Stone Reviews Old Gods: Part 4

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 […]

Introduction

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. This card would be insane in meta dominated by Secret Paladin. But with Standard coming, like half of the cards used in the deck are rotating out. Right now the Secret Paladin is dead. But! What if they release a new, strong Secret and other early game minions to compensate? Well, then it can come back even stronger. So it’s impossible to say whether the card will be strong or not. Keep that in mind when reading my thoughts, because that’s only what they are – thoughts.

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.

The Boogeymonster

So… I don’t see any point of playing this card. And I’m serious. It’s a 8 mana 6/7 at the base. And every time you ATTACK and KILL enemy minion, it gets +2/+2 (so no, it won’t get buffs when it gets ATTACKED and the minion is killed – enemy can run a board full of 1/1’s and this will die). So, you pay 2 more mana to get a body of Boulderfist Ogre. And newsflash, Boulderfist isn’t playable in Constructed AT ALL. Killing something like that on turn 8 shouldn’t be a problem. And even then, if you don’t kill it, you HAVE to trade this. It’s like a trading machine. You don’t want to go face, because it won’t grow. And how many turns will it realistically survive? Probably not more than 1.

But okay, to show how bad it is, I want to compare it to two different cards. First one is Gruul. And once again, it’s NOT a card playable in Constructed. Gruul is a 7/7 for 8 mana at base. And it grows by +1/+1 every turn (on both your turns and your opponent’s turns). Just like that, it grows, no need to do anything. So as you can clearly see, it gets +2/+2 every round (your turn + opponent’s turn). How much can Boogeymonster grow? That’s right, +2/+2. Not only Gruul has +1 base attack, but it also DOESN’T have to attack & kill minions. Enemy has no minions? You go face, it still grows. Enemy drops something Boogeymonster can’t kill? Like I don’t know, Deathlord? (I know it won’t be playable in Standard, but that’s not the point) It won’t grow. Gruul will. And Gruul is a bad card already, because it doesn’t offer anything beyond the pile of stats. And the thing is, Boogeymonster’s BEST CASE SCENARIO is the Gruul’s “always happens” scenario.

Then, another card. Icehowl. Since Boogeymonster is a trading machine, because that’s what it is, let’s be honest, why not just play Icehowl? It starts at 10/10, so Boogeymonster needs to survive 2 turns after it’s played and kill 2 minions to outgrow it. That’s already unlikely. And the thing is, Icehowl has CHARGE. That’s really big. Enemy drops Emperor Thaurissan? Well, you can play your Boogeymonster and hope that you can attack with it next turn. Or you can drop Icehowl and charge it instantly. Of course, Icehowl costs 1 more mana, but I still think it’s completely worth. Ooooh. And you know what? It’s also not playable.

So, to sum things up. If you’re going face – Boogeymonster is a worse Gruul. If you’re trading – Boogeymonster is a worse Icehowl AND Gruul. So what’s the point of this card?

In Arena, hm. I’ll be honest – it’s not terrible. But it’s not good. 6/7 for 8 are really, really bad starting stats. You need enemy to NOT have any removal and you need for him to NOT have the board control so he can kill it on his terms. So you basically need to be in the control of the game already for this guy to really work. But, there are also worse Legendaries. This one is kinda in the middle. Maybe slightly below average. One problem I see is if you drop it on turn 8 on the empty board and enemy plays a 7 attack minions like War Golem, Force-Tank Max or North Sea Kraken, well, you’re screwed. 6/7 doesn’t trade well with those.

Xaril, Poisoned Mind

Awesome. I love it. I think the card is really great. First of all – it’s not overpowered. It’s not made to be crazy good and overwhelm enemy when you drop it. The card is really balanced and fits the Rogue’s theme.

Let’s start with the obvious – 3/2 for 4 is 2 mana overpriced. So the effect needs to be worth at least 2 mana to even consider playing it. Is it? I think yes. For those who didn’t see the card reveals, you can check out Toxins from Xaril here.

You get two of them in total – one when you play it and second one when it dies. Which should be rather quickly, becaue it’s a 3/2 for 4 after all. But that’s alright, you want it to die after all.

The Toxins are Spare Parts on steroids. Spare Parts weren’t worth one card. Those? They actually might be. You have the +3 Attack for 1, which is basically a Blessing of Might. Deal 2 damage for 1? Holy Smite / Arcane Shot. Draw a card? There is no direct comparison, but when it comes to mana efficiency, it’s even better than Arcane Intellect and all the other card draws. Then, we have two “worse” ones. We have a 1 mana Shadowstep (which is normally 0 mana) and 1 mana Stealth – this one is exactly what the Spare Part worked. But hey, it was probably the strongest one (maybe the Freeze was stronger in some scenarios) and was known for insane combos with certain minions (like Archmage Antonidas). It would be hard to make it stronger.

So, 2 of the Toxins are exactly like the 1 mana cards already in game, two are slightly weaker and one is slightly better. But every of them is playable. A 4 mana 3/2 that draws two 1 mana cards might not be very strong. But if they are all okay AND it’s in Rogue, the card has huge potential.

That’s right – the fact that they’re cheap spells in Rogue makes a big difference. You know how hard it is to sometimes Combo stuff out in Rogue? Yeah, you get cheap spells that can help you with that. You get two combo activators that actually do something besides that. They also have INSANE Gadgetzan Auctioneer synergy. Two cheap spells means two more draws AND the Stealth spare part gives you a Conceal substitute.

The only bad thing is that they’re random. You might get two +3 Attack/Stealth ones when your hand is low on minions. Or you might get the Shadowstep when you have no good Shadowstep targets etc. It all depends on the situation. That’s why I’d love to see a Battlecry that DISCOVERS a Toxin instead of giving you a random one. Then, if played at 5+ mana, you could pick the one that fits the situation and instantly play it. With 3 out of 5, you’d have a much higher chance (but it wouldn’t be guaranteed). Right now it’s 1 out of 5, which makes it much more RNG.

I don’t really know how it will work in the Arena. I’ll be honest – if I was playing a high tempo, aggressive deck, I would probably not play it. After all, it’s a 3/2 and you need a total of 6 mana to fully use it’s potential. That’s quite a lot if you want to develop as strong of the board as you can. On the other hand, in any slower Rogue lists, especially a one with quite a lot of Combo cards, I’d really like to see it. Having extra cards is never bad, card advantage is a thing after all. And then, I’d say that every of those Toxins is pretty good in Arena. +when you have cheap combo activators… But I still don’t know. I’d probably place it kinda in the middle.

Infest

Webspinner is rotating out, and we have this card that turns EVERY of your minions into Webspinner. Is it cool? Yeah, definitely. Is it good? Well, it might be, but just as well might not be. However, one thing is sure – it’s better than Ball of Spiders!

This is a strictly value card. Such cards rarely fit the Hunter. Face Hunter wants burn and charge minions, Midrange Hunter wants stuff that stick onto the board and a lot of tempo. There is no real “value” cards in any of those decks. Or well, there are cards that have a lot of value, but they also fit in other categories. This one? Nope, it doesn’t.

The only semi-working deck that might play it right now is the Beast Hunter. It’s like a Midrange Hunter, but with more Beast synergies. It’s usually slower and more value-oriented. And you know, that would be a huge card for the Control Hunter.

While Control Hunter wouldn’t have a lot of minions on the board, there is a big synergy with Unleash the Hounds . If you can spawn 3+ Hounds and turn them into Webspinners with Charge, that’s pretty cool. You get a lot of value and card advantage. If the meta will be slower, we might see it in slow Hunter lists. After all, most of the matchups against Control lists are lost when you run out of steam. This card would be really good to prevent that.

But, I think it’s way inferior to Webspinner still. Webspinner is a 1-drop, it puts a 1/1 body on the board and it’s a Beast by itself for the sake of synergies. This one puts no body on the board and only “draws you random beasts”. And I’d say that 3 minions is a minimum to make it work. With 2, it’s inferior to other card draws. The standard “2 for 3” Arcane Intellect seems like this 2 for 3 is also okay, but it’s not. Drawing cards from your deck is much better than getting random Beasts – there are some really weak Beasts. And that’s what worries me. Besides the Unleash the Hounds, it’s hard for slower Hunter lists to have 3+ minions on the board. They usually have 1-2 at one time, but they’re bigger. On the other hand, it’s much easier for a fast Hunter list to do that, but fast Hunter list wouldn’t like to play it.

I like the card, but I don’t think it’s good enough. The general rule is: Negative tempo = bad for Hunter. This will see play only if the meta slows down enough so the Hunters will be able to play more greedy style.

In Arena, I’d pick it with some synergistic cards. For example, if I had Unleash, cards spawning tokens/being sticky (like Imp Master or Haunted Creeper), I’d probably pick Infest. Hunter definitely can play a slower style in Arena, but he needs card advantage to do that, because his Hero Power does nothing on the board. This card, at a slight loss of tempo, might provide a really nice card advantage. If you manage to get 3-4 random Beasts, it should be very easy to outvalue the enemy at this point. All you have to worry about when playing this card is to not lose too much tempo. But honestly, in the later game you can just add one more mana and play this instead of using the Hero Power. It will definitely give you more fuel to win the game.

Ragnaros, Lightlord

This is sooooo awesome. I’ve already heard a lot of voices that it’s “RUINING WARCRAFT’S LORE!”, “KILLING ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC CHARACTERS!”. Naaaah. I’m a big fan of Warcraft lore and I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s a card game, folks, so don’t overreact. Hearthstone isn’t canonical. I mean, come on, you will be able to play OLD GODS in this expansion. That’s way worse lore-wise than this card and no one was complaining. But okay, back to the review.

I’m in love with this card. I think it’s an incredibly cool concept. And I see that Blizzard is trying to push Paladin in more slow Midrange/Controlish side. Which is fine – I think that back in the day, Control Paladin was a way cooler deck than the Secret & Aggro Paladin… thing (I had another word for the decks, but you probably know that). Paladin has a lot of great Control tools so it doesn’t need much more to be viable as Control deck. And if this kind of Paladin’s play style becomes viable, Lightlord will definitely see the light of day (pun not intended).

The body itself is… okay. 8/8 for 8 isn’t anything special, but if the card has strong effect, it will do. And this card definitely has one. Ragnaros the Firelord was shooting fireballs at the opponents. And while it’s really good, you’d often wish that you could just attack with it instead of counting on it to hit the right target. Ragnaros, Lightlord? Yeah, you can attack with it. Just like with a normal minion. So you have an 8/8 that can attack AND has strong ongoing effect like Ragnaros. Here, however, you heal your own minions/face instead of dealing damage. And heal for 8 per turn – that’s quite a lot.

Healing your own face will probably be most efficient. Minions rarely even have more than 8 health, so it’s incredibly hard to get them damaged for 8 and then heal them back up. But honestly, in slow matchups I can see healing minions as something really cool. Let’s say you have some 5/5 guy on the board. You run it into opponent’s 4 attack minion and then drop Lightlord. You get your 5/5 back to full health AND you have a high priority 8/8 on the board. So even in Control matchup it’s not going to suck.

But, Aggro matchups is where it gets awesome. If you play against an Aggro deck, this card might as well seal the game. If you drop it on empty board (empty on your side) after clearing opponent’s board, that’s usually game over. Not only you drop an 8/8, heal yourself for 8 (it’s like an Antique Healbot, which is quite a lot), but enemy NEEDS to deal with it. Silence will do, but the chances are that against Aggro, enemy has used Silence on one of your Taunts or something before. Dealing with an 8/8 minion as an Aggro deck is very hard. If enemy will be forced to use the burn in order to kill it – that’s also fine. Not only it healed you for 8, but it tanked another 8+ damage. And if enemy has no way to deal with it, game over. Imagine playing Aggro deck when opponent drops a Healbot every turn and hits you for 8 into face. There is no way you could race him. And that’s exactly what happens when you pay this card against Aggro.

The biggest problem would be surviving to turn 8 against Aggro, but Paladin has enough tools to do that. So, just like Reno Jackson is an auto-win card against Aggro, this could be another one. And it’s also pretty strong in other matchups too, because even if you’re at 30 health you can still milk some sweet value in certain scenarios. I’m not sure whether Control Paladin will be a thing, but I’ll definitely test it out.

In Arena, definitely a strong pick. 8/8 for 8 is already playable (look at Fossilized Devilsaur) and this effect is pretty huge too. If you’re getting rushed down, it can save you. Minion trading is much more important, so if you have a biggy on the board, you can run it into something and then heal it back up. Overall, it’s a really good effect for Arena.

Tentacles for Arms

That is an unplayable card if I’ve ever seen one. Low attack/durability, high mana cost… Yes, it lasts forever, but you have to re-equip it every time. You spend 5 mana for a 2/2 weapon and then you need to do that again and again.

In fast matchups, it could actually kill something. But it’s such a big tempo loss that you’d never want to play it. You pretty much never have 5 spare mana. And at the point you do have 5 spare mana, you often prefer to trade with your minions to preserve health. Conclusion: It’s useless.

In slow matchups, it won’t kill anything. I mean, it can kill some 2/2 or something, like Dark Peddler against Reno or Cruel Taskmaster in CW mirror. But it’s not like you didn’t have any other means of killing those. Then, for the most part of the game it’s useless. Not only you often have bigger weapons equipped and waiting to hit with them, but since you can’t kill anything meaningful with it – all you can do is push for some face damage. But what’s the point, exactly? Yes, I’ve heard that this card is “good” in fatigue. And yes, if you play a CW mirror that goes 10 turns into fatigue, this card is good. But ONLY then. No other matchup lasts that long. And if you play a card that’s only good in ONE MATCHUP and only in FATIGUE, you should start questioning yourself. Conclusion: It sucks even in slow matchups.

Final conclusion: Just play Gorehowl. You only pay 2 more mana, but you actually get a meaningful weapon that can kill most of the stuff opponent plays. And while it doesn’t last forever, it takes 6 attacks before it falls down to 1 attack. 6 attacks of a weapon equal or stronger than Tentacles for Arms… for 7 mana. 6 attacks with Tentacles would cost 15 mana, so that’s over twice as much. And I said stronger – Tentacles for Arms can never kill a 7/7, a 5/5 or something like that. The ONLY downside of Gorehowl is that you can’t hit face more than once. But how often do you really want to hit face with the weapons when playing Control Warrior? Yeah, not often. But even then, if you hit face once for 7 damage. Yeah, you’ve guessed that, it takes 10 mana and 4 turns to deal more damage with Tentacles for Arms. So even if you want to hit face ONCE with Gorehowl, Tentacles only start getting better on 3rd equip. And you compare it to the weapon that’s not supposed to hit face.

It might be as bad in Arena. Okay, maybe SLIGHTLY better, because games often go to the topdecking mode. If you’re topdecking with an average Arena curve, there is a big chance of you getting a 5-drop or something smaller. If that’s the case, you can play Tentacles for Arms alongside and have “infinite” weapon. But it’s pretty much unplayable before the topdeck mode, and honestly – you’d rather play a card that will give you an advantage BEFORE both players start topdecking.

Cult Apothecary

On a first glance – “Antique Healbot replacement”. After thinking for a bit – “This card is way more situational and might not even see play at all, depending on the meta.”. But what’s my reasoning?

So, the stats. While they’re slightly better than Healbot’s, it’s still a 4/4 for 5 mana. You’d never want to play that just for the stats. So you want the effect be meaningful. And what is a meaningful effect, exactly? I’d say that healing for 6 is okay. So it requires enemy to have 3 minions on the board so you can get meaningful effect. Obviously, the more he has, the more you heal for. But is it really that good? In theory, healing for 14 is very strong. And you can do that when enemy has full board.

But one thing about healing that’s important and that a lot of players are missing – it’s useless if you don’t stabilize. If enemy has a full board of small minions, let’s say they average 2 attack (which isn’t much), you know what? You just bought one turn. Your health total is back at where it was before, because enemy goes into your face with all of those. Or well, even better, he might kill your minion (sacrifice 4 damage), drop something else in that spot and go face with the rest. So in that case, you’ve healed for 4 (because Apothecary tanked 4 damage) for 5 mana. And that’s it. You still face a full board.

Healing is much, much better AFTER you stabilize. When you clear opponent’s board with AoE and then heal yourself once he has pretty much no damage on the board. This card can’t do that. It relies on NOT stabilizing before healing. Which is a bad thing. I honestly don’t see it as a good healing 5-drop, like Healbot was. It’s a way more situational card that gets better later in the game. If you’re at 9-10 mana and you can drop this and actually clear the board after. For example, in Paladin you can drop this + Consecration. In Warlock you can drop this and Shadowflame. In Warrior you can drop this + Brawl. That’s good – you can heal yourself AND clear the board (or at least clear part of the board). But you know what? If you face a fast deck, if enemy has a board by turn 9-10, you’re dead for like 3 turns already. So late in the game fast decks have already ran out of steam and they just drop a single minion per turn or not even that if they draw burn spell. You need to stabilize way before that. I just don’t see you casually going into turn 9 against Aggro deck where his board is full of small minions and you play this guy + clear it. Maybe some Midrange decks (like Midrange Paladin/Shaman if they will be viable) might have a few small minions and it is going to work against them, but not against Aggro.

It’s much weaker in Midrange matchups. Midrange decks tend to have less, but bigger minions. If they have 4 minions with average attack of 4, you heal for 8, but you take 16 damage. It gets even worse vs Control decks. Healing for 4-6 would be really good against them. And it gets completely useless in certain matchups. Like against the combo decks. Let’s say you face Freeze Mage. He dropped Alexstrasza on you and you have to heal up so you won’t die next turn. Dropping Apothecary means you heal for… 2. 5 mana 4/4 “heal for 2”. Yeeeaaaah. Or Midrange Druid gets you down to 14 health previous turn, but now has an empty board. Healbot would save you and probably stabilize the game. This one is completely useless.

I think that Healbot was a really balanced card and something necessary to keep the game healthy. With Healbot gone, I’ve expected them to release some strong Neutral healing card. This one isn’t that. It’s really, really weird. It’s good only in situations where it actually sucks, because you’re losing the game hard. And in the situations where you’d really need the heal, it’s often completely useless. Maybe I’ll try it in RenoLock, but that’s only because I play other sources of healing there and it has cool combo with Shadowflame later in the game. If you want to put a single healing card in your deck, as a tech or something, this should definitely NOT be it.

I like it in Arena more than in Constructed. Arena is heavily minion-based mode. Enemy often has a few minions on the board, even later in the game. It’s especially cool against Paladin. Paladins often have nearly full boards, but with pretty much no power. Hero Powering every turn means that they spawn a lot of 1/1’s throughout the game. Healing is sometimes necessary – if enemy gets too aggressive and starts going face, you might have a huge card advantage and still lose, because enemy just kills you. I think because of the +1/+1 stats, it might be slightly better than Healbot. And Healbot was an okay Arena card in general. The slower deck you’ve played, the better it was, because you needed that extra HP to come back. It will be similar here – you don’t want to play it in Aggro/Tempo decks, but Midrange/Control? Sure, it’s not that bad.

Mukla, Tyrant of the Vale

Pretty disappointing. 6 mana 5/5’s have huge effects. Just look at the Sylvanas Windrunner and Emperor Thaurissan. Those effects are game-winning. This one? Naaah, it’s not even that good. You get two +1/+1 buffs that even cost you 1 mana each to play. How does that compare to reducing your whole hand’s cost by 1 each turn or stealing enemy minion?

If you play this card in the vacuum, it’s a 8 mana 7/7. Which obviously suck, it’s even worse than War Golem which has NEVER seen ANY Constructed play. Yes, alright, it’s better, because you control how you use the Bananas. But it’s still 7/7 total stats for 8 mana. So weak! Normal version – King Mukla – has seen some play, because it was a huge tempo move. 5/5 for 3 mana is big, even if you give enemy the Bananas. For 3 more mana, you get the Bananas yourself instead of giving them to the enemy. Is it worth that? I honestly don’t think so.

The only situation where I could see it being useful is when you play the deck that synergizes well with cheap spells. You know, a deck with Gadgetzan Auctioneer. Or Tempo Mage in general – Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Flamewaker, Archmage Antonidas. I remember Tempo Mage being crazy good in the Banana Tavern Brawl for the same reason.

It’s just like Toshley was sometimes teched into the deck. But it wasn’t a staple, it was going in and out. Most likely more time out than in. And honestly, Toshley was way superior in Tempo Mage. Not only it has better base stats, but two chances on the Stealth Spare Part were REALLY HUGE. Antonidas + Stealth was often a game over. I’d say that was the main reason to use Toshley.

But the Toshley rotates out of Standard. It’s not like we NEED a replacement, because it wasn’t a necessary card anyway. But maybe Corrupted Mukla? It’s probably going to be tried in the deck, but it might not work out well enough.

It’s okay in Arena, but only okay. The fact that you can use the Bananas to buff something else to make your trades better is the only reason. Like, you have a 2/3 on the board against opponent’s 3/3. You banana it and trade – you’ve gained some value! But I’d probably prefer to play something like Boulderfist Ogre or Drakonid Crusher as 6-drops, but those are commons, so that’s not a really good comparison. But it just shows you that pretty normal cards with just a higher stats are most likely better than this one. 5/5 for 6 is just not enough without really strong effect. You can’t realistically count on getting the Banana synergies. I mean, SOMETIMES you will, but it’s not like you get this as a first pick and then get 5 synergies throughout the usual draft. If you happen to have cards like Flamewaker or Gadgetzan Auctioneer, this pick will have quite high value. If you don’t – I’d pass.

Closing

Alright. Honestly, this batch of cards was pretty bad, but it had its moments. I really like the Rogue’s and Paladin’s Legendary. But I dislike the fact that we get some really trash-tier cards. And it’s not even about them being untested or maybe playable in certain archetype that’s not yet created, about them being situational. Like Eater of Secrets – this card won’t likely see any play, yet it’s nice that it exists. But cards like The Boogeymonster or Tentacles for Arms are so terrible and way weaker than the cards that already exist in Classic (Gruul & Gorehowl) that it’s pretty sad.

But, one thing I’m really glad about is that we’re getting so many reveals. Even though the expansion is probably still about a month off. I can already get the feeling of how it will look like. The TGT reveals were much slower. I still dislike the decision to announce the formats and expansion so long before the actual release, but the damage control of constant card reveals works pretty fine so far!