23 September 2014 - 03:47

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!
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Introduction

Hey guys! Modded here, this time to talk about bad cards. Have you ever looked at a card like Biteor Naturalizeand 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 Wildwith 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. 

Fen Creeper

An example of an inefficient minion is Fen Creeper. It is understatted by a single stat point, compared to Sen'jin Shieldmastaand 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 Ragerand 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 Protectoror the much more common Defender of Argusmake it so that this card will rarely get value.

Reincarnateis 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, Al'Akir the Windlord, Abomination, and most things with Ancestral Spiriton 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 Hoarderor a two mana 2/1 from Harvest Golem. If there were more minions that gave Reincarnatevalue, 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. Biteis one such card. Why use that when you could just use Swipe?

Bite
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 Yetiand Sen'jin 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 Auctioneerand 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 Roarcombo. 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 Kel'Thuzad). I also only run one, two is unnecessary.

Earth Elementalis 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 Elementalon 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 Hunteror The Black Knightas 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!

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