Adapt is one of the new mechanics coming to Hearthstone in the Journey to Un’Goro expansion. From what we’ve seen, the Adapt mechanic seems exclusive to Beasts, which makes sense–the dinosaurs in Un’Goro all have the ‘Beast’ tag, and all Adapt minions have been dinosaurs. Here’s how it works: let’s say you play a minion that has Adapt as a Battlecry. You’re presented with three randomly selected Adaptations from a pool of ten, and you select one to attach to your minion. The ten different Adaptations are all buffs, and there’s a decent amount of variety: one of your minions might get +3 Attack or +1/+1, but it could also end up with Windfury, Taunt, or Divine Shield.
When Adapt was first revealed, I absolutely loathed it. It felt like a bad version of Discover, either making your minion overpowered or incredibly poor. And, of course, the fact that there are ten options and you’re only able to choose from three means that Adapt is reliant on randomness. In most situations, you’ll know what you want before you play the card, and knowing you have only a 30% chance of even seeing the ability you want sucks. However, as more minions from Un’Goro have been revealed, I’m not as opposed to Adapt as I was initially.
The main way that Blizzard has chosen to balance Adapt is to make it reliant on synergies. This comes in many different forms, as we’ve seen. Of the cards revealed with Adapt, nearly half assign the Adaptation to a friendly minion, instead of using it themselves. This is a good way to balance out the mechanic, as the possibility for overpowered outcomes is outweighed by the synergy required.
Many of the abilities that Adapt offers are simply bad when self-cast. If I play Verdant Longneck, for example, I know I don’t want +3 Attack or Windfury, because cards rarely last a full turn in play anymore. More than likely my card will be gone before I could possibly use those abilities. This is also true to a lesser extent with some of the other Adaptations: +3 Health, Divine Shield, +1/+1, Poisonous, and Taunt. If you know your opponent has spells to clear your minions, all of those can be useless. They all die to a Siphon Soul or Assassinate, so you won’t want them.
Those subjectively negative effects aren’t negative if you can cast them on allied minions instead. Take Crackling Razormaw, for example. Rather than casting Adapt on himself, he gives a friendly Beast Adapt. This means that the newly buffed Beast can attack immediately, assuming that it was played the previous turn.
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Adapt: Massive Issues Remain
There are still a lot of issues with Adapt, and it’s still one of my least favorite mechanics in Hearthstone. While the introduction of Quests in Journey to Un’Goro is a step in the right direction, the same can’t necessarily be said about Adapt. The biggest problems with the new mechanic stem from minions that can Adapt multiple times. The largest offender is, in fact, one of the Adaptation abilities: “Stealth until your next turn”. Well, we know how problematic Conceal can be–it’s broken enough that Blizzard rotated it to Wild. Now we have this Adapt ability, and some minions can easily abuse the heck out of it.
One minion has been revealed with multiple Adapts, while another has been discussed. Volcanosaur is a seven mana 5/5 that Adapts twice. Let’s look at some possible combinations. Winfury and Stealth. +3 Attack and Stealth. These two combinations provide a near-guaranteed 8+ damage the next turn. That being said, these combinations themselves aren’t too strong, it’s when you pair them with other cards. Paladin buffs, combined with Stealth, are insane. Windfury and Stealth coupled with Dinosize? That’s a two card 20 damage combo in two turns. Or even Blessed Champion, which does comparable damage, depending on your choice. There’s a lot of abuse potential, and it’s extremely reliant on Adapt’s inherent randomness.
To be honest, I’m not excited for Adapt. It’s being implemented in the best way possible, but lots of issues remain. From what I’ve seen of Un’Goro, it has the potential to be the best set so far, largely due to Quests. But Adapt is doing its darndest to pull Hearthstone back to Yogg Saron levels of ‘fun’. One step forward, one step back.