Mind Controlled

I got about as close as I ever gotten before to rage-quitting in Hearthstone the other day. The culprit? Mind Control. The scenario that happened to me was this:

Mind Control #1

Mind Control #1

It is late in an Arena match, Priest vs Priest. I never had any chance to select Mind Control during the drafting process, but in this particular game I was doing pretty good. The opposing Priest had gotten so low that he basically was forced to Mind Control one of my smaller creatures (the 2/7 that gets bigger when it takes damage) just to buy some extra time. He’s at 18, I’m at 25, I have Holy Nova if he dumps his hand, Temple Enforcer to seal the deal, and Ironbeak Owl for the Silence. While the stolen Berserker wasn’t an immediate threat, I did not want to run the risk of him killing one of my creatures and somehow keeping the Berserker as a 5/5 or higher. With a Mind Control out of play, I felt it safe to turn up the pressure:

Mind Control #2

Mind Control #2

He played a second Mind Control. For those keeping track at home, Mind Control is usually 3-to-1 (virtual) card advantage – while you might technically only play 2 cards to his 1, his card in effect destroys your card, creates a creature for him (like a card), and you use a third card (Removal, creature trade, etc) to remove his. Anyway, this sucked, but the game was still recoverable by me. Until this happened:

Mind Control #3

Mind Control #3

Yes, a third Mind Control. In an Arena match. The funny thing is that it was still technically possible for me to win, had I drawn my lone copy of Holy Fire out of the remaining 10 cards in my deck – he had been spending each round healing my his creatures instead of himself. He was at 3 HP, and Holy Fire deals 5 damage. I did not draw Holy Fire.

Not pictured: my blood pressure.

Not pictured: my blood pressure.

There is a lot of debate on the forums regarding Mind Control, and how overbuffed Priests are in general. Some people say that Mind Control is fine, given how nobody complained about it back when Priests were weak. As I’ve stated here, I think it’s clear that the card itself is overpowered – it is Assassinate + Faceless Manipulator in one card – and the recent Priest buffs only exacerbated a preexisting (if irrelevant at the time) condition.

As frustrating as it is, Blizzard is actually listening:

We have seen a lot of talk about Mind Control lately, and I wanted to let you know that we are definitely paying attention to your concerns that Mind Control can be pretty powerful as well as frustrating to play against. We are talking about the issue here and looking at the power of Mind Control at different skill levels and in different modes so we can make any adjustments that may be needed. We’re still deliberating the right course of action, but we have heard you guys and we understand your concerns. Keep up the great feedback!

Blizzard’s quote here is interesting in that it highlights another dimension to game balance: fun. At the base of things, Mind Control is a tremendously unfun card to have played against you. “Yeah, what is?” Honestly? Nearly anything else. Sure, it sucks when some critical creature eats a Fireball or Assassinate. But in the case of Fireball, I can say to myself “at least that’s not 6 damage to my face.” Or “at least that’s one Assassinate down.” With Mind Control, not only do you face the obscene 3-to-1 card advantage, you get the added indignity of being killed by your own creatures. In effect, Mind Control – along with the other pieces of the Priest kit, like Mind Vision, Mindgames, and Thoughtsteal – actually punishes you for having a good deck. The better cards you have, the stronger those cards become.

So even if we imagine a scenario in which all the Priest cards are balanced against the other classes, it could still be the case that the existence of these cards at all are a net negative to the game. It gives me some small measure of hope that the devs actually went on the record yesterday affirming that “balanced” but unfun cards are actually something they plan on fixing… somehow. The easiest would be by making the effect an buff that can be Silenced away; why this is not already the case, I have no idea. And since Mind Control is a Basic card that everyone gets by leveling the Priest to 10, it is not as though people have sunk money into acquiring the card.

Alternatively, they could just remove the card entirely for being so goddamn frustrating to play against.

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Posted on October 31, 2013, in Hearthstone and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. “In effect, Mind Control – along with the other pieces of the Priest kit, like Mind Vision, Mindgames, and Thoughtsteal – actually punishes you for having a good deck.”

    Well YEAH, that is why playing the priest deck is so much fun.

    Also since it’s overpowered right now (in my opinion) it’s also the only deck I can consistently win with. So basically what I’m saying is: yes, you’re right. :)

  2. Agreed; Mind Control is overpowered (as is the Priest, in general).

    I like your proposed final solution- the card is completely un-fun, just get rid of it. Problem is, it’s a staple WoW ability – so it basically “has” to exist in some form. What’s the alternative ability? Everything coming to mind is a bigger nightmare: control opponent’s board, take control of his hand for a turn? Yuck. Stealing the creature for a turn already exists, IIRC, although it comes with a power restriction or something?

    • There were two other suggestions I could maybe get behind. The first was that MC put the creature into the Priest’s hand, forcing them to play it. The other was make the MC “fall off” when the creature takes damage, the Priest takes damage, or both.

      • I like the first idea; well at least until my awesome minion with a CIP effect gets MC’d I guess.

        The second one fits with the “Channeling” theme for the actual spell (the damage bit), but makes it quite blah because four of the hero powers can deal damage (2 directly, 2 more with weapons).

      • Alternately, what about adding “your spells cost +X (TBD)” to the effect? That would more closely model that a caster channeling a spell can’t cast other spells, it doesn’t make you totally dead in the water because you can still cast and use your other minions (generally not the problem), It doesn’t kill the flavor of the ability – between you’d be attacking with your controlled minion probably 2 turns later due to the mana cost of the MC and the summoning sickness if MC took the minion into your hand. It doesn’t fail to work the way that “breaks on damage” would, if there’s even tech in game to do that.

        Just a thought. .

  3. Also, reading through the thread you linked reminds me of something else that irritates the hell out of me about Priests – how cheap the card-draw is. At one mana, ONE! – Northshire Cleric as a 1/3 with that ability is stupid. Even Power Word: Shield feels too cheap at 1 mana.

    The Cleric probably needs to be reworded to when the Cleric is healed – not any minion – and/or needs to be 2-3 mana. Compared to Acolyte of Pain at 3 mana; makes no sense.

  4. Black Lotus, Timetwister, Timewalk. This is why you are playing that beta, so that we don’t see gamebreakers.

  5. I find Priests annoying to play against for the same reason Blue is frustrating in MtG; half the time it feels like you are just beating your head against the wall, and the other half it’s like you’ve defeating yourself. It’s kind of like the “stop hitting yourself!” of the CCG world.

    Also, one way they could balance it is by restriction you to one mind-controlled minion at a time (the other reverting back to the original owner. Might make it took weak though.

  6. Saw an arena stream some time ago with a priest having drafted 4 or 5 MCs.

    It was disgusting and absolutely hillarious.

  7. Ten mana. Rejoice.