"We're gonna be rich!"
One of the central tenets of Hearthstone’s design philosophy is that all the interactions between the cards and board should be pleasing to the player. Even still, some are much sweeter than others.
Inspired by this Reddit thread, I decided to list what I think are the most pleasurable moments in Hearthstone. Rather than giant wombo combos or obvious stuff like topdecking lethal after you’ve been stuck at 1HP for a couple turns, I’ve focused on the the simple things that just feel good (man).
Let me know what you would have included in the comments below. Note that all screenshots have been recreated by myself and my beautiful assistant (Tom) for purely illustrative purposes.
Milling a Freeze Mage’s Alexstrasza
As anyone who’s played a ‘mill’ deck will know, there are few things more fun in Hearthstone than the fizzing effect when your opponent draws a card that gets burned because their hand is too full. The joy of seeing multiple cards incinerated because a Fell Reaver is on the board is delicious (assuming you have have a way to kill the big robot bastard), but the most satisfying thing to burn is the other player’s win condition. And nowhere is that more true than playing against a Freeze Mage and seeing their health-manipulating Alexstrasza go up in smoke.
Using Spellpower and Earth Shock on a Haunted Creeper
Okay, this might seem niche, but real talk for a second: Fuck Haunted Creeper. Either you let the sticky bastard live, and your opponent buffs it into an even bigger pain in the ass, or you kill it and end up spending multiple cards and attacks to take out an 2-Mana creature. One of the few ways to remove a Haunted Creeper cleanly is with a spellpower totem or Bloodmage Thalnos on board, then using an Earth Shock. And yeah, that Earth Shock is probably better saved for a Sylvanas or something, but hoo boy is it still so satisfying. In fact, the only thing better is having double spellpower and doing the same thing to a Piloted Shredder.
Healing from 1HP with Reno Jackson
For those players who consider the aggro playstyle as a cancer killing the ladder (and as explained here, it really isn’t) Reno was celebrated as the ultimate cure. The League of Explorers’ first legendary was Hearthstone’s most exciting card since Emperor Thaurissan—a one-man miracle drug with a sweet hat and cool catchphrase. Overnight, the meta was reshaped as players crafted new decks that avoided too many duplicate cards so Reno’s megaheal consistently triggered. And it doesn’t get much better than the feeling when you “get rich” and crush the dreams of some Secret Paladin-playing filth. At present, Reno doesn’t glow yellow to show his effect will activate, which adds an element of doubt if you do run duplicates and haven’t kept careful track. But, if anything, that slight uncertainty only makes the rush so much more spectacular. What now, Uther?
Pulling off the Thaddius dream
The Hearthstone subreddit is eternally clogged with people who got the dream—i.e. any hard to pull off combo that requires an unlikely confluence of cards and circumstance. There are many dreams, from summoning V-07-TR-0N with Mimiron’s Head to the recent Elise Starseeker/Golden Monkey Shenanigans, but the one I like best is the Stalagg/Feugen/Thaddius combo because it usually happens so slowly. You have to draw and play both Stalagg and Feugen, each of which costs five Mana, and then hope your opponent decides to kill them rather than using something like Hex. Then, and only then, do you get your free 11/11 Thaddius. Which, let’s face it, will probably die to Big Game Hunter or some other form of hard removal the other guy has been holding because he’s seen this coming. Nonetheless, when Thaddius does go unanswered, it’s stupidly satisfying. In the unlikely event you can add in Baron Rivendare to get double Thaddius you actually have to uninstall Hearthstone afterwards because it won’t get better.
Using Harrison Jones on a fresh Doomhammer
Whenever a Shaman equips a Doomhammer, it is accompanied by a silent prayer: “I hope he doesn’t have it”. The ‘it’ of course being Harrison Jones, collector of fine weapons and fount of free cards. Even assuming the Shaman has swung twice after equipping the weapon, you’re still drawing six cards, leaving a grinning 5/4 on the board, and removing a 5-Mana weapon that has overloaded two of the Shaman’s Mana crystals on the next turn. Swing turns in Hearthstone don’t hit much harder. There’s a case for saying using Harrison on a Jarraxus weapon is even more satisfying, but that still leaves those pesky 2-Mana 6/6 Infernals to worry about. Speaking of the good Lord...
Killing Lord Jaraxxus with Sacrificial Pact
For a long time only Warlocks with particularly outré deck lists, and consequently Priests who were running Thoughtsteal, knew the joy of playing Sacrificial Pact to instantly kill Lord Jaraxxus, the Warlock’s demonic replacement hero. Nowadays, any class can pull a Sacrificial Pact if they play Nefarian and get lucky. It’s an unlikely combo, sure, given that there are 21 Warlock spells which the big dragon could draw—but hey, you get two shots at it! And with something this cool, let’s be honest, you know the game wants it to happen. “You win... BUT YOUR WORLD IS STILL DOOMED!”
Getting another Murloc Knight from your Murloc Knight
Murloc Knight was one of very best cards in The Grand Tournament expansion, and one of the few Inspire cards that has actually seen competitive play. Much to the annoyance of Shaman mains who have had the Murloc class foisted on them by Blizzard, it was actually given to Paladins, who hardly needed another brilliant board swarm minion. At time of writing, the Murloc Knight’s Inspire effect will summon one of 14 possible Murlocs, with the plum picks being Murloc Warleader, Old Murk Eye and Siltfin Spiritwalker. The absolute best result, though, is of course getting a second Murloc Knight. Infinite mrrghrgl value! And who doesn’t want more Murlocs? Fish-hating degenerates, that’s who.
Stealing Ice Block with Kezan Mystic
Okay, you might think I’m hating on Freeze Mages here with a second entry at their expense, and you would be correct. I would literally rather play in a walk-in refrigerator than have to put up with more of their shit. Usually you end up sticking a secret-stealing Kezan Mystic in your deck to deal with a proliferation of Hunter traps, but then it’s an even bigger joy to bump into a Freeze Mage on ladder. With your green-skinned secret thief in hand, you can kick back and just enjoy the game knowing that, when the time is right, you will be able to YOINK! that protective Ice Block right off the wizard’s cheating head. That said, when I eventually come to write the Least Satisfying Moments in Hearthstone, it will include ‘Tempo Mages Who Use kezan Mystic To Steal Back Their Secrets’. Scum.
Killing any massive Taunt with The Black Knight
Having this done to me was probably the first time I was left open-mouthed in horror at how awful Hearthstone could feel. Having invested 7 Mana and my entire turn in playing an Ancient of War, only to see my noble tree chopped down by a knight with a heavy Marlboro habit, was an absolute disaster. But in that moment, blinking back the tears, I also knew how amazing it must feel for the other guy. And so The Black Knight was the first legendary card I crafted, and remains my Hearthstone bae to this day (even though he’s unused in any top tier deck because no-one is dumb enough to bet the whole farm on a single Taunt creature any more.) I guess killing Sludge Belchers is still pretty fun, but it’s like injecting the bad heroin into your groin after getting used to the best medical-grade morphine. Probably.
Getting Legend for the first time
I mean, I guess, right? The truth is that the closest I’ve come is getting to Rank 1 and three stars, which was on the last day of the season. I actually got to that spot twice, and on both occasions went on losing streaks that tilted me pretty hard. It didn’t help that I was in the office at the time and supposed to be working. By the time my hope finally died, my face was red like a Russian tourist shop and my brain was hot enough to melt an ice shelf. I felt terrible. So I can only assume that finally seeing that Legend card back pop as you enter the hallowed ranks of the true tryhards must feel equally amazing. One day I’ll find out. Maybe.
Using Faceless Manipulator and BGH on any expensive legendary
Let’s ignore Kibler’s thesis that Big Game Hunter is the ultimate fun ruiner for a moment and focus instead on how good shooting expensive creatures in the face feels. Have you ever not had a frisson of pure happiness when the beast was in your sights? In ye olden Hearthstone, when Ragnaros was by far the most commonly played ‘finisher’, the best response was copying him with a Faceless Manipulator and then dropping a BGH. Essentially it works as a two-card ghetto Mind Control for 8-Mana that also leaves a 4/2 with a badass beard on the board. They will take my BGH from my dead hands. Or, more likely, just nerf it at some point.
Hitting a Gadgetzan Auctioneer with Snipe in the Miracle Rogue meta
One of the main reasons Miracle Rogue’s spell-spamming playstyle felt so egregious was that there were so few easy ways to remove a stealthed Gadgetzan Auctioneer, the deck’s OP card draw engine. But, as ever, Hunters had the tools for the job. They could use Flare to remove the stealth, but more satisfying was placing the Snipe trap before the Rogue played their Auctioneer, dealing a perfect 4 points of damage as it arrived on the board. Even if you didn’t catch an Auctioneer, in those days there was a decent chance of hitting an Azure Drake. You don’t see Snipe so much these days because it sucks against stuff like Piloted Shredder, but it remains probably the most satisfying surprise to pull off.
Playing Knife Juggler into Unleash the Hounds against a giant board
Sometimes, the only way to win against a Hunter is to disrespect their Knife Juggler-Unleash The Hounds combo. So you fill up your side of the board with creatures, close your eyes, and then: WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! You get a knife, and you get a knife, and you get a knife… As the Hunter player, this bullshit was even more satisfying in the “good old days” when Starving Buzzard cost, whisper it, 2-Mana, drawing a fresh card for each dog summoned. One of which was invariably Hunter’s Mark, enabling you to murder whatever big Taunt minion stood between your canine army and that sweet hero face. Hell, why not throw in a Timber Wolf for some extra damage too. Who let the dogs out? Literally everyone.
Using Shield Slam on a Wrathguard with 30+ armour
Stacking a disgusting amount of armour is fun in itself, and all the more possible thanks to the advent of Justicar Trueheart and her enhanced ‘Tank Up!’ Warrior hero power. The ultimate Warrior dream, though, is coming up against an opponent unlucky enough to have a Wrathguard on the board—probably a leftover from a dead Piloted Shredder, because no-one in their right mind runs Wrathguard because of exactly the following interaction: For the princely sum of a 1-Mana Shield Slam spell, a heavily armoured Warrior can do 30 points of face damage by hitting the Wrathguard thanks to its drawback effect. Does it happen often? Absolutely not. Will the moment it does form a key part of your eventual memoirs? You bet.
Piloted Shredder dropping a Doomsayer
From the way casters go on about it, you’d think Doomsayer’s were dropping from Shredders with the regularity of Seinfeld re-runs. In fact there are 88 different 2-Mana creatures in Hearthstone now, so Shredder spitting out a board clear is actually super unlikely. But when it does happen, it tends to be both unforgettable and hilarious. I’ve had it occur four times, costing me one of those games and winning another. But win or lose, it’s always funny as f...
Getting King Krush off Ram Wrangler
My colleague Tom Marks reckons Ram Wrangler is the dumbest card in the game, and he might be right. Certainly, it shares top billing with Unstable Portal as one of the cards most likely to make Twitch chat spam ‘esports!’ after some ridiculous piece of RNG. But whilst Unstable Portal can potentially pull you a cut-price Tirion Fordring, Ram Wrangler’s optimal outcome is even more ridiculous. Play it with a Beast already on the board, and you might get a free 1/1 Stonetusk Boar… Or you might get a 9-Mana 8/8 King Krush. You will note the substantial difference in value. Given that there are 48 Beasts in Hearthstone, many of which are pretty good, the odds aren’t even that bad. And if you want to get truly disgusting, try comboing Ram Wranger with his buddy Brann Bronzebeard. To quote RDU: “SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!”
Playing Twisting Nether at any time
Yeah, dropping Deathwing is cool and all, but that fiery effect is no different to the Wild Pyromancer one and… ohmyactualgod have you seen how cool the Twisting Nether animation is? There’s a decent chance you haven’t, because at 8-Mana it’s unplayable in just about anything except Renolock (which has to run a bunch of weird one-ofs). And it also doesn’t even clear the entire board now that everyone runs Deathrattle minions that are stickier than an orgy in a glue factory. But know this: Twisting Nether feels good every time you play it. So what if you lose? You played Twisting Nether, friend. You made the whole world go WHOOSH-KERPLINK! On this day you were the big winner.
Receiving a friend request
“A recent opponent wants to be your friend” Sure they do! I expect they’d like to congratulate me on that sick Force of Nature into Savage Roar combo I threw down for the win. Oh no, wait, it’s some stuff about cancer and my mum, plus some English swear words intermingled with a language I didn’t learn at school. This in itself is satisfying to me. I would drink the ocean dry of my opponent’s salt for the sake of a winstreak. But truthfully, even better than the ragers are those rare occasions when the other person really does want to chat good naturedly about the crazy game we just had. I’ve been playing Hearthstone since launch. It’s happened twice.