Bad Cards: Just Why Are They Bad?

Modded discusses a topic rarely touched - bad cards in Hearthstone. While a card may seem bad, but it doesn't mean it's bad. Confused? Read on!

Introduction

Hey guys! Modded here, this time to talk about bad cards. Have you ever looked at a card like Bite or Naturalize and wondered why no one uses them? Why do some players get away with using seemingly bad cards in certain decks? Are all bad cards simply unrecognized awesomeness? Today I hope to make the answers to these questions quite clear, and help you dear reader distinguish the differences between them.

There are five main categories of bad cards. They are:

  • Inherently Bad
  • Inefficient
  • Limited by Card Pool
  • Outclassed
  • Situational Undesirable

Inherently Bad Cards

These cards are special, in that no matter how you tweak the card, the effect itself is bad. The prime example in Hearthstone is savagery. This card is terrible for two main reasons: First, it’s a combo card that is useless by itself. Secondly, even when combo’d properly, the effects are not above the curve enough or even worse on the curve. These factors considered together make this card one of the worst spells in Hearthstone, as it’s terrible straight to its core.

Another example would be holy-wrath. This card is very RNG reliant, and it’s very nature prevents one from trying to work around it effectively (decks with nothing that costs less than four mana don’t work too well).

Inefficient Cards

These cards are not worth their cost, usually measured in mana but there are a few exceptions. A good example of an inefficient card in mark-of-nature, which costs three mana. This card is simply mark-of-the-wild with the “Choose One” option and different stat distribution. However, Mark of the Wild only costs two mana. Another comparison is between Mark of Nature and blessing-of-might. Both can give minions additional attack, but there’s a big discrepancy in efficiency. Blessing of Might costs one mana for an additional three attack, whilst Mark of the Nature costs three mana for four attack. 

An example of an inefficient minion is fen-creeper. It is understatted by a single stat point, compared to senjin-shieldmasta and druid-of-the-claw. No one uses this guy, because there’s alway a minion that’s better for the cost. There are many more understatted minions (usually basic), such as magma-rager and war-golem.

An inefficient minion that’s not mana-inefficient is succubus. The discard is worth two or three mana (either value can be debated), yet Succubus only gains an additional +1/+1 over vanilla, though it’s actually worse as all other one and two mana minions are overstatted due to the fact that it’s a card being factored in. This card is so inefficient that it usually two-for-one’s yourself.

Cards Limited by the Current Card Pool

These cards aren’t necessarily bad per se, but the are unusable due to other commonly used cards or the lack of certain cards. A prime example is betrayal. This card can get good value, but cards like sunfury-protector or the much more common defender-of-argus make it so that this card will rarely get value.

reincarnate is a bad card not because of its effect but rather that there are too few minions with a deathrattle/other effect strong enough to be worth two mana and a card. Sure, it’s great on sylvanas-windrunner, cairne-bloodhoof, alakir-the-windlord, abomination, and most things with ancestral-spirit on it, but that’s about it. Remember also that it’s a combo piece only, meaning that it’s not very consistent. If you look at other targets, you’re looking at a two mana cantrip from loot-hoarder or a two mana 2/1 from harvest-golem. If there were more minions that gave reincarnate value, then it would be more viable.

Outclassed Cards

These are cards that even though they may be balanced or good cards, they don’t see use as there are more desirable options. bite is one such card. Why use that when you could just use swipe?

Swipe ignores taunts, does one damage to all other enemy characters and won’t cause your hero to take any damage. If Bite maybe gave your hero five armor and attack instead of four, then it might get some use because it could then actually remove things like chillwind-yeti and senjin-shieldmasta.

Another such card is cult-master. Due to this minion’s poor stat distribution, it’s not often seen outside of arena. The reason being that most classes have card draw mechanics built in that offer superior value or consistency. Outside of gadgetzan-auctioneer and acolyte-of-pain, most card draws don’t need activators to work. Even then, those two can be activated even on an empty board, unlike Cult Master.

Situationally Undesirable Cards

These cards see some use now and then, but often aren’t used (or are only one-of’s) due to their potentially undesirable effects. My personal favorite is naturalize. It’s a huge tempo boost, and it’s cheap enough that you can remove a big taunt with it and still pull off the force-of-nature + savage-roar combo. The problem is, that unless you mill your opponent with it, you just gave your opponent more fuel (Aggro/Midrange decks) or a higher chance of drawing answers (Combo/Control decks). I personally treat it like I do leeroy-jenkins, you don’t see it until I win (unless they drop something nasty on the board like kelthuzad). I also only run one, two is unnecessary.

earth-elemental is yet another example of a situationally undesirable card. This card costs five mana, but is almost never a turn five play since Shamans want to play fire-elemental on turn six. Its massive three overload messes up the next turn, preventing a whole host of plays. This leaves one extremely vulnerable to counter plays such as big-game-hunter or the-black-knight as that player is crippled the next turn and can’t makeup for the tempo loss. On the other hand, if your opponent has no answers, a 7/8 taunt played along with another spell or minion (like unbound-elemental) can be absolutely devastating. Shaman’s tempo is a spike-dip cycle anyways, and a big minion like that should survive more than one turn.

Conclusion

There are many bad cards in Hearthstone and for various reasons. Not all currently bad cards will always be bad, and some are even good in certain niche decks. At the end of the day, it’s up to every deckbuilder/player to analyze cards on their own and determine whether or not that card is ever worth running, and if it has niche uses what those are. If you can do that, you’re one step closer to being a better deck builder.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this article, and I want to hear what you think! Please leave any questions or comments below, I look forward to hearing from y’all!