Hey, guys. It’s RaFive. Today I’m here to give you some insight and play tips on the hottest new card in the post-GvG metagame: Dr. Boom. Almost universally underrated (including by yours truly) before the expansion’s release, the good doctor has quickly risen to become the expansion’s Sludge Belcher — an obnoxiously sticky, value-laden minion played in decks of every stripe. Let’s dive in-depth and see how we can maximize his value and playability!
On paper, Dr. Boom doesn’t look terribly impressive. A 7/7 for 7 passes the vanilla test, and the two Boom Bots, with 1 attack plus an effect which does an average 2.5 damage, will collectively do an average of 7 damage if they both get to attack.
In other words, on paper, Dr. Boom looks for the most part like a slower, less consistent 7-mana version of Ragnaros the Firelord, which is why I dismissed him as a decently costed but mediocre card prior to GvG launch, one that filled roughly the same shoes as Rag but not as effectively. Some of that sense was right: Boom’s main body is about as difficult to remove as Raggy’s, and the damage done by the Boom Bots, while distributed, usually has a much harder time killing something important than Rag’s 8-damage curb-stomp. Costing 1 mana less is actually a significant advantage for midrange-ier decks, but not (I thought) enough to recommend Boom over Rag.
However, Dr. Boom has the same insane advantage that pushed Sludge Belcher to the top-tier: he’s a tempo maniac. Belcher is a fantastic card because it’s one action on your part that almost always requires at least two actions on your opponent’s part to fully remove. This makes it much harder for your opponent to completely clear your board, and frequently forces him to spend two cards to remove one of yours, which can quickly deplete your opponent’s resources in clutch situations by depriving him of the cards he needs to remove more important threats down the road (which is why Belcher into Savannah Highmane — also an insane tempo card — is such a powerful play in Hunter).
Boom is even better than Belcher for tempo in most cases. Belcher is a two-for-one card. Boom is a THREE-for-one card (the only neutral one, in fact). While Belcher hides its extra minion until the front end dies as a hedge against AoE, Boom welcomes AoE, given the punishing and easily-triggered Deathrattles of the Boom Bots. This virtually guarantees your opponent will end up expending at least two of his cards to deal with one of yours, probably spending more than 7 total mana in the process, as well.
In short, Dr. Boom is a great card because he drains a ton of resources if dealt with and represents a potentially game-ending threat if ignored. This is why he fits well in almost every deck — in aggressive and midrange decks, he acts as a finisher or else builds you a board to buy you a turn to close the game out (or helps you recover from behind), while in control, he generates huge card advantage and baits out removal for heavier finishers like Ragnaros. If any significant percentage of your games are not decided by turn 7, Dr. Boom is almost certainly worth serious consideration as an addition to your deck (as seen in the midrangey Zoo list to the right, which I’ve been using to tear up the ladder over the last few days).
It’s not all gravy, though. Next, let’s take a closer look at Dr. Boom’s major weaknesses.
Interactions: The Bad
The Boom counter you’ll see most often on ladder is the old, reliable Big Game Hunter. It might take your opponent two cards to do it, but BGH plus low-cost removal (Wild Pyromancer, Explosive Trap, Fan of Knives, etc.) can usually take Boom and the bots out cheaply enough as to not get too far behind. To some extent this is unavoidable, as aggressive/midrange lists won’t be running much else with which to bait BGH and control probably actually prefers that Boom take the hit, but you can offset the likelihood of an efficient counter by having significant pressure on the board mid-game (turns 4-6) to try to bait out AoE before Boom comes down.
Other than BGH, neutral Boom counters are fairly slim. Ragnaros the Firelord
actually does all right if his RNG holds, and even if not, will often trade adequately with Dr. Boom (a success even costing 1 extra mana, since you’re only using one card to remove a card that’s specifically designed to cost you efficiency). Emperor Cobra
is equally efficient but usually too slow to actually target Boom successfully unless you predict when he’ll come down and play Cobra the turn before (much easier said than done). Lil' Exorcist
snatches quite a bit of value off the Boom Bots, but doesn’t have much utility in the broader metagame and isn’t strong enough to be worth running just as a tech counter to Dr. Boom (BGH makes much more sense, there, although I suppose BGH + Exorcist could be an adequate tech counter to Boom).
Class-wise, the strongest opposition to Dr. Boom comes from Priest and Warrior. Warrior in particular has a cheap Boom counter in the form of Whirlwind + Execute, leaving a juicy 5 mana of value to soothe the card inefficiency. Gorehowl is also pretty efficient removal of Boom’s main body, in a pinch. Priest is also quite strong against Boom, with Shadow Word: Death for the main body and cards like Wild Pyromancer or Cabal Shadow Priest for the Boom Bots, although Priest also packs a single-card counter to Boom’s whole setup in the form of the deadly Lightbomb. If you’re having difficulties with Boom on ladder, Priest or Warrior are your best bets (plus they can run BGH with lower opportunity cost than more aggressive decks, as well).
Although there are several reasonable avenues from which to approach countering Dr. Boom, I hope your takeaway, dear reader, is that Boom just doesn’t have an awful lot of weaknesses. He’s a strong card precisely because while you can remove him, you generally can’t do so efficiently.
Interactions: The Good
Were I to exhaustively detail every single card that positively interacts with Dr. Boom, we’d be here all day. I’ll save some time and space by breaking the various effects down into subsections: stat buffers, card synergies, and card counters.
Counters first. Dr. Boom is extremely powerful against hard removal, almost always leaving enough value on the board that the removal has to some extent been wasted. The more expensive the removal, the better; Boom loves to soak up some Siphon Soul and Assassinate whenever he can (to say nothing of random removal like Deadly Shot that might miss him entirely). He’s also extremely powerful against slow high-health folks like Boulderfist Ogre, and particularly those with a powerful effect, like Archmage Antonidas and , where he can deal damage and stay on the field, while using the Boom Bots for additional board control.
Speaking of Boom Bots, these are the stars of the show when paired with any kind of stat buffing cards, and quickly multiply Dr. Boom’s already-impressive value. Cards like Flametongue Totem
, Defender of Argus
, and Cenarius
all turn the Boom Bots into formidable trading engines that are sure to significantly boost your board control, to say nothing of a game-ending Savage Roar
here and there. (Prioritize buffing attack rather than health, since you generally want the Boom Bots to die quickly for their effect.)
Be creative in looking for applicable buffs, especially if they’re cards you can play on the same turn as you lay down Dr. Boom. At the same time, be aware of how easy (or tough) your cards are to kill, and don’t waste a valuable buff (particularly to health) if you have reason to believe some part of Dr. Boom is about to die in a hurry. For example, Sword of Justice into Boom is generally a waste of those charges, since the Boom Bots will still die to AoE and it doesn’t make Boom’s main body any more survivable against common removal, but Avenge is a beautifully dirty combo with Boom that will almost certainly net you value while you mess with your opponent’s head.
Last but not least, the Boom Bots are, of course, two extra minions, mech-type, with Deathrattle (obvious lategame Undertaker synergy is obvious). Since they hurt to kill and come attached to an extremely intimidating 7/7, your opponent will generally focus on Dr. Boom first and will often totally ignore the Boom Bots, which lets you exploit their presence in rolling out cards like Goblin Blastmage, Powermace, Tinkertown Technician, or Iron Sensei. Remember that you’re putting three bodies on the board using only one card, too — Sea Giant and Frostwolf Warlord love that kind of setup, and so do cards that synergize off damage or death, like Frothing Berserker, Flesheating Ghoul, and our beloved Cult Master.
Craft this guy, seriously, even if you’re an F2Per playing only Zoo and Hunter. Dr. Boom’s utility is close to universal, probably the highest of any legendary card in hearthstone to date, higher even than that of Sylvanas Windrunner — that’s not a compliment I dish out lightly, believe me — and he currently has almost no efficient counters. Even just throwing him randomly into a midrange or control deck at the appropriate mana slot is likely to increase your winrate, and you can easily multiply that effect by carefully studying the interactions in this guide and supporting Dr. Boom with the most effective cards for your playstyle. Have fun cackling your way to Legend as you build a better metagame!