Hearthstone is in rude shape right now, with a good amount of deck diversity on the ladder and a spooky expansion waiting around the corner. But there's always room for improvement, and one perennial complaint about the game is that it does a terrible job of tracking your stats. The only data the client exposes in-game is your total number of wins with each class, and overall across constructed and arena. Thin gruel, given that the game is well-suited to statistical analysis, with sites like HS Replay and Vicious Syndicate designed to give players an edge using data. There's also a range of deck tracking software which all use Blizzard's API to give you a ton of extra info and help ensure you know what's left to draw.
But until recently there was no official add-on worth using. That's changed with the launch of the Official Companion App for PC, which offers a comprehensive suite of features for the competitive player. But the problem for most of us is it only works on the China server (which is separate to the Asia server some western players also have an account on). Chua Zhihong, who's an expert on the Asian Hearthstone scene, recently made a Reddit post detailing the features which the App enables, and also translated the official press release. Here's what you get:
- A replay mode that can record up to 200 games. It even captures which cards you moused over, and enables you to skip straight to a particular turn.
- These replays can be shared with friends so long as they also own the app.
- A deck tracker and recommendation tool, which also lets you know how much dust you're missing if you want to build a particular deck. There's even a brief guide to how to play each recommended deck.
- As with other deck trackers, the official one will even help you eliminate which Secrets your opponent might have in play.
And here's a gallery of screenshots showing the app in action, which won't mean a huge amount if you don't speak Mandarin, but at least gives a sense of the design.
Though it's currently in beta, Zhihong says the app has "largely been working great" despite a little lag with the replay function. Honestly, it sounds sweet, and so obviously I want an English language version to use on the EU server. I've reached out to Blizzard to ask whether that's likely, and will let you know what I hear back, but I'm not expecting good news.
Hearthstone is operated in China by NetEase, a local company, because that's what's required by government regulation. Zhihong told me that the deal has quite a bit of latitude. For instance, Chinese players qualify differently for the Hearthstone Championship Tour, and minors can only play for a certain number of hours before they stop earning in-game gold. So it's likely the app is simply something NetEase wanted to create, and is free to do so under the terms of its contract.
Still, with in-game tournaments set to become a thing in the Year of the Raven, perhaps we can expect some more stats-driven features too. In the meantime I would strongly recommend using this deck tracker, the crutch I'm currently using to wobble around the middle of rank 2.