To many, Hearthstone is only partially a game to play. Half the time, it’s great to just kick back, relax and watch streams, highlights and tournaments. From this perspective, things take on a whole new meaning. You can appreciate decks that normally would be too stressful, frustrating or difficult in all their glory. A perfect example of this is the miraculous Cyclone Mage, in all its spell-synergy glory. But what makes Cyclone Mage such a good deck to watch? And how can Blizzard use this to give us more fun cards?
One of the key components to Cyclone Mage’s watchability is the sheer number of decisions and lines available to players. All the components exist in a dizzying web of synergies, anti-synergies and interactions. You want to put pressure on the board, hold combo pieces, generate cards in hand and play to your outs all at the same time. But unlike most combo decks, the combo pieces are not limited and discrete. Almost every card in the deck interacts with any other. Do you want to save the Conjurer’s Calling for Mountain Giant, or use it now to make 2 drops while charging your Mana Cyclone? Do you tempo Sorcerer’s Apprentice now or wait for Antonidas?
With so many decisions available, watching streamers in particular becomes fascinating. It’s great to see a pro player’s mind churn over all the myriad options available before the rope runs out. Making the optimal line involves knowing the cards in your deck, the matchup and your win condition perfectly. And even when things don’t work out, it’s often interesting to watch them mull over the lines not taken.
Most combo decks struggle from a lack of interactivity. When all the pieces come together at the right time, it can feel like a game of solitaire. And sure, this can happen with Mage too on a perfect draw. But most of the time, everything you do has intense interactivity with your opponent’s lines of play. The Mage almost never deals in OTKs or absurd aggro. Instead, it builds boards the opponent must deal with while occasionally accumulating burn to push the last little bit.
This means that Cyclone Mage is even fun to watch people play against. The sheer number of things to play around that can have a massive impact on the game means that the opponent always has an opportunity to show their skill. Got the read on the Sea Giant? Avoid developing. Feel as if they’re saving up for a combo? Put pressure and force them to waste pieces. This is particularly gratifying for tournament play, where you can see both sides of the game, where players make smart decisions, and where they go disastrously wrong.
Variety is the Spice of Hearthstone
RNG can get a bad rap. Sure, it’s frustrating to have your Astromancer summon Hir’eek. But the RNG variance in Cyclone Mage creates some really interesting moments and strategies. There are some really interesting and not too high power-variance in a whole lot of Cyclone Mage’s cards. Take the example of Magic Trick; its limited generation pool makes for a more reliable card that can still produce great moments. Similarly, using Conjurer’s Calling on a Sea Giant will always make big minions, but sometimes, you’ll get two Hakkar the Soul Flayers and will have to rethink your entire strategies.
This moments of RNGesus taking the wheel spice up otherwise mundane games, while also bringing a steady stream of content to highlight reel creators. There are some cases of unhealthy RNG (like the Mountain Giant/Grave Horror 50/50). But overwhelmingly, the RNG helps make Cyclone Mage one of the most entertaining decks to watch.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com
You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other TGH writers along with Alex.