This has been a thing since the beginning of the game and honestly is something that has always bothered me. I'm talking about the way Team 5 designs expansions and the way they distribute the power level between classes. What they do is basically make it so there are some garbage tier unplayable class(es) and then some god tier ones. They keep feeding the tier 0 classes expansion after expansion until they become too strong, then they nerf it and depending how powerful it was then the class can become ok or unplayable. The garbage tier classes keep getting scraps to the point where maybe one or two cards on the entire expansion are decent and are playable in some decks but obviously that's not enough.
Just look at the Shaman set for Stormwind. The class got no bad cards at all. Let's quickly go through all of them:
Command the Elements: Good quest, not too hard to complete and the final reward is pretty strong. Not sure if it's worth cause you can just kill the opponent faster with weapons and burn spells (casted once) but the card is straight up good.
Bolner Hammerbeak: Nuts card. Shaman has a bunch of good battlecry cards. Just imagine going turn 2 this into Dungeoneer... nice draw 4. And it's not super easy to remove 4 health on turn 2.
Overdraft: What the actual fuck. What is this card, who aproveed this? I mean for 1 mana you unlock your overloadead crystals, deal damage (can go face) and it even has tradable in case you can use it. No way this card doesn't get nerfed in the first balance patch.
Tiny Toys: This honestly looks like a fine midrange card but it could bring evolve shaman as a serious deck. You can go weapon on 5 into this on 6 and nut on your opponent or even turn 5 this into revolve. Again not sure if it's worth cause everything else looks better but this is the pay-off card evolve shaman needed, it has all the enablers but it needed a real threat.
Granite Forgeborn: Elemental shaman is good. This card is a Yeti with a crazy upside. It is an elemental itself. Cheating mana is good. Card = Good.
Charged Call: This one is on the weaker side but still not a bad a card really. Obviously intended for the quest deck and I guess you can cheat a lot of mana with it but I think it'll end up not seeing a lot of play, not even in the quest deck.
Auctionhouse Gavel: All Shaman archetype have really good battlecries, this helps you play them earlier and you can tutor the card. Not crazy insane but a more than decent card that will for sure see play.
Canal Slogger: This card is a staple in every single Shaman until it rotates. Cheap removal that can kill bigger stuff and it heals you. There's not a single Shaman deck that doesn't want to run this. This card is the strongest Shaman card of the expansion just because of how solid it is.
Spirit Alpha: Whatever card, also on the weaker side. You can do nasty stuff with blooms and overdraft but I don't think is realistically worth it even on quest.
Investment Opportunity: Just meh, not bad not great. Will see play in quest and I could see it being run in other decks to get either bloom or slogger (or both?) but is just a super generic tutor but the fact that shaman has 2 crazy prime targets for this could push it to being played (again bloom and slogger).
So as you can see, Shaman didn't get a single bad card, it got a couple of crazy cards, some decent ones and like 2 meh ones, that aren't even bad but won't really see play all things considered. I don't understand why one of the best decks in the game, tier 1 for sure, and a class that has 2 separate but good gameplans (full elementals or doomhammer), why in the hell do they do this? Why do they rotate the powerlevel between periods of time?
I know it's impossible to make a meta where every class is at least decent and playable, where everyone just has at least one good deck with at least like 50-53% winrate but come one, they purposefully make some classes great and others complete thrash, I'm not saying they should make the game perfectly balanced but hey, maybe if there's a class that's really good, maybe don't keep giving it another expansion of all crazy cards.
They make sets way in advance. People have been talking about Overload being a bad mechanic since forever, and most of what's really good in this set has been done to make Overload as viable a mechanic as possible.
Did they overdo it?
But the thing about a new set is, it changes EVERYTHING. it takes a few weeks for people to really try everything out (and I think there are good decks from THIS meta that are either getting held back by overtuned cards or just haven't really been figured out yet). I think there's a lot of efficient healing in this set that comes with a pretty significant deal of combo, as well as flexible healing and armor gain cards (some of them with tradeable) that are going to make aggro decks really sad. At least ideally... hopefully.
I'm against infinite value and also too much cost reduction. I like that they are making the game more minion centric but with they didn't make things like one mana mass silence for priest. I'm less interested in balance than in mechanics and I hope they keep making interesting cards like quest lines and dormant minions.
The view from the design team vs the players must be so weird. The players get new cards and find broken/unbalanced stuff, and they start complaining. Saying stuff about how the team sucks and why didn’t they predict this. Then they have to look back on last years work and wonder how they missed that interaction while wondering what other stuff they missed in the next four expansion’s that are just sitting on the shelf. It’s like getting called to the principal’s office for last years homework. You might remember what they are talking about, or it might just honestly yah even slipped your mind. Must be crazy.
Jesus. Shaman gets (possibly) it's first good expansion in an age and before it's even released people are spitting the dummy. There seems to be a lot of crazy cards in this set that are going to be able to do a lot of crazy things so how about we see how it shakes down in a months time before getting salty.
I think it's like any game: they only have so many testers in their team. They do their best to predict what will be good and what won't be, but can't possibly account for the millions of people trying stuff out when they get their hands on the new cards. Hence, the nerfs that usually come after release.
I'm sure there is more to it than that, but I don't honestly believe that they intentionally design some cards to be better than others in a specific set, it's just how it shakes out.
I'm not even sure they try that hard to balance anymore, as they nerf fast, and they don't even seem to mind if they kill an entire knew archetype they were going for. Y'all remember Watchposts from the barrens?
In case you weren’t aware they work like 2 expansions ahead of what’s released, which probably causes a bit of these issues. I don’t think they actively try to make some classes broken and others garbage. I think a lot of their design philosophy is “hey this is a neat idea,” which would explain why some things are interesting or cool but not very good *cough*freeze shaman*cough* ultimately though a company of a couple hundred people or whatever (I dunno how big the design team is really) is never going to be able to theory craft or play test as well as a player base of a few million people.