I just copy-paste this introduction into every part of the review, so it might be slightly off sometimes. But I’ve figured that introduction is not the important part, so I want to focus on the reviews themselves
Yeah, it’s this time of the year again. Blizzard is torturing us by slowly announcing new cards for the expansion that is supposed to come out in ~a month from now. But hey, at least we’re getting some info.
First thing I want to say is that I really love the cards. Not talking about the stats, the effects, but the whole theme. Old Gods is one of my favorite lore parts in Warcraft. Although I wasn’t there to raid C’thun yet (I’ve started playing in The Burning Crusade, which was the first expansion – C’thun was the raid boss in vanilla game). Yogg-Saron, on the other hand, I’ve raided a lot. It was one of the coolest fights in WoW. Even though it had some really annoying mechanics that made us question our life choices of wiping the raid 10 times on the Friday afternoon when we could do something else, boss was INSANE. The visions, the whispers, player needing to refresh their “sanity” meter and stuff like created an incredible mood surrounding the fight.
But, back to Hearthstone. Card reviews. One thing I want to say before I start. It’s very likely that over half of my predictions will turn out to be completely untrue after the expansion. This one is especially hard to gauge, because besides the expansion itself, we’re getting new formats AND nerfs to Classic cards. We have really no idea which Classic cards will be nerfed or how Standard will really impact the meta. Then, the expansion is supposed to have 134 playable cards and we know, what, 40 so far? It makes judging the card’s strength even harder. Let’s give you a quick example – Eater of Secrets
My reviews will be mostly about the Standard format & Arena. It’s very clear that the Standard format will be a more competitive (Blizzcon points, official tournaments will be hosted in Standard etc.) one and writing two separate reviews for Standard/Wild seems excessive.
I’ll review only a few cards in each article. I try to go pretty in-depth on each one and I don’t want these to be too long.
Shadow Word: Horror
First of all, why does this card NOT work like Shadow Word: Pain
It’s an incredibly situational removal that removes… well, not a lot. 1-drops. And like half of the 2-drops. This card can definitely have it’s moments – but let’s be real, it’s going to sit in the hand for most of the games, being useless. It’s great when played on turn 4 against Aggro or Zoo decks… and it’s useless later. Okay, not useless, but it will definitely be harder to find uses. It’s pretty much dead card against a lot of Midrange and Control decks. Not to mention that Priest might run some 2 or less attack minions himself, so when he has the board, it can also be deadly for his own minions.
I mean, it’s not terrible card. 4 mana to clear all the puny guys is okay. But, Priest class has tons of situational removals, and the thing is – only the least situational usually make it into the decks. The problem with this is that it might suck even against fast decks. Let’s say you play against Zoo. Enemy plays Flame Imp
So, for just one more mana you get Excavated Evil
Another thing is that Priest just doesn’t need it. With Lightbomb
I don’t like it in Arena too. I mean, I have played a lot of games where enemy dropped like 2 or 3 “2 or less attack minions” throughout the whole game. Shadow Word: Pain
Mark of Y’Shaarj
I dig this one. Actually, it’s AMAZING. Okay, the truth is – for it to be a thing, Beast Druid prooobably needs to be played. Or at least a Midrange Druid with a lot of Beasts. I mean, it’s possible – Mounted Raptor
But, why is this card amazing. You have noticed how Power Word: Shield
Then, we have this card. For just 1 more mana we have a PW:S that buffs not only Health, but also Attack. But, there is a catch. The card you use it on must be a Beast. It is however a pretty small price for the insane effect. For 2 mana you get a +2/+2 buff AND a card cycle. It should make your trades so much better. I think we might have one of the best cards of the expansion. Yes, it doesn’t seem overpowered at a first glance, but if Druid won’t get hit too hard besides the combo, this card might be a Druid’s ticket back to the meta.
In Arena, like every effect that has a synergy with certain tribal, it really depends on your deck. But I guess it’s a safe early pick. It can be directly compared to the Mark of the Wild
Aaalright. First of all, I love this card. I don’t think it’s going to be too strong, but I really like it. For example, I like it MUCH MORE then Validated Doomsayer
In no buff scenario, this card is too slow. 2/8 into 4/8 into 8/8. So only two turns after you play it, the statline becomes “worth playing” for the mana cost (in terms of constructed). While 8 health is really cool, 2 or 4 attack is not enough in the late game. Enemy will have plenty of time to deal with it. And if you play against a deck that can’t deal with big minions (Aggro), it could as well be Boulderfist Ogre
Not to mention that it’s a dead card against Priest if you don’t intend to instantly do something. I mean, 2/8? 3 words: Cabal Shadow Priest
But then again, this card has insane synergy with attack buffs. Let’s take a very simple scenario. You play this one on turn 8 and buff it with 2x Blessing of Might
So, what’s the deal with this card? STEALTH is the deal. I can see this card being played in a slow Rogue deck. Not Aggro one. All he needs to do is survive and keep this in stealth and then he just wins. And when I’ve seen this card, I’ve remember one thing they’ve said – they don’t like the Master of Disguise
So, what’s the deal here? You play a Control Rogue list. Reactive, with a lot of removals, Taunts, life gain and stuff. Then you play those Dragons and Master of Disguise. Then, what’s the deal? Ideally, you play Scaled Nightmare + Conceal on turn 7. Then you play Master of Disguise on turn 8. And the attack grows like that. T8 it’s 4. T9 it’s 8. T10 it’s 16. T11 it’s 32 = OTk. So after playing that, all the Rogue needs to do is survive. And we already know that if you build a deck around surviving (let’s say Anyfin Paladin), you should be able to survive.
I actually think the deck might be broken. Play it like any other combo deck, draw into the Scaled Nightmare and Master of Disguise, combo those (even on turn 10 if you don’t draw Conceal) and win the game a few turns later. It’s really, really hard to kill minions in stealth. And it’s much harder to kill minions with 8 health that are in Stealth. Right now the only common means to do so is Brawl
This combo is not hard countered by Taunts, because you’d play cards like Silence and Sap
IF and I say IF Master of Disguise won’t get nerfed and IF there will be no easy means to clear minions with Stealth, or those won’t be played in the meta, this might be broken as hell. But I suppose they either change the Master of Disguise OR give players an easy way to deal with stealthed minions.
In Arena… It’s okay. It’s GREAT if you’re winning the game – if you have the board or drop it on the empty board and enemy doesn’t have a chance to kill it while it’s still 2 Attack, you’re looking at 4/8 for 6 mana. That’s a solid statline. And it gets better each turn. 8 Health is pretty hard to kill in Arena without hard removal. If you control the game and use other minions / spells for trading, you put enemy on 3-4 turns clock with this guy, even if he’s at full health. I think it might actually be a nice finisher in high tempo decks. You start losing the steam around turn 6, but you should still have the board tempo required to make this card work.
P.S. I’ve just realized! Shadow Word: Horror
Steward of Darkshire
Is it just me or there is something wrong with her face? Rest of the card’s art looks alright, but her face is strangely disturbing… Nevermind. The card. Hmm, I’d say that it’s still very hard to judge its potential without knowing what Paladin decks will look like in the meta. If Aggro Paladins will still be viable – this might be pretty awesome. If Paladin becomes a more, hm, Control class – not that much.
It’s confirmed to work with the Twilight Drake
It being a 3/3 for 3 is… okay. It means that it’s possible to just drop it on turn 3 and get away with it. And the good thing is that it also has very nice late game scaling. After all, if you can play it and follow by a bunch of 1 health minions, you can make quite a strong board and get a lot of value. Divine Shield is priced at about 1 mana, so you turn your 1-drops into 2-drops etc.
I think the card would be strong in Midrange Paladin if Muster for Battle
Okay, Muster is gone, but we still have Stand Against Darkness
Overall, I see this card working in two cases. First one is Aggro Paladin being viable. Second one is deck based around Silver Hand Recruits being viable. If you don’t run 1 health minions or cards generating more Silver Hand Recruits (and I remind you – Muster is gone), it’s obviously not good. But overall, it’s an okay card.
Oh, and I like it in Arena. 3/3 for 3 means it’s already playable. The effect is pretty strong – even if just you count turning your Hero Power into “Summon an Argent Squire
Finally, we get to see one of the new neutral Cultists. And just like before, they continue with the “vanilla bodies + buffing C'Thun
First of all – making it 7/6 instead of 6/7 either means that Big Game Hunter
But hey, in case BGH really gets nerfed it might be played in C’Thun decks. From what I’ve seen, there is no real indication that we’re getting a higher quality Cultists. The only one that’s really playable is the C'Thun's Chosen
Also, I dislike the +2/+2. 2-drop gives the same buff to C’thun. Even +3/+3 would be better. There would be actually a point to run it over the small drops if this one gave +3/+3.
Arena: C’Thun and related cards won’t be available in Arena.
Eeeeeh… No. The card is high value, you can’t deny that. Getting 3 cards for 1 is great in terms of card advantage. And Mage spells are actually mostly good. But, I don’t like this card for a few reasons.
First one is: it’s TERRIBLY SLOW. It’s pretty much unplayable in any faster matchups. How many times you have you had free 5 mana when playing against Aggro? Not only you probably have a good ping target most of the turn, but you prefer to play, I don’t know, something that has instant impact. This card is pure value – it gives you zero tempo. And playing a 5 mana card that gives you zero tempo is already risky.
Second one: “random” is a big keyword here. Getting 3 cards vs getting 3 RANDOM cards is a difference. Mage has some useless spells and most importantly – it has some situational spells. Getting them might not help you at all. Let’s say more value cards against fast decks. Or 1 mana spells against Control decks.
That’s why Ethereal Conjurer
Okay, but let’s not be that negative. The card is obviously strong in slow matchups. If meta slows down and Control Mage becomes a thing (stuff like Reno Mage is already playable on the ladder), they might include it. In slow matchups, it usually will gain you value (you will rarely get three 1 mana spells that won’t do much) AND the value gained won’t come from your deck. Meaning you don’t actually draw those 3. Meaning you don’t get closer to fatigue, which is big in super slow matchups. Right now the only matchup where it matters is most likely the Control warrior, but that’s my point – if the meta slows down, it’s going to be good. If you are not concerned about fatigue scenario – Arcane Intellect
In Arena I can see playing one of that card. Almost every Mage spell is okay/good in Arena. And you don’t mind having one or two high value cards in your deck, especially for those top deck scenarios. When both players are running low on cards, I can see this card being insane. It can give you the burn you need to seal the game, it can give you removals, it can give you more value cards (Duplicate
P.S. Oh, and it can give you another copy of itself for INFINITE VALUE. I wait for those Trolden videos when someone casts Cabalist's Tome
Y’Shaarj, Rage Unbound
Oh yeah, we’ve finally got the 3rd Old God revealed. And as suspected, it’s another 10 mana minion with game-changing effect. But… is the effect really game changing? I’ve read some people really hyped with this card. But I honestly think it’s weak. And it’s DEFINITELY the weakest out of 3 Old Gods revealed so far.
So, 10/10 stats are good. But you expect that from a 10-drop. And honestly, when it comes to big stats like that – 8/8 or 10/10 or something like that doesn’t really matter. Few stats difference with such a big number isn’t a big deal, because it either gets removed or pushes for a lot of damage. You can’t leave anything so big on the board. So the stats are fine.
Then, the effect. It pulls out a random minion out of your deck, onto the battlefield. Sounds familiar? Varian Wrynn
One of the biggest reasons why it failed is… the fact that pretty much every deck, even the Control Warrior, plays the small or Battlecry minions. In both cases, the card is unimpressive. “Armies of Stormwind” summoning Armorsmith
Y’Shaarj is a big RNG roll. You either play it in a wonky deck like Astral Communion
And the thing is, IF the meta slows down too much, I actually think that it might not be a good card. As we all know, fatigue is a big deal in very slow matchups. Drawing additional card out of your deck AND not playing it on your own terms (like you know, it might draw out a Sen'jin Shieldmasta
Oh, and in the Arena. It’s good. But not great. 10 mana is a lot and Arena decks are known for having TONS of small cards. Usually around 1/2 of your minions are 1-3 drops. So don’t expect too much. Since fatigue is not a big deal, getting a 10/10 + let’s say a Spider Tank
Okay, so this card could as well read “at the start of your turn, put a random Old God from your deck into your hand”. After all, you won’t play this card in any other deck than the Old Gods ones. I mean, what would you want to put into your hand? Sea Giant
But, back to this card. Stats are underwhelming – 4/6 for 6 is kinda bad. It’s like 4.5 mana worth of stats. So the effect is meant to be worth 1.5 mana. But is it? It might be, actually. The only problem I see is the “start of your next turn” thing. So this actually needs to survive in order for you to draw the Old God. And how big are the chances that it will?
If you play against fast decks, it definitely will survive. But the thing is – they don’t care about you drawing a 10 mana card. They want to close the game before turn 10 anyway. So they can just ignore it, and since it’s pretty understatted minion with no Taunt or anything, it won’t work too well.
Then, in slow decks, it might be pretty easy to remove it. But then again – it might be used as a removal bait. After all, it’s not a very important part of your deck. It’s not your win condition or anything. Enemy throwing an Entomb
So it’s the standard “sucks against Aggro, is decent against Control” kind of minion. So it all depends on the meta. Oh, and it depends on whether the Old Gods decks will be playable. The most likely one it might see play in is the C'Thun
I think it’s good that this card exists. I mean, IN CASE C’Thun decks work, having a way to draw it out is nice. But then again, it’s ANOTHER minion you have to play to make the C’Thun playable. Cultists at least have vanilla stats, this one is even below vanilla. It might make it hard to put it. Maybe one of those, but I don’t see playing too – it would be an overkill.
In Arena… Well, it’s crappy. The only 10 mana minions in the game are Epics and Legendaries. And there aren’t a lot of them – even after this expansion there will still be less than 10, most of which will be Legendaries. So, unless you have a 10 mana minion it’s a vanilla 4/6 for 6, which SUCKS really hard. Then, even if you have one, it needs to survive. Which might be hard, since most of the popular 6-drops can kill it for free. So you know, the card is really bad in Arena.
Yeah! I’ve finally caught up with the current releases. I honestly didn’t expect so many cards being revealed, lately it’s like 3-4 per day! And since my reviews are pretty… in-depth, it was hard writing about every of them. But yeah, here it is.
I like the expansion so far. Overall power level isn’t incredibly high, but we need to remember that two most broken expansions – Naxx and GvG – are cycling out of the Standard. So there will be no Shredder, no Belcher, no Boom, no stuff like that. Meaning that cards that might seem average now might actually be strong in the new meta.
And I like the fact that they don’t want to push too many clearly broken cards. If only ‘average’ cards are ever played, much, MUCH more cards are viable. When every 4-drop is outclassed by Shredder, a lot of them become unplayable simply because you don’t have any reason to put it over a Shredder into your deck. Without many broken cards, you can get much more creative while deckbuiliding, thus meta will be healthier. I hope for more “tier 1 decks”, not the same 3-4 decks dominating the meta all the time.
Next review will probably come out after the weekend, so they’ll have a chance to flood me with new cards once again