Hearthstone’s biggest tournament of the year, the HCT World Championship, is officially underway in Amsterdam. To celebrate, Hearthstone is letting players pilot past championship decks in their pure, unnerfed forms.
Dubbed “Hall of Champions,” the special game mode is a limited-time Tavern Brawl that gives players a random World Championship-winning deck to play against another human opponent. The decks of all three Hearthstone world champions are represented here: 2014 winner Firebat, 2015 winner Ostkaka, and 2016 champion Pavel.
Over the past few years, the game of Hearthstone has changed dramatically. Some cards that used to be ridiculously overpowered would be considered so-so in today’s metagame. On the other hand, some of the older cards that have since been nerfed would still be strong, perhaps too strong, in the context of today’s available card pool.
The real strength of this Tavern Brawl is that it gives context to Hearthstone’s history by letting us replay and relive the strategies and mechanics of previous metagames. It’s a thrill to get to use Firebat’s insurmountably aggressive 2014 Hunter deck, which ran Undertaker, an aggressive 1-mana card that’s still seen as one of the most powerful Hearthstone cards ever printed and was nerfed in January of 2015.
The mode reminds me of sports games like NBA 2K, which let you play as “classic” teams to celebrate the history of a sport. But Hearthstone, unlike basketball, is a video game, so when you play these throwback decks you’re not just mapping old scenarios to buttons and character models, you’re reliving them firsthand. It makes me wonder what kinds of horrors today’s OP decks might wreak on future Championship contenders.
Hall of Champions is only available to play through the rest of the weekend, but will remain playable at Fireside Gathering events for the rest of the month.