The Barnes Effect - how and why this is dangerous for competition

With One Night in Karazhan approaching its third wing now, we have seen some outrageous card designs anyways. One, however, that I would like to highlight is Barnes. Does it push for a more control – heavy Meta? Absolutely. However, the reasoning for playing these control decks is not at all what is healthy for competition. There is, literally, a surprisingly high chance to get an absolutely ridiculous amount of value just by playing Barnes. Be it finding Ragnaros, Sylvannas, or even the dreaded Y’Shaarj. Better yet, it can actually just win you the game! You never quite know what could come of it – it could clear their board, flood your own, or even deal large amounts of damage to their Hero! This must be a fun and interactive mechanic for competitive play – right?


We’ve seen our fair share of ‘overpowered’ decks. Many of us still have nighmares about the original Patron Warrior – you were never quite safe from it on ladder, mainly due to the fact that there was virtually no counterplay available. Due to this fact, the deck was nerfed via Warsong Commander. Many debate as to whether the nerf was too heavy or not, but needless to say, it was certainly enough. The catch to this deck was that, to this date, it ranks as one of the most difficult decks to play properly and consistently in the game’s history, perhaps even more so than Freeze Mage.   

The issue with Barnes is that it does the exact same thing, only it is brainlessly easy to use. You just play the card on turn 4. Especially if it picks up Y’Shaarj or Ragnaros, that is guaranteed value, and lots of it – how is that, in any way, competitive? Hearthstone has always discouraged strategies that revolve around snowballing value off of one minion. In short, Barnes created a strategy in which one pushes for as much value as possible on one turn, and even attempt to win off of that one card. This is not supposed to be a rant, but a forewarning – competitive play may take some hits from this.