The Standard system has two essential parts. One is the latest two years of expansions. The other is the “Evergreen” set of Classic and Basic sets. While one constantly changes, the other remains (relatively) stable. Currently, the only changes made to Evergreen is to reduce it; to take cards away. But is now the time to start adding cards to Basic or Classic?
While it hasn’t been done before, there are compelling arguments to add cards to the Evergreen set. Since classes have recurrent weaknesses, cards on the same theme have to be printed repeatedly. Things like Warrior Whirlwind effects, Shaman/Paladin early game and Priest board-clears have to be made and remade over and over. This presents a number of problems.
For starters, power levels can be hard to judge. Certain cards can end up being far stronger or weaker than anticipated, and printing more of the same sort of card with variations increases that risk. Just look at Psychic Scream. What’s more, it presents a problem for Wild, as multiple of essentially the same card can lead to extremely one-dimensional decks.
While it’s unlikely that Blizzard will add to Evergreen, these cards might make good candidates.
Eternal Evolve for Shaman
Let’s start with Evolve; a fan favourite and staple of multiple Shaman decks. Evolve is great due to being a mass-buff spell that doesn’t push massive burst damage while creating unique and interesting game situations. Though Unstable Evolution and Deathseer Thrall are remaining for now, the simplicity and fun of Evolve makes it something that Shaman should arguably have as a core mechanic.
Adding Evolve to Basic or Classic would take pressure of Blizzard to eternally support the Evolve mechanic. Instead of reinventing the wheel every year, they can add more new and interesting mechanics or Evolve support to Shaman.
A Basic Warrior Taunt
Taunt has come to be a defining feature of the Warrior class. But this is a recent addition, the class has no Taunts in its Classic or Basic set. It might make sense to replace some of Warrior’s Basic or Classic cards with a Taunt or two. A solid mid-game option like Alley Armorsmith or Bloodhoof Brave, with their respective synergies with Armor and Enrage, would reinforce Warrior’s class identity. Giving Warrior more reliable mid-game stabilisation tools would be a plus too.
With Taunts made a core part of Warrior identity, Blizzard can focus on giving Warriors more support to its numerous disparate archetypes and synergies, that currently need all the attention they can get.
Priest board clears are the best example of Team 5 being forced to reinvent the wheel, but so is healing. Priest’s limited in directional healing due to Auchenai Soulpriest burst potential, and so can only be given limited forms of heal. As such, the Classic and Basic set contain far fewer Hero healing capabilities. After Year of the Mammoth, Priest will lose Priest of the Feast and Greater Healing Potion.
Either of those would be a good addition to classic; giving the class a far stronger self-heal identity. And, of course, it would allow more card slots to support interesting Priest archetypes.
It’s not just class cards that could benefit the game by going to evergreen. Neutrals could also be candidates. I’ve written before about the implementation of Dirty Rat being a vital and interesting tech card. However, its unique effect would be difficult and wasteful to replicate. Alternatively, an argument could be made for the return of anti-spell tech like Loatheb and his ilk. Or other tech cards not present in Classic or Basic, like secret removal. Either these get added to Evergreen, or they take up valuable design space in new expansions.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.
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