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Mending Specials#3: are Ice Rager and Evil Heckler living proof of Power Creep?

by - 6 years ago

Today I want to talk about Power Creep. According to Wikipedia, “Power creep is the gradual unbalancing of a game due to successive releases of new content. The phenomenon may be caused by a number of different factors and, in extreme cases, can be damaging to the longevity of the game in which it takes place”. Straight forward thinking would indicate that in Hearthstone, Power Creep presents as new expansions bring us new cards that are strictly stronger than similar older cards.  

But is this truly the case? Lets take a look at what initially look like very obvious offenders, the Ice Rager and the Evil Heckler.
ice-ragerMagma Rager


Both of these new TGT cards are strictly superior to their base set counterparts, but does this really affect the balance of the game? Or more specifically, is this a negative development?

The Grand Tournament has been out for a while now, and Ice Rager and Evil Heckler are nowhere to be seen in top-tier constructed decks. Both of these cards are completely irrelevant to the competitive game’s balance, so where’s the Power Creep?

If we think about it, the visible effects of power creep come when cards that were part of the competitive decks end up being replaced by newer, better cards. Lets take a look at some of the most impactful cards from Goblin vs. Gnomes. Piloted Shredder, and Dr. Boom quickly became the golden standard for 4 and 7 drops respectively. But then again look at the kind of cards they were replacing.


Chillwind YetiDark Iron Dwarfsenjinshieldmasta


War Golem CardBaronGeddonRavenholdt assassin

We have to consider that before Shredder came out, Chillwind Yeti of all things was one of the strongest 4-drops in the game. Yes, a vanilla starter card was one of the strongest options out there. So was the introduction of Piloted Shredder just blatant power creep, or was it the devs correcting and earlier mistake of not putting enough power into the 4-mana and 7-mana slots?

Dr. Boom has long been considered a problematic card; though you can argue that the problem with Dr.Boom isn’t that much its average power, but the variance on his effects. I mean, if we had more 7-drops with such a power level, then maybe it would play off to buy slower decks that employ tools to make sure the game goes up to turn 7 and beyond.

We also have to consider that Shredder and Boom still stand strong today, they weren’t replaced by better cards in Blackrock Mountain or The Grand Tournament, so it looks like the Power Creep is under control.

Personally, I think the Hearthstone Devs have done a fantastic job of addressing the Power Creep. While there have been some changes on the power level of some slots, thus far it feels very controlled. Honestly, its like the Devs are putting stronger cards in different slots to try and influence the pace of the game, rather than just them allowing some stuff to get out of control. In fact, if you consider the low amount of TGT cards that are seeing competitive play, you might even say that the Hearthstone Team is being overly cautious regarding the Power Creep. Better safe than sorry, right?

Check out what Ben Brode himself had to say about the Power Creep.

Interesting huh? Perhaps we can take a look at the availability of cards next week. How hard is it for a new player to catch-up exactly? What kind of cards make it easier or harder? Find out next week, right here on Mending Mondays!

JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been doing Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013. You can hear JR every week talk about Hearthstone on the Well Met Podcast published on iTunes.

0 responses to “Mending Specials#3: are Ice Rager and Evil Heckler living proof of Power Creep?”

  1. Golgo13 says:

    There are a lot of fun cards with the inspire mechanic that just don’t see any play from what I can see, and that’s really too bad. I’ve tried tinkering with them to make something that’s fun to play but eventually it ends up getting rekt consistently. It seems some cards are good to augment last-expansion decks, but must already have a base deck to work with.

    • Dannie Ray says:

      I think the problem with most inspire cards is that they are just too weak overall. I mean the strong Inspire Cards like Murloc Knight and Thunderbluff Valiant are seeing some play.

  2. Dobablo says:

    Some degree of power creep is required as a catch-up mechanism. It erodes the power of old players with a huge catalogue of old cards encouraging them to get the new cards and letting new players be viable without a huge investment.

    If I was designing a game such as this I’d have a design document note saying that someone collecting 50 packs in only the current expansion should deck approximately equal in strength to someone that has 50 packs in each of the older expansions. My equation would be:
    BASE + 50(A+B+C) = BASE + 50D where A, B, C and D are expansions.

    • Dannie Ray says:

      I strongly disagree in using power creep as a catch-up mechanism, if you do that, eventually the cards will be too powerful for the 30hp lifepool, and the games would end up so quickly that the only viable decks would be Aggro and heavy anti-aggro. Catch-up mechanisms are a tricky thing to come up with, but on first thought I’d probably advocate for eventually reducing the dust value of older cards, and adjusting the prize on those packs accordingly.

      • Dobablo says:

        I am referring to power creep as new cards being better, not necessarily the headline numbers getting bigger.
        You can creep power in through the mechanics. For example replace an underperforming beast tag with a taunt or inspire. Alternatively use a deathrattle or card draw to trade tempo for a later advantage.