The following article entails 11 thought experiments. What would you get if you tried to take a gimmick or a class-specific mechanic in the game and tried to implement it as a different class’ card? The results are in and the cards range from spectacularly stupid to interestingly weird and perhaps OP. Let’s take a look at the end product of an afternoon’s theory crafting! You can figure out a surprising amount of things about the design process behind the currently existing cards with this.
(I’d like to preface this by telling you that I know absolutely nothing about the WoW lore, and as such, I decided to go with relatively generic card images and names. Feel free to recommend better ones!)
1 – Acolyte
This card is supposed to be the Mage’s take on webspinner. I think it would be just as inconsistent as that minion – you could get arcane-explosion (captains-parrot) or pyroblast (king-krush). It would essentially be a supporting element for Aggro Mage decks with the deathrattle buffing the undertakers and the drawn spell buffing the mana-wyrms.
Considering how well some players have been doing lately with said deck, this card may be just a little bit too powerful for the current metagame. I think this little thought experiment shows that a minion like this will only be truly effective in aggressive decks, which in turn explains why it was a good choice by Blizzard to give the Webspinner-like card to that class.
2 – Nightbow
Speaking of Hunter, it came to my mind how useless nightblade usually is. What would happen if you combined it with another relatively ineffective card – prophet-velen?
The idea behind this is to try to keep it alive. If you play it on turn 5, you are likely not going to get the benefits of it as it will be a high priority target – it would, however, still help to overcome the occasionally awkward fifth turn as a midrange hunter. It might be a little bit too expensive for an all-out rush deck, but nevertheless, if you can keep it alive, it should be a very valuable asset.
Want to make it more powerful, perhaps a little bit too much so? Just turn it into a Beast.
The counterargument, of course, is that it would merely be a Nightblade with a single point of extra damage dealt – for two extra mana. Fair point – and this contentious nature is why I would think that this card would be a decent situational choice.
Also, consider the power of Prophet Velen, which, incidentally, is almost never used in Priest decks. Surely doubling the effectiveness of a hero power would fit any other class better? Especially, you know, the good old Hunter? This leads me to believe that it would be way too powerful an effect on any other class.
3 – Faerie
I know many people are against this mechanic in general, but I found it interesting how the 3/4 for 4 statline has not been in the game at all until voidcaller came along. I find it to be a very interesting niche and wondered if the statline can be coupled with an effect powerful enough to warrant its inclusion but not so powerful that it becomes ridiculous.
If you consider that the card draw mechanic turned the gnomish-inventor into a 2/4 for 4, you could definitely make the argument that this minion is a tad bit too powerful as its card text is essentially guaranteed that it trades for two cheaper minions. However, it won’t do much if it’s not on curve, which should counterbalance that effect.
The 4-slot, of course, features heavy competition, so I’m not sure if this card would be worth the inclusion, but it could be an interesting addition to the pool.
4 – Impatient Assassin
An attempt to turn avenging-wrath into some sort of a neutral card, this little Frankenstein of mine is essentially a pocket ragnaros. It is almost guaranteed to die on the following turn (possibly even to a hero power), but it could be an interesting part of a control versus control matchup. You could even include two of them in your deck! Then again, you probably shouldn’t.
The other card, of course, that this one tries to ape, is the poor old patient-assassin – one of the rares that sees absolutely no play at all. (Then again, there are no control-oriented Rogue decks apart from Miracle, but that’s a whole different story.)
While this minion, unlike its more patient counterpart, would immediately impact the board, the random element is probably too big of a risk – you could potentially end up skipping turn 6 by only killing a cheap unit. It seems that minions with very small stats just cannot really get strong enough buffs to warrant inclusion.
5 – Ambusher
The Rogue’s take on unbound-elemental would, again, support a deck archetype that doesn’t really exist: the non-Miracle control Rogue. (Then again, perhaps Cancer Rogue could potentially benefit from this card as well.) Needless to say, if you actually have to activate the combo effect to get the buff, the card gets a lot worse.
It’s interesting to see how certain archetypes just don’t seem to exist in the game at the present moment (control Rogue/Hunter, aggro Druid, non-Handlock control Warrior etc.) – and judging by this particular minion, it seems like it would take more than the addition of a single fitting card to change things around. Blizzard, take note when the 100 cards drop.
6 – Shadow
Introducing the Druid’s “choose one” gimmick to Priest in a fitting fashion, this minion would probably be a more viable way to counteract the class’ issues than dark-cultist, which I still consider to be a too powerful minion for its price. It’s got the usual 4/4 for 5 statline with a strong battlecry – let’s be frank, you’re going to go with the damage in most cases, just like how you taunt up the ancient-of-war almost every single time. Is it a little bit too much? You could definitely make a case for that.
7 – Impotent Healer
This fellow is the Priest’s version of the cruel-taskmaster, and while it may be a bit too pacifistic at first sight, it’s definitely got some uses. Consider using it on a magma-rager or even on an enemy minion with a stampeding-kodo. It would help some cards that were essentially unusable until now and can simultaneously help friendly minions stick to the board and neuter opposing forces – both of them in a way that isn’t too powerful.
Would it warrant a slot in the currently popular control-oriented Priest decks? Probably not. In some other variation? Perhaps!
8 – Iron Golem
There are very few Armor-related mechanics in the game, and I thought it would be nice to come up with a lightspawn-esque card for the Warrior: it is, of course, a double-edged sword. Could potentially be useless against aggro (except when combined with shield-block) but could also prove to be devastating in a control versus control matchup.
The argument could be made that having a high amount of armor already indicates a significant advantage and it is therefore overkill to include a minion like this in a deck, but I think it could be a nice – if situational – replacement for something like a shade-of-naxxramas (which, as far as I’m aware, isn’t played in this deck type too often): a relatively cheap minion that has the potential to scale into the late game.
9 – Silver Hand Squire
Take pit-lord and turn it into a Paladin card: you get the Silver Hand Squire – while that card gets a +1/+1 over the premium 4-cost neutral minion – everyone’s favorite chillwind-yeti – this one gets the same level of reduction for the opposite effect.
Thing is: the Paladin already has Guardian of Kings fulfilling the same role – and comparing it to the boulderfist-ogre, we may get a good idea about how this card and the Pit Lord came to be. While one of them is completely unusable currently (sans Voidcaller), the other one sees a lot of play in Healadin. This minion could be a nice anti-aggro addition to that deck – instead of a senjin-shieldmaster perhaps – but it would be a very situational one for sure.
10 – Totemizer
Let’s take the gimmicky Murlocs and apply their concept to the Shamans – this card would certainly spice up the mirror matches. Bonus points are awarded for mana-tide-totems, and, of course, flametongue-totemss. Would this card make totemic-might viable?
Most likely not.
On the other hand, I could see this card make an appearance in some more control-focused Shaman decks as they usually don’t have anything serious to play on the early turns and the late-game struggle occasionally involves three or more totems on the board that the opponent ignores to prioritize more powerful minions.
The inclusion of this card would make the presence of these tokens more relevant in the mid-to-lategame.
+1 – Mindfray
Yeah, I’ve been playing XCOM lately, why do you ask?
This is a card that goes against many of Blizzard’s design concepts, but I thought it would still be interesting to see what kind of insight can we derive from it. It, of course, is essentially a second set of hard removal for Warlock – but I’d argue that if there’s one class in dire need of support when it comes to control decks, it’s this one (discounting Handlock, of course.)
It’s a Naxx-like card, one of those that has a slightly stronger effect than what its mana cost would indicate, but it also has a drawback to make up for it. It’s essentially the Warlock’s take on Naturalize. It would fit the class’ archetype a lot more than siphon-soul does, but I think we can clearly see why they don’t have a card like this: you’d need to make it way too damaging to avoid making it overly powerful. As finicky as a 6 mana hard removal is with only 3 health as a bonus to show for it over other cards like polymorph and assassinate, I think we can see now why its inclusion was a necessity.
Coming up with these cards and imagining how they would fit in the card pool gave me some valuable insights on the way many of the existing cards were produced and tinkered with. Some very interesting observations and comparisons can be made and drawn just by considering my little thought experiments above.
– Minions with small stats for their mana cost cannot have a powerful enough balanced effect to make their inclusion worthwhile in a control deck without becoming way too powerful.
– Ironically, the reason why Priest has the minion with the ability to double the strength of its hero power is because it is the least impactful one.
– The 3/4 for 4 statline is viable and would make for some very interesting cards, if their abilities are well balanced.
– Minions gaining extra stats depending on the type of cards played generally are a better fit for control decks. (Murlocs are too inconsistent.)
– The thought process behind Pit Lord and Guardian of Kings is essentially the same.
– Making cheap hard removal balanced is incredibly difficult.
There you have it, the results of my thought experiments and the hopefully interesting factoids I discovered while going through them. Do you agree with my assessments? Would you consider adding any of these cards to the pool? Let us know in the comments!