In the world of card games, it is important for “classes” to be different. You want to play with a unique set of mechanics and archetypes for your specific class, and be different from the other classes. If two classes play too similarly, the demarcation of “class” has no meaning at all. A natural consequence of a card game going on longer is newer and better cards. And sometimes classes converge, in that a certain class starts taking on characteristics of another class.
Is class convergence an inevitable consequence for every card game? I’m not positive, but I think it is, unless the game evolves to an extremely complex entity where everything remains different. In games with limited mechanics, we can expect some class convergence down the line.
In this writing, I am going to examine class convergence in Hearthstone for the new expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne. Class convergence is nothing new in Hearthstone, as it is meant to be a more simple game, with limited mechanics. I can assume that Hearthstone can afford more class convergence than a game like Shadowverse. The class hero power is something that will keep a class unique from another. Shadowverse has crafts with their unique set of cards, but the hero does nothing unique from a different one. Still too much class convergence is a bad thing. Let’s take a look at this set.
Crypt Lord – Druids buffed typically buff things 1 card at a time. This card, similar to Darkshire Councilman in Warlock, will grow in size.
Poisonous (Hard Removal) – Mulch is Wild-only and Naturalize is horrible so Druid has lacked in the hard removal department. They are now being pushed in the Poisonous keyword.
Malfurion the Pestilent
Druid of the Swarm
Hadronox – First resurrect ability for Druid.
Fatespinner – For the first time, Druid has a “secret” dynamic. While this is unique as a Deathrattle, it is the first thing they have to keep the enemy guessing.
Taunt buffs – Only seen with Warrior with cards like Bolster and Stolen Goods.
Strongshell Defender – Literally Bolster on a River Croc.
Hadronox – More Taunt support, rather than buffs.
Exploding Bloatbat – Hunter never had AoE, outside of cards that hit 3 things, based on positioning. Also Dreadscale existed, but it was a niche card.
Stitched Tracker – Hunter has the random card advantage card in Jeweled Macaw, but never had the ability to choose something. This card is very Priest-like.
Abominable Bowman – Hunter played with Deathrattle, but never had a resurrect ability like Priest.
Doomed Apprentice – Mage stays almost identical to it’s class identity, with more Freeze pushes, thanks to the icy theme. This is the first class card to mess with opponent mana manipulation.
Heal to damage
Blackguard – Paladins healed in big chunks, but never used it for offense. This is a similar effect to the Priest card Shadowboxer, except more explosive and control-oriented.
Destroy random minion
Obsidian Statue – A mechanic seen rarely with other classes like Dark Bargain for Warlock or Deadly Shot for Hunter.
Spirit Lash – Priests never had early game AoE. Almost Maelstrom Portal, but much worse for saving the board.
Survivability – Rogue could never Taunt or Heal, so now there are new mechanics that allow the Rogue to not take damage.
Leeching Poison – Lifesteal is everywhere in the new expansion, but heal is heal.
Shadowblade – Immune was also available previously through Violet Illusionist, but this is a one-turn effect, like Ice Block.
Doomerang – Unique card that is the first of it’s kind. Not unlike Blade Flurry, but still very different and helps survivability.
Valeera the Hollow – Close to a one-turn Ice Block, except you can still get hit by things that hit stealthed enemies.
Freeze – The heaviest and most blatant push in class convergence, with 6/10 Shaman cards having a Freeze synergy. While Frost Shock existed since Basic, it almost never saw play outside of Malygos shenanigans.
Cryostasis – Buffs and freeze in one!
Ice Breaker – A bit like Shatter in Mage.
Moorabi – Also has copy effects on enemies, so can work like a Priest card.
Voodoo Hexxer – Very similar to Alley Armorsmith in Warrior.
Enemy positioning – Flametongue Totem was self-positioning, but this is a new area.
Avalanche – Previously, you only had to worry about Betrayal in Rogue, Explosive Shot/Grievous Bite for Hunter, and Meteor/Cone of Cold in Mage. This one is like Betrayal, in that the fulcrum minion is undamaged.
Treachery – Reverse Mind Control, but still a new tactic for Warlock.
Despicable Dreadlord – Warlock cards typically hurt everything. This will be the first that only affects the opponent’s board.
Copy into deck
Dead Man’s Hand – Blood Warriors and Sudden Genesis were precursor Warrior class copy cards, but this is the first to put a bunch of cards in the deck. Almost like a Priest card.
Bonemare – This ability screams Paladin buffs.
Deathaxe Punisher – Similar to the Grimy Goons handbuff ability, but only for Lifesteal minions. This conditional nature makes it much worse than the clan ones.
Random card advantage
Bone Drake – This could get any Dragon for any class.
Shallow Gravedigger – This could get any Deathrattle for any class.
Death Knight cards
The Lich King and Arfus will give access to Death Knight cards, which scream class convergence. However, given there are 8 choices, you won’t likely be roleplaying as every class in a single game.
Anti-Magic Shells – Neutral board buffs.
Obliterate – Neutral hard removal.
Death Coil – Neutral removal, reach, or heal.
Frostmourne – Neutral weapon and resurrect abilities.
Doom Pact – Neutral self-mill and DOOM!
Death Grip – Neutral Entomb, but much faster and cheaper.
Death and Decay – Neutral Hellfire (AoE and Reach)
Army of the Dead – Neutral self-mill and a much stronger ability than the legendary Varian card.