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The Overload mechanic in Hearthstone works as follows:

Overload is an ability which reduces the amount of mana available the next turn by the stated amount.

Is there any benefit at all to playing a card which reduces the available mana for the next turn?

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4  
Cards with Overload are generally more powerful for their cost than cards without Overload. – Golden Dragon Feb 24 at 19:59
7  
Don't think of it as having less mana next turn. Think of it as paying for the spell part this turn, part next turn. – corsiKa Feb 24 at 23:10
2  
its also worth noting that following a big overload turn, provided you have 2 mana remaining (either on the turn or the following) Lava Shock will unlock ALL overloaded crystals. Therefore a combination of low initial cost minions/spells can be played without paying the remaining crystals. – nickson104 Feb 25 at 8:10
up vote 24 down vote accepted

Why use cards with overload?

Cards with Overload usually gain you a big tempo swing when you use them. Popular examples are Lighting Bolt, Lava Burst, Doomhammer or Totem Golem. Especially those cards are very common in aggro/burst shaman decks.
The overload mechanic allows some very explosive turns, which is what aggro decks rely on. Also the overload does not matter when you burn your opponent down to zero hp with a combination of Lighting Bolt, Lava Burst and Crackle.

Also keep in mind that you can use Lava Shock to unlock overloaded mana crystals, which allows some devastating turns.

Advantages

  • Allows big tempo swings
  • Great burst
  • More overall card value
  • Synergy with cards like Tunnel Trogg or Unbound Elemental

Disadvantages

  • Weak followup turn, opportunity for your opponent to make a big play when you are overloaded
  • Limiting your options (you don't want to overload on turn 5 when you have a Fire Elemental ready for turn 6)
  • Sometimes hard to curve out correctly
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4  
In addition, some Shaman cards actually benefit from Overload. Tunnel Trogg, Unbound Elemental and Lava Shock are the most useful. – Matt Thrower Feb 25 at 9:05
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@MattThrower Thanks, did not think about that. I added it to my answer. – DenkerAffe Feb 25 at 9:50

The Overload mechanic allows you to gain a tempo advantage by playing a card 1 or more turns earlier than an equally balanced card without the Overload mechanic could be played on. Or similarly, you can play the card in conjunction with other cards earlier due to its lower mana cost.

Think of it as "borrowing" mana crystals from your next turn to do something on an earlier turn.

Compare the Shaman card Lightning Bolt to the Warlock card Darkbomb. At a high level these cards are equal. Both deal 3 damage for the cost of 2 mana. The different of course is that with Lightning Bolt you can spread the cost over two turns, allowing you to play it sooner than you might otherwise be able to.

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1  
Darkbomb is a better comparison, as Frostbolt also has the freeze effect on it. – PunDefeated Feb 24 at 21:33
    
@PunDefeated thanks I was trying to think of that but I was blanking on it. I'll edit. – Nathan K Feb 24 at 23:40

Just plain focusing the question without concentrating why one should use this (since others did this allready):

Is there any benefit at all to playing a card which reduces the available mana for the next turn?

Overload by it self isn't thought to be any kind of benefit. It is an dissadvantage. But its (ignoring cards synergyzing with overload) a feature making the otherwise much too cheap cards compared to its value ballanced again.

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1  
+1, as the main reason for overload existing is to be the distinguishing feature of Shaman class – totems are just another minion and don't really affect how the class plays. – Dacio Feb 25 at 16:19
    
I disagree that it's a disadvantage. As you correctly said, it works out to a wash. I'd argue it's a slight advantage as you gain a bit of flexibility. If you don't need that flexibility though then there's not much benefit. Or if you end up floating mana on a turn where you used overload, then it is not a benefit either. – Nathan K Feb 26 at 15:07
    
@NathanK: Well actually i said overload for it self is a disadvantage. Or would you say you wouldn't care you had to play lets say 3/3 5 mana healbot or the same healbot with overload 1. overload for itself is NO benefit. it is an disadvantage to reballance the cards imballanced effects for itself as they would be without it. BUT overload as it is, isn't anythign else as an disadvantage. – Zaibis Feb 26 at 15:11
    
@Zaibis but viewing Overload in isolation is pointless. Overload without any sort of reduced cost is just making a card more expensive, and that's not the point of the mechanic. The point is you spend the mana the card would otherwise cost over two turn. It's like saying a Yeti for 7 mana is worse than a normal Yeti. Duh. – Nathan K Feb 26 at 15:15
    
@NathanK: Yep and you said you disaggree about a yeti for 7 mana is worse than a normal yet. thats even more "Duh" isn't it?;) – Zaibis Feb 26 at 15:23

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