Build-around is a term used to refer to a card which provides a strong or natural "hook" to "inspire you to build a certain kind of deck." With specific synergies, build-arounds encourage particular deck themes, with many involving a minion type synergy, such as encouraging the creation of Murloc, Beast or Demon decks. Other build-arounds involve abilities such as Battlecry or Deathrattle, or card types such as spells and weapons.
Build-arounds are an intentional feature of the Basic set in particular, intended to "lower the barrier" for newer players to learn about deck construction and synergy. Build-arounds are intended to make deck construction easier for players who are not yet familiar with the values of different cards, with an emphasis on a core synergy rather than individual card quality. This can also make deck construction easier and more satisfying for players with small card collections, since the deck synergy can make up for a lack of higher rarity cards to some degree. By providing a central theme, build-arounds can also help players to learn about playing strategy.
Build-arounds are an easy way for new content to shake up the meta, inspiring whole new deck types, or at least pushing previously underpowered types back into the spotlight. Because of their role in assisting newer players, the developers are not overly concerned with the quality of build-arounds, with even a "bad" build-around considered a worthwhile addition.
Because many build-arounds are inherently very strong mechanics, several have over time been nerfed from their original designs. Examples include Starving Buzzard, providing a basis around which to build a Beast hunter deck; and Warsong Commander, providing a basis around which to build a low-Attack Charge deck, such as Grim Patron, Frothing Berserker and Raging Worgen.
Below are a few examples of strong build-arounds. For fuller lists, see the "Related cards" sections on card type pages.
C'Thun is a particularly interesting example: the card itself does not inherently suggest a deck be built around it, but the multitude of "C'Thun minions" accompanying it in Whispers of the Old Gods that specifically buff only it, such as C'Thun's Chosen and Crazed Worshipper, highly encourage this. Similarly, the Galakrond cards introduced in Descent of Dragons have the entire Invoke keyword dedicated to strengthening their Battlecries.
Quest cards are an intentional example of a work-around card, granting an extremely powerful reward for completing its quest which requires the deck to be built around it.
- Designer Insights with Ben Brode: Warsong Commander. (2015-10-14).
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