Unless you’ve quit the game of Hearthstone, you would know that Patches the Pirate has been one of the most popular cards in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. The card has contributed to the wave of Pirate decks that are dominating the meta early on, seemingly making waves over than any of the swanky tri-class decks.
What I find most interesting about Patches the Pirate is that he is being used in a completely different way than when first revealed. It is a bit of a demonstration of competitive winning fundamentals, over an amazing play. The glory versus the story, if you will.
Patches the Pirate has an astoundingly long card development backstory (http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/Patches_the_Pirate#History), possibly more than any other card. I first noticed a version of the card, the so-called Captain Scaleblade, being a teaser card in the The Grand Tournament trailer, and not being released in the card set. After a number of swaps with artwork, and drop out of some cards to Wild, Patches the Pirate is finally here, in a set with decent Pirate support.
First Impression: Gang Up
Patches was one of the first cards revealed at BlizzCon, and the gameplay demonstration showed him being involved in a wombo-combo. Basically, Patches was Ganged Up twice, and released with 6 clones upon playing a Southsea Captain. 12 damage!
Hearthstone devs also mentioned that Patches was not released earlier because of interactions with GvG cards Ship’s Cannon and One-Eyed Cheat. The Patches was advertised as a combo charge with the janky ingredient Gang Up.
Accurate Impression: Aggro-Control
Skilled players knew right away to not include Gang Up in their decks when playing Patches. Rogue decks often fail as a result of dead cards, like Cold Blood, Preparation, and Conceal. Adding 2x Gang Up would further exacerbate the matter. Rather, Patches shines without Gang Up because he embodies what Aggro-Control is all about. This is also a very basic Arena concept of grabbing the board early with big tempo, controlling the board, and playing aggressive. Small-Time Buccaneer is the early game hammer that works well with Patches, putting 2/3 worth of stats, that swells to 4/3 with a weapon. Other 1-cost pirates like N’Zoth’s First Mate and Swashburglar put out a total of 2/2 for 1 mana. All of this early game tempo, comboed with a weapon, allows the player to hold on to the board and let the aggression win the game.
The “Pirate Package”is so effective that amazing things are happening. Shamans have dropped cards from the bulletproof Midrange deck to include Jade Claws and the Pirate cards. Warriors have gazillions of decks and have all switched to one deck. Rogue is actually playable! While I expect the meta to adapt and stomp out the Patches Pirate package in the coming weeks, it is amazing how a perceived combo card became the Aggro-Control staple of MSG.