I'm no Hearthstone expert, nor do I know anything about the WoW universe, but I've been playing HS for almost 2 years and I'd like to think I have a good grasp on the structure of the game – class archetypes, historical themes, and what it means for a card to be good.
Obviously we saw a huge power swing in the meta when Death Knights were first introduced. They had an instant effect when played, which was usually good enough by itself, but they also dramatically altered the hero power to something better. These cards were (and still are) so strong in some classes that they're auto-includes in all competitive decks. Jaina, Rexxar, and Malfurion – I'm looking at you three.
Because of this, we saw some reverse power-creep for every hero card released after KoFT. Hagatha's hero power, for example, has very little effect on gameplay except that she is less likely to run out of tempo. Dr. Boom was the same story – just a mildly improved hero power and an effect that gives mechs slightly more value. I felt these heroes were a little disappointing, but I understand the necessity. A hero card should not have a win condition attached to it's hero power.
But there's no denying that all the hero cards released so far have one thing in common – they all permanently alter the win condition in an interesting way. Uther got an OTK. Jaina got lifesteal. Rexxar solved the card draw problem. Gul'Dan got a way to play later into fatigue. Anduin got the ability to end games quickly with burst. Dr. Boom made even an empty board look scary. Hagatha made it impossible to hand-read.
But Zul'Jin is an entirely different card.
Zul'Jin is not a hero card, it's a 10 mana battlecry. To me it feels like a coincidence that it also gains 5 armor and a hero power that can target minions. It provides a huge burst in tempo that threatens to close the game within 1-2 turns by filling your board with stats.
But what happens if your opponent clears the board? What if they hit face, hit a minion, and play Twisting Nether? I'll tell you. The game goes right back to what it was one turn ago. Your win condition returns to regular old spell hunter – play spells, empty your hand, play Rhok'Delar, and play more spells. Nothing, and I mean literally nothing changes with the way the deck behaves. Even Garrosh, arguably the weakest hero card ever, had a hero power that changed the gameplay behind cards that like to be damaged, which is most of Warrior's toolset.
The reason I enjoy hero cards so much is that they (duh) take over your hero. Its a whole new character in charge, and the game should adjust to dealing with their new set of rules. It breaks my heart to see people play Zul'Jin as a temporary win condition; jamming down spellstones and huffers and trying to burst the opponent in just one or two turns. I feel like it flies in the face of what a hero card should be. It's why people run Rexxar simultaneously – as a backup if their temporary power swing didn't work. That's not what a hero card is. That's what a powerful spell is.
If you made it this far in my post, thank you. I'd love to hear your opinion; if you agree/disagree with anything I've said, please let me know what you think. Should there be a precedent for how hero cards are designed in future expansions? How do you feel about the flavour of Zul'Jin?
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