I promise, at some point, I’ll post about something other than a children’s card game. Next week, I’m going to make some NFL predictions (spoiler alert: I’m going to look like a homer… Go Pack Go) and I’ll probably go off on a tangent about the WWE because the Miz is just too good to ignore right now. But, for now, I’ll stick to the black hole where I waste my time that is Hearthstone. Yesterday, Blizzard released new cards from the One Night in Karazhan adventure, most notably Purify (on the “bad end”) and Menagerie Warden (on the “good end”). These are the cards on which I’m going to focus today, because I think they’re worth talking about for one reason or another.
First, Purify. If you’re reading this, chances are you were one of the people complaining about how terrible this card is and how Blizzard has no idea what they’re doing when it comes to designing cards. I hope that you’ve realized at this point that you’re wrong, because if you have, feel free to skip ahead to the part where I start talking about how Menagerie Warden isn’t all that broken. You should read that, because you might be level headed enough to read it and think “wow, that’s a great point, you’re so smart #Gotem”. If you haven’t realized you’re wrong, just go ahead and hit Shift F4 right now before the rest of the content here causes you to fly into a blind rage.
Anyways, right, Purify. So, if you haven’t been playing recently, the card that is Barnes has apparently rendered the game totally unplayable because of how stupidly broken it is. Full disclosure, I haven’t been playing much in the past few days because I’ve been enjoying life on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico (side note, if you’ve never been, you should absolutely go because it’s absolutely gorgeous and the people here are so wonderful to tourists, the food is great, the weather is tolerable and the pina coladas are top notch) but I’ve been reading the threads and it’s nothing but a god damn salt mine about this card. Which, I can’t say surprises me, since that’s exactly what I predicted last week, but either way, the cards effect of pulling out a 1/1 copy of a card in your deck is as powerful as advertised in advance. Now, ask yourself, would a card that costs 0 or 1 mana that silences one of your own cards make this better or worse? Go ahead, give yourself a minute or two, I’m going to grab a fresh slice of bistec and come back when you’re ready.
Alright, ready? Good. The answer is: THAT WOULD BE FUCKING INSANE. Right now, the only weakness with Barnes is that it can pull out a 1/1 copy of a vanilla minion. If your opponent gets a Deathwing or a Nefarian or even something like an Onyx bishop, it’s no big, because it’s just a 1/1. But if you have a 1 mana spell that silences it… well, now you have an extremely broken combo that makes silence Priest a tier 1 deck that’s just a miserable experience to play against. Oh, and you get to draw a card too, which is great. Now the card’s downside is gone and there’s a cycle. Plus, you get to add in cards like Ancient Watcher and Eerie Statue and make them viable. Everyone loves to bitch about the 4 mana 7/7 (which, actually, is closer to 6 mana but that would break the circlejerk), but a 5 mana 7/7 which cycles a card is way, way more broken. Now, this card is obviously trash in Arena, but I think that whole realm is past saving with releasing a few better cards for Priest, but that’s a different discussion for a different time. I’ll keep my thoughts short on this by saying we need to offer different cards at different rates, but the lead developer of the game has hinted they’d like to do that so I’m going to take him at his word.
So I think we can all agree Purify is a pretty solid card given the state of Barnes. At least I hope we can. If we can’t, allow me to piss you off even further by stating that Menagerie Warden, while it is a powerful card, isn’t necessarily broken. In fact, I think it was a pretty obvious decision by Blizzard to make this card. See, this Druid card makes a copy of a beast if it’s on the board. Most of the time, in the cases of a huge toad or an enchanted raven or something of that ilk, it’s not a big deal. You clean the beasts off the board before turn six so that there’s no value for the card and you make your opponent spend their entire turn playing a combo. However, in the case of say… a strangethorn tiger, this obviously becomes a huge problem. Since the tiger is stealth, it can’t be dealt with ahead of time, so when the warden comes out, it creates a second 5/5 body. Which means the board is now what is technically referred to as a “nightmare”. That’s the technical term at least.
But what if that’s exactly the point of the card? Bear with me here for a minute. Right now, the meta for this game is filled with very minion based, proactive, aggressive decks. Just look at the top of tempo storm . Zoolock, Aggro Shaman, Warrior, it’s all the same garbage. The board floods full of crap, you get drilled in the face, and there’s no way to turn it around. Now, with this one card, we have a direct counter to that garbage. You’re out-zooing the zoo, literally. On turns 6 and 7, the game flips on its head and the aggro decks are going to be out of gas. If things play out the way it appears they are playing out after precisely one day, then we’ll see this deck shoot to tier one. This card was obviously designed to push Beast Druid, which Blizzard has been doing for a while as evidenced by Savage Combatant and Mark of Y’Shaarj. Now they appear to have gotten their way. So, other than that, what does that mean?
I’m hearing “we’ve got a broken deck” and “this card is garbage” and “these professional game designers have no idea how to design a game”. Which is fine, except it seems like I’ve heard all of this before so many times about so many different things (which I’ve been teasing discussing for a while, so, you know what? change of plans, that’s the piece for next week). What if this combo was put directly in place to both slow down the aggressiveness of the meta, but also to encourage new types of decks to deal exactly with this combination? Control hunter with deadly shot can take care of a stealthed 1/1. Tinkmaster Overspark can handle it, and that card could use a push. Mage, which is absolutely nowhere in the meta other than tempo, can deal with it with Blizzard/Cone of Cold/Flamestrike. Barnes has the potential to end the game before it gets to this point. Taunt Warrior can build a wall and, with Protect the King, make the Druid pay for it. I’m sure there’s other decks out there that people who are much more creative than me can figure out if given time, so we’ll see what they can due.
It makes perfect sense too, when you think about it. The most broken cards in these decks (Power Overwhelming, Doomhammer, Fiery War Axe) are in the classic set and probably won’t get nerfed, so the best way to deal with them is to develop an entire deck archetype that defeats them. Sure, we could nerf them, but I think that goes against what Blizzard is trying to do with this game. Though they can, they don’t want to constantly be adjusting cards. They want to take certain aspects (like silence) out of the game, rather than tweaking one card or another.
Now, as always, I might be and probably am wrong, but I think we’re going to see Beast Druid rise to prominence and we’re going to see a giant shift in the meta to try to counter it. We might be entering a new age of anti-aggro stuff, but that’s very, very welcome to the person that’s sick of getting hit in the face over and over again by lightning bolts and Doomhammers. There’s a chance that getting smacked with stealthed tiger after stealthed tiger is even worse, but right now, I’m so sick of hearing “the elements will destroy you” that I’m willing to take my chances.