Boomsday is bringing mechs, experiments and explosions galore. But with an expansion of the card pool comes a threat from some of the Witchwood’s most powerful build-arounds. Will Genn and Baku trap Hearthstone’s developers into making Odd and Even decks dominate the meta?
A Wild warning
If you think this might be far fetched, just take a look at Wild. The primary disadvantage of Genn and Baku is not tempo; the hero power upgrade makes up for an inability to expend all your mana on cards. Instead the problem is card pool. In picking Genn or Baku, you’re locking out half the cards in the game.
However, the massively increased card pool of Wild can show what may be in store for standard. With so many more options, Odd and Even decks suffer less. You can see the impact on the meta directly. The top 3 decks in Wild right now are Odd Paladin, Odd Rogue and Even Shaman according to Vicious Syndicate. More odd and even decks populate the rest of the top two tiers. Overall, more than 25% of the ladder relies on Genn and Baku, representing almost every aggressive strategy in the format.
So why might a similar fate befall Standard?
Between a Baku and a Genn place
Unfortunately, there’s a very obvious reason Team 5 can’t avoid making either Genn or Baku significantly stronger. An expansion requires strong cards to make an impact on the meta. But unless we get fractions of mana, every card Blizzard releases will either be even or odd. Naturally, this presents a dilemma.
Every neutral card Blizzard releases may benefit Genn or Baku decks, depending on its mana cost. To make matters worse, even class cards aren’t safe. Classes like Paladin and Warrior see success with both Odd and Even versions. But the expansion will need to include strong cards for classes like Paladin or Warrior. So how can Team 5 avoid making Genn and Baku overpowered?
Splitting the synergies
One option is to print powerful synergistic cards that fall across odd and even cards. Say you have a new Flnub tribal. “Flnub Warrior” could be a potent card that is extremely strong combined with “Flnub Inspirer” which buffs all Flnubs. If you make Flnub Warrior 1 mana and Flnub Inspirer 2 mana, then odd and even decks will both be unable to utilise their combo potential.
Similarly, Team 5 can create cards that do not fit with the game-plan of the Genn or Baku deck they’d synergise with. Odd Warrior is inherently extremely defensive, so printing an aggressive Odd-cost Warrior card is a safe option. On the flip side, making an odd-cost Control card will likely not make Odd paladin any scarier than it is already.
The other option is simply to embrace Odd and Even decks. Hearthstone often relies heavily on draw RNG. But the consistent nature of Genn and Baku hero powers reduces the floor of drawing dead; no matter what, you’ll still have your OP hero power. Similarly, the lack of a 1-2-3 curve makes the ceiling of ridiculous draws less overwhelming for the opponent.
Maybe if Genn and Baku do take over, it won’t be such a bad thing. More consistent decks, and a greater variety of class options, may make it an interesting meta. And no matter what, combo decks that rely on specific tools will still likely shun them to include the cards they need.
I for one, may end up welcoming our new Genn and Baku overlords. We’ll all just have to do our best to unpack them…
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.