The Ultimate Problem Isn't "Overpowered" Cards; It's Synergy


So, something I’ve notice from many of the complaints around these forums is that people tend to complain that Hearthstone is going downhill because of “overpowered” or “broken” cards. While I disagree with the assertion that Hearthstone is dying or even particularly unhealthy at the moment, I can understand complaints regarding some of the particularly strong classes right now. However, I would posit that the problem isn’t that cards are overpowered at the moment. In fact, I think it’s been quite some time since Blizzard actually printed anything truly broken. The real problem is the incredible synergy among cards that have been printed that has made some of these decks fairly oppressive.

Let’s start with the deck that tends to attract the most complaints: Control Warrior. Usually, these complaints center around Dr. Boom, Mad Genius, who, as a hero card, people love to hate on because of his “infinite value.” Now, putting aside the fact that every starting hero power and most of the newly released quests offer some degree of infinite value, I’d say that Dr. Boom is a perfectly fair and flavorful card. He costs 7 mana for 7 armor and does nothing the turn he comes down. His hero power is randomized each turn, and the passive rush, while powerful, is limited to mechs. The fairness of the card was evident for a long time, when he saw little play for many months. However, he is now currently probably the most hated card in Hearthstone. The card itself didn’t change, so what else did?

What changed was the plethora of options released that directly benefit from Dr. Boom and/or the control warrior archetype. Perhaps the biggest offender is Omega Devastator, a card that made my jaw drop when it was first revealed. Yeti stats on a 4 drop that can also kill nearly anything if played on or after turn 10? Sign me up! However, there are obviously other insane additions as well: restless mummy is a great card that can be tutored up with Town Crier, which most warriors were already running to find Zilliax or Militia Commander, Frightened Flunky, which can find many powerful taunt cards, and the new 8 mana mech that essentially comes down as a 6/12 spread across 2 bodies. It can also be found from Omega Assembly, Delivery Drone, and Frightened Flunky. Notice a trend? All of these cards are fine on their own, but put together, there’s so much synergy that it’s hard for decks that don’t have the same level of power and redundancy to deal with it. Earlier, Dr. Boom decks had to either commit to mechs or run a small package (usually Dynomatic and Zilliax), and rely on Omega Assembly and Delivery Drone to find additional ways to take advantage of the passive Rush effect. Now, there are a ton of outstandingly powerful mechs or ways to find more mechs without sacrificing any strength or consistency in the deck.

That’s the problem. It’s not Hero cards, and certainly not Dr. Boom himself. It’s the level of synergy and consistency that the last year and a half of expansions have given to the control warrior archetype.

As a second example, let’s look at Conjurer’s Calling Mage decks, which are probably the second most hated decks in the game at the moment. Now, let’s look at the card itself: for 3 mana, you get to destroy a minion and replace it with 2 random minions of the same cost, and because it has twin spell, you get a second use out of it. That’s not particularly concerning on its own. If it’s used on an enemy minion, it gives them more resources, and in order to use it on a friendly minion, you have to already have a minion in play. That means you’re either ahead and already winning, or you’re only duplicating a relatively cheap and weak minion.

Except, that’s not how it’s worked out. 2 cards have made this possible: Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, and Mountain Giant. With these cards, you can cheat out enormous minions and immediately target them with CC, not giving your opponent a chance to respond. It turns CC from a fun, relatively fair card into an obscenely strong tool. Now, Phaoris can help boost the card as well, by creating a huge, difficult to remove board with some good, high cost options to target with CC in the likely case that your opponent is unable to remove everything.

So, the issue isn’t necessarily the power level of individual cards. I think that we’ve gone for a while without anything truly busted slipping through. The problem is that more cards that meld too well with other existing cards and strategies have been added. I think that the best thing to satisfy the player base would be to release cards that support new strategies and that can’t simply be dropped into existing archetypes. They’ve done this before to great effect, and I think that it should be the goal to continue with this in order to maintain a balance in the game without a need to change or rotate other (ultimately fair) cards.

TLDR: The cards in standard right now are individually fine and fairly balanced, but their synergies with other cards are what generate oppressive strategies; the solution is then to release cards that can’t be easily used by existing archetypes but which instead support entirely new decks.


Bro you should become an author.


Well, I’m a law student, so I already do plenty of writing.


So your solution is to wait 3 months for blizzard to release decks with equally insane synergies to compete? Sounds like a pretty long wait for a solution law student. The damage is done, the flood gates are open. Waiting for a new expansion does little to nothing for the health of the game currently.
Also if luna’s pocket galaxy isn’t overpowered could you provide me an example of a card that is?


:+1: :clap: Your mom would be proud if she played video games.

They screwed up with SoU, they had plenty of time to nerf Tomb Warden’s Mech tag and art prior to releasing it. They also should have nerfed Eternium Rover in RoS. Then Warrior would be strong, just not insanely strong.

People are way over reacting about Mage. The LPG buff was an interesting idea that misfired, they need to walk it back.

Rogue and Druid:
I know, there’s not many complaints in those two fronts. But looking at where they are now tells you that hard nerfs just destroy classes. Whatever they do, it should be a small adjustment to 1-2 cards. And they shouldn’t be Mad Genius or Mountain Giant.


Barnes, most of the DK’s and cube, to name just a few off the top of my head, and that’s without going into pre-nerf cards.


Correct me if i’m wrong but all of these are overpowered due to synergies? Which according to the OP does not make them overpowered at all.


You might wanna reread the OP :joy:


his entire post is literally about synergy being the problem and not an individual card. Barnes isn’t busted. Summoning a 1/1 along side a 3/4 is not broken. Summoning spefic cards as 1/1’s that then enable other plays is. Cube is the same. Warlock hero card? The same. Do I need to give you more examples? These cards aren’t broken on their own. They require multiple cards to provide their power. My point being that too much synergy in itself is over powered.

Summon a 1/1 chill wind yeti from your deck with barnes and tell me that play is overpowered.

So the question then becomes: Do we make powerful synergistic cards that have little to no synergy to work with? Or do we reduce the power level of some synergistic cards so we can have more consistent synergy in decks that focus on it?

Also according to OP
The problem: Synergy (see title)
The solution: More synergy (see TLDR:)
That’s literally fighting fire with fire. It solves nothing.


Well what do you know, that’s the OP’s point aswell.

What are you arguing with?


Right so lets add more to the game


Giving other classes synergy equal to everyone else to put everyone at a level playing field yields the same result as removing said synergy, just with less tears over completely destroyed archetypes and wasted dust.

I’d prefer adding new archetypes over removing archetypes.


And yet again this does nothing for the current state of the game, and yet again when rotation comes the classes that lost synergy become virtually unplayable and yet again the cycle repeats. Doing the same thing that caused the problem to solve the problem does nothing but create more problems.


But nerfing the decks with the current best synergy just so the next best synergy decks take over isn’t a repeating cycle? Your proposal leaves us in the exact same spot as the OP’s and mine, except ours adds more archetypes and variety.


It’s reducing the power level of these cards to bring it in line with other decks. Reducing the power level of cards ideally isn’t to make a deck unplayable but to make it less polarising in it’s match ups so that the meta spread is more diverse. A diverse meta is a healthy meta after all. Unless of course you enjoy 35% of your opponents being mage and warrior when there are 9 classes.


And then the key synergy king pins rotate, leaving the toned down cards and the class as a whole to die and leave us at the loop of problems you talked about earlier.


I never said town down non key cards? I’m suggesting toning down the key cards of powerful synergies. To avoid the problem is to simply stop printing ridiculous cards. Unless of course you like barnes and cube and the death knight cards? You agree with me and don’t even know it.

Unless of course you agree with op and the solution is to release more barnes and death knight-like cards?


I’m going to reiterate the fact that you didn’t correctly read the OP.

Barnes, Cube and DK’s are the key synergy cards. That isn’t what anyone wants reprinted.

Adding in more synergy doesn’t mean creating massively overpowered cards, it means adding to pre-exisiting archetypes with decent to good synergistic cards.

No one is saying to keep printing ridiculous cards, we are saying to continue to support archetypes with good cards to level out the playing field.


I’m going to step in here, because you’re clearly perverting and misconstruing what I said. The solution is to release good cards that don’t have such strong synergy with existing archetypes. Dr. Boom was perfectly fine with the meta he was released in; having Dynomatic and Omega Assembly gave mech/Dr. Boom based control warrior decks good tools, but not so much that it was actively distorting the meta. That only came when RoS gave it even better tools that it could use without distorting its game plan. I think that Rastakhan’s Rumble is a solid example of what good expansions should look like in terms of straying from continuing to provide more pushed cards for already dominant archetypes; we got cards that supported a dragon package, and cards that supported more of a rush style deck. And, plenty of people were experimenting with more tempo-ish warrior builds or switching from predominantly mech based decks to dragon based control builds, which was pretty cool. If we’d gotten cards that helped out those archetypes enough to be viable, I think that people would have more reason to run those kinds of decks. Instead, mech based control that can just add the latest new tools without giving up anything substantial have become essentially the only warrior deck that people will try because of all the crazy good synergies within the deck.


Ah yes, let’s introduce retarded highroll to every class. Truly that is the utopia of game balance.