Lessons on Hate
The metagame can often times become predictable or stable enough that particular decks can be efficiently targeted. When the metagame becomes apparent, there are cards that increase in value and allow us to play otherwise narrow cards that can be devastating against particular strategies.
Prior to the release of Un’Goro, for example, there were Shaman control decks that hoped to capitalize on the prevalence of Pirate Warrior. The Shaman deck played numerous AoEs, with some decks even going so far as to include Elemental Destruction and Lava Shock in their lists. By doing so, these Shaman were favored versus aggressive decks looking to swarm with a lot of minions. Nevertheless, the Shaman control builds had a comically difficult Jade Druid matchup, pushing the deck out of any serious contention. By committing to heavily to defeating aggressive strategies, these control builds sacrificed percentage points versus other decks. While enjoyable, the Shaman deck, with its numerous mainboard AoEs, was too dedicated to trouncing aggressive strategies to have a chance against combo or go-big decks like Druid. They desired controlling the board in favor of pressuring the opponent’s life total. Sometimes, the metagame can be too much of a squeeze for a control deck to effectively answer varying strategies.
There are, however, cards that we can sneak into our decks that help to “hate” our opponents deck without going all in on a particular strategy, and today I am going to discuss some of those options. I think almost all of the hate cards I discuss below are reasonable options, especially if you feel that your deck has a poor matchup against something these cards might help with. Even then, in some cases it is okay to play these cards regardless to shore up matches. Often, the downside of drawing them can be mitigated by other card choices and play patterns.
For example, Golakka Crawler and Hungry Crab are both useful in Hunter as beasts, so they are not entirely dead cards. They can be played out against decks without Murlocs or Pirates and still be powered up by a Crackling Razormaw. Additionally, they can be used to swing into a board and trade thus powering up your Scavenging Hyenas. The current Hunter lists are well tuned for this kind of hate card as it fits within the larger thematic construction of the deck. It is quite helpful when thinking about hate cards to decide whether they can be flexible enough to have utility in matchups where they aren’t able to get the maximum value from them. Hunter is a great example simply because of the Beast synergies in the deck, so including cards like Hungry Crab or Golakka Crawler is a fine choice. With the rise of various Paladin decks that almost all employ some amount of Murlocs, Hungry Crab seems like an increasingly reasonable choice.
In Pirate Warrior, Golakka Crawler can also put in work attacking aggressive Rogue Decks as well as the mirror match. The best part of including Golakka Crawler in your Pirate Warrior deck is that even versus decks that contain no pirates, you can upgrade the Crawler by throwing away an otherwise underpowered or irrelevant minion like N’zoth’s First Mate. This kind of flexibility is exactly what makes hate cards viable and extremely powerful options. Including cards that are powerful against the meta, but not completely dead in other matchups, is a very useful strategy you can include in your decks.
A less flexible option, but a card I believe to be useful in the current meta, is something like Eater of Secrets. Of the top tier decks currently, Murloc Paladin, Midrange Paladin, and Secret Mage are all susceptible to Eater of Secrets. The prominence of Hydrologist and Medivh’s Valet have dramatically increased the stock of Eater. Even against the other tier one decks, such as Pirate Warrior, the health is enough that in can still be a relevant minion to help you manage the board. Moreover, this is the kind of card that Mage decks simply cannot beat if their Ice Block is destroyed. You can save the Eater of Secrets until you are certain to have lethal and disrupt their entire game plan. Outside of the top tier decks, Eater can still tag secrets from Burn Mage and the occasional Hunter deck. I admit that Eater is quite the gamble, but if your deck is struggling with Ice Block decks it is a powerful option that also helps to disrupt the currently dominant Paladin decks.
There are, of course, many other hate cards you can include in your decks, but the overall lesson here is that they are all metagame and deck dependent. Before including these cards, think about your weaker matchups and if you require these cards to shore those weaknesses up without taking away from your stronger matchups. Moreover, look for flexibility among hate cards, and assess their ability to pivot well within your decks overall strategy.