The Grand Tournament’s Ball of Spiders might not be awful
I’ll be the first to admit I’m no Hearthstone pro. I don’t think I’m terrible, but I’m not the best, and I haven’t played enough (or paid enough) to fill out my full collection. I watch, read, and observe more than I actually play. Having admitted to that, I don’t immediately hate Ball of Spiders, a new card introduced with The Grand Tournament, like it seems most do. The base Webspinner card is 1 mana for a 1/1 minion — why, then, is Ball of Spiders 6 mana for 3 Webspinners?
When looking at the current Hunter landscape (or “meta”) in Hearthstone, most (but not all) successful Hunter decks are aggressive/rush/face decks — that is, they aim to frontload damage and take down their opponent as quickly as possible. They don’t want games to last very long. One of the Hunter class’s biggest weaknesses is a lack of card draw; if they don’t keep the game under control and rush down their opponent, chances are good they’re going to end up at a card disadvantage — they have very few good ways to draw additional cards while most other classes have decent ways of doing it. If you have fewer options than your opponent, you can’t react to a changing board nearly as well as your opponent can.
Starving Buzzard used to be the Hunter’s answer to this. With the Buzzard on the board, whenever a Hunter played a Beast (which is/was the majority of their minions), they drew a card. The Buzzard’s interplay with Unleash the Hounds and numerous other cheap Beasts gave Hunters a nigh infinite source of cards. That is no longer true — the Buzzard now costs 5 mana for what are some truly terrible stats for its cost, and by that stage of the game, the hunter cannot afford to play a Buzzard and multiple cheap Beasts on the same turn. Either you need something beefier to hit the board at that point, or you need to pray the Buzzard gives you exactly what you need to follow up. Hunters simply don’t use the Buzzard anymore.
The Ball of Spiders fills the Hunter’s need for card draw in a new way. At the stage of the game where you might be running dry on cards, you can put three Webspinners on the board. Hearthstone being what it is, the outcome of that play could be incredible or awful. You could get King Krush, Malorne, and a Savannah Highmane. Or you could get an Angry Chicken, a Captain’s Parrot, and a Hungry Crab. In either case, at the very least, you no longer have an empty hand. At a cost of 6 mana, it doesn’t give the Starving Buzzard a new overpowered scenario — it avoids an easy combination to immediately place 6 new cards in the Hunter’s hand. That’s probably intended. However, if you built a strategy around it — placing Emperor Thaurissan in your deck, for example — you can still pull it off. Let’s not forget the potential of a Feign Death following a Ball of Spiders, either.
No, I don’t think the Ball of Spiders is terrible. I think it has its purpose, and it’s a direct answer to the current weaknesses in Hunter decks. My gut says, while it does have its role, Hunters will avoid it in constructed. However, in the arena, players will take it when they see it. The arena already has a random nature where you’ll never have an ideal deck. The Ball of Spiders will increase your chances of getting good Hunter-relevant cards. Will it see competitive play? We can’t possibly know that yet.
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