Google anti-hacking expert builds Hearthstone deck-prediction tool – but won’t release it

Hearthstone: better unhacked.

Google’s lead anti-abuse researcher has hacked Hearthstone. Elie Bursztein and wife Celine have built a tool capable of divining the cards in an opponent’s deck – but were persuaded by Blizzard staff not to publish their work.

The software uses data analysis to find “undervalued” cards, and exploits Hearthstone’s structure through a process of machine learning.

Bursztein revealed the tool at the Defcon 22 hacking conference in Las Vegas in August – where it came to the attention of Blizzard.

“Following Defcon we had a series of conversations with the Hearthstone team about our research,” said Bursztein on his blog. “They like our research on game/cards balance and are very enthusiastic and supportive about it.

“On the other hand, they were very concerned that our real time dashboard that can predict your opponent’s deck will break the game balance by giving that person (that is, whoever has the tool) an unfair advantage.”

Not only that, but Blizzard were worried that the tool would make the game “less fun” for hackers, who would lose the ability to make their own choices during matches.

“It was a difficult decision,” admitted Bursztein. “I invested a lot of our time building our real-time dashboard tool with Celine – but we agree with the Hearthstone team and will not release the tool publicly.”

I don’t think anybody wants to see Hearthstone’s metagame obliterated by machines. But we’re all kind of curious, yeah?

Thanks, CVG.

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