Ragnaros Day

Hey guys. Some of you may have realized I'm something of a nerd and gamer. I try not to mix that aspect of my life in with this blog, but today, I can't resit. I have to share the glorious news that today is Ragnaros Day. I suggest skipping this post if you don't care about video games.

Ragnaros is a character created by the video game company Blizzard, for its popular massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) named World of Warcraft (WoW). I know next to nothing about that game. I played it for an hour once a long time ago, but I don't remember anything of the experience.

The only reason I know of Ragnaros is Blizzard has made an online collectible card game (CCG) named Hearthstone which uses the lore of WoW as the basis of its own lore. In Hearthstone, Ragnors is an 8/8 minion with an effect that deals eight points of damage to a random enemy at the end of each of your turns:

The 8/8 on Ragnaros are its stats. The first 8 is how much "attack" power Ragnaros has. Ragnaros normally cannot attack, but if something attacks him, he will deal 8 points of damage to it.

The second 8 is Ragnaros's health. This is how much damage he can take before he dies. As he takes damage, this second number will decrease and turn red to indicate he has taken damage.

Ragnaros isn't the only card that matters for Ragnaros Day. There is also a card named Barnes. I know nothing about this card's lore, but what I do know is he is a 3/4 (has 3 attack power and 4 health) with an interesting effect. His effect is a "battlecry" effect, which means it triggers when you play him from hand:

As you can see, Barnes has the interesting effect of summoning a 1/1 copy of a random minion in your deck. This means he can summong a 1/1 copy of Ragnaros. It will have far lower stats than a normal version of Ragnaros, but it will still have the ability to deal 8 damage to a random enemy.

Now, in Hearthstone you use decks of 30 cards. This means to play Ragnaros naturally, you need to draw your one copy of him out of those 30 cards (you can only have one copy of each named, or "legendary," card like him in your deck).

You also need to have 8 mana for him. Each turn, your mana refreshes and increases by one up to 10. That is, on turn one you will have one mana. On turn two, you will have two mana. So forth and so on. The 8 at the top of Ragnaros's card, or the 4 at the top of Barnes, indicates its mana cost.

The point of this is to play Ragnaros normally, you need to draw the one copy you have of him in your 30 card deck. Alternatively, you could draw your one copy of Barnes and have Barnes happen to make a copy of Ragnaros (as opposed to any other creature in your deck). Once you've done either of these things, Ragnaros will deal 8 damage to a random enemy at the end of the turn. Ragnaros can hit either an opposing creature or your oppenent's HP directly.

I want to explain all this because today I had a strange streak of 10 games in Hearthstone. Here is the first:


The site that links to provides a service where people can watch "replays" of games played in Hearthstone. It doesn't look the same as an actual game looks, but it contains all the pertinent information. As you can see, on turn eight I use four of my mana to play Barnes, and Barnes makes a 1/1 copy of Ragnaros which proceeds to kill an enemy minion.

Two turns later, I draw Ragnaros and play him. I kill an enemy minion with my "hero power" (pay two mana to deal one damage to anything), leaving three enemy creatures on the board. Ragnaros manages to ignore all three and "randomly" hit my opponent in the face. This puts my opponent to 5 HP.

He responds to this by playing a dragon named Alextraza (which was added to his hand by a semi-random effect) that puts him back to 15 HP. On my next turn, I have an awkward situation. I have a card named Fireball that deals six damage to any target, my hero power that deals one damage and Ragnaros that deals eight damage to a random target. If all three effects hit my opponent's face, I will deal exactly 15 damage to my opponent and win. If I don't, my opponent's creatures will kill me on my opponent's next turn.

Naturally, I use my Fireball card and hero power on my opponent's face, giving me a one-in-five chance of winning the game and a four-in-five chance of losing it. Ragnaros is kind and "randomly" hits my opponent's face, winning me the game.

Here's the next game:


This was a long one. My opponent was playing a deck called "Control Warrior" that isn't popular right now because of the meta state of Hearthstone. I was surprised by this, and my deck is bad against it. I was behind for most of the game, but around turn 15 I turned things around. On turn 17, I played Ragnaros with no enemy minions, causing it to deal eight damage to my opponent's face.

On the next turn, my opponent played a special card called the "Golden Monkey." You can't include this card in your deck. You can only get it by running a card named Elise then managing to draw a couple special cards from your deck. Once you do so, you can play the Golden Monkey as a 6/6 minion that replaces all of the cards in your hand and deck with random "legendary" cards.

The details aren't important. What is important is there are currently ~60 legendary cards in the Hearthstone format I'm playing (there are two different formats, using different sets of cards). My opponent had three cards in his hand when he played the Ragnaros. That means he had three ~1/60 chances to get a Ragnaros of his own by "chance."

Naturally, he did. A couple turns later, when I had five minions on the board, he summoned his Ragnaros and had it "randomly" hit me in the face for eight damage, exactly the amount of damage he needed to win.

Now let's look at the next game:


On turn four, I played Barnes. He made a 1/1 copy of Ragnaros which proceeded to give my opponent a bunch of trouble. A few turns later, I drew Ragnaros from my deck and played it. The first turn he was out in this game, my opponent had eight health but instead of killing him, my Ragnaros killed the ony enemy minion on the board (this was a 1/2 chance of winning the game). I killed my opponent the next turn with cards I had drawn.

In the next game:


I played Ragnaros on turn nine. It failed to kill my opponent's one minion. Because he hit my opponent's face for eight damage, I was able to use two spells over the next two turns to just barely kill my opponent. Even better, my opponent managed to put me to 1 HP the turn before I killed him.

In my next game:


I was ahead in the game the entire time and had practically no chance of losing. I thought this might be the end of Ragnaros day, but on my opponent's last turn of the game, he went ahead and summone Ragnaros to accomplish absolutely nothing. In my next game:


I got ROFLstomped by my opponent without even seeing Ragnaros. I thought this was a sign Ragnaros Day was over. Then in my next game:


Ragnaros again failed to show up. I was content to take this as a sign Ragnaros Day was just a silly joke and nota real thing. Then I played another game:


I wound up losing this game, but when I played Barnes on turn four, he made a 1/1 copy of Ragnaros that dealt 8 damage to my opponent's strongest creature. That was huge, and if things had gone slightly differently after it, I could have won the game. This made Ragnaros Day seem a bit more believable, so I played another game:


I had Ragnaros in my hand from the start of the game. On turn nine, I was pretty far behind and played Ragnaros out of desperation. My opponent haf three minions on the board and 25 HP. Ragnaros ignored all three minions and hit my opponent for eight damage.

On the next turn, stuff happened and Ragnaros killed an enemy minion. Then turn 11 came along. My opponent was at 17 HP, and I drew a second card which would let me deal six damage to anything. With two of these in hand, I could deal 12 damage to my opponent and put him to five health. That's low enough Ragnaros could kill him. The problem is my opponent would have four minions on the board, meaning Ragnaros would have to win a one-in-five roll to hit my opponent in the face and win me the game.

Obviously, he did. Game number 10:


Found me with both Barnes and Ragnaros in hand early on, but I never needed or used Ragnaros. I actually won the game by turn seven, before I could have even played Ragnaros.

You might be wondering why I am posting all of this. The reason is simple. I've played many games with this deck, and prior to tonight, I rarely made use of Ragnaros. He might have seen play in 20% of my games, and in many of those, he didn't do much of anything. As for Barnes, he probably managed to make a 1/1 copy of Ragnaros in 2.5% of my games.

It is remarkable I managed to see Ragnaros this many times in only ten games. Even more remarkable, in most of the cases Ragnaros "randomly" selected the best target for his ability, even when he only had a 20-25% chance of doing so. This streak of luck was so incredible I couldn't stop laughing for nearly 20 minutes.

So naturally, I had to share. For those of you who don't like video games or care about Hearthstone, tough luck. You've read this far into a post about them. You have nobody to blame but yourself.

For everybody else, please take a moment to celebrate Ragnaros Day with me.


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