Losing in Hearthstone sucks. On this we can all agree. That does not mean, however, that all losses are equally sucky.
There's the kind of loss that leaves you wanting to improve your play, knowing there are things you can do to lower the odds of this happening in future. But then there's the kind that leaves you totally mystified, unable to diagnose what, if anything, you could have done to prevent it. It is this kind of loss that OTK (one-turn-kill) decks specialize in dishing out.
Ah, ridiculous OTKs… where would Hearthstone be without you? Over the years we've seen truly spectacular bullshit. Some combos were always destined to remain fringe, often because they were too difficult to pull off to ever truly be oppressive. Others, however, rose to prominence as the most powerful decks in their respective metagames, rising in notoriety with each and every mega-damage win.
The really stupid ones tended to get nerfed pretty quickly, what with Blizzard keen to keep the game rooted in minion combat and relatively light on stuff that could kill you before you returned from your mid-game bathroom break. What follows is a ranking of the most incredible and infuriating OTKs in the game's history: a fun retrospective of all the decks that made your mouse hover over the uninstall option. Starting off, we have an old favorite.
10: Divine Spirit/Inner Fire Priest
This one's been around for a really long time. Probably most people's first experience with the Divine Spirit/Inner Fire combo is when you're just starting out with Hearthstone, and run into someone playing it in their basic Priest deck.
It's seen a bunch of iterations over the years, the most successful one being its inclusion in Dragon Priest back in the Kobolds and Catacombs meta. While it isn't the most oppressive OTK of all time, it makes the list because of its ability to surprise. It's fairly simple to add this combo to any run of the mill priest deck, and completely take your opponents off guard with 36/36 Twilight Drakes.
9: Leeroy Jenkins + Power Overwhelming + Faceless Manipulator
Who remembers when Leeroy Jenkins cost four mana? And who remembers when Power Overwhelming was a standard playable card. Me. So I remember when Handlock decks all carried an OTK combo in the form of Leeroy + Power Overwhelming + Faceless.
Three cards. Twenty damage to the dome. Probably a good thing they nerfed that one.
8: Worgen OTK Warrior
Truth is, this one was never actually all that good, but it makes the cut because of the sheer pureness of the OTK. If you were playing OTK Warrior, it was pretty clear from the beginning what your plan was, and sheer amount of damage the full combo could output warrants a place here. To win, you basically had to exhaust all of your opponent's defenses until they had no choice but to succumb to that angry, angry Worgen. Blizzard still nerfed it, though, so now the card 'Charge' no longer lets you attack heroes.
7: Exodia Mage
It should come as no surprise that giving Mage an extra turn would open the door for some seriously degenerate combos. And so it was with Exodia mage, which utilized the Quest card Open the Waygate and the resulting Time Warp card to fill the board with Sorcerer’s Apprentices and then drop “Tony” on the subsequent extra turn. The combo required an absolute ton of setup, what with needing to play six (6) spells that didn't start out in your deck. But for infinite free Fireballs, that's more than worth the effort. A-ha! A-ha!
6: Leeroy Jenkins + 2x Shadowstep + Whatever Else
Miracle Rogue used to be really obnoxious. Seriously—if you weren't playing before 2015, you have no idea. Gadgetzan Auctioneer cost five mana, so cycling through your deck to find your combo pieces was even easier, plus you could give the bloody thing Stealth for a turn to all but ensure it survived to keep cycling. Oh, and with the small matter of Leeroy still costing 4-Mana back then, Shadowstep reduced its cost to two. Meaning if you had two Shadowsteps and Leeroy in hand, you had access to 18 mana of burst. Add Cold Bloods, Preparations and Eviscerates into the mix, and you were looking at up to 34 damage and a lot of "Sorry" spam from Valeera.
This is also in the 'not actually all that good, but absolutely infuriating nonetheless' category. See, the various Shudderwock OTK decks never actually got to a point where their win-rates were high enough to really influence the meta. But that wasn't the point. The problem with Shudderwock was that the looped animations took several minutes to resolve. As the player on the receiving end, you had relatively little choice but to sit back and wait to see if you were dead. Which you often were. Fortunately, Blizzard recently applied a patch to speed up Shudderwock's animations, freeing us up as a community to go back to complaining about Cubelock.
4: Anyfin Can Happen
Not so much a combo, given that it only requires one-card on the turn it goes off, but the set up required makes it feel like a combo deck. Summoning a bunch of angry Murlocs might seem like stuff of memes, but the strategy proved surprisingly viable, particularly as a counter deck in competitive play. Anyfin also ticks two of the most important OTK boxes: 1) It deals egregiously massive damage, especially the second time you play it during a game. 2) It creates a crushing inevitability once those Bluegills and Warleaders are in the graveyard and your opponent knows the combo is coming.
3: Molten Giant OTK Warrior
Hearthstone's come a long way since the early days. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. As a reminder of when the game really has serious balance issues, here's what it was like when Warsong Commander gave EVERYTHING charge.
2: Combo Druid
There was a long period in Hearthstone history where Druid had the single most annoying and ubiquitous combo in the game. (And you thought Ultimate Infestation was bad.) I am of course talking about the abomination that was Force of Nature + Savage Roar.
If the Druid player had even one minion on board, you were liable to get punched for upwards of 20 damage. Add to that the threat of the combo coming out early with Innervate, or reduced by Emperor Thaurissan, or even twice as powerful with two Savage Roars—often there was just too much to calculate, and you just had to hope they didn't have it. Spoiler: They always had it.
1: Patron Warrior
Make no mistake, Patron Warrior was the most skill-intensive deck Hearthstone has ever seen. It was also the most absurdly broken. With a cost-reduction on the right cards thanks to Emperor Thaurissan, there was essentially no upper limit on how much damage the deck could pump out.
Quite often even an army of taunts wasn't enough to keep the Patron player away from your precious face: all they needed to do was spawn more Grim Patrons, trade them in, and swing with their family-sized Frothing Berserkers, putting your health somewhere in the region of minus infinity. RIP, my sweet multiplicative prince.
Special Bonus OTK: Leper Gnome + Unearthed Raptors
Finally, one for the true connoisseurs of the OTK combo. The setup for this is so convoluted that some of the game's finest brains spent hours on stream trying to get it to go off. But the eventual thrill when the Gnome doesn't get milled and they manage to copy it enough times to generate 32 points of Deathrattle damage is worth it. As with many of Hearthstone's finest things, it's so good because it's so silly.