Balance is a bit of a touchy issue in Hearthstone. On average you'll have one guy hollering for nerfs on, say, Harvest Golem and the next guy will be explaining why that would be a terrible idea. The stuff on this page, on the other hand? These are broken. These cards have, at one point or another, forced the meta to adapt to it significantly like no card should be allowed to, to much derision.
- The Charge keyword. Any minion with Charge attached sacrifices a lot of stat points in exchange for the ability to attack immediately. It sounds fine at first, because after all a minion with Charge is no different than a damaging spell, and sometimes they're less efficient as well (compare the 3 mana 3-1 Charge Wolfrider to the 2 mana deal 3 damage Darkbomb for example). There's two key differences: Chargers are minions, meaning that the opponent has to go through the effort of removing them, meaning that aggro decks can use them to reliably go for the face because their opponent will need to use resources to kill it, leaving the aggro player with the advantage. The other, more significant problem is that Chargers can be buffed by spells and other minions, allowing for some crazy high-damage combos. Blizzard themselves have admitted that they underestimated the power of Charge, and since launch have done a much better job of balancing the mechanic.
- They went so far as to create a "fixed" version of Charge in The Witchwood; Rush, which is identical to Charge except it can only hit minions on the turn they're played. This allowed the team to create minions with fast, spell-like effects and not worry about it being used to SMOrc the opponent. Quite notably, new Charge minions have been incredibly sparse from Kobolds & Catacombs onward, with the only two added since then as of Ashes of Outland being Legendary. With the Core set revamp in 2021, most Charge cards were either removed or reworked into Rush minions instead, leaving the keyword only available to Legendary minions in Standard.
- Silence, a very rare card mechanic that removes all text and buffs from a minion. Silence's goal was true and noble, being intended to prevent other, much more dangerous cards like the later mentioned Tirion Fordring and Savannah Highmane from tearing the game apart, but unfortunately that didn't work out. In practice, Silence neutralized a significant chunk of the game's cards, including ones with unique mechanics that never saw the light of day because of it, and was ruthlessly abused to push Taunt minions out of the way to get a previously prevented lethal. It was so annoying that when the Whispers of the Old Gods nerfs came around, it targeted the two main Silence cards, Ironbeak Owl and Keeper of the Grove, with extreme prejudice.
- "Curvestone", a derogatory term for a deck strategy based around simply dropping the most cost-efficient minion each turn and outvaluing the enemy until they die. By pumping out as many stats as possible per turn, the opponent will eventually fail to have the necessary removal or board clear to keep Curvestoners from snowballing - and since these decks are based around optimizing board control until they're ready to go for the kill, healing cards, Taunts, or even the majority of playable minions won't be of much help. The worst decks of this sort usually have sticky minions as well, giving them more efficient trades and preparing their board for potent buffs. The effectiveness of Curvestone pretty much always depends on the universal quality of removal at the time (a deck with plenty of board wipes and removal will likely slaughter it), but sometimes even that doesn't work if their ability to vomit stats exceeds the enemy's ability to destroy minions.
- Combosnote are much stronger here than in other card games. Hearthstone offers no way to play the game during your opponent's turn outside of Secrets, meaning that combos can be done uninterrupted to win the game right there. Additionally, up until Dirty Rat was added in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, there were no cards that could discard your opponent's cards, meaning they had nothing to fear before the combo dropped. While the nature of combos can vary from deck to deck (such as, say, summoning a particularly strong board or dealing a huge amount of damage, if not an OTK), the jist is largely the same between them - either you kill them before their game-plan comes together, or you don't play fast enough and they just demolish you. A combo deck's power usually depends on consistency, speed, and survivability above all else, but if they pack all three of those, you're in for pain.
- Hero Cards. They're game-warping Legendaries that replace your hero with a better one, providing a one-time powerful Battlecry (and sometimes a permanent passive effect) and granting you a new Hero Power. While the Battlecry is often important, the Hero Power is the truly broken bit, giving the player something ridiculous that can be done consistently every turn. This means the earlier a Hero Card is drawn, the stronger it is. Matches where both players use them often comes down to whoever draws theirs first. Of the twelve introduced at the time of writing, ten have seen top-level competitive play at one point or another and all of them have been meta-busters. While some are more broken than others (see the Knights of the Frozen Throne section below for that), the impact they've had on the game is undeniable.
- Demon Hunter, Demon Hunter, Demon Hunter. That was the state of Hearthstone weeks following their debut. As a new class, the class had to be put on a high enough power level compete with other classes that have had years of cards to back their power up. It turned out their power level was set way too high and they ended up steamrolling virtually every other class. Demon Hunters had burst damage, Ao E clears, healing and sustain, high tempo minions, insane card draw, and even some decent control tools, not to mention having less cards in their collection meant and easier time to fill out their deck, especially when half of them were given out to everyone for free. Demon Hunters had 13 cards nerfed within the same expansion cycle, and even with all these nerfs they continued to persist on the top of the ladder. Even in Wild mode they have a strong presence.
- The many, many Aviana + Kun combo decks. Both were never star cards in Standard, but became absolutely disgusting combo pieces when combined. The combo was very simple: draw Aviana and Kun alongside whatever combo cards you needed (Brann, C'thun, Togwaggle, Ixlid, Malygos, Star Aligner, whatever), play Aviana + Kun, then enjoy being able to summon as many minions as you want and have mana to spare for spells. That would just be a regular, slow combo deck, but the backbone on Druid was ridiculous. They had the best card draw, armor gain, and mana ramp in the game. It was common to see a druid with 30 armor who was 5 mana ahead of his opponent. It outpaced combo, combo'd out control, and survived aggro and tempo. Aviana was bumped to 10 mana, but that only required the Druid to also run Innervate. The archetype only became beatable when Wild Growth and Nourish were both nerfed.
- The Naxxramas-era Deathrattle Hunter. This was a hyper-charged Face Hunter deck that employed Undertaker. Alongside having the most broken 1-drop ever printed, the deck made use of multiple powerful Deathrattle minions from both Naxx and later GvG, many of them game breakers in their own right. Even if Undertaker wasn't drawn, it was still a solid aggro deck. There was zero risk and all reward, which also meant that the deck was stupid easy to play. The deck lasted for almost a year before Undertaker was mercifully nerfed, although the Face Hunter it spawned lingers on.
- Giant Hunter was a deck born from an innocuous consistency update. It simply made Naga Sea Witch, a 5-mana 5/5 that made all your cards cost 5 while it was in play, apply its effect before other cost reductions so to not override minion abilities. As it would happen, most minions with self-cost reductions are balanced around not being 5 mana. Observe. The package was totally neutral and could be run in any deck, but Hunter was found to have the best aggressive backbone to support the swarm of 8/8s the deck could pump out. The combo was Wild-only, but effectively took over Wild format for a few months. Naga Sea Witch was eventually nerfed to oblivion (see below), fixing this unintended steamroller.
- Beta Freeze Mage, a strong candidate for the best deck of all time. While Freeze Mage existed up until Ice Lance was Hall of Famed, it was never so broken as the first public release. It had excellent card draw, high survivability with Ice Block and Ice Barrier, and a devastating burst combo using Fireballs, Frostbolts, and Ice Lances. The whole deck worked like an impeccable machine of efficiency and was nearly unbeatable. What made this so devastating was the low power level of the Classic set. Healing and armor gain were weak, and among most decks it was a game of minion vs. minion incremental value. To make things even crazier, an oversight/bug caused Alexstrasza to remove the target's armor, meaning not even Control Warrior was safe. This eventually led to Blizzard, Cone of Cold, and Frost Nova all going up by one mana before the game launched.
- Secret Paladin, the scourge of ladder in 2015. People mainly know it for Mysterious Challenger (see below for that card). It was an aggro deck with huge value plays - namely, Mysterious Challenger would pull a Christmas tree of secrets, creating an insane swing for free. And they could do it twice. Of course, while Mysterious Challenger was the centerpiece of the deck, it only worked because of all the other broken cards that carried it. Muster For Battle, Shielded Minibot, and Knife Juggler formed an aggressive and extremely efficient early game, Secretkeeper turned those dead draw secrets into bonus stats, and Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring created a ridiculous mid to late game. Having an absurd power-play on 6 was just the kicker. To boot, when Naxx and GvG rotated out, Secret Paladin disappeared even though Challenger and most of the secrets were still in Standard. Regardless, it remains a niche but existing aggro deck in Wild to this day.
- The Odd/Even mechanic from The Witchwood was a smashing success (for better or for worse) and spawned many powerful archetypes. But none were as busted as the launch version of Even Paladin. It took the skeleton of the existing zoo-y Silver Hand Paladin from K&C, added the high consistency guaranteed Hero Powers on turn 1 gave them, and broke the game with Call to Arms. That card was already an undercosted board flooding deck-thinner, but Even Paladin's restriction meant it couldn't pull 1-mana minions, summoning 6 mana to the field and effectively removing three bad draws as they moved out of the early game. If a Paladin got this off on turn 3 or 4, it was basically game over. Call to Arms was swiftly nerfed to 5 mana and the aggro spot was overtaken by Odd Paladin, but nothing was ever quite as overpowered as this deck.
- Razakus Priest, widely considered the Highlander deck to end all Highlander decks. The deck was built around the revolting synergy of Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained - Raza would set the cost of your Hero Power to 0, while Anduin's Hero Power deals 2 damage and refreshes whenever he plays a card, meaning that every card he played had "deal 2 damage" taped onto it. This was paired with extreme power plays like Prophet Velen (cranking the damage up to 4), Kazakus (for incredible, flexible value), and Lyra the Sunshard (who basically breathed damage due to how many cheap spells she could give you). What made it so good was Priest's traditional match-up chart - they're usually terrific against aggro and fatigue decks, but awful against anything else. Razakus revised it so that, for once, they had an actual win condition against midrange, control, and combo, and indeed the damage it could pump out was so extreme that even beefy decks like Control Warrior had their health shredded in just a few turns. While Raza was ultimately neutered and rendered the deck unusable, the general gameplan (i.e. spam cheap crap and have Anduin melt the enemy's face) managed to live on for quite a while; Dragon Priest, for instance, used Anduin alongside Mind Blast as their win condition in Standard until the Mammoth sets rotated. Eventually, 2020 saw Raza unnerfed, and the deck immediately reclaimed its high status in Wild.
- Miracle Rogue, generally considered the quintessential Rogue deck. An extremely fast Glass Cannon combo deck, Miracle is a catch-all name for any Rogue deck that uses Gadgetzan Auctioneer to draw through their entire deck to grab their combo pieces. The first iteration of the deck is the most infamous version: you could generate a board full of massive beatsticks by chaining cards to beef up Questing Adventurer and Edwin VanCleef, then give them Stealth by using Conceal. If that didn't work, you could just slam face with direct damage cards like Cold Blood, Leeroy Jenkins, and Eviscerate. In addition to its speed and strength, the reason Miracle worked so well was that it refused to play by the same rules as everybody else - it actively circumvented fighting for board by denying any attempts at defense, and Hearthstone's general lack of any disruption cards made teching against it impossible. Miracle tanked several nerfs back in the day and it refused to bite the dust until Auctioneer itself got nerfed. While it still exists in a much more balanced state, the deck is infamous enough that Zeriyah's famous statement in regards to it is the quote for this very page.
- Some of the Galakrond packages in Descent of Dragons proved to be better than others... and then there's Galakrond Shaman, which broke the class to the point where Blizzard announced an emergency nerf three days after the expansion's release. Shaman's Invoke summons a 2/1 Elemental with Rush, giving them a huge amount of board control throughout the game, and also includes things like two 5/6 Taunts for 5 mana if you've Invoked twice, which should be no problem since Shaman also got the only card that can Invoke Galakrond twice. This also lets Shaman very easily upgrade their Galakrond to Azeroth's End, whose 8/8 Rushes plus a 5/2 weapon gives them a very strong late-game tempo swing that can also be regurgitated by Shudderwock for good measure. And that's not even getting into the stuff they can do with Corrupt the Waters thrown in, ranging from an instant full upgrade on Galakrond with four Rushes taped on to a parade of four 8/8 Rushes. Galakrond Shaman was, in a word, oppressive: it could shut down aggro decks by Rushing down everything they dropped, steamroll control decks by spitting out threatening boards until the opponent ran out of AOE, and out-tempo everything under the sun. To put the power level of this deck in perspective, Galakrond Shaman boasted a winrate as high as 72% at its apex; and its worst matchup, with a 50% win rate, was itself. More details on the insanity in this article. It got so ridiculously bad that Blizzard decided to drop the hammer on Galakrond Shaman and nerf it twice in succession within a month of release, hitting Shaman's entire Galakrond package outside of Galakrond himself before it finally dropped to a reasonable power level. To quote Dean Ayala on how busted this deck was:"The changes I feel were absolutely necessary this expansion were the ones to Galakrond Shaman. It was really the only archetype that was at a power level unacceptable under any past circumstance. Even after the first round of changes, there turned out to be an undiscovered deck that played a little slower and was even more powerful than the version being used during the first couple weeks. During playtesting, we honestly just thought that Galakrond Shaman was an incredibly fun deck to play and wanted to push it to a level where it would be considered one of the more powerful decks. We pushed too far, it happens."
- There is a cautionary tale to giving too many high-power cards to a class all at once. Warlocks had been struggling throughout the Year of the Mammoth, so Blizzard decided to give them a bump in Kobolds & Catacombs. Enter Cubelock. This was a deck that combined control and combo gameplay, and was unrivaled in either spot. It used Doomguards to rush down the opponent, skipping its drawback by cheating it out. It could then be duplicated by Carnivorous Cube, Faceless Manipulator and Prince Taldaram. It also beat aggro decks with Voidlord, which could be summoned as early as turn 5. The main draw was the synergy between Possessed Lackey and Skull of the Man'ari - they were cards that summoned demons for free from the deck or hand respectively. The deck had great consistency, with many of their cards serving multiple purposes and few ways to 'whiff'. Deathrattle synergies worked on both Possessed Lackey and Carnivorous Cube, and the Cube could be used as a deathrattle trigger itself. It didn't matter if you did or didn't draw your demons, since you had contingencies. The deck also boasted incredible healing from Lesser Amethyst Spellstone, Bloodreaver Gul'dan's hero power, and Dark Pact. Even if you somehow made it through their onslaught, Bloodreaver Gul'dan showed up to summon a wall of taunts, or maybe a few Doomguards to outright kill you instead. The deck was hit with two massive nerfs, but still stayed around in Standard until the rotation.
- Patron Warrior is one of the most infamous decks in the game's history, and for good reason. It was a Tempo/Combo deck that utilized the ridiculous synergy between Grim Patron, Frothing Berserker, and Warsong Commander. The idea was to play the Warsong (whose original effect granted minions with 3 or less Attack Charge), play the Patron and the Berserker, then feed the Berserker by maximizing damage with Charging and multiplying Patrons and various cheap self-damaging effects like Whirlwind, Death's Bite, and Inner Rage. Since the Warsong worked via an enchantment rather than an aura, it allowed the Berserker to attack no matter how much Attack it gained. If executed properly, the Warrior could deal upwards of 40 damage in a single turn. Granted, it was actually really hard to execute it properly, but that didn't stop the deck from flooding the ladder and creating tonnes of uninteractive losses. Eventually Warsong Commander was infamously nerfed to oblivion, but that only lowered the deck from ridiculously busted to really good. For reference, it not only won a tournament in its nerfed state, but it's still a viable deck in Wild.
- Pirate Warrior is another incredibly effective aggro deck in 2016 and early 2017. Its major player was Patches the Pirate which showed up as early as turn 1 when N'Zoth's First Mate was being played. With an early Pirate and weapon at ready, the deck would proceed to develop with weapon upgrade cards like Upgrade! and Bloodsail Cultist, giving the player a lot of damage to distribute over time and extending the longevity of weapon synergies like that of Small-Time Buccaneer. If the Pirate board wasn't being taken care of, Southsea Captain would show up to buff them and put on more pressure. The deck hardly had a need for armor, and Sir Finley would exchange the base Warrior Hero Power for something like Life Tap for continued card advantage or Steady Shot for even more face damage. Once Patches and Fiery War Axe got nerfed, the deck's prominence dwindled, but it still remains a notable aggro presence in Wild.
Post-Release NerfsAlso see Leeroy Jenkins in the Hall of Fame section.
- Starving Buzzard was a 2 mana 2/1 Hunter Beast that drew a card whenever a Beast was summoned. When combined with Unleash the Hounds, it was a 4 mana combo that drew 1-6 cards with more than enough mana to spare to brutalize the opponent with the extra combo pieces. Buzzard ended up showing Blizzard that Hunter should never be allowed to have card draw ever lest something like this happen again, and it was ruthlessly changed to a 5 mana 3/2.
- Speaking of Unleash the Hounds, it was a 2 mana (initially 4) Hunter spell that summoned 1/1 Hounds with charge for every enemy minion. The idea was to give Hunters a different style of board clear than other classes, but in practice it just meant that face really was the place. Indeed, playing too many minions against a Hunter could spell death, as Unleash combo-ed very well with most of Hunter's arsenal to increase the damage even further (Timber Wolf, Leokk from Animal Companion), or draw so many cards that winning would be effortless (Starving Buzzard). It was later nerfed to 3 mana.
- When the game first launched, Warsong Commander was 3 mana 2/3 that gave all friendly minions Charge. After an Awesome, but Impractical setup involving Molten Giants and Youthful Brewmasters came to light, Blizzard realized she might become a serious problem later on, so while the then current combo was fairly weak she might rip the game in half later on, and as such she was nerfed to only grant Charge to minions with 3 or less attack. Their original fears unfortunately came true with the release of Blackrock Mountain, which brought the notoriously overpowered Patron Warrior deck into the game. The deck was focused around granting Charge to the Frothing Berserker and the then new Grim Patron to smash the opponent for buckets of damage or clear the board respectively. Almost nothing could stand against it, and as a result Warsong Commander was neutered to a 3 mana 2/3 that gives all friendly minions with Charge +1 attack, completely erasing her original function.
- Undertaker, from Curse of Naxxramas. It used to be a 1/2 for 1 mana that gained +1/+1 every time a friendly minion with deathrattle was summoned. A simple concept that was heinously broken by a couple of factors; Naxxramas, the expansion that introduced him into the game, brought with it a ton of cheap deathrattle minions like Haunted Creeper and Webspinner, which combined with the similarly cheap Leper Gnome meant that buffing Undertaker in early turns was laughably easy, and could only snowball out of control from there. More importantly was that if Undertaker died early, it didn't matter. Unlike most of the cards here, you didn't have to tailor your deck for Undertaker; all the cards that activated him were good cards in their own right, and as such your deck quality didn't have to suffer simply to accommodate him. There was zero risk and all reward, which also meant that the decks were stupid easy to play. Undertaker's reign of terror lasted for half a year, until a well deserved nerf arrived that made so that he no longer gained health, which was the first nerf to a card outside of the classic set, and the only one at that until the One Night in Karazhan nerfs.
- Gadgetzan Auctioneer, a 5 mana 4/4 that draws a card whenever the owner casts a spell. It was (and still is, post-nerf) a key piece of Miracle Rogue, a deck based on drawing their deck in one turn with cheap spells to unleash a hellscape of pain on their opponent using Leeroy Jenkins, Questing Adventurer, Edwin VanCleef, or just about anything they could get their hands on. Auctioneer was changed to 6 mana in the Goblins Vs. Gnomes update, which neutered him right up until League of Explorers came along, when the addition of Tomb Pillager brought Miracle Rogue and him back in a much more balanced state.
Whispers of the Old Gods Nerfs
- On their own, Force of Nature and Savage Roar were pretty reasonable Druid cards. The former was a 6 mana spell that summons 3 2/2 Treants with Charge that die at the end of the turn, the latter is a 3 mana spell that grants all friendly characters +2 attack. Combined, however, you had an absurdly powerful 14 damage, 2 card combo that was run in every single Druid deck. The main problem with the combo was that even though it was no worse than say a double Fireball from a Mage or Cruel Taskmaster+Grommash combo from Warrior, this combo actually scaled with the Druid's board state, as every minion on the board added an additional 2 damage to the combo. Adding to this, the combo was highly flexible, i.e. you could use it in case you needed to kill a big minion or multiple smaller minions. Finally, there's the Double Combo, which is the previous combo with Innervate and another Savage Roar added in, bringing up the minimum damage to 22. The Standard update removed this combo from the game, by changing Force of Nature to a 5-mana spell that simply summons 3 2/2 Treants.
- Ancient of Lore was a 7 mana 5/5 Druid minion that could either draw 2 cards or restore 5 health. Druid card draw spells usually draw quite a few cards, but are pretty expensive, meaning Druids would normally have to give up a turn just to reload their hand. Ancient of Lore solved this issue handily, allowing them to drop a tough minion in the same turn they draw, and it synergized with Mana acceleration spells like Innervate and Wild Growth to regain the lost card advantage used to summon the Ancient. The health gain, while weak compared to the draw option, was still very handy in aggressive match-ups, restoring life and dropping a body in the process. Finally, the exquisite card draw helped Druids search their deck for the aforementioned Force of Nature+Savage Roar combo, and added several points of damage to it should it survive, making him completely outclass the other draw option for Druid like Nourish. Ancient of Lore was nerfed to only draw 1 card instead, gutting its utility.
- Blade Flurry was a 2 mana Rogue spell that destroyed their weapon and dealt its damage to all enemies. Combined with weapon buffing cards like Tinker's Sharpsword Oil, Blade Flurry was one of the most powerful sources of burst damage in the entire game that doubled as an incredible board clearing effect, and there didn't exist a single Rogue deck that wasn't completely based around how busted this card was. It later became a 4 mana spell that dealt its damage only to enemy minions, a change which made the spell too impractical to use until Rogue received some stronger weapons (namely, Kingsbane).
- Notably averted with Master of Disguise, a 4 mana 4/4 Rogue minion that gave permanent Stealth to a friendly minion, which was never actually played. Due to design space reasons and some wacky, out of nowhere gameplay moments caused by randomness (ever give a Mal'Ganis perma-Stealth? It's pretty awesome), her Stealth giving effect was limited to only last until the start of the turn.
- Leper Gnome was a 2/1 minion for 1 mana with a Deathrattle of dealing 2 damage to the enemy hero. Unless your opponent has a Taunt minion, there is no reason for it not to just attack him/her head-on until one of their minions or they themselves take it out, either with a Hero Power, spell or a weapon. Either way, they're guaranteed to lose at least 2 health very early on. The card was eventually nerfed with the introduction of Standard, by changing its attack to 1.
- Knife Juggler was a 2 mana 3/2 that dealt 1 damage to a random enemy whenever a friendly minion was summoned. You read that right, summoned, meaning that mass-summoned tokens like from Haunted Creeper, Muster for Battle, and Imp-losion activated this card for several extra points of damage, and with vanilla stats to boot. He was changed to a 2/2, which lowered his aggressive statline (but, to put the card in perspective, barely dented its use).
- Arcane Golem was a 4/2 for 3 mana with Charge that gives your opponent a free mana crystal on summoning. Of course, like the aforementioned Leeroy Jenkins, this drawback means precisely nothing if you kill your opponent on the same turn you play it. Golem's main use was in a potent Warlock combo - make sure your opponent has no more than 24 HP, drop Golem, double Power Overwhelming for a 12/10, copy it with Faceless Manipulator, and attack for game. Warlock's potent card draw meant that this combo was much more consistent than it should have been, and when in doubt Golem could just be used as a 4 damage removal. Arcane Golem lost Charge when the Year of the Kraken rolled around, and gained +2 health in exchange, making it completely worthless.
- Big Game Hunter was a 4/2 for 3 mana, a ho-hum minion that can get killed by something as simple as a 1-mana minion of spell. What made this card notorious is its Battlecry effect: it instantly kills any minion with 7 or more attack. It was designed to kill giants, but with the rise of Dr. Boom, Big Game Hunter made it in nearly every deck to counter him. This itself was not the problem- it's the fact that it was neutral, meaning that classes with crap for removal options suddenly had access to Shadow Word: Death lite, with a 4/2 attached to boot. BGH alone was responsible for helping Combo Druid and Handlock at the top of the metagame, as they effectively became decks without counters, and gave the already removal heavy Control Warrior another piece of efficient removal. It had gotten so bad that the community would shoot down any high cost legendary minion with 7+ attack, because it died to BGH. To give an idea how broken this card was, even when Big Game Hunter was severely nerfed to 5 mana, he still saw play.
- As noted in the General section, Silence was initially underpriced. As such, Blizzard nuked two of the worst offenders - Ironbeak Owl and Keeper of the Grove. Ironbeak Owl was a neutral 2/1 for 2 that Silenced a minion. It was insanely efficient, and in basically every deck. It had its mana bumped to 3, making it significantly worse than Spellbreakernote . Keeper was a 4 mana 2/4 for Druid that either dealt two damage or Silenced a minion. Likewise, it was in every Druid deck because of its flexibility. It was changed to a 2/2, obliterating its stats-to-cost ratio.
One Night in Karazhan Nerfs
- Call of the Wild from Whispers of the Old Gods was an 8 mana Hunter spell that summoned the three Animal Companions, Huffer, Leokk, and Mishanote . The card drops an assload of stats on the board, can draw out board clears on its own without risking your other cards in hand, offers the ability to deal 5 damage to something, and protects and buffs your other minions. Call of the Wild does far too much for one card to be allowed to, and unlike many other cards on this page is not a legendary. Two Calls of the Wild back-to-back is too much for any deck to handle, not even removal heavy classes like Warrior. It was so powerful it had to be nerfed to 9 mana, delaying its effect on the game by 1 turn. Despite that, it was reverted in 2020 to give Wild Hunters a much-needed shot in the arm.
- Rockbiter Weapon was 1 mana Shaman spell that gave a friendly character +3 attack for that turn. A completely reasonable removal card that was unfortunately given to the same class with Doomhammer, a 2/8 weapon with Windfury. 2 Rockbiter weapons plus a Doomhammer equaled half of your opponents health, and given how much burn damage Shaman has access to, it wasn't difficult to deal with the rest of it. It was nerfed to 2 mana later, making it less effective as a removal spell.
- Tuskarr Totemic from The Grand Tournament was a 3 mana 3/2 Shaman minion that could summon any random totem. Any of them, including the overstatted Totem Golem, a card draw engine in Mana Tide Totem, and a major damage booster in Flametongue Totem. Tuskarr Totemic could effortlessly snowball games to the point he could decide games the instant he was played. As this video demonstrates, landing on a non-basic totem was such a high roll that it increased your odds of winning by as high as 30%. He was nerfed to only summon the basic hero power totems, leaving the card out in the dust.
- Execute was a 1 mana spell that destroyed a damaged enemy minion. Probably the best removal spell ever, as Warrior had access to multiple spells that could ping minions and simply got more as time went on, particularly after Whispers of the Old Gods. The real issue, however, was that because of how cheap it is, faster Warrior decks could run it to deal with big problems without sacrificing much of anything, and simply snowball the game from there. Execute was nerfed to 2 mana; irrelevent for Control archetypes, but painful everywhere else.
- Back in beta, there was an infamous Gorehowl+Alexstrasza OTK combo. The main card in that combo was Charge, which was originally a 1 mana spell that gave Charge to a friendly minion. The sheer power of it resulted in the card getting watered down to a 3 mana spell that also gave +2 attack. It was pretty much fine after that, up until the Worgen OTK deck emerged during the Old Gods era.note Combined with Warrior's outstanding card draw and survivability, you had a situation not unlike Patron Warrior where they could kill you in one turn with a massive burst damage combo with little hope of stopping it. Charge got nerfed again, this time to a 1 mana spell where the chosen minion can't attack heroes. In the 2021 Core revamp, the card was rotated to Wild but reverted to its 3-mana version, where it's now a bit too slow to see meta play.
- Abusive Sergeant, a 1 mana 2/1 that granted a minion +2 attack until the end of the turn. Sergeant was probably one of the best aggro cards ever printed, potentially allowing friendly minions to trade up with minions several points of mana more expensive than them or granting more face damage in case you need to pick up the pace, and had an aggressive statline that allows it to continue getting good trades or peck at your opponents health. Abusive Sergeant was changed to a 1/1, successfully curbing its influence.
- Yogg-Saron, Hope's End is a 10 mana 7/5 minion from Whispers of the Old Gods that when played casts a random spell on random targets for each spell you played since the game began. Many players thought it was a joke. They were wrong. The thing about Yogg is that most spells tend to be purely beneficial, meaning that statistically he can build a large board, draw plenty of cards, deal face damage, and wipe the enemy board clean, all for the price of one card. His lack of reliability is a non-issue when using him a last resort - after all, he can't really screw you if you're already in a losing situation. He was, essentially, a much wackier version of the often hypothesized "50% chance to win the game" card. After his infamous antics in several tournaments during 2016, as well as his banning from Firebat's fan-tournament, Blizzard had had enough and changed him so that if he is either silenced or removed from the board in any way, the spell spree stops. After he was rotated out, though, fans began clamoring for the nerf to be reverted since Yogg wouldn't be in the meta anymore, and Blizzard obliged in the Year of the Phoenix (at which point Yogg-Saron had been Wild-exclusive for two years).
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan Nerfs
- Spirit Claws, from One Night in Karazhan, was originally a 1 mana 1/3 Shaman weapon that gained +2 attack while you controlled a minion with Spell Damage. It was indisputably the best weapon ever printed, beating out even Fiery War Axe, a deliberately overpowered weapon. Obtaining the +2 attack was fairly easy for Shaman, as their hero power had a chance to roll a Wrath of Air Totem that has innate spell damage, as well as Bloodmage Thalnos and Azure Drakes to get the damage on demand. Spirit Claws, when swung three times with the buff active, is effectively a 1 mana Pyroblast when aimed at the face and offers psychotic tempo when used on minions, and could be equipped from the very start of the game. Spirit Claws had its cost bumped up to 2, meaning that it can no longer be equipped on turn 1 when going first and requiring the coin when going second. More importantly, it slowed down its ability to combo with the 1 in 4 hero power, reducing its overall reliably by a massive margin. It was reverted in 2021, but coincided with the removal of Wrath of Air Totem from the game, meaning the weapon is still pretty much irrelevant.
- Small-Time Buccaneer from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan was a 1 mana 1/2 Pirate that gained +2 attack while his owner had a weapon equipped. It almost seemed balanced, right up until you notice that the three classes with cheap, potent weapons (Shaman, Rogue, and Warrior) were also pretty gross aggro classes. With that in mind, Small-Time became a Flame Imp without a downside that also activated Pirate synergies, and could threaten loads of face damage just for the price of 1 mana, especially in conjunction with Patches the Pirate (see below). Small-Time eventually received a cutting nerf that reduced his health to 1, making him significantly less potent and more easily answered going second.
Journey to Un'Goro Nerfs
- The worst completed quest to have been on the business end of had to be The Caverns Below, a Rogue quest where you had to play 4 minions of the same name. With minions like the Brewmasters which can put back other minions, and spells like Shadowstep and Mimic Pod, a crafty/lucky Rogue could complete this quest before their fifth turn! And the reward for completion? Crystal Core, a 5 mana spell which sets all of your remaining minions' stats (deck, hand, and on the board) to 5/5! What makes it particularly nasty is that 1-mana Charge minions such as Southsea Deckhand, Patches, and freaking Stonetusk Boar keep the stat boosts, which can set up OTK combos with the remaining bounce effects. Worse, Crystal Core can be played for a measly 2 mana thanks to Preparation. This deck archetype was so powerful and popular that it forced every single deck to tech in counters to it in order to be viable. A deserved nerf bumped up the quest requirement from 4 to 5, making it harder to blow out your opponents.
- ...Only it wasn't quite enough for the card. (See The Witchwood nerfs)
Knights of the Frozen Throne Nerfs
- Innervate, a 0 mana Druid spell that formerly gave the owner 2 mana crystals for that turn only. This card could do some insane stuff very early, such as: a turn 8 Ultimate Infestation, a turn 7 Ysera, 5 mana worth of tokens ready to be buffed, and an extra set of mana to use for combos when already at ten mana (such as Malygos shenanigans). Even in the vanilla game, a turn 1 Chillwind Yeti was enough to make anybody concede on the spot. Innervate was singlehandedly responsible for making sure Druid stayed in the meta-game, dodging nerf after nerf, until Knights of the Frozen Throne finally knocked it down to size by reducing the amount of mana it gave to 1, making it on par with the Rogue card Counterfeit Coin.
- Spreading Plague, from Knights of the Frozen Throne, was a 5 mana Druid spell that summoned a 1/5 minion with Taunt, and summoned more of them until you possessed as many minions as your opponent. It's comparable to Frost Nova in that it stalls the game until you can get your bigger, better plays, which is a big deal for a class with poor early-game. Additionally, the 1/5 tokens can be buffed by Mark of the Lotus and similar cards to build a massive board from just a few resources, while protecting higher priority targets like Fandral Staghelm and Vicious Fledgling. Even without any synergy cards, Spreading Plague on its own stops aggro in its tracks, and if they have 7 minions on the board, it may as well be a death sentence. Spreading Plague was announced to receive a nerf to 6 mana roughly 3 weeks after Knights was launched, making it the fastest recorded nerf in the entire game up to that point, and it retained that title up until the emergency Descent of Dragons nerfs. For the record, even at 6 mana, it remains on many players' most hated list.
- Hex was a 3 mana Shaman spell that transformed a minion into a 0/1 Frog with Taunt. There's no reason to make this more complicated than it is; this was the best removal option in the entire game by a country mile, and most Shaman match-ups involved the Shaman's opponent playing around it as best they could while trying to take them out. Hex was changed to 4 mana, making it in line with the Mage's Polymorph, which possesses a similar effect.
- Fiery War Axe, originally a 2 mana 3/2 Warrior weapon, was often considered one of the most powerful Warrior cards ever printed due to its sheer power and cheap cost that would allow the Warrior to kill off almost every 2 drop the opponent played while still retaining a 3/1 weapon ready to swing again. No viable Warrior decks ever went without this weapon and the win rate of a Warrior increased by at least 50% if the player draws this card in their opening hand. War Axe eventually got the axe and was changed to a 3 mana weapon, turning it from one of the strongest weapons in the game into one of the worst.
- Murloc Warleader, a 3 mana 3/3 Murloc that originally gave friendly Murlocs +2/+1, stood strong as the key enabler of Murloc decks, due to granting massive stat bonuses for little mana, but because Murlocs kind of, well, sucked, he never thrived up until League of Explorers and Journey to Un'Goro. League introduced Anyfin Can Happen, a spell that allowed Murlocs to be usable as an OTK package, while Un'Goro brought forth Gentle Megasaur, Rockpool Hunter, and Sunkeeper Tarim (see Un'Goro below for his entry), a set of minions that allowed Murlocs to stay on the board, ready for those juicy buffs. Warleader's influence was enough that Knights of the Frozen Throne removed the health bonus from his effect, ostensibly to make the effect "less confusing", but also making large Murloc boards much less sturdy.
Kobolds and Catacombs Nerfs
- Raza the Chained is the Priest Legendary from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. His Battlecry permanently changed your Hero Power to cost 0 if your deck had no duplicates. While not that impressive by himself, he essentially rewrote the meta with the inclusion of Shadowreaper Anduin. As detailed in Shadowreaper's entry in Knights of the Frozen Throne, the combination of cards allowed for extremely easy one-turn kills. He was changed to only reduce the cost to 1, limiting the damage output. Notably, he is the only Priest card that was changed post-release. However, since the nerf made Raza nearly worthless and because Priest has no good decks left in Wild after Big Priest was hamstrung by the nerf to Barnes, it was reverted at the start of 2020.
- Patches the Pirate. He was a humble 1 mana 1/1 Pirate with Charge by nature, but after you play any pirate, he blasts himself out of your deck onto the battlefield ready to fight. What should be a simple effect to give Pirate decks a small boost ended up being one of the strongest Aggro cards ever, and a mandatory card for any deck that even casually ran Pirates. He's a reverse Mad Scientist in that he gives all of your pirates a one-time Battlecry of "Draw and summon a Stonetusk Boar". When used with N'Zoth's First Mate, you essentially get a cheaper Muster for Battle, an already undercosted card, with one less 1/1. Even just getting him off of Swashburglar or Southsea Deckhand is already better than Alleycat. While a meager 1/1 doesn't seem like much, it's a 1/1 that you got for free, meaning free face damage, a free ping, a free activator for Bloodsail Cultist, or a free target for buffs like Cold Blood. Even classes that didn't have any Pirate synergies ran Bloodsail Corsair and South Sea Captain just for Patches' effect. He was that good. In the nerfs, he lost Charge, removing his instant damage.
- Patches was even more broken in game modes where you can field multiple of him in a single deck. Such is the case in the All Star Tavern Brawl, where a player may have 22 copies of him in the deck, resulting in a constant stream of 7 damage to the face from the very first turn. It's also possible to collect multiples of him in a Dungeon Run as Warrior or Rogue for an incredible aggressive start.
- Bonemare was a 7 mana 5/5 neutral minion that gave a friendly minion +4/+4 and Taunt. Simply put, it provided an assload of tempo, essentially being a 3 mana 5/5 with an improved Blessing of Kings taped onto it. Aside from certain Combo and minion-light Control, there is no deck that couldn't benefit from this effect. It's partially immune to most direct removal, provides Taunt to stop aggro decks, more damage for tempo or aggro, better stats for trading, and two big threats for Druid to ramp into. The only weakness the card has is depending on another minion being on the board, something that's not all that challenging. Most of all, it's Common, meaning anyone can get them for dirt cheap and it's also readily available to create great board swings in Arena. It was nerfed to 8 mana, slowing down how fast it comes out while also making the stats more in-line the cost. It was eventually reverted in 2021 due to complete irrelevance in Wild by that point.
- Corridor Creeper was a 7 mana 5/5 neutral minion that got cheaper for every minion that died while it was in your hand. During previews, many reviewers didn't rate it very highly, until they suddenly realized that it gets discounted for every dying minion, friendly or enemy. Just playing the game normally and making three even trades discounts it to a 1 mana 5/5. By January 2018, Corridor Creeper became insanely popular — aggro decks use it as a cheap giant body when they inevitably have their minions beaten back or to recover from a boardwipe, and control decks use it as a follow-up to a big boardwipe. It's also a Beast to boot, opening up easy Beast synergies using a 0-cost Creeper. It was nerfed to a 2/5, greatly reducing how swing-y the minion is; this resulted in Corridor Creeper being removed from just about every deck other than Evolve Shaman, though it found new life in Odd Paladin after the rotation.
The Witchwood Nerfs
- Call to Arms, from Kobolds and Catacombs, was a 4 mana Paladin spell that Recruited 3 minions that cost 2 or less. No beating around the bush - Call to Arms was easily the most insane board flooding card in the entire game. Not only did it summon three minions, those minions can include some incredibly high-value stuff like Righteous Protector, Knife Juggler, and Dire Wolf Alpha. Not only that, but it also thinned your deck out by three, reducing the chance to draw lower-cost cards later in the game (not unlike another infamous Paladin game-breaker). It also fit spectacularly into Even Paladin, where deckbuilding restrictions ensure that you'd always get three 2-drops. The card was nerfed to 5 mana, which worked in three aspects: It becomes unusable in Even Paladin, it's irrelevant in Odd Paladin (nobody wants three 1-drops for 5 mana), and it's efficiency is much more reasonable for any other Paladin deck. The spell was brought back in 4 mana with the introduction of the Core set, since the Even/Odd mechanic was pretty much dead in Wild.
- The Caverns Below makes its return! While the initial nerf to the card was sufficient in reducing Quest Rogue's power level, the rotation of numerous aggro cards and the additions of Sonya Shadowdancer and Vicious Scalehide revitalized the deck - and it was about as frustrating as it was last time. It still stomped Control, and still got rolled by Aggro. As such, Crystal Core had it's potency reduced - it makes your minions 4/4s instead of 5/5s.
- Dark Pact, from Kobolds and Catacombs, was a 1 mana Warlock spell that destroyed a friendly minion and restored 8 health to your hero. Warlocks hit the jackpot with this card - it provided monstrous healing, which is otherwise scarce for the class, and it allowed you to blow up your own minions on demand, which is fantastic when used for Carnivorous Cube shenanigans and nuking Possessed Lackey. Pact had its healing cut down to 4, making it in line with the similar Sacrificial Pact but not hurting the utility.
- Possessed Lackey, from Kobolds and Catacombs, was a 5 mana 2/2 that, on death, Recruited a Demon. Unlike Skull of the Man'ari, which is similar but possesses clear counterplay, Lackey could be killed the second it hits the board to pull powerful stuff early like Voidlord, which stops aggro dead still, and Doomguard, which can be duped for a series of powerful Chargers to end the game fast. Lackey had his mana cost increased to 6 to hopefully curb his power.
- Naga Sea Witch, from League of Explorers, was a 5 mana 5/5 with the effect of changing the cost of all cards in your hand to 5, became a Game Breaker in Wild after a buff allowed her effect to apply before any discount effects. This means that the Giants, which are so expensive one needs to build a deck around them to use, can now cost 0 with Naga Sea Witch on the board with only very minimal condition requirement, allowing for a field full of 8/8s as early as turn 5. In response, Sea Witch was changed to 8 mana, to give players more time to prepare for the parade of Giants.
- Spiteful Summoner, from Kobolds and Catacombs, was a 6 mana 4/4 that revealed a spell from your deck and summoned a random minion with cost equal to the spell's. While it sounds like an extremely variance-based card, players got around her effect by building Tempo decks containing all minions except for a few high-cost spells. This was most successful for Druid, which used the already gamebreaking Ultimate Infestation (see Knights of the Frozen Throne). While it was still high variance with lots of low rolls on release, that changed for the Year of the Raven. The rotation got rid of high rolls Y'Shaarj and Deathwing, Dragonlord, but also got rid of every single notable low roll. The worst card to pull now was Emeriss/Sea Giant, an 8/8. Past that, you have the 7/14 Ultrasaur, the 12/12 Deathwing, or the granddaddy, the 12/12 can't be targeted by spells Tyrantus. Cheating out a card that big as early as turn 5 was a total nightmare for your opponent. Spiteful had her mana cost increased to 7, giving the opponent more time to draw an answer. However, since the card saw absolutely no play in Wild at 7, it was later dropped to 6 mana again.
The Boomsday Project Nerfs
- A game-breaking combo was avoided before this set even launched. Shadowboxer was an unassuming Priest Mech from the Goblins vs Gnomes set that dealt 1 damage to a random enemy after a character was healed. It didn't see much play, but came to attention in Kobolds & Catacombs after an interaction with Unidentified Elixir potentially granted the Shadowboxer Lifesteal, creating a loop where its ability caused healing and thus triggered itself, eventually dealing as much damage as your Hero was missing health. In general, this was gimmicky and unreliable due to the Elixir only having a 1 in 4 chance of giving Lifesteal. However, The Boomsday Project introduced Zilliax, a neutral Legendary that could give any Mech Lifesteal. People quickly figured out a fast, reliable OTK deck even before the expansion launched, so Blizzard issued an emergency nerf to Shadowboxer, causing its effect to only trigger from minions.
- Aviana was a 9 mana 5/5 Druid Legendary from The Grand Tournament that made all your minions cost 1. While it began life as a meme-tastic Awesome, but Impractical card, it found a niche when Kun the Forgotten King was printed. With Kun's mana refresh, Aviana let the player unleash insane combos with cards like C'thun, King Togwaggle, Malygos, and so on. These decks were popular in Wild but still fairly inconsistent. This changed when Juicy Psychmelon (mentioned in The Boomsday Project) was printed. With the melon, Druid could draw and play all of its combo so reliably, Druid became the only real deck in the format. To cut down on combos and reduce how reliably Kun + Aviana could be drawn, she was nerfed to 10 mana.
- The actual effectiveness of this nerf is... debatable. In most cases, it slows the combo down by one turn and forces them to run Innervate as well. Otherwise, any other Aviana OTKs play exactly the same. The combo is so broken, requiring two 10 cost cards did nothing to weaken it.
- Mana Wyrm was a 1 mana 1/3 Mage minion that gained +1 Attack each time you cast a spell. It was one of the most powerful one drops in the game, being quite sticky and quickly ramping its damage up. It was a crutch card for any aggro or tempo mage, nearly doubling their winrate so long as it was in their opening hand. Mana Wyrm combined perfectly with those decks, since they spam low mana damage spells, letting the wyrm snowball out of control. It was changed to two mana, greatly slowing the card down and giving it a lot of new competition in the 2 slot. It was later burfed to a 1 mana 1/2, making it less survivable but much easier to play.
- Giggling Inventor was a 5 mana 2/1 that summoned two Annoy-o-trons, 1/2 Divine Shield and Taunt minions. It was easily one of the most stat-efficient cards ever printed, creating a 3 body spread with two separate instances of Divine Shield to get through. It was seen in numerous decks: the three sticky bodies made it ideal for decks looking to go wide and spam buffs, the efficient taunts made it desirable for any Control or Combo deck, and the Annoy-o-trons being stubborn Mechs made them prime candidates for Magnetic buffs. For the cherry on top, it was Odd, giving it free reign in Odd Rogue. It was so unanimous, people began running Blood Knight just to counter the thing. Despite The Boomsday Project not having many popular cards, Giggling Inventor singlehandedly forced the meta to be dominated by Zoolock, Deathrattle Hunter, and Odd Rogue. It was brutally gutted to 7 mana in response, seriously limiting its viability. For a good measure of how ridiculous this card was: when a handful of cards had their nerfs reverted in the Year of the Phoenix, Giggling Inventor was instead only lowered to 6 mana.
Rastakhan's Rumble Nerfs
- Druidstone had been in full swing for nearly two years, and showed no signs of slowing down. The culprits? Wild Growth and Nourish. The combination of those two cards let Druid ramp their mana much faster than other classes, executing combos with Hadronox, Aviana, Malygos, and others, or just powering out big cards like Ultimate Infestation and Spreading Plague before other classes could react. In order to solve this and hopefully prevent this going forward, the ramp cards had their cost bumped by one mana each.
- Level Up! was a fairly unassuming buff from Kobolds & Catacombs that gave your Silver Hand Recruits +2/+2 and Taunt for 5 mana. Originally hard to get value from, that changed when Baku entered the picture, creating Odd Paladin. With Odd Paladin's hero power creating two Recruits each turn, Level Up! always found a strong board at some point, creating a wall to protect high-value minion and the face, providing a huge source of damage on the opponent, or both. It was brutally axed to 6 mana, where it compares horribly to Sunkeeper Tarim, and prevents its use in Odd Paladin forever.
- Leeching Poison, originally a 2 mana spell that gave your weapon Lifesteal. Pretty bad on its own, it was completely busted with Kingsbane, which turned the weapon into an infinite and massive source of healing. In order to nullify its effect without changing how it's used with most other weapons, it was changed to a 1 mana spell that gave Lifesteal for a single turn only.
- Saronite Chain Gang, a 4 mana 2/3 Taunt that summoned an exact copy of itself. It was notorious as an overstatted Taunt that got better as it received in-hand buffs. However, its greatest feat was the broken combination with Shudderwock (see Year of the Raven below), which let the Shaman have infinite 1-mana Shudderwocks to play. Blizzard gave Shudderwock the boot and lowered Chain Gang's effectiveness by having it summon another 2/3 Saronite Chain Gang instead of a copy of itself.
- The Spellstone cards are designed with Magikarp Power in mind. They start out mediocre or weak for their cost, but become stronger by being upgraded through an action specified on their card. That is, except for the original Lesser Emerald Spellstone, which started out decently strong and just got stronger. 5 mana for 6/6 spread across two bodies is alright to begin with, but when fully upgraded, it goes up to a massive 12/12 across four. It's also trivially easy to upgrade, as all you need to do is play two Secrets with the card in hand - and Hunter has some pretty good Secrets to begin with, generating ludicrous amounts of tempo in tandem with the Spellstone's tokens. A fully upgraded Emerald Spellstone usually spells doom for any opponent that doesn't happen to have some form of area removal ready, as it's otherwise nearly impossible to deal with efficiently. Because of this, it was bumped to 6 mana to put it more in line with other Spellstones and its own effect, while making it impossible to combo with Tundra Rhino (unless you go second and hold onto The Coin for the whole game). All that said, the overall weakness of Hunter in Wild made it safe to revert in 2020.
- Hunter's Mark, once a simple 0-mana Hunter spell that reduced a single minion's health to 1, was easily the best removal spell in the game. With the trivial requirement of a single damage, Hunter could flexibly remove any minion it wanted to. Originally this was balanced by the class being a heavy aggro base, but as Hunter received more and more solid Midrange and Control cards, Hunter's Mark slowly got out of hand. It was cautiously nerfed to 1 mana during Whispers of the Old Gods even before it could become broken, but still became a breakout card, especially after the release of Candleshot. Since it was far too efficient, it was bumped again to 2 mana.
- If Hunter's Mark was the king of combo'd single-target removal, Equality was the god it worshipped. Originally 2 mana, the spell reduces the health of all minions to 1. This works exceptionally well with the Paladin hero power, using a bunch of 1/1s to trade with your opponent's shrunken board. Where it got really nasty however was when combined with Consecration or Wild Pyromancer, clearing any amount of health for just six or four mana respectively. No Control, Combo or Midrange Paladin would be caught dead without the card. It was doubled to 4 mana, slowing down how fast the pair came out (although if Shrink Ray had proven anything, not reducing its playability by that much). It was however reduced to 3 mana in the 2021 Core set, since Control Paladin had fallen way off the radar and Wild Pyromancer was rotating out.
- Flametongue Totem was a 2 mana 0/3 Totem that gave adjacent minions +2 Attack. It was a very powerful aggro card that made efficient trades a breeze. What really brought Flametongue into the spotlight, however, was Even Shaman, whose discounted hero power meant that they were never short of tokens to buff with Flametongue, and could also use the buff as a finisher in conjunction with things like Al'Akir the Windlord or a Sea Giant given Windfury. Because of its ubiquitous play in any even slightly aggressive Shaman, it was bumped to 3 mana, which also makes it unplayable in Even Shaman. This was reverted in 2021 however, and the card instead rotated into Wild.
- Cold Blood is a dreaded finisher for Aggro Rogue, providing +4 Attack on any minion for 1 mana as long as it was Combo'd. While not that strong compared to Paladin's Blessing of Might, it became truly problematic with Baku the Mooneater, as detailed below. Odd Rogue's high damage output, snowball potential, and sticky board meant finding a target was simple, and the buff was often the killing blow. Cold Blood was raised to 2 mana, barring it from Odd Rogue.
Rise of Shadows Nerfs
- Preparation, a Classic 0-mana Rogue spell that reduced the cost of your next spell that turn by 3. Prep was the biggest mana cheat in the entire game, cutting the cost of any card by an absurd amount. On top of that, it has massive synergy with Rogues, working with Combos, Edwin VanCleef, and the multitude of inexpensive cards that their disposal. Prep was so strong, Blizzard was afraid to print powerful Rogue spells, meaning that pretty much no non-Classic Rogue spells outside of Raiding Party ever saw serious play. Because of this, it was nerfed to only reduce the cost by 2.
- Raiding Party, from Rastakhan's Rumble, was a card meant to support the Pirate Rogue archetype, and while it's a good card in that deck, it had much more significance in other Rogue decks. This card elevated Kingsbane Rogue from a fringe archetype to a solid high tier deck for its weapon drawing effect (where the only other guaranteed way to draw it was from Cavern Shinyfinder), which also had the convenience of drawing Cutthroat Buccaneers to buff it. Where this card really went out of control was when Waggle Pick was added in Rise of Shadows. A 4-mana 4/2 weapon is not only an extremely solid baseline, but it also just happens to have the exact amount of Attack required to summon 0-mana Dread Corsairs. Being able to summon 6/6 worth of bodies with Taunt with a weapon from a single card was one of the main driving factors in Tempo Rogue becoming an oppressive force in the Year of the Dragon meta. To deal with this, Raiding Party was bumped to 4 mana. That said, it was lowered back to 3 mana once it rotated into Wild, since the format could easily handle a 3 mana tutor.
- EVIL Miscreant seems innocent enough on paper; a 1/5 at 3 mana isn't very impressive, plus requiring a Combo to generate some 1/1 Lackeys isn't all that, is it? You'd be wrong. Turns out Lackeys are very useful for their variety of effects, from card generation, removal, or board value, and in the case of Witchy Lackey, likely negating the Miscreants poor stats. Not only that, Lackeys make for great Combo activators, compared to most other token generators in the past being held back by being too weak or requiring too much of a tempo sacrifice to generate. The Lackeys only helped empower the Rogue's already good Classic card set, and so EVIL Miscreant was the other key card that elevated Tempo Rogue to the top of the meta. It was nerfed to a 1/4, weakening the card, although not by much.
- Archivist Elysiana was an 8 mana 7/7 with the very unique effect of Discovering 5 cards and replacing your deck with 2 copies of each. That sounds memey, but there's absolutely nothing preventing you from waiting until your deck is empty, then playing her to shuffle in 10 cards and massively delaying fatigue. But the really, really insane thing was combining it with Youthful Brewmaster or Baleful Banker, giving yourself a 50 to 60 card deck. Naturally, when your opponent is playing a 60 card deck, you want to as well. This meant a disproportionate number of Control mirrors were decided not by the players, but ended in draws because of the turn limit. In response, Elysiana was increased to 9 mana, requiring you to save a Coin to cheat her out. She was reverted after rotating to Wild, since abusing the effect is far too slow and gimmicky for that format.
- Again, an unassuming Priest card was preemptively changed to prevent a game-breaking combo. Reckless Experimenter was a ho-hum minion, originally known as the combo-enabler for Mecha'thun Priest but not really making an impact elsewhere. But with the incoming addition of SN1P-SN4P in the Rise of the Mech event, people realised that her effect let the Priest have infinite damage as early as turn 5 so long as they had a single Mech in play (something easy to do with Coppertail Imposter). Reckless Experimenter was issued an emergency nerf that made her effect unable to reduce the cost below 1. This nerf became obsolete when Echo was mechanically changed to be unable to cost 0 mana, and was undone in 2020.
Saviors of Uldum Nerfs
- Conjurer's Calling was originally 3-mana. While it was already strong to split apart pretty much any sizable minion, it really became a Game-Breaker when used on Mountain Giant, summoning a combination of another Mountain Giant or a Grave Horror, and putting another copy of the spell into your hand as the cherry on top. This could be done as early as turn 4. If used in combination with Khadgar, the Mage effectively would win right there. In response, the card was raised to 4 mana, which worked in several places. It increased the cost by 2 thanks to the Twinspell, it made it much harder to use with Khadgar on the same turn, and it decreased its overall combo potential with cards like Frost Nova. It did return to 3-mana in 2021, since Wild Mages can do much grosser things much faster than that.
- While Dr. Boom, Mad Genius wasn't regarded the strongest Hero Card (although it was still considered a step up from Scourgelord Garrosh), its real power became far more apparent after the Year of the Dragon rotation, whereupon it became one of only three Hero Cards left in Standard. It was played in every Warrior deck without question, providing a huge armor boon mixed with strong hero powers (some minor unreliability notwithstanding) and a game-warping passive that turns mechs - already strong on their own - into board controlling nightmares. If your opponent played Dr. Boom on turn 6 or 7, it might as well have been game over as they bulked up from constant 7 armor, board clears, and free mechs for the rest of the game. The nuttiest thing is that he didn't even need to be played in a dedicated mech deck - mechs are strong enough that Control Warrior would be playing them anyway. Not to mention, Warrior has plenty of ways to generate more. Even compared to Hagatha and Zul'jin, Boom was without a doubt the most terrifying Hero left standing. As a result, Blizzard did the unthinkable and broke the meme, raising Dr. Boom from 7 to 9 mana, greatly slowing him down and preventing him from being played with a hero power when drawn late. However, like a good meme (and mostly because the card was underpowered in Wild), he was returned to 7 mana in the Year of the Phoenix.
- Barnes was initially an interesting card that saw a lot of experimentation, but quickly spiraled downwards to Public Enemy #1 in Wild. The addition of many new resurrect mechanics for Priest made him completely broken. His effect could be used to pull any number of huge minions as a 1/1, then that minion could be returned via Eternal Servitude, Lesser Diamond Spellstone, Resurrect, ect. And then it could returned again. And again. And again... Another combo was to use him in a Spell Hunter deck, playing him on turn 4 to summon Y'Shaarj and put out 14/15 in stats. His insane highroll potential got him bumped to 5 mana, an eternity in Wild terms.
- The Rise of the Mech event was for the most part well-liked by players, but was a very experimental patch. As such, a few of its balance buffs ended up becoming problems, and were reverted.
- Extra Arms was a Priest card that gave a minion +2/+2 for 3 mana and added More Arms! to your hand, another spell with the +2/+2 effect (in essence, it was a beta Twinspell). Blizzard lowered the spells to only two mana, looking to push a Zoo Priest. While this was initially unsuccessful, Saviors of Uldum added plenty of new tools, and a snowball zoo deck was born. The entire point was to land a 1-drop (Northshire Cleric or Lightwarden then give it +2/+2 and continue from there. Extra Arms had its cost reverted to 3 mana to solve this powerhouse deck.
- Luna's Pocket Galaxy was very Awesome, but Impractical in its original release. Its buff to 5 mana however ended up to be one of the most impactful changes in the entire game, since the Mage player could comfortably play it without falling too far behind. With the Coin, you could use its effect as early as turn 4. The card wouldn't be that bad if it was just used to set up combos, but it was instead used as a gross highroll. Cards like King Phaoris, Archmage Antonidas, Kalecgos, Alexstrasza, and many more are already pretty good in control Mage, but became utterly disgusting when reduced to 1 mana.* Not to mention, Luna's Pocket Galaxy had crazy synergy with Conjurer's Calling, a card that certainly did not need help breaking the game. The spell was returned to 7 mana.
Descent of Dragons Nerfs
- Out the gate, the worst offender of the set was Faceless Corruptor. On the minuscule condition of having any minion on the board, Faceless Corruptor created two 5/4 bodies with Rush for only 5 mana. It was a no-brainer slot in any deck, clearing one major or two medium threats while also usually placing a tonne of stats on the board. It could then turn around and deal ten damage to the face next turn if not dealt with - something very hard to do, considering it probably just cleared the board. The real crime is just how flexible it was: it could deal 5 to two minions, 10 to one minion, 5 to one and summon a 5/4, give a token +4/+3 and summon a 5/4, or even just be a 5/4 Rush - which is still really good! It was nerfed to a 4/4 - still strong, but not anywhere near as overwhelming.
- As mentioned in the decks section, Shaman was absolutely brutal at the beginning of this set (and had been the best class of Saviors of Uldum to boot). As such, a handful of their power plays got hit.
- Sludge Slurper was a 2/1 Murloc that added a Lackey to your hand and Overloaded for 1. This card was the absolute jackpot: it was a cheap Battlecry for Battlecry Shaman which generated another cheap battlecry, it was a strong Murloc for Murloc decks, and even the Overload was an upside for Overload-lovers. It could even be played on curve, since the Lackey it created filled the next 1 mana turn perfectly. It was reduced to a 1/1, significantly reducing how powerful it is in play. The nerf was reverted at the end of the Year of the Dragon since Sludge Slurper was merely a good 1-drop and not a broken card, and Shaman in general was a lot less overwhelming than it was at the Descent of Dragons launch due to their Galakrond package getting cut down to size.
- Mogu Fleshshaper is a 3/4 Rush that gets reduced by 1 mana for each other minion in play. All of them, not just enemy ones. This was a source of board control and board flooding that severely punished your opponent for counter-flooding. The broken thing though is its synergy with Mutate or Witchy Lackey, converting its tiny body into a massive minion usually after it already dealt its three damage. Initially 7 mana, it was nerfed to 9 which both slowed it down and worsened the pool of minions it could be evolved into.
- Corrupt Elementalist was a 3/3 for 5 that Invoked twice, upgrading Galakrond and summoning two 2/1 Elementals with Rush. This card offered hefty board presence, dealing 4 damage and leaving behind a 3/3 - as well as significant value, upgrading Galakrond a whole tier with just one card. It was also disgusting with the Shaman quest, creating 8 rushing damage and fully upgrading Galakrond by itself. Corrupt Elementalist was nerfed to 6 mana, which made its immediate stats more reasonable for the price and prevented the Shaman from Coining it on four and playing Dragon's Pack on curve.
- Even after the initial nerfs, Galakrond Shaman was still overperforming. As such, two of its power plays were hit again at the start of 2020.
- Invocation of Frost was a 1 mana spell that Froze an enemy, triggering the Invoke effect of summoning a 2/1 with Rush. As is, it was basically a Glacial Shard - already a card that saw constructed play - that could deal 2 damage immediately. The Freeze and instant damage stopped aggressive decks in the early game, and it wasn't even a bad turn 1 play. It gave a ridiculous amount of board control for a 1 mana spell while also being a cheap, efficient way to Invoke. This card also made a pretty batty combo with Zentimo, freezing most if not all of the opponent's board and Invoking three times. As such, it was bumped to 2 mana.
- Dragon's Pack is a 5 mana spell that summons two 2/3 Wolves with Taunt. That alone isn't a horrible effect, since it's Feral Spirit with all the mana upfront. The broken thing was the other effect: if you had Invoked twice, the wolves gained +3/+3, summoning 10/12 in Taunt across two bodies. It was an absolutely ludicrous amount of stats, being enough to dodge almost all board clear and single-target removal while threatening tonnes of face damage if not answered all while protecting the Shaman. It also only got more disgusting with Electra Stormsurge or Vargoth doubling the spell. It was nerfed to only grant +2/+2, which is still great, but far more manageable.
- All of these cards and the Shaman cards above (sans Mogu Fleshshaper) were reverted upon rotation to Wild, where even the unnerfed Galakrond Shaman is a non-presence in the meta.
- Fiendish Rites is a Warlock spell that Invokes and gives your minions +1 Attack. While that sounds underwhelming, keep in mind that the Warlock Invoke summons two 1/1 Imps, making the spell at the very worst a bad Landscaping. Its status as a permanent Attack buff, an activator for Eggs, a way to build Zoo's finisher card, and an okay turn 3 play made it just a little too flexible. As such, it was bumped from 3 to 4 mana. Like the Shaman Invoke cards, this was reverted to little fanfare.
- If the most hated Invoke card of the set wasn't Dragon's Pack, it was certainly Scion of Ruin. The baseline effect of summoning three 3/2 Rush minions is really strong, but it got disgusting with a few synergies. Namely, Dragon Breeder allowed the Warrior to play the card while still saving a copy for later. That was supplemental though - the card was bonkers with Barista Lynchen, who could generate three copies of the card, all with the same tripling Battlecry. Those three could even be duplicated by War Master Voone, letting the Warrior play the card ten times in one game. While this interaction was untouched, the card was nerfed to 4 mana to greatly slow down how fast it could be combo'd while also preventing it from being played immediately if drawn by Galakrond, the Unbreakable. This too was reverted in 2021.
- Necrium Apothecary's Combo effect not only draws a Deathrattle card from your deck, it also gains its Deathrattle. Naturally, players were quick to abuse this effect by putting in just one or two expensive Deathrattle minions in their decks, not unlike Spiteful Summoner. Suddenly a card like Anubisath Warbringer, which was far too slow to use, was absolutely devastating when its effect can be cheated out as early as turn 4. You could activate its Deathrattle on the same turn with Necrium Blade on curve, and if the opponent was too afraid to remove it, Necrium Vial was there to make it even worse. Once you got the Anubisath Warbringer-copied Apothecary ball rolling, you could dump a bunch of cheap minions to steamroll the midgame, not unlike a certain deck from Un'goro, potentially also hand-buffing a few Chargers like Southsea Deckhand and Leeroy Jenkins along the way to threaten a terrifying amount of face damage. It was jokingly called "Quest Rogue 2" for a reason. As such, the card was increased to 5 mana, giving the opponent more time to prepare a board or draw an answer and making the curve far more awkward. It was reverted in 2021 for being basically unplayable at 5.
- Ancharrr, a Legendary weapon for Warrior, has the effect of drawing a Pirate from your deck after attacking with it. This is a card that provided Pirate Warrior - an infamous all-in archetype - with an efficient way of refueling the hand while still dealing damage. If the Warrior drew this on three, it was almost always game over. Not only were they dealing 6 damage and drawing 3 cards, they activated all of their weapon synergies. The weapon was also gross with Hoard Pillager, who reequipped it and could be drawn by the initial cast. The value and synergy proved to be too much of a game-winning highroll when played on curve. The durability was reduced from 3 to 2, lowering both the damage over time as well as number cards it could draw.
Ashes of Outland Nerfs
- How good were Demon Hunters on launch? So good, they were pushing 80% winrate, toppling even prenerf Galakrond Shaman. So good, the winrate of all nine other classes were in the red. So good, they were above 50% in Wild, with only 45 cards to their name. Whatever weaknesses Demon Hunter had (namely, board clear and hard removal), they completely ignored with insane aggressive tempo and recovery. They were so good, four of their cards were nerfed one day after the launch of this set. It eventually culminated in the largest batch of nerfs ever. Of the forty-five demon hunter cards added, thirteen were nerfed or reworked in just this block. Players often joke that Ashes of Outland was less of an expansion and more of an open beta to fine tune the class.
- Aldrachi Warblades, a 3 mana 2/3 weapon with Lifesteal. This seemingly humble weapon was, in truth, a potent healing engine that made it extremely hard for any deck to race Demon Hunter, forcing virtually everyone to play on the defensive for the entire match. The class has so many options for boosting their hero's attack that they could easily heal for 6 health every turn while controlling the board. Even without any other cards, simply using your Hero Power can offer that little bit of extra healing and damage that makes or breaks a game. Warblades had its durability reduced to 2, dramatically reducing both its healing potential and its board controlling abilities.
- Eye Beam, a 3 mana spell that starts out pretty good - it has Lifesteal and deals 3 damage to a minion. With the Outcast bonus, its cost became zero, allowing you to easily weave it into any turn you wanted. True, its effect on the game is somewhat minute, but the fact that it offers an advantage in both board and health for nothing at all makes it very, very useful. The Outcast bonus was changed so that it costs 1 mana instead of zero, making it significantly harder to use efficiently.
- Skull of Gul'dan, a piece of card draw strong enough to make the actual Gul'dan jealous. For 5 mana, you could draw three cards, which is already good and in-line with Demon Hunter's class identity. However, if you Outcasted it, it would reduce the cost of the cards by 3. This thing cheats out so much mana that it essentially pays for itself twice over, and you can play it in anything - Aggro can use it for reload, while Control can use it to reduce the cost of their bigger minions. Even among all the other broken things, this card was so strong that DH mirrors usually came down to whoever cast their Skull first. It was increased to 6 mana in the emergency nerfs, which delays its effect on the game by an extra turn.
- Imprisoned Antaen was a colossal 5 mana 10/6 Demon that started Dormant for two turns, but dealt 10 damage split among all enemies when it woke up. Antaen's purpose was to be a risky aggro finisher, meant to unleash 10 points of concentrated hell when you had seized control of the board to finish the job, but Demon Hunter was so good at taking over the board that you could casually drop this on turn five and just kill the enemy with the burst. If it wasn't wiping any resistance on the board your opponent tried to set up, it was literally Pyroblasting their face. Because of how Dormant works, you also still had 7 or more mana to spend that turn, basically securing the game. Antaen was raised to 6 mana, which makes it much slower and much riskier to use.
- It's also worth noting this card was even stronger not long before it hit live. An early image appeared in a behind the scenes video from IGN, where it was a 10/10.
- Glaivebound Adept was a 5 mana 7/4 that dealt 4 damage if your hero had attacked that turn. The effect was very easy to accomplish, simply by having a weapon equipped or waiting until turn 6 and using it with the hero power. The combination of ridiculous stats and an aggressive effect were too much for a Basic card, and it was nerfed to 6 attack.
- Battlefiend was a 1 mana 2/2 Demon Hunter minion with the upside of gaining +1 attack after your hero attacked. In essence, it was a Flame Imp with no downsides that also snowballed, since it's extremely easy to attack as Demon Hunter. It was even more disgusting if they played it on turn 1, then played another with a hero power on turn 2, establishing two growing 3/2s. It was lowered to the much more reasonable 1/2 statline.
- Crimson Sigil Runner was a 1-mana 2/1 for Demon Hunter whose Outcast bonus draws a card. As proven by things like Leper Gnome and Abusive Sergeant, 1-mana 2/1 is a superb aggressive statline if combined with another bonus, and drawing a card to replace itself in your hand is about as good as bonuses get for aggro. It's also a superb topdeck, as the Runner can easily be thrown down on the board for an easy cycle and another body for your opponent to deal with at a trivial 1 mana. To make it less of a no-brainer auto-include and weaken its trading potential, Crimson Sigil Runner was cut down to 1/1.
- Altruis the Outcast is one of two Legendaries from the Demon Hunter Initiate set, and by far the more powerful. His effect deals 1 damage to all enemies whenever you play your left-most or right-most card, which can both deal with wide boards and deal tonnes of face damage. Thanks to Demon Hunters' insane card draw, he can do this even if your hand wasn't that big to start, chaining off of cycling cards. He was raised to 4 mana, slowing him down and reducing the number of cards that can be played on the same turn as him.note
- This ended up not being enough of a nerf, so Twin Slice was later burfed to 1 mana but +2 Attack. This prevents Altruis from dealing potentially 4 damage to all enemies for 0 mana. This change also ended up enabling Odd Demon Hunter in Wild, which is still generally a lesser evil than the alternative.
- Priestess of Fury was a 7 mana 6/7 Demon for Demon Hunter with the effect of dealing 6 damage randomly across all enemies at the end of the turn. The card was monstrously powerful, being a mini-Ragnaros that can still attack, and is actually made better on wide boards. The most disgusting thing was its health, which was high enough to protect it from most soft kill spells (and good luck killing it with minions when it just cleared your board). Even worse, it could be reduced to 5 mana with Raging Felscreamer, dominating the midgame to follow up on Demon Hunter's already gross early game. It was nerfed to 5 health, putting it in range of most removal spells and lots of Rush minions.
- Kayn Sunfury was a 3/5 with Charge and an aura that let the player ignore Taunt. While not overly powerful, his solid statline made him too flexible since he could be dropped as a 3/5 that Charged for 3 on curve, or saved for a big burst finisher. His health was reduced to 4, making him less good as a tempo play.
- Metamorphosis is a Legendary Demon Hunter spell that replaces the hero power with Demonic Blast for two uses. Originally, Demonic Blast dealt 5 damage for 1 mana, meaning that a small tempo sacrifice let the Demon Hunter later deal 10 damage for only two mana over two turns. It was also perfect for whatever board control DH had to do and was readily Discovered by Vulpera Scoundrel thanks to their small card pool. Combined with Demon Hunter's all around high burst, it was too much damage. It was lowered to 4 damage per hero power.
- Warglaives of Azzinoth was a 3/4 weapon for 5 - already solid as seen on Assassin's Blade - that let your hero attack again if you attacked a minion. What this meant was the demon hunter could carry one attack buff through an entire board of minions, plowing through a taunt wall and still delivering one final blow to the face. It was a monster of a card that gave the class far too much board control, especially for something tempo-based. What really pushed this over the top, though, was Odd Demon Hunter in Wild - with their 2-damage Hero Power and their new 1-mana Twin Slice, Warglaives gave Odd Demon Hunter an obscene amount of clearing and burst damage, and that's before getting into what happens when you get a Battlefiend or Hench-Clan Thug to stick on the board. It was bumped to 6 mana, bringing it into line in most Demon Hunter builds and barring it from Odd Demon Hunter. It was then burfed to a 5 mana 3/3 weapon for its inclusion in the Core set.
- Sacrificial Pact is a Basic Warlock spell that had the effect of destroying a Demon and restoring 5 health to your hero for 0 mana. Any demon, not just one of yours. While a 0 mana nuke + heal is obviously insane, it was balanced by the fact that only Warlocks had demons, meaning it was useless in 8/9 matchups and might not even have a target against other Warlocks. Neutral demons slowly became more common over the years, although none were common enough to justify playing this. This changed in Ashes of Outland. Not only did almost every class have demons now, Demon Hunters were very demon-focused, even more so than Warlocks. Add in the popularity of Frenzied Felwing (see below) and the fact that Galakrond could generate endless tokens to sacrifice for health in the occasional matchup without demons, and the card's full power could be seen. This led to Blizzard nerfing it to only target friendly demons, nuking it for the greater good.
- Bad Luck Albatross, from Descent of Dragons was a 4/3 for 3 with the Deathrattle effect of shuffling two Albatrosses into your opponent's deck. Those Albatrosses are 1 mana 1/1s with no effect, IE; dead cards. This bird is Weasel Tunneler but better in almost every way - not only does it counter a variety of decks, at worst it shuts down two of the opponent's draws - which can include important stuff like the free cards drawn by Galakrond, the Nightmare. On top of all that, it didn't give you the dead draw of a 1 mana 1/1 yourself, since the actual bird had a decent body for the cost and a Deathrattle your opponent may actively avoid. Since there was no penalty for running the card, it was practically everywhere. In response, it was bumped to 4 mana to heavily curb its stats-to-cost ratio. It was changed back to 3 after rotating to Wild to give a much-needed Highlander disruptor.
- Frenzied Felwing, from Galakrond's Awakening, was a 4 mana 3/3 Demon that had its cost reduced by 1 for each damage the opponent took during your turn. With an established board, it's supremely easy to deal 4 damage to the face, particularly while ahead. This made it a back-breaking aggro card if drawn early, especially if both were drawn. Its health was lowered to 2, vastly increasing the number of removal and board clear spells that can answer the minion, giving Control decks a larger window to recover. This also ended up being reverted.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider was the free Legendary given out for Ashes of Outland, and his effect is utterly nuts. It makes every third spell cast cost 0 mana. With careful deck building, he lets the player spam cards with impunity, giving access to high-damage combos or huge card draw. In Wild, Druids can literally draw their entire deck in one turn thanks to all their cheap/free spells and mana refreshing. In Standard, he let Token Druid flood the board with minions, and Demon Hunters deal 24+ damage in a single turn. Kael was raised from 6 to 7 mana, reducing the number of spells that can be cast alongside him and slowing down how fast he comes into play.
- Open the Waygate is the Mage Quest from Un'Goro, with the reward of a 5-mana spell that lets you take an Extra Turn. If extra turns are strong in Magic: The Gathering, imagine how strong they are in a game with extremely limited counters to your opponent's actions. The quest required you to cast 6 spells that didn't start in your deck, which is trivially easy in Wild as Mages continue to get more and more powerful spell generation effects. The deck dominated the Wild ladder, stalling the game out until the Mage can draw whatever infinite damage win condition they have and sealing the game with the quest. The requirement was increased to 8 spells, which slows it down a bit and makes it more susceptible to bad draws.
- Bloodbloom, also from Un'Goro, was a 2 mana Warlock spell that made your next spell cost health instead of mana. Considered a gimmick card for years, it came back in full force in Rise of Shadows with Darkest Hour, a card that destroys all friendly minions to summon a random minion from your deck for each destroyed. This created an effective cheese strategy where the Warlock would stuff their deck with half token-generating cards and half massive Charge and Taunt cards, and use Darkest Hour with Bloodbloom to fill their board with huge stuff as early as turn 5. The deck usually either ended games early without any possible counterplay or bricked and lost - but the swings were fast and numerous enough that the deck had a very positive winrate. In response, Bloodbloom was upped to 4 mana, killing the deck.
- Imprisoned Scrap Imp was a 2 mana 3/3 minion that began Dormant for 2 turns but gave all minions in your hand +2/+2 when it awoke. Considered a standout card well above the power curve, the Imp was conservatively nerfed to only give +2/+1, making zoo decks using it more susceptible to board clears.
- Shadowjeweler Hanar is a Rogue minion which lets you Discover a Secret from another class every time you play a Secret. This creates the so-called 'Hanar cycle', where the Rogue can endlessly play Secrets from Hanaar to fuel his own effect. Despite this insane effect, Hanar was infuriatingly sticky on the board as a 2 mana 1/5.salty details It's bad enough that people would immediately try and remove him as soon as possible, even if that means sinking a disproportionate amount of resource to do so.* Eventually Blizzard lowered him to a 1/4, making most spells or minions able to kill him in one hit - meaning you need to dunk far less resources into disabling his traps before you can finish him off.
- Bloodsworn Mercenary is a 3 mana Warrior minion from Saviors of Uldum that creates a copy of a friendly damaged minion. Warrior, the same class with the best Charge and Rush minions as well as cards like Inner Rage and Risky Skipper for easy damage triggers. While a powerful finisher, the card was insane for its flexibility - as a 3/3 for three that summoned another minion, it was just naturally a strong tempo play. This made Tempo Warrior a deck that could win through attrition or a combo finisher. To cut down on the generic usefulness of the card, Bloodsworn Mercenary was dropped to a 2/2.
- Scavenger's Ingenuity was a 2-mana Hunter spell that drew a Beast from your deck and gave it a hefty +3/+3. Not only did it give Hunters access to deck thinning, the bonus stats were just a bit too much to be comfortable in aggressive Hunter builds, giving them early access to overstatted beaters. The two main culprits for tutoring with this card were Phase Stalker, which became a fat 5/6 body that spits out Secrets, and (of all things) Stonetusk Boar, turning into a 4/4 Charge that can comfortably be slotted into an early- or mid-game turn to break a Taunt or smack the opponent's face. The snowball potential of this card was just too high, and the stat buff was brought down to +2/+2 to make it less oppressive; even then, the Ingenuity + Boar + Stalker package still saw play in most Hunter builds.
- Dragonqueen Alexstrasza was a 9-mana 8/8 Dragon from Descent of Dragons that gave you two free Dragons with their costs set to 0 if played with no duplicates in your deck. While there are a few misses like Faerie Dragon, more often than not Alexstrasza would give you two giant beatsticks that could be dropped for free to generate a huge late-game swing, making her an instant-include for all highlander decks in Standard. In many cases, it was pretty much an automatic win if you played her on curve. Even after an Obvious Rule Patch made it so she couldn't generate a copy of herself, she was still highrolling games. To curb this, Blizzard nerfed her to only set the costs to 1, turning her from a tempo swing into a value play. After rotating to Wild, her effect was again returned to 0 mana.
- Galakrond, the Nightmare was Rogue's hero card from Descent of Dragons. It has the decently strong Invoke and hero power of generating a Lackey, but its true ridiculousness came from its Battlecry. It drew up to 4 cards depending on how Invoked it was, and set their cost to 0. This allowed Rogues to perform truly disgusting turns where they completely refuel the board with potentially four huge cards as early as turn 7 on lucky games. It could also be combined with Heistbaron Toggwaggle's Wondrous Wand to draw another three cards and set their cost to 0 as well (potentially on the same turn if played on ten or drawing Galakrond with the Wand), giving the Rogue seven cards drawn all costing zero. Similar to Dragonqueen, Galakrond was changed to set the cost 1 instead, and like Dragonqueen, this was reverted after rotation.
- Dragoncaster is a Mage 4/4 from Descent of Dragons that reduces the cost of the next spell you cast to 0 if you're holding a Dragon. The condition is very easy to fulfill, making the card barely conditional. At six mana, it let the Mage play huge spells like Deep Freeze, Power of Creation, or Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron as early as turn 5, and net a free 4/4 in the process. It was increased to 7 mana, lowering how much mana it cheats out.
- Corsair Cache was a Warrior spell that drew a weapon and gave it +1/+1. It combined a tutor effect - an on-curve one too since most Warrior weapons cost 3 mana - with a free Upgrade. It pushed Warrior's damage just a little too hard, so it was nerfed to only grant 1 Durability.
- Fungal Fortunes was a Druid spell that drew three cards for 2 mana, but discarded any minions drawn. It was meant to be a mirror to Mage's Book of Specters, but Blizzard miscalculated how much better spells were than minions. Druids were running the card for cheap and easy spell draw, taking some risk on minions but cashing in on three card highrolls. To encourage more deck variety going forward, it was increased to 3 mana.
Scholomance Academy Nerfs
- Kael'thas Sunstrider, again. Being nerfed the first time didn't stop Kael from enabling ridiculous combos by cheating out huge spells for cheap, and the addition of Lightning Bloom made him more ridiculous than ever. While far from consistent (since it relies on you drawing four specific cards on your first turn), Kael'thas and Lightning Bloom in conjunction with Barnes allows you to drop things like Ultimate Infestation on turn 1. He was duly nerfed to set the mana cost of spells to 1, up from 0... and is still used as a combo enabler in Druid, who has more than enough 0-cost spells to combo with him.
- Mindrender Illucia is a Priest legendary that swaps hands and decks with the opponent for one turn. Designed to be a combo disruptor, Illucia proved to be a little too versatile at her original price of 2 mana. Against aggressive decks, she could be played in the early game for board presence and to fill the opponent's hand with literally unplayable cards, destroying their tempo. Against control decks, she gave the Priest 8 mana to play with to waste the opponent's removal and value cards, while giving the opponent an empty hand if possible. As such, she was quickly nerfed to 3 mana to lessen her impact.
- Secret Passage is a 1 mana Rogue spell that sent your hand to another dimension for the turn and replaced it with 5 cards from your deck. Yeah, for all intents and purposes it was 1 mana to draw five. While you couldn't keep the five you drew, you did keep any cards you drew afterwards or generated. Plus, you obviously keep anything you play. It was a monstrous amount of fuel for aggro Rogues, and as such was reduced to only draw 4 instead.
- Cabal Acolyte was a 4 mana 2/6 Priest Taunt with a Spellburst effect to take control of a random enemy minion with 2 or less Attack. Sounds like a decent anti-aggro card, but it happened to be printed in the same set as Wave of Apathy. With the two cards combined, the Priest could steal any large threat from the board, making it great against any matchup. Also, with great defensive stats and a non-Battlecry effect, Cabal Acolyte was a perfect resurrection target to keep reusing the effect. Its health was lowered to 4, making its inclusion a bit more situational.
- Darkglare from Ashes of Outland was a 3 mana 3/4 Warlock Demon that refreshed 2 mana crystals after the player took damage on their turn. It allowed Zoolocks to easily fuel themselves with constant mana refreshes on their turn - even Life Tap became free to cast. However, it got really nutty in this set with Flesh Giant, which could be reduced to 0 mana and played as early as turn three with a good hand (especially in Wild). Add Raise Dead to possibly recur Flesh Giant, and you had a disgusting highroll card. In response, Darkglare was reworked to a 2 mana 2/3 that only restores a single mana crystal.
- Tortollan Pilgrim from Saviors of Uldum is an 8 mana 5/5 Mage minion that Discovers a spell in your deck and casts it. Initially it only cast a copy, meaning you got to keep whatever it pulled. That already makes it pretty good, but it became a serious problem in this set. With the introduction of Potion of Illusion, Tortollan Pilgrim could be played to add a 1 mana copy of itself to your hand, recast to Freeze the opponent's board with Frost Nova, then followed with by endless Tortollan Pilgrims and Freezes on future turns. This could be used to endlessly recycle another Battlecry minion, killing the opponent over several turns without a chance for them to respond. To cull any RNG from this, Sphere of Sapience could send the Potion or Nova to the bottom of the deck if they happened to be drawn. In response, Tortollan Pilgrim now removes the spell from your deck when played.
- Guardian Animals was a 7 mana Hunter/Druid spell (not that you'd ever know it was dual-class) that summoned 2 Beasts from the deck that cost 5 or less and gave them Rush. To put it simply, this could put two of three very powerful cards into play on the druid's end - Twilight Runner for insane card draw, Teacher's Pet for protection, and Lake Thresher for a board clear. Since it gave the druid these effects while also thinning their deck and giving them board presence, it was an obvious staple. The big issue was druid's ever-problematic mana ramp, which allowed them to do all of this as early as turn four. Guardian Animals was nerfed to 8 mana, putting it slightly out of reach of early ramp but likely killing any chance of Hunter ever using the card.
- Evocation was a 1-mana Legendary Mage spell that fills your hand with random Mage spells that get discarded at the end of the turn. Simply put, the value this offers is beyond insane. It's great for digging for answers to your opponent's board, it can easily spit out cards that generate or draw more cards (which you then get to keep for the next turn), it can be thrown down for free if you have Sorcerer's Apprentice on board before proceeding to vomit spells... and, of course, Mage has a huge number of cards that benefit from the player spamming spells, especially ones that didn't start in your deck, allowing things like massive hand refills from Mana Cyclone and huge board floods from Chenvaala followed by a Mana Giant or two. And, of course, in Wild this thing can easily complete Open the Waygate by itself. Evocation was bumped up to 2 mana as a result, putting a slight limit on the spells you can hurl with it.
- Astromancer Solarian is a 2-mana 3/2 Mage Legendary that has Spell Damage +1. That is, of course, not the exciting part: she also has a Deathrattle that shuffles Solarian Prime into your deck, a 7-mana 7/7 with Spell Damage +1 whose Battlecry casts 5 random Mage spells, targeting opponents if possible. This basically makes Solarian Prime a better version of Yogg-Saron, as she's constrained to a narrow set of spells that like to target opponents or have no target, making her no risk and all reward when you're playing from behind. And at 7 mana, you can even follow up with a couple more cards if she draws and/or generates a bunch of free crap for you (which, given Mage's spell pool, she will). Solarian Prime was bumped up from 7 mana to 9, making her come down much slower and preventing the Mage from pressing the advantage in the same turn.
Madness at the Darkmoon Faire Nerfs
- Blade Dance is a Demon Hunter spell from the Initiate set that deals damage to three random enemy minion equal to your hero's attack. This was fine until Demon Hunter got the Soul Fragment package in Scholomance and a few more hero-attack cards in Darkmoon Faire, giving them an archetype that can reliably get 4 or more Attack on key turns (and easily getting up to 10 in late turns), turning their burn damage into board control while still dealing just as much burst. This could let them safely plow through up to three Taunt minions and smack the face for however much, not including whatever minions they had. It was raised from 2 to 3 mana, slowing it down and making it harder to combine with lots of attack boosts at once.
- Shardshatter Mystic from Scholomance Academy was a 3 mana 3/2 minion for Demon Hunter that burned a Soul Fragment from the deck to deal 3 damage to all minions. Despite sounding controlly, Shardshatter was used as a counter-aggro card in midrange builds, letting them clear the board while - you guessed it - still going face. The symmetrical effect rarely mattered either, since Soul Demon Hunter only cared about weapons and attack buffs rather than board presence. Having such an effective board clear, especially paired with Blade Dance, gave them too few counters. As such, it was raised to 4 mana.
- Dreadlord's Bite was a 3/2 Demon Hunter weapon for 3 mana that dealt 1 damage to all enemies if it was Outcasted. It proved to be just a touch too powerful, weakening (and sometimes clearing) the board while going face for a total of 7 damage by itself. It was reduced to a 2/2.
- Dinotamer Brann is Hunter's Highlander card from Saviors of Uldum. It was a 7 mana 2/4 that summoned King Krush if your deck had no duplicates. This gave Hunter the ability to swing face for 8 damage and leave 10/12 in stats in play. If played on turn 9, it could be combined with the hero power to burst for 10. Even in dire situations it could be used to trade, which would still leave a huge body in play most times. Brann was raised to 8 mana, giving the opponent one turn to stablize from Hunter's unrelenting pressure. This was reverted after he rotated to Wild however, since Hunter is the worst Wild class by far.
- Jeeves is an iconic aggro card from Goblins vs. Gnomes which is a 4 mana 1/4 that lets each player draw until they have three cards in hand at the end of their turn. Scholomance Academy decided to recall the card with Voracious Reader, a 2 mana 1/3 with a non-symmetrical version of that effect. For half the cost, the only disadvantage Voracious Reader had was one less health. Needless to say, this card alone fueled aggro decks by a ridiculous amount. Not only did it pump up serial offenders Hunter, Demon Hunter, and Warlock, but encouraged crazy-fast aggro Rogues, Mages, and even Priests. If you can reliably dump your hand, an engine that draws three cards every turn is simply too good to pass up. As such, Voracious Reader was bumped to 3 mana, making it a little harder to dump your hand after you play it, and making it a death sentence if you happen to draw both.
- Lorekeeper Polkelt was a 4 mana 4/5 neutral legendary from Scholomance Academy. His effect shuffles your deck, arranging it from most expensive to least expensive. While it was meant to be used in Control decks to fetch their threats and board clears, midrange decks were using it to cheese deckbuilding, putting one or two huge cards in and using Polkelt to only draw them when desired. Things like the aforementioned Dinotamer Brann, as well as Skull of Gul'dan, could always be drawn on curve with Polkelt's effect, while Highlander Priest in Wild used him to tutor for Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained. There was no punish for doing this, since Polkelt had premium stats for the cost. He was increased to 5 mana, messing with his curve and making his stats a lot worse.
- Edwin VanCleef is Rogue's Legendary from the Classic set. He was a 3 mana 2/2 whose Combo granted him +2/+2 for each other card you played that turn. Considered a staple since the game's launch, Edwin was capable of some truly gross highrolls. With Rogue's access to incredible mana cheat and card draw along with a lot of cheap cards, Edwin was capable of being an 8/8 or 10/10 as early as turn 3. Most classes cannot deal with a threat that big that early, giving Rogues naturally high winrates just thanks to this card. In response, Edwin was bumped to 4 mana, which slowed him down and seriously hurt his combo potential with Shadowstep. However, Blizzard also admitted this was a harsh bandaid nerf, and Edwin was reverted and instead rotate to Wild in the 2021 Standard year.
- Boggspine Knuckles is a 5 mana Shaman weapon that Evolves all of your minions by 1 mana each time you attack. Originally placed at 4/2, this card let Shamans build boards of huge minions while simultaneously dealing with an enemy threat or just going face for 8 damage. It's hard to overstate how good this card is - Kobold Stickyfinger was being run to counter it! However, the really broken thing was the synergy with Dread Corsair, which could be cheated out for 0 mana, resulting in a free 5-drop that the opponent had absolutely no way to respond to. Just in case that sounds too inconsistent, keep in mind that Cagematch Custodian and Hoard Pillager exist, making it all but gauranteed you'll have both cards at the same time at some point. Boggspine Knuckles was lowered to 3 attack, preventing on-curve Corsairs and lowering the deck's burst damage.
- Hysteria is a Priest/Warlock spell from Darkmoon Races that forces a minion to attack random minions until it dies or there are no other targets. In Standard, it's a solid but unremarkable removal spell. In Wild however, it was the center of the most detested combo deck in years. When used on a Wretched Tiller which was given Immune by Deathspeaker, its effect of dealing 2 damage to the enemy hero when attacking would trigger up to 30 times* , allowing for 60 direct damage as early as turn 7. You could also throw in a second Deathspeaker or Shrinkmeister to do the combo without needing 15 health of minions on the board. To make matters worse, if the opponent somehow survived this, the extraordinarily long animation would skip their next turn, giving you another shot at killing them. Within hours of the mini-set's launch, Wild became dominated by Priests running this all-too-consistent combo, prompting Blizzard to limit the spell to only target enemy minions.
- Eventually, it was determined that Hysteria was actually an extremely efficient board clear card, able to wipe many boards for only three mana. It was bumped to 4 mana in May of 2021.
- High Abbess Alura is a Paladin/Priest legendary from Scholomance Academy with the Spellburst effect of casting a random spell from your deck, targeting herself is possible. It was meant to be used in buff-focused decks, but ended up being a magnet for non-targeting spells instead. Being able to highroll a Libram of Hope on turn 4 was already pretty strong, but it got very disgusting when people discovered her synergy with Tip the Scales. This let Paladins fill the board with huge Murlocs, with board control provided by Fishy Flyer and Crabrider, to threaten lethal on the next turn. In addition to the highroll, it was also just a solid Big Paladin list if they missed, leading to "Scamadin" being the #1 deck. The abusability eventually led to Alura being bumped from 4 to 5 mana.
Forged in the Barrens Nerfs
- Pen Flinger was a 1-mana 1/1 neutral minion from Scholomance Academy that dealt one damage to any target, additionally having a Spellburst effect that returned him to your hand. Although seemingly innocuous at first glance, in practice it was a nightmare for anyone facing a player with him in their deck. Pen Flinger's cheap cost, Spellburst effect, and the fact that the one damage could go anywhere- an enemy minion, one of your minions, and especially either you or your opponent's face- made him extremely flexible, and this led to him being included in decks that liked to spam cheap spells, like Libram-centric Paladin decks. He also saw play in Darkglare Warlock in Wild, which managed to return to dominance following the nerf to Darkglare itself in part because the Warlock could deal damage to their face, progressing its gameplan for effectively zero mana. After roughly two expansion cycles of players continuously being called a loser, Pen Flinger's Battlecry effect was nerfed, restricting his targeting options to just minions.
- Jandice Barov was a 2/1 Mage/Rogue Legendary from Scholomance Academy that summoned two random 5-cost minions, with the player picking one of the two to secretly be an illusion that immediately dies after taking damage. This effect was already decently strong before rotation occurred, but between the introduction of the Core set and all of the Year of the Dragon's sets rotating, a lot of weaker 5-costs either changed or were removed from Standard. As Blizzard did not want to intentionally dilute Jandice's minion pool, they instead opted to increase her cost, going from 5 mana to 6 mana.
- Deck of Lunacy was a Legendary Mage spell from Madness at the Darkmoon Faire that transformed all spells in your deck into random ones that cost 3 more, with the new spells keeping the cost of the originals. This spell was originally just a fun card with a wacky, over-the-top effect, but following the rotation, the Standard revamp, and the additions of Forged in the Barrens, both Deck of Lunacy and Spell Mage stopped being jokes. If played early in combination with Incanter's Flow to reduce your spells' cost, as well as a powerful draw engine in the newly-added Refreshing Spring Water, Mage suddenly had early access to a ton of powerful mid-to-late-game spells. While it was technically random, this was counteracted by two things: first, you could effectively tutor what spells you could get by building your deck around Lunacy's effect, and second, when it came to spells in the "6 mana or higher" pool, there weren't a whole lot of bad pulls. Add on top of that a metagame that discouraged interacting with the board, and you have a deck that dominates a surprisingly large amount of matches, despite the fact that a number of spells that were able to target the enemy Hero were rotated to Wild. After two weeks of a Lunacy-powered Spell Mage being one of the top dogs of the metagame, Blizzard nerfed Deck of Lunacy by increasing its cost from 2 mana to 4 mana, making the card much slower.
- Remember Mysterious Challenger from The Grand Tournament? Blizzard apparently didn't, because they introduced Sword of the Fallen, a 2-mana 1/3 Paladin weapon from the Forged in the Barrens set that casted a Secret from your deck whenever you attacked with it. This meant that you could potentially cheat out three mana's worth of secrets by turn 4 or 5 for just two mana and three attacks, on top of playing other secrets, thinning your deck of three bad draws, dealing damage, and playing minions and other spells to keep the pressure coming. Combined with new cards that synergized with Secrets, in addition to two new, powerful Secrets on top of the already-good ones Paladin retained going into the expansion, the Secret package became an auto-include in just about every Paladin deck. Two weeks later, Sword of the Fallen's durability was nerfed from 3 to 2 in an effort to control its power. Even at 66% effectiveness, this card's still an auto-include.
- Two neutral minions by the names of Far Watch Post and Mor'shan Watch Post were key factors in creating a very weird meta. Both act similarly, being minions that can't attack and have effects that trigger when your opponent did something: the former was a 2-mana 2/4 that increased the cost of any card drawn by your opponent by 1 (with a cap of 10), and the latter was a 3-mana 3/5 that summoned a 2/2 Grunt whenever your opponent played a minion. These effects, combined with their decently-high health for their cost and a capstone Legendary in Kargal Battlescar, turned what were clearly meant to be tech cards into annoying, overstatted minions that were difficult to deal with on curve and big reasons why the resulting meta discouraged board interaction. Not even Arena was safe, with Mor'shan Watch Post in particular being the subject of much rage. As such, Far Watch Post and Mor'shan Watch Post each had their health reduced by 1 to make them easier to deal with on curve.note
- Refreshing Spring Water was a Mage spell from Forged in the Barrens that drew two cards for 4 mana, and refreshed two mana crystals for each spell drawn. Intended to be a risk-reward version of Arcane Intellect, this spell instead fueled absolutely degenerate combo and burn decks that ran no or very few minions, allowing them to draw through their deck at no mana cost. Even after Deck of Lunacy was nerfed, this card proved that Spell Mage didn't even need their highroll to win games, opting to just use Mage's burn cards. In Wild, Refreshing Spring Water allowed for disgusting OTK decks with Mozaki or Flamewaker that could be performed as early as turn 5. The card got really, really powerful with Incanter's Flow or Sorcerer's Apprentice, turning it from 0 mana into +1 mana or more. The card was way too efficient, and was nerfed to 5 mana.
- First Day of School was a 0 mana Paladin spell from Scholomance Academy that added two random 1-drops to your hand. It was essentially a way to get immediate board pressence and value on a later turn, and could be played for free at literally any time. It was a huge offender in Paladin's consistent early game domination, and only got better post-rotation as most garbage 1-drops disappeared. The card was changed to a 1 mana spell that added three 1-drops to the hand, which is technically a burf although for all intents and purposes is a huge nerf to the function of the card.
- While this burf had some effect on Paladin's performance, in the end the class was able to keep running First Day of School with minimal changes to their decks and still use it effectively, and a couple weeks later Blizzard decided the card was still too strong, so it was again changed, this time by meeting both versions of the card halfway: it's still a 1-mana spell, like the burfed version, but now it only adds two 1-drops to your hand, like the original version.
- Crabrider was a 2 mana 1/4 Murloc with Windfury and Rush from the Darkmoon Races miniset. Although it looked fairly unassuming, this card was insanely powerful. With a high health total, it could be slammed on the board with little risk of dying. It was then a perfect recipent for buffs, doubling all bonuses for high DPS by itself. While there have been similar Windfury minions before, none also had the ever-important Rush keyword, which gave Crabrider a flexibility edge, making it useful even if you didn't have buffs ready. Plus, it made it a prime target for hand buffs, something loved by the high-tier Tempo Rush Warrior. Crabrider was changed to have a Battlecry that granted it Windfury only on the turn it was summoned, severely cutting its damage potential.
- Mankrik is a 3 mana 3/4 neutral Legendary that shuffles the dead body of his wife into your deck. When the wife is drawn, it summons Mankrik, Consumed by Hatred that attacks the enemy hero. The summoned token was originally an excessive 3/10, putting an extremely high-health minion into play. This became a problem when Mankrik was played on three and his wife was topdecked shortly after, highrolling a huge threat for no mana, with a little extra face damage on the side. Combined with Mankrik's solid stats and total splashability, he was the most played Legendary in Standard. As such, Mankrik, Consumed by Hatred had his health lowered to a more manageable 7.
- Hand of A'dal was a 2-mana Paladin Holy spell from the Ashes of Outland set that gives a minion +2/+2 and draws a card. Put simply, this was a strong buff card, essentially being a Blessing of Kings that provides half the stats for half the cost and cycles through your deck. It was really annoying for the opponent when it was played on-curve with cheap early-game minions, including Paladin's decent 1-drop suite of Aldor Attendant, Righteous Protector, and Knight of Annointment, the latter of which could also potentially draw the spell for you; Crabrider was also a prime early-game target, especially pre-nerf. Hand of A'dal was eventually nerfed to only give a minion +2/+1, making removing the buffed minion an easier prospect.
- Renew is a fairly innocent-appearing Priest spell from Ashes of Outland that restores 3 health and Discovers a spell. At 1 mana, it was an auto-include in every single Priest deck, letting them convert a bit of healing into a flexible search for more answers. Plus, Renew itself was easily generated by Wandmaker, creating a lot of resources in combination with Raise Dead. It was bumped to 2 mana to kick it out of Wandmaker's pool and make its inclusion more of a choice.
- Apotheosis was a 3 mana Priest spell, also from Ashes of Outland, that gave a minion +2/+3 and Lifesteal. Although it was always powerful, turning every minion on the Priest's board into a potential massive heal, it didn't truly become a problem until Blademaster Samuro was printed. The combination of the two cards constantly threatened a 7-mana board sweep that killed every enemy minion with three or less health and healed the Priest by 3 for each hit, almost certainly restoring them to full health. Apotheosis was lowered to +1/+2 to cull its healing output.
- Gibberling was a 1 mana Druid minion from Scholomance Academy with the Spellburst effect to summon another Gibberling, which in turn summons another Gibberling, which summons another... essentially making it a 1 mana Violet Teacher as far as Token Druid is concerned. In combination with Lightning Bloom, Innervate, Nature Studies, and Power of the Wild, the Druid could potentially end turn 1 on a board of seven 2/2s. Even without the ridiculous highroll potential, Gibberling was a free board reload on any other turn. It was raised to 2 mana to slow it down.
United in Stormwind Nerfs
- Overall, the first round of Stormwind nerfs were designed to target one aspect of the early post-launch metagame: the rapid pace at which a few classes were capable of closing out games, causing slower strategies to fall to the wayside. While each card listed under this bullet had other reasons for being nerfed or altered, this was the general line of reasoning, and as such we're putting this disclaimer here to avoid repeating ourselves too much. Now, with that being said...
- Incanter's Flow was a 2-mana Mage Arcane spell from Ashes of Outland that reduced the cost of all spells in your deck by 1. Put simply, this effect is nuts, and while it didn't have much of an impact in the Year of the Phoenix, the launch of the Year of the Gryphon made it clear that it should be an auto-include in just about every Mage deck. Spell Mage and its derivatives in particular were incredibly effective due in large part to this card, especially before the nerfs to Deck of Lunacy and Refreshing Spring Water, and even then one or two casts of Incanter's Flow could effectively "un-nerf" them. Although Blizzard had been dancing around nerfing this card for a while, its effectiveness in a spell-only deck that utilized the newly-added Questline Sorcerer's Gambit for insanely high, insanely fast burst damage finally forced their hand, and Incanter's Flow was nerfed to 3 mana.
- Il'gynoth was a 4-mana 2/6 Legendary Demon Hunter minion from Madness at the Darkmoon Faire with Lifesteal that additionally caused all Lifesteal damage to hurt your opponent instead of heal you. Combined with Demon Hunter's various ways of dealing Lifesteal damage, most commonly combos involving multiple copies of Mo'arg Artificer and spells like Felscream Blast and/or Eye Beam, this card enabled disgusting OTKs that the opponent generally had no way of playing around. Although annoying, these OTKs generally weren't too much of a problem until United in Stormwind introduced the Questline Final Showdown, which accelerated the pace at which the Demon Hunter could assemble and discount its combo pieces. To help slow down these decks, Il'gynoth was burfed, increasing his cost from 4 to 6 mana while also also upping his statline from 2/6 to 4/8.
- Nearly a year after its initial nerf, Darkglare once again found itself facing the nerf bat. Although the Scholomance-era nerf successfully curbed the card's usage in Standard (for a while, which we'll get to), in Wild it was the exact opposite story- Darkglare-centric combo decks that utilized Flesh Giant and Molten Giant found their feet again surprisingly fast, and proceeded to dominate the Wild ladder to an absolutely disgusting degree, to the point that even nerfing one of its self-damage tools (Pen Flinger) had no effect on the deck's standing. While these decks were tricky to pilot, anyone finding themselves facing someone who could do so effectively were in for a steep uphill battle they had slim chances of winning. As if that weren't enough, Standard players would find themselves facing a similar threat once Warlocks got ahold of their Stormwind Questline, The Demon Seed, which requires self-damage to complete, making including Darkglare and a few of its Standard-legal Wild friends a no-brainer. Sure enough, Questline decks that ran Darkglare began to cause problems in Standard, and this proved to be the straw that finally broke Darkglare's back. It was given a burf by way of reverting its cost and statline back to what they were originally, going from a 2-mana 2/3 back to a 3-mana 3/4.
- Flesh Giant, an 8-mana 8/8 Priest/Warlock minion from Scholomance Academy, was likewise also nerfed, with the reasoning being basically the same as Darkglare's. While slower Priest decks in Standard had been running the card for a while, in Wild, Flesh Giant was basically a Warlock-only card. Thanks to Darkglare and Warlock's array of self-damage tools, Flesh Giants could come down way earlier than intended, which, alongside Molten Giants, made facing Darkglare Warlock a potential nightmare. Like Darkglare, Flesh Giant again became a problem in Standard following the launch of United in Stormwind and the addition of The Demon Seed, making the Darkglare/Flesh Giant combo an easy inclusion. As such, in addition to burfing Darkglare, Flesh Giant had its cost upped to 9 mana to make it slightly harder to play. Blizzard quickly admitted that this was way too soft, and bumped it up to 10 a few weeks later.
- Battleground Battlemaster was a 5-mana 5/5 Neutral minion from United in Stormwind that gave adjacent minions Windfury as long as it was on the board. Just reading that description alone should give you an idea as to how this minion was totally busted- if you had minion-based burst damage available, simply playing this minion would effectively double it, potentially leading to crazy fast kills. Guaranteeing that said burst damage would be available wasn't too hard, either, depending on the class: Paladins had Divine Shields, Warlock had access to the broken Darkglare/Flesh Giant combo, and all classes could take advantage of stealthed minions. It's also surprising that, for an effect that strong, Battlemaster wasn't even a Legendary, but instead a mere Common, which meant that it was easy to obtain and could be run as a two-of. To help curb its burst potential, Battlemaster had its cost bumped to 6 mana.
- Kolkar Pack Runner was a 2-mana 2/3 Hunter minion from Forged in the Barrens that summoned a 1/1 Hyena with Rush after you casted a spell. This effect is innocuous at first glance, but given that Face Hunter in particular loves dumping cheap spells from its hand, it can easily become a problem if not put in check. One Pack Runner and a handful of cheap spells can easily clear any potential early-game threats, and the Hyenas can also act as cheap and easy face damage if any happen to stick around. This potential reached its echelon following the launch of United in Stormwind, where Face Hunter became a top-tier deck, and as such Blizzard decided to burf Pack Runner to curb the deck's speed. Its cost was upped from 2 to 3 mana to reduce its clearing potential, and in exchange, its statline was buffed from 2/3 to 3/4.
- Granite Forgeborn was a 4-mana 4/5 Shaman elemental from United in Stormwind with a Battlecry that reduced the cost of all elementals in your hand and deck by 1. For the recently-reborn Elemental Shaman, as well as other elemental-heavy decks, this card was an auto-include, no questions asked. Not only was it an elemental itself, meaning it could synergize with the rest of the elemental package, but it was essentially an Incanter's Flow for much of said elemental package with a Chillwind Yeti attached. The fact that you could run two copies of the card, run Bolner Hammerbeak alongside it to copy the battlecry effect, and potentially generate more copies through Menacing Nimbus could also be considered problematic. To avoid Elemental Shaman potentially going unchecked following the nerfs to other powerful class archetypes, Forgeborn's health was nerfed to 4 to balance its stats out.
- Conviction was a 1-mana Paladin Holy spell that gives a set number of friendly minions +3 attack; the number of minions buffed depends on the spell's Rank, which increases as you gain mana crystals: the spell starts at Rank 1 and buffs only one minion, at 5 mana crystals the spell upgrades to Rank 2 and buffs two minions, and finally at 10 mana crystals it reaches Rank 3 and, you guessed it, buffs three minions. At 1 mana, even a Rank 1 Conviction essentially acts as a permanent Bloodlust buff, turning Paladin's fairly sticky board into a threat at just about any time. In addition, its status as a Holy spell meant it could easily be drawn through Knight of Annointment and then reduced to 0 mana with Cariel Roame's effect. The Divine Shield-oriented handbuff package introduced with United in Stormwind, along with the aforementioned Battleground Battlemaster, only served to make this card even more problematic, and as such its cost was bumped to 2 mana to reduce its burst potential.
This system was discontinued in 2021 with the Core set revamp, but some cards are still sporadically banned.
Year of the Kraken
- Old Murk-Eye is a 4 mana 2/4 Murloc with Charge that gains +1 attack for every friendly Murloc. It was mostly just a neat finisher for Murloc decks right up until League of Explorers brought Anyfin Can Happen into the game, a 10 mana Paladin spell that summons up to 7 friendly Murlocs that died that game. Murk-Eye offered two major things to the resultant Anyfin Paladin deck: a decent midgame minion that can remove some weeny minions and a devastating combo piece that can finish the job when working together with Bluegill Warriors and Murloc Warleaders. For dramatically increasing the consistency of an already consistent deck, Murk-Eye was completely banned from Standard and for Team 5 to save face they took the rest of the Reward set (which were all pretty much unplayable) with him. The Reward set was then added to the Hall of Fame when it was established proper.
Year of the Mammoth
- Ice Lance is a 1 mana Mage spell that freezes a target or, if they were already frozen, deals 4 damage to them. Ice Lance is famous for being a core piece of the Freeze Mage OTK, due to its monstrous power to cost ratio, and notably becomes free when combined with Emperor Thaurissan. Team 5 took multiple steps to hit Freeze Mage throughout the years to reduce its effectiveness, and in the end barred Ice Lance from Standard to make sure it stays down this time.
- Conceal, a 1 mana Rogue spell that gives all friendly minions Stealth until the start of the turn. Infamously used in conjunction with Gadgetzan Auctioneer, mostly guaranteeing that the merchant stays on the board outside of a Flamestrike or Twisting Nether, allowing the Rogue to cycle through their deck next turn. It's wasn't just Auctioneer though; Conceal could also protect dangerous minions like Edwin VanCleef, Questing Adventurer, or Red Mana Wyrm to prepare to wreck house next turn, and was subsequently shown the door from Standard.
- Power Overwhelming is a 1 mana Warlock spell that gives a friendly minion +4/+4, but also dies horribly at the end of the turn. What started out written off as a goofy risk-and-reward card turned out to be a devastating combo card when used together with way too many cards to count. It's most famous use is the OTK combo with Faceless Manipulator; use two Power Overwhelmings on a Charge minion, copy it with Faceless, and attack for game. After all, dying at the end of the turn only matters if the turn ends. But that's just one of the card's many uses, there's also: using it with Sergeant Sally for a makeshift Shadowflame, use it with the actual Shadowflame, buff a minion to terrifying levels then steal or copy its stats with Void Terror or Faceless Shambler, or simply give it to a humble Imp to kill a 5-cost minion. Power Overwhelming was too flexible for its own good, and was banned from Standard.
- Azure Drake is a 5 mana 4/4 Dragon with Spell Damage +1 and draws a card upon summoning. It's a perennial favorite for game design enthusiasts among the fanbase due its simplicity, power, and inability to make someone rage, but a major issue many overlook is its versatility. Azure Drake essentially won the lottery with its effect variety: it's a Dragon, meaning it's good in Dragon decks by default, it has barely enough attack to be threatening (while dodging both of Priest's Shadow Word removal spells) and enough health to dodge a handful of removal, the extra spell damage is deceptively valuable, is uncontested in its mana slot, and it has one of the most undercosted card draw effects in the game. The Drake is well liked for the most part, but to assure long-term health for the game, it was booted out of Standard in 2017.
- Sylvanas Windrunner is a 6 mana 5/5 who takes control of a random enemy minion on death. By a mile, the single best Deathrattle minion in the whole game; there's almost nothing that can beat Sylvanas in a fight and survive except for minions who summon other minions to be stolen like Onyxia or Dr. Boom. Even scarier, she simply got better over time with the addition of Deathrattle synergy cards like Unearthed Raptor and N'Zoth. To open more design space for Deathrattle synergy and overall more variety in the 6-cost slot, Sylvanas was kicked out of Standard with the Year of the Mammoth.
- Notably, she was even better in the beta, where she costed 5 mana instead. A Warrior who uses Sylvanas in conjunction with Brawl would destroy all enemy minions and leave one for himself.
- Ragnaros the Firelord is an 8 mana 8/8 who can't attack, but deals 8 damage to a random target at the end of his owner's turn. He's the most iconic card in the game, stemming from his improbably high use-rate for such an expensive minion. Big minions in Hearthstone are typically weak due to the power of hard removal, meaning they either need to do something before getting removed or be annoying to remove in the first place. Ragnaros is the first requirement personified; he almost always either destroys something upon coming down or knocks off a quarter of the opponent's health, and if he sticks around he remains devastating because he never takes any damage from combat because technically he never attacks anything. Additionally, the RNG factor of Ragnaros can indirectly work in his user's favor, because a lucky coin flip can cause your opponent to get frustrated and start making mistakes. Eventually, Rag's power got him removed from Standard come the Year of the Mammoth, simply for outclassing all other lategame drops.
Year of the Raven
- Ice Block, a Mage Secret from the Classic set that activated when you took fatal damage, preventing it and making you Immune for the rest of the turn. The card was a 100% two-of stalling tool for Control and Combo mage decks, letting you guarantee breathing room for at least two turns (or more if you generated them from other cards). It was exceptionally frustrating to play against, since there were limited ways to actually prevent the Secret from triggering, giving you absolutely no way to put the opponent on the clock. It was especially bad given Mage's high burst damage, since you had no way to stop it if they could lethal you after the block was procc'd. And to make things even worse, Mage had since gotten a bunch of spell-generating cards, which were fully capable of giving them more Ice Blocks. It was rotated to the Hall of Fame to encourage more deck variety and make Mages far easier to deal with.
- Coldlight Oracle is a 3 mana 2/2 Murloc that draws two cards for each player. Sounds reasonable, since it's a weak body and comes with a severe downside to balance the upside - after all, both sides draw the cards, but the player had to pay for them while the opponent got the draws for free. The problem is that the player chooses when his opponent draws two cards. Coldlight Oracle's main use was combining it with bounce effects to use its Battlecry multiple times, causing your opponent to discard lots of cards and/or go far into fatigue while refueling yourself. On top of that, it being a Neutral card made "return to hand" effects hard to print. They moved it out of Standard to curb the power of fatigue decks.
- Molten Giant is a 20 mana 8/8 that has its cost reduced by 1 for every point of health your hero was missing. Created to help give control decks major comeback turns for when they were low on life, it ended up work a little too well in Warlock, who could reliably lower his health with his hero power and get free Molten Giants, letting them either use Sunfury Protector to give the Giants taunt, or Shadowflame to wipe the enemy board. Molten Giant was eventually nerfed to 25 mana, where it became almost unplayable. However, once the Year of the Raven began, it was returned to 20 mana and instead moved to the Hall of Fame, but not before spending a couple more days in Standard with the reverted cost as a last blaze of glory.
Year of the Dragon
- Baku the Mooneater and Genn Greymane from The Witchwood, easily the most format-warping cards this side of Patches the Pirate. While not every class could build a good Odd/Even deck, the ones that could built a great one. Decks like Odd Rogue, Even Shaman, Even Warlock, Odd and Even Paladin all became grossly efficient if not outright game-breakers. The problem was conceptual - making the Hero Power more reliable makes for very boring, predictable gameplay. You use the hero power every turn you can. It always does the same thing, so every game follows pretty much the same flow. The cards' restrictions also made every deck even more samey, since you only had half the card pool to work with, making the best cards for each slot more obvious. Given the inherit design issues with the cards, Blizzard decided to send them to the Hall of Fame a year early, taking their synergy cards with them (including the bad ones).
- Naturalize is a 1 mana Druid spell that destroys a minion and draws two cards for your opponent. Traditionally, Druid struggles with large single-target removal. This card blows that out of the water, zapping any minion you want for just 1 mana. While it has a pretty major downside, it was more often than not weaponized, overdrawing your opponent or sending them into fatigue (particularly after a Togwaggle combo). To preserve class identity, Naturalize was rotated to the Hall of Fame.
- Doomguard, a monstrous Warlock 5/7 Charge for 5 that discards two cards from your hand. Like all discarders, the effect can be ignored completely if your hand is empty when the Doomguard is summoned, and like all Chargers, its downside is nothing if it's used to end the game. This was traditionally a strength of Zoolock, which would play every card from their hand and own the board until Doomguard could guarantee victory. It got really broken however with anything that could cheat more Doomguards out, such as Skull of the Man'ari, aforementioned gamebreaker Possessed Lackey, or Voidcaller. Duplicating Doomguards with Carnivorous Cube or Faceless Manipulator let the Warlock deal gross face damage at no cost. It was too powerful and was barred from Standard in 2019.
- Divine Favor is a 3 mana Paladin spell that draws cards until you have as many as your opponent. This card was essentially the backbone that Secret Paladin and Odd Paladin were supported on. Against a Control deck, an Aggro deck could near-instantly refuel after dumping their hand, making a board clear far less punishing. Drawing up to 10 cards for 3 mana is absurd. Even drawing more than two is way above the mana grade. Control Decks often had to play awkwardly and inefficiently to use up more cards than they'd like, just to weaken this one. Given how strong Aggro Paladin decks have been, Divine Favor was finally removed in the Year of the Dragon.
- Mind Blast is a Priest spell that simply deals 5 damage to your opponent's face. Typically seen as far below cost efficient, in the right meta Mind Blast can become overpowered. Traditionally, one of Priest's major weaknesses is reliable burst damage. With Mind Blast alongside ways to cheat out Prophet Velen and Malygos, the Priest could suddenly kill opponents from 30 in a single move. This got even worse with ways to duplicate the Mind Blast itself (namely Shadow Visions), turning this inefficient burst into an inevitable death. For its potential power level as well as its breaking of class identity, it was removed from the Basic set and put into the Hall of Fame.
- Vanish is an oddball, since it has never actually been a powerful card. However, it was Rogue's strongest boardclear option, a class that isn't supposed to have access to solid clearing. It's also a difficult fit for the Basic set, since its simple effect was actually quite complicated in execution, with the player needing to mind Battlecries, use it to overdraw, and even bounce their own minions. For these reasons, it was removed and replaced.
Year of the Phoenix
- Leeroy Jenkins used to be 6/2 with Charge for 4 mana that summoned 2 1/1 Whelps for his opponent. On top of the downside straight up not mattering if he is used to end the game, his damage-to-mana ratio is equivalent to Fireball, one of the most efficient damage spells in the game. This is without getting into his status as the win condition of Miracle Rogue, which was the reason he had to be nerfed in the first place. Basically, after a Miracle Rogue was done drawing all their cards with Gadgetzan Auctioneer, they would summon Leeroy, attack, and then bring him back to their hand with Shadowstep, not only allowing them to use him again but it decreases his cost by 2, meaning that there was still mana leftover to do whatever they wanted. It wasn't just Miracle Rogue that ran him though- Combo Warlocks, Druids, Aggro Hunters, most decks ran Leeroy even if they couldn't use him to his full potential because he was just that freaking good. He was later nerfed to 5 mana, which reduced his usage but kept him a viable Aggro finisher... too viable, in fact, as every aggro deck that could make room for Leeroy ran him, due to him being pretty much the only remaining Charge minion with a positive Attack-to-cost ratio (and, in the Raven meta, being an odd-cost minion that the many aggro decks enabled by Baku the Mooneater were all too happy to take on board). Combine that with things like Deathrattle Rogue handbuffing him for ridiculous damage from an empty board, and Leeroy was shown the door from Standard.
- Acolyte of Pain is a 3-mana 1/3 that draws a card every time it takes damage. At the very worst, it's a slightly worse Loot Hoarder as it's all but guaranteed to draw you at least one card when played. Of course, nobody that runs Acolyte uses it just for one draw; Warriors can damage it repeatedly for up to 3 cards, Wild Pyromancer with a bunch of cheap spells does pretty much the same (especially in Priest and Druid, which can buff/heal the Acolyte for even more cards), and even Mage can idly ping the thing for an extra card if they have mana to spare. Because of its status as a potential neutral draw engine, Acolyte of Pain was put into Hall of Fame. Notably, Acolyte was even better in the beta, where it was a 2/4; this in turn made Silence the most ubiquitous keyword in the game, rendering a lot of cards unplayable because everyone was using Silence to neutralize Acolyte of Pain lest it trade 2-for-1 and draw a bunch of cards.
- Mind Control Tech is the epitome of frustrating RNG. Its effect is to steal a random enemy minion if they have at least four in play. Basically, it had the potential to win games by itself by snatching the opponent's best minion for only 3 mana. It was obnoxious for both players - the one playing it might take a 1/1 Imp against all odds on a board of giant demons, and the one getting played against might lose their Ysera among three Silver Hand Recruits. It was more problematic in Arena than Constructed (more details in the Arena folder) but still popped up every now and then to make people punch the wall. This led to its removal from Standard.
- Mountain Giant, similar to its Molten cousin, was an 8/8 minion that reduced its own cost, starting at 12 mana and lowering by 1 for each other card in the hand. With an early draw and one card draw effect (or in Warlock's case, just going second), Mountain Giant could be played as early as turn 4. Many, many decks cannot deal with a minion that big that early, forcing players to keep weird hands just to deal with the off chance a Handlock or Control Mage drew their Giant. If not dealt with, Mountain Giants could comfortably go face, and typically result in a quick win. Unlike Molten Giant and Sea Giant, there is no way to play around Mountain Giant - if the opponent has it, they have full control over their ability to play it. The minion's power level was a bit too high for an evergreen card, leading to its rotation.
- Spellbreaker, while never the meta-warping force 2 mana Owl was, is still a powerful neutral Silence. The combination of an anti-control effect and reasonable 4/3 body made it a common choice for aggro decks, typically in already aggro-heavy metas where control tools are more precious. It being neutral and efficient also made class Silence effects nearly impossible to print. Due to the design strangulation, Spellbreaker was tossed into the Hall of Fame.
- During the Priest overhaul, a fairly large number of cards were sent to the Hall of Fame. Some were sent for being too weak or gimmicky, some were sent for not matching Priest's identity anymore, but a few were unambiguously sent for being too powerful.
- Northshire Cleric is possibly the most pushed 1-drop this side of Tunnel Trogg. It has the most powerful repeatable draw effect in the game, drawing a card whenever a minion is healed. Initially 2 mana in the early beta, it was buffed to 1 mana to compensate for how awful Priest was, and has been causing pain ever since. With a premium 1/3 statline, it can safely be played on turn 1, frequently forcing the opponent to not establish their board for the threat of the Priest attacking with and healing the Cleric for a free card. It only got more ridiculous when drawn later, since it could be combined with Circle of Healing and Wild Pyromancer to draw a card for every single minion in play, often drawing eight or more cards by itself for as low as 3 mana. Literally every Priest deck ran two of this card aside from Highlander Priest (because they can only run one) and Big Priest (which doesn't like small minions) because it's just good for every stage of the game.
- Two Divine Spirits used on a decently sized minion will give that minion a very high health pool, and casting Inner Fire on it can deal all that health as damage to the opponent's face. The card combo waned from gimmick to top meta deck depending on how good the Priest set was at the time. Either way, it forced Priest to be designed around these two cards constantly and made them a gimmicky class overall. Because of this, Divine Spirit was sent to the Hall of Fame. (conversely, Inner Fire was allowed to stay since by itself it's just an underwhelming attack buff).
- Of note, Husky Starcraft and his friend Sinvicta discovered that, if you use Lorewalker Cho and can get your opponent to co-operate with you, you can very easily get a Minion up above 1 billion health. This falls into the literally game-breaking, since a minion with too high health will eventually exceed the hexadecimal limit and instantly die.
- Prophet Velen was the Classic Legendary for Priest, a 7-mana 7/7 that doubles your healing and damage from spells and hero powers. Due to Priest's general lack of good win conditions, every single Priest deck that actually wins games and isn't built around Divine Spirit uses Velen with Mind Blast to melt the opponent's face. It only got worse with ways to cheat Velen out and resurrect him along with Malygos, letting Priests easily burn the opponent for 40 or more damage with little counterplay. When Blizzard decided to solidify Priest's class identity, Priest's combo ability was completely nuked, with Velen being moved to Hall of Fame and every single way for Priest to hit face with spells either going with him or being changed to hit minions only.
- Stealer of Souls, a 2/6 Warlock Demon from the Wailing Caverns mini-set. Whenever you draw a card, it changes its cost to Health. In Standard this didn't make too much of a splash, but Wild was a whole other story. Aside from making G'huun look like a Basic card, this card enabled some disgustingly fast OTK decks using Violet Illusionist or Mal'Ganis, cards that make your hero Immune. Playing one of those renders every card drawn 0-mana, and Warlock has plenty of card draw (particularly Plot Twist), to cycle through the whole thing. This allowed for wins with Malygos or Mecha'thun as early as turn 3, and usually not much later than turn 5. In response, the card was banned from Wild format while awaiting changes in a future patch, being the first card to ever be emergency banned. The card was eventually nerfed to a 6 mana 4/6, but only to slow down Standard Quest Warlock; remaining banned in Wild.
- Savannah Highmane, a 6/5 Hunter minion for 6 mana that spawns 2 2/2 Hyenas when it dies. Because of how sticky it is, a hunter can just reliably go for the enemy hero's face instead of trading, and the nasty body ensures that their opponent will need to deal with it. Combined with the hunter's naturally high amount of direct damage cards, and you have a minion that can ensure victory just by hitting the enemy hero once. And let's not get started on what happens when the Hunter gets a Tundra Rhino to stick around...
- Flamestrike, a 7 mana Mage spell that deals 4 damage to all enemy minions. It's one of the Basic cards, so everyone gets two just for playing the game. Yet it is the single most feared Board Clear in a Mage's arsenal, and it is not an exaggeration to say that an entire match can, and has been turned around simply from a single cast of this spell. The typical advice for playing against Mage when the game goes late is to make your board good enough to bait out their first Flamestrike (That you must always assume they have by Turn 7) but without using your really good cards.
- Tirion Fordring is an 8 mana 6/6 Paladin minion with Divine Shield and Taunt, itself already a solid deal, and equips his owner with a 5/3 Ashbringer when he dies. Tirion's base body alone is worth paying the mana cost for, capable of trading 2 for one with mid-sized creatures, but the Deathrattle is where he truly shines. A 5/3 weapon can deal half of the enemy hero's life on its own or destroy up to 3 more moderately-costed minions, giving its user time to develop their own board and seal the game. Tirion is widely considered the king of lategame matchups and is fully capable of ending games by himself. That said, all of this was completely intentional. Paladin, as a class, was meticulously crafted with this one showstopper in mind, and as a result has a hard time winning games without him. It's only when Paladin had access to other stupid powerful cards (Muster for Battle, Mysterious Challenger) that made up for Paladin's other weaknesses that Tirion became a problem, because he went from a reward for reaching the endgame to another broken card that could make the enemy cry.
- Faceless Manipulator, the heart of more combo decks than any other card. It's a 5 mana 3/3 that becomes an exact copy of any other minion on the battlefield. Faceless is obviously insane with any big buffs and Charge minions, and has been the indirect cause for a multitude of nerfs over the years. The thing that really makes it strong however is its versatility. It doesn't need to be used as a finisher - sometimes stealing a large minion from your opponent or doubling up on one you control is good enough (prime offenders were Sylvanas and Ragnaros, two cards that were later rotated). It can create taunt walls just as easily as Charging finishers, often serving as both within the same deck. While not in every meta, it's a powerhouse whenever the game allows it.
Curse of NaxxramasAlso see Undertaker in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Voidcaller, a 3/4 minion for 4 mana with the deathrattle of putting a demon from your hand into the field. Not only can it replace itself the second it dies, but it can summon demons with a higher cost than itself, including Doomguard, Dread Infernal, and the almighty Mal'Ganis. Even if you don't have a demon in your hand, your opponent has no way of knowing, meaning that they have to play ridiculously safely or come up with a backup plan to deal with whatever comes out of it, or use one of their very few silences on it.
- Zombie Chow is a 1 mana 2/3 with the Deathrattle of restoring 5 Health to the opponent's Hero. This card's incredible stat line and the lack of good 1-mana non-aggressive minions means that almost every single deck archetype except for Face Hunter will run this card because it will trade off a 2 mana minion and has a big change to survive. This card singlehandedly slowed down the meta to let control decks like Priest gain a leg against aggressive decks but its brokeness had to be felt in Arena because it was considered an auto-pick every time it showed up on screen.
- Mad Scientist. It's a 2/2 for 2 mana, itself a merely slightly below average statline, with the obscene deathrattle of putting a random secret from your deck into the battlefield. If it merely drew a secret, it would be crazy, as it lets you tutor for important cards like Explosive Trap and Ice Block. Instead, it puts the damn thing into the field at no extra charge. Hunter secrets cost 2 while Mage secrets cost 3, meaning that this card is worth 5-6 mana (1.5 for the body, 1.5 for the specific draw, 2-3 for the secret) in value for something that can be absentmindedly dropped on turn two, ready to contest any 1-drops or 3/2s your opponents play. Out of all the cards booted from Standard once formats came around, even with several fan favorites leaving, there was universal rejoicing that Mad Scientist was finally gone.
- Sludge Belcher, a 5 mana 3/5 Taunt minion with the Deathrattle of summoning a 1/2 Slime that also has Taunt. This card's annoying Deathrattle means that it has to be killed twice in order to completely being get rid of it and its solid body is excellent for control decks to bait out Silence. Like Zombie Chow, it was also considered an auto-pick when offered in Arena.
Goblins vs. GnomesAlso see Shadowboxer in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Unstable Portal, which is the leading candidate for the most hated card in Hearthstone. It's a 2 mana Mage spell that adds a random minion to the owner's hand and reduces its cost by 3. On top of it's status as a cheap spell at a time when cheap spells were invaluable for Mage, its effect is randomness gone horribly wrong; as many pro players noted, Unstable Portal's main strength is that even if it whiffs you still don't lose the game, while most other times it will end the game by itself. Even if you get a Wisp instead of Ragnaros, a Wisp is still a minion you can put on the board, while most other times you'll get something insane like a 5-cost Tirion Fordring or a 3-cost Boulderfist Ogre. Even terrible cards like War Golem aren't that bad if it gets played as a 4-mana 7/7.
- Goblin Blastmage, a 5/4 for 4 mana Mage minion that deals 4 damage split amongst all enemies if you control a Mech. This card, combined with Mechwarper's minion spam, made it nigh-impossible for an opponent to catch up if they were behind, because Blastmage would kill any threats they put down or did enough face damage to just go for the kill. The vanilla stats, while lax nowadays, were a big deal back then because he could kill most minions and likely survive, while being sturdy enough that it survived basic removal like Frostbolt.
- Muster for Battle is a 3 mana spell that allows the Paladin to summon 3 1/1 Silver Hand Recruits and equip a Light's Justice. This card's effect effectively allows the Paladin to summon 3 minions in one turn for 3 mana, which is quite good on its own when combined with Blessing of Kings for 4 mana, but the thing that made this card completely broken is that it also equips the Paladin with a 1/4 weapon, effectively allowing them to profit even if the opposing Hero uses a board clear. Muster was often comboed with quartermaster, giving a Paladin player 11/14 worth of stats (and a weapon) for 8 mana.
- Shielded Minibot is a 2 mana minion that is very aggressively statted, with 2/2 and divine shield. This statline, in the best-case scenario, enables Minibot to trade with other strong early-game minions such as two Flame Imps, Totem Golem or Haunted Creeper, giving Paladins a sorely-needed way to not fall behind in the earlygame against aggro decks such as Zoolock or Face Hunter. In addition to the aforementioned Muster For Battle, the fact that Minibot was frequently played in Wild Paladin decks up to the Call to Arms nerf is a testament to its power.
- Mechwarper, the centerpiece card of all Mech decks, is a 2/3 for 2 mana that reduces the cost of all Mechs in hand by 1 mana. Most Mechs are very efficient for the cost to start with, like the 3/4 for 3 Spider Tank and the 1/2 Taunt Divine Shield for 2 Annoy-o-Tron, and are also quite cheap, meaning that if Mechwarper survives turn 2, it's very likely the opponent will spam the board with multiple minions for nothing at all, and even to this day there is no AoE spell that would be capable of dealing with such a board outside of Doomsayer. Plus, this effect stacks; two Mechwarpers is an absolute nightmare that can create unwinnable circumstances, especially when combined with...
- Piloted Shredder. Once the most used neutral card in the game and one of the most efficient as well. As a 4/3 for 4 mana that summons a 2-cost minion when it dies, it has just enough attack to kill almost all minions that cost the same or less than it while leaving a body behind, which can be used to finish off anything that survived the first hit. With this in mind, there is practically no other 4 mana minions worth using as there is nothing that can straight up beat Piloted Shredder, they can only trade with it at best or accomplish nothing and die at worst, with only utility minions like Water Elemental getting any free passes. Plus, it has a chance to spawn overstatted minions like Millhouse Manastorm. The only downside to using it is the possibility it might spawn Darnassus Aspirant or Doomsayer (which isn't that bad if you're losing board control), but considering how often it hits compared to how often it misses, who cares?
- The notorious Dr. Boom. He's a 7/7 for 7 mana that summons 2 1/1 Boom Bots into battle with him, with each of them dealing 1-4 damage to a random enemy on death. Because of how many bodies he brings to the board, very few cards can completely deal with Dr. Boom by themselves, requiring inadequately used resources just to get rid of him. Adding to this, he costs 7 mana, which means he can be played after a particularly high value 6 drop, a list which includes but is not limited to the aforementioned Savannah Highmane, and the later mentioned Emperor Thaurissan and Mysterious Challenger, meaning that when he shows up the opponent likely lacks the required removal to beat him. Finally, there's his flexibility; Dr. Boom will provide nothing else of use other than astronomical value, which despite what it sounds like is incredibly good. This means that while he's not the best card in the game by any means, his sheer power and ease of use mean that there are few decks that wouldn't be improved with Dr. Boom, even a select few aggro or combo decks.
- Emperor Thaurissan. He's a 5/5 for 6 with the ability to reduce the cost of all cards in his owner's hand at the end of each turn. In control decks, he's good because he can reduce the cost of the big lategame minions so that they can be played earlier and more frequently, but it's nothing too terrible until he gets put into a combo deck. Thaurissan alone singlehandedly created loads of overtly strong combo decks, most infamously Patron Warrior, while bolstering those that already existed, as the nature of his ability meant that not only could the game winning combos be done earlier but they could made even stronger. To give an idea of how much impact he had, full 30 damage one turn kills became the norm instead of a once in a blue moon sort of thing.
The Grand TournamentAlso see Tuskarr Totemic and Aviana in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Mysterious Challenger, a 6/6 for 6 mana Paladin minion that puts up to 5 secrets from your deck into the battlefield for free. On average, he pulls Avenge, Noble Sacrifice, Repentance, Competitive Spirit, and Redemption from the deck, which means his owner will no longer have to worry about drawing any of them and giving them better odds of drawing their late game cards, like Tirion or another Challenger. On top of this, killing him is a nightmare, because the combination of secrets makes it so that if you kill him with spells, he comes back with 1 health while trying to kill him with an attack will negate the attack and give him +3/+2.
The League of ExplorersAlso see Naga Sea Witch in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Tunnel Trogg, a 1/3 for 1 mana that, whenever you play a minion with Overload, gains +1 attack per crystal overloaded. Trogg's statline makes it hard to kill early on without a good earlygame removal card like Fiery War Axe, and despite what it looks like its effect can quickly get out of control, the main reason for which is because of its companion cards Totem Golem and Feral Spirit. The former is an overstatted 2-drop with 1 Overload to compensate, which this card turns into an advantage, while the latter summons 2 2/3 Spirit Wolves with taunt that can protect the Trogg, while giving it +2 attack due to the Overload. The final straw to "broken" territory was Flamewreathed Faceless added in Whispers of the Old Gods, a gigantic minion for a piddly 4 mana that demands a completely different answer from Trogg - meaning that if you chose to mulligan so you can kill Trogg, you get smacked down by Flamewreathed, and vice versa.
- Reno Jackson, a 6 mana 4/6 that will fully restore your hero's life as long as you don't have any duplicate cards, will break the will of any player going up against his specialized deck. Basically you let the opponent waste cards and life going against your random minions and just when they think they have you, usually when your life is less than ten, you throw out Reno and watch your opponent despair at the thought of grinding you down again with a lot less cards. For maximum despair play a Brewmaster or another card that allows you to put Reno back in your hand, its enough to make your opponent quit. Of course this is assuming all goes well and depends a lot on drawing a good curve, as well as not letting your opponent have any good cards by the time you play Reno.
Whispers of the Old GodsAlso see Yogg-Saron, Hope's End and Call of the Wild in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Fandral Staghelm is a 4 mana 3/5 Druid minion who combines the effects of your Choose One cards. When played early on, Fandral can combo with cheap Choose One cards like Wrath, Living Roots, and Raven Idol to give massive card advantage and board presence, and unlike many cards of his cost is still relevant in the endgame, capable of working with Nourish and Ancient of War. Druid's mana acceleration abilities (like Innervate, Wild Growth etc.) make him even stronger, because they do the crazy crap sooner than most decks will be able to handle, and with proper execution and luck, can allow his owner to play 7 cards at once as early as turn 3. The 2017 rotation massively reduced his power, but he's still quite handy.
- Flamewreathed Faceless, a 4 mana 7/7 Shaman minion with 2 mana Overload, quickly became this within weeks of the expansion. The sheer tempo created by this minion along with the nerf of Big Game Hunter to 5 mana means that the Shaman player can reliably hit the opponents face while forcing them to trade into it, or waste spell cards, if they don't want to outright lose the game without the Shaman player sacrificing anything. What's worse is that the new Standard pushes out many Neutral Taunt minions and healing while Aggro Shaman only lost Crackle, which 2 copies of this card have done more than enough to replace it. The rotation of Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem eventually scaled down the power scale of Aggro Shaman and made this card much worse.
- Thing From Below is a 6 mana 5/5 Shaman minion with Taunt that reduces its own cost by 1 whenever its player summons a totem throughout the game. Which is often. It is very difficult to play this card for the default cost of six due to how many powerful, low-cost totem cards there are like Totem Golem and Mana Tide Totem, making it more like a 4 mana card at most and a 0 mana card most of the time. This is without getting into the common strategy with it: Shamans are very good at making frail but massive boards with just a few cards, making it easy to bait out board clears then immediately follow it up with two Things, forcing the opponent to have yet another answer. Combined with Thunder Bluff Valiant and the aforementioned Flamewreathed Faceless, it's very easy for a Shaman to keep pumping out threats until the opponent just doesn't have answers anymore.
- The undisputed king of the Wild format is N'Zoth, the Corrupter, a 10 mana 5/7 who summons every Deathrattle minion that died that game. While already good in Standard, capable of summoning things like Voidlord, Tirion Fordring and Cairne Bloodhoof, it gets crazy when you simply take a look at how much Deathrattle crap there is in Naxxramas and GvG. You've got, as follows: the bulky Taunt minions Sludge Belcher and Deathlord, the annoying critter spawners like Haunted Creeper and Nerubian Egg, and the infamously sticky Piloted Shredder as well as its much bigger cousins Piloted Sky Golem and Sneed's Old Shredder. A Wild N'Zoth board is nigh-impossible to deal with, to the point where even Deathwing can't save you (especially since destroying all of the revived minions simply triggers their Deathrattles all over again), and managing to get yourself out of such a situation either means you played N'Zoth yourself or you deserve a goddamn trophy.
- A few very specific outs do exist, though. One of the possible effects from Kazakus's 10-mana potions causes a mass Polymorph, thoroughly neutralizing a N'Zoth board. Psychic Scream, introduced in Kobolds and Catacombs, shuffles away all minions, cleanly answering the N'Zoth board, though not without the risk of the N'Zoth player drawing into and playing N'Zoth again. Plague of Death from Saviors of Uldum silences everything before destroying them, denying the N'Zoth board any Deathrattle triggers. However, all three options are very class-restricted — Kazakus requires specific deck construction while being only available to Mages, Warlocks, and Priests, while the latter two spells are Priest-only. Nearly every other class is stuffed on a viable answer.
One Night in KarazhanAlso see Spirit Claws and Barnes in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Maelstrom Portal is a 2 mana Shaman spell that deals 1 damage to all enemy minions while summoning a 1-cost minion for yourself. In theory, this card is pretty much fine; it's a buffed Arcane Explosion, which nobody plays, so what's the big deal? Well, they gave it to the one class that would commit murder to get their hands on Arcane Explosion as it is, and then they tacked a bonus effect on top of it. Shaman's worst match-up, historically, has been Zoo Warlock, a deck based on summoning a bunch of cheap minions with potent effects, stickiness, or above-curve stats. Shamans normally lacked the Area of Effect damage required to deal with the deck outside of the costly Lightning Storm and Elemental Destruction, but Maelstrom Portal is not only cheap, it summons another minion prepared to kill whatever the Zoo player plays next. Add in the on-demand spell damage through the hero power to turn it into a 2-mana Consecration and it's utility in match-ups other than Zoo, and Maelstrom Portal ended up being an auto-include from day 1.
Mean Streets of GadgetzanAlso see Patches the Pirate, Small-Time Buccaneer, and Raza the Chained in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Jade Idol. It's a 1 mana Druid spell that either summons a Jade Golem or shuffles 3 more Idols into the deck. The deck that uses it, Jade Druid, isn't particularly good, but it had a nightmarish side-effect on both the Gadgetzan and Un'Goro metagames - it removed anti-aggro control decks from the game singlehandedly. This caused the meta to twist and churl until only decks that were faster than Jade remained - even the control decks needed to be proactive in the lategame instead of just turtling, meaning their aggro match-ups became weaker. This eventually got so frustrating that Blizzard themselves got fed up with it and printed the Skulking Geist in Knights of the Frozen Throne, a 4/6 for 6 mana that destroys all 1-mana spells in both hands and decks. All of them. While Geist proved to be a reliable answer to Jade Idol in slower decks, its presence didn't completely dissuade Jade Druid from the ladder.
- To really drive the point home, the Skulking Geist's flavor text reads as follows: "It's as though a million Jade Idols cried out, and were suddenly silenced."
- The Drakonid Operative can be quite the game-ender. It's a 5 mana 5/6 Priest Dragon that, if you're holding a dragon, Discovers a card in the opponent's deck. In addition to giving you a free card, an edge in the fatigue game, and information about what your opponent isn't currently holding, this can allow you to pick up very powerful cards because, unlike other Discover cards, this one is guaranteed to only pull good cards. Cards like, as follows: your opponent's Drakonid Operative, which can create an endless train of Operatives, big-time legendaries like Ragnaros or Reno Jackson, burn spells that Priest usually isn't allowed to have like Fireball, nasty survival tools like Ice Block and major lategame winners like Anyfin Can Happen, which can turn your opponents' stratagems against them. It's especially nasty when combined with Brann Bronzebeard, letting you take another look at their deck for information and taking whatever you please. Drakonid Operative is so powerful that he, Netherspite Historian and the newly introduced Primordial Drake essentially carried Dragon Priest into the meta of the Year of the Mammoth despite rotation causing Dragon Priest to lose a lot of vital cards.
- Kazakus, a 4 mana 3/3 Kabalnote minion. If the player has no duplicates in their deck at the time of his summoning, Kazakus allows his owner to build a custom spell that can cost 1, 5, or 10 mana with 2 effects of correlating power. The sheer amount of abilities the potion can have is astronomical, which makes it complicated to explain, but the basic gist is that Kazakus' potion can be a board clear+heal, a damage spell with a fat demon attached, a N'Zoth that draws cards, or basically anything else, all of which are undercosted. The flexibility is utterly insane, with the only tradeoff being the somewhat RNG nature of the choices. It gets outright nightmarish when combined with Brann Bronzebeard, allowing the player to get another freaking spell, almost guaranteeing victory because not even the RNG aspect can balance it out; by getting 2 Kazakus spells, the odds of obtaining potions you actually want goes up.
Journey to Un'goroAlso see The Caverns Below (twice), Open the Waygate, and Bloodbloom in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Primordial Glyph is a 2 mana Mage spell that Discovers a spell and reduces its cost by 2. The fact that it Discovers the spell is a huge deal, because you can just go digging for burn damage, removal, or defenses on a whim, and the sheer quality of Mage spells as a whole means that it's difficult to be mad with whatever you get. Additionally, the cost reduction negates the main weakness of expensive Mage spells, because now you can actually play more cards in the same turn you nuke the opponents board with a Flamestrike or a Meteor. It gets disgusting in the event you pull a card that's already efficient like Fireball, which can set up some nasty burst combos. In rare cases, and if the other two spells were not to your liking, you could discover another Primordial Glyph which gets reduced to free for another shot at getting what you want, or to proc another effect that requires a spell being cast, like that of Mana Wyrm or Open the Waygate.
- Sunkeeper Tarim, a 6 mana 3/7 Paladin Legendary minion with Taunt and the effect of turning every other minion on the field to a 3/3. This card is absolutely bonkers on its own with the Paladin's playstyle of summoning tokens and controlling the board, since it allows even the humble Silver Hand Recruits to now trade evenly with formerly giant minions. What pushes it into broken status is its absolutely insane synergy with the Murloc package. Murloc Warleader's buff is continuous so it will not be overwritten by Tarim's stat-altering ability, turning a swarm of mere 1/1 Murloc tokens into a wave of fearsome 5/4 beaters. The fact that he has Taunt lets your Murlocs survive another turn, enough for you to drop a Gentle Megasaur to adapt the Murlocs and crush the opponent. It's no wonder that he saw play in almost every viable Paladin deck along with Tirion (see Classic).
- Despite the fact that the Murloc package became less popular after the Warleader nerf, there's no ignoring the fact that Tarim's stats paired with his Taunt ability and universal stat-altering ensures that the opponent will have to expend three minions to take care of him, excluding external assistance. A near-guaranteed 3-for-1 trade on his own is good enough to warrant constructed use wherever he can be run, especially if he defeats things like three giant Jade Golems on his own.
- What makes Stonehill Defender so popular is what its Discover mechanic can do. Although there's plenty of minions with Taunt that can cause it to whiff at times, other times you could simply luck out and pull high-impact minions, and the card quality just got even better with subsequent sets. Such high-rolls include Rin or Voidlord for Warlock, Obsidian Statue for Priest, the aforementioned Tirion or Tarim for Paladin, or The Lich King for anyone.
- Is your opponent playing Odd Paladin, and thus cannot put Tirion, Tarim, or the Lich King in their deck? You're still not safe from Stonehill Defender Discovering them.
Knights of the Frozen ThroneAlso see Spreading Plague, Bonemare, Saronite Chain Gang, and Leeching Poison in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Initially written off as being too slow to be worth the effort, Hadronox made a huge comeback in the Year of the Raven as the centerpiece of Taunt Druid. This 9-mana 3/7 spider has the powerful Deathrattle of resummoning every Taunt minion that died under his owner's control that game, allowing Druids to build huge Taunt walls that usually require a complete board wipe to get past, and since it requires the Druid to run a ton of Taunt minions, they'll usually have no problem reaching the late game. Saving a silence for Hadronox? Won't work, because the Druid will immediately Naturalize Hadronox to deny you the chance. However, what really pushed Hadronox over the edge is Witching Hour, which allows the Druid to resurrect him up to twice, and Carnivorous Cube, which allows you to duplicate Hadronox while setting off his Deathrattle. The main weakness of the deck is cards that put Beasts on the opponent's board like Hex, Polymorph, and Cornered Sentry, as these can cause Witching Hour to fizzle, but if you're not playing Mage, Shaman, or Warrior, tough luck. Some players that use other classes have resorted to teching in Tinkmaster Overspark of all cards just to neutralize Taunt Druid.
- The most reviled card in the expansion easily goes to Ultimate Infestation, a 10-mana Druid spell that deals 5 damage, summons a 5/5, gives the Druid 5 armor, and draws 5 cards. If you do the math, that's roughly 17 mana worth of value packaged into a single card.note The main weakness of the grindy Jade Druid was that it, too, eventually runs out of steam without something like Gadgetzan Auctioneer to combo with Jade Idols, but Ultimate Infestation generally remedies that, on top of creating a board swing and giving extra armor to extend the Druid's stamina. Even after the Jades rotated out, Ultimate Infestation was still a guaranteed two-of for every single Druid deck just because of how utterly obscene it is, even though you'd realistically only ever use one.
- The insanity got worse in the Standard Blood Magic brawl, where you can cast spells with health as opposed to mana. Ultimate Infestation on turn 1 was not a pretty sight, especially when the armor it bestows allows the Druid to throw out a few more spells without endangering his health.
- The Death Knight Hero Cards were the first of their kind in the game, which naturally led to them warping the meta around themselves. For the entirety of their run in Standard and continuing into Wild, many decks hinge on the powerful Battlecries and upgraded Hero Powers they offer to win the late game, because the majority of them generate insane value the longer the game goes on, letting their user easily outlast opponents. Of course, some of them made a bigger splash than others:
- Shadowreaper Anduin, an 8 mana Priest Hero card that kills all minions with 5 attack or more and changes the Hero Power to Voidform - a Hero Power that deals 2 damage and then refreshes itself whenever the Priest player plays a card. Sounds fair on paper, but the Hero Power has insane synergy with Raza the Chained, a 5 mana Legendary minion which allows the Hero Power to cost 0 for the rest of the game if your deck has no duplicates, suddenly allows the Priest to pump out 6-8 control damage every single turn for 0 mana. Things get even more absurd when you throw in Lyra the Sunshard and a Radiant Elemental or two, allowing the Priest to cycle through spells and damage until either the timer runs out or the opponent's health does. The fact that this card fills in two holes of Priest in one fell swoop, namely the ability to end the game through the insane amount of damage every single turn with Raza and deal with many big minions since Lightbomb rotated out, led him to cause chaos in both Standard and Wild and Priest - a class has traditionally struggled, suddenly pushed to prominence through this synergy alone. If Spreading Plague and Ultimate Infestation took the silver and gold medal for most powerful cards this expansion, Shadowreaper Anduin took the bronze for his synergy with Raza. This eventually lead to Raza being nerfed to only reduce the cost to 1, severely limiting the deck's burst output.
- Initially, Deathstalker Rexxar wasn't hated as much — its Zombeast mechanic was innovative and actually gave the normally glassy Hunter class access to lategame value. However, as the times went on and more Beasts and keywords were added, there were ways to grant Zombeasts Rush, Lifesteal, Poisonous, etc. Deathstalker Rexxar became a powerful instant-include to nearly any Hunter deck, turning Hunter into a sense Master of All by the end of 2018 — the deck's own base cards provide enough aggression to rush down slower opponents, while Deathstalker Rexxar's boardwipe Battlecry and Zombeast value can let the deck outgrind more aggressive opponents. What really makes the Zombeasts great, however, is the sheer Combinatorial Explosion it enables, letting Rexxar put keywords on minions that were never meant to have them. For example, you could have a Vicious Fledgling with Charge by combining it with Stonetusk Boar, a Knuckles with Lifesteal and Rush for instant board control, face damage, and healing, or a Poisonous Dreadscale that wipes the board every single turn if it's not dealt with. Even if you have to settle for a less-than-optimal combination, Zombeasts are almost always better than the sum of their parts. Not only do you get huge value, you're getting huge value with better-than-average minions that are often tailor-made to deal with a certain board state.
- Frost Lich Jaina quickly became the Holy Grail of Control Mage decks everywhere. While her high cost of 9 mana means that playing her causes you to fall behind on the board, being able to convert minions into Water Elementals with Lifesteal means that you have about three turns at most to capitalize on this before she starts inevitably out-grinding you. The threat of Jaina's hero power makes playing minions inherently risky lest they be turned into beefy meat-shields that Freeze enemies, making it even harder to trade favorably and nigh-impossible to push in face damage, and since the Lifesteal applies to all Elementals, cards like Ragnaros and Baron Geddon become exponentially more threatening as their high-damage abilities also heal Jaina for a huge amount. Not only did this make Frost Lich Jaina great for stalling out until you drew your win condition, she's good enough to use as a primary or alternate win condition on her own.
- Bloodreaver Gul'dan swiftly achieved infamy for rendering Lord Jaraxxus, long considered one of the better Classic and Warlock Legendaries, completely obsolete. His Battlecry effect is effectively a N'zoth for Demons, and given the decks Warlock was running at the time, this often included several angry Doomguards ready to rip the opponent a new one, protected from retaliation by Voidlords and other Taunts, and while Even Warlock had neither of the above, it had enough alternative options to make the Battlecry worth the 10 mana cost. His Hero Power is no slouch either, providing Gul'dan with a steady stream of healing to keep him healthy in the late game while doubling as efficient removal, letting him comfortably sit back and watch the opponent slowly bleed out. Bloodreaver is so good that, as soon as the Year of the Dragon rolled around, Control Warlock's viability instantly plummeted as they could simply no longer keep up in the late game without him.
Kobolds & CatacombsAlso see Corridor Creeper, Call to Arms, Dark Pact, Possessed Lackey, Spiteful Summoner, Level Up!, and Lesser Emerald Spellstone in the Nerfed Cards section. (Suffice it to say, most players considered this set just a tad overtuned compared to everything else in the same year. And the next.)
- Kingsbane, a Legendary weapon for Rogue that starts off as a 1/3 but keeps all enhancements given to it, and has a Deathrattle where it shuffles itself back into the deck. While it made ripples in Standard while Coldlight Oracle was still around, it really became obscene in Wild Mode. In addition to the full spectrum of weapon-buffing cards available to Rogue, Wild includes Gang Up, a must-have for any mill deck to duplicate your Coldlight Oracles. Thanks to Leeching Poison giving Kingsbane Lifesteal and Valeera the Hollow allowing you to shuffle an extra copy of Kingsbane into your deck, the Rogue can rarely take damage and will never fatigue.
- This got a lot more balanced after Rastakhan's Rumble, which severely nerfed Leeching Poison to only last a single turn.
- Voidlord, a 9 mana 3/9 Warlock Demon with Taunt that summons three Voidwalkers when it dies. This fat-ass of a minion forces your opponent to sink a minimum of 18 damage to break through it, making it great for stalling for time — barring Silence/transform effects or a very clever use of Defile, it takes a lot of resources to break past this wall. On its own, it'd be balanced due to its high mana cost, but Kobolds also introduced Skull of the Man'ari and Possessed Lackey to cheat it out from the hand and deck respectively, allowing Warlocks to effortlessly reach the lategame. It also has synergy with Carnivorous Cube, which can eat the Voidlord and then summon two more copies of it, and Bloodreaver Gul'dan, who can summon Voidlord and the Voidwalkers to form an unstoppable Taunt wall. It being a Deathrattle minion also results in crazy value with N'Zoth. This card was so oppressive that Spellbreaker and Harrison Jones went from rarely-seen tech cards to main-deck staples, simply because not having answers to a turn 6 Voidlord meant that you'll probably get crushed by the enemy Warlock in short order.
- Carnivorous Cube is a 5 mana 4/6 that eats one of your minions as its Battlecry and summons two copies of it as its Deathrattle. When you build your deck around that, it's hands-down the best combo-enabler in the game. Not only does it duplicate minions, it triggers Deathrattles and works with Deathrattle synergies itself. Unlike other combo cards, it has an insane amount of versatility with how you use it in your combo. You can use it to clone Voidlords, triple up on charge minions for crazy burst, create walls of 3/12 Taunts, trigger Kathrena Winterwisp or Silver Vanguard in a pinch, trigger and clone Hadronox, and so much more. That, and eating even a medium minion puts a ridiculous amount of stats out, like a Savannah Highmane on crack, never mind what else those summoned minions might do. The line between Control/Midrange and traditional Combo decks blurred a lot thanks to this card, just because combos became so consistent.
- Psychic Scream is a 7-mana Priest spell that shuffles all minions into the opponent's deck. It's hands-down one of the best board clears in the game; it ignores Divine Shields, ignores Deathrattles, and completely ruins your opponent's draw consistency by making them re-draw their minions rather than some of the cards they actually need. Token decks in particular tend to get destroyed by this card, as they'll have to laboriously re-draw all of their low-statted weenies one at a time. Sure, your opponent will eventually get their minions back, but by then you've ideally already set up your win condition, and while it could theoretically give your good minions to the opponent, you'll generally only be playing this when behind on the board, and there's no reason you can't just trade your minions away before casting it. Psychic Scream was so good that players tend to drop minions very gingerly on turns 6 onward, as very few Priest decks (which, at the time, were all about Mind Blast combos) left home without two copies of it and two Shadow Visions to pseudo-tutor them, letting the Priest nuke the board up to four times.
The WitchwoodAlso see Genn Greymane, Baku the Mooneater, and all related synergy cards in the Hall of Fame.
- Shudderwock, the Shaman Legendary for the Witchwood expansion. It wasn't necessarily broken in power level, but rather it literally broke the game, causing upwards of 20 minute turns. Combined with Saronite Chain Gang and Grumble, Worldshaker, Shudderwock can bounce itself into your hand endlessly, allowing you to play many of them in one turn, playing through every previous Battlecry every time. Made worse with Murmuring Elemental played before it, which doubles the Battlecry effect! It doesn't hurt that the card itself is actually pretty strong, meaning it sees plenty of play (although the full OTK deck is quite gimmicky). A month after its release, it was very mildly nerfed to only copy 20 Battlecries at a time, greatly limiting its OTK potential and absurd turn timer, but not affecting its general utility.
- Even after the nerf and without the gimmicky OTK, Shudderwock sits at the heart of one of the most powerful combo decks in the history of the game. With Grumble and Saronite Chain Gang, Shudderwock effectively becomes a Hopeless Boss Fight once it hits the field; combined with Hagatha the Witch for board clear and Lifedrinker, and you basically get an infinite supply of Twisting Nethers, face damage, and healing. The only real counterplay to this is to either kill the Shaman before they play Shudderwock, or hit them with an OTK combo; otherwise, you might as well hit that Concede button. To give you an idea of how powerful this card is, Shudderwock single-handedly killed off nearly every other control deck in Standard format and transformed the Witchwood meta into nothing but tempo and combo decks.
- Eventually it got so bad Blizzard axed the concept, changing Saronite Chain Gang to summon another Saronite Chain Gang instead of a copy of itself. The combo could still be done in Wild with Dopplegangster, but that requires putting a bad card in your deck, making it significantly weaker.
- And then infinite Shudderwock came back in Descent of Dragons thanks to Faceless Corruptor (which didn't even need Shudderwock's help to become broken, mind you) and Barista Lynchen. Only instead of stuffing your hand with a buttload of 1 mana Shudderwocks, it now floods the board with giant Rushers thanks to Galakrond, the Tempest. That being said, this version of Shudderwock is simply the cherry on top of an already broken deck (see Galakrond Shaman in the Decks section for details), but it certainly brought back bad memories for players who had to suffer through Shudderwock's first reign of terror.
The Boomsday ProjectAlso see Giggling Inventor, Reckless Experimenter, Luna's Pocket Galaxy,Extra Arms, and Dr. Boom, Mad Genius in the Nerfed Cards section.
- When Juicy Psychmelon (a cheaper Sprint that tutors) was revealed, many players cried out how Druid, the best and most efficient combo class, was being given another ridiculous consistency boost. While those fears ended up being unfounded in Standard, it's a different story entirely in Wild. Combo Druid (of many varieties) went from the best Wild deck to the only Wild deck, able to draw its combo enablers every game and blow anything slower away. With the class's mana ramping, it can draw into and play out a game-winning combo before most other decks have a chance to react. Throw in the extreme armor Druid can build up, and they're not even weak to aggro. Juicy Psychmelon was the final tool to fully round out the overbloated class. This was eventually lessened when Aviana was nerfed to 10 mana, preventing her from being drawn alongside Kun.
- Zilliax, the card that has it all. A combination of incredible defensive keywords and just enough stats to make an impact on the board even after your turn passes makes Zilliax one of the strongest Legendaries in the game. No Control or Midrange deck would be complete without him. Additionally, his wide range of effects as well as being a Mech make him easily drawn by tutors and created from multiple cards for free. It should be telling that - despite being the flagship Magnetic card - Magnetic is usually his least important ability.
- SN1P-SN4P was retroactively added to The Boomsday Project and given out for free during the Rise of the Mech, but already has proven to be an outstanding card on a power level similar to Zilliax. For starters, this card is effectively a Haunted Creeper with 1/1 more stats and mech synergy. Haunted Creeper was already arguably one of the best two drops ever printed. This makes SN1P-SN4P at worst an excellent 3 drop to use. However, Magnetic and Echo help really push SN1P-SN4P over the edge, showing why Blizzard had never printed both keywords on the same card before. Magnetic makes SN1P-SN4P work as a powerful minion buff, giving any mech its stats and a stacking Deathrattle. It is easily the single most flexible card ever printed. It can be 3 buffs. It can be 3 bodies. It can be one big body. And it can be anything in between. Even decks that do not rely on OTKs or even Mechs use SN1P-SNAP since it is that good of a 3 drop (or 6 drop, or 9 drop).
- In Wild, cards such as Mechwarper (with Glinda Crowskin), Summoning Portal, and Corpse Widow help make it so if even a single Mech is left on the board, SN1P-SN4P can endlessly buff it for an OTK. Reckless Experimenter was nerfed out of fear for Priests using SN1P-SN4P combos since the Experimenter herself could've reduced its cost to 0 for an OTK as early as turn 5, but SN1P-SN4P Warlock and Mech Hunter also use the card extremely well. This got so bad, the game received a much-needed Obvious Rule Patch where Echo copies could no longer be reduced below 1 mana.
Rastakhan's RumbleAlso see Raiding Party in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Da Undatakah is a 8 mana minion who gains the Deathrattle of 3 minions that died this game. Doesn't sound too bad on paper, except Rumble also happens to be the set that introduced Immortal Prelate, a 2-mana 1/2 whose Deathrattle shuffles it into the deck with all its enchantments intact. When copied by Da Undatakah, this means he keeps all the Deathrattles gained from his own Battlecry. Throw in Silver Vanguard's Deathrattle and give him Taunt through Sunfury Protector, and what do you get? A Taunt minion that instantly resummons itself on death. Without any Silence or Transform effects, it is unlikely you will ever get past this undying wall. Even after Silver Vanguard rotated out, Da Undatakah just picked up where he left off in Mech Paladin by copying Mechano-Egg, letting him leave behind a bunch of 8/8 tokens on the board every time he dies, and due to Immortal Prelate, he just keeps racking up more and more copies of the Deathrattle every time he's played. If there's one reason to pack a Silence or two when going up against Paladin, this is it.
- Da Undatakah also proved his worth in Druid, where he became a handy addition to Taunt Druid's lineup. By combining it with Hadronox and Astral Tiger, Undatakah can resurrect a bunch of Taunt minions and then reshuffle himself into the deck to do it again later. Chances are, the opponent will eventually run out of answers after getting wave after wave of Taunts thrown at them, and unlike Hadronox itself, Undatakah doesn't get crippled by the enemy summoning Beasts on your board to mess with Witching Hour.
Rise of ShadowsAlso see Archivist Elysiana, EVIL Miscreant, Conjurer's Calling, and Sludge Slurper in the Nerf Cards section.
- Archmage Vargoth was given out for free during Rise of Shadows and has made its presence known. While he's unreliable for casting targeted spells, as Yogg-Saron can attest - the best spells are the ones that aren't targeted and therefore can't whiff. Mass board buffs, enemy board clears, spells that summon minions - having Vargoth recast one of those is absolutely insane. Add the fact that he can keep recasting if his beefy 6 health isn't dealt with, and you have a powerhouse card. The most broken use of him without a doubt is Wild Quest Mage, who can get an extra Time Warp turn through him, allowing them to take three turns in a row for utterly unpreventable lethals.
- Convincing Infiltrator by itself is not a broken card. It's annoying, but easy to play around using token minions. What makes the card broken is the multitude of ways to resurrect the thing. From Psychopomp to Grave Rune to Mass Resurrection, it's entirely possible for a Priest to play nothing until turn 5, play this and have it clear the enemy board, then proceed to have a Convincing Infiltrator in play on every single following turn. It's extremely hard to keep minions to hold board pressure while dealing with endless Taunts that snipe your minions out of play.
Saviors of UldumAlso see Mogu Fleshshaper, Bloodsworn Mercenary, Tortollan Pilgrim, and Dinotamer Brann in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Zephrys the Great became a fan favourite as soon as he was announced, with an incredibly unique ability that pushed the highlander theme of the set and excited Wild players. What nobody was expecting was just how good his effect really was. Most players suspected he could be enough to push at least one of the underwhelming explorers into the meta, but nobody was expecting him to encourage highlander builds from classes without any other support. Zephrys' insane versatility made him a meta-warping star. In the lategame, nine times out of ten he'll give you Tirion Fordring when he's not giving you lethal, and can also fetch value cards like Ysera. For Aggro decks, his propensity for spotting lethal gave every class access to Savage Roar or Bloodlust. In a tough spot, he provides perfect board clears, Twisting Nether or otherwise. Even when played on curve, he almost always gives the player Animal Companion, Wild Growth, and Brightwing, making him at the very worst a better Jeweled Scarab. He's so good, he's effectively supplanted Reno Jackson as the king of Reno cards.
- Plague of Flames is a Warlock spell that destroys all friendly minions, and destroys a random enemy minion for each one. The issue? It's one mana. That makes it extremely easy to play token-generating cards, then use those 1/1 Imps to wipe an enemy board of any size. In effect, it's played like a Twisting Nether for up to 7 less mana. While the card never insane in SoU meta, Descent of Dragons introduced Galakrond, the Wretched, a card that makes it extremely easy to get 1/1 tokens all throughout the game. Even in Wild, Plague of Flames quickly replaced Warlock's other Deathrattle activators and board clears for the insane cost-to-effect ratio.
Descent of Dragons and Galakrond's AwakeningSee Faceless Corruptor, Corrupt Elementalist, Invocation of Frost, Dragon's Pack, Fiendish Rites, Scion of Ruin, Ancharrr, Necrium Apothecary, Bad Luck Albatross, Frenzied Felwing, Dragoncaster, Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, and Galakrond, the Nightmare in the Nerfed Cards section.
Ashes of Outland and Demon HunterAlso see Aldrachi Warblades, Eye Beam, Skull of Gul'dan, Imprisoned Antaen, Glaivebound Adept, Battlefiend, Altruis the Outcast,Kael'thas Sunstrider, Imprisoned Scrap Imp, Shadowjeweler Hanar, Priestess of Fury, Crimson Sigil Runner, Twin Slice, Metamorphosis, Warglaives of Azzinoth, Kayn Sunfury, Corsair Cache, Fungal Fortunes, Darkglare, Evocation, Astromancer Solarian, Blade Dance, Boggspine Knuckles, Hand of A'dal, Renew, Apotheosis, and Incanter's Flow in the Nerfed Cards section. (As already mentioned, Demon Hunter was just a bit too good at launch, and this set also marked the start of a policy towards more aggressive card nerfs by Blizzard.)
- Aldor Attendant, originally a 2 mana 2/3, later buffed to a premium 1 mana 1/3 to give Paladins the 1-drop they sorely lacked. Its statline made it ideal for the Libram deck it was designed for, being a sturdy body for Hand of A'dal or Libram of Wisdom or simply using its great stats to hold the board, and still providing mid and lategame value by cheapening your future power plays. This was of course the intended effect, and Paladin still wasn't that good in this set - but that changed in the following two. Scholomance and Darkmoon Faire were very kind to Paladin, giving them a much better base to rest this powerhouse card on, and rocketing them to the top of the meta.
- Overgrowth is a 4-mana Druid spell that gives two whole Mana Crystals. For all practical intents and purposes, it's a Nourish that can drop two turns early, blowing Druid's existing ramp cards (except maybe Breath of Dreams) out of the water. If a Druid plays this on curve, they're basically set for the rest of the game. Scholomance Academy is where this card really hit its stride, with Lightning Bloom allowing lightning-fast mana ramp to drop big cards like Kael'thas Sunstrider and Survival of the Fittest way before they're meant to be available. The main downside of this card is that it's mostly dead in your hand if drawn at 10 mana (since it only generates a single measly Excess Mana card), but the sheer highroll potential means no Druid left home without two of these in the Phoenix meta.
Scholomance AcademyAlso see Mindrender Illucia, Cabal Acolyte, Secret Passage, Guardian Animals, Voracious Reader, Lorekeeper Polkelt, High Abbess Alura, Pen Flinger, Jandice Barov, First Day of School, Gibberling, and Flesh Giant in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Lightning Bloom is a 0 mana Shaman/Druid spell that gives the caster 2 mana crystals that turn, but has 2 Overload. Effectively it's a pre-nerf Innervate... and goes to show how broken Innervate was. While it does have a downside (taking away as much mana as it adds), it's neglible compared to the disgusting tempo plays it gives you. If it was just a Shaman card, which is a class balanced around swaying tempo, it would be strong but fair as it is. But given to Druid, a class that wants to break the definition of mana limits, and it's insane. Paired with all of Druid's mana ramp and cheating, this is a massive 0-mana extender for all of their huge cards.
Madness at the Darkmoon FaireSee Dreadlord's Bite, Hysteria, Deck of Lunacy, Crabrider, and Il'gynoth in the Nerfed Cards section.
Forged in the BarrensSee Sword of the Fallen, Far Watch Post, Mor'shan Watch Post, Refreshing Spring Water, Mankrik, Kolkar Pack Runner, and Conviction in the Nerfed Cards section, and Stealer of Souls in the Banned Cards section.
United in StormwindSee Granite Forgeborn and Battleground Battlemaster in the Nerfed Cards section.
- Mage has been one of the best classes to take into Arena due to the amount of card generating effects available to the class. Add to the fact that these cards were random or Discovered and nobody could play around what had been generated. Between Cabalist's Tome, Babbling Book, Primordial Glyph, and Shimmering Tempest, a Mage could conveniently get the spell they need to stage a turnaround or secure their victory. In fact, a few Mage cards on their own are Arena Game Breakers, which adds to the frustration when one discovers them:
- Flamestrike again, but for reasons on top of the ridiculous value it already provides. It's a common, meaning that it's very unlikely for someone to go through a Mage draft without seeing it, and the nature of Arena (trading minions and focusing on value and tempo) means that it's almost impossible not to get good use out of it. More importantly, it's possible to have more than two, meaning that with a good draft you'll have free area damage on tap prepared to eliminate anything in your way. Flamestrike was subsequently made to appear in Arena drafts 50% less frequently.
- Firelands Portal, a 7 mana common Mage spell that summons a random 5-cost minion and deals 5 damage. Flamestrike is literally the only thing you wouldn't pick this over, and even then its a close contest. Firelands Portal's insane tempo swing from taking a minion and then playing one of your own can win a match in one fell swoop, and since it's a common you can just do it again and again until you win. Sometimes the 5-cost minion will be junk like Faceless Manipulator, but other times it'll be something revolting like Earth Elemental.
- Meteor is a 6 mana spell that deals 15 damage to a single minion and 3 to adjacent ones. There are very few unbuffed minions that can survive a direct impact to Meteor (the Mage's Hero Power is also very good for breaking Divine Shield), turning it into effective hard removal with a chance of a 3-for-1 with unfortunate positioning. The possibility of its existence against a Mage player makes arranging your minions that more important.
- What shot and keep Rogue into top tier in Arena and competing with Mage isn't just their mana-efficient basic and classic cards (Backstab, Eviscerate, Tomb Pillager etc.) but it is the class's Hero Power. Dagger Mastery allows the Rogue to equip a 1/2 weapon, which in Arena play is essentially 2 of the Mage's Hero Power (Fireblast) that you can control and hold back to kill or weaken a minion in a game mode that focuses on keeping minions alive get more favorable trades. This Hero Power is so broken that many Rogue Arena decks tend to draft less 2 mana minions than other classes because their turn 2 play is usually Dagger Mastery to kill a 1-drop and save their card slots for better options.
- Envenom Weapon is one of Rogue's strongest cards in Arena — giving their weapon Poisonous turns their already good Hero Power into 2 charges of hard removal, perfect for taking out even the toughest Taunt minions to either push damage or trade better using their other minions.
- Vilespine Slayer gave every single already powerful Rogue card a run for their money. It's a 5 mana Assassinate (already a very powerful card) with a 3/4 body with the only condition is that you have to combo it - something Rogue can easily do with cheap cards.
- Launch day Demon Hunter was already kind of a godless freak of nature in Constructed play, but it was even worse in Arena. Demon Hunter's card pool was full of flexible "all-rounders" that were good in basically any situation, and because of how few cards they had compared to everybody else (45), you were less likely to get stifled with trash. This sheer consistency led to several, identical Demon Hunter drafts full of crazy value, nutty draw power, big minions, and more board clears than a Wild Priest deck. The high-tempo Hero Power was just the icing on the cake. Like with Constructed, the nerf bat came swinging one day after the class was released; a sweeping reduction in encounter rate was applied to a third of their card pool.
- Kel'Thuzad was insane for the longest time. In constructed, having a developed board either means you're playing an aggro deck or you were already winning, meaning Kel'Thuzad usually only sees play in Druid decks, which can reliably have a big minion on the board prepared for him to resurrect, and deathrattle Shaman which is focused on duplicating him with Reincarnate. Arena is different; both sides will almost always have some minions in play with complete resets being rare, a situation which is utterly pristine for card based around having a board. Indeed, dropping Kel'Thuzad was a death sentence for the opponent, as the astronomical board advantage meant that not even the ever feared Flamestrike could stop him. He got much less effective as Arena became faster with the addition of more cheap minions, but even still most people will take Kel'Thuzad the second he shows up.
- Murloc Knight was once the main reason for Paladin's popularity in Arena. It's a 3/4 for 4 with the inspire effect of summoning a random murloc. In constructed, it's the most popular inspire minion because of its potential to summon something scary like Murloc Warleader, Old Murk-Eye, or another Murloc Knight, mainly held back by its overcrowded mana slot and high potential to whiff. In Arena, removal is much more sparse, meaning that Murloc Knight will likely stick around long enough to pop multiple times, almost assuring board control in a game mode defined by board control. Most importantly, it's common, meaning it's very hard not to get one during a draft. It got so bad Blizzard directly introduced two lowly statted murlocs in League of Explorers just to nerf it, and has steadily received more nerfs over time, making it much less powerful.
- Murloc Knight's torch was passed on to Keeper of Uldaman, a 4 mana 3/4 Paladin minion that changes the stats of a minion to 3/3. Remember how Paladin didn't have hard removal? Well then this'll be weird, because now they can handle any big minions thrown their way, when previously they were restricted to just lowering its attack without actually clearing it. Not only can Keeper kill the affected minion without dying, she can also buff her allies as well, granting even a lowly Silver Hand Recruit +2/+2.
- Abyssal Enforcer, a 7 mana 6/6 Common Warlock Demon that deals 3 damage to all other characters. It's a Flamestrike with a huge body attached, and while it damages its allies as wellnote , that doesn't matter that much when everything that can fight with it is dead, allowing the Enforcer to slaughter anything that drops next or mash face until the opponent answers it. It cannot be understated how outrageously powerful this card is; Warlock, previously one of Arena's joke classes, instantly upgraded to the number one slot just because of this powerhouse, and getting enough of them generally guarantees the 12 wins reward. The dominance of Abyssal Enforcer eventually led to it being made 50% less likely to appear in an Arena draft.
- Vicious Fledgling earned the nickname of "Dr. 3", taking after Mysterious Challenger and Dr. Boom. This 3/3 for 3 mana adapts each time it hits the enemy hero — and if it gets Windfury it gets another swing for another adaptation, quickly spiraling out of control as it accumulates more and more buffs. Due to Arena's lack of efficient removal, if you can't get a Taunt in the way so that you can clean up the Fledgling through combat damage, the Fledgling can singlehandedly cause an Arena loss. The more infuriating part is that this is a neutral minion so no matter what class you're up against there's always a chance the opponent has it. A patch has reduced the chance of Fledgling appearing in a draft, but eventually they went so far as to outright ban Vicious Fledgling from Arena, meaning it won't show up in any draft.
- Spikeridged Steed is a 6-mana Paladin spell that gives a minion +2/+6 and Taunt, while also causing them to leave behind a 2/6 with Taunt if they die. Essentially, turning any minion of your choice into a stronger version of the infamously sticky Sludge Belcher. Using it even on a simple 1/1 creates a wall capable of soaking at least 13 damage; using it on anything larger lets them survive through troublesome trades.
- The Death Knight cards of the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion open up drastically new playstyles in constructed. In Arena, though, they are absolutely game-changing and can be the sole cause of a player turning the game around. Their Legendary rarity reduces the rate at which a player might be able to encounter them, but there's nothing stopping them from Discovering a Death Knight card. The ability for the Death Knights to win games alone resulted in them being removed from the Arena draft pool, though the chance of Discovering a Death Knight card is still a notable, if incredibly rare, danger.
- Mind Control Tech is a 3 mana 3/3 whose Battlecry takes control of a random enemy minion if the opponent controls 4 minions or more. In a game mode where board presence is everything, a neutral card that punishes the opponent for playing a bunch of minions is an easy auto-pick for every class and can easily result in a powerful swing in your favor, forcing players to constantly tiptoe around the effect. Furthermore, the RNG nature of the card naturally has the potential for much frustration, whether it's by stealing the opponent's best minions against all odds or by taking a Silver Hand Recruit among bigger minions. Due to MC Tech's potential for creating an all-round un-fun experience, it was given the boot from Arena mode.
- Dragonmaw Poacher, an anti-dragon tech card from Descent of Dragons that starts as a mere 4 mana 4/4, but gains +4/+4 and Rush if the enemy controls a dragon. It's decent in Standard, as the expansion added tons of dragons for its effect to proc, but it's hindered by how bad it is when the enemy isn't running dragons. In Arena, running into dragons is more of an inevitability, making it painfully easy to get a humongous 8/8 on turn 4. Coupled with how sparse removal is in Arena, this mean bastard can win the game the second it hits the field, and the sheer prevalence of dragons in the Arena pool means that playing it around it usually isn't an option. Poacher was so vehemently nasty that the normally conservative Blizzard took action almost immediately and kicked it out of Arena two days after the launch of the set.
Arena EventsIn addition to the normal Arena mode, Blizzard occasionally hosts Arena Events, ranging from duo-class arenas, Wild arena, and limited time arena-exclusive cards. Each of them break the game in their own way (on purpose, of course), but these are the outliers.
Taverns of Time
- In a set of purposefully absurd cards, Cavern Dreamer is the king of BS. A 2 mana 1/3 Mage minion, it adds a random spell from any class that costs 2 or less to your hand at the end of your turn. Every turn. While there are a handful of whiffs, more often than it generates a valuable spell. Since spells harder to come by, even just one tick is strong. Due to the lack of removal in Arena and the Dreamer's decent health, it's almost guaranteed to stick around for several turns. In fact, many cheap spells are removal, meaning it might generate a card to protect itself. On top of that, Taverns of Time cards have a huge occurrence bonus, meaning the Mage probably has two or three of these in their deck.
- Wildlands Adventurer is a 5 mana 5/5 that adds a random Hall of Fame card to your hand. The card itself is very strong, having near-premium stats and a card draw effect to boot. What gets really crazy is when it gives you Sylvanas or Ragnaros. Those two were Hall of Famed for a reason, and are even more powerful in Arena. While the Hall of Fame has some serious misses, the chance to land on those along with the great stats easily puts the card here.
- Chromie is one of the two Legendaries from the set, so she doesn't show up in too many drafts. When she does show up however? Her Battlecry shuffles four Epochs into your deck, based on various Caverns of Time instances. The epochs give your minions +2/+2, deal 2 damage to all enemies, give you two random spells, or give you two random Legendaries. The catch? They're casted for free when drawn. That's a free Consecrate, a free Wisps of the Old Gods, and two free pseudo-Thoughtsteals. While it's a bit inconsistent, having a board state where the cards whiff is pretty rare in arena. You throw down Chromie, and she suddenly generates insane power spikes for free throughout the game.
- Murozond is the other Taverns of Time Legendary, but when he shows up he can almost instantly win you or your opponent the game. For the rest of the game after you play him, your turns are only 15 seconds. However, you get to draw two additional cards every turn. In a game mode like Arena, this card automatically makes any deck way stronger. Arena games already rarely if ever go to fatigue, so that downside is effectively nil. So long as the player already has a decent plan for their turn, they effectively ignore Murozond's downside and just outdraw and outvalue their opponent forever.
- Battlegrounds' battles are already resolved at the start of the battle. If a player disconnects and they are still alive at the end of the battle, they instead skip the battle and are back in Bob's Tavern. This can be deliberately exploited by restarting the game or use one's firewall to momentarily disconnect and reconnect immediately, giving the player sometimes more than twice the usual time in Bob's Tavern to build their warband. This becomes especially problematic when the exploiter uses Brann Bronzebeard and Khadgar shenanigans with Murloc Tidehunter and Alley Cat to generate several triples and build a warband out of game-winning Tier 5 and Tier 6 minions. Pirate warbands with Captain Hoggar also have infinite gold basically with the only limitation to scale being the turn timer.
- The initial version of Infinite Toki was the most insane hero in the game by far. Her hero power let her refresh the Tavern for a single Coin, and added an additional minion to that reroll... from a higher tier. That meant that, for the same price as a normal reroll, Toki got access to minions far more powerful than she should be able to. This also meant she had no reason to tier up to 6, since her reroll at 5 was literally better than a normal roll at 6, since it guaranteed a supposedly rare tier 6 minion every time. Her hero power was nerfed to 2 Coins when Battlegrounds entered open beta, but she's still one of the best heroes lategame. With the addition of other insane heroes (like Elise Starseeker, Sindragosa, Edwin VanCleef and Rafaam) as well the adjustment of minions tier, Toki's Hero Power was reverted to her beta version, with the nerf is that it now replaced the last minion instead of adding one.
- The Curator begins the game with a 1/1 Amalgam on his side of the board. While starting with a 1/1 is reasonable by itself (it makes it extremely hard to lose in the early game), it gets really busted later on. Since it's an Amalgam, it benefits from every tribal synergy in the game, making The Curator ungodly flexible. That lets him stack everything he finds on this minion, usually sculpting it into a monstrous Taunt Divine Shield Poisonous minion, all without interrupting whatever path he's actually going for.
- Nefarian's hero power was considered one of the best late-game abilities in all of Battlegrounds. It's a deceptively simple 1 damage across all enemy minions, which doesn't sound like much at first. However, the nature of Battlegrounds makes Divine Shield extremely powerful, since it can easily let a minion shrug off dozens of damage at a time in high-tier battles and block Poisonous attacks, the only form of hard removal in this mode. And Nefarian can erase every Divine Shield on the enemy's board for only one coin, giving him a major advantage in the combat phase. Nefarian's reign of terror lasted until the Dragon update, which added Unstable Ghoul and ultimately rendered him obsolete, and down to near-uselessness when Gentle Megasaur (and therefore Divine Shield/Poisonous Murlocs) were removed from the game, eventually getting removed from the game himself.
- Brann Bronzebeard hit the ground rolling in Battlegrounds. His hero power passively gives a random minion +1/+1 each time he plays a Battlecry minion, letting his Battlecry minions hold their own in the early game since the buff can be applied to the minion that triggered it and making his buffing effects even more effective in the late game, giving Brann a stat advantage at basically all parts of the game. With all the stacking buffs and a solid minion core, he can easily snowball his way to a win, and he was banned from Battlegrounds entirely only a short time after his release.
- A. F. Kay, of all people, is an extremely strong hero choice. While she's unable to do anything on her first two turns due to her hero power, the reward is well worth it, as her hero power gave her a Tier 3 and Tier 4 minion on her third turn, whereas her opponents will probably be on Tier 2. This can easily lead to Kay snowballing out of control and netting herself a comfy top 4 finish by virtue of most opponents not being able to keep up with her, especially if she grabs a good Mech to build around. She was eventually nerfed to only get two Tier 3 minions in order to curb her early-game advantage, but she's still one of the best heroes around. Furthermore, the nerf actually has the side benefit of giving her two chances to grab Cobalt Guardian or Floating Watcher, arguably the biggest Disc-One Nuke in the mode; if she gets Cobalt or Watcher early and picks up some decent synergistic minions along the way, you might as well not even try to fight her. It's not hard to imagine that this was a factor in getting Floating Watcher booted to tier 4.
- Arch-Villain Rafaam's Hero Power is one of the most potent and game-defining in the mode: For 1 Gold, he will create a copy of the first minion you kill next combat. Leaving behind the fact that he is blatantly superior to Gallywix, this Hero Power forces all of his opponents to set up minions with this Hero Power in mind since he can steal your build-around minions and then turn them against you. Rafaam essentially kickstarted the beginning of Battlegrounds' Power Creep, with increasingly powerful heroes just to keep up with him - and he's still generally considered one of the strongest heroes.
- Tirion Fordring's Hero Power grants all friendly typeless minions +1/+1 for 1 Gold. He was initially lauded for being innovative - indeed, it's the first time there's been any synergy for typeless minions - but the power of this ability became evident fairly quickly. Tirion's preferred minion pool is largely uncontested, making it very easy for him to fill out his board and maximize the value of his Hero Power - +7/+7 for a single coin every turn is insane. You aren't forced to run bad minions just to gain value, either - almost all of the typeless minions are good enough to see play regardless. While scoring #1 with him usually requires a decent amount of effort, Tirion's sheer consistency means that it's almost impossible to place outside of top 4, since he almost always grabs the minions he wants and then steamrolls people with his enormous stat gain. He became the second hero after Brann to get kicked out for being too good.
- If there's any hero that embodies the concept of Zerg Rush, it's Deathwing. His Hero Power passively gave all minions +3 Attack. This was basically a passive Pack Leader for free and could apply to more than just Beasts (like Divine Shield minions). Playing against him in the early game boiled down to praying that you could roll out a Rat Pack while he didn't so that his Hero Power didn't flatten your health total. Deathwing was promptly nerfed to give +2 Attack in order to address him indiscriminately slaughtering things in the early game.
- Captain Eudora had a cute, seemingly impractical Hero Power where she had to press the button four times for 1 mana a piece, and then she would get a free, random Golden minion. Thing is, you didn't take enough damage early on to rule out simply pressing it on turn 1 and going from there. The end result was a hero who consistently tripled on Tier 3 on turn 4, giving her a Golden minion and a Tier 4 minion with high stats each, both of which let her easily stabilize, and she could repeat the process four turns later with even stronger minions - including ones from Tier 6. Plus, if she high-rolled a crazy Golden minion like Baron Rivendare or Goldgrubber, she could easily just cut the crap and start indiscriminately murdering everybody in the lobby before the endgame hit. Eudora's Hero Power was nerfed to require five presses before she gets a Golden minion, making her significantly less powerful.
- Jandice Barov was a one-trick pony, but that single trick made her by far the best hero in the game. Her ability to swap a non-Golden minion with a random one from the tavern lets you make some interesting plays or at least trade a token minion for a better one, but once she found a single Pogo-Hopper, it secured her entire game. Not only could she scale up Pogo-Hoppers extremely consistently, she could also stack its Battlecry on itself. A single stacked Pogo-Hopper was enough to carry her mid-game and even get gigantic in the late game. What was basically a meme card to every other hero became one of the most powerful cards in the game just because of Jandice, to the point where it was booted from the mode just to curb her power, and even then she's a very solid pick.
- When Ragnaros returned in the Elementals patch, he was straight-up broken. His new Hero Power was a passive that switches to Sulfuras after killing 20 minions, an extremely powerful effect which gave his left and right-most minions a whopping +4/+4 each turn for free. While 20 minions seems like it would take a long time, it didn't actually take too long, and even if his matchups weren't against token-spamming builds, the sheer amount of free extra stats he gets each turn was enough to stabilize quickly and outright dominate opponents later on. He was so broken, that his average placement at his peak was 2.9. Jandice, who wasn't even nerfed then, had a 0.5 lower average placement than Ragnaros. A nerf was implemented later, increasing the needed minion kills to 25, while reducing the buff to +3/+3.
- Whirlwind Tempest gave Windfury minions Mega-Windfury. While strong, this wasn't too exciting, as tripled Windfury minions already have Mega-Windfury. The problem was Al'Akir's Hero Power Swatting Insects, which gives his leftmost minion Divine Shield, Taunt and Windfury. Al'Akir can give a Cave Hydra or Foereaper 4000 Windfury, which means that combined with Whirlwind Tempest, if he got first attack, he could eliminate the entire enemy warband before the opponent could attack back. This is one of the reasons why Whirlwind Tempest was removed after only one month of play.
- The Great Akazamzarak had 8 Secrets in his pool up until the November 2020 patch, which had Effigy removed. Players quickly figured out that with 4 active Secrets and 3 possible Secrets to Discover when his Hero Power is used, Akazamzarak is guaranteed to find an Ice Block every turn after it's triggered, which means he cannot lose. While it's not so easy to pull off and requires you to have a completely empty board to maintain it, it meant it was entirely possible to turtle your way into 2nd place and stall the last player standing until a draw occurs or they leave and give you the win. Akazamzarak was thus subject to an emergency ban from Battlegrounds while the dev team fixed the issue.
- If you want to know how much a difference a 0 and 1 makes for hero balance in Battlegrounds, look no further than Queen Wagtoggle. She used to be a below average hero when her Hero Power gave +1 Health to everything, and when it was changed to +2 Attack, she still remained low tier and only continued to get worse as newer and stronger heroes rose to the top. A patch on November 2020 decided to buff a lot of underperforming heroes. Elise Starseeker and Galakrond, a low-bottom tier and undesputed bottom tier hero, respectively, got a 1 Gold discount on their Hero Powers and jumped to Top ~5 heroes in Battlegrounds. Wagtoggle got a +1 Health buff on her Hero Power, meaning she gave +2/+1 to everything for 1 Gold each turn. By turning her into basically a Menagerie Tirion Fordring, Queen Wagtoggle became the new #1 hero in the game by a wide margin, and one patch later she was banned from Battlegrounds entirely, just like Tirion Fordring. She was later re-added with a more reasonable +1/+1, which made her a very powerful but not quite #1 hero.
- Nightmare Amalgam, for pretty much all the reasons The Curator is so strong. With two on the board, all Menagerie cards become much more powerful since they count as two separate instances of buffable cards. Since they're the only dragons in the original set, they're the only cards that actually can benefit from the Menagerie fully.* All that is pretty strong, but being able to splash tribe-restricted cards like Toxfin and Primalfin Lookout is just nuts. The only thing keeping them in check is their must-have nature, meaning they tend to sell out fast. This eventually led to the card being outright removed from Battlegrounds. To illustrate how crazy this card was, it got an eventual replacement in Amalgadon... which is a Tier 6 minion that is still a strong candidate for the strongest individual minion in the game.
- Alleycat, of all things. It's a humble Tier 1 1/1 that summons a 1/1 Tabbycat. It's not anything special... except on turn one, where it's quite possibly the most impactful minion in the game. The general flow of the first three turns involves buying a minion, leveling to Tier 2, then selling that minion to buy 2 more. Alleycat messes with the economy by giving you two gold instead of one, since the Tabbycat counts as its own minion - thus, you get two minions on turn three, plus an additional 1/1, which, in addition to giving you an extra coin to work with, can easily save you a ton of health down the line. Despite how meek it is, Alleycat has a serious impact on the average player's winrate, and it isn't even bad in the lategame, as it has synergy with Khadgar and Brann Bronzebeard to generate tons of free triples.
- Leapfrogger is a Tier 2 3/3 that gives a friendly Beast +2/+2 when it dies, as well as a copy of its Deathrattle. On its own, its a decent early-game minion that can enable good trades with proper RNG - its when Baron Rivendare gets involved that it gets complicated. Rivendare causes all Deathrattles to trigger twice, and because of how Leapfrogger's effect works, it will trigger multiplicatively. +2/+2 becomes +4/+4, which becomes +8/+8, then +16/+16, and so on and so forth. Leapfrogger suddenly became the bane of Battlegrounds, capable of creating boards with stats in the range of the hundreds if you couldn't stop Rivendare from multiplying its effect, and because its a mere Tier 2 minion, it is extremely common in the shop.
- Pack Leader used to be a 3/3 that gave any Beasts you summoned +3 attack, giving it exceptional synergy with the tribes many token-spammers, but it wasn't really anything scary until it got promoted from Tier 3 to Tier 2, with its attributes completely unchanged. Suddenly, Pack Leader was on the same tier as Rat Pack, one her favorite targets, creating a terrifying tag team combo that was extremely difficult to beat and dealt a ton of damage on top of it. Pack Leader was eventually changed to a 2/3 that only gave +2 attack, while Rat Pack got kicked to Tier 3, removing the combo and making the early game less swingy.
- Monstrous Macaw was added in the Pirate patch and instantly shot Beast builds from the bottom of the barrel into one of the most ubiquitous compositions in the metagame. The Macaw triggers a random friendly Deathrattle whenever it attacks. This is powerful enough on its own, but the true insanity happens when the player pairs it with Goldrinn and Baron Rivendare, allowing the Macaw to buff itself to monstrous stats, making it very likely to survive its initial attack and even attack again to trigger the also monstrously self-buffed Goldrinn. This build is also very self sufficient, with only Baron needing to be protected by a Taunt or from Zapp Slywick, a welcome departure from Beast's traditional builds. Macaw was booted to Tier 3 quickly right after, as well as Goldrinn was kicked to Tier 6 to reduce the build's consistency and mid-game power.
- Wrath Weaver and Floating Watcher are the unholy tag team crux of Demon compositions. The former gains +2/+2 each time you play a Demon and also damages your hero by 1 point, and the latter gains +2/+2 each time you take damage on your turn. As you might imagine, these two effects synergize frighteningly well with each other, letting Demon players easily build at least two giant beatsticks just by cycling through Demons, especially if it includes a few Nathrezim Overseers for more buffs. Many a Battlegrounds game has been decided by a player getting the Watcher-Weaver combo and simply snowballing out of control before any of their opponents can reach critical mass with Murlocs (about the only thing capable of standing up to giant Demons, and that's if you get astronomically lucky). Floating Watcher was duly booted from tier 3 to tier 4, greatly slowing its ability to snowball, making Demons' tier 3 less overloaded, and preventing A. F. Kay from Discovering it as one of her two starting minions.
- Impatient Doomsayer, a Tier 3 2/6 that adds a random Demon to your hand every time three friendly minions die. This is one of the most powerful economy cards ever printed; the early tiers are filled to the brim with strongly-statted token generators — many of which are also Demons, meaning that Doomsayer can generate them — and it prints so many cards that bagging triples is a total breeze. The most critical thing, however, is that Demons were massively buffed in the patch that added Doomsayer, meaning that Doomsayer can build up a strong board by itself while the player is free to powerlevel while maintaining tempo - and because you're powerleveling, that means that Doomsayer can generate even stronger Demons, including win conditions like Famished Felbat and Insatiable Ur'zul. And if you don't want to use Demons? Doomsayer has you covered there too - all minions, no matter the type, will proc her effect, and simply selling the Demons for money can give you a huge advantage.
- Not content with just being an overpowered Hero, Ragnaros decided to add himself as an overtuned minion as well. Lil' Rag used to be a Tier 5 4/4 that, whenever you played an Elemental, would give a random friendly minion stats equal to the Elemental's Tavern Tier. The main thing about Rag was his synergy with Gentle Djinni and Tavern Tempest, Elementals with high Tavern Tiers who also gave card advantage, generating both stats and money - and more importantly, they could generate more Rags, allowing you to scale your stats even faster to the point where other warbands couldn't keep up. Rag got kicked up to Tier 6, which reduced how often he appeared in the game and made the much slower Nomi, Kitchen Nightmare the dominant Elemental scaling card in his stead.
- Gentle Djinni traded Tavern Tiers with Ragnaros, but was not coded in a way that it can only give Elementals from the player's current Tavern Tier, due to unforeseen bugs. Thus, getting Gentle Djinni via a triple on Tier 4 is almost a guaranteed top 4 placement, as there is a high chance to get Lieutenant Garr, Lil' Rag or Amalgadon. Combined with Hero Powers like The Lich King's Reborn Rites or minions like Monstrous Macaw/Baron Rivendare, the player gets a lot of Elementals for free, which fuels their warband with the stats they need to win while hitting opponents with a ton of damage due to an abundance of high-tier minions.
- Cobalt Guardian was a 6/3 that gained Divine Shield whenever a mech was summoned. Since buffs gained in the Tavern are permanent, it was basically a 6/3 with Divine Shield so long as you played another mech any time afterwards while it was on the board. Given how much Mechs love spamming the board with tokens, Guardian ended up being an extreme power card, and the basis for most Mech builds. Even boards that didn't focus on Mechs often picked up a Cobalt Guardian, since it's a decently-sized Divine Shield that can have Replicating Menace taped on to spawn tokens when it dies. Cobalt Guardian was eventually kicked out of Battlegrounds and replaced with Reflect-O-Bot, which has essentially the same effect but starts with a much weaker 3/2 body (plus 1 Attack for each time its effect triggers in combat).
- Annoy-o-Module is generally considered a must-have regardless of build. It's a Tier 4 2/4 that has Taunt, Divine Shield, and Magnetic, meaning it can attach itself to another Mech and give it those same abilities. Slapping a Divine Shield onto almost any Mech you want is incredibly powerful, as most Mechs have high attack but low health, so letting them get a second swing off is terrific. The two best targets for it are two Tier 6 minions who become aggressively powerful with Module - Foe Reaper 4000 is the only Mech that hits more than one target at once, so the possibility of letting it gain more value is absurd, while Amalgadon is, as of writing, the only minion in the game capable of possessing both Poisonous and Divine Shield naturally, letting it go two-for-one at the very least with an incredibly high chance of trading even more with virtually anything.
- Murloc Tidehunter, for the exact same reasons as Alleycat above - it breaks the early game economy, can generate easy triples, and has lasting effects on the remainder of the game. The added +1 attack over Alleycat is just a bonus.
- Toxfin can be said to be the entire lynchpin for any viability Murloc has in Battleground. Its Poisonous buff allows for the squishy Murlocs' Zerg Rush strategy to scale into the late game compared to the other types, and focusing on just buying Coldlight Seer to buff their Mucloc's Health, letting it potentially trade off multiple enemies. It's a must-have even for non-Murloc strategies, since you can use it to slap Poisonous on a Nightmare Amalgam, which should have a boatload of health by tier 4. In addition, being lower tier and less RNG dependant than Gentle Megasaur, along with being a Murloc itself (and thus is possible to Discovered by Primalfin Lookout) allows Toxfin to give Murloc build solid midgame in order to transition to Gentle Megasaur. Toxfin was powerful enough that it was eventually replaced by the much weaker SI:Sefin which, while capable of providing Poisonous to a full board with only one copy, is also much slower and more RNG dependent.
- Gentle Megasaur, the holy grail of endgame strategies. This humble Tier 6 5/4 Adapted all your Murlocs - among those Adaptations were Divine Shield and Poisonous, giving you your own personal army of durable, insta-killing freaks of nature that would defeat almost anything else. While there was an RNG component to Megasaur that made it less surefire, Brann Bronzebeard could easily be used to circumvent this by giving you another chance at an Adaptation, and the nature of Murlocs meant you'd be getting a ton of triples, letting you have more chances at a good Megasaur. The Divine Shield + Poison Murlocs build was the uncontested best composition in the game, capable of slaughtering all but the high-rolliest Dragon/Mech builds, and many high-level lobbies revolved around transitioning to it while you're mucking about with something else. To make endgame strategies more varied, Megasaur was deleted from the game, forcing Murlocs to fight with stats like other builds (while still retaining their Poison advantage).
- Holy Mackerel was a Tier 6 8/4 Murloc that gained Divine Shield whenever a friendly minion lost a Divine Shield. To start with, as a Murloc, Mackerel was elligible for Poisonous, meaning it could go two-for-one at the absolute minimum, but if your entire board was loaded with Divine Shields, you could force the enemy to kamikaze their entire board into it by taunting it and nothing else, constantly refreshing the Shield and murdering everything in its way. The real fun began when you got two Mackerels - one Mackerel losing its Shield would refresh the other, meaning that good RNG could result in your enemies helplessly running back and forth between them for as long as the game allowed it. And despite its power, Mackerel was actually a pretty low investment minion and could work with basically any build - just slap a Toxfin on it, grab some Divine Shields, and coast your way to Top 4. The real kicker though, is that due to the game's spaghetti code they were unable to get countered by an Unstable Ghoul, where it would refresh its Divine Shield after the Ghoul's Deathrattle popped it. It eventually got kicked out for being too good.
- Nat Pagle, Extreme Angler used to be much different than he is now. Initially, if he Overkilled a minion, Nat would summon a chest that summoned a random Golden minion on death. Any Golden minion, including token spammers like Sneed's Old Shredder, Ghastcoiler, the Tide Razor, and Nat himself. Through sheer dumb luck, Nat could easily turn any round into a win by randoming a bunch of tokens into existence, and the potential board flood could deal enough damage to kill somebody from full HP. To top it all off, Nat could easily be summoned at random, meaning that the percent chance of Nat showing up to wreck someone's face is almost never 0. To make Nat less frustrating to fight, his effect was changed to something more flavorful for Pirates - he'll just add a random minion to your hand whenever he kills something.
- Arcane Cannon was a Tier 2 2/2 that couldn't attack, but dealt 2 damage whenever an adjacent minion attacked. If it wasn't killed, it pumped out a truly absurd amount of damage, wrecking the enemy's board while remaining untouched, and you could pick it up almost at the start of the game. Its synergy with token-based cards almost goes without saying, as it turns those crappy 1/1 weenies into actual threats while the Cannon was alive. While two Cannons actually weren't that great, a tripled Cannon was an absolute murder machine that could easily last you until the lategame. Cannon got kicked out, partially because it was a nuisance, and partially because it was just too strong.
- Lightfang Enforcer, the one Menagerie minion to rule them all. At the end of your Tavern phase, she gives a Mech, Beast, Murloc, and Demon +2/+2. That's a total of 8/8 bonus stats per turn if you're running one of each, which can be huge if you rush for Tier 5 and let the stats build up and making her a must-have for mixed minion armies. Even if you're not going specifically for a Menagerie strategy, two Nightmare Amalgams are often reason enough to pick up Lightfang Enforcer to get guaranteed buffs for them along with one of your other random minions. Lightfang Enforcer was nerfed to only give +2/+1, making Menagerie boards less sturdy, and the removal of Nightmare Amalgam made her much less splashable. It was pretty weak for a while until Dragons were added to the game and better higher tier minions like Holy Mackerel were added, which brought it back up to a good spot. The Elemental patch has buffed her back to her original stat to keep the composition competitive with the Power Creep in the Battleground.
- Elistra the Immortal was a tier 6 7/7 minion with an insane utility of redirecting all attack from Taunt minions to herself. Not only is this ability is insanely good to ping off Divine Shield and small Poisonous minions from the enemy while preserving your own Divine Shield unlike Unstable Ghoul, Elistra herself came with Divine Shield and Reborn, which mean that unless you pack yourself a big Golden Crackling Cyclone, 4 of your attacks will be redirected, ruining your carefully placed minions. What worse is that Elistra is tribeless, meaning that she won't show up on the tribal count in Battleground and thus you have no way to prepare for her facing a late-game opponent in the late game and creating frustrating mindgames between the players. Elistra subsequently had her stats slashed from 7/7 to 4/4, weakening her trading potential. However, she was still deemed overcentralising and was removed from Battleground in February 19th, 2021.
- Any A.I. Breaker immediately falls into this. By exploiting Artificial Stupidity, hard fights can suddenly become a breeze. The most infamous example is a combination of Kel'Thuzad and any large taunt minion. As long it has enough health to withstand the opponent's board, the AI refuses to kill the taunt, reasoning that it will just come back and waste their minions. With a full board of minions, this can lock many bosses up and prevent them from taking any actions until they draw hard removal for KT. Another big example is Rafaam turning himself into Lord Jaraxxus and casting Sacrificial Pact on himself. The AI is loosely programmed to use any card in the game, and it recognizes that Sac Pac has a target that isn't a friendly minion, killing itself.
- New card releases. Encounters are designed with a certain card pool in mind, and often have ways to avoid things that would ruin them. However, new cards introduce things that old fights never were ready for. One of the oldest examples is Patchwerk, initially a tank-and-spank simulation that was trivialized by Jeeves, which forced him to draw deep into fatigue every turn. Arguably, this is the reason for One Night In Karazhan's lukewarm difficulty; it wasn't designed around the greatly expanded card pool. This is one possible reason to why later single-player content switched to draft-like modes where your deck isn't built from your collection.
- Kobold Stickyfinger deserves a special mention in the "cards the AI was never meant to handle" category. Most boss-exclusive weapons tend to be varying degrees of overpowered, and are very obviously not meant to be used by players. Stickyfinger allows you to do just that by stealing it out of the boss's hands, simultaneously giving you a powerful weapon while neutralizing what is likely the boss's most threatening card. For instance, you can: smack Instructor Razuvious in the face with his own Runeblade, swipe Dragonteeth from Atramedes, render Patchwerk completely harmless, and completely break the Lich King fight by stealing Frostmourne, letting you set up a Mecha'thun combo at your leisure.
- Majordomo Executus is a card famed, or rather infamous, for being not very good. On death, Executus will replace your hero with an 8 HP Ragnaros, and a Hero Power that deals 8 damage to a random enemy, which is comically awful, as you'll likely die before the Hero Power is capable of overwhelming the enemy. If Executus is given to a boss, however, he will drastically cut down their usually massive HP pool. True, you still need to put up with Rag's Hero Power, but on Heroic his power will almost certainly be weaker than what they had before. The only real restriction is that you need a way to give him to the boss, but a surprising amount of foes have ways to take control of or gain copies of your minions, most notably Heroic Kel'thuzad and the Paladin version of the Lich King fight.
- Uther of the Ebon Blade can trivialize bosses whose challenge comes primarily from a powerful defensive Hero Power or a high health total by simply bleeding out their resources with Paladin's control tools and then summoning the Four Horsemen at his leisure for the insta-kill. Notably, the entire Lower Citadel of Icecrown is susceptible to this tactic (unless Lord Marrowgar gets lucky with keeping his Bone Spikes alive).
RoguelikesDue to how these game modes are designed to emulate a Roguelike, there's definitely a chance you gather a combination of cards that will easily trivialize most obstacles you face. The biggest ones come in the form of the Purposely Overpowered treasures you discover during a run.
- The Potion of Vitality is a useful little treasure that passively doubles your HP every game. It can buy you time, give you a little extra endurance if you picked a fragile class like Rogue or Hunter, and short of an unlucky run in with a certain boss, is usually a solid pick. But through luck, it's possible to find two of them, doubling your already doubled HP! By the final boss, you'll be going in with 200 HP, making victory much more likely, if not certain. You can even defeat the final bosses through fatigue. It gets better if you were lucky enough to draft Reno Jackson and/or the below-mentioned Wish - on the off chance the boss starts tearing through your monstrous health, you can just heal back to full HP.
- For extra fun, combine Potion of Vitality with Cloak of Invisibility. These two treasures effectively cancel out each other's weaknesses, giving you a nigh-invulnerable board and more health than the bosses you're facing and more or less throwing the difficulty curve out the window.
- Captured Flag offers a humble +1/+1 buff to all your minions. This buff easily becomes vital for any Zerg Rush build, as your humble 1/1 minions become twice as tough and can get a lot of damage in if summoned early, and everything else has strength on par with minions of 1 cost higher. Note that also works on summoned minions, meaning Paladin creates 2/2 tokens with their hero power, or other crazy shenanigans.
- Rocket Backpacks gives all your minions Rush — a strong passive that lets you proactively trade to maintain board control. It's even stronger if you have many cards that summon multiple minions at once — the disposable tokens now become free damage so that you don't have to risk damaging your tougher minions.
- Crystal Gem merely gives you 1 extra Mana Crystal. Sounds boring, but that 1 extra Mana means the ability to use 2-mana cards or hero power as early as turn one, and that you get to play higher-cost cards one turn earlier. Given Control deck is virtually non-existent or unreliable to build, the favored play style is aggro since most Bosses have abilities that will stomp you flat if given time. There's a reason this Treasure is consistently ranked as among the best Treasure you can grab through multiple different adventures.
- Justicar's Ring upgrades your Hero Power and also halves its cost. This has a most profound effect for Warriors and Priests, giving them the ability to get absurd amounts of armor or heal off large amounts of damage for very little mana. Paladins also benefit greatly, as they get a guaranteed decent turn 1 and 2, and can build up lots of Silver Hand support cards to abuse it. Even with other classes, the upgraded Hero Power is still good for pressuring the enemy when you have loose mana to use it on.
- The Cloak of Invisibility gives your minions permanent Stealth, letting you wail on the enemy hero with impunity. This has a drawback, though, as your Taunt minions will not be able to protect you. That's fine and all, but it gets truly absurd when you get some end-of turn effects in your deck. Suddenly, your Emperor Thaurissan is reducing the cost of your cards, your Grimestreet Enforcers are buffing all of your hand by +1/+1, and there's nothing the boss can do.
- Maybe the most broken effect is Mal'ganis, however. Mal'ganis makes your hero Immune. With a stealthed board and an Immune hero, the boss literally can't do anything. He's found in the Demons package for Warlocks, and is often paired with Void Callers, letting you cheat him out as early as turn four. Mages can accomplish something similar with Animated Armor, forcing them to only take 1 damage at a time and greatly prolonging their survivability.
- Wax Rager is a 5/1 minion for 3 that resummons itself on death. Essentially, you get 5 free damage every turn to splash wherever you feel like, letting you, for instance, constantly kill off Darkspawn summoned by the Darkness without needing to expend your Candles. Pair it with the aforementioned Cloak of Invisibility, and it can't even be Silenced or transformed. If you use it with Frost Lich Jaina, you not only have a great source of healing (since it's an Elemental which gives it lifesteal), you can kill it with your own Hero Power to create more Water Elementals without really losing the Rager.
- There are several cards/passives that make Wax Rager even more downright absurd: Totem of the Dead causes your Wax Rager to multiply every time it dies, N'Zoth counts how many times your Wax Rager dies and may flood your board with copies of itnote , and having a Spiritsinger Umbra on the board when you play or kill a Wax Rager will cause the Ragers to multiplynote . Even The Darkness with its unending tide of 5/5's and Vulzstrasz and his constant bombardment can't survive the onslaught.
- Wand of Roasting is a 10-mana spell that casts Pyroblast at random targets until a hero dies. Basically, if a boss fight is going completely south and you'll definitely lose, it's a risk-free Death-or-Glory Attack that can quite hilariously bail you out, if you're lucky.
- On a similar note to the above is Wish, another 10 mana spell. It fully heals your hero while also filling your board with random Legendaries. You get a no-condition Reno Jackson effect on top of a bunch of probably game-winning minions.
- The Amulet of Domination is a 2 mana spell that lets you steal an enemy minion and puts a copy of it into your deck for the rest of the run. The Magic Mirror is a 1 mana spell that does something similar, only that it makes a clone of that minion as opposed to stealing it. It's pretty convenient if you come across something that helps your game plan, but its true power comes into play if you encounter Ixlid. This boss summons a 1/1 Spore that instantly destroys any hero it touches — including the other bosses. Stealing the Spore is generally considered the easiest way to get past the final bosses, who are otherwise brutal.
- Jade Golems and C'Thun buffers have special buckets that appear for some classes that can only give synergy cards for their respective archetypes, with no cap on how many can be put into a deck. This includes the legendaries, Aya Blackpaw and C'Thun. Simply choosing these options every time they come up can end with a deck containing 20 support cards for either one, almost assuredly resulting in a curbstomp of every boss in your way. It gets better with the Battle Totem, which passively activates all Battlecries twice - meaning double the Golems, and double the C'Thun missiles and buffs.
- If you can get both the Blade and Hilt of Quel'Delar, it will assemble into a 1-mana 6/6 sword that deals 6 damage to all enemies every time you attack, and always appears in your opening hand. That's 12 face damage right from turn 1, good for 6 hits for a total of 72 damage. The Final Bosses of Dungeon Run have 70 HP, and though they may gain some armor through Looming Presence, you still have your minions to finish the job, especially since you've been clearing the way for them to strike.
- If you survive Tad's onslaught of minions, he summons a Sunken Chest on his eleventh turn if he hasn't taken any damage this match. Breaking this open awards you with Tad's Pole, a 1-mana 0/1 weapon that summons minions from your opponent's deck. While whatever you'll catch may not always synergize very well with your current deck, you're still getting a minion to contest the board with and denying your opponent's resources at the same time, putting them a little closer to fatigue if you're going for that objective too. Other times you can luck out and, for instance, get Mal'Ganis from Azari's deck!
- THE CANDLE is a 1 mana spell that deals 4 damage to all enemy minions and puts itself back into your deck after use, providing use as both a board clear and helping you outlast your opponent if you are both decked out and unable to deal damage.
- Double Time is the holy grail of any Toki run. This passive causes the first spell of any turn to cast again with random targets. Useless for targeted damage spells like Fireball, but card generation effects like Primordial Glyph become absurd, especially since Toki can re-roll once a turn if you aren't given a desired outcome. Untargeted damage spells also become much more powerful, with special mentions going to Flamestrike, which will almost certainly destroy all enemy minions, and Greater Arcane Missiles, which deals a grand total of 18 damage. The grand prize, without question, is Time Warp, which when double-casted gives you two additional turns instead of one.
- Even in the Final Challenge, where you have no control over the new cards you receive, Double Time continues to pull its weight. Toki's Hero card gives several decent spells that synergize wonderfully with it, like Cabalist's Tome and Arcane Missiles, while Tess's Hero Power can be used to salvage Hagatha's own Shaman spells to use against her — Who doesn't like to heal for 24 with Healing Rain? But the grand prize for synergy with Double Time would definitely go to Call of the Wild, which is a complete board flood with two of each Animal Companion!
- Companionship, a passive exclusive to Shaw that gives his Bloodhounds an additional 2 attack. This is an immense advantage, as this turns his Hero Power into a permanent Darkbomb, allowing the player to skip out on removal in favor of card draw and board control, on top of excellent synergy with Scavenging Hyena and a few of Shaw's other unique hounds. While a second Companionship is pretty good too, the true hilarity ensues if you manage to draft Entrenchment, which grants all of your minions 2 extra health - including the Bloodhounds. Suddenly, your Hero Power can summon a 3/3 beater with Rush every turn. Companionship also makes Shaw's Nemesis fight much easier, as it allows his Bloodhounds to trade one-for-one with the boss's exclusive minions.
- The Jade package returns as an asset for Tess. This time, though, her Scavenge Hero Power works wonders with Jade Shurikens, as once you've used even a single copy, she can continuously recycle and cast the spell to summon larger and larger Jade Golems. Coupled with Sticky Hands which reduces the cost of any card you've stolen or scavenged, and it gets even easier to summon an even larger Golem!
- Tools of the Trade is a 2 mana spell lets Tess Discover one of three weapons, all of which give huge value by themselves. The Handgonne is a 4/2, making it terrifically powerful for its cost, and it's the most boring of the bunch. The Blunderbuss is a 2/2 that damages adjacent minions, which works wonders for early-game board clear and can stay useful into the late game with Envenom Weapon. Meanwhile, the Stake Launcher starts as an unassuming 1/8 with Windfury but becomes an utter monster with weapon buffs. A single Deadly Poison turns it into a discount Doomhammer, while Envenom Weapon lets you remove up to 2 minions a turn, for up to 8 uses. Now keep in mind that Tess's hero power lets you reuse weapon buffs, and you can easily build a Stake Launcher that does absurd damage with Lifesteal. And to top it off, Tools of the Trade returns itself to your hand after being cast, letting you re-equip these weapons as much as you like.
- Auctionmaster Beardo is incredibly potent if selected while playing as Toki. His ability refreshes her free Hero Power, so if you had a spell in hand at the start of your turn, you can endlessly reroll your random results until you get what you need. The only downside is whether your patience holds out.
The Great Dalaran Heist
- Swampqueen's Call is a 2-mana spell that transforms your minions into random legendary minions. It also is repeatable that turn (unkeyworded Echo). If you combine that with Emerald Gogglesnote and an empty hand or a lucky reduction from the bar's Take a Chance, it will cost zero. This means that you can endlessly transform your board, hoping to roll into Charge minions like King Krush or Al'Akir, swing with them, and then reroll your transformations into more iterations of Charge minions. Barring disastrous results like having all your minions turn into The Darkness, you can pretty much deliver lethal off any board. And since this is a single-player mode, you have no time limit, so reroll to your heart's content!
- The Robes of Gaudiness have probably the most powerful effect of any Passive: reduce the cost of your cards by half. Big spells like Power of Creation and Pyroblast or high-cost legendaries like Y'Shaarj can be cheated out as early as turn 4 or 5, generating insane value and outpacing every boss short of the final ones. The drawback of only being able to play two cards each turn doesn't matter when you can throw out undercosted, overpowered minions or spells two at a time and still have mana to spare for your Hero Power. And that not mentioning that the cost reduction on odd-cost cards are rounded down. They were so powerful, Blizzard actually cut their occurrence rate down to almost nothing, making a run with them as special as they deserve. They were so broken they broke the purposefully-broken gamemode.
- Two words; Wonderous Wisdomball. It's a passive that "occasionally gives helpful advice"note . This ranges from mundane but probably useful (adding minions to your hand, drawing an extra card) to situational at best (pulling a Deathwing and clearing the board, transforming the minion you just played into a random Legendary) to potentially lifesaving (shuffling extra cards when your deck is empty or making your hero Immune when about to take lethal damage). Although there are instances where his "advice" ends up backstabbing the player (increasing a card's cost rather than reducing it, transforming a minion into a harmful Legendary), the positive outcomes are more numerous, and Wisdomball can and has saved several runs through his effects.
- E.V.I.L. Propaganda has a hefty mana cost of 10, but it's well worth casting when it takes control of all your opponent's minions. It can become a lifesaver, especially when you're behind on board and struggle to take it back, and most bosses rarely have the means to recover from such a swing.
- Stargazing discounts your Hero Power by 1 mana and lets you use it twice per turn. Depending on your Hero Power of choice (and how many Inspirenote monsters you have in your deck), this can have some amazing applications. For instance, using it with the standard Hunter Hero Power lets you deliver 4 damage each turn, practically winning most fights with just your Hero Power alone; using it with Burning Witnote lets you use it twice for free and get a lot of heavy discounts on the cards in hand. If you pick up a Death Knight card or the Prince's Ring note , that new Hero Power is also discounted and can be used twice, which has deadly applications with Bloodreaver Gul'dan or Deathstalker Rexxar.
- Togwaggle's Dice randomizes the Mana cost of the cards in your hand at the end of every turn. In practice, this allows you to disregard the concept of Mana curve right off the bat and keep huge minions in your starting hand. The higher their cost, the more likely the dice will reduce their cost, and if it's a 10-mana minion, the dice does nothing but reduce its cost. Ever played 0-mana Ragnaros, Grom and Onyxia in turn 2? Feels good, man.
Tombs of Terror
- The best starting treasure, by far, is Elise's Jr. Navigator, a 3 mana 1/5 that adds two copies of any spells you cast on her to your hand. What initially appears to be a humble value engine designed for buff decks is, in truth, the enabler for a ridiculously consistent infinite damage OTK. Here's the set-up: play Navigator + Radiant Elemental, then cast Moonfire on the Navigator for extra copies, fling whatever you can spare at face, then repeat, only stopping to heal Navigator with a cheap spell/buff whenever her HP gets too low. That's it. Unlimited damage from four cards. It's not even that hard to find all the pieces: Navigator and Radiant Elemental are both cards that can start in your deck, while Moonfire can be generated from one of Elise's Hero Powers. That leaves the cheap health restoration, which are extremely abundant in buckets. This combo will wreck absolutely any boss short of Vesh, and the only reason not to use it is because of how tedious it is. Once you defeat each of the four Plague Lords with Elise, the Jr. Navigator upgrades to a Sr. Navigator, with twice the stats at no extra cost.
- The Map of Uldum is a 0-mana treasure that gives you a free mana crystal and lets you discover a card. You repeat this process for each boss you've defeated in the run. Get this treasure in your opening hand against the Plague Lord, and you can jump straight to 8 mana with a full hand that you've pretty much customized, giving you the advantage right off the bat.
- Getting one of Bob's House Special decks is pretty much an automatic win. What are the house specials? A random choice between: a deck filled with nothing but Treasures and Rumble Run champions; a deck full of OP uncollectible cards like Spellstones* , Quest rewards, The Ancient One, and so on; a deck based on Medivh's from the Karazhan prologue but with even more broken stuff; and finally (and likely the weakest) a deck that's 30 Pogo Hoppers. It's not easy to actually get a House Special (you need the VIP Membership passive, and then you still have to get lucky) but it's absolutely worth taking at any opportunity.
- Disks of Legend cause any Legendary minion you play to summon a copy of itself. What else is there to say? That effect is completely insane. It turns every single Legendary into a stat powerhouse, and that's not even getting into doubling up on triggered effects, end-of-turn effects, and Deathrattles - all of which are pretty good to begin with, since they are Legendaries.
- If THE CANDLE was good, Runaway Gyrocopter is its partner-in-crime. While 5 mana is comparatively a lot, you get a 5/1 Rush minion which deals heavy damage to one minion, then inevitably dies and bombards enemy field before shuffling itself back into your deck for future shenanigans.
- While Tavern Brawls encourage all kind of unique strategies, most at least have some sort of major flaw to them. That cannot be said for Yellow-Brick Brawl, where Dreadsteed cranks this Up to Eleven. He's a 4 mana 1/1 with a deathrattle that summons a new Dreadsteed on death, not so bad in standard play since each replacement Dreadsteed will lack any buffs the previous one had. In this Tavern Brawl, however, Dreadsteed is almost impossible to beat. Dorothee's effects are thus that minions to the left of her have Charge and the minions to the right of her have Taunt. This means that each and every Dreadsteed summoned will immediately be able to charge in and summon another one until your opponent's entire board is cleared. It's just as bad if Dreadsteed is put on the right, as every time the opponent kills one, another Dreadsteed with Taunt will immediately come back, making it impossible to deal any damage to the enemy hero without the use of spells or hero powers. Unless you bring alternative means to remove minions (Transforming, Shuffling, etc.) Dreadsteed is impossible to shut down.
- Unless you have Mekgineer Thermaplugg, a 9 mana 9/7 that summons a Leper Gnome note whenever an enemy minion dies. Basically, just place the ol' Mekgineer to the left of Dorothee and kill one of the Dreadsteeds, and watch the magic happen. note
- Dreadsteed did get nerfed (it now spawns a new one at the end of the turn) due to various shenanigans in constructed but that also had the side effect of making it less overpowered (but still useful) in this tavern brawl.
- Replacing Dreadsteed in this context is Necrotic Geist. When any of your minions are killed, Necrotic Geist summons a 2/2 Ghoul in its place. It will even trigger when those Ghouls die, too. So by placing Necrotic Geist on the left of Dorothee and getting a minion killed, you can get an endless stream of 2/2 Ghouls with Charge (since Geist spawns them between it and Dorothee), letting you slaughter the opponent's entire board as long as all their minions have 2 or more power. You'll also have enough room to get at least 7 damage in with Geist itself and a Ghoul.
- In the Spellbook Duel Tavern Brawl, players have a deck of 10 unique cards, and instead of drawing from the deck, they discover a copy of a card in their deck.note Gnomeferatu has a Battlecry of removing the top card of the opponent's deck, which actually reduces their discover options as you play more of her. Once a player is reduced to 3 or fewer cards in their deck, a bug occurs that prevents that player from taking any action.
- This can be countered with another Game-Breaker, Jade Idol, which in this game mode might as well read "After a bit of setup, you may turn every card you draw into a big/big Jade Golem for 1 mana each".note
- Predating Gnomeferatu in this regard is Deathlord + Loatheb combo. Deathlord's deathrattle ability drags a minion out of an opponent's deck into the field. In normal games this ability can backfire spectacularly, but in Spellbook Brawl, this has the effect of preventing the enemy from discovering that minion for the rest of the game. While it does take some setup due to Deathlord being more expensive than Gnomeferatu, once you drag out all your opponent's minions from the deck, they can only discover spells, at which point Loatheb's battlecry ability ensures your opponent at best can only play one weak spell per turn due to having their spell cost bumped up by 5, possibly every turn.
- The Boss Battle Royale lets players square off against each other as a boss from the solo adventures. However, they're not perfectly balanced against each other, and some bosses just have an unfair advantage.
- Picking Warlock lets you play as Sindragosa, and not only does she have a fairly cohesive deck built around Dragon synergies, she also has the opponent fight with 4 un-removable ice blocks clogging their field, with her Hero Power freezing over more of the board as the match goes on. The opponent would have to be really meticulous about board management to avoid instantly losing all their board space, while the Sindragosa player is free to play more threats than they can reasonably handle. When the brawl was revisited in October, Sindragosa would be nerfed — the opponent only has two ice blocks on their field, and Sindragosa cannot create more.
- The October revisit changes the boss for Druid into King Togwaggle, whose Hero Power gives him a Purposely Overpowered treasure. Togwaggle as a boss is counterbalanced by the player having their own Treasures to use against him and occasional moments of Artificial Stupidity; here, the opponent doesn't have this mercy except for being lucky enough to draw into their boss's unique material, and a player-controlled Togwaggle will make more efficient use of his Treasures. This makes Togwaggle one of the strongest selections in the brawl barring unfortunate results off his Hero Power.
- The Duel of the Death Knights brawl starts both players out as the Death Knight heroes of their respective class, using a randomly constructed deck. Mage ended up being six shades of broken in this brawl; the Mage Death Knight, Frost Lich Jaina, has a hero power that deals 1 damage and summons a Water Elemental if it kills something and grants all of your Elementals Lifesteal - including those Water Elementals. Simply put, you just can't out-tempo Frost Lich Jaina as she'll churn out an unending tide of 3/6s with Lifesteal that freeze everything they touch (starting as early as turn 1 if she goes second and has a Snowflipper Penguin in her hand), locking down your board while inflicting a slow, protracted demise. The brawl also leans heavily towards Knights of the Frozen Throne cards, meaning that 1-health minions like Wretched Tiller, Fallen Sun Cleric, and Shallow Gravedigger are exceptionally commonplace and can easily be converted into Water Elementals. Unsurprisingly, the brawl quickly degenerated into Jaina mirror matches and little else.
- Spirit of the Shark turns Rogue into an absolute monster in Miniature Warfare Brawl, where all minions are 1/1 that costs a measly 1. It allows Rogues to brutally abuse powerful battlecries such as Bonemare and Fungalmancer as well as nasty Combos like Edwin Van Cleef, easily creating an unstoppable board condition by turn 3, if not flat-out OTK the opponent on that turnnote
- The Burndown has players start with a deck generated randomly from a list of presets. Decks carry between games, with the twist that the loser of every game gains a copy of their opponent's deck. Because of this, the best deck quickly overtakes the meta and it devolves into nothing but mirror matches of some seriously broken stuff.
- In the original run, one of the decks was "Mercernaries 280", which is a Pirate Warrior deck dialed Up to Eleven. Because the presets defy normal deckbuilding rules, Mercernaries 280 was allowed to have four Patches at once. Very few of the other decks in the Brawl were equipped to deal with a massive board flood available as early as turn 1. That's in addition to the rest of the deck, which was a hyper-aggressive Pirate deck as you would expect. This deck reached enough infamy that it was eventually added to the 2020 Hall of Champions brawl, matched against some of the strongest constructed decks ever made... and destroyed them all.
- While the Rekindled version didn't have anything as nutty as Mercenaries 280, it still had two stand-outs. The Silver Hand 1 was an aggro/token Paladin that flooded the board and was filled with wide buffs. It even had a touch of high-end late game with The Lich King if the opponent managed to hold them off. The other big winner was Big Demons 503, which was effectively a full on Cubelock - up to and including having Bloodreaver Gul'dan.
- The Outlandish Burndown essentially threw balance out the window by shaking up the format. In addition to random cards, decks were assigned Passive treasures from the singleplayer and overpowered Boss hero powers. This includes things like Dragonslayer Skruk's hero power that gives all of his minions +1/+1 wherever they are, combined with Stargazing to make it free and usable twice each turn, or a Mage with Khadgar's spell-doubling elementals and all of their spells costing health instead of mana. The result was one of the players killing their opponent in one turn in almost every game (although the absurd brokenness and highroll nature greatly increased the deck variety).
- Doom in the Tomb isn't exactly the most balanced brawl - on purpose, since it is singleplayer experience - but it still has some serious outliers.
- Best Friend Forever is a 1/1 Taunt with Charge that can be drafted as a Treasure. Its Battlecry effect "combines with other friends" (adds every BFF in your hand and deck to this as a 1/1 buff) and "lasts forever" (becomes part of your starting deck for the rest of the THE BRAWL). Theoretically this could let a dedicated player grind the brawl to slowly build a monstrous Charging minion, but Hagatha's deck starts with Duplatransmogrifier in it and... yeah. Just let this exciting gameplay speak for itself. Not to mention, you can't even Patches by drawing too many of the card, since you'll draw a replacement card for each one sucked up by the effect. The only reason this isn't completely stupid is the cheese just makes the game boring after the first time. It's to the point where players will use Duplatransmogrifier on a different minion just to stop having 20/20 Chargers on turn 1 every game.
- Madame Lazul is quite possibly the second best thing after BFF on Hagatha. Her hero power summons a 1/1 copy of a Deathrattle minion in your deck. Since she starts with a Convincing Infiltrator, it's okay to start with, but she can easily grab Obsidian Statue and Magic Mirror from card buckets to basically make it impossible for the bosses to have minions on board at all while also giving her decent amounts of healing. She also has Amulet of Domination and Crystalline Oracle and can pick up Cloning Device, letting you grab ridiculous things like Sylvanas and Hadronox from the bosses and then Magic Mirror them to permanently add those to your deck. For extra fun, casting Magic Mirror on a 1/1 created by Lazul's hero power gives you a fully-statted copy of that minion, and you can also throw in Elixir of Vile to cast spells with your health rather than mana. Even the Headless Horseman can't stand up to three Obsidian Statues on turn 1 and a steady stream of them from that point onward, especially since his head in his second phase is treated as a minion and is therefore not immune to the Statue's Deathrattle.
- That being said, Lazul also has crazy synergy with Best Friend Forever, since Magic Mirror lets you stuff more copies of BFF into your deck and duplicate the BFF you already have on board for gargantuan amounts of face damage, and she can easily draft multiple Mirrors and Shadow Visions to tutor them, allowing you to easily kill most bosses in three turns or less.
- To overcompensate with Reno's relative weakness in the actual Tombs of Terror, the devs gave his starting deck four treasures. Lei Flamepaw and Reno's Lucky Hat turn the game into a cakewalk, creating a 4 mana 6/10 with Spell Damage +4 that doubles all spells you cast. And then you also get two more treasure, 'cause why not (More specifically, Reno's Craft Lasso and Look What I Found!, a 3 Mana spell that Discovers a treasure.). All you need is a way to beat the spell-immune Headless Horseman's Head, and Reno is a free win.
- All-Star Squad is a brawl that lets the player choose one card, filling their deck with 22 copies of it plus 8 random class cards. When it was brought back in February 2020, it very quickly became apparent that Pogo-Hopper was the single most busted thing ever. With 22 copies of it in the deck, Pogo-Hoppers can ramp up their stats so fast that, barring a few niche counters, the only thing capable of winning against them were other Pogo-Hopper decks.
- Warlock is unquestioningly the best class for the Gift Exchange brawl. The gist is that every turn, you and your opponent each has a crate, and whenever any crate is destroyed, the current acting player gains a present which gives them a heavily-discounted card. Warlock has a million ways to blow up their own crates, which not only gives them presents, but also prevents their opponent from smashing their crates on the opponent's turn, essentially denying them the Warlock's presents. Expect to see mostly Warlocks and the occasional thieving Priests during this brawl.
- When the Burndown returned for a 3rd time in 2021, this time with a Duels theme, one deck stood high above the rest: Druid's Big Friends + Beasts and Buffs 440. While most of the deck itself wasn't much to write home about, being a Beast/Big Druid hybrid, it was the Hero Power and treasure combo it came with that made it broken: Heroic Dragonflame and Stargazing, allowing Omu to heal her side of the field for 6 or damage her enemies for 6 completely free, which is especially importantly players only have 20 Health. Given both of these, on top of having [[https://hearthstone.fandom.com/wiki/Zephrys's_Lamp Zephry's Lamp]] to get them out of a pinch, you would be lucky for a game to last 4 turns unless you were fighting another Omu (which, given the rules of the Burndown, became more and more common as the brawl went on).
- While most Treasure cards were rebalanced to be more fair (but still very strong) for the Duels format, one item that was completely unchanged was Robes of Gaudiness. Turns out it was just as broken against player as it was against bosses. The difference between a player with and without a Robes of Gaudiness was massive. Unless your deck went full aggro, even mediocre decks not built around it could easily squeeze in 7-8 wins. If you were a control deck with the Robes, you were guaranteed to beat just about any deck that didn't have the Robes. High wins in Duels was dominated by control Priest, Warrior, and especially Paladin with Robes. Its brokenness was quickly noticed, and Robes of Gaudiness was hotfixed out of the format just barely above 24 hours later.
- Of all the signature treasures, none were as deck-defining or broken as Gift of the Legion. This was a Demon Hunter treasure that gave the hero +1 Attack for each friendly minion that died that turn, with an Outcast effect that returned it to your hand. With two Line Hoppers or one and Sticky Fingers/Khadgar's Scrying Orb, this let Demon Hunters build infinite attack from just two cards. Despite Duels being quite deliberately gross, this was just a little too easy to pull off. It was raised to 3 mana, making infinite combos a little less consistent.
- Warlock was unquestionably the worst class in the preview/beta for Duels. In order to make up for that, they got two major buffs - first, their Dark Arts hero power was buffed to 1 mana. Next, they got Killmox. Killmox is a 6 mana 3/3 Demon with Rush and Lifesteal that gained +2/+2 for each card yoiu discarded that game. Additionally, if he's discarded, you instead returns to your hand. With Dark Arts, you could target Killmox to draw a card for 1 mana and buff him. When he came down, he was a 15/15 or more that healed your hero. Mixed with Felosophy or Soulwarden, and you could play Killmox just about forever. He was nerfed to only gain +1/+1, literally halving his stats.
- Certain unlikely card combinations can utterly break the game. Observe, what happens when you combine Mal'Ganis with Stealth, and the enemy does not have sufficient area of effect spells.note Likewise, for the love of god, never play Millhouse Manastorm while your opponent has Archmage Antonidas on the field, because if they have a spell you will lose. note
- Part of the parcel of being a digital card game, the game has some nasty glitches and interactions:
- Nozdormu's brain-breaking glitchiness came in full force with the addition of Joust during The Grand Tournament. See, whenever the "end turn" button is pressed, the animation times from the previous turn carry over into the next turn, directly affecting the amount of time a player can take on their turn. This oversight is usually exploited by playing Nozdormu, who reduces the time each player has during their turn to 15 seconds, and then playing as many overtly long animations as possible to skip their opponent's turn. Beforehand, it required a convoluted set-up and wound up being too gimmicky to be consistent. Joust cards brought this problem to the forefront; the animation that plays whenever a Joust is activated is extremely long, to the point where simply playing 1 Joust in conjunction the Nozdormu exploit was enough to skip the opponent's turn. Suddenly it became a problem, as the Nozdormu player simply had to get the bronze dragon and a single jouster in his hand to win the game. Thankfully, while Nozdormu is still infamously broken his interaction with Joust cards was patched within a day, though the previously mentioned gimmick set-up still exists.
- On launch of League of Explorers, there was a dangerous bug with Unearthed Raptor that ended up getting its abusers a lot of free wins. Raptor, by default, is a 3 mana 3/4 that copies a friendly Deathrattle effect. When combined with Brann Bronzebeard, who triggers your Battlecry effects a second time, this can stack up for even more Deathrattles. The bug kicks in once you started using a second Raptor to dupe the effects of the first Raptor; for some reason, if you duped the Deathrattle effect enough times, the game will force a crash for the opponent (sometimes both players), giving the Rogue player a free win. It was quickly hotfixed, but it was scary time for players everywhere. You know, except the Rogues.
- The aforementioned Fandral Staghelm (See Whispers of the Old Gods above) was also the cause of a bizarre, powerful Wild-only glitch with Dark Wispers. Dark Wispers is normally a 6 mana spell that either summons 5 1/1 Wisps or gives a minion +5/+5 and Taunt. Fandral causes it to do both, but for some reason he also removed the minion restriction, meaning the player could give himself +5/+5 and Taunt. While the Taunt and +5 health are obviously good, the extra attack was utterly ballistic, because it lasted forever. Your hero can swing for 5 damage every turn with no restrictions and maintain it during the opponents turn, meaning that any minions that attacked would take 5 damage and likely die. It was swiftly patched, for good reason. If nothing else, it was kinda cool while it lasted.
- The Shadow Visions + Radiant Elemental loop, as discovered by Disguised Toast, is a three card combo introduced in Journey to Un'Goro consisting of two Radiant Elementals and a copy of Shadow Visions, with the other copy in the deck. Because of how animation times work in Hearthstone, a crafty player can simply play the Elementals to reduce the cost of Shadow Visions to 0, then use Visions to discover the other copy of it, then play it again and again and again. From your perspective, you're just playing the same card over and over, but from your opponent's perspective, they have to sit through a short animation of the card being played every single time. Spamming Shadow Visions enough forces your opponent to watch the animations on their turn, skipping their turn entirely. This was swiftly hotfixed, thankfully.
- A few rare interactions with Chameleos create some interesting situations. Chameleos becomes a copy of a random card in your opponent's hand each turn, and will keep any buffs when it changes. Things get a little screwy however when it turns into a card that changes stats each turn. The stat-swap and the transform effect happen simultaneously, resulting in Chameleos becoming a new card, but with the swapped stats. That also applies to Hero Cards, resulting in heroes with permanent Attack like the Fandral bug. Of course, that's nothing when compared to in-hand buffers. Behold! The 2 billion HP hero! Not exactly a likely scenario, but the fact that it's even possible is absurd.
- Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) this was fixed in The Boomsday Project when in-hand transformations caused the card to lose any buffs, probably to clean up interactions with Flobbidinous Floop.
- The preorder for Rise of Shadows included up to two free Legendary cards from the upcoming set, as per usual. What wasn't so usual was that somehow, the free Legendaries were made available immediately after purchase. Since it was trying to give the player cards that didn't exist... some odd things happened. As showcased in this Reddit thread, one player got access to a Hero Card version of Darius Crowley (from The Witchwood's final boss) and it was fully playable. Even weirder, he managed to get Wild cards into Standard while this was in his deck. This was swiftly hotfixed, but was one of the biggest Game Breaking Bugs in Hearthstone's history while it lasted.
- If you use Madame Goya with Brann Bronzebeard and only have a shuffled Weasel Tunneler in your deck, the swapped minion will somehow be considered the top card of your deck forever. This removes fatigue, since you always redraw the card (no matter where it is - whether it's in your hand, on the board, or dead). Things get really really funky when the shuffled card is Chameleos. It would honestly take too long to describe how broken things get, so check out this 12 minute video instead. This passes Good Bad Bugs, passes Game-Breaking Bug, and goes straight into a full-on Hearthstone Mind Screw.