Monday, January 26, 2015

Dr. Boom's Check-Up: Diagnosis

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There are two types of people in Hearthstone: those that play Dr. Boom and those that don't own Dr. Boom. 

That's the hard truth, because Boom is so powerful that he's an auto-include in almost* every deck (which I will prove shortly).

Before I get to that, I'd like to point out that there are a number of other cards well deserving of a nerf due to their early-game dominance that can make or break a match in the first two turns (Undertaker, Mechwarper and Innervate easily spring to mind). These might be more problematic to the game than Dr. Boom in the long run, but that doesn't mean Boom is fine by any means.

Additonally, many justify Dr. Boom with the fact that the game lacks strong 7-drop neutral minions. While I agree that most 7-mana minions are situationally good at best (unless you're a druid), you don't fix that by having a single overpowered card that's an auto-include in almost* every deck.

What, you don't believe me when I say, "Dr. Boom should be in almost* every deck"? Well, let me prove it! Here's a class breakdown of popular decks and why they should include the "good doctor".

Druid: Ramp focuses on powering out large creatures ahead of curve and Boom's a good fit (though admittedly it competes with druid's amazing 7-drops for space). Druid Rush spams the board to make full use of Savage Roar, which Dr. Boom helps with perfectly. Taunt Wall might be the only druid that doesn't need him but can still make use of him.

Hunter: Face Hunter is a no-brainer since the Boom Bots can buff a late-game Undertaker (should your early game fizzle out) and provide extra damage to face/taunts. He's good in Control as well because its often focused on an impressive Feign Death to cripple the opponent.

Mage: Mech Mage doesn't necessarily need Boom, but can usually fit him in and may occasionally use a leftover Boom Bot for synergy. Freeze Mage specializes in stalling until they can build an obscene board and pull off an amazing Echo of Medivh. Boom can help to stall and is equally obscene should you Echo with even one leftover Bot and the doctor himself.

Paladin: Like the mage variant, Mech Pally likes the synergy and can use the bots to help take out beefier minions (especially taunts). Boom's only competition at 7 mana in Control Pally is Guardian of Kings, which is usually a one-of in the first place.

Priest: Zetalot's Tempo Priest runs Dr. Boom over Ragnaros, which speaks volumes. Like hunter, Deathrattle Priest finds late-game Undertaker synergy as well as a board swing in Boom + the Bots.

*Rogue: So here's the only class that doesn't necessarily need to play Dr. Boom (hence the "almost" in my opening statements). Rogue in general can't afford any luxuries unless they meet certain criteria (which typically involves drawing cards or being part of a combo). With that in mind, Hearthpwn shows top-10 and top-25 Legend rogue decks actually including Dr. Boom... an interesting note to say the least.

Shaman: Combo-focused shamans (windfury, spell damage) are in the same boat as rogues as they might not have room for the Boom, but pretty much every other shaman benefits from including him for the reasons mentioned previously (deathrattle + mech synergy). Unless you're playing murlocs, Dr. Boom is often better than Neptulon because it's the same cost and stats but puts more on the board immediately and doesn't overload you next turn. Seems legit.

Warlock: Handlock (which often snubs great legends like Ragnaros) welcomed Dr. Boom into the fold with open arms. While classic Zoo variants may not run D.B. (appropriate initials, huh?) due to random discards, Lifecoach (and others) have had success with a more midrange warlock that drops Soulfire and Doomguard completely. They're running Knife Jugglers, Imp-losion, Sea Giants... and Dr. Boom because he fits perfectly into their gameplan.

Warrior: Just like Handlock, Control Warrior snagged Boom immediately and never looked back. The Boom Bots don't mind dying to Brawl or Death's Bite, in fact I think they enjoy it. The other warrior decks out there are typically weapon, pirate or enrage themed, and even they run Dr. Boom if the player has access to him.

Looking at all that, you can see Dr. Boom is great in pretty much any deck. According to Hearthstone devs when discussing previous card changes, neutral legends so good they are added to every deck are obviously too powerful and need nerfed (see Nat Pagle, Tinkmaster Overspark and Sylvanas).

Here's where people like to argue that Ragnaros was never nerfed even though he's amazing and gets complained about him all the time, but they forget that Rag's not good in every deck. Playing Deathrattle? Mechs? Control? Minion spam? If you said "yes" to any of the above, Dr. Boom is a great addition to your list, while Ragnaros really only fits one of those deck types.

So what's to happen in a world where everyone runs Dr. Boom? Should he be nerfed, and if so, how? What if he's never nerfed? Answers to all that and more coming in the next episode!

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