This week brought the shock news that Hearthstone would be completely overhauling how their ladder systems work. Chief among the changes is the eradication of old cards in favour of a rolling yearly season, which is sure to set the meta fresh each year anew. If anything breeds creativity, it’s strict limitations and a constant state of flux.
There will, of course, be a mode remaining for all-out, no-holds-barred card-a-thons using every single card the designers have ever conceived, but the emphasis of competitive play will now shift to the Standard mode. And with that shift, we say goodbye to expansions and non-basic or classic cards more than two years old. Goodbye, Naxxramus. Goodbye Goblins. Goodbye Gnomes, we’ll miss you most of all. But which cards will we definitely not be sad to see the back of for the final time?
Perhaps the most ubiquitous card to slip off into that inky darkness of the beyond is the infamous Doctor Seven himself. Previous World Champion, James “Firebat” Kostesich, once remarked that the meta of Hearthstone had simply been reduced to finding the best possible card for each mana drop and putting it in a deck. At 7/7 and a devious battlecry full of further buffable bots, this was the elephant in every room, deck and patio garden. The loss of the good doctor, and the accompanying need to counter him, will be felt by every deck – and that’s precisely why he won’t be mourned.
Another essential card on any mana curve, this four-drop was just too powerful for anyone else to get a look in. Playing around deathrattles is fine and dandy, but Druids dropping Shredder out of the gate with a lucky Innervate or two was like waking up to find your house flooded, on fire and foreclosed: you know you’re in for an uphill struggle sort of day. The loss of a 4/3 with a bonus 2-cost minion, possibly as high as a 4/4 Nerubian, will force these early and mid-range decks to experiment. Perhaps some under-appreciated beast cards will find their way back into a Druid deck, where they belong, after the Hearthstone team is done with the tweaks and balance changes to the classic cards. We’re sure the pro community will find something worse to worry about on turn four but as long as it’s not a nested egg of deathrattling matryoshkas it will surely be more palatable.
While Grim Patron hasn’t been around long enough to reach ‘putting out for pasture’ age – though it certainly feels like he has – the loss of this weapon should finally seal his coffin. Death’s Bite was bad enough as a weapon that can immediately remove a 4-health minion before next turn doing away with a potential 5-health after the deathrattle. But with that added whirlwind effect damaging the whole board, it was a guaranteed breeding ground for Patrons. The downside is it will also cripple other Warrior decks that relied on Armorsmith or other brinksmanship self-flagellation. Still, everyone get out of here.
Shade of Naxxramas
The Dutch have a word for a growing sense of impending doom of which you can do nothing about except watch it grow larger as time progresses. It’s “Shadeofnaxxramus”, for forcibly obvious reasons. A staple 3-drop for Druids gave them the options to push fast if their cards came up, or let the monster dwell a little longer, biding its time. Brode help you if they do manage to find a Savage Roar and a Force of Nature in the next two turns though, no one likes to be on the end of a 20+ damage single turn at the hands of some buffed-up trees. Not-so-slim Shady will not be missed, and if the team are serious about re-visiting some classic cards, his fast-hitting arboreal buddies might also have ganked their last.
Honestly, though, there’s no defending this one. The other cards, maybe you could feel a hint of remorse over their passing, maybe they brought something new and in their own twisted way, left a mark upon Hearthstone’s growing history books. But Unstable Portal is the embodiment of everything professional players of Hearthstone are attempting to convince the world that they are not. Sure, lucking your way to that one miracle card is an elation reserved for realms of consciousness beyond our own, but being on the receiving end is a literal hell. RNGsus liked you more than me, and that hurts. You can find the door, Unstable Portal. Not that you even need it.