Practice makes perfect, and it’s clear that Blizzard’s Hearthstone team is getting better at its job. The latest cards are among the most interesting, flavourful and balanced additions to the game yet. This is expressed perfectly in the Boomsday Project’s Legendaries. But what made these new cards so well designed?
Staples were solid, not oppressive
It’s nice to get powerful “one of”s” that reliably do strong things in a variety of decks. However, there’s an inherent risk in this. Make staple Legendaries too strong and they become oppressive and omnipresent; just look at the original Doctor Boom.
But no Boomsday Legendaries seem overly powerful in too wide a spectrum of decks. Sure, there were solid and powerful cards like Flobbidinous Floop, Electra Stormsurge and Ziliax. But their power is limited both in impact and in scope. The Soularium is great in Zoo but you wouldn’t want it in Cubelock, Luna only reinforces Mages with low-cost cards and The Stormbringer can’t fit in Even Shaman. This is a healthy outcome not only by improving diversity, but by making deckbuilding decisions more nuanced and involved.
Build-arounds worked – but not too well
Just look at a card like Zerek’s Cloning Gallery, which recently became a core component in a rank 1 legend deck after being deemed worthless. Or the Boomship, which is now most often used not to tempo out big minions but as a game-ending Mecha’thun combo. While some fell flat (Hunters’ come to mind), others span off multiple new archetypes. The possibilities for Mecha’thun are near endless, and Lunara’s Pocket Galaxy can work in control, midrange or combo archetypes.
But none of these new build-arounds spiraled out of control, creating unstoppable combo archetypes; nor did they become the kind of swingy auto-includes for late-game decks that the Death Knights often were. By striking the perfect balance, Blizzard created a fantastic opportunity for deck-building creativity.
Interactivity, innovation and skill-testing
Above all, every Legendary was interesting and interactive in multiple important ways. Many did things we’ve never seen before, or took old concepts to a new level. Mecha’thun created OTK decks that had a fascinating win condition with plenty of opportunity for interaction. Myra’s Unstable Element gave players the new opportunity to completely destroy their own deck, either to gamble on a fast game end or to fill it with fun things. Even “straightforward” Legendaries like Floop, Electra and Ziliax are extremely skill-testing in how best to use them.
All in all, the Boomsday Legendaries are testament to the Hearthstone team’s growth in both confidence and ability. Here’s hoping the loss of iconic staff members doesn’t hinder their ability to do this well in the future.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com and PlayHearthstone on Twitch