closely, the card is a Legendary spell that drops the cost of all minions remaining in your deck to one mana. This means if you can find the space in a game to spend five mana doing nothing, you can then highroll into a series of big bombs that now cost one mana. It’s a ridiculous card, but funnily enough, when it was first introduced into the game it cost seven mana and saw next to no play. In the Rise of the Mechs event, however, its cost was reduced to five (alongside a bunch of other buffs) and it quickly made its presence felt.Luna’s Pocket Galaxy is the very definition of a card that singlehandedly wins – or loses – you games, and while I’ve enjoyed just how spicy it can make a game of Hearthstone, after watching the Masters Tour Seoul event over the weekend, it’s very clear that it needs to change. Of the 300+ players in the field, more than a third of them brought Mage, so we got to see a lot of games that were won or lost based almost solely on drawing or not drawing Luna’s Pocket Galaxy. This was especially ridiculous in Mage mirrors, which could swing in one player’s favour wildly based on the card, and were, in fact, actually far more interesting to watch when both players failed to find the card, and thus had more decisions to make.
The competition was still a heap of fun to watch, but it’s clear something needs to change. Even Felkeine, the winner of the whole thing (who brought Mage) told me in the post-tournament press conference: “I do think it’s problematic for the game. I won’t complain now, because it’s my best friend now, but yeah, I do think it’s problematic. There are some cards like Dr. Boom, Mad Genius, Conjurer’s Calling and Luna which should get nerfed.”
I caught up with a bunch of other pro Hearthstone players during the tournament to get their perspective, not just on Luna’s, but on post-set release balance in Hearthstone in general. First up, one of the legends of the competitive scene, European Grandmaster, Orange.
IGN: Are there any classes or cards that you think are problematic or may become problematic?
Orange: Oh, yes. This five mana card, that might have been a bit too generously buffed, Luna’s Pocket Galaxy… I think the format and everything is actually pretty great right now, but I think that Luna’s Pocket Galaxy and – I’m not sure if it’s going to turn out to be that big of a problem because it’s a ten mana card, but also – Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron. When you get to the competitive level, especially Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, it’s the big elephant in the room here, it leads to games where whenever it’s played very little of your decisions actually matter. There’s very little counter play to it and you’re just like, well, you do aggressive plays just hoping they don’t draw it, and then you’re at the mercy of, [say] if they top deck their Giant afterwards, there’s probably nothing you can do.
And for the player playing Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, it’s the same – you’ve got really no big decisions after you play Galaxy, you just hope for a one mana Antonidas or Kalecgos or whatever. I would love to see that card reverted back to seven mana; admit that “hey, we kind of fucked up on this one.” But that is also fine for them to do, I don’t think people can realistically expect them to… change things this much and not get things wrong sometimes. That’s okay and if they just apologise and be like, “we’ll revert it back to seven mana,” I think everyone would be very happy.
…I’ve also got some issues with Dr. Boom [, Mad Genius], like, I would like to see… like, “battlecry: all mechs in your hand gain rush,” or something like that. Something about the Rush mechanic. But mostly Pocket Galaxy, Dr. Boom is a beatable card that there is some level of counter play against, so I don’t mind it too much. If we see something happen with those two cards, we’re going to have the best [meta] ever probably.
And also, with them raising the power level, this is only natural to happen, but as long as they have some damage control on it and be like “Yes, okay we’ll fix this” then it’s all good.
Next up, APAC Grandmaster and fan-favourite Tyler.
IGN: How about cards or classes that are problematic, or you think are going to be problematic? In the current meta.
Tyler: It’s not from the new set, but Luna’s Pocket Galaxy. It’s just a huge problem. It makes Mage such a dumb deck to play, it makes the mirror match even dumber. We tried different Mage builds… we knew that the field [at Masters Tour Seoul] was going to be Mages. So we tried to find a build that was favoured against Mages. But it ended up not mattering. Whoever gets Pocket Galaxy is just insanely favoured and that’s all that matters. Cards like that shouldn’t exist, where one card can just decide the game.
IGN: Do you think it needs to go back to seven mana?
Tyler: Yeah. It should have never gone to five.
IGN: And how about Dr. Boom and some of the other cards people like to rally around?
Tyler: Yup, so, Dr. Boom is the exact same argument, like Luna’s Pocket Galaxy where one card can win you the game, it’s just very toxic to play against. And where your entire game plan relies on drawing that one card, it’s just not a fun way to play Hearthstone.
IGN: Sure. Overall though, do you think Hearthstone’s in a good place right now?
Tyler: Yeah, it’s [going in] a very good direction. It took Blizzard years to finally start doing this. Like, they were really reluctant on doing it. So I’m very happy. I know all the people in charge at Blizzard and who are doing this, and I’m very happy that they are more willing now to change and to listen. I think it’s very good for the game… Luna’s Pocket Galaxy was a bad decision, but that being said, the fact that they are in the mindset to buff cards and make changes? It’s very good, so I can’t blame them for that. I’ve always said this for years – I would be down for nerfs or buffs, like, every week, so that we have a fresh meta every week. I’d be down for that.
IGN: What do you think of Saviors of Uldum overall as a set?
FroStee: I actually enjoyed the increase in power level of the whole thing. The problem I feel with the current meta is I feel like a lot of the Saviors cards are being kind of held down by some of the pre-existing cards in the meta, namely Luna’s Pocket Galaxy for the most part. I feel like it’s really hard for a lot of decks to succeed when there are… oppressive strategies as we’ve seen this weekend, you know. A lot of games have been decided by turn four, turn five Pocket Galaxy into just ridiculous turns. I feel like there’s the potential for a really good meta here, but I feel like there’s gotta be some change first before we can really see anything start to shine.
Fenomeno: I think for me it was the most interesting set of cards for quite a while now. But yeah, I also feel like the good cards like Dr. Boom [Mad Genius] and Luna are just holding down some decks from actually being successful. So yeah, I would like to see that change…
justsaiyan: I mean, it doesn’t need to be said, but if you just nerf Luna you open up a whole new meta. Like all of these quests are in a sense what the team was banking on to make sure that Dr. Boom wasn’t the most powerful card throughout the year. All these quests kind of generate value, right? Like the Warlock quest for Mecha’thun Warlock is a win-con that beats Warrior. The Making Mummies [quest] with the deathrattles – the mech deathrattles especially – is something Warrior can’t deal with, right? So these are all just put in check by Luna’s, but when you end up getting rid of that or nerfing it, then you know the meta busts wide open. So that’s something we’d like to see. And I think Uldum will be very interesting and successful if that happens.
IGN: Is Luna’s the most problematic card in the game?
Fenomeno: Number one for me. It’s not close. I think Blizzard, we should just tell them that we can forget that this happened, right? Bring it back to seven mana and then we never talk about it. I would be down for this cause I felt it was a bad mistake. I don’t know how they tested it or how they came to the conclusion that it would be nice for five mana but it also limits a lot of design, because Mage has this thing that it can do insane stuff with and it’s just a [single] card, right? It just seems too powerful to me and I don’t see a reason why Mage would need this. I think it was okay before. I enjoyed playing Conjurer’s Mage mirrors before, I thought it was fun. But after Galaxy it’s like, I don’t know, it’s not enjoyable anymore for me.
FroStee: One of the cards that truly stuck out to me before was Conjurer’s Calling being so powerful before the Luna’s Pocket Galaxy buff. And I don’t even care about Conjurer’s Calling anymore! I just want to see Pocket Galaxy [changed]. As Feno said, just put it back to seven mana, it will all be fine and we can just go back to playing some Hearthstone the way it was before. As it stands right now, it’s really hard to look at any other cards. Even Dr. Boom before, you know, was one most powerful cards. It doesn’t even hold a candle to how powerful Luna’s Pocket Galaxy is right now. The Warrior mirrors before were decided by who draws Boom, first. Now the Mage mirrors are really decided by who’s got Pocket Galaxy on five.
Fr0zen: I’m not a fan of the Druid quest. Actually I think it’s not good for the game. Eventually. Like, the mechanic.
Fenomeno: I agree with that.
Fr0zen: It’s going to be so, so problematic. They can’t print anything good. And it’s like you do nothing and if you don’t die, you win.
Fenomeno: It’s just that it’s so simple. I feel this Druid quest is the simplest deck I’ve ever played.
FroStee: You sacrifice nothing to play it. Like, you sacrifice turn one and then for the rest of the game it’s like, “Oh, I missed a hero power here and then I just play out a regular game.”
Fenomeno: I feel it’s so stupid to go quest, coin. It feels so weird to me that’s actually the right play.
FroStee: Every single time I see it, I just tense up a little bit because I just feel like it’s wrong. But I mean it’s just so inherently powerful.
Fr0zen: Yeah, it’s going to be really bad that you can’t play any mid-range decks because I think that just kills every mid-range deck that’s not aggro or a full control deck that can fatigue it. It’s gonna be weird.
And last but not least, the runner-up from Hearthstone’s World Championship in April, another Grandmaster, Viper.
IGN: Which cards do you think are problematic or are going to be problematic?
Viper: The cards that are problematic in my opinion are only the cards that there’s no counter play to. For example, I think Pocket Galaxy and Skull of the Man’ari is a good [comparison]. It’s always good to think about it, [because] you could have Ooze against Skull. If it’s the best deck then you have to accept you have to play two shitty counter cards in your other decks to beat it, but you could actually beat it. It also gives you a huge advantage if you have the answer to the Skull because then you can beat the deck that was built around that card.
With Pocket Galaxy there’s no way to interact with spells, there’s Counterspell I guess, but that’s not really a way to answer Luna’s Pocket Galaxy. So if your opponent just draws that card and they have a deck built around it especially, then the deck is insanely strong. And if they don’t draw Pocket Galaxy then the, I don’t know, King Phaoris in any Mage deck is pretty pretty bad because it’s a ten mana card, or the Colossus of the Moon side tech, so like all these super bad things if they’re not one mana, so the difference between having the card and not having the card is insane.
It’s my most hated card at the moment, I’m pretty sure. Yeah, I guess Pocket Galaxy is the worst one, then people can argue about Dr. Boom and the new Warrior legendary, the taunt minion – Armagedillo, which has, essentially, I think almost the same win rate as Dr. Boom when it sees play, so that was probably the most surprising card for me this expansion… I thought it was going to be good, but I never thought it’s going to be, I don’t know, like as good as Dr. Boom.
I’m also not sure how much of a problem things like Dr. Boom are though, to be honest. Because of Mage, you can’t really build hard counter decks to Warrior, but also Warrior is very different at the moment, it just plays minions. So you can’t just hard counter with Mecha’thun or something. Like, Mecha’thun Warrior, Mecha’thun side decks, it’s just unfavoured to the other guy playing normal Control Warrior at the moment. Because the Control Warrior guy plays minions and attacks you. That’s crazy to think about. They should probably change Dr. Boom. I think the card is way less powerful than Pocket Galaxy at the moment but they should probably still change it.
I guess the whole Druid thing [too], I’m pretty sure Overflow is as good as Ultimate Infestation, essentially. Also I think if Druid had two mana Wild Growth or five mana Nourish – any un-nerfed card, or if they get any good new ramp card, Druid, if Galaxy is going to see a nerf, it’s probably going to be the best deck by far. Mage being oppressive to Druids is pretty much a problem after they lost Naturalize. So I think Druid has the tools to do everything against any other class, but Conjurer’s Calling and Mountain Giant. That one mana ten drop thing.
So yeah, I’m thinking Druid is going to be really, really strong if they change anything.
Thanks to all the players for their time and stay tuned for more from those conversations.
Cam Shea is Editor in Chief for IGN’s Australian content team and recently published an interview covering the latest changes to Hearthstone esports in 2019. He’s on Twitter.