Hearthstone is about to change in a big way. In addition to Update 10.2, which will nerf several of the game's big staples from the recent Kobolds & Catacombs expansion, there's expected to be a new set cards inducted to the Hearthstone Hall of Fame. These are cards from the Classic set deemed a little too valuable to a variety of decks. Let's define this using Blizzard's own words from the 2017 Battle.net post:
When cards show up too frequently in decks and are considered auto-includes, deck-building becomes more limited. Deck variety stagnates, potentially interesting build-around cards fall by the wayside, and the gameplay experience begins to feel less dynamic. Most cards should feel like situational additions to a deck, depending on the deck archetype the player is trying to build.
With another set rotation set to hit in the next couple of months, Blizzard will likely seek to send another batch of Classic cards away to Wild. And barring a change in philosophy, it'll likely follow the same ideas as last time. Those parameters include:
- Three Neutral cards and three class-based cards
- Cards that are used excessively
- Cards that hinder future design, because its players would rather use them than try newer decks, cards or strategies
Seeking to follow those parameters, Shacknews is going to take a stab in the dark at what the next batch of Hall of Fame cards will be. These guesses also take into the account the next batch of nerfs set to kick in later this week.
(3) Ice Block
Secret: When your hero takes fatal damage, prevent it and become Immune this turn.
This is an easy one, mostly because Blizzard has already hinted at this themselves in a previous blog post explaining Update 9.1. Ice Block has become something of a crutch for a lot of Mage players. Originally, Ice Block was meant to give players one last chance. Either win on this turn or face defeat.
But with newer cards released in the past year, Ice Block has gone from a spell that grants players one last chance to a spell that opens the door for ridiculous comebacks. Frost Lich Jaina is the main culprit, allowing for Elementals to siphon health from enemy Heroes and minions. Ice Block allows for players to get themselves out of lethal range, which likely wasn't what the spell was originally designed to do. Arcane Artificer exacerbated this problem, allowing Mage players to pick up high Armor totals on the following turn after their Ice Block was activated.
Ice Block is safe to head off into the Hall of Fame, just because Frost Lich Jaina and Arcane Artificer can help keep the Mage in a close game. It'll also discourage the strategy of sitting on an Artificer until the Ice Block gets popped, pushing those Mage players into more strategic uses of its ability.
(5) Doomguard (5/7)
Type: Minion - Demon
Charge. Battlecry: Discard two random cards.
The writing is on the wall for Warlock players, simply because they escaped the Update 10.2 nerfs completely unscathed. That should hint at Blizzard having grander plans to nerf the Cubelock deck and that will likely mean sending this long-time Warlock staple off into Wild.
The Cubelock deck type is a proven winner, packing the current meta at an alarming rate. It's the combination of the Carnivorous Cube with the aforementioned Doomguard that makes it entirely possible to wipe out opponents in a single turn. It's all too easy, thanks to Skull of the Man'ari/Possessed Lackey and the low-cost Dark Pact. It's a parade of 5/7 Demons with charge, without the drawback of discarding two cards.
Sending Doomguard into Wild forces Cubelock players to rethink they way they work. The deck type wouldn't be entirely dead, but the one-turn kill strategy would be. These Warlock players would have to veer towards a more control-oriented style, which is entirely do-able with tools like Hellfire, Amethyst Spellstone, Defile, and Twisting Nether still available. That's without even mentioning the big, burly Voidlord that has become a regular part of the Warlock's arsenal. Warlock would stay a potent class, but it wouldn't be the dominant force that it is on the current Ranked ladder.
Choose One - Gain 2 Mana Crystals; or Draw 3 cards.
The Ramp Druid has become incredibly powerful and even with the Jade Druid's reign of terror set to end with the next Standard rotation, there's still something to say about ramping up to 10 Mana Crystals quickly and bopping the opponent with Ultimate Infestation. Rumors of a curbed Ramp Druid have been making the rounds, with at least one of the Druid's tools rumored to go away. Wild Growth has been a lot of people's guesses, but I'm going to veer in a slightly different direction.
Nourish is another card that shows up in nearly every single Druid deck and is arguably more valuable than Wild Growth, especially in later turns. More and more, Druid players have been using it to bump themselves up by two Mana Crystals and if it shows up in a late draw, it draws them three cards and refreshes their hand, getting them right back in the game.
The Druid player still has plenty of tools to ramp up in the early game with Wild Growth and the newer Greedy Sprite. And for late card draw, Ultimate Infestation offers more than enough. Nourish seems too much like overkill and feels like a prime candidate to get sent off to Wild.
(4) Spellbreaker (4/3)
Battlecry: Silence a minion.
Hearthstone designers have frowned on Silence effects in the past, dating as far back as two years ago when they bopped a handful of Classic cards. The original explanation for the Ironbeak Owl and Keeper of the Grove nerfs was that the team didn't want to combine a Silence effect with efficient stats. Spellbreaker has flown in the face of this philosophy for years and it may be on the verge of getting whacked.
With Ironbeak Owl no longer viable because of its 2/1 stats, Spellbreaker has become a key minion in a number of decks. Hunters, Warlocks, Priests, and pretty much any aggro deck will run this 4-cost Silence machine to remove a Taunt obstacle and clear their path to victory. They can also use it to Silence minions with powerful effects, like a Bonemare target or Rin, the First Disciple.
With so many end-of-turn and Deathrattle effects, Spellbreaker is practically an automatic inclusion, which is just the kind of thing that Blizzard was looking to prevent. I'd expect Spellbreaker to head off into Wild and for players to be presented a choice: Do they want the Silence effect so bad that they're willing to take a chance on the nerfed Ironbeak Owl or will they find a different way to counter some of these effects?
(6) Gadgetzan Auctioneer (4/4)
Whenever you cast a spell, draw a card.
There is no deck type that has come back from the dead more often than Miracle Rogue. Even after Gadgetzan Auctioneer was nerfed the first time, the Miracle Rogue just kept on trucking. Even with the removal of Conceal, the Miracle Rogue somehow still survived. It's reached a point where it looked like Miracle Rogue would outlive every deck type out there. However, Blizzard still has one magic bullet in its chamber to end Miracle Rogue forever in the Standard meta and that's by formally retiring the Gadgetzan Auctioneer.
It hasn't just been Rogue making good use of this minion, either. Druid and Priest players have started packing in Gadgetzan Auctioneer to help with their card draws. For Priests, it's been invaluable for the Highlander Priest. For Druids, it's been a quick way to draw into larger and larger Jade Golems. There's no other card quite like it, allowing players to quickly and efficiently dig deep into their decks and pull out their win conditions.
Really, if any card is deserving of the "Hall of Fame" designation, it's Gadgetzan Auctioneer. This minion has done it all, dominating the Ranked ladder and helping decide championship tournaments. It has been a part of Hearthstone since its inception, but the time has come for new and exciting decks and it may finally be time to close up shop on this guy for good.
(9) Alexstrasza (8/8)
Type: Minion - Dragon
Battlecry: Set a hero's remaining Health to 15.
It was much easier to guess Legendary minions in last year's Hall of Fame class, just because Sylvanas and Ragnaros felt so omnipresent. There's a part of me that believes Blizzard would like to retire at least one Legendary and the one that comes to mind is Alexstrasza.
Alex has been another staple in Hearthstone, nearly since the beginning. She was a frequent staple of Freeze Mage decks, even before Ice Lance got inducted into last year's Hall of Fame class. But Alex's problem now, as it was back then, is that she feels like a mindless card. There's no reason to play pressure on opponents in the early to late game, because players can just drop Alex and set their opponents to 15 anyway. And while this is an expensive 9-mana play, most players can use it as a way to set up lethal for next turn.
The Alex two-turn kill combos are something I'm sure Blizzard would love to avoid dealing with when designing future expansions, encouraging players to try and either play control or aggro without having the Turn 9, 15 health crutch around to make the game feel more one-sided.
Those are some of our ideas for Hearthstone's next Hall of Fame class. I could also be crazy for some of these choices, so feel free to join the conversation and comment on what you think will get sent off to Wild with the next set rotation.