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The Zombie archetypes

archetype

There were quite a few decks that never really became viable despite the developers’ continual attempts at bringing them to life. These archetypal Zombeasts only serve to eat up class card slots in multiple sets, and it looks like a trend that is set to continue with Kobolds and Catacombs.

Old kids on the block

It often feels like Hearthstone’s card design focuses a bit too much on creating specific archetypes that some members of Team 5 really, really would like to force into existence. This can be problematic for a card game with such small sets and is definitely a contributing factor in the ever-quickly solved metagames of Standard. It doesn’t take much experimentation or thinking to nail down 25-28 cards of, say, a Jade deck: search for a special word in your collection (hint: starts with “J” and ends with “ade”) and dump in every card you find, and you’re pretty much good to go.

While Jade Druid remains strong, and understandably no class has received a new golem-producing card to this day, there were other attempts at outright creating specific decks throughout the years. In a way, they all teach us valuable lessons about card games.

Bestiality is a crime

While this particular tribe used to be exclusively Rexxar’s domain, the first expansion of the game intended to bring Beast-related synergies to Druid. They just slapped the tag on Druid of the Claw with the arrival of the first proper expansion. They also printed some worthless cards like Druid of the Fang (seven attack – literally unplayable) and Malorne (also unplayable). Later sets gave you a 2/5 or 5/2 Beast for three mana, the absolute overkill that was Menagerie Warden and then Mark of Y’Shaarj in Whispers of the Old Gods.

This was, of course, partly motivated by the strength of the core Druid cards. Force of Nature and Savage Roar were omnipresent throughout the game’s history until the former’s eventual nerf, and Druid has still remained a high-tier option ever since. This means they had to give janky alternative cards for the class that didn’t fit its primary playstyle. While this is certainly logical, one has to wonder why it took them so long to adjust the combo considering it was an auto-include in every single Druid deck for years. Taunt Warrior is a very similar story, except it has actually been brute-forced into existence for a short while thanks to the quest, and even that didn’t last particularly long.

Discard these cards

The aforementioned mechanic has been a part of Warlock’s arsenal since the very beginning of Hearthstone. It was, and mostly still is, exclusive to the class and revolves around exchanging value for tempo. Most of these cards were too conservatively statted to see play and the ones that did (Soulfire and Doomguard) only found a home in Zoo in the early days.

In an inexplicable decision, the developers decided to transform it into a synergistic concept that somehow tried to re-feed some of the lost value to your hand, either by drawing a card on death with Darkshire Librarian or summoning the discarded card itself with Silverware Golem. The same idea was behind the class quest and Clutchmother Zavas in Un’goro and Blood Queen Lana’thel in the latest set. It never got off the ground for reasons that seem obvious to everyone but the people who designed these cards.

The main problem with such a misguided attempt is that it eats up a significant chunk of the small amount of class cards in a given release, and if they coalesce around an ineffective archetype, fans of the class hardly get anything to play with. Discardlock’s supporting cast took up over a third of all Warlock cards in the last two sets, not to mention two of the three they received from the Karazhan adventure, and it still hasn’t seen play and most likely never will. Again, this would be alright if you had more cards released or the class was in a stronger position, but this seems like quite the case of overkill with Warlock struggling greatly as it is.

Winter is here

Perhaps the most egregious example of the forced archetypes is Freeze Shaman, a concept so outlandish that it didn’t even reach meme status despite eating up seven(!) of Thrall’s class cards in the aptly named Knights of the Frozen Throne set. As the saying goes, those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Based on the developers’ comments, they will keep pushing the envelope with this concept that was clearly doomed on arrival. They might also just give a Drakonid Operative-level card to Discardlock to make sure it gets its time to shine before it gets chucked into the dustbin that is known as Wild…

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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