With patch 12.0 and The Boomsday Project, we’ll also be receiving some consistency changes, but to some degree, the changes inherently make the game less consistent and less interesting.
This isn’t solely relevant to Wild, but I feel it more applies to Wild as the format has access to more synergy cards and access to stuff like the Curator that makes minions having these tags more valuable, enjoyable, and gives deck builders more options when trying to break the meta or just meme around.
So first let's go over what the addition and taking away of tribal tags do for cards, and which one is inherently better and worse for the card and for the game as a whole.
ADDING A TAG
When we add a tag to a minion, you create the ability for that minion to synergize anything cards revolving around that tribe, which can be seen as a buff to a card’s overall power and gives more decisions and applicability in terms of deck building. Cards become more interesting when they have the tribe attached, even when there is no inherent class synergy, because of cards like The Curator. There is the downside that they are now targetable by that tribe’s “hate cards” but those hate cards are brought into play when the power of those synergies is so strong that one feels like they need a card like that to combat, and in that case you’ve won to some degree because you have that power to begin with.
REMOVING A TAG
When we remove a tag, we don’t get nearly the positive impact. With this tag gone, the card loses the ability to be targeted by tribal “hate cards”, but becomes inherently less interesting. The card loses any potential synergies it may have had, and loses part of what makes the card interesting from a deck building perspective.
Now that we’ve established that, let's move on.
With this blog post, Team 5 is making a move to make cards more consistent by removing tribal tags on minions that with review now, don’t make sense. Currently, they’re going to remove the Beast tag off of Ghostly Charger, and the Elemental tag off of Ixlid, Fungal Lord. Last patch they removed the Beast tag from Jungle Moonkin, but that falls into slightly different territory because of the very small range that it encompasses. I would have liked to see it’s Moonkin counterpart Darkmire Moonkin gain the Beast tag from a gameplay perspective if we’re making things consistent, but it’s two cards that now for the future they have the rule on what to classify Moonkins as, done. Now we get into the other two that I’ll be splitting up to talk about separately.
GHOSTLY CHARGER AND SPECTRAL/UNDEAD BEINGS
The reasoning behind the change is because of the rest of the spectral/undead Beasts aren’t classified as such, so neither should this, and that is sound and consistent reasoning. However, what feels less sound is that other tribes that are spectral/undead are perfectly acceptable to have their tribe, just not Beasts. So in an effort to be consistent, they are less consistent among this whole type of classification. Now I’m not saying I want all spectral/undead beings to lose their tribal tags, but I think this as whole just leaves things in a very awkward place.
Now they did say why they wouldn’t go back and change all the spectral beasts, because, “changing them would have extensive balance implications.” I can’t argue with that, as much as I think it would be interesting to see those implications. Does Beast Hunter and Druid get a major buff in Wild? It does potentially leave them with less design space, which I can’t imagine isn’t also a part of their reasoning, as they have to watch out for more interactions.
This is an unrealistic option in reality, but it’s worth being mentioned. There is in technicality the ability to do what happened with Witchwood Grizzly and change art, and potentially even a name, to keep the original design of the card and dynamic nature intact. Obviously, this is very expensive to have to have artists redo artwork, but it is an option. As in this case, losing the Beast tag means that it can no longer have to potential to interact with Karazhan cards like The Curator, and off of effects that give random Beasts.
All of this is over consistency, and yet the lines are muddy and confusing. In an effort to make things more consistent we’ve opened a can of worms that is just downright awkward. Do we just leave this weird divide between spectral/undead beings? Do we make spectral/undead Beasts have their tags and see what they do to the meta? Do we change art and names of cards to avoid damaging the deck building questions offered by some of these cards?
IXLID AND CONSIDERING THE META
Ixlid’s case is a bit more like the Moonkin scenario, but the relation to Bogshaper makes it relevant still in this battle for consistency. Ixlid is losing the Elemental tag because they decided, “One of the biggest outliers to this definition [of Elementals] are plant creatures. There are a ton of minions in Hearthstone that are some sort of plant. We’ve decided that these do not count as Elementals in Hearthstone.” I also can’t disagree with their logic on this. However, when a card loses it's tag, it inherently becomes less interesting to deck build around, even by just a small margin.
Now with this, Bogshaper also fits the criteria to remove it's Elemental tag, but they’re choosing not to for the time being because it’s being relevant in the meta, which again, is good. This however brings up this current patch, where Witchwood Grizzly’s art was changed so that it’s Beast tag could remain in tact, and their choice to not change Arfus to a Beast, despite him being a spectral Beast, because of his relevance with the Build-a-Beast Hero Power from Deathstalker Rexxar. I do agree that the competitive nature of the game needs to be considered when making changes like this, but now there are still consistency issues that for the foreseeable future will remain unaddressed. Do we accept these inconsistencies? Do we hurt cards deck building potential and interest for consistency? Or do we do the “Witchwood Grizzly Move” to keep the card as is?
Ultimately, I don’t have a definitive answer on what to do. I felt I needed to get my thoughts out and display it all somewhat cohesively, as it’s an awkward situation as a whole. The positive note to this is that hopefully Team 5 consider this going forward in card creation, make their firm decision, and then we won’t have to deal with these awkward and honestly upsetting changes for deck builders out there, especially in Wild where those small synergies can be so much more present.