Hatchery Meddler – Uses and Synergies
Hatchery Meddler – An Under-Played Legends Card
It’s time to look at Hatchery Meddler, one of the most underplayed cards in The Elder Scrolls Legends. This Houses of Morrowind card is seldom played in ranked play and I have not seen it in any competitive lists. Some long-time Legends fans will remember the trick he can do with Deranged Corprus or Snowy Sabre Cat, but that’s about all most people know about him.
Last week, there was a highlight on reddit as ch4meleon reported to have used the Meddler successfully in their Aggro Assassin list (see his report here). I now think it’s time to get Hatchery Meddler out of the shadows and honor him with a Uses and Synergies card review.
Introducing Hatchery Meddler
Hatchery Meddler is a 4-cost 5/3 Dark Elf in the blue Intelligence attribute. His summon ability swaps a creature’s power and health. This can include shifting his own stats to promote favorable trades. It sounds so uninteresting, but works on your creatures as well as your opponent’s creatures. You can turn your defensive creatures (high health, low attack) into sizable threats, and turn your opponent’s aggressive threats with little health (e.g. Bog Lurcher), into mini-threats. This works well against an opponent playing the red Strength attribute, as that has a lot high-attack-low-health creatures. For your own deck, you probably want to leverage the low-attack-high-health creatures of the Endurance attribute.
When you meddle the attributes in the right moment, it can really surprise your opponent and trick them into throwing the game. Let’s look at the card using quadrant theory.
Hatchery Meddler during Opening
During the opening phase of the game, Hatchery Meddler is a decent threat. If left unanswered, he can push a good amount of damage. Unfortunately, Hatchery Meddler dies to (almost) everything: Lightning Bolt, Brutal Ashlander, Reverberating Strike, Channeled Storm, Crushing Blow, Fell the Mighty, Ice Storm, and many more. At least, it survives Sorcerer’s Negation….
You really want him to have 5 health to survive most single target removal spells. Therefore, you have to protect him with a +x/+2 item directly. Steel Scimitar, Cloak & Dagger, Ebonthread Cloak, Tome of Alteration, Covenant Mail and Maple Shield are a few examples that can do the trick. You have to use an item to protect him and this makes him a difficult to use card. But since the original release of HoM, we have seen a lot of new item-related cards that can help out.
Hatchery Meddler at Parity
At parity, when both players are relying on their top deck, Hatchery Meddler’s effect is not very useful when you have the initiative to play a card first. You still get a 5/3 which is a pretty decent attack value, but his health will most likely allow your opponent to trade into him with their next top deck.
However, when your opponent has the initiative, you’ll have the chance to mess up your opponent’s attack/ health values in your favor. You can take a 2 for 1 trade against them if you can switch the stats of a 2/5 opposing your bigger creature.
Hatchery Meddler when Winning
When you are winning, Hatchery Meddler is a body that can be removed easily. If you don’t have trade priority in field lane, you might be able to sneak him through shadow lane to get at least one attack in. Ideally you’ll have a guard in his lane for some additional protection. A health buff of 2 points will improve his livability by a lot.
You can also use his ability on your opponent’s Hive Defender to allow for an easier trade. But, you can also use his ability on one of your high-health creatures for a surprise attack, e.g. Xivkhin Banelord, Baliwog Tidecrawlers, Hallowed Deathpriest, Clockwork Scorpion or Snowy Sabre Cat are good targets.
Hatchery Meddler as a Turnaround
As a turnaround, Hatchery Meddler cannot block attacks or help you to regain life. His ability allows you to decrease your opponent’s attack on their biggest creature, or help one of your drain creatures with a high health to drain for a little bit more. Still, the card seems not designed for turnaround purposes and will need a turn to turn into one bigger threat.
To summarise our quadrant theory analysis let’s give it some formal ratings.
Rating Scale: 1 – Very Weak. 2- Weak. 3- OK. 4- Strong. 5- Very Strong.
Meddling your own Folk
Hatchery Meddler in High Hrothgar Sorcerer
Your creatures with a low-attack and high-health will benefit from Hatchery Meddler. Hatchery Meddler is a consideration for a High Health Matters Sorcerer deck. You already run a lot of creatures (see list above) that meet the criteria and get the option to swap around your attributes. This can facilitate some proactive trades or also mess with your opponents stats, when needed.
Hatchery Meddler and the Usual Suspects
But it doesn’t always have to be a 1/5 Suthay Bootlegger, a 2/6 Baliwog Tidecrawler, a 3/6 Hive Defender, or 3/8 Lydia that you switch around. Sometimes a Barrow Stalker or Deepwood Trapper can be fine to push a bit more damage or heal a little bit more. You can also turn the warded 1/3 Altmer Flameslinger into a 3/1 threat to inflict more damage with her attacks, or trade up into a smaller guard.
For House Dagoth, shifting around Ascended Sleeper‘s stats can not only trigger any other 5 power synergy cards, but can also deal a good amount of damage.
A really fun way to clear a full lane is to use Hatchery Meddler right before an attack of Seething Flesh Golem. Works nicely in shadow lane and will kill almost everything (check out the Catchery Assassin BWG weekly deck for a sample decklist).
If you like to heal for 10, then switching Ebonheart Oracle’s stats can be a neat idea. Another great drain creature to switch around is the 3/7 Clockwork Scorpion. With Swift Strike you can heal for 14 and swing around a game pretty impressively.
Hatchery Meddler as Pseudo-Betrayal
Hatchery Meddler can also be used to kill a 0-attack creature to get the benefit of their last gasp effect, such as Balmora Spymaster. Black Hand Messenger can certainly kill himself all on his own, but if you need him to kill a 2-health creature and still want to heal further and deal more damage, you can meddle your way there.
Hatchery Meddler and Chargers for Reach
An interesting option for Agility is the 1/4 charger Dunmer Tyro, who gets +2/+0 when his veteran ability triggers. With Swift Strike you can deal as much as 10 points of face damage in one turn. Similarly, the 4-cost 2/5 Mausoleum Delver with charge can be turned into a 5/2 rocket. In Strength, you may want to meddle with Candlehearth Brawler or (probably too expensive) Pouncing Senche.
Meddling with Deranged Corprus
Another interesting creature you can meddle with is the 2-cost Deranged Corprus. This 0/1 creature has +5 attack on your turn. When you switch the ash creature’s stats to 1/5, on your next turn you will have a 6/5 creature that will usually eat two attacks when it gets removed.
Bone Armor, Fallen Dragon and Hatchery Meddler
A fun combo is to use Bone Armor on a creature with a Fallen Dragon in your discard pile to gain 10 health. How about turning Xivkyn Banelord into a 1/17 that Hatchery Meddler can turn into a potent threat? Sounds a lot of fun to get a few surprise wins, doesn’t it? It’s pretty close to an OTK, just like the classic kitten hatchery OTK…
Kitten Hatchery OTK – A Lethal Strike almost out of Nowhere
One totally fun combo is to meddle Snowy Sabre Cat’s stats. The 3/7 beast may attack an extra time each turn, allowing you to deal 14 points of damage in a turn. Assassin is currently quite a popular class on the ladder due to its tempo and burn builds. This combo gives this class an additional interesting finisher.
With Swift Strike, you can get the damage to 21 points, as you get 3 attacks, although you will need three combo pieces. Add Maple Shield to the equation and you even have one-turn-kill combo. Although Assassin doesn’t really need this, as it can easily create early-game damage. Combine Snowy Sabre Cat with Mentor’s Ring and a cheap charge creature to play the combo directly from hand. With Suthay Bootlegger and Slinking Jackal you can also find a few good cards in the Moons of Elsweyr expansion to help the archetype.
Meddling with your Opponent’s Hatchery
Let’s look at some of the fun ways you can meddle with your opponent. The classic is probably to tame their Graystone Ravager, Green Pact Ambusher, Blighted Alit, Imbued Minotaur or even Bog Lurcher for a favorable trade. If you turn their 7/4 Beligerent Giant with breakthrough into only a 4/7, you’ll make their Unstopppable Rage much less attractive. Equally, Ravenous Hunger is much more less of a drain threat if you turn him into a 1/4.
There are certainly more options, but usually meddling with your own creatures is much more promising, as you can control the creatures in your deck. On ladder, you might just run into your “good stuff” opponent running a 4/4 Young Mammoth, a 5/5 Bleakcost Troll and an 8/8 Vigilant Giant where you can do little to shift the stats, unless you attack the creature first.
Hatchery Meddler is a versatile card that you can use to trade favorably during any phase of the game if you have a suitable creature on board. Additionally, you can use him to close out games, skip rune breaks or just increase the damage you can deal to your opponent on one turn. One of the nicest things might be that no one really expects you to play him, currently, and might therefore be easily surprised by his special ability. Trying the OTK combos with Snowy Sabre Cat or Bone Armor + Fallen Dragon is definitely more on the fun side of playing a somewhat under-used card.
With this, I shall close this article and hope that you try something new in your standard good stuff decks, because it can really make a difference – as it did for ch4ameleon. If you would like to see more card reviews of slightly under-played cards, please let us know by leaving a comment below.