On April 26, 2016, Hearthstone changed forever – in perhaps its most dramatic way since launch. Much like other collectable card games, Hearthstone has introduced a rotation system by which certain cards are rotated in and out of the game every year. The basic and classic sets of cards will remain viable forever, but outside of those specific cards, only cards released within the last year will be permitted in competitive play. If you are just playing Hearthstone on rare occasions, fear not – all of your cards are still playable in the alternate, non-competitive format (“Wild”).
For the first year of the new format (“Standard”), we will be losing all of the cards from the Naxxramas adventure (Naxx) and the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion (GvG).
With Standard and the newest expansion (“Whispers of the Old Gods”) now upon us, I wanted to look back and discuss some of the old cards I will miss the most. While many players point immediately to large cards like Dr. Boom, Antique Healbot, and Sludge Belcher, I would like to highlight some cards that, while less grandiose, still played a large role in shaping the Hearthstone meta.
Goblins vs. Gnomes
Mad Scientist was, perhaps, one of the most innovative cards in the game when it first appeared. Up until this point, secrets in Hearthstone were largely unplayed. They were simply too slow, and far too predictable. However, not only did Mad Scientist hold his own as a 2/2 on board, but his ability to cheat out secrets made him a virtual auto-include in all Mage and Hunter decks. All of the sudden, players realized how powerful secrets could be if they were cheated out using the Mad Scientist’s deathrattle. With Mad Scientist leaving the standard rotation, players will again have to play secrets at value. This will certainly hit the Hunter and Mage classes hard and force players to reconsider the value of secrets in decks.
Not many people are talking about Mechwarper’s retirement from the standard rotation. However, not only is Mechwarper an interesting card, but its elimination essentially destroys all attempts to create decks focused around the mech synergies. Sure, most of the best mechs are also leaving with GvG, so perhaps Mechwarper is mostly symbolic, but I for one am sad to see the mech tribe go so quietly into the night and never truly receive its due. While some classes experimented with mechs (like Mage and Shaman), it always seemed as though the mech decks were just one or two good cards away from being something powerful – and more importantly –fun.
If you were to look up “Zombie Chow” in the metaphorical Hearthstone Dictionary, its definition would read “The #1 card that new players do not understand how to use.” To many players, Zombie Chow just seems like a bad deal. Why would you want to heal your opponent for 5 when the point of the game is to kill your opponent? Aren’t you just helping him win? No! Zombie Chow was great because it allowed players to control the board right from the start. It gave control players a way to combat aggressive early drops, because after all, a control player is not concerned with the health total of his or her opponent. Losing Zombie Chow is a serious loss for the control players, and I would argue just as much so as the loss of Healbot or Sludge Belcher.
Loatheb is probably my favorite card in the game, and might be one of the best designed cards Blizzard has ever thought up. There are very few effects in the game that manipulate the amount of mana other cards cost, and almost none that do so and are not subject to silence effects. Loatheb was, simply put, an ingenious idea that I hope we can see more of in the future. The ability to lock out your opponent from spells, thereby preventing large board clears and tempo swings, was often enough to seal out a game. As an avid Freeze Mage player, I often hated seeing Loatheb plop down onto the board, but I think moving forward, I will miss the card more than any.
As always, I encourage your comments and questions below. If you want to send me a question directly, or you want some help in-game, feel free to email aPurpleTrain@gmail.com. Until next time, good hunting!