecks, bad RNG—that can get to you, and you have to deal with Twitch chat laughing at you the whole way.
Does that bother you sometimes?
Twitch chat is a bit results-oriented. When they see you get punished by a certain card, even though you made the right play by not playing around it because you can’t afford to, Twitch chat kind of focuses on the outcome. Different streamers handle it differently. I know some streamers always have a smile on their face, and always try to be positive. I used to be like that, but after a few months, you know what, if you talk shit and I don’t agree with you and it’s unreasonable, I’m going to ban your ass.
Have you found that mixing up some other games has helped? You’ve been playing a bit of Battlegrounds.
Yeah, I’ve been doing four or five hours of Hearthstone and three or four hours of Battlegrounds. The great thing is a lot of the Hearthstone guys love Battlegrounds as well. There’s been long eight-hour sessions of me, Frodan, Reynad, Dog, Trump, Raven—we’ll just play Battlegrounds for hours and it’s a lot of fun. And it does help break up the monotony of playing the same game for such a long period. There’s actually a small element of luck in the game too. Reynad is pretty chill, although some of the salt does leak out and Twitch chat will roast him for it. ‘He topdecked sniper rifle BabyRage’ kind of deal.
That’s a good game for memes too. Not tempted to go into the Battlegrounds business?
It's tempting. Recently I hit number-one on the and number-one on the playing that game, so there’s definitely some potential there. But it’s also very high skill cap, some of the top players are so good at that game. It’s very intense, it’s very watchable. My mom and sister, they don’t understand Hearthstone, but when I play Battlegrounds, they’re like ‘he’s hiding and he wants to kill that guy.’
‘We’re so proud of him.’
[Laughs] ‘Good job, son.’ But yeah, stuff like that is more accessible.
How’s your relationship with Reddit these days?
Reddit can be great and it can be terrible, like anywhere on the Internet where a group of different people come together. Some days they love you, some days they don’t like you so much. I try not to go there too often because I’m easily influenced by their opinions. Like, ‘oh, they hate this card? Well I’m going to start hating this card.’ And it’s not because I hate it, it’s because Reddit hates it.
So I actually don’t check Reddit that much unless it’s something regarding me specifically. Lately they’ve been picking on Vicious Fledgling and Quest Rogue, and I actually think Quest Rogue is not that bad. And Vicious Fledgling, in Arena, I don’t have that much experience.
What cards would you send to the Hall of Fame next?
Ice Block is a disgusting one. My god, the amount of games where I get frustrated because my opponent plays [Kabal Courier] or [Primordial Glyph] into Ice Block, it drives me nuts. It makes you feel a bit helpless. No matter what you do, he can have one health, he can have 30 health, you’re not killing him that turn no matter what. And you know the Pyroblast is coming at your face next turn. I don’t love the way Ice Block has been used. Some people have been talking about Gadgetzan Auctioneer, but I don’t have a big preference against it, and the only two classes that really utilize it are Rogue and Druid, and that’s mostly because of Preparation, Innervate and Counterfeit Coin. Ice Block is probably what I’d take out first.
It’s an exploit because you disconnect your opponent and you get a free win. And it’s a two-card combo that costs three Mana to pull off. The bar was really low to do it.
When you discovered it, were you hesitant to test and cover it?
So, it was already public and someone messaged me saying I should test it out. And when I tested it, I didn’t know it was going to crash the game, and I didn’t know it was going to not only crash, but give you the free win.
Were you banned for posting that then?
I didn’t post a video, I streamed it.
Oh, and someone clipped it?
Yeah, someone clipped it and posted it on Reddit. It’s always hard when you work with Blizzard because they technically have a lot of power that I don’t think they’ll ever use. And by power, I mean they could just ban every single one of my Hearthstone accounts forever. Just everytime I do a test, ‘ban, ban, ban, ban.’ But I don’t think they’ll do something like that because it’s a bit unreasonable. And Blizzard has been reasonable.
And they’ve worked with you in the past. You did a video about Un’Goro interactions before that set came out.
Yeah. Whenever me and Blizzard work together, it’s really well-received, very positive. The viewership and how people react to it is great because they know I’m someone who really gives Blizzard a lot of shit.
And they seem to enjoy putting you in ‘Blizzard jail’, so it’s a nice cops and robbers relationship.
Yeah, exactly. They know when Blizzard does mess up in any way, I’m always going to call them out. And I think Blizzard knows that when I do it, it’s not done maliciously.
It’s from a place of love.
It’s from a place of love, which is why they’re willing to work with me on Un’Goro, on Gadgetzan. They could easily say ‘well, we don’t like Toast because he talks shit about us.’ But yeah, I’ve talked to the senior guys at Blizzard, I know a lot of them enjoy what I do. Sometimes they tell each other ‘hey, look at Toast’s video because he makes a great point.’ It does get a bit hard when you get a bit closer to Blizzard, because it’s like ‘I know Steve who works in QA, and if I release this video, Steve’s going to work overtime for three days.’
And you’re like ‘Fuck Steve, I’ve got to make that bank.’
[Laughs] Yeah, I’ll buy him dinner next time I see him. But it’s all trying to balance it, and so far I think I’ve been doing a really good job. I don’t think Blizzard has ever pressured me into doing something. The exploit kerfuffle is probably the first time where there was a bit of conflict, and we managed to work it out.
Do you think that since Ben Brode became game director, Blizzard has been better about the community stuff? They seem more open.
Definitely, Blizzard has made a lot of improvements. I think the worst it’s ever been was [The Grand Tournament] and right before The League of Explorers. There was zero communication, long periods of silence and just content droughts. No balance changes. And when you look at what’s happened last week with the summer festival where they’re actually just doubling everyone’s gold, they’re nerfing Quest Rogue, now and expansion announcement and the balanced meta. I think Blizzard has been doing a great job, especially these last two expansions, at communicating and doing events. And then they did the Fight Promoter giveaway. It’s all these little things.
I want to see them give away new one-off cards occasionally, like with Volcanosaur, where everyone was playing it for a day.
Yeah, exactly. And they’re giving out free Legendary heroes for the new expansion.
Because they messed up not giving away a quest.
Yeah, that would have been nice. But yeah, Blizzard has been on point so far. I kind of want them to screw up somehow so I can make a YouTube video about it.