Card game design: how to objectively prove the fun of a given card, mechanic, or design (using Hearthstone as an example)

Mecha’thun, a Hearthstone card.
  • It gives no defense against enemy minions (it doesn’t have Taunt)
  • It is easily countered by cheap removal spells such as Shadow Word: Death, Execute, or Sap
  • It has no immediate impact on the state of the board or game
  • It is vastly out-valued by almost all other neutral minions (examples: Y’Shaarj, Rage Unbound, The Lich King, Boulderfist Ogre…)
  1. Combo cards (examples: Mecha’thun, Archmage Antonidas + Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Seek Guidance, Uther of the Ebon Blade)
  2. Stalling cards (examples: Frost Nova, Doomsayer, Cloak of Shadows, Ice Block)
  3. Draw cards (examples: Arcane Intellect, Coldlight Oracle, Research Project, Loot Hoarder)
Exodia Mage, a well-known OTK deck from before the existence of Time Warp.
  1. Combo cards (Archmage Antonidas; Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Molten Reflection; Emperor Thaurissan; Simulacrum)
  2. Stalling cards (Frost Nova; Ice Block; Ice Barrier; Blizzard; Ray of Frost; Doomsayer; Mad Scientist)
  3. Draw cards (Mad Scientist; Novice Engineer; Arcane Intellect; Coldlight Oracle; Sphere of Sapience)
OTK Paladin, a less successful OTK deck.
  1. Combo cards (Uther of the Ebon Blade; Auctionmaster Beardo; Banana Buffoon; Emperor Thaurissan; Clockwork Gnome)
  2. Stalling cards (Time Out; Humility; Righteous Protector; Call to Arms; Consecration; Shrink Ray; Flash of Light; Wild Pyromancer; Doomsayer; Bloodmage Thalnos; Equality; Truesilver Champion)
  3. Draw cards (Bloodmage Thalnos; Loot Hoarder; Flash of Light; Solemn Vigil; Call to Arms)
  1. Combo cards (Valeera the Hollow; Coldlight Oracle; Lab Recruiter; Gang Up; Preparation; Counterfeit Coin; Prize Vendor; Brann Bronzebeard; Togwaggle’s Scheme; Shadowstep; Secret Passage)
  2. Stalling cards (Valeera the Hollow; Evasion; Vanish; Cloak of Shadows; Glacial Shard; Armor Vendor; Mistress of Mixtures; Sap; Preparation)
  3. Draw cards (same as Combo cards for Mill decks)
Pirate Warrior, a rather infamously-strong aggro deck.
Control Priest, a classic control deck.
Thanos would approve of this card… probably.
Report for Standard mode, legend ranks.
Report for Wild mode, legend ranks.




Computer scientist.

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