Is Taunt bad for Hearthstone? Is Charge? More players probably find themselves grasping with the latter question. Some still remember the Force of Nature + Savage Roar days where players would find themselves suddenly dead despite having more than 20 health.
Hearthstone Game Designer Max McCall freely admits situations like that aren't healthy. Heck, he even says Bluegill Warrior, two Power Overwhelmings, and Faceless Manipulator - a combination that's currently viable, but not run - is problematic due to how efficient it makes minion buffs.
Players are likely much more familiar with Renolock's version which substitutes Leeroy Jenkins for Bluegill Warrior, but that at least requires Emperor Thaurissan who will soon be rotating out of Standard.
McCall has made another commendable post, explaining the important trade-off Blizzard has made regarding the Charge mechanic.
We've highlighted a few bullet points below, but we genuinely recommend you read it for yourself, he has some commentary that should help you understand where the team is coming from, though we suspect you'll likely agree.
- Blizzard loves both Taunt and Charge.
- But Charge is dangerous when it can be combined with minion buffs to do massive damage from hand.
- Right now, Blizzard thinks there's more design space in minion buffs, so they've sacrificed cheap minions with Charge as a result.
- Instead, the design team has been creating more expensive Charge minions like the Hogriders.
Neither taunt nor charge are inherently bad for Hearthstone.
Taunt is great. Taunt minions let players defend themselves and their other minions and add a lot of depth to direct minion combat.
Charge can be problematic, though. Minions’ ability to directly attack other minions means that a player who achieves control of the board early will tend to snowball their lead. When you control the board, you can arrange for minion trades that further cement your board control. Minions with charge are a useful tool for allowing players who have fallen behind on the board to catch up. Spells are a good way to catch people up as well, but cards like Stormwind Knight can kill a 3/2 and establish a board at the same time. Different ways to catch up when you’re behind gives the game more texture, and offers more strategic choices.
Charge becomes a problem for Hearthstone when you use it to kill your opponent out of nowhere in one turn. Playing Druid of the Claw as a 4/4 charge for 5 is good gameplay. Playing Bluegill Warrior, casting Power Overwhelming on it twice, then copying it with Faceless Manipulator to attack your opponent for 20 isn’t. In that example, charge is only a problem because of how efficient it makes converting minion buffs into direct damage. We could make more charge minions if we made minion buffs worse, but minion buffs have more design space than charge minions. Minion buffs are also fun and also enable you to catch up with weaker minions your opponent hasn’t gotten around to trading off yet.
Note that it’s specifically cheap charge minions that tend to cause problems, because they’re easier to combine with buffs and Faceless Manipulator. No one uses Reckless Rocketeer or King Krush for evil. We’re cautiously experimenting with more expensive charge minions that are harder to use in degenerate combos. The Hogriders in Mean Streets were the first example of this, and it’s reassuring to see that no one is using them to one-shot their opponents. We’ll do more charge stuff in the future as we figure out what’s safe.