The Hearthstone Championship Tour is rapidly approaching its summer incarnation. A host of skilled opponents will seek out any advantage they can to get a better shot at the trophy. While skill will play the biggest role, the metagame may thwart many. Several of the most powerful decks and strategies have high levels of RNG built into their win condition. Shudderwock Shaman, Quest Warrior and Taunt Druid are all top performers that risk turning vital games into a coin flip.
8 Damage Roulette
One offender will likely be Quest Warrior. Though its winrates and playrates have dropped recently, Fire Plume’s Heart is still a solid pick, especially as part of an anti-aggro lineup. With favourable winrates against aggro powerhouses like Paladin, great tech against Druids and the ability to counter popular Control killer Miracle Rogue, we’re likely to see a decent amount of 8 damage Hero Powers.
But this gameplan is by no means an inevitable win condition. A great deal will depend on the Hero Power hitting the right target. This is especially true in the ever-present Cubelock matchup. If the Hero Powers consistently hit face, then Cubelock has nowhere near enough healing to beat down the Warrior before succumbing to volcanic flames. But if Sulfuras hits 1/3s and Cubes, then the Warrior won’t have time to kill the Warlock before they’re beat down with Gul’dan. As such, expect multiple games to come down to one in three or 50/50 Ragnaros shots.
The Witching Hour Gamble
Hadronox Druid is a popular ladder and tournament deck due to its unstoppable ramp and ability to grind all manner of decks behind wall after wall of taunts. The deck’s weakness lies in its Witching Hour. Part of Quest Warrior’s strength is its ability to disrupt these with Cornered Sentry. However, similar to other counters like Hex and Polymorph, whether Witching Hour summons a board of taunts of a harmless 1/1 is entirely down to chance.
This will almost certainly decide games. There’s very little that can deal with a Cube with two Hadronoxes inside hidden behind a Taunt wall. But if the Witching misses, this not only means there’s no threat of a lethal, but it also can’t stop lethal in the same way. To make matters worse, the first Witching Hour dilutes the pool for the second, meaning someone who got lucky or unlucky the first time will be more likely to continue their fortune or misfortune on the second.
You Talk the Talk, but Can You Walk the Shudderwock?
Shudderwock Shaman is over-represented for its winrate on ladder, but its strengths should not be understated. Hex gives it an edge over Hadronox Druids, and its endless stream of Shudderwocks can crush any deck that runs too slow. It’s likely to find a home as part of an anti-control lineup. But Shudderwock’s anti-control potential is hampered by a random built-in failure rate.
When the deck’s namesake goes through the played battlecries in a random order, it’s vital that the Saronite Chain Gang effect happens before Grumble the Worldshaker’s. If not, the Shaman will likely be completely bereft of resources to win the game. However, if Grumble occurs after Saronite, it creates an endless stream of 1 mana Shudderwocks. These are all but guaranteed to close out the game.
The end result is that, short of copying Saronites, Shudderwock has a 1/3 chance to simply fizzle out. As such, it is extremely likely that we’re going to see players lose games thanks to this intrinsic failure possibility. This can be adjusted to an extent by trying to duplicate Saronites. But in the end, there will always be a good chance of it just not working .
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.