Blizzard just announced that Genn and Baku will be leaving Standard a year early, and people are understandably excited. Players were getting sick of these two, since they defined Standard for the entire Year of the Raven. In fact, the only cards that defined this year as much or more were, ironically, cards from the previous year. Nearly all decks that didn't use the Odd or Even playstyles were heavily reliant on power cards from the Year of the Mammoth, like Death Knights, Spreading Plague, Carnivorous Cube, and Call to Arms. It's pretty obvious why: it's no secret that Mammoth was a super strong year, a much more powerful one than Raven.
Many players have even speculated that Raven was intended by the team as the kickoff of a "ramping down" of the game's power level. The first step of a longer plan to reduce years of power creep, supplemented by the nerf and rotation of various powerful Classic/Basic cards, and culminating in the release of the next Standard year. But if we're going by that theory, Genn and Baku stick out like sore thumbs. If the goal was to make the Year of the Raven weaker, why on Earth would Blizzard put out cards that looked so blatantly powerful, and would necessarily create multiple archetypes by themselves? At the very start of the year? On top of dominating the Year of the Raven, Genn and Baku would very obviously continue to dominate once they entered the Year of the Dragon, and the game's power level would hardly go down at all.
Which is why Genn and Baku were never planned to enter the Year of the Dragon.
Imagine you're Team 5, and your goal is to finally reduce Hearthstone's power level, which has gotten out of control due to years of slow-but-steady power creep. Your plan? Make the next two years of expansion weaker, of course! But there's one glaring, obvious problem with that: the previous year of cards still exists. If Blizzard really just made a whole year of nothing but crap cards to follow up Mammoth, the game would become horrifyingly stale, even more than it is right now. The meta would just be the same goddamned Kobolds & Catacombs decks for the whole first year of their master plan.
The only solution? Fight fire with fire. Release a few stupidly broken cards at the very start of your "weak" year. Cards that can compete with last year single-handedly. Cards that completely define decks. Cards with a hefty deckbuild restriction that might brute force a few of those bullshit cards from last year out of players' decks. Cards so strong people might start hating them as much as fucking Spreading Plague. Cards like Genn Greymane and Baku, the Mooneater. Then, when the year ends, pull a "surprise move" and rotate them out early. The people would cheer, none the wiser, while Team 5 finally succeeds in cutting down the game's power creep. In short, Baku and Genn's dominance and early rotation was all according to plan. They were the trump cards Team 5 needed to make the game more fun in the long term.
People are hating on Genn and Baku right now, but I think they were a necessary evil. They were the only cards in the world capable of fighting the entire Year of the Mammoth at 100% power, by themselves. And they were pretty fun to mess around with while they lasted, you can't deny that. They might not be the heroes we wanted, but they're the villains we deserved.
(WARNING: This is probably not what really happened.)
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© Post "The Even-Odd Long Con: A Hearthspiracy Theory" for game HearthStone.
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