Over the years, and especially recently, the Hearthstone developers have printed a card or two that cries out to be nerfed immediately upon release because it was so utterly broken.
I’ve been playing Hearthstone since the open beta in 2014, and I’ve experienced every meta since. Over time, like a curator (see what I did there), I have been keeping track of the most broken cards in each expansion in my head, and I wanted to make this post a museum to Hearthstone’s most rage-inducing cards.
I’ll post the official image of each of the most broken Hearthstone cards of all time for each set (copyright free pre-nerf images are hard to find), and provide a brief description on how it defined the meta at the time. I will NOT be ranking the cards from the most broken to less broken because its difficult to actually say what is the most broken card of all time. Rather, I will list the single most broken card from each set. Lastly, I’ll be updating this post over time as Blizzard prints more and more stupid cards.
Once a very oppressive draw engine for hunters (who do not and should not have a draw identity), Starving Buzzard went from broken to unplayable when it was nerfed from 2 mana to 5 mana.
Ice Block was a card that gave mages an extra life, which allowed for noninteractive combo decks like Freeze Mage to boringly flourish until it was finally hall-of-famed in April 2018.
Curse of Naxxramas
Ask OG hearthstone players, and most will tell you that Undertaker is probably the most broken Hearthstone card of all time. “Bring out your dead” still gives me nightmares. This way too cheap card snowballed like crazy, allowing literally the first person to play it to win the game almost 100% of the time. It was finally nerfed from, “Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle, gain +1/+1” to “Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle, gain +1 Attack”, becoming unplayably bad and going from 25% played in all decks to less than 1% instantly.
Goblins vs Gnomes
There are no broken cards in the Goblins vs Gnomes patch, and no Goblins vs Gnomes cards were ever nerfed.
At the time, Dr. Boom seemed oppressive, but in hindsight, it wasn’t that bad; it was just very RNG heavy, a first for Hearthstone at this point.
Nevertheless, after playing this game for a very long time now, and playing a lot of Arena, which still features this card, I can safely say that Muster For Battle is OP. Three mana for 4 charges and 3 tokens is the most unbalanced card from this very balanced set.
Flamewaker was and still is an annoyance, not on its own, but when it is combined with Sorcerer Apprentice.
However, pre-nerf Warsong Commander allowed Grim Patron to win even more annoyingly.
Grim Patrons were able to fill the board easily so as to take tones of damage to increase a Frothering Bersker’s attack. Combined with Warson Commander on the board, all these cheap Grim Patrons and the Frothering Bersker were then able to charge face, allowing your opponent to kill you in one turn while you watched and waited for a while for this disgusting combo to conclude.
When Warsong Commander was finally nerfed, Grim Patron became unplayable.
The Grand Tournament
Mysterious Challenger isn’t even that problematic, its just a very good card in a very bad set. Nevertheless, when Christmas Tree Paladin was a thing (and it was), this card did seem broken. Play the card on an empty board, and you win the game.
Mysterious Challenger wasn’t ever nerfed or Hall of Famed like most of the other cards on this dubious list, and neither was any other card from The Grand Tournament. It turns out, the Joust mechanic kind of sucks.
However, Blizzard did learn never to print secret mechanics this outrageous ever again. Hence, Glacial Mysteries is what it is.
The League of Explorers
Looking for Reno? You won’t find it here. Reno is actually a perfectly designed card.
Reno’s old pal Sir Finley Mrrgglton was actually the most OP card in the otherwise very balanced set.
Finley gave aggro players in classes like Hunter and Warrior unlimited card draw from the Warlock hero power. Combine this with cheap minions, and you can see why it was included in every aggro deck in the meta.
To be clear, however, looking back, Finley was not a broken card, it was just the most OP card in the patch.
Note: I didn’t choose Naga Sea Witch here because it was only broken years after the expansion in a single wild combo deck that lasted only a short period of time before it was nerfed into oblivion.
Whispers of the Old Gods
The Thing From Below and one-time meme king Flame Weathered Faceless don’t make the cut despite the outrage directed at Shaman during the great 2018 overload meta.
In hindsight, the Thing From Below is just OK and Flame Weathered Faceless doesn’t even see play anymore in wild.
However, one card from The Old Gods was just flat out unfair, and will see play forever, nerf or no nerf. Indeed, it swung unwinnable games so badly that it actually had to be nerfed (and then unnerfed years later in Wild). Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End was the funest card to play but many times the least fun to play against. It required no skill. All you had to do was pray to Yogg.
Losing because of random, no skill, vastly improbable hodgepodge spells is not entertaining for most people.
One Night in Karazhan
Barnes was the first card that made it a coin toss on whether you won or lost the game of Hearthstone. Draw Barnes by turn 4, and you win. Lose the game if you don’t. Fun and interactive!
Barnes also introduced the least fun deck in Heartshone, Big Priest, so thanks for nothing Barnes. Playing against a Big Priest is like watching someone play solitaire.
Barnes was finally nerfed from 4 mana to 5 mana and thankfully doesn’t see play anymore in Wild. Big Priest, on the other hand, keeps getting new resources.
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
People who know the game and how to win don’t think a free 1/1 charge is an OK card, they know it is the best card of all time.
Why is Patches the Pirate so good? Well, normally, when you play a minion, you need to spend two costs: the mana cost and the hidden cost of spending one of your draws on the card.
With Patches, you spend none of those costs.
You get a free minion on board that you didn’t waste a draw on and you increase your chances of drawing a higher costed card on your next turn, just when you need it.
Oh ya, plus Patches had a tribe tag and charge. The latter of which is a mechanic so OP Blizz removed it from the game entirely.
In the end, Blizzard admitted their mistake printing this card and nerfed it by removing charge; but, as a testament to its power, Patches still sees play in pirate decks in Wild.
Rare Honorable Mention: Yes, Patches is powerful, but don’t sleep on Jade Idol, which was one of the dumbest cards in Hearthstone.
Journey to Un’Goro
The Caverns Below / Crystal Core was nerfed very quickly; it was so obvious from the start that this card was broken. It was actually nerfed three times!
You could complete the quest on turn 3 and then fill the board with 5/5s for the rest of the game with cheap card draw cards like Novice Engineer.
If I recall correctly, this was the fastest a nerf happened to a clearly broken card. Here is the (very) long patch history:
- Patch 184.108.40.206708 (2019-09-01): Cards that create a copy of a minion with specifically stated stats will now work as written on the card text.
- Patch 220.127.116.1189 (2018-05-22): Crystal Core now reads “For the rest of the game, your minions are 4/4.” (Down from 5/5)
- Patch 18.104.22.16822 (2017-07-10): Condition changed from “Play four minions with the same name.” to “Play five minions with the same name.”
- Patch 22.214.171.12436 (2017-04-04) Card added.
Knights of the Frozen Throne
Ultimate Infestation (“UI”) was broken but was never technically nerfed. Instead, Blizz sacrificed classic or basic Druid cards which would have allowed you to ramp up and play UI earlier (Wild Growth and Nourish).
With UI, for 10 mana, which for a druid is 5 mana, you got a 5/5 and 5 cards and 5 armor and were able to hit face for 5 damage. You used UI to win the game or to recover yourself with healing and by drawing multiple copies of other only slightly less broken Druid cards like Jade Idol and Spreading Plague.
This was obviously the main reason Druid was tier S for so long around 2019. You cannot overstate the value of card draw, especially when you are trying to summon an even larger man.
Kobolds & Catacombs
It was a close call between Corridor Creeper and Skull of Man’Ari, but Corridor Creeper wins for the most broken Kobolds & Catacombs card.
Don’t let the image fool you, this is nothing close to how the card looked when it was released.
Original Corridor Creeper had 5 attack. It was so prevalent (it was in many, many different meta decks) and powerful, Bliz nerfed it 3 whole attack points, down to just 2!
Corridor Creeper allowed argo and token decks to play a 5/5 on turn 3 almost for free. It allowed agro decks to ignore board clears, and it was allowed to be played with, usually, 2 or 3 other cards on the same turn.
Dealing with a 5/5 in the early game is next to impossible, so Corridor Creeper would just snowball out of control if you were lucky enough to draw it.
To be continued with the following sets very soon….
The Boomsday Project
Rise of Shadows
Saviors of Uldum
Descent of Dragons
Demon Hunter Initiate
Ashes of Outland
Madness at the Darkmoon Faire