Note: If you wish to see all the revealed cards so far, be sure to check out the beautiful graphic post by Disguised Toast over at Mana Crystals. It’s updated whenever new cards come out so be sure to bookmark it!
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.
Call of the Wild
Animal Companion is a strong spell, because for 3 mana it summons something that’s worth around 3.5. Basically the better versions of “weak” 3 mana cards – Wolfrider, Ironfur Grizzly and Raid Leader. Okay, Wolfrider is not a bad card – that’s probably why upgraded version, Huffer, is the strongest out of 3. So Animal Companion is about 3.5 mana. 3 times Animal Companion is 10.5 mana and 3 cards. But hey, now we have it for 8 mana and a single card!
One thing that I really like is that this card does NOT summon 3x random Animal Companion. Just imagine the 1/27 three Huffers roll for 12 charge damage. Or even 2x Huffer + Leokk for 10 damage. Nope, it’s always 1 of each in the alphabetical order (so it should be Huffer -> Leokk -> Misha if I’m not retarded). So the result of the card is 8 mana for 5/2 Charger, 2/4 buffer and 5/4 Taunt. And that’s actually a lot. Just to give you a perspective – 5/2 Charger is Reckless Rocketeer, 5/4 Taunt is Evil Heckler and 2/4 buffer is… well, Leokk. But that’s still a lot for 8 mana and a single card.
It’s a big damage push too. If you play the face game, it deals 5 damage instantly and then – if left unchecked – 12 damage next turn. And we all know that one card dealing 17 damage in Hunter means he wins the game. Hunter is just a class where any face damage is insane, and enemy is very likely to use the removals on smaller stuff to not take any additional damage. So against a Hunter you might actually NOT have an answer for this kind of stuff.
The strongest thing about this card is that it demands enemy to clear it with AoE. You can’t really deal with it with single target removals or minion damage. I mean, you can, but it will cost you quite a lot. The card is quite high tempo move and it’s a nice value, so I really see it being used in the Midrange Hunter or such. A slower Hunter, let’s say. That’s probably obvious, but it’s not a fit into any faster Hunter, so Aggro/Hybrid Hunter won’t likely play it – 8 mana is just too much. But the rest of the pack.. Be prepared to get Huffer’d 4 times every game! (okay, not sure if it will be 2 of because of the mana cost, but still, it’s possible)
Oooh. And it’s INSANE in Arena. Completely bonkers. It has instant impact on the board or possibility to serve as a reach damage (Huffer), a Taunt to protect your other stuff and minion that buffs the whole board. In a world where summoning an 8/8 on turn 8 is a pretty strong play, getting 5/2 Charge, 5/4 Taunt and 2/4 buffer in ONE CARD is insane. If this wasn’t Epic, even if it was a Rare, Hunter would jump so high in the Arena ranking thanks to this card alone. But luckily it’s an Epic, so I guess Blizzard had Arena balance in mind when creating this (or they accidentally balanced the rarity around Arena, but at least it’s done).
Cho’Gall is one of the most iconic characters in Warcraft’s lore and I knew that he’ll be getting his card soon. I’ve voted for this one as soon as I’ve seen him on the art. And I like the card. I don’t think it’s too strong, but I like it. Let’s just start with one thing – this card could be insane in some other classes, but not necessarily in Warlock.
Stats. 7/7 for 7 are standard War Golem stats. So 7/7 + effect means the stats are good. It’s a big minion you drop on the board that needs to be dealt with. So it’s okay in that matter.
The effect – that’s what’s important. Next spell you cast this turn costs health instead of mana. Seems simple, but there is quite a lot into it. First of all – next spell. So effect allows you to cast a single spell this way. Then, “this turn” – so you can’t play it and wait with the casting for the next turn (it would make it insanely strong in Malygos deck). And last thing – the spell isn’t free, it costs your health. And the more the spell costs, the more health it takes to cast it. Every Warlock player needs to learn that health is a very valuable resource. In Warlock, health means cards, health means the ability to play the AoE without fearing about dying (Hellfire), in some decks health even means that you can play some of the cards (like Flame Imp). Class like Warrior can use the health much more freely, but Warlock can’t. Warlock already has a lot of ways to damage himself, so health is MUCH MORE important in this class than in the others. That’s why Reno Jackson is so popular in Warlock – because healing to full means more freedom at using it as a resource. As a Warlock, you often balance at low health amounts, especially if you play a deck with Molten Giants. This means that casting spell for health can be in fact very risky.
But that’s not even the main problem. The main problem is that Warlock spells… suck. That’s right – most of the Warlock spells are weak. There are a few ones that are good enough to be played in the deck. Hell, even some of those played in the deck are bad. Darkbomb is strictly worse than Frostbolt or Quick Shot. Siphon Soul is shitty tier card (just compare it to likes of Shield Slam, Hex or Polymorph) and the reason it’s played is that it’s the only single target removal Warlock has access too. Without it Warlock would have NO WAY to deal with minions like Ysera that are big, but not in the range of Big Game Hunter. Those “stronger” spells like AoE also damage your board or demand you to sacrifice a minion, so they have negative aspects. And arguably the best Warlock spell – Imp-losion can screw you over if it rolls 2. That’s how Warlock spells present. THEY SUCK. Meaning that Cho’Gall might not have a good things to combo it with.
The only really good Cho’Gall combo is him + Siphon Soul. Like I’ve said – the spell sucks, because it’s SO EXPENSIVE for a removal. You usually have to spend a whole turn removing something, so you don’t get any tempo this way. Cho’Gall + Siphon Soul is very good turn 7 play. You put a 7/7 on the board and you turn your Siphon soul into a 0 mana spell “Destroy a minion. Deal 3 damage to your Hero.” And this kind of spell would be broken. Another good use is Cho’Gall + Shadowflame. You can use Shadowflame on the Cho’Gall himself to deal 7 AoE damage if opponent’s board demands it. Let’s say that it’s kinda a waste, because you spend 2 cards and deal 4 damage to yourself just to clear opponent’s board. But hey, if you play a slow Warlock (and you do if you play those 2 cards) clearing the board against a Midrange deck is much more important than getting value – you’ll outvalue opponent anyway in the long run and not dying to the board is priority. You can also play Cho’Gall and Shadowflame something else if you have another minion on the board, that’s also a cool tempo move. And… that’s it for the spells currently played and that will be playable in Standard. Imp-losion is pretty cool thing, but it won’t be playable (and I hate this card because of it’s RNG nature).
So maybe let’s look at the other Warlock spells. Something like Mortal Coil or Darkbomb might be okay. I mean, you get 1/2 mana of tempo this way – it’s nothing insane, but it can sometimes come handy. Oh wait, I forgot – Darkbomb is also leaving Standard, so no Darkbomb. Shadowbolt let’s say then. It’s quite alright – 0 mana + 3 health “deal 4 damage to a minion”. Then, the AoEs – Shadowflame is best. Demonwrath might also be a good tempo play if enemy has a lot of puny stuff on the board. But Hellfire.. Oh boy, it already deals 3 damage to you and now it will deal 7. It’s strong if you want to kill yourself. Okay, situationally it might be useful – if you want to have a Salty Dog on the board for tempo.
Maybe some more expensive spells? Well… nope. Twisting Nether is terrible. You use one more card and 8 health just to cast it one turn earlier. That’s a REALLY desperate move, especially since it obviously clears your Cho’Gall too. DOOM! maybe? Naaah. First you’d have to put it into your deck. Then it costs you TEN HEALTH to use it this way. Even though you draw some cards in exchange, that’s way too much – even if enemy didn’t hit you a single time around the time of turn 7 you should already be after 3-4 life taps AT LEAST, so DOOM would take you down to 12-14 health… So yeah, if you plan to play the suicide Warlock, go ahead.
That’s the thing. Warlock has pretty much no good spells to combo it with this card. The ones we got so far int he expansion also aren’t good. I mean, DOOM? Nope, already explained. Renounce Darkness? Yeah, sure, good combo. No. Spreading Madness? (I’ll review it later in this article) Hahahah… With my luck it would be 7 hits into Cho’Gall and 2 into the face.
So while the card is strong, it might just not be good in this particular class. It happens quite often – a card that might be insane in some other class is just very weak in another. I think this would be MUCH, MUCH better in you know, Priest. Where you can deal damage to yourself more freely, because you heal yourself after + you have a lot of situational, but strong spells. You could play this + Entomb or Holy Fire or Holy Nova. Or heck, even Mind Control in slow matchups when you’re at full health – that would be actually a way to make the card useful. Mage. This + Effigy would be really cute turn 7 play. Or if playing a slower Mage with Ice Block where you don’t really worry about health – this + Flamestrike. Or in Giants Echo (okay, Echo is going away in Standard, but that’s not the point) – dealing damage to yourself might actually be good thing. So yeah, card is good, but not necessarily in Warlock.
In Arena? Legendary, so you won’t likely see it. Then, it’s not even good – not only you often have no spells in your hand while playing in Arena, so it’s just a 7/7 for 7, but for Arena Warlock the health is even more important. If you stabilize the board and you’re at quite high health total, you usually win the game because you draw 2 per turn. That’s the reason why a good tactic against Warlock is rushing him down – Warlocks often stabilize the game at 15 or less health, so at this point dealing any damage to yourself is risky and you’d rather spend that health on tapping than heaving a tempo spell turn. I mean, you can draft it as a 7/7 for 7 – it would just be a War Golem most of time. Maybe sometimes the effect might come handy if you have a spell-heavy deck.
Waaaat… The card sounds pretty crazy. I mean… I really hate high RNG cards and this is one of them. It’s also good enough to see some play. But then I’ll cry every time it hits my face like 5 times when enemy has full board.
Okay, but let’s be realistic about this card. If you consider Avenging Wrath to be a pretty good card, this one is much better. Just like very Warlock AoE spell, it has some downside. It damages your side of the board too. So yeah, Warlock player are already used to that. Both Demonwrath and Hellfire are good even though they can kill your minions. It’s simple – you just usually cast them when you have no minions on the board = problem solved.
Same thing with this one. Let’s say you have 2 minions, enemy has 2 minions and there is you and the opponent. 6 targets in total – 3 you want to hit and 3 you don’t want to hit. Average scenario is that everything takes 1.5 damage, so between 1 and 2. That’s not really good. Demonwrath is much more reliable in this kind of situation.
But then again, you have to look at it other way. It’s not something you cast when the board is even. It something you cast when you have 0 minions on the board and enemy has 4 minions. That’s also 6 targets in total, but this time 5 you want to hit and only 1 you don’t want to hit. So this time the average scenario is you taking 1-2 face damage and then dealing 7-8 damage randomly spread between the enemies. So this is like a Flamewaker + Coin + Arcane Missiles in spell form. Or pretty much the Avenging Wrath for 3 less mana.
So if you look at the card this way, it’s pretty strong. It would be really good card against kinds of the Zoo Warlock (with Egg and Creeper gone, the only really bad target for it will be Imp Gang Boss) or current Secret Paladin. The more small minions opponent has, the better card is. If there will be some very high tempo decks, flooding the board early with small stuff, I’ll definitely play this card in RenoLock. However, the card is quite useless against any slower deck where enemy usually has only 1 big minion at the time. It means that the spread is 2 good targets and 1 bad target. And I’d even say that if you want to kill that minion, face is also a bad target – so the minion is going to take 3 damage on average. 3 damage into a minion for 3 mana is really weak. It also sucks against any minions that gain something when they are getting attacked (so you know, Imp Gang Boss, Acolyte of Pain, Armorsmith, Grim Patron).
So, it’s mostly a meta call. But the card definitely isn’t bad.
In Arena, it also depends on the kind of deck you have. If you have any slower deck – you can maybe pick one of that card. It might come handy in the early game if enemy gains the tempo. Let’s say if enemy opens with 2/1 1-drop into 3/2 2-drop, this card should clear them both. But if you’re the one playing a high tempo deck, with a lot of small drops, don’t pick that – it’s going to punish you more times than you’d like to.
Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End
Oh. My. God. The madness incarnate. THE RNG INCARNATE. It might be the hardest card in the set to review. Especially since I really hope that this card won’t see any Constructed play, but something tells me it actually might.
Okay, let me rant about this. Haven’t Blizzard learned from the GvG already? Cards with a really high variety RNG, that ranges from “terrible” to “godlike”, are bad for the game. Piloted Shredder could win or lose the game on the spot and that was really bad design. Me dropping a Shredder on turn 4 just to get a Millhouse Manastorm out of it and outtempo the enemy heavily was one end and the other one was enemy using his last removal on my Shredder when my board is full and I win next turn just for it to drop Doomsayer and clear my whole board. No. That’s TERRIBLE design. It’s fun from viewer’s perspective, I give Blizzard that, but it sucks from the player’s one. Boom Bots from Dr. Boom was another example of the bad design. In worst case scenario, they’ve dealt 2 damage to the face with the effect. Which is nothing. In the best case scenario, they’ve killed 2 midrange minions BY THEMSELVES. Or I don’t know – Imp-losion. I can’t remember how many times me rolling 2 on something I HAD to kill was just an instant concede. Or on the other hand, rolling 4 on that 4/4 opponent had on the board and just winning the game thanks to that.
But, most of those effects were in GvG. Last expansion was amazing – almost no RNG, even the RNG effects like getting a random card were reduced with the Discover mechanic. And now? We get something like that. A RNG card we hadn’t had before. A card where WHOLE GAMES will be decided by the RNG. And I mean it – no difficult decisions, no skill involved, you just drop this card and pray. The only thing that’s fine is that this card will be only playable in very slow decks, so the decks themselves should be hard enough to filter out all the bad players. Still, it’s pretty funny how we will have games decided by one card.
And by decided I don’t even mean “3x Pyroblast to opponent’s face”. Games will rarely end on the spot. But it’s just that variance is SO HIGH. Let’s say getting 10 random spells out of it. On the one hand, you might be able to draw 3 cards, get some free mana with Innervate, Mind Control a random minion, Flamestrike the rest of the board, deal some damage to opponent’s face and I don’t know, heal yourself, Thoughtsteal something good from the opponent’s deck etc. That’s a good scenario. Then, we have a bad scenario – you lose your whole hand because of Astral Communion, you cast some buffs on opponent’s minions, you Fireball your face and then you Shadowform when your Hero Power was upgraded with Justicar and you don’t want to change it. Or I don’t know, you get 5 Sprints, Nourishes, Arcane Intellects, (Insert other card draw mechanics here) and just burn a bunch of cards while getting to fatigue.
The variance is SO DAMN HIGH. A lot of people did the calculations and yes – there are more positive effects than negative ones when playing this. But the distribution is in positive effects favor. So it basically means that the card has insanely high chance to screw the one who plays it. But it has even bigger chances of winning on the spot. The real question is – how often will it be positive in real game scenario? We can theorycraft as much as we want to, but stuff like that needs to be tested. It heavily depends on the class you play against, on the game state, on the board state, on the health totals etc. The truth is that this card not only needs to work “more than 50% of time”. 51/49 distribution would make it completely unplayable. Even 60/40 to win/lose the game might. The thing is – in competitive ladder play 60% win rate isn’t much. Getting high Legend ranks is about big win streaks, about getting that 10 wins in a row when you’re already pretty high. This card doesn’t help with that – let’s even say it fails in 2 out of those 10 games and your win streak is already ruined. Same goes for the tournament play – it’s about win streak. To climb the tournament brackets you need to have very high win rate, ESPECIALLY in the Swiss format. This card would need to work like 70% of time in the realistic scenario to be used. And that’s my hope – the chance it works might not be THAT high.
Yogg will be insanely fun to watch, insanely fun when you play game casually and just for fun, when you play matches with your friends, but it SUCKS for the competitive scene. If you’re serious about the game – you can’t possibly want cards like that to be ever played. Imagine someone winning the World Championship on Blizzcon after pretty much losing the game and then getting the PERFECT Yogg RNG for the win. Like he’s at 5 health, enemy is at 30 health and after Yogg he lives and enemy dies. Will it be fun to watch? Definitely. Will it make a super highlight? Yes. But will it be fair for the players? Not in the slightest.
But okay, maybe let’s talk about it for a bit… It might be used as a finisher in slower, Control decks. I honestly don’t see a deck built around this card only – after all you can’t base the whole game around it if it has such a high chance to fail. Then again, if you play a deck with a lot of burn like Freeze Mage, you just don’t need this. So I can see it being used in Control Warrior for example. Current versions are really spell heavy – they run up to ~15 spells, and that’s quite a lot. And enough for this card. Control Priest might be another contender, with over 10 spells commonly used.
I’ve changed my mind, I don’t even want to talk about this. No. I’ll have freakin nightmares involving Yogg-Saron in every second deck I encounter on the ladder. And losing the games which I’d win next turn just because I’ve got hit by 5 burn spells into the face.
Nothing crazy, but can’t really expect crazy 1 mana card. It’s good, however. Solid. I think this card will see play in Zoo Warlock.
The direct comparison would most likely be Argent Squire. Squire is a card that’s already playable in Zoo Warlock. Having a 1-drop that can survive more than 1 hit is good if you run a lot of attack buffs. And as of now, Possessed Villager does pretty much the same things that Squire does, but better.
Zoo Warlock is pretty heavy synergy deck. Every minion should work well with others, as you want to squeeze maximum value and tempo at the same time. Squire was good, because you could attack twice. Possessed Villager is the same in that aspect – you can buff him with Abusive Sergeant/Dire Wolf Alpha, hit something, and you still have 1/1 on the board.
Possessed Villager can do the same and even more. He has synergy with Knife Juggler – dying procs Deathrattle, new minion spawns and a knife is thrown. He has synergy with Void Terror – eating Divine Shield doesn’t give you anything, while this one drops a 1/1 behind. It’s also better against some board clears – for example Brawl or Twisting Nether. Divine Shield won’t protect against those.
Also, one big thing is Power Overwhelming. PO shenanigans are very common in Zoo and it feels like a huge waste to PO the Squire who still has Shield on. Here, you don’t have to worry – both parts are very PO-able.
The only downside of Possessed Villager I see is the Defender of Argus synergy. Permanent buffs work better with Squire, because after it attacks it’s still buffed. When you Argus this guy and it dies, it’s 1/1 again, unlike Squire which would still be 2/2 after the first attack. But since Zoo Warlock isn’t known for permanent buffs and Argus is still very likely the only one that will be played in the deck, I think overall Possessed Villager wins with the Squire.
In Arena, it’s a good card. 1-drops are pretty important in the class that really, really doesn’t want to lose the early tempo. Warlock is known for the strong 1-drops and this one joins the ranks. He’s about the level of Argent Squire and Argent Squire is definitely above average. Which one is better really depends on the exact deck, but generally I’d say that he’s very silghtly stronger than the Squire (like 2 points on the Arena tier list).
Wisps of the Old Gods
Haaahaaa… The puuuuuun… No. This is terrible. This is like a Dark Wispers but even harder to play. Like, no one ever has summoned the 5 Wisps for 6 mana, what makes Blizzard think that someone will summon 7 for 7? It’s the same level of being bad and the same reason that it won’t ever be played – ANY AoE completely clears it. ANY AOE. Warrior’s Whirlwind can just completely deal with it. A little more expensive stuff like Demonwrath or Consecration or Swipe too. You can’t play something that can instantly get wiped by a much lower cost card without you even getting any value. You can’t. Yes, the dream is they all survive and then you Savage Roar for lethal next turn. But what are the chances? Even if enemy has no AoE – Hero Powers that deal 1 damage, other minions on the board, small weapons, card effects like Flamewaker can all help with wiping the 1/1’s. So the dream is pretty much only possible against AFK opponent.
Then, the second effect. +2/+2 to everything? For 7 mana? No freaking way. Power of the Wild is +1/+1 for 2 mana. Play two of those and you have the same effect for 4 mana. I know that this is one card, but it doesn’t justify the +3 mana cost. AND PotW is also more flexible, because you can play a 3/2 for 2, you can’t play the Wisps here.
I even forgot to mention that we have the same effect on Cenarius. Which is only 2 mana more expensive, but gives a… 5/8 body in return for that 2 more mana investment. And is more flexible, because you can also summon two 2/2 Taunts. And it’s still rarely played. And even if it is played, 2/2 Taunts are the much more common option. Yeeaaah.
This card to ever see play should be priced at 4-5 mana max. No more than that. Especially since +2/+2 to everything effect isn’t necessarily strong in Druid. Druid is usually a slower class with a few, but bigger minions. The only decks that would like this kind of effect are Egg Druid (which is Aggro deck, so even then it would be too expensive) and Token Druid. And honestly, it wouldn’t be more broken than PotW in Token anyway.
Some people have mentioned that Druid might be getting some kind of Wisps interaction. Like Wisp detonation. Hey, IN THAT CASE, depending on what the card looks like, it might be good. For example – if we get a 1 mana “Detonate Wisps” card “Destroy all your Wisps. Deal 2 damage to random enemy minion for each Wisp destroyed this way.” If we see something THAT good, it might justify the card. But without such a card it’s just bad and unplayable.
In Arena it’s also pretty weak. But I wouldn’t say unplayable. First of all – board clears are less common, so you will more rarely get punished by summoning Wisps. +2/+2 effect might also be stronger, because Arena has much more smaller minions and stuff that summons tokens (you know, Imp Master, Razorfen Hunter, Silver Hand Knight etc.). Still, I’d say that Dark Wispers is superior, because +5/+5 AND Taunt is a better effect overall. And the difference between 5 and 7 Wisps isn’t that high. If you have some sort of buffs or Savage Roar and enemy has no AoE it’s still awesome. And if enemy has board clear it’s basically the same.
Okay, so that’s it for the part 7. I know that it’s not all the cards currently revealed, but some of those reviews were quite long and I don’t want to release an overwhelmingly long post! I’ll probably do the rest tomorrow.
Cards that were released lately, hmm… Weren’t that strong. Some of them were playable, but that’s it – playable. Good at best. Not insane or op. And that’s good – I really like the set’s strength level so far compared to the others we will be playing in. It feels like Classic will be the real core and we’ll be using all the expansions to fill the gaps. And that’s fine – Naxx/GvG will no longer be 70-80% of the expansion cards being used in competitive play. I think the overall power level will go down and that’s why Blizzard doesn’t want to release something too strong. I can’t be completely sure yet, but it feels like they finally learn the game’s balance pretty well. And that’s fine, first cards in MTG were also broken and it took a while for them to learn. Let’s just hope that Blizzard is going to stay on the right tracks and Hearthstone will stay popular 🙂
Thanks for staying with me and reading my reviews. If you want to share your thoughts about the cards or maybe some information that I’ve missed – feel free to post in the comment section below! I’m open to any kind of discussion.