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March 9, 2017

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Most Interesting Custom Hearthstone Cards #1


When I was playing Magic: The Gathering years ago, one of the most fun experiences I had with the game was creating custom cards. My older brother found some program that allowed to do it and downloaded it (it was back in 2005, mind you). We went ahead and designed tons of cards, then printed and played around with them. Cards were terribly imbalanced – some of them were too weak, others were completely broken, but the fact that we could create the cards ourselves was amazing.

Creating custom cards in Hearthstone is also relatively popular. I’ve only found out about “Custom Hearthstone” community on reddit a few months ago, but now I’m following it pretty closely. It’s a very active subreddit, where people share their own Hearthstone cards – lots of them. Let’s just say that the majority of them aren’t noteworthy, but then there are some really great, interesting, well-balanced cards that I would just love to play around with in the actual game.

I’d like to take a look at some of those well-made custom cards. I’ve browsed hundreds of submissions from the last month (I wanted to keep things fresh) and picked the best ones. Of course, everything is subjective and you might not like those as much as I do, so if you want to take a look at all the custom cards yourself, just check out the link above.

Custom Cards

It’s a very flavorful card. While it’s relatively simple by itself, I just love the theme here. Card’s art is amazing and it would fit the next expansion really well. And I really like the name – I just love such small word plays (you know, alligator – investigator).

The card would probably be a little bit too strong. In a Secret Hunter, Discovering a Secret on turn 3/4 might even be stronger than drawing a card because of all the synergies and the ability to pick whatever fits the situation. Even though yes, the Hunter is in a desperate need right now, we need to remember that Secret Hunter decks were dominating the meta just a half year ago and the class doesn’t necessarily lose anything significant with the rotation (Quick Shot is probably the biggest loss) and might just come back on its own, without giving it a Priest treatment (you know, forcing the Dragon archetype by adding broken card – Drakonid Operative).

More cards like that is what the buff decks would need to be even a little bit viable. This is an interesting case of the card that synergizes really well with the buffs, but is also okay-ish to drop without any buffs. We had some cards that have great buff synergy (let’s say Sergeant Sally) but they’re basically unplayable without buffing them before. This is different. If you drop it with zero buffs, the Tragic Hero just dies and spawns a vanilla 4/5. Yeah, I know, powercreep over Chillwind Yeti, but that’s not really a problem.

But then if you end up buffing the card, let’s say give it +2/+2, you summon a 10/2 minion that Deathrattles into 4/5. The first body has a lot of attack, but is very easy to kill (unless you give it something like +5/+5, which would make any minion huge). Once killed, however, it still gets value.

Maybe it’s a little bit broken? But to be fair, the reason why Goons didn’t take off is because they didn’t have anything broken. Kabal is broken because of Kazakus (or even Brann + Kazakus). Jade is broken because of the late game snowballing. And Goons? Yeah.

The only thing I would change about this card is the attack on the initial body. 8 is too much. I think that 4 or 5 would be better. Right now if the opponent doesn’t have a way to kill the first body, he just pretty much dies. 10 attack after just +2/+2 is huge, it would be more balanced at 6-7 after those buffs.

And now that’s something unique. I honestly have never thought about a card like that. When it comes to the body, it’s a 9 mana 4/12 Dragon. Nothing great, pretty weak actually, considering that the effect is “mirrored”. But is it, really? Since it’s a Battlecry, it means that it will happen until the game ends, even if the card’s body gets removed from the battlefield. Or well, I’d assume that changing your Hero (like casting Lord Jaraxxus) would also stop the effect.

But, the effect would make late game a little bit more… interesting. Let’s take a Control Warrior mirror matchup as an example. While finding one these days is as hard as finding an unicorn in the wild, there were times when it was a very common occurrence. Both players having 9 cards in the hand. Late game, close to fatigue.

  • Player 1: Hero Power + pass.
  • Player 2: Hero Power + pass.
  • Player 1: “Shit, I need to play a card, because I will lose my next draw”. Plays a random Bash or Revenge or whatever and passes.
  • Player 2: “Shit, I also need to play a card.” Equips a weapon and passes (without attacking, of course).
  • Player 1: Staring at Harrison Jones in his hand. “I can hit a full Fiery War Axe but it’s just not worth it”.

Let’s just say that those situations were rather.. boring. Vaelstrasz would make it much more interesting. With 2 card draws per turn, it would force each of the players to actually play more cards. And 1 health loss per turn would make the game finish quicker. But that’s not the reason I like this card so much.

Some of the decks are well-equipped to handle fatigue, others aren’t so much even in slow matchups. Let’s say that Control Warrior I’ve mentioned. The deck actually WANTS to take other Control decks to fatigue. With 40 Armor or something like that, it will most likely outlast the opponent like Reno Mage. It would make the late game much more dynamic. Now the Warrior’s opponent would try to tempo out and trim as much armor as possible or maybe even stick a minion or two and finish the game. At the same time, Control Warrior would try to stall and prolong the game. While the card would, obviously, be terrible against Aggro, which probably wouldn’t make it playable, I’d love to see some late game Control vs Control matchups with this effect on.

It’s a Secret but it’s really a Weapon. You play this and your opponent starts wondering what the hell is that. He will play around the most popular Secrets only to find out that it was a weapon all along. But, it’s not like it’s impossible to play around it – there would be some clear tells that it’s Concealed Pistol and not a real Secret. For example, Hunter wouldn’t really be able to equip another weapon and since it’s not technically a Secret, he wouldn’t be able to play it for free with Cloaked Huntress. Probably some more things too.

I don’t think that such a card will ever make into the game, because it’s complicated and “problematic” on many different levels. For example, what’s the interaction with another weapon? If you have Eaglehorn Bow equipped and you play this – the previous weapon would probably be destroyed, making it kinda obvious what this is. And what would be the interaction with Weapon destruction and Secret destruction? Would Acidic Swamp Ooze destroy it (when it still appears as a Secret to your opponent)? Or maybe a Secret destruction like Flare get rid of it? (before it’s revealed, of course)

The card would be really unintuitive and it seems that Blizzard doesn’t really want cards like that. But I would like some more love to the Secrets. Right now, Secrets are all pretty… straightforward and plain. Adding more flavor, more interesting mechanics to the Secrets would be really great.

Petrify - Because Priest needs more conditional spells

Okay, one thing is certain – Priest doesn’t really need more spells that are situational or useful only in combination with something else. But we all know that the class will get more anyway. It seems to be one of the class’ themes after all. I found this concept really cool and fitting the Priest class.

So, if you don’t understand how exactly it would work – it would remove all the attack from the minion (down to 0) and add that much to the minion’s health. Then it would give it Taunt. For example, if you’d use it on a 5/5 minion, it would become a 0/10 with a Taunt. But what’s the point of such a card?

First of all, you could make a wall if necessary. Priests are known for having a high health minions, but sometimes you’d wish they had Taunt. Let’s say you can turn Priest of the Feast into 0/9 Taunt if you need to. It seems pretty bad, but against Aggro it would be great. Having a big Taunt can stall the game nicely and let you live for the extended periods of time Of course, you can play Sunfury Protector, which would probably be better for that part, but the spell can do much more.

Next use would be neutralizing a big threat. Your opponent has played a minion you can’t deal with? You can Petrify it. Now it won’t be able to attack, but the problem is that you will have to get through a huge, huge Taunt. But there are ways to do that. You can combo it with Shadow Word: Pain to destroy any minion, no matter how big it is. Later in the game you can combo it with Cabal Shadow Priest to steal it, especially useful on minions with ongoing effects, like Ragnaros the Firelord which would still shoot.

Not to mention that the big Taunt could also be made into a huge minion in general with Inner Fire. While obviously the Divine Spirit combo is better, it might sometimes come handy.

So, as you can see, another Priest card with tons and tons of uses. But each of them would require another card or the right situation to work. While situationally it might be broken, I don’t think it would really be that bad – I mean, let’s take the best case scenarios of Pint-Size Potion – like comboing it with Cabal Shadow Priest to steal the Ysera. That’s the Priest for you, there are some insane combos, but they’re very, very conditional.

When it comes to the power level of this card, it’s rather weak. I mean, the fact that you need to spend 3 mana to do nothing immediately – and depending on how the game goes maybe even not do anything AT ALL makes it similar to Beneath the Grounds, which doesn’t really see play. This one is probably even weaker, actually, because you shuffle 3 things with Beneath the Ground, making it much more likely to get at least something (a single 4/4).

However, I didn’t put it, because I like the card’s balance-wise. I love the concept of messing with your opponent. It’s another example of a card that Blizzard won’t likely ever put into the game, but I’d really want to see stuff like that. For example, you play against a Druid that wants to Taunt up, because you have some solid threats on the board. He has Ancient of War in his hand. Now, every time he spends his whole mana to play something big he needs to take a risk – maybe it turns out to be an Imp and he pretty much loses the game on the spot? I mean, he pays full 7 mana, but instead of getting a 5/10 with Taunt he gets a 3/2 that damages him for 3. He loses health, he doesn’t have Taunt, it’s probably a game. So it might actually force him to make a suboptimal play of let’s say using Swipe to clear the board to not risk a potential catastrophic fail.

Of course, I’ve presented the best case scenario. If your opponent plays a 1-drop or 2-drop, which is especially likely against faster decks, this card does nearly nothing. Okay, they get a Flame Imp instead of a Totem Golem. It’s not really a big deal considering that the Warlock has used 3 mana AND a card for that. That’s why the card would be completely unplayable.

And I don’t even blame the creator here. Such a card is incredibly hard to balance without playtesting it a lot first. Even if you balance it mana-wise, the card will still be imbalanced RNG-wise. Not only you risk your opponent never getting that minion (so you’ve basically wasted a card and 3 mana, TERRIBLE move), but you also risk the Flame Imp disguising as something very small/weak that it won’t matter. Even if the average scenario would make the card balanced, the range of possible outcomes would be way too high.

An easy way to evolve and win jousts.

And this one is pretty simple, I wonder why we don’t have a similar card in the game yet. The idea is that the card appears as a higher mana cost than it really is. So, if you a) play a deck centered around Evolve mechanics or b) play multiple Joust cards in the deck (let’s assume they ever print some stronger Joust cards, but I doubt it) it might be a good include, even if it’s just a vanilla 3/4.

Right now we don’t have too many effects that take advantage of a minion’s high mana cost. On top of the ones I’ve mentioned, there is Holy Wrath and… I can’t really remember any more. But it doesn’t mean that there won’t be more in the future.

To be fair, when it comes to the balance, I would probably reduce it to 5 mana instead of 7. 7 seems to high. If you play it on t3 and follow-up with a Master of Evolution, you turn it into a random 8-drop and 8-drops are generally really strong (imagine getting Ragnaros). Even when not on the curve, you can combo those two on turn 7 for an insane swing. 6-drops are more diverse. While there are some great ones like Sylvanas Windrunner or Savannah Highmane, there are also cards like Big-Time Racketeer or Moat Lurker that would turn it into something worse, so there would be a risk involved. At 8 mana there is pretty much no bad outcomes (even something as bad as The Boogeymonster is a huge improvement).

I bet we will see a similar card in the game eventually, even though it might not exactly look like that.

Making a cheap Legendary is always a hard task. On the one hand, you want to make the effect that’s useful and stands out. On the other, you can’t make it too powerful for obvious reasons. And I honestly think that this is a really well-balanced Legendary. I am 100% certain that it would see no play right now, but that’s not even the point. It open a lot of new possibilities, a new and interesting theme for a Warlock. Okay, Demons are already a Warlock theme, but I’d like to see something a bit different. Powerful Demons with a negative Battlecries and either some ways to stop them or to actually turn them into a useful one.

For example, this card. Now, if you’d put it into the deck with cards like Pit Lord or Doomguard, you can play overstatted body while denying the negative Battlecry effect. Let’s say another powerful Demon that requires a “sacrifice” (you have to kill one of your minions to play it) is released. This might deny the Battlecry and you can put a powerful Demon without fulfilling that requirement. Even playing Lord Jaraxxus when having this on the board might make sense sometimes. You play a 3/15 minion instead of turning yourself into the Jaraxxus. It might be great if you play in the matchup where you simply can’t play Jaraxxus or they burst you down. On top of that Legendary, there might be another card that turns self-damage into healing (probably another Legendary). Now Flame Imps and Pit Lords heal you instead of dealing damage. With those two cards (and maybe let’s say some Discard synergies) it might be possible to build such a deck already.

I could really see Blizzard developing more similar cards and pushing it as one of the Warlock’s themes. It’s similar to Discard, actually. Normally the Discard is a negative keyword, but if you combo it with some cards you can turn it into a neutral or a positive one. In my opinion, that fits the Warlock class really well. But to be honest, I would be pretty sad to see this as the only Warlock Legendary of a set if those synergies weren’t pushed. Because by itself it’s just okay, and “just okay” cards don’t really see Constructed play.

Another interesting Warlock card. And actually it would be quite balanced, even if it might not seem so at the first sight. The first and probably most powerful synergy that comes to mind is this + Doomsayer. It’s a 3 mana guaranteed board clear. However, is it really that strong?

The fact that you need 2 cards combo already makes it a bit situational. For example, it’s like Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing on turn 4. You often don’t have it and sometimes when you have it you don’t need it, so it actually comes into play pretty rarely.

In the early game, Doomsayer alone is often enough to clear the board. You actually want to play a single Doomsayer against e.g. a single 3 attack minion, because it’s likely to proc and you get a free tempo, because your opponent often has to pass a turn. This, while clearing the board, passes the whole initiative to the opponent.

And that’s the thing. Even though combo costs 3 mana, it really doesn’t matter in the late game. When you’re at 10 mana, once you play Doomsayer + this you have 7 mana left. But you can’t actually develop any minion. You can tap or play a spell (but Warlock spells don’t really fit into such a situation) but you don’t have a way to spend that mana. So in the end, in the late game the combo is usually worse than the Twisting Nether (it’s 2 cards vs 1 for pretty much the same outcome).

But this card is not only a thing to combo with Doomsayer. It opens some new possibilities. You can give a card with a negative effect to your opponent. One example is playing Bomb Squad – the card would be pretty solid if not for the 5 self-damage. It really hurts to play such a card in Warlock, but you might actually give it to your opponent and DEAL 5 damage instead of taking it. Sure, it’s not the most efficient, but it might be helpful.

Then there is also a combo potential. If you play Unlicensed Apothecary, give it to your opponent and then play Leeroy Jenkins, the 2 summoned Whelps would deal 10 damage to him. With Leeroy, that’s a 3 cards for 16 damage – a little bit weaker than the current combo, but costs only 9 mana and doesn’t require any Emperor Thaurissan procs. You could also add Soulfire or PO (well, not in Standard soon) to do extra 4 damage. Not the best combo in the game, but might keep the Combo alive in Warlock.

Then, it also has a potential for the future synergies. I mean, if they release more minions with let’s say a negative Deathrattle, it might become even more useful. That’s why I’d really love to see such a card in the game. It’s cool, it’s balanced and it opens quite a lot of possibilities – even if most of the combos wouldn’t be good enough, it would still be a fun card to play around with.

Justicar Trueheart was one of my favorite cards in Paladin. I remember playing tons and tons of games with Midrange Paladin (pre-Standard), with Justicar and Quartermaster. For some reason, pressing Paladin’s Hero Power, even though it’s one of the weakest ones in the game, is really satisfying. It’s like building your own army.

But why am I talking about Justicar? Because this one looks really similar. You play a understatted minion (just like Justicar, it has 4 mana worth of stats, but those are distributed better) that has no immediate impact and gets more and more value as the game goes.

To be fair, it’s too powerful at 6 mana. In any non-Aggro meta, the card would be insane with almost any Adapt. But imagine getting +3 Attack or “Deathrattle: Summon 2x 1/1” options. In the first case, it would be amazing against anything that’s not a Mage (well, summoning a 4/1 each turn…) and in the second case it would be straight up broken. Or I don’t know, giving your your 1/1’s a “Poisonous” keyword for the rest of the game. Your 1/1’s would trade into anything.

But, but. I would see this as a Quest reward. Since the cards you get from the Quest are supposed to be broken, this would fit just right in. And you wouldn’t be able to drop it on turn 6, because Quests will probably take at least ~10 turns to finish. In that case it might be “Summon 10 Silver Hand Recruits” – so you’d need to either Hero Power 10 times or add some other cards that summon Recruits to the deck (Stand Against Darkness is the only one in Standard right now, but I would expect to see some more if we’d see a Quest like that).

This one is really straightforward. We don’t have any way to counter Battlecries in the game right now. I mean, there is Nerub'ar Weblord but a) it’s not in the Standard and b) it’s pretty weak.

The effect would be easy to understand, but really hard to play with. There are tons and tons of bad Battlecries. But then, if you’d time it right, you might actually win the game on the spot. If you play it before opponent drops Reno Jackson, you stop that effect. Same goes for Kazakus. Against Freeze Mage you can deny Alexstrasza. Even if your opponent plays around it and drops something else first (if he has e.g. Novice Engineer) – then you at least buy an extra turn and deny a draw. There are multiple scenarios in which the card would be good, but also as many in which the card would be bad. In that way it’s a little similar to Counterspell, which can stop a Twisting Nether, but it can also get countered by a simple Coin.

I really like powerful cards with deck building restrictions. So far, Highlander cards (theme of the Gadgetzan’s Kabal gang) were really the only ones, but I’d like to see more. This card is incredibly powerful, but comes at a huge price. Your spells would be incredibly cheap, but you wouldn’t be able to put most of them into your deck. Since majority of Mage spells deal damage, the restriction is huge. You can’t play AoE clears, you can’t play single target removal and you can’t play burn. But at the same time, after you play this, you can cast a free Arcane Intellect, free Secrets, 1 mana Polymorph, 2 mana Cabalist's Tome and more. So on the one hand, you’d be heavily handicapped (your main advantage as the Mage class would be gone), but on the other you might have incredible tempo turns and insane synergy with Gadgetzan Auctioneer. I really like it!

I think that Blizzard said that they won’t print any more C’Thun-related cards, that it was a one-time thing (just like many other mechanics, e.g. Jade). But if they did, that would be a really cool one. While some Adapt options would be nearly useless, there are others that could be situationally amazing. Taunt or +3 Attack are good, but the best one would probably be “Can’t be targeted by Spells or Hero Powers” – oh my god, that would be so sick. I would really like them to sometimes revisit the older cards and add more potential synergies or develop some cool mechanic anew with the new expansion.


That’s all folks. To be honest, I had multiple more cards to write about, but I’m really running out of space (I mean, the article is already loooong). What do you think about those cards? Would you like to see some of them in the game? Or maybe you have other favorite custom Hearthstone cards that you’d like to share?

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. And if you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.

Good luck on the ladder and until next time!

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Playing Hearthstone since September 2013. Infinite Arena player. Hitting Legend rank on EU each season, with multiple high Legend climbs during the season and top 200-300 finishes.

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1 Comment

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  1. Caddage says:

    I’ve actually thought about the mechanic with Gag Order, but I always envisioned it as a Hunter secret rather than Mage. I thought it would be a good translation for Silencing Shot.