May 28 2015 - 2:31 pm

Why isn't Dragon Consort better?

The Dragon Consort should be one of the best cards in Hearthstone
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The Dragon Consort should be one of the best cards in Hearthstone.

Five mana for a 5/5 is average. But it also gives you a two mana discount on the next dragon you play. It seems like one of those gamebreaking mechanics destined to usher in a new meta. Getting some of the most powerful minions in the game out early seems like an exceptionally good deal.

In our Blackrock Mountain preview, I wrote that “sometimes a card comes along that’s a little bit broken specifically to make a certain archetype work. Dragon Consort guarantees an era of Dragon Paladins.” My colleague Callum Leslie added: “Combined with things like Volcanic Drake and Hungry Dragon, this could be a really great tempo card to ramp into late game dragons. A big get for Paladin, no doubt about it.”

And now, several weeks removed from Blackrock Mountain we can say with absolute confidence that we were, well, wrong. Dragon Consort hasn’t really worked, nor have most of the other decks that tried to capitalize on the new dragon synergy. The only thing that’s had success is the Dragon Control Warrior, which essentially is just the same deck Control Warriors have always run with the addition of an extra dragon or two and some Blackwing Corruptors.

By and large, so far the dragon tribal type reminds me a lot of the demon designation. Looking at the vast number of demons Warlocks have at their disposal, from Pit Lords, to Floating Watchers, Succubi, and Dread Infernals, you realize the only ones that really get play in control decks are the two legendaries and Void Caller. We have the ingredients, but we’ve still been unable to combine them into a truly consistent deck. That’s the issue with Dragon Consort. Like Floating Watcher or Dread Infernal, we know it’s good, but finding a home for a good card is easier said than done.

There are a couple reasons for this. The central mechanic of Dragon Consort is a discount, which is comparable to say, Mechwarper and Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Both those cards cost two mana, and are generally used in aggressive decks. Mechwarper in particular is a staple of Mech Mage, and discounts your Mechs by one mana. This means you can do stuff like Mechwarper, Coin, Mechwarper, Snowchugger, Snowchugger on turn two, and have your opponent immediately concede. These breaks on mana are used to put on pressure, overloading the board for a quick, easy kill.

Consort, on the other hand, is designed to be a control, something you use to out-value your opponent in the late game. Let’s say you play a Dragon Consort on turn five, you then have the opportunity to drop one of those aforementioned nine mana dragons on turn seven. But let’s actually look at what you’re getting out of that tempo. Alexstrasza drops your opponent to 15 health, which is something you’d only use as a set-up to a finisher which Paladin doesn’t have. You could dump out Nefarian, and get a moderate card advantage which doesn’t exactly solidify your win condition, or maybe Nozdormu if you’re feeling extremely edgy. 

There’s always Malygos, but Paladin doesn’t have the spells to cash in, and Deathwing is just silly. A turn seven Ysera or Onyxia does seem like pretty good value, but even then you’re not exactly putting pressure on the opponent. Handlocks play massive 8/8s and 4/10s on turn four, which is what makes the archetype powerful. Consort does the same thing, but instead you’re playing 8/8s and 4/12s on turn seven, and that might not be enough. Honestly, what’s a better play with seven mana, Dr. Boom or Nefarian?

The beauty of Hearthstone is that nobody, not the developers, not the players, truly know whether a card is good or not until it’s been unleashed on the public. Callum and I were not alone in welcoming the era of the Dragon Paladin, because frankly, we didn’t realize that a turn seven Ysera wouldn’t be a big deal. Maybe the Dragon Consort will someday prove itself in a meaningful way, but until then we’re left with the lesson that a two-mana discount means a lot more on turn two than it does on turn five. Now we know! Hopefully we’ll learn to refrain from jumping to conclusions on a card’s value long before it’s actually released.

Yeah okay, that’s pretty unlikely.

Image via Blizzard

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