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Do Tavern Brawls need a ban list?

Tavern Brawls were one of the most fun, generous and inventive additions to Hearthstone. Not only does it provide a quick way to earn a weekly pack and complete quests, it’s also a welcome change from ladder. The varied rules creates a perfect environment for experimentation and testing of potentially hilarious interactions. Unfortunately, this party atmosphere can dampen quickly. Certain cards are enthusiastic spoilsports and can often come in and ruin the fun.

While Tavern Brawl is interesting partly due to its wild freedom, a few cards have repeatedly proved to have game-breaking synergies. Should Tavern Brawls ban certain cards?

Wild adventures

Tavern Brawls
Wild Tavern Brawls means you can bring back old obsolete concepts; but the problem cards will stick around too

Part of the fun of Tavern Brawl is the ridiculous and interesting interactions that it throws up. This means that in constructed brawls, there is full access to all cards from all sets. On the plus side, this can lead to old, irrelevant wild cards like Emperor Thaurrisan, Sylvanas and Baron Rivendare.

Slightly less encouraging is how problematic cards like Flamewaker or Patches the Pirate will be, supposedly around forever. This can severely limit the types of Tavern Brawl, as many of them can be easily abused. If we want to see more inventive Tavern Brawls that allow multiple copies of cards or generate cheap spells, decks that revolve around these cards may predictably dominate.

Is more freedom better?

The biggest argument against any kind of ban list for Tavern Brawls would be that it goes against the spirit of the format. Tavern Brawl is all about the fascinating and powerful interactions that can arise from unique rule-sets. Banning cards risks impinging on that joyful insanity in a restrictive and arbitrary way.

Not only that, but Tavern Brawl is all about testing synergies and effects that may be added to the game in the future. Excluding specific cards can let potentially game-breaking combinations go unnoticed, leading to problems further down the line.

De Facto restrictions

Tavern Brawls
It’s hard to innovate when you’re facing down up to seven 1/1s with charge immediately

However, it could also be argued that the opposite is true. By leaving all cards available, a few high-powered synergies suppress genuine creativity.

For instance, if every spell-giving effect’s instant and obvious synergy is Flamewaker, then it crowds out other interesting strategies and makes every spell-related brawl seem similar. If Flamewaker were banned for such brawls it could allow far greater variety in deckbuilding and more interesting and entertaining Tavern Brawl Matches.

Similarly, it’s hard to test interactions when every other game ends with one player dead on turn five. Restricting some cards with obvious and overpowered synergies could allow for less flashy edge cases to be examined in more depth.

We have the technology

Such bans would be relatively easy to achieve. Team 5 have already shown they can restrict cards on a unique, per-brawl basis. The recent “A Peek to the Past” brawl disallowed all non-basic, non-classic cards as well as all Epics and Legendaries. This means that a per-brawl specific banned cards list could be added relatively easily. This could only be reserved for the most egregious serial problem cards, like Flamewaker in Spell-based brawls, Patches in duplicate brawls, or even Lorewalker Cho in co-operative brawls.

While such bans would be a restriction on the craziness of certain brawls, it would make the Tavern Brawl experience far less repetitive, while remaining a great way to test wacky interactions (and grind gold, of course).

Artwork courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via

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