For the War Chief! A Great Addition to C'Thun Warrior.
I am continuing my competitive analysis of the new Whispers of the Old Gods expansion. Today I will be looking at the Warrior class's C'Thun related minion- Ancient Shieldbearer. In this article I will discuss the stats and effects of the card and determine whether or not it will be played.
Let's first break down Ancient Shieldbearer's raw stats. A 7 mana cost minion with 6/6 attack and health seems decent. Amongst currently released 7 cost minions it hits the average stat line (7/7 obviously being the best). This card doesn't seem like it would pressure the board all that much, but it could still serve as an inconvenience. Ancient Shieldbearer will either be dealt with swiftly, or force the opponent to poorly trade with his/her minions. What really makes this card viable is its battlecry effect. The player gains an incredible 10 armor, and armor is already excellent on a Warrior. It allows you to survive longer, make a huge swing with Shield Slam, and trade with weapons without losing health.
The downside of the battlecry is it's situational since the player's C'Thun must be at 10 attack or higher. Warriors might be forced to play the card without the effect to contest the board. However, I think players will be able to gain the 10 armor most of the time they play Ancient Shieldbearer. This card will typically be played later on in the game. That should give a player plenty of time to play 2-3 cultists and buff C'Thun to 10 attack. Also in the past Warriors never had trouble with contesting the board using Execute, Fiery War Axe, Brawl, etc. With Death's Bite leaving Standard this may become an issue and might force deck building to achieve a healthy balance of removal, card draw, and C'Thun related minions.
Finally, let's look at cards that work well alongside Ancient Shieldbearer. I already explored the armor aspect and its synergistic properties with Shield Slam and weapons. In addition, I think Brann Bronzebeard would make a great fit in C'Thun Warrior decks. On turn 5, you can play Brann and Beckoner of Evil to ensure you can get 10 armor when you play Ancient Shieldbearer. On turn 10 or later if you already got C'Thun to 10 or more attack, you can play Brann and Ancient Shieldbearer and gain 20 armor. That play could immediately shift the state of the game in favor of the Warrior. I think these combos are worth play testing.
All in all, I give this card two thumbs up. Even if Warrior C'Thun decks do not see competitive play, I believe Ancient Shieldbearer is the right direction for decks of this nature. Two copies of this card will be an automatic include in Warrior C'Thun. Survivability cards like Shieldmaiden and Antique Healbot are leaving Standard play and Ancient Shieldbearer will make a great replacement.
About the Author- I am a writer that follows competitive esports such as Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Follow me @Kenny_Humiston on Twitter for content updates.