The Eight Most Historically Overpowered Cards
In just a few months, Hearthstone will turn four years old. In that time, there have been seven expansions and four Adventures. That’s a lot of new cards, and when it comes to balance, a lot of opportunities to make the occasional mistake. Each new iteration of the metagame over the years has produced some big winners and losers. I’m going to take a look at those cards that, upon their release, just kept on winning.
Here’s a brief list of what I believe were the strongest cards of their day, above and beyond what is a fair power level for individual cards. I’m not going to include cards changed during Beta, and for each card I will look at how they were before any nerfs. This list is not exhaustive, and is entirely subjective; I am not taking a statistical point of view. Feel free to suggest your own most hated cards in the comment section below!
This sneaky little one-mana spell was a staple in nearly all Warlock decks since Beta. The sheer utility of a Blessing of Kings on the cheap enabled Zoolock to really punch above its weight. Leeroy Jenkins/Faceless Manipulator decks relied on this card to destroy their opponents from up to twenty health. When playing against a Warlock, players were forced to keep their health totals very high – the combination of Power Overwhelming with Soulfire (which cost zero mana for a long time) and Shadowflame meant that Warlocks could control the board while also producing Mage-style burst damage.
Continuing the low-cost spells trend, I believe that Wild Growth is certainly a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. There’s been a lot of talk about this card in the community – it’s yet another mandatory Druid card that you’d be a fool not to include in every deck besides Aggro. Played on turn two, and potentially followed up with a Jade Blossom, a Druid can blaze ahead of an opponent and start dropping huge minions ridiculously early on. I would even argue that the difference between not having Wild Growth on turn one/two is as big as drawing (pre-nerf) Patches the Pirate, in terms of win rate.
In the past, Blizzard has made a point of nerfing cards that discourage deck innovation. Innervate was changed for this reason. Would Wild Growth in the Hall of Fame kill off Standard Druid, or would it allow for more strategies that don’t center around simply stacking up mana crystals? It’s certainly a controversial card to add to this list, but you can’t deny its raw power.
This four mana 3/4 demon, released in the Naxxramas set, has recently come to the fore again in Wild. It’s a ludicrously strong card. Many of us who played in the pre-Standard era will remember the insane combos that Warlock could pull off with this tricky minion. Frequently, if you did not have a Silence available to counter the Voidcaller, nine times out of ten you’d be facing Mal’Ganis the next turn. It’s like the current Voidlord/Possessed Lackey combo but on steroids.
In Arena it was no less potent – with the Naxxramas draft occurrence increase, it was possible to chain together Voidcaller after Voidcaller. This card alone made Demonlock a threat.
For a brief (but still far too long) period of a few months following the release of Naxxramas in July 2014, Undertaker Hunter was the best deck in Hearthstone. It boasted a solid 60% win rate, across all levels of play. To my knowledge, it remains the strongest deck in the game’s history; no deck since has come close to the consistency and sheer overpowering speed of Undertaker Hunter. Gaining +1/+1 every time a Deathrattle card was played, it would quickly snowball into a face-eating monster, aided by 2/1 Leper Gnomes and tenacious Harvest Golems.
This was one of the first instances where Blizzard was forced to step in and hotfix a card due to community outrage and plain imbalance. It’s a dead card now, but for a time it was truly Hearthstone’s abomination.
This Basic card in the Warrior set was overpowered for one reason only: everyone, GET IN HERE! Grim Patron, released in the Blackrock Mountain expansion, propelled this card from a silly meme card into a top-tier tournament-worthy combo piece. Grim Patron decks were overbearingly strong and almost impossible to play against, thanks to Warsong Commander’s infinite supply of Charge. Grim Patron decks were somewhat of a love-hate figure among the community – it required a lot of combo cards, making it inconsistent; plus, no one could get enough of heh heh, pile on!
Blizzard eventually decided enough was enough and turned Warsong Commander into a new yardstick for terrible cards, with one of the heaviest nerfs in history.
Do I need to say more?
This Paladin epic is a classic example of a card being overpowered only within its own context. At the time of its release, Paladin had perhaps the strongest mana curve of any class, and any since. Argent Squire-Shielded Minibot-Muster for Battle-Piloted Shredder-Loatheb-Mysterious Challenger was a sequence that had no parallel. In terms of counterplay, Mysterious Challenger took a level of methodological thought that few people could handle. With four or five Secrets in play, it was bafflingly complex for most players. But in a metagame with many counters to Aggro decks, and a variety of ways to beat Secrets,
The one and only Doctor Seven, legendary king of overpowered cards. Dr. Boom is the measure by which all other OP cards are measured. If he was a human and not a goblin-card, he’d be Arnold Schwarzenegger, or perhaps Chuck Norris. This guy blew up the metagame when he burst onto the scene on 22nd July 2014. There isn’t a list of crazy strong cards out there (and there are many) that doesn’t include the Dr. at or near the top. I don’t think I need to explain in much detail just why Dr. Boom is so strong – commanding board presence, RNG potential, overall great value.
What’s funny is that in the previews of the expansion, a number of streamers rated Dr. Boom as an average or slightly strong card. It’s rare that commentators get it so wrong, but when they do, you can bet the community loves to call them out on it. TrumpSC rated him astonishingly badly, basing his analysis on him being a slightly better War Golem: “I wouldn’t anticipate seeing him much in constructed play.” Remind you of something?