In just a few short months, Hearthstone will once again be changed beyond all recognition. The 2017 set rotation will take place, and three card sets will be consigned to the wilderness.
As those hundreds of cards are moved out of the Standard format, some cards from the evergreen classic set could well also be on their way out. Blizzard wants to shake up the meta every year, and some of the evergreen cards have not been dislodged from the meta throughout the history of the game.
With that prospect in mind, and only a select few cards likely to receive the boot, here is a look at some of the cards that we think merit consideration.
An easy target, but an important one. Druid decks have been built to include this since the beginning of the game. From Ramp Druid, to Combo, to Aggro, to the current spell and token based decks, Innervate has always been one of the first cards in the list.
So let’s shake it up. Druid deserves different tools. Give them some other fun spells, or some new minions they can use to pull away from the spell-focused decks.
Innervate has always been an inherently “unfair” feeling card, especially to new players. The idea of playing cards on a steadily increasing mana curve is fundamental to the game and Innervate seems to break that.
It might seem strange at first to take something from Hunter. The class is in the worst place its probably ever been, and Animal Companion is one of the strongest cards in the deck.
But one of the jobs of moving cards out of Classic is to shake things up, and take out cards that have been auto-include for too long.
Animal Companion, aside from all the Huffer memes is, like Innervate, a card that seems impossible to play Hunter without. Whether it’s an aggressive variant or something more midrange, Animal Companion is one of the few cards that has always been required in every deck.
With Shaman at its height of power, something has to go. While the class is losing some key cards in the rotation anyway like Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, it’s time for Shaman’s base aggro power to take a hit.
Shaman emerged relatively unscathed from the pre-Standard nerfs last year, with many believing that Doomhammer in particular should have taken a hit. That card nearly made this list, but Flametongue is perhaps ever more egregious—particularly in the current meta.
With pirates set to continue to dominate the game at least in the immediate future, early game board presence is really stifling. With Flametongue Totem, Shaman can continue to use those weaker early game pirates well into the early turns to trade up and prevent an opponent from gaining any foothold. That’s why it has to go.
Fiery War Axe
If ever a card has defined a class, it’s Fiery War Axe. For so long Warrior has been typified not by an archetype or playstyle, but by a coinflip: Do you have War Axe on turn two? If so you might have a chance to not fall too far behind the early game. If not, you are asking to be run over.
This card exemplifies the kind of ubiquitousness that Blizzard were talking about. Even as 2016 saw Warrior explode into a rainbow of archetypes, War Axe was still automatically included in all of them.
Warrior has had to use the same cards to try and compete in the early game forever. Let’s change it up.
Taking out neutral cards from the classic set is a difficult and delicate task. Many people are targeting Azure Drake, a card which has rightly been a big part of deckbuilding for a long time. But with many dragon cards leaving when Blackrock Mountain rotates out, that may escape this time.
Instead, let’s put a legendary card in the spotlight: Leeroy Jenkins.
Leeroy has been nerfed before to stop insane OTK combos being impossible, but it still remains a strong finisher for aggressive decks. The drawback is rarely anything close to relevant when it is used to end the game, making the card really annoying.
The game needs finishers, there’s no doubt about that. Though many big finishes like Druid and Patron combos have been removed from the game, perhaps suggesting that Blizzard prefers a back-and-forth minion trading based game. Nevertheless, Leeroy should be replaced by something which can do a similar job—but perhaps in a more interesting or fresh way.