When asked, what would Hearthstone players say is the most toxic deck in the game? Some would say Face Hunter that kills you before turn 5. Some would say Control Warrior, since you fall asleep before the game is actually finished. Then there’s the “he who shall not be named” of decks. A collection of thirty cards so terrifying, every person stuck in rank 21 claims they could climb out, if it just didn’t exist. I play Secret Paladin and here is my story.
Before I played Hearthstone I was a semi competitive “Yugi-oh” player. Unlike Blizzards’ virtual experiment, where every card can be crafted or earned with gold, “Yugi-oh” was a money sink. The cards needed for the most competitive decks would range anywhere from $50 all the way to $200. Standing in line for events you would regularly hear players pacing up and down the lines with their binders, hocking their cards like a very open drug dealer. “Yo, I got Big Eye for $60! BLS for $55!” I knew some players who were able to sell “Yugi-oh” cards for a living, and they did fairly well for themselves.
These were cards you needed to compete if you wanted any chance of winning games. Spending $500 on a deck that would then become trash tier when the newest expansion came out, made no sense to me. The pay wall to be the best was massive and time exhuasting, so I would play my $30 fun deck. A few times a year, I would drive out to New Jersey with some friends and compete. I would get demolished over and over. Losing to 12 year olds for a whole day really takes a toll on your psyche...
This summer a friend showed me Hearthstone. This was a game where every player can have every card, if you are willing to put in the effort. There wasn’t a pay wall, but a pay shortcut. Finding new and creative ways to climb the ladder reinvigorated my love for the card game. I didn’t have a Dr. Boom, Sylvanus, or any of the other powerful legendries. It was just me and my midrange hunter deck, all the way to rank 10.
Eventually, my competitive nature got the best of me. I started going to sites, and copying the deck lists from famous players. I convinced myself it was the only way to hit Legend, and get that sweet card back. When the Grand Tournament came out, I jumped right on the newest “op” band wagon. I destroyed my “Hobgoblin-Hungry Crab” deck and forged all the Cog hammers and Paladin secrets one would ever need. I evolved out of a casual, into a Mysterious Challenger, and started playing Secret Paladin.
At first, I did not feel bad. I was winning nonstop, crushing noobs with my superior skill. Every few games someone would add me and spew the worst hate speech the internet has to offer. “Secret Pally is a no skill deck. Anyone can play it. I would hit Legend to if I was playing Secret Paladin. You’re a loser. You’re awful.” They were all just jealous of my ability to play Shielded Minibot, then Muster for Battle. I let the hate feed my climb, eventually hitting Legend.
I had succeeded at my goal, but at what cost? Each game revolved around waiting for turn 6 (or turn 5 with coin) and wrecking face. The joy of winning with a deck you put your love, money and time into had simply washed away.
This season I’m playing Aggro Shaman. It’s really fun.