The Boomsday Project, latest Hearthstone expansion from Year of the Raven, is out for over a week. So far, it didn’t have a massive impact on the meta – Mechs and Magnetic aren’t very popular, Omega cards aren’t commonly seen on the ladder, and even Projects turned out to be worse than suspected (besides Demonic Project, which works quite well, but that’s mostly because of how Combo-heavy the current meta is).
However, there is one card, which blew everything else out of the water – Giggling Inventor. While the card was rated quite highly even before the release, I can safely say that not many players expected that it will reach this level of power and popularity. For example, it was rated as the #15 card of the expansion in Vicious Syndicate’s pre-release poll (Source), with 3.6 out of 5 score. HSTD users (you!) have rated it a bit lower, ranking it #34 card from the set (with 3.9 out of 5 score). But it turned out to be out of the league. If we look at the popularity and the amount of different decks you can slot it in, it reminds me of another card, a card that was nerfed just 2 months after its release – Corridor Creeper. Not in terms of being a sleeper card (but that too, to a certain extent – many players were completely sleeping on it), but rather in terms of the omnipresence of both cards. And the scary part is that Giggling is already more popular than pre-nerf Creeper was, and it’s only getting worse (or well, better if you’re a fan of an annoying laugh).
If we look at statistics from the last 24 hours (thanks to HSReplay.net), at the time I’m writing this, Giggling Inventor is played by around 38% of the decks on the ladder. And the higher we go, the more popular it is. R10-Legend, it’s already 42.8%. R5-Legend, 44.6%. And finally, Legend only, it’s in 49.2% of the decks. The fact that it’s much more popular in the higher ranks can be attributed to a few factors. Majority of the new innovation and meta changes start with pros, at the higher ranks. Higher ranked players are more competitive, so they’re quicker to adopt new cards – players at lower ranks often play outdated versions of decks, because they aren’t constantly keeping up with all the changes. The decks are also more competitive – lower ranked players tend to play more non-meta, homemade or “fun” builds compared to high ranked players. And finally, the high ranked meta is a bit different, so the optimal card choices are also different, although I wouldn’t think much about it in case of Giggling, as the card fits into so many archetypes that the exact meta doesn’t really matter.
While we can’t know for sure, there is a very high chance that a nerf patch will follow the expansion after 1-2 months. It was the case for every 2017 expansion AND The Witchwood so far, which leads me to believe that it’s probably already scheduled. If that is the case, Giggling Inventor surely looks like one of the cards that might get hit. So in the worst case scenario, if you don’t launch the game just to not hear her laugh, the problem should be resolved by Blizzard in a while (I would be absolutely surprised if they left the card as it is). And if you’re holding onto some extra copies of it – be sure to not Disenchant them right now, especially the Golden version. Since it’s a Rare, normal version would give you 100 Dust / card after the full Dust refund (which is still not that bad if you own a few copies), but a Golden version would give you massive 800 Dust each if you were lucky enough to unpack it.
Why Is It So Popular?
Why is everyone playing Giggling Inventor? “Because it’s strong” is a good answer, but definitely not a fully satisfying one. We have strong cards that see only a little or even no play at all. There is much more to the Giggling Inventor’s popularity, and I’ll try to analyze it before going ahead and offering some counters.
- It’s strong. Duh. Obviously, that’s still the main reason – if the card wasn’t good to begin with, it would never become so popular. But why is it strong? The answer is actually quite easy – because it basically takes 3 cards and packs them into one without adding almost any mana cost. 2x Annoy-o-Tron costs 4 mana, and then a vanilla 2/1 would probably cost somewhere around 0.5 mana, but to round it up, that’s 5 mana in total. Normally, when you slap a few cards into one, it increases their mana cost, or comes with some sort of downside, but this one doesn’t. The card is just super mana efficient, and cards that are mana efficient usually see play.
- It’s flexible. Cards that can fit only into a single deck, even if Neutral, will never be that popular. But Giggling Inventor is different – the card can fit into many different archetypes, despite all of them wanting it for a different reason. Aggro/Tempo deck might want to play it to protect the rest of the board from trades and be able to keep going face with other minions. A Token deck can play it, because it summons three bodies, two of which come with Divine Shield, so they can stick for the buffs (or Savage Roar, or Bloodlust). A Control deck might want it as a defensive tool, to prevent face damage, to set up a better AoE etc. Combo decks, while similar to Control, plays it mostly for its stall value – it can buy another turn or two to get closer to the combo.
- It fills a mid-game defensive tool niche. Giggling Inventor reminds me of Sludge Belcher in a way. The card was super popular back in the day, played by lots of different decks. Even some aggressive builds used Sludge Belcher. Yes, it was strong, but most importantly – it filled an important niche, just like Inventor does. We already have early and late game Neutral defensive cards – e.g. Tar Creeper and Primordial Drake – but nothing to play in the mid game. And Giggling Inventor fits that slot very well, just like Sludge Belcher did before (and probably even better).
- It’s always a good 5-drop. The thing lots of players don’t necessarily think about when building a deck is that an X mana card is not necessarily an X-drop. You can have multiple 5 mana cards, but nothing that you consistently want to play on T5. And funnily enough, if we look at the current meta, the 5 mana card slot tends to be pretty awkward in that matter. For example, the other most popular 5 mana card is Fungalmancer. While an amazing card, you often can’t drop it on the curve, simply because you need to have a specific board for it to be good (two other minions). By itself, it’s a 5 mana 2/2, something you would never want to play. Same goes for many and I mean many other popular, strong 5 mana cards in the current meta. They can be reactive, require a certain board (or hand) state to be good, might need some sort of “activation” to work etc. Just looking at the TEN most popular 5 mana minions after Giggling Inventor, it applies to all of them in one way or the other. Fungalmancer, Leeroy Jenkins, Carnivorous Cube, Vilespine Slayer, Arcane Tyrant, Zilliax, Doomguard, Witchwood Grizzly, Dyn-o-matic, Captain Greenskin. Some are more playable on curve, others less, but the point is that none and I mean NONE of them is “I can always drop it on T5 and it will be a good play”, they all come with some sort of condition or require a setup. Giggling Inventor is different – I don’t remember a game in which dropping it on the curve was a bad play. Yes, sometimes I had better plays to make anyway, but most of the time I can play it on curve and don’t feel bad about it.
- It’s annoying. A card being annoying might not seem like an important factor, but trust me, it really is. By annoying I don’t mean its voice-line or art (that said, it can definitely tilt your opponent), but it’s simply annoying to play against/around. The main goal of Hearthstone (other than killing your opponent, of course) is to perform your own game plan while trying to make it as difficult as you can for the opponent to perform theirs. Giggling does both of those at the same time. In the right deck, it helps you accomplish your game plan (look at the flexibility above – in Aggro it helps you save other minions, in Combo it stalls the game etc.) while it makes your opponent’s game plan more awkward. Since it’s difficult to get through, your opponent might e.g. need to sacrifice 10+ damage to get through the Annoy-o-Trons, he might need to make an awkward AoE turn and clear it (because otherwise you can e.g. AoE buff it in Token Druid) and so on.
How To Counter Giggling Inventor
But what can you do if you face it too much (and judging by the statistics, you probably do)? What decks can you play that work well against it? What cards can you tech in to make dealing with it easier? And finally, how do you handle it when you don’t draw your counterplays?
First of all, the deck choice really matters. There are decks against which Giggling Inventor is more annoying, and then there are decks that work better against it. When playing some decks, you might actually appreciate your opponent dropping Giggling if you’re holding the right card. The best example would be a slow Druid deck with Spreading Plague. They just love when you flood the board with small minions. Giggling means three extra 1/5 Taunts for them, and that’s an even better deal than playing Giggling was for you. Other than that, Druid can also get rid of Divine Shield quite easily with Hero Power, and Swipe does a relatively good job against it, especially if you have another minion on the board with 3-4 health – they just Swipe it, get rid of the 2/1 and pop both Divine Shields.
Slow Warlocks also might not mind playing against Giggling, but that’s mostly when you make a timing/trading mistake and play into Defile. You put a 1 and a 3 health minions on the board, so if you already have a 2 health minion, then you make their Defile deal AT LEAST 4 damage (which is amazing for a 2 mana spell). Also, be extra careful about Lord Godfrey when facing a Control or Cube build (Even build can’t play it, luckily) – he will trigger AT LEAST 3 times when dropped into Giggling, dealing 6 or more AoE damage. It’s almost always a full board clear. Even without it, Even Warlock’s Dread Infernal, while not a perfect counter, does a pretty fine job – it clears the 2/1 and pops both Shields. That said, Giggling might work really, really well if Even Warlock only has big bombs on the board and it doesn’t play into their Defile. Even if they pop Divine Shields, they might still have to throw e.g. 15 damage into your 1/2 Taunts, and that feels great.
And finally, another notable example of a deck that can not only get through, but actually USE your Giggling against you is slow Priest deck. Not only Wild Pyromancer does a pretty good job clearing it when combined with a few cheap spells, but Psychic Scream is very powerful against any card summoning tokens, including Giggling. Of course, Priest won’t likely use it against Giggling alone, but be careful if you want to drop it on a board with a few minions already and you’re approaching Turn 7. While shuffling the main 2/1 body is fine, because you can just replay it, it also shuffles 2x Annoy-o-Tron, and that’s not really something you want to draw in the late game. It’s not as good as playing Scream vs Living Mana or Wispering Woods, but it can still make your draws worse.
But what if you do not play one of those decks, or simply find Giggling Inventor so annoying that you want to make your deck even better against it? You’re not completely out of luck, because there are some cards that work really well against it:
- Blood Knight – A tech card that was forgotten for the longest time in Standard is making a comeback thanks to the Giggling Inventor infestation. Going by the Legend rank example, it’s in 11.1% of the decks right now, which is a huge jump from basically 0% it was in before Boomsday Project. While the card doesn’t counter the Taunt aspect of Giggling Inventor, it does get rid of the annoying part – Divine Shields. But just “gets rid of” would be an understatement of the year – it also gains +3/+3 for each Divine Shield it “eats”, meaning that against the Giggling Inventor, you end up dropping a 3 mana 9/9. While you still have to clear two small Taunts to get through, it should be much easier to do it. Blood Knight is a recommended tech for more Aggro / Tempo decks, especially those running some Divine Shields too (e.g. Argent Squire, Righteous Protector or even Inventor herself). Most of the time it’s worth trading bubbles on small minions for +3/+3 buff (given that +3/+3 would be worth around 3 mana). If you don’t face or play any Divine Shields, then a 3 mana 3/3, while not very good, is still playable by itself in a faster deck.
- Mind Control Tech – While MCT does not directly counter Giggling Inventor, and it does nothing against board with just Inventor, lots of the times your opponent will have at least a single more minion on the board before playing it. +3 minion count in a single card activates MCT very often. The worst case scenario is of course stealing a 2/1, but even then, 3/3 + 2/1 AND dealing with their 2/1 is not the worst thing ever. Stealing the Annoy-o-Tron is already good, not only you don’t have to deal with one, but you also get one. It’s a nice tempo move, because your opponent has now paid 5 mana for 2/1 + Annoy-o-Tron, while you paid 3 mana for a 3/3 + Annoy-o-Tron. Plus, there is a chance that your opponent might have something bigger on the board he wants to protect, and snatching that one is especially good. Mind Control Tech is mostly played in Midrange and slower decks, because if you play Aggro/Tempo deck, you usually kill your opponent’s stuff whenever you can, and you don’t need reactive cards. It’s also good in decks that can’t play AoEs for some reason, e.g. in Spiteful Summoner decks. Mind Control Tech is played in 8% of the decks in Legend right now. While some decks have played it already (Shudderwock Shaman), others have started teching it more recently (e.g. Malygos Druid or Big Spell Mage).
- Mossy Horror – And finally, we’re getting to the real counter. Want to annihilate Giggling Inventor entirely, not leaving anything behind? Play Mossy Horror. It’s like a perfect counter – not only it comes a turn after Giggling, but it clears it very cleanly while leaving a 2/7 body behind. You deal with your opponent’s 5-drop entirely for 6 mana, and put an okay body on the board – it’s a great tempo swing in your favor. And that’s only killing Giggling – if you can hit something else at the same time, it’s even better. Mossy Horror started seeing some play last expansion, mostly as a counter to Spreading Plague. It’s still a great Plague counter, but now can also deal with by far the most popular card on the ladder. It’s played in 17.3% of the Legend decks and that number is only growing. Besides its anti-Giggling properties, Mossy Horror works great against any other 0-2 Attack minion. It’s amazing in Shaman matchups (clearing all of the Totems), against decks that flood the board with small minions, even against Doomsayer. It can also be used to trigger your own minions – that’s the reason why the card is most popular in Deathrattle Hunter, where it can trigger Devilsaur Egg and Mechanical Whelp. But you can realistically play it in a variety of Midrange and Control decks, including stuff such as Even Warlock, Shudderwock Shaman and Miracle Rogue (the deck has a really hard time getting through both Plague and Giggling).
But what can you do if you don’t play any ways to counter it or you don’t draw them? There are still some things to keep in mind when playing against it. Most importantly, be careful with your trades. If your opponent has other minions on the board, try to trade your minions in a way that will make it most awkward for your opponent to clear your things. For example, leaving a big minion at 2 health is probably not a good idea since it can just get killed by the 2/1. If you play against a slower deck, there is a significant chance that Giggling Inventor is setting up some sort of board clear. So if you face a Warlock, when killing the Inventor, try your best to play around Defile and Hellfire.
If you face a Shaman deck running Giggling Inventor, there is a significant chance that he also runs ways to Evolve his own board (Unstable Evolution, Thrall, Deathseer) – killing the 2/1 is the biggest priority then, because despite low stats, it costs 5 mana, making it a perfect Evolve target.
Against faster decks, if you can’t clear everything, at least take down the Divine Shields – that should be your higher priority. Leaving them intact, even if it sets up for your next turn play or something, is just risky. Some Aggro decks runs Blood Knight and it can get +6/+6 for eating the bubbles. Even more Aggro decks run Fungalmancer (it’s the second most popular card on the ladder, after all) and buffs are much more powerful when played on Divine Shield minion.
Against Token decks in particular, mostly Token Druid, try to do your best to clear every minion. But if it’s not possible and you can either choose to clear a single Annoy-o-Tron or pop two shields, it’s usually better to clear one. It plays around AoE buffs, but especially Soul of the Forest. While Divine Shield on one of them would make it better buff target, in case of Soul of the Forest, he will just get one Treant less, which can be a big difference. Even if he runs Power of the Wild, you probably prefer facing a single 2/3 Taunt with Divine Shield than 2x 2/3 Taunt without Divine Shield.