The new Hearthstone expansion, The Witchwood, finally released this week. We’d seen most of the cards in the expansion several weeks back, but the developers held onto one particular treat. Last week they revealed what the developers themselves called “the craziest card we’ve ever made.” It was also said that Ben Brode, the lead designer, was quite worried about the card. Turns out he was right to be, as it was incredibly broken upon release.
The card I’m talking about is, of course, Shudderwock. So what makes Shudderwock so broken? Well, first, let’s reveal the card. Shudderwock is a nine mana 6/6. The card reads: Battlecry: Repeat all other Battlecries from cards you played this game (targets chosen randomly). So right off the bat, what the actual hell were they thinking? Brode is ‘worried’ about this card? This card breaks so many rules of Hearthstone, it’s not even funny! If this doesn’t create ten thousand memes about how bad the play testing team is, I’ll eat my hat.
From minute one, many of the big name
streamers had already figured out how to abuse this card and put it into action. The mechanically broken part comes in with two particular battlecries. Sardonite Chain Gang reads as follows: Battlecry: Summon a copy of this minion. The important part here is that, when Shudderwock is played, it doesn’t create a copy of Sardonite Chain Gang; it creates a copy of Shudderwock. The other Battlecry comes from Grumble, Worldshaker. His card reads: Battlecry: Return your other minions to your hand. They cost (1). Well jeez, when you put those two effects together Shudderwock creates a copy of himself, then returns the copy to your hand. It costs one mana. Just enough for you to play it again, and then prepare for next turn’s ridiculousness.
Then you throw in a simple damaging battlecry such as Lifedrinker’s: Battlecry: Deal 3 damage to the enemy hero. Restore 3 life to your hero. Now you’re killing your opponent pretty quick, without even adding other Battlecries. Not to mention the fact that each time you play Shudderwock, all the Battlecries double. The only saving grace is that after one or two turns, a single cast is too long for the turn timer, so you can only play one each turn.
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Which brings us to the second reason that Shudderwock is incredibly broken. It actually destroys Hearthstone. Once you get Shudderwock active, your first turn will last around 2-3 minutes. Your next turn will be well over five. Three or four turns in, and your turns are taking over ten minutes to resolve. Luckily, the Hearthstone team resolved the Nozdormu issue where your turn going over would cut into your enemies turn, so they still have the chance to play. Unfortunately, your opponents have to watch a small movie between each of their turns. Games with Shudderwock are already long since it’s a control deck, then you add in an extra 20-30 minutes if the Shudderwock player wins just to resolve all the animations. Conceding truly is the answer.
Which brings us full circle. How was this not caught? All of the big streamers had identified this combo before the set was even launched and, on release, many of them were playing it within a few hours. DisguisedToast in particular had a decklist up before the set launched and proceeded to bore the world to death in his exposés of twenty-minute turns. Despite the issues with Shudderwock, it was launched much to the chagrin of every Hearthstone player who still had an iota of respect for the development team.
If you’re interested in contributing to the downwards spiral that is Hearthstone, feel free to check out DisguisedToast’s decklist here.