Update: Blizzard is taking feedback about whether to change Hearthstone's bonkers Shudderwock combo

Update: Over the weekend, Hearthstone's senior designer took to the Battlenet forums and Twitter to confirm that the development team is mulling over what to do about the Shudderwock combo.

Since the early days of the expansion the combo has actually been a lot less common, as players worked out that the deck was incredibly weak to aggressive strategies like Odd Rogue or decks with high burst like Cubelock, so it isn't clear that a nerf is certain. In fact, according to HSReplay.net's data, Shaman is now the least represented class on the ladder, and the best Shudderwock deck only has a winrate of 42%. So is it still a problem? Not according to Kripp

I still think the card is likely to see a change. I ran into a few Shudderwock Shaman decks over the weekend while playing control mage, and when the combo popped off, which it inevitably did given my lack of pressure, I saw turns lasting upwards of four minutes. And trust me, once you've seen this thing happen once, you never want to see it again. So my gut feeling is that something will be done to truncate the animation times. 

Another potential fix might be to be change the Battlecry of another minion in the combo, such as Saronite Chain Gang, to calm it down some. Either way, hopefully whatever fix Team 5 settles on happens before the next big tournament.

Original story: The theme of Hearthstone’s latest expansion is a dank, haunted forest, lingering outside the walls of the cursed city of Gilneas. However, with The Witchwood only a couple of hours old, it already appears that something spookier is haunting the Hearthstone community: a new degenerate one-turn-kill combo. This spectacular combo is the talk of the pro player scene, and to be honest, they're right to be afraid.

Here's how it works. The new Shaman legendary, Shudderwock, has a Battlecry effect that repeats every Battlecry you've played over the course of the game, but in a random order. Your goal is to build a very specific pool of Battlecries which, when played together by Shudderwock, are so potent that you can kill your opponent in one (or maybe two) turns. You do that by playing the following cards:


  • One Saronite Chain Gang, which has the Battlecry "Summon a copy of this minion," so when repeated by Shudderwock, it’ll summon another Shudderwock. 
  • One Lifedrinker, which deals three damage to your opponent's face, while restoring three health to yourself.
  • EITHER one Murmuring Elemental, which casts the next Battlecry you play twice, followed by Grumble, Worldshaker, which will return that Murmuring Elemental into your hand, reducing its cost to one. OR a Fire Plume Harbinger, which will reduce the cost of your Murmuring Elemental to one while it's still in your hand, (in this scenario, you still have to play Grumble at a later time.)

Once that’s all done, and you have 10 Mana plus your 1-Mana Murmuring Elemental and your Shudderwock in your hand, you’re ready to go off. You play your Murmuring Elemental to double the effect of your 9-Mana Shudderwock, and at this point, you've pretty much won the game. Because of the Saronite Chain Gang, the Shudderwock will summon a copy of itself. Because of the Lifedrinker, your Shudderwock will deal three damage to your opponent's face. Because of the Grumble, you'll return the cloned Shudderwock to your hand and reduce its cost to one. All of this happens twice, which eliminates the randomness of the order that the Shudderwock plays out its battlecry pool, so you're guaranteed to end the turn with at least one 1-Mana Shudderwock in hand.

You see where I'm going with this now, right? Next turn you can play cycling one Mana Shudderwocks, each of which are still dealing three damage. With 10 Mana, you can play 10 Shudderwocks… which adds up to 30 damage. Part of the potential problem with these Shudderwock shenanigans is the length of time it takes for all the animations to resolve once you start spamming 1-Mana copies of Shudderwock, all of which have to complete every Battlecry played so far. We’re seeing reports that some turns are lasting upwards of five minutes, during which time the opponent is left just watching the idiocy unfold.

And here’s one in which the animations get out of hand. The super-long turn starts at 04h 06m 30s in the video. 

If the combo seems complicated and thorny, that's because it absolutely is. This is the kind of thing that makes you feel like you're literally breaking the game in half. Not necessarily a bad thing—Hearthstone is a world in which weird, esoteric combos pop up in YouTube memes all the time. The difference here is that so far, this combo seems to be working consistently enough for it not to be a joke. Many of the streamers in the Hearthstone directory are road testing it right now, and we’re already running into players on ladder using the combo. (Not all successfully, it has to be said.) 

Noted Hearthstone genius and memelord Disguised Toast went undefeated for a while with the deck soon after The Witchwood went live, (at time of writing, he is currently spinning around in his computer chair, playing the Wombo Combo sax on loop, as he takes home another victory.) It should be noted that there are some obvious weaknesses to the strategy, specifically the Baku Face Hunter deck making the rounds, but right now, the Shudderwock blitz sure seems a lot more reliable than, say, Quest Mage.

It'll be interesting to see what happens from here. Blizzard is notably not a huge fan of OTK decks, though this technically plays out over two turns. In the past we've seen them nerf the Warrior spell Charge!, simply because it was the lynchpin of a Raging Worgen combo, and that only made it into a fringe Tier 2 deck! Even if Shudderwock doesn't establish itself at the top of the meta, I wouldn't be surprised if the balance team takes aim at one or more of the combo pieces. 30 damage in a turn might be fun, but it certainly isn't interactive.

Luke Winkie
Contributing Writer

Luke Winkie is a freelance journalist and contributor to many publications, including PC Gamer, The New York Times, Gawker, Slate, and Mel Magazine. In between bouts of writing about Hearthstone, World of Warcraft and Twitch culture here on PC Gamer, Luke also publishes the newsletter On Posting. As a self-described "chronic poster," Luke has "spent hours deep-scrolling through surreptitious Likes tabs to uncover the root of intra-publication beef and broken down quote-tweet animosity like it’s Super Bowl tape." When he graduated from journalism school, he had no idea how bad it was going to get.