With the release of Journey to Un’Goro, Hearthstone experienced the uprising of a control-heavy metagame that has never been seen before. Even Pirate Warrior and Aggro Druid couldn’t stop the crusade of control archetypes, and the upcoming nerf to Quest Rogue, a main counter to these archetypes especially in competitive play, will only add to this development.
To Tech Or Not To Tech?
Due to this development, neutral tech cards are seen in more and more decks. In such a control-heavy environment, the use of these cards is nothing new and particularly effective these days. The main reason behind this is plain and simple: The longer a game takes, the more impact a tech card will have on that game. Tech cards are situational cards, and a drawn-out game will offer more situations to use them. However, not only control-heavy decks should use tech cards.
Per definition, neutral tech cards are minions with a relatively low stat line combined with a powerful situational card effect. Hearthstone has been promoting the use of these unique cards since the beginning. They are not only highly rewarding to play in the right situations; they also promote deckbuilding “outside of the box” to counter top tier meta-decks.
Journey to Un’Goro catalyzed the use of both old and new tech cards in a very healthy manner, not least because of dominant decks like Pirate Warrior and Freeze Mage. Let us take a look at the best tech cards and how to use them in Journey to Un’Goro:
Journey To Un'Goro Tech Cards
Golakka Crawler: This little beast was one of the most anticipated cards in all of Hearthstone history. Pirate Warrior’s reign of terror during Mean Streets of Gadgetzan lasted way too long, and the community demanded for a solution against Pirate Warrior and Pirate-heavy decks. What was intended to be a balanced solution for non-aggro decks quickly became an “auto-include” in most aggro and mid-range decks; a majority of the best meta decks still play some sort of Pirate Package (Quest Rogue, Evolve Shaman, Aggro Druid). The fact that Golakka Crawler can eat your own Pirate minions as well makes the use of it even more versatile. The rule of thumb “Play Pirates, play Golakka Crawler” basically covers most of the decks that you want to use the card with.
Hungry Crab: The second and “original” tech crab. Who doesn’t remember the glorious days of the very first Seatstory Cup where Trump pulled out the Hungry Crab against Artosis’ Murloc-heavy Zoo Warlock. With Journey to Un’Goro, Murlocs became a thing again, and that brings Hungry Crab back on the menu. Several Paladin archetypes as well as Aggro Druid play a plethora of Murlocs
Eater of Secrets: What initially was praised to be the solution against Secret Paladin back in the day became irrelevant right after its release. Secret Paladin got banned into the worlds of Wild, and Eater of Secrets was left behind, but with the release of Journey to Un’Goro it came back strong. The main reason behind this was the introduction of secret-enablers like Arcanologist and Hydrologist; this way almost all Paladin and Mage archetypes play with Secrets, and that is a majority of top-tier meta decks these days, which why at least one copy of it seems to be highly reasonable in every mid-range deck. Its use also rewards the player with the ultimate tech reward by destroying the enemy’s Ice Block.
Stampeding Kodo: Another vanilla tech card that saw play throughout all of Hearthstone’s history. It has always been an auto-include for any control-heavy Paladin deck due to synergy with Aldor Peacekeeper. A lot of 2-attack minions that have been released during the last two expansions led to a new-found popularity of Stampeding Kodo among the majority of control decks. The ban of Azure Drake is the last of many reasons to take this tech card out on a ride.
Crazed Alchemist: In theory, Crazed Alchemist is still one of the most efficient ways to deal with every aggro deck’s nightmare, Doomsayer. After the meta of Un’Goro settled, it sees more and more play in super-aggro deck archetypes like Aggro Druid. Besides that it can work wonders against health-heavy minions played by Taunt Warrior or Silence Priest!
Deathwing: Jade Druid is the deck that keeps the control-heavy meta-game in check. Freeze Mage has a terrible matchup against it, and even Taunt Warrior struggles to clear a full board of Jade Golems over and over again. But there is one card that can win the game, and it is none other than Deathwing itself. Played first by a couple of pro players on stream, Deathwing became a viable tech choice in mega-heavy control matchups.
Wild Pyromancer: This card is mostly a control-heavy tech choice in the competitive environment because it is able to deal with early pressure in aggro matchups. The concept of killing your own while clearing the enemy board is not the most intuitive one; however, control decks with low board-clear like Miracle Priest can include this to come out ahead in the end.
Yogg-Saron, Hope's End: This one may be the most love-hated card ever printed. The people’s god and creator of countless highlight reels called Yogg-Saron, is not your typical tech card. It can serve as this one game-saving top-deck, but it can also be just a worthless 10-drop in your deck, and that surely doesn’t fit the definition of a tech card. However, it has its place in several spell-heavy decks like Freeze Mage. Even if the card is a statistical nightmare, it is more likely to get a better outcome depending on spells played.
The future is tech
Over the last year, Blizzard’s card releases clearly show that they try to encourage tech card play. The nerf to Quest Rogue will boost the winrate of control-heavy archetypes and therefore their use of tech cards in control matchups, which is the only right decision in terms of deck variety. However, the releases of new tech cards was and always will be a skate on thin ice. Is a card still “tech” when it is used in 80% of the meta decks?
Thankfully, recent card releases Golakka Crawler didn’t evolve into the problem behind this question, and the communicty can only hope that it stays this way with future releases.