Firebat on life after Archon and why Hearthstone's spells need to be better

Firebat lifts the Hearthstone World Championship trophy at BlizzCon 2014.

Firebat lifts the Hearthstone World Championship trophy at BlizzCon 2014.

PCG: With some players who stream super regularly, you can almost watch them falling out of love with the game because it can be a grind. But you still seem fascinated by the possibilities. What interests and excites you about Hearthstone, and are you worried about burnout?

Firebat: I'm interested a lot by Standard. I'm interested in any changes at all. Even if a change is going to be horrible, leading up to that change would be super exciting because it means new toys to screw around with. If they can make change happen more regularly it would make me even happier. Because right now Hearthstone, out of all the games I play, changes the slowest.

PCG: Do you have a list of the Classic cards Blizzard should be targeting for nerfs?

Firebat: I would target the Druid combo immediately. I think that is the most boring thing ever. Since beta people have been killing people with Force of Nature-Savage Roar, and they still kill people with it today. It’s been tier one since the existence of Hearthstone.

PCG: But if you take it out the class becomes really weak.

Firebat: Oh yeah. Hopefully they replace it with something. Hopefully they don’t give it the ‘+2 to chargers’ treatment, but they should definitely change it. People have died this way since the beta, and they're tired of dying this way. Let's make Druid kill people in a different way. How many times have you seen a Druid game not get ended with Force of Nature-Savage Roar? Every Druid game ever has ended that way. That's like a billion Druid games, so let's make Druid win in a different way.

PCG: In an ideal world, what would the Hearthstone scene look like in five years and what would you be doing in it?

Firebat: It's a tough question. Hopefully I'm still competing in tournaments, casting, streaming, making YouTube videos. And hopefully it's bigger than ever. Maybe there's just lots of extra game modes—tournament mode and tournaments hosted daily. Maybe add three or four cards every month, just to keep things changing little by little instead of only though big expansion packs.

PCG: I would love a new ‘card of the week’.

Firebat: Yeah, because small meta changes are way more interesting than: “Alright, every three months we're going to release a bunch of cards and everything's going to go crazy for a bit and then be stable for a really long time.”

PCG: If we had woken up one day and there was a single new card called Reno Jackson you could craft or buy, it would have been fun.

Firebat: It would be sick.

PCG: I enjoyed your critique a few months back of Paladin, in which you said the problem was not Mysterious Challenger, but how the class curves so perfectly. You also said that the power level was too strong given how easy Secret Paladin was to play versus a deck like Patron which had a higher skill cap. Do you think the switch to Standard will potentially make Hearthstone less fixated on minion trading?

Spells currently can't keep up. How do you react to a Piloted Shredder with a spell?

piloted shredder

Piloted Shredder

Aside from Dr. Boom, Piloted Shredder is probably the single card players are most looking forward to seeing the back of when the Standard format arrives. The problem with it was that it just represented too much value, pushing out almost all other creatures costed at 4-mana. Check out our list of the 20 most powerful cards which won't be playable in Standard Hearthstone.

Firebat: I hope so. They may just introduce a new Minibot and a new Muster in the next set, you know? But it seems like that might be something they’re addressing. They could make it so that there's more of a focus on spells and not just playing minions on curve every turn. Maybe there will be more minion diversity, so it’s not just the new Piloted Shredder on turn four. But if you're going to keep Hearthstone minion-oriented, and you're going to make it so minions are way more important than spells, then there's always going to be a minion that fills that role. There's always going to be a best 2-drop, a best 3-drop, and a best 4-drop.

So unless they take the focus away from minions a little bit, and improve how good spells are, then there’s always going to be a new Piloted Shredder. There are going to be new minions to take the role [of Piloted Shredder], just because the You can Frostbolt it. Alright, now you have two mana to try and deal with the 2-drop. Maybe Frostbolt that too? Now you’ve used two cards and given up all of the tempo to kill one minion. So spells need to be better if they're going to make the game less focused on minion trading.

PCG: You tend to stream late, is that because there's less competition or are you just a night owl? I used to play late in the hope of coming up against drunk people who would be easy to beat, but I would often meet bots and tryhards.

Firebat: Yeah nighttime is usually when the tryhards come out. That’s when the true gamers finally wake up. But I used to stream really early morning because that was better for my viewership, and I'm not a morning person. So now I've switched to nighttime, because it's just more comfortable for me. I’m normally on between 9pm EST and 3am EST

PCG: I like the deck doctor format where you try out reader’s lists and see if you can improve them, which Zalae also does. What's been the what’s been the best suggestion from a viewer?

Firebat: There was a Control Warrior shell—it's got like Shieldmaidens, Executes and that sort of stuff—and it took out Ysera and some of the big legendaries and added in Raging Worgen, Inner Rage, Charge, and Faceless, which is a four-card, 32-damage combo. Otherwise it's just regular Control Warrior—you slow down the game and stall, then wait until those four combo cards are in your hand. And I was able to win four or five times in a row with that, and was like “wow, this deck’s pretty good.”

PCG: Yeah, I got killed by that deck, it got popular. “Oh it’s a Control Warrior, it's fine,” I thought, and then he one-turn killed me from nowhere.

Firebat: Oh, sick! [Laughs]

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Tim Clark

With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.