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To celebrate Hearthstone's 10th birthday I spoke to OG streamers and casters about their best metas, favourite moments, and most hated cards

10th Birthday
10th Birthday

Hearthstone turned 10 this week, which on a personal note means I've been playing, watching and writing about the same game for a decade. From the halcyon days of peak RNG being Sylvanas stealing your opponent's Ragnaros, through the absolute degeneracy of Demon Hunter on day one, to the Colossals and Titans of the modern game, it's been a great ride. I was chatting to a colleague who also covered the game back in its golden era, remembering how great it was when there seemed to be a new tournament on Twitch every other week and the esports scene was doing legitimately huge viewership.

For years the game fizzed with a constant influx of Mensa-smart young players who generated new memes as fast as they did game-breaking decks. As with all games that last this long, that imperial phase couldn't last forever, and none of us knew quite how good we'd had it until we were on the downslope. But even now I get excited before a new expansion—the nostalgia-heavy Whizbang's Workshop is out next week—eager to see what madness the current designers have cooked up.

To celebrate the game's big anniversary, I decided to catch up with many of the OG stars who still share a love of the game, to see what their favourite memories are (and hear a few nightmares too).


Kripparian

Favourite moment: The biggest moment I've had in Hearthstone was the first big button press. I was regularly playing Arena and earning golden cards and many packs filled with extra copies, but rarely ever crafted the golden cards I was missing, or got rid of the copies. The copies were best kept as extras, because if Blizzard ever nerfed a card, they would offer a full refund for disenchanting it, and playing the (very) long game of grinding out a full golden collection meant that patience was key.

The big button press was over three years in the making, but it came at a point that I realized I couldn't keep up with the release schedule of card sets. [Kripp was eligible for 660,620 Arcane Dust at the time he nuked all the extras—Ed.] I later learned from the dev team that they weren't sure what would happen when I pressed the button, as nobody had disenchanted so many cards with one click before.

Coolest card design of all time: Coldlight Oracle is my favorite overall. An amazingly versatile card that later spawned the fatigue Druid archetype, which became my favorite deck of all time.

Building decks around each Old God was a blast.

Card you wish had been nerfed sooner: My most frustrating experience with a card in Hearthstone has to be with Firelands Portal. While existing as a fairly mundane removal option for constructed play, it plagued the Arena game mode because, as at that time, card frequency in the draft was determined by a card's rarity. With Firelands Portal being a common, and competing against some of the strongest cards in the game mode, Mage decks would regularly have fistfuls of them and dominate all other classes. This was tough to swallow, because Firelands Portal was released as part of an adventure, not a card pack-based set, so the rarity of each card had no relevance outside Arena, where it was massively problematic.

Best Meta: While I mostly played Arena, I would check out constructed Hearthstone each cycle to see what Blizzard had come up with, and get some experience playing the new sets and their decks. While I often only played for a few days, Whispers of the Old Gods kept my interest for almost the entirety of the set's cycle. Building decks around each Old God was a blast as it could be done differently with each class, and you could even combine decks with several Old Gods in one!

Worst Meta: While it was fun to see the first real class addition with Demon Hunter, it quickly got out of hand. I would regularly play against Demon Hunter opponents exclusively for long periods at a time. [The first set of Demon Hunter cards were so ridiculous they had to be nerfed within 24 hours—Ed]


Kibler

Favourite Hearthstone moment: Casting the World Championship Finals in 2015—or this nonsense [embedded above].

Coolest card design of all time: Elise the Trailblazer. I loved getting an Un'Goro pack from Shadow Visions and then trying to win with whatever nonsense was in it.

Card you wish had been nerfed sooner: Warsong Commander. Patron being dominant for as long as it was led to entire sets feeling like they didn't matter. [Sottle actually wrote a defence of the card for PC Gamer back in 2015, but as a huge Patron player, it may have been a little biased—Ed.]

Best Meta: Journey to Un'Goro (minus Quest Rogue)

Worst Meta: United in Stormwind. It felt like every deck was either a super linear quest combo or hyper fast aggro.


Savjz

Favourite Hearthstone moment: Winning SeatStory Cup II. That whole event was very special to me. [The SeatStory series was an early Hearthstone tournament held at a studio in Germany, where all the players would hang out, and was known for its chaotic but fun vibe.]

Coolest card design of all time: The OG Reno, because it encouraged the 'highlander' playstyle for the first time.

Card you wish had been nerfed sooner: The original Undertaker. It took Blizzard six months, even though it was ultra OP. The game was picking up pace at an incredible speed at the time, so I assume they didn't want to touch anything. It was painful.

Best Meta: Honestly, if I thought about it for a long time I would probably give a different answer, but Prince Renathal was a breath of fresh air when it came out in its original form. It slowed the game significantly, making it a bit closer to the type of grindy, back and forth gameplay that I enjoy, but has been absent at times due to the single-turn power spikes that I don't enjoy as much.

Worst Meta: I don't have a specific answer, but whenever there is an OTK that happens from hand early, that's the worst. OK, I do have an example: Mozaki, Master Duelleist which existed at a time when there was no counterplay in the form of any disruption.


Sean 'Day9' Plott

Jaded

Sean Plott headshot from PC Gaming Show 2022 on set
Sean Plott headshot from PC Gaming Show 2022 on set

In addition to hosting the PC Gaming Show for a decade as of this year, my favourite Day9 moment is his classic rant about Jade Druid players: "Well this turn I'll summon a larger man, which will allow me later on to summon an even larger man."

My favorite Hearthstone moment:  The Best Worst Game. [For those not familiar with Sean's oeuvre, this is a a 30-minute Priest Mirror with some iconic belly laughs and quotes like: "Oh my god, I'm going to vomit blood."—Ed.]

Coolest card design of all time: Echo of Medivh! I built some awesome giant decks with that card! Or Astral Communion, for the clown show.

My favorite meta: Journey to Un'Goro. It was so insanely fun with Discover, Quests, and Adapt. Every game felt very rich and decision heavy.

My least favorite meta: Undertaker Deathrattle Hunter. Unless you had an instant answer, it spiraled out of control SO HARD my god.

Card I wish had been nerfed sooner: Symbolically, Mind Control from 8 to 10 mana at Hearthstone's launch. It foreshadowed the next five years of my Hearthstone experience where it felt like Blizzard was so slow and so conservative about balancing and changing overpowered and/or problem cards.


Hearthstone World Championship
Hearthstone World Championship

Dan 'Frodan' Chu

Favourite Hearthstone moment: Hosting the winning moment on the BlizzCon stage when Li 'Liooon' Xiaomeng made esports history [as the first woman to win the Hearthstone Grandmasters Global Finals—Ed].

Coolest card design of all time: Yogg-Saron, Hope's End.

Card you wish had been nerfed sooner: Yogg-Saron, Hope's End.

Best Meta: Yogg-Saron, Hope's End.

Worst Meta: Yogg-Saron, Hope's End.


10th Birthday
10th Birthday

Simon 'Sottle' Welch

Favourite Hearthstone Moment: Liooon wins Worlds and her subsequent speech. A lot of people that know my history might expect me to single out Hunterace vs Viper as my favourite moment [which remains the most incredible World Championship final in the game's history—Ed], but the following year is just that little bit more special to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, due to various travel issues and other logistical nightmares, the casting lineup was heavily impacted, meaning I had to be front and centre for the majority of a World's broadcast, which was an incredible privilege. Far more importantly than that though, the history-defining moment of Liooon's victory and her words on stage brought tears to my eyes.

[Liooon's speech below is embedded below—Ed.]

If you ask me what story I'll be telling my grandkids for the 34th time while they look on in disbelief that I'm still talking about Hearthstone, it's this one.

Coolest Card Design of all Time: Zephrys the Great. I think as hands-on time with this card passed, more and more people started to focus on the fact that the card wasn't a living breathing sentient empath that knew intuitively what your gameplan and innermost desires were. Instead, I think it's worth celebrating what an ambitious project this card was from a design perspective, and how it (mostly) achieved what it was supposed to do.

Card I wish had been nerfed sooner: None! Leave the strong stuff alone. Let chaos reign. Adapt or die.

Best Meta: Even though The Grand Tournament was a very hit and miss set in terms of overall impact, the meta it landed in was awesome. Patron Warrior, Control Warrior, Handlock variants, Tempo Mages, and then everyone playing Secret Paladin that you just rolled over by being a good Patron player. Those were the good times. Honourable mention to the Cubelock/Hadronox Druid meta.

Worst Meta: Master's Tour Seoul. Specialist format. 5-Mana Luna's Pocket Galaxy. The perfect storm. When you're a person like me, who is focused on the competitive side of things, metas like this with individual cards that spike winrate by 10%+ when drawn on curve or held in mulligan are just the absolute pits. The problem was amplified by the Specialist format, which really highlighted the dominance of the deck, and all the mirror match finals. A good time was had by few.


Neil 'Lorinda' Bond

Hearthstone Demon Hunter Illidan Stormrage Hero
Hearthstone Demon Hunter Illidan Stormrage Hero

Favourite Hearthstone moment: Liooon winning worlds, but I'm aware Sottle has also chosen that, so I'll pick Feno winning HCT Orange County. It was the culmination of Hunterace's dominant year, but Feno had performed incredibly consistently without a win and was a hugely popular player. Although I wasn't there for that event, I'd been at many many featuring him that year and although it wasn't the most important win ever in the scheme of things, it was the loudest I'd ever screamed at a match. I'm pretty sure I tweeted something out with joyous expletives when he won.

Coolest card design of all time: Zephrys the Great.

Card you wish had been nerfed sooner: Prince Renethal or Edwin Van Cleef.

Best Meta: The one-day Demon Hunter meta!

Worst Meta: The one with Cubelock and Hadronox.


RDU

We Esports Now

G2 Esports Hearthstone team
G2 Esports Hearthstone team

Although these days he purely plays the Battlegrounds mode, back when the competitive scene was healthy enough to support actual teams, Rdu (centre right) played for G2 alongside Thijs, Lifecoach and Lothar. Surely the most stacked lineup the game ever saw.

Favourite Hearthstone moment: My favorite moment, outside of winning a tournament, would be when I got #1 legend and then decided to queue some games with Whizbang decks for fun. [Whizbang is designed to help new players, and gives you one of 18 random decks each time you play it—Ed.]

I was so happy when I heard that not only is he coming back, but he's also the central theme of the next expansion.

Coolest card design of all time: I think the coolest cards ever made were the Death Knight heroes, so I rank Shadowreaper Anduin as the most badass ever. It completely changed the dynamic of how the Priest class is supposed to be played.

Card you wish had been nerfed sooner: The Rogue Quest and some other game-dominating Quests that made gameplay repetitive.

Best Meta: The Patron Warrior meta was by far my favorite, even though it was super dominated by one deck, because it was very skillful and interesting to play in both the mirror match and against other decks.

Worst Meta: There were a few metas that I didn't like but nothing compares with Goblins vs Gnomes. It came out right after Naxx, which was one of the best releases, and it felt horrible to play with so much randomness that couldn't be controlled in a skillful way.


Trump

The Mayor of Value Town skipped the other questions but sent a truly old school clip featuring one of our favourite crusteaceans. Trump wrote: "It's fitting that the video's just about 10 years old."