Hey all, I’m fairly new to Hearthstone, but am a long time MTG player who likes to do in-depth analyses of new cards. Since the GVG launch, there is a lot of such testing to be done, particularly with all of the rng mechanics introduced in the set. I decided to do an analysis of Piloted Shredder, since it is a neutral card that debatably fits into a number of decks, is a mech, and has an RNG mechanic. If people seem to like this post, I may do more like it in the future! Anyway, on to Piloted Shredder.
First, I’ll talk about the base stats and of Piloted Shredder in comparison to other options in the meta. Then I’ll discuss the value of Piloted Shredder in aggressive and mid range mech decks, which seem like the most likely candidates to run PS. Finally, I’ll talk about the value of PS’s deathrattle effect and give a summary opinion about the card.
Base Stats: As a 4 mana 4/3, Piloted Shredder’s base stats are subpar. As a 3 toughness minion, PS trades unfavorably with 3 power minions on earlier drops, as well as with common taunt minions like Senjin Shieldmasta and Sludge Belcher. It’s also worth noting how crowded 4 mana slot is in most decks. PS competes with Yetis and also 4 cost utility minions like Spellbreaker and Kezan Mystic. Admittedly, Spellbreaker and Kezan Mystic don’t compete as directly with PS because they will often not be played on-curve, but it’s still worth noting what else you can get on a 4/3 body for 4 mana. Other 4 drop competition comes from Senjin Shieldmasta, in mid range decks, and from Defender of Argus in aggro.
The deciding factor is clearly the value of PS’s Deathrattle vs the special effects these other cards have. PS’s Deathrattle will be discussed in-depth later on, but for now it’s worth noting that aggro/mid-range decks focused on board control look to benefit more from PS’s effect than from Spellbreaker or Kezan mystic. Control decks, are probably better off with one of these minions, or with Senjin Shieldmasta. This might seem obvious, but it’s useful to keep in mind the kinds of decks that will want to run PS, so we can compare PS to other cards with that in mind.
Creature Type: Being a mech is one of the big draws of Piloted Shredder, but PS faces stiff competition from other 4 drop mechs in GVG. Jeeves, Mechanical Yeti, and Enhance-o-Mechano are mech 4-drops that often want to played on-curve. Aggressive or mid-range Mech decks looking to plug their 4-drop have a number of attractive options, of which PS is only one. PS is arguably a better combat minion than Jeeves or Enhanco-Mechano, but both have powerful effects that are especially useful in aggro and midrange decks. Enhance-o-Mechano can win games when played on a full board by allowing for big damage windfury attacks or protecting the board from removal. Jeeves keeps aggro from running out of steam. PS’s main purpose is to gain tempo and card advantage by gaining value from it’s deathrattle, so both of these cards are direct competitors despite having worse combat stats. Mechanical Yeti wants to use its 5 toughness to trade two for 1, also a filling a very similar role to PS. The reason I’m spending so much time pointing out Shredders competition is to emphasize that PS is only worth running if the deathrattle is a powerful effect. With that established, I’ll now discuss the effect itself.
Deathrattle Effect: So first off, just having deathrattle adds value to any aggressive card. Undertaker remains a staple card in many aggressive decks, and counters to deathrattle remain weak and rarely seen. That being said, one of PS’s main competitors, Mechanical Yeti, also has deathrattle so PS’s deathrattle effect still needs to add significant value to push it into competitive viability over the Yeti (as well as in general). PS’s deathrattle summons a random 2-cost minion. Below, I’ve compiled a list of all 67 possible minions that PS can summon. This list is broken into 4 categories based on how valuable the summon is in my opinion. Importantly, the rankings are not internally ordered, they are just general categories based on average value of the summoned minion. Basically, the summons in the ‘Great’ category are creatures you are always pretty happy to see, while minions in the ‘Poor’ category are consistently underwhelming.
- Millhouse Manastorm
- Knife Juggler
- Dire Wolf Alpha
- Haunted Creeper
- Flametongue Totem
- Nat Pagle
- Faerie Dragon
- Mistress of Pain
- Master Swordsmith
- Shielded Minibot
- Whirling Zap-O-Matic
- Vitality Totem
- Loot Hoarder
- Micro Machine
- Patient Assasin
- Pint-Sized Summoner
- Sorcerer’s Apprentice
- Stonesplitter Troegg
- 23/67 options are Great.
- Wild Pyromancer
- Anondized Robo Cub
- Amani Berzerker
- Ancient Swamp Ooze
- Bloodfen Raptor
- Bloodmage Thalnos
- Bloodsail Raider
- Frostwolf Grunt
- Giblin Stalker
- Goblin Auto Barber
- Mad Bomber
- Mana Addict
- One-eyed cheat
- River Crocolisk
- Ship’s Cannon
- Steamwheedle Sniper
- Sunfury Protector
- Youthful Brewmaster
- 23/67 options are Good.
- Ancient Watcher
- Argent Protector
- Bluegill Warrior
- Captain’s Parrot
- Crazed Alchemist
- Cruel Taskmaster
- Defias Ringleader
- Echoing Ooze
- Ironbeak Owl
- Kobold Geomancer
- Mad Scientist
- Murloc Tidehunter
- Novice Engineer
- Nerubian Egg
- Scavenging Hyena
- 15/67 options are Poor.
- Unstable Ghoul
- Explosive Sheep
- Mana Wraith
- Lorewalker Cho
- Nerub’ar Weblord
- 6/67 options are deserving of special consideration.
As I said before, the above list is an approximation. There are a few borderline cases, particularly between the ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ groups, but I think these rankings are close enough to give us an idea of how valuable your PS drop is likely to be. I’m not going to breakdown every single minion, but I’ll point out a few general features of the possible drops and then discuss special cases before finally wrapping this up.
First off, PS has a ~70% chance of summoning a card from the Good or Great lists. These cards are roughly on par with, or exceed, the value you would expect from a normal 2 drop minion. Within this set of ‘worthwhile’ minions, PS is just as likely to summon of the ‘Great’ minions as one of the ‘Good’ ones. So basically a little less than 3 out of 4 times that Piloted Shredder’s deathrattle triggers, you’ll get something worthwhile and about half of those ‘good’ rolls will give you something better than you’d expect.
About 23% of the time, you’ll get a ‘Poor’ minion, which are generally mediocre. Most of these minions are drops with secondary effects that either rely on battlecry or which won’t work in most decks. Obviously, there are some exceptions; Mad Scientist, Nerubian Egg, and Scavenging Hyena can be great in the right deck. If you’re thinking about running PS in a deck that benefits from such cards, you should adjust your expectations accordingly. Overall, though, the ‘poor’ drops provide some value, but you’re not getting much bang for your buck.
Finally, there are the special cases. These minions have special effects that can have a significant impact on the game and which may, or may not, be in your favor. You have about a 9% chance of getting one of these minions.
Of these, Mana Wraith and Nerub’ar Weblord slow down minion drops. For the decks that want to run PS, Mana Wraith will usually be a very bad roll because it will slow down your curve. Nerub’ar Weblord is potentially good because it slows down important defensive battlecries (Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus come to mind, as well as silence minions). Lorewalker Cho is plausibly pretty strong in creature heavy mech decks, but is weaker in decks that take advantage of Spare Part mechanics. Overall, Cho can go either way, but he has a unique enough impact on the game to be a special case. You have a 4% chance of getting one of these 3 minions.
The remaining 3 minions are cards that clear the board, and can potentially be disastrous for the decks that want to run PS. Unstable Ghoul is the least dangerous, Explosive sheep is in the middle, and Doomsayer is the most dangerous. Getting one of these rolls when you have a strong board can turn a won game into a loss. You have about a 4% chance of getting one of these board-sweeping minions.
Finally, I’ll break down the probabilities of getting certain combat stats from PS summons for trading purposes. This last set of probabilities is basically just to help in game decision-making; for example, let’s say there is a tempting target for PS to trade with, but you expect your opponent to deal 2 damage to your board next turn. How likely are you to get a 3 toughness or better minion from PS? This list will tell you the answer to that question and a bunch of similar ones.
- The highest toughness that Piloted Shredder will ever summon is 7 on Doomsayer. The second highest toughness is 5 on Ancient Watcher and Lightwell. There is a ~4.5% chance of summoning one of these minions. None of these minions can attack.
- Piloted Shredder will summon one of 5 possible 4 toughness minions ~7.5% of the time. Of these, only 3 (Mistress of Pain, Millhouse Manastorm, and Armorsmith) can attack without being buffed. You have a 4.5% chance of getting one of these 4 toughness minions who can attack.
- Piloted Shredder will summon one of 15 possible 3 toughness minions ~22% of the time. Of these only Vitality totem cannot attack, yielding a 21% chance of getting a 3 toughness minion that can attack.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~31% of summoning a 3 toughness or greater minion. Of these 5 cannot attack, leaving about a 25% chance to get a 3 toughness minion or better that can attack.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~47% chance to summon 1 of 32 possible 2 toughness minions. Of these, only Nerubian Egg cannot attack, yielding a 46% chance to get a 2 toughness minion that can attack next turn.
- Piloted Shredder has a 15% chance to summon 1 of 10 possible 1 toughness minions, all of which can attack.
- The highest power that Piloted Shredder will ever summon is 4 on Millhouse Manastorm, One-eyed Cheat, Ancient Watcher, and Succubus. There is a 6% chance of summoning one of these minions. Of these, only 1 cannot attack, leaving a 4.5% chance of getting a 4 power minion that can attack.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~19% chance to summon 1 of 13 possible 3 power minions. All of these can attack.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~42% chance of summoning one of 28 possible 2 power minions. All of these can attack.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~21% chance of summoning one of 14 possible 1 power minions. All of these can attack.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~10 chance of summoning one of 7 possible 0 power minions.
- Piloted Shredder has ~6% chance to summon 1 of 4 possible minions with Taunt.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~10% chance to summon 1 of 7 possible minions with Deathrattle. *Piloted Shredder has a 35% chance to summon 1 of 24 possible minions who have unique effects that are obviously beneficial (e.g. Knife Juggler, Mistress of Pain, Scavenging Hyena, etc.).
- Piloted Shredder has a 3% chance to summon 1 of 2 possible minions with Divine Shield.
- Piloted Shredder has a 3% chance to summon 1 of 2 possible minions with Spell Damage +1.
- Piloted Shredder has a 3% chance to summone 1 of 2 possible minions with Stealth.
- Piloted Shredder has a ~39% chance to summon 1 of 26 possible minions with a possibly detrimental effect or no effect at all (including minions with combo or battlecry effects that don’t trigger for Shredder).
From these statistics, we can construct a hypothetical ‘average’ summon for Piloted Shredder. This average doesn’t correspond to any actual minion that PS could summon, but will give you a general idea of what traits you can statistically expect a PS summon to have. The hypothetical average summon has 2 power, 2 toughness, and a beneficial status effect of some sort (one of taunt, divine shield, deathrattle, spell damage, or a unique but beneficial effect).
Conclusion/TL;DR: So after all this analysis, how good Piloted Shredder is as a card? As with most in-depth analysis there’s no obvious answer, but I’ll list a few pros and cons and give my personal opinion.
- Piloted Shredder’s RNG effect is statistically likely to be worthwhile. 70% of the time, you’ll get a decent to great minion off of the deathrattle.
- Piloted Shredder has a beneficial typing as a deathrattle mech, synergising with many GVG mech cards and with Undertaker.
- 4 power is a bit above average for a 4 drop minion.
- Piloted Shredder faces stiff competition from other 4 drops in both mech and non-mech based decks.
- 3 toughness is below average for a 4 drop, and sets up Shredder to trade poorly with 3 power minions, which are very common in the current meta.
- Shredder’s deathrattle effect is not guaranteed to be beneficial, and will summon a weak or potentially dangerous minion 30% of the time.
I’m not a huge fan of Shredder, but I also don’t think it’s terrible. 3 toughness is a big drawback for mid range or tempo mech decks. Such decks are probably better off taking Mechanical Yeti or Enhance-o-Mechano. In addition, this analysis focused on neutral minions, but many classes have class specific minions such as Goblin Blastmage, Fel Cannon, and Houndmaster that compete for the slot. Non-mech mid-range decks are equally ill-served by a 3 toughness 4 drop and have an even wider pool of competitors for the 4 drop position.
Non-mech based aggro decks might find a slot for it, but there are a lot of great 4 drops for those types of decks already. Jeeves and Enhance-o-Mechano are good options, but Defender of Argus and Dark Iron Dwarf are also very strong. Such aggressive decks also will typically want to limit their 4 drops for fear of slowing their curve.
If there is a home for Piloted Shredder in the current meta, I think it is in an aggro deck in a class that really benefits from squeezing card advantage out of its minions. Aggro Rogue and Warrior lack draw, and might use Shredder to avoid running out of steam as quickly. Hunter also lacks draw and has the additional benefit of making use of Mad Scientist and Scavenging Hyena, which are underwhelming summons in other decks, but Hunter is such a tight deck already that it might be hard to find space. Decks other than these should probably pass on Shredder. There are just too many good options for 4 drops for classes with card draw to play Shredder, in both Mech and Non-Mech Decks.