To Start a Poem, because why not?
Some cards are boring,
Some are exciting,
Some get you snoring,
(Cough, cough, Justicar)
Some kill you faster than lighting.
This article is my about me,
Cause I don’t know what you like,
Read on and you will see,
Which cards give me shivers at first sight!
In prose I write better,
I am kidding you not,
I only wrote one poem to try to get her,
(Yes a girl, yes it failed, I was in middle school)
Since then of poems I haven’t written a lot.
Hope you enjoy the read,
And make sure to buckle up,
Dismount from your Dreadsteed,
And of get of tea or coffee get a cup!
If you are asking yourself why I decided to start the article with a poem the answer is simple, I was tired after a long day of work and I was feeling vaguely poetic. Before starting the article, I thought it would be fair to briefly explain what I’m writing about, the poem doesn’t really explain much about my intentions. When talking about my five favourite cards, I will both give the reasons for my opinion and some card analysis to accompany the discussion. This is to not base the article on just personal preference. I also added a deck-list which I enjoy playing next to each card that includes the said card, this is if you want to try them out. I hope that my analysis will both be enjoyable to read and give you some insight which might help you understand better some aspect of the game. I believe understanding how a card fits in a class is always useful. I will say, it had been a while since I played with most of these cards and I had a blast playing with them again!
I love Mage, it is my favourite class in the game. Spell based control decks are my go to decks when I want to enjoy my Hearthstone experience at its peak. I had a really hard time choosing which card I would pick from the various Mage sets, there were quite a few cards that nearly made the cut for the list. Honourable mentions include: archmage-antonidas, rhonin, forbidden-flame and echo-of-medivh. These cards are all cards which I would claim are amongst my favourites. In the end though I had to go for a card advantage effect, this is my favourite mechanic in the game (I am a disciple of value like Drumpf). Thus, the choice was between cabalists-tome and ethereal-conjurer, the latter won by just a little bit thanks to the fact it has the wonderfully thought out Discover mechanic.
The reason I like card creating effects is that, in card games, concealed information is extremely valuable and fun to play with. When you create a new card it should make your opponent have a much harder time to be able to guess what he has to play around. Consequentially, this enables you to mind game your opponent making him think you chose a particular card and forcing him to play around certain cards, enabling you to have an information advantage. For example, you could ping a minion to four health in order to mind game the opponent in thinking he has to play around flamestrike, even if you do not have the card in hand or in your deck. Also consider that adding cards to your deck gives you wiggle space when managing resources. What this means is that you have to use your creativity to be able to solve situations which you might have not encountered before. vaporize, spellbender, and hell even shatter! Can all potentially be the right choice given the right situation. This alone for me is super fun, it makes every game feel unique. Sometimes, one gets bored of the thousandth Shaman mirror!
Also to consider, and this applies to all the cards in this list, is that the card is not a fit for a specific archetype but it lets the players be creative an experiment with different decks. I find cards like menagerie-warden boring because it is obvious in which decks they fit, you put it in a Beast Druid alongside stranglethorn-tiger and that is it. On the other hand, Ethereal Conjurer could be a fit for different types of decks: control, spell heavy and even tempo decks. It is up to the player to discover how to use the effect at its best! I think that card designers should stick with card design instead of trying to make decks work by forcing the introduction of overpowered tools for an archetype. That being said, I want to clarify that I am not against cards which fit in a single archetype, I realise these are sometimes needed in a card game. I just think designs like Ethereal Conjurer are more exciting to play around with when compared to cards like Menagerie Warden.
The last thing I wanted to mention are the stats. With 6/3 in stats it means that it is never safe to develop this card, the opponent will usually have an answer to deal with it. Consequentially, this means that you need to plan ahead in order to not lose on the tempo you are potentially granting to the opponent, making consideration about the macro game-plan a must when playing the crad. This is always cool because it puts more decision making in the hands of the players. Overall, I love this card and I will be really sad when it rotates out next year.
shadowcaster is pretty unique, there is no one card which has an effect comparable with it. When looking at the card one could be tempted to say it is a 4/4 with attached a shadowstep but this, in my opinion, would be a mistake. Making a 1/1 with the same card text as the targeted creature is much more powerful than bringing the card back in hand, this is if your aim is to just replicate an effect. malygos, antique-healbot, sylvanas-windrunner and brann-bronzebeard are just a few examples of cards which benefit much more from Shadowcaster than Shadowstep. Additionally, the fact you leave a threat on board means you are not losing card advantage when playing the card, the opposite is actually true since you can develop a 4/4 whilst setting up for your future combo turns.
The main reason that Shadowcaster is one of my favourite cards ever printed, is that it is a combo card which can fit in many different Rogue archetypes. I am quite the combo deck fan! The first synergy which obviously comes to the eye is the one with Brann Bronzebeard, I think we have all seen at least once an infinite chain of Shadowcasters be played. Apart from that, the card can also be coupled with Deathrattles. Playing a second Sylvanas as a 1/1 is both troubling to deal with and problematic for the future since you can get a second one when you revive Deathrattles with nzoth-the-corruptor. The final synergy is with aura effects, for example Spell Power. Being able to pay much less mana for an aura card is insane, barnes has proven this over and over again (if you cannot think of an example think about an archmage-antonidas from a Barnes).
I also like Shadowcaster because it fits perfectly the Rogue flavour. The card is a Combo card which requires some set-up and enables you to prepare for crazy future turns. Rogue has always been the class which plays a lot of cards whilst making insane combos, and Shadowcaster enables more archetypes to do this. Just look at the example deck I gave for this card. The deck is obviously a Mill Rogue deck and it has some Battlecry synergy as well as Aura synergy. The most powerful synergy is the one with violet-illusionist, this enable you to mill your opponent in fatigue whilst granting that you won’t take any damage. If you try this mill list be warned it is probably one of the hardest decks in Hearthstone to play optimally. Every turn is a puzzle as there are so many different ways to navigate each turn, identifying exactly which one will give you the highest win rate is insanely hard (but rewarding).
Going back to Shadowcaster the uniqueness of the card and the thinking it adds to Hearthstone, are the main reasons I think this one is certainly one of best designs to be ever proposed by Team 5.
malygos is the ultimate combo card, you play him and after that you one-shot the opponent with a bunch of spells. The design in itself isn’t complicated, the card doesn’t do anything particularly flashy it only gives you more Spell Power. The reason I like this card is that it is a very clean combo card that requires some set-up to be played. Whilst In the past iterations of the game we had problematic combos which were too strong, the high cost of Malygos and the fact you need a bunch of spells means it is pretty hard to pull off. Most burn spells actually cost two or more mana, meaning that they cannot be played with Malygos without an emperor-thaurissan discount.
I particularly enjoy one-shotting people when I have the chance, for me being able to destroy someone from full health is particularly satisfying. This means that when I want to satisfy this craving I need to rely on Malygos, charge effects and minions have been systematically nerfed throughout the history of Hearthstone. This also means that obviously the card is one of the favourite in my game, not because of the effect but because of the decks it enables. Hunter, Mage, Warlock are all classes which I have experimented to varying success when playing Malygos.
Finally, I also want to touch on the image of the card and the voice acting because I think it deserves special attention, even if it doesn’t immediately relate to game-play. The voice incites terror when it comes into play and it plays in the flavour of the effect so well. When I play him very often I find myself repeating: “I am the essence of magic!” The art I find, like most Hearthstone cards, extremely appealing and the fact I like blue make Malygos especially cool (pretty childish I know). Overall I don’t have too much more to say about this one, I like combos and Malygos enables me to play the game in a way I enjoy it.
I mainly love doomsayer because it is an early game card for control and combo decks. This type of effect is very unique in Hearthstone, throughout the history of the game only two other cards had this role: zombie-chow and deathlord. As you all know both are now gone to the plains of wild, meaning that Doomsayer is the only neutral early control tool left in standard.
I think that Doomsayer has a very elegant design: it is powerful, flexible and very difficult to play optimally. Sometimes, you have to use the card in the first few turns in order to answer an early threat, the best example is a coined totem-golem when against Shaman. Even in this case though, you have to consider if you want to be greedy and wait one more turn to play Doomsayer or play it right away. Sometimes your hand will be such that you can only win if keep the card for a later turn. There are not many cards which give you the possibility to make decisions that early in the game! The use of the card though goes well beyond board clears, Doomsayer can also be useful to set up a turn for yourself. For example, when you are playing Renolock against Control Warrior, using Doomsayer before playing lord-jaraxxus enables you to not lose too much tempo when transforming in the new hero. Consequentially, this means you don’t give a full tempo advantage to the opponent and you shouldn’t succumb to face damage.
The real reason I love this card is that it is one of the only ways in Hearthstone to interact with the opponents plan. We have all succumbed to a perfectly played Doomsayer that locked us out of the game! In the current state of the game you can never immediately answer what your opponent is doing, you are only allowed to play on your turn. Let’s assume the opponent wants to play gadgetzan-auctioneer, Coin and conceal. The only way you can interact with this play is either a snipe, which is very rarely played, or a well-timed Doomsayer. Any other card will mean that the Rogue will at least manage to place the initiated combo on board.
The last thing I wanted to touch on is the fact that Doomsayer is a much better designed early game control card when compared to Deathlord. The reason for this is that Doomsayer doesn’t snowball games early on. When playing Priest in Wild, I often notice that if the opponent doesn’t have an answer for Deathlord I can win by just buffing it with velens-chosen. This is quite toxic for a control card because it leaves the opponent in a state where he cannot even play the game. On the other hand, Doomsayer allows you to buy time and put yourself in a good situation, but by itself it generally doesn’t win you games on turn three.
Overall, I think that if I had to pick my favourite card ever in Hearthstone this would be it. The fact that it enables different lines of play and has a unique effect are just too much to pass on!
To play around with forbidden-shaping I always go to Wild, I refuse to play Priest in Standard. Too frustrating! The reason I really like this card design, alongside the other Forbidden cards, is that being able to trade power for flexibility is really interesting for the game. Cards like these provide you with puzzles when building a deck; they make you ask yourself if you want to increase the consistency at the cost of the power level of the deck. Additionally, when piloting a deck, flexible cards by their nature give you more choices during the game. This is only natural as you can play them on any turn. What this means is that, thank to designs like these, the win-percentage of pro-players should go up, great pilots will know when it is the right time to use the effects. Lastly, Forbidden Shaping is also fun for new players. This kind of RNG is always exciting! The RNG of the card is ok because, whilst it can be really swingy, there are no real bad outcomes that can happen early on in the game. What this means is that even if you get a Tirion from it your opponent should be able to answer it. We can see that Forbidden Shaping pleases every person in the community: deck builders, pilots and casuals. If that isn’t value I don’t know what is!
The card is also good thanks to the fact it was given to Priest. When you play the class you usually either have all the answers, or none at all. Forbidden Shaping gives you a play whenever you need it in exchange for a sub-par minion on average. In Wild, this is especially important because you really want to play double velens-chosen and you need a body on board in order to activate this card. Overall, there is only thing which I don’t really like about this card and this is how it interacts with medivh-the-guardian. The first time I used it and got a zero mana minion instead of an eight mana one I was really disappointed. Apart from this, I think that the design is very neat and hopefully Team 5 will print more flexible cards in the future.
This concludes my list, my favourite Hearthstone cards of all time. Now that I opened myself to you the only thing that remains for me to do is ask you: dear reader, which are your favourite cards and why?
If you like the article consider following me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/matteo_ghisoni , it does go a long way to gain some recognition from the community. Thank you for reading and have a nice day!