First we had the announcement of the announcement, then the announcement, then six measly cards from the expansion and a lot of thumb-twiddling, but finally, finally, we’re starting to see what Whispers of the Old Gods is all about. Every two weeks until release, we’re going to highlight a handful of cards from the expansion that we predict will have a significant impact on the meta, or at least look interesting enough to merit some experimentation. Get hype everybody, we’re almost there.
C’Thun is maybe the most unique minion in the history of Hearthstone. It’s being given out for free to anyone who logs into Hearthstone, and it basically comes with it’s own premade deck. Cards like C’Thun’s Chosen, Twilight Elder, and Beckoner of Evil are all minions with reasonable stats with some sort of built-in C’Thun buff, which will probably make the auto-includes for anyone building around the featured legendary. C’Thun itself is pretty strong – a 10 mana 6/6 that deals random damage to enemy characters in accordance to its attack value. If you preemptively buff that to, say, a 12/12, you’re going to be making a huge impact on the board when it comes out. Factor in class-specific cards like Klaxxi Amber-Weaver that get huge benefits when you hit certain thresholds with your C’Thun, and it seems like this will be a pretty viable deck.
This is a really interesting path for Blizzard to go down. With C’Thun being free, and a number of obvious synergies available in the expansion, it seems likely that Blizzard intends C’Thun decks to be a sort of starter guide for anyone new to Hearthstone. The next logical step beyond, say, the basic Mage deck. Blizzard naturally would like C’Thun to be a competitive minion considering how much immediate play it’s going to get, so I’d expect this to work pretty well on ladder and in tournaments. Easy, simple, and able to hold its ground against other, rarer cards.
Hallazeal The Ascended
I feel like Shaman has needed more consistent healing effects since the beginning. Blizzard has addressed this issue in the last couple of expansions, but both Vitality Totem and Healing Wave didn’t quite crack into the meta. Why? They’re just a little too slow for a class that tends to play a more mid-range tempo game.
Hallazeal fits the bill quite well. You’re getting rock-solid stats in a 4/6 for five, and the very flexible ability to heal for as much damage you deal with your spells. Drop this guy and Forked Lightning? You’ve dealt with a couple pesky two drops and healed for four health. That’s not too difficult to imagine, and I feel like between Lightning Storm, Lava Shock, Lightning Bolt, and even Elemental Destruction, Shaman has enough cheap, viable damage spells to make Hallazeal work. The body is especially important, considering previously you were playing either an 0/3 or a straight-up heal which cost a ton of tempo. Is it enough to fully revitalize the long-overshadowed Thrall? Maybe not, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Alright guys, we’ve got another, slightly less flexible version of the OG Faceless Manipulator, but this one only costs four mana and comes with a free taunt.
There’s no way you’re running this in a deck without a very specific thing to combo with. But luckily, there is a deck that this can easily call home. The whole concept behind Handlock is building massive 8/8 taunts with cheap-to-free Molten Giants and Mountain Giants with Sunfury Protectors. The previous two-and-a-half years of Hearthstone has proven that that’s a reliable play, so mixing in this four-mana card for an extra taunted Molten Giant seems like a pretty simple addition. The only in question is how absent Handlock has been since the release of League of Explorers and the rise of the slower, more sustainable Renolock, but adding two extra threats to the Handlock list might force a comeback.
I’m not sure if this card is good or not. It’s a 10 mana spell, which is already a pretty hard bargain, but it does come with a really dramatic effect. Wiping the board clean is useful, and the draw it provides could be game-winning in the right context. Most smart Hearthstone people are pretty pessimistic about its viability, however, and make some reasonable points. Warlock doesn’t worry much about card draw because of its hero power. There’s a significant chance of overdrawing. Twisting Nether and Life Tap is better. And yeah, I get all that, but I’m still reserving judgement for DOOM!
Giant cards with dramatic effects have wrongly seduced me before. Back at The Grand Tournament I predicted Varian Wrynn would be a staple in all Control Warrior archetypes, but it ended up being too slow and too inconsistent to really make an impact. But still… clearing a board and drawing a bunch of cards is always a pretty great play in Hearthstone, and despite the 10 mana cost, I feel like we may be underestimating just how powerful a swing this big can be. It certainly won’t be everywhere, but I could see it existing as a one-off in a lot of Reno lists.
Image via Blizzard