Hearthstone meta starts to settle around Kazakusan after Onyxia’s Lair Mini-set. Are control decks finally back?

The release of Onyxia’s Lair Mini-Set changed Hearthstone’s meta, especially because of its star Kazakusan. This new Kazakusan meta spiked up eternal discussions about Hearthstone Control decks in the community. Hearthstone devs have been vocal about what they want for the future of the game. What does the future await for control players?

Entering Onyxias Lair
Entering Onyxias Lair

Has Kazakusan changed the Hearthstone meta?

Not more than a week has passed since Onyxia’s Lair Mini-Set release, but the Hearthstone meta has shifted a lot since the arrival of Kazakusan. The power level perception of OTK decks changed, and despite some strategies like Mozaki Mage or OTK Bolner Shaman being still viable, combo deck representation went down.

<a href="https://www.vicioussyndicate.com/vs-data-reaper-report-222/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Vicious Syndicate </a>Hearthstone Meta Snapshot
Vicious Syndicate Hearthstone Meta Snapshot

With Kazakusan Ramp Druid in the spotlight with over 20% representation, and despite some people dislike playing with half the mana of their opponents, the community seemed to accept the archetype. Or at least for now.

Greedier Kazakusan's strategies opened up some space in Hearthstone’s meta for aggro decks to shine. With enough aggro (or board-centric) decks online, suddenly control became a viable strategy too. And there you have it, the so famous circle of life.

Kazakusan brings a huge amount of value to any Hearthstone deck, but it is not an OTK strategy. There is the possibility of controlling or outvaluing a Kazakusan deck, and that is where many control players want the meta to be. However, there is some controversy about what’s actually a control deck.

Hearthstone devs on OTK and Control Decks

Despite the actual data reflecting that the miniset has been impactful, the community was hesitant at first regarding if these new cards could compete with the existing OTK decks. Cora, Hearthstone Game Designer, addressed the issue even before Onyxia’s Lair miniset went out, and in a thread, she clearly expresses that Hearthstone can’t be changed from one day to another.

This statement goes in line with what Iksar said previously on his AMA threads. Powercreep is real, and they are trying to have it under control. However, it's not an easy task. In less than 2 months, Hearthstone will see a set rotation, and maybe, with 2020’s expansions out, the power level of the meta will bounce back.

Moreover, Iksar mentioned on more than one occasion that there is a chance of a “mass nerf” to tune things down.

Kazakusan embraces new Hearthstone Philosophy

Furthermore, we see that after Stormwind’s expansion, powerful cards were not about winning the game in the spot but giving you the tools to do it. Kazakusan is a clear example of this current Hearthstone philosophy.

Back to the Control Deck discussion. Many players understand Control decks as attrition/fatigue decks. Iksar himself addressed this point and said that “Control decks should have ways to close games outside relying on decks to empty.” Perhaps that is what Kazakusan or other finishers are to Hearthstone, a no-OTK win condition for control decks.

What is the future of control?

Only Madame Lazul can certainly tell, but for what we have seen, we can do some accurate speculations about what’s going to happen with Hearthstone’s meta. The first prediction is that Control memes will never be out of fashion. Feno made it pretty clear in this tweet.

Following the discussion, the game has gone through different phases where each of the different archetypes shined over the others. Cora’s words give a clear direction, contrary to what happened during Stormwind and the solitaire meta, devs are trying to incentivize board-based gameplay.

Does this mean that Yetis and Bullfist Ogres will be back? Probably not. Hearthstone will still have awesome powerful cards like Kazakusan, that can define a whole metagame but that aren’t oppressive to other archetypes. Attrition strategies probably won’t have a place in Hearthstone, despite some initially seeing Kazakusan as Elysiana 2.0. But that doesn’t mean that devs will outcast control from the game.

Lunaloveee's Lineup for <a href="https://esports.gg/news/hearthstone/jrslovestorm-wins-hearthstone-masters-tour-onyxias-lair/">Masters Tour Onyxia's Lair</a> featuring Kazakusan Druid and Control Warrior. <a href="https://www.yaytears.com/battlefy/61fa914887d821355e9372fe/lunaloveee%231417" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Copy code here.</a>
Lunaloveee's Lineup for Masters Tour Onyxia's Lair featuring Kazakusan Druid and Control Warrior. Copy code here.

Now Control Warrior is the second most popular archetype in Legend. Yes, it has the Galvangar charge combo as a finisher or Kazakusan as a late-game tool, but that is what control decks are now in Hearthstone.

We should not forget that we are in the early days of this meta and that there is still much room for experimentation. Let’s see if Hearthstone Grandmasters starting this weekend brings any surprises.

Thanks to Fireproofflame for the excellent featured image. Stay tuned to Esports.gg for more Hearthstone news and updates. See you next time in the tavern.