Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods Preview #2

Whispers of the Old Gods

Whispers of the Old Gods is right around the corner and I have a lot of cards to catch up on.  Obviously, I’m not going to cover all of the new cards, but I will highlight some of the most interesting that we’ll be getting in the new expansion to Hearthstone.  Before we actually get into the cards of Whispers of the Old Gods, there are a couple of corrections I need to make.  For one, C’Thun and the cultist cards that interact with it will not be available for Arena drafts.  While most of the cultists have premium stat lines, there are a few that have a heavy reliance on C’Thun and Blizzard has opted not to include any of them in Arena to avoid saturation (although there are already cards like Junkbot and Rend Blackhand in Arena that are far worse than any of the cultists, so…).  Secondly, my claim in the previous preview that each class would receive a Forbidden spell was actually a matter of miscommunication.  Only Druid and Warlock have received Forbidden cards in addition to Mage, Paladin, and Priest, and Druid’s Forbidden card is actually a minion.  I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.  With all that out of the way, let’s delve into the cards that will be entering the Whispers of the Old Gods game soon.

Renounce_Darkness

This may be the single weirdest Hearthstone card I’ve ever seen.  For just 2 mana, your Warlock can give up on being a Warlock and become anything else.  There is use for that as the Warlock’s hero power, while incredibly powerful in the early to mid-game, is the worst for any match that goes into fatigue.  Jaraxxus has already proven that changing your hero out late in the game is extremely good, but that raises the question of whether or not it’s worth playing this over Jaraxxus.  Generally, the answer is no, but it could have some applications.  It could work in a deck with a lot of high-risk, high-reward cards and needs an emergency switch, but it wouldn’t work well alongside Jaraxxus because playing this first would replace the eredar lord and playing it second would likely leave you with a worse hero power.  The mana discount has a lot of potential, but the fact that you not only get random cards, but a random class on top of that, makes it highly unreliable.  It’s an experimental card and it probably won’t work, but I’d love to see it take me by surprise.

Herald_Volazj

On the surface, this card might look terrible.  “Why would I want to copy my minions if they’re just going to be tiny 1/1 version?” I hear you ask.  Well, there are plenty of minions that have their value tied to the their effects rather than their stat lines.  Ragneros, Sylvanas, Thaurissan, Ysera, Brann, and Malygos are just a few examples of cards that work remarkably well with Volazj.  It’s not limited to big legendaries either as any deathrattle minion will also benefit from duplication.  The only thing that’s tricky about Volazj is that you really need to set the board carefully to get a good effect out of him.  You don’t want to copy just one minion with him or you’re left with a worse Faceless Manipulator.  He’s a gimmicky card and probably won’t see much high-level play as a result, but those willing to take a risk on him won’t be disappointed with what he can do.

Let’s continue with Whispers of the Old Gods game cards…

Hallazeal_the_Ascended

Hallazeal is an interesting card,if nothing else.  It’s definitely something for control Shaman decks, which this expansion has been giving a serious push for.  I’ll certainly take it over the infuriating Aggro Shaman that has been infesting the ladder recently.  Hallazeal has a decent enough stat line to see play and can combo best with AoE spells like Lightning Storm to really pull you out of a tough spot.  He’s not going to act as a hard carry for any deck, but he can be a handy safety net to keep you alive.  The one big problem is that he’ll be most valuable against aggressive decks, and those will probably kill you faster than you can get him on the board and use his ability.

Y'Shaarj

It is said that Y’Shaarj was the strongest of all the Old Gods and remained one of the most dangerous and powerful beings in Azeroth even as a corpse.  Its card aptly captures the overwhelming power of Y’Shaarj with not only a massive stat line, but also the ability to bring more minions into battle.  You’re guaranteed at least one minion before your opponent will have a chance to shut it down with hard removal (which is less likely now that BGH is being nerfed), but the minion you get is going to be random and you’ll have to build a specific type of deck to get good mileage out of Y’Shaarj.  This is a Whispers of the Old Gods card made for control decks with lots of big minions available to have the best odds on getting a good pull.  Keep in mind that Battlecry effects won’t trigger and you’ll mostly want to avoid putting those in the same deck as Y’Shaarj.

Yogg-Saron

I take it back; THIS is the single weirdest card I’ve ever seen.  Yogg-Saron is a being of such cunning that it was able to take complete control over the prison built specifically to contain it with its sinister whispers alone.  It is the creator of the Emerald Nightmare and can twist mortal minds into madness with barely a motion.  The Yogg-Saron card is appropriately insane for such a beast with an effect that is beyond predictability.  While its stat line is terrible, it likely won’t matter as there’s a fair chance that every minion, including Yogg-Saron itself, and both heroes will all perish the moment it appears on the board.  The spells Yogg-Saron casts are not limited by mana nor class; any legal spells from across Hearthstone can be cast.

Yogg-Saron can throw a Pyroblast at your face, heal you back with Healing Wave, buff an enemy minion with Blessing of Kings, steal the buffed minion with Mind Control, destroy it with Assassinate, turn itself into a frog with Hex, clear the enemy board with Flamestrike, let zero dogs out with Unleash the Hounds right after, and then lose you the game outright with three more Pyroblasts to your face.  At least it won’t cast spells for your opponent, but it will randomly chose a target based on what is normally allowed for that spell (ex. casting Flamecannon would only ever hit an enemy minion and never a friendly one or either hero).  Also, while Yogg-Saron is using the effects of spells, they’re all considered his battlecry effect and don’t interact with minion effects like spell damage, but it can be doubled by Brann Bronzebeard.  There is no chance of Yogg-Saron seeing competitive-level play, but it is the ultimate card for closing out any joke deck.  It’s a card you can play 1000 times and still only see a fraction of what it’s capable of.

Forbidden_Ritual

Zoolock definitely looks to be making a comeback given the new board-swarming cards that are being released.  Warlock’s Forbidden spell, for example, lets you fill the board with as many minions as you need at any point in the game.  This is one of the best cards Zoolock could ever hope for as it can refill the board and help you bounce back after a mid to late-game board clear, Zoolock’s biggest weakness, but it’s also extremely flexible and can be dealt out whenever you need some more bodies.  Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to be seeing any less of Knife Juggler in the new meta.

Vilefin_Inquisitor

Along with Zoolock, Murloc Paladin is also looking to come back in vogue with some new murloc cards.  This one is chief among them, changing Paladin from being a really good class for murlocs to being the best class ever for murlocs.  Murloc decks depend on you having murlocs, to generating them at will with your hero power is best you could ever ask for.  If any card is going to end up being overpowered in WotOG, my money is on this one.

Journey_Below

Good news; the Discover mechanic is still alive and well post-League of Explorers.  Journey Below is a really good card for two reasons: For one, it gets you a Deathrattle card of your choice, which Priest’s Museum Curator has already proven to be a very useful ability.  Secondly, it’s a cheap card that you can just play whenever you want to, which makes it great fodder for setting up cards with Combo effects.  Definitely expect to see this pop up in quite a few Rogue decks.

Evolve

Shaman has been struggling as a class for the longest time with nothing but the recent aggro build to push it into the meta, but WotOG looks to change that with plenty of powerful new cards for the class.  Easily the most potent of the bunch is Evolve, a cheap spell that can have huge results.  Along with working well in control decks, it’s also the one new card that can work in aggro decks.  Honestly, it doesn’t make much of a difference what deck you put this in because simply casting it on at least two totems from your hero power can be enough to get you a good result.  There is a risk of getting Battlecry minions with terrible stat lines, but you’ll be making a net gain with Evolve over all.

Fandral_Staghelm

The Druid’s Choose One effects already make for some of the best cards in the game with just one of their possible choices, so Fandral Staghelm looks like a pretty potent card.  With a 4 mana 3/5 body, he’s definitely playable in just about any deck.  There are just a couple of important caveats to keep in mind with him.  First off, your opponent is never going to leave him be if they can help it.  Any minions they have on the board or spell damage in their hand is going straight for him.  While he can be played on curve in a pinch, it may be better to save for the late game so that you can guarantee a combo with a good Choose One card.  That could end up being too slow a strategy to work and he could really end up falling flat.  Secondly, two of the best Choose One cards are getting nerfed at the same time Fandral is coming out, so you should hold off on crafting him until he’s had a chance to prove himself in the meta.

Deathwing,_Dragonlord

If this new Deathwing card doesn’t get people playing dragon decks other than Priest, I don’t think any one card can.  It’s a big, stompy minion that your opponent will actually be afraid to use their hard-removal on because even more big, stompy minions will probably storm the board as a result.  This new Deathwing even makes the old Deathwing look appealing because nothing crushes souls like a 12/12 going down only for another 12/12 to immediately take its place with a couple 8/8’s tagging along for good measure.  It really answers the big set-back of high mana costs that previously held dragon decks back significantly.  However, Silence effects and transformation cards like Polymorph and Hex can shut him down entirely, so be sure to have those in mind as you make your plays.

Psych-o-Tron

HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I may change my tune once the expansion drops and I start to see some of these Whispers of the Old Gods cards in action, but I am very happy with WotOG right now.  While there are a few underwhelming cards included, the good ones are really good and open up a lot of new possibilities for the game going forward.  The best part is that there isn’t a single card that strikes me as being egregious in any way.  There’s nothing that looks inherently broken like Dr. Boom and there’s nothing that actively outmodes old cards like Evil Heckler.  Maybe Vilefin will end up on the overpowered side when put into practice or maybe one of the Old Gods will prove be even crazy than it looks on the surface, but this is looking to be the best Hearthstone expansion to date at the moment.  If you’ve fallen off the game or haven’t started yet, now is looking like the best time to jump in.

Whispers of the Old Gods releases on April 26th.  What are your thoughts on the new expansion?  What are your favorite and least favorite new cards?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about Whispers of the Old Gods game.

Top 10 Most Wonderfully Worthless Hearthstone Cards

Hearthstone has plenty of crazy card effects, and none are crazier than the legendaries.  They’re the hardest cards to get ahold of and you can only use one of each in a deck.  They seem like the best cards in the game, but style does not equal substance and there are plenty of flashy cards that aren’t worth the price of admittance.  To be clear, this isn’t about the worst legendary cards, per say, but the ones that look the most tempting and deliver the most disappointment.  Millhouse Manastorm is bad, but you can see just how much of a risk he is at a glance.  These are the cards that threaten to waste your hard-earned arcane dust and leave you sobbing with regret.  They’re the cards that fall so flat that you can’t help but laugh at their expense.  These are the most wonderfully worthless cards in Hearthstone.

Bolf_Ramshield

10. Bolf Ramshield

The idea behind Bolf is to counteract aggressive decks, which have been a notorious problem in Hearthstone.  However, flexibility is vital and he gets crushed by any other deck in the game.  Simply by going for the face, your opponent can easily kill your 6-drop without having to sacrifice any minions of their own.  Bolf isn’t even that good against aggro decks anyway because most of them will kill you before you even get to 6 mana.  Just stick to Antique Healbot or Cult Apothecary when that comes out.

Elite_Tauren_Chieftain

9. Elite Tauren Chieftain

Here’s a card so rare that it was exclusively awarded to attendees of Blizzcon 2013.  You can still craft it in normal quality the hard way, but golden copies of the card only belong to those select die-hard fans.  Something that prestigious has to be good, right?  Well, it’s actually the opposite.  To try and keep the game fair and balanced, any cards that are awarded for specific events are intentionally designed to be elaborate jokes that can never work at high levels of play.  A 5/5 for 5 is a decent minion, but the Power Chord cards are where things become really unpredictable.

There are three different Power Chord spells that you can get off of ETC, and they’re even more randomness stacked upon randomness.  There’s “I Am Murloc” that summons a random amount of 1/1 murlocs to your command, “Power of the Horde” can summon anything from a Frostwolf Grunt to Cairne Bloodhoof, and “Rogues Do It” as the most reliable one dealing 4 damage and drawing a card.  While that’s not a terrible deal, your opponent also gets one of these spells and may end up with a better deal than you.  Nothing sets you back on tempo worse than spending 4 mana on a measly 2/2 while your opponent gets one of the best spell damage cards in the game.

Gruul

8. Gruul

Gruul is the biggest and toughest guy you can find on the desolate planet of Draenor.  The towering ogres are puny servants to him, and his favorite hobby is taking members of Deathwing’s black dragonflight and impaling them through mountain peaks.  Admittedly, Gruul’s card heavily evokes his boss fight in World of Warcraft where he starts huge and only grows larger and stronger the longer the battle goes on.  Where things go wrong is when you remember that most decks run hard-removal cards like Big Game Hunter and Polymorph that will instantly shut someone like Gruul down, and those that don’t run removal are aggressive enough not to need it.  One minion alone can never be strong enough to control a game of Hearthstone, no matter how big it is.  Gruul may be bulky, but all that makes him is a bigger target.

Gelbin_Mekkatorque

7. Gelbin Mekkatorque

Here’s the other event exclusive card that you’re really not missing out on.  Gelbin was awarded to anyone who made a cash purchase during the game’s beta period, and he summons one of his unique inventions when played.  His Repair Bot heals a damaged character, the Emboldener 3000 buffs a minion, Poultryizer turns minions into 1/1 chickens, and Homing Chicken draws you three cards if it survives to the start of your next turn (where it automatically dies anyway).  That all sounds great except for the fact that the inventions don’t differentiate between your minions and your opponent’s.  As a result, they can easily end up helping your opponent much more than you.  It is possible to set the board up so the invention works for you, but Emboldener and Poultryizer are polar opposites in terms of tactics and getting things to swing your way is reliant entirely on blind luck.  Also, the inventions don’t have a single attack point between the lot of them, so your opponent can easily take it out even if it is working to your advantage.  When the one that intentionally blows itself up is the most reliable of the bunch, it might be time to look elsewhere for your six-drops.

Illidan_Stormrage

6. Illidan Stormrage

Illidan the Betrayer is one of the most recognizable characters in Warcraft lore, if not the most recognizable.  He’s been the central figure of not one, but two entire expansions for World of Warcraft, with the main selling point of the upcoming Legion expansion being the ability to play as Illidan’s Demon Hunter class.  Sadly, Hearthstone hasn’t been able to capture the night elf’s awesome powers as he is one of the weakest legendaries in the game.

There was a time where Illidan was useful as the original version of the card had a battlecry that discarded three cards from both players’ hands and drew them each three new ones.  However, it turned out that removing cards from the enemy hand was too powerful an ability and Illidan had to be completely reworked.  While summoning 2/1 minions with relative ease isn’t a decent enough ability, the big problem Illidan is that his health was reduced to a meager 5 that can easily be knocked through before he summons anything.  The fact that Illidan also dies to our old friend Big Game Hunter also doesn’t do him any favors.  Now his only use is as a guinea pig in Hearthstone Science’s experiments.

Icehowl

5. Icehowl

A 10/10 with charge?  Amazing!  A 10/10 with charge that can’t go face?  Useless!  The idea with Icehowl is to control the board, but area-of-effect and hard-removal spells already do his job substantially better.  You can silence him in order to attack your opponent’s face, but that also removes the charge effect.  You can save the silence for the next turn, but Icehowl will most likely be dead to BGH at that point (noticing a theme, here?).  Icehowl is all bark and no frostbite (I’m sorry I’m not sorry).

Nozdormu

4. Nozdormu

If you’re going to pay any more than 7 mana for a single card, it needs to have a stellar effect attached to it to be worth the investment.  Nozdormu can have an incredible impact, but only if you cheat.  There’s an infamous glitch with him that can steal time off of your opponent’s turn with lengthy animations.  Blizzard has tried fixing the bug several times, but it still exists in some form even to this day.  It might be best to just retire the leader of the bronze dragon flight, because he’s practically useless when he is working properly.  9 mana for an 8/8 minion is not a good deal on its own, so you have to catch your opponent offguard and force them into making bad plays for him to be worth it.  Of course, that’s assuming he doesn’t get hit by hard removal immediately and your opponent doesn’t have to worry about the time limit at all.

Deathwing

3. Deathwing

Deathwing is one of the most destructive beings in all of Warcraft lore.  The ruler of the black dragon flight has strength to outmatch even the mighty Gruul and single-handedly heralded in the cataclysm known as The Shattering.  He has the strongest base-line stats in the game and everything dies just from him entering the battlefield.  How can this possibly be a bad card?

I now present you with a short list of cards that directly counter Deathwing:  Assassinate, Polymorph, Hex, Siphon Soul, Humility, Shadow Word: Death, Entomb, Freezing Trap, Bouncing Blade, Tirion Fordring, Sabotage, Mind Control, Sylvanas Windrunner, Hunter’s Mark, Vol’jin, Rend Blackhand, Execute, Shield Slam, Crush, Naturalize, Mulch, Recycle, Sap, Repentance, Deadly Shot, Mirror Entity, Vaporize, Equality, Aldor Peacekeeper, Keeper of Uldaman, Emperor Cobra, Pit Snake, Patient Assassin, Doomsayer, Vanish, Corruption, Twisting Nether, Obsidian Destroyer, Hogger, Acidmaw, Eadric the Pure, Lightbomb, Kidnapper, Dark Bargain, Tinkmaster Overspark, another Deathwing, DOOM!, and, of course, Big Game Hunter.

Mimiron's_Head

2. Mimiron’s Head

When Goblins Vs. Gnomes was announced, this was the card that everyone had their eyes on.  Everyone, myself included, expected Mimiron’s Head to be Hearthstone‘s equivalent to Exodia the Forbidden One.  It was the card that, under the right conditions, would outright win the game for you.  The mega-windfury effect of V-07-TR-ON represents 16 damage on its own, and applying any buff (which is easy to do as your mana is completely free after summoning the mighty mech) is almost guaranteed lethal even if your opponent is at full health.  The only stipulation is that you have to be running a mech deck, those are bound to be playable with all the attention GvG gave to them, right?

Well, mech decks certainly dominated the meta after GvG and have even remained a strong option several expansions later, but Mimiron’s Head never fit into the picture.  Mech decks ended up being at their best when they were played aggressively, and a 5 4/5 was just too slow to compare with the other cards you could run.  Even if you did form V-07-TR-ON, you’d probably have more damage on the board with your ordinary minions.  Turns out a simple Mech Warper is more reliable than one of the most fearsome machines in Azeroth.

Majordomo_Executus

1. Majordomo Executus

And here we have what may be the single worst card in all of Hearthstone.  Other cards may put you at a disadvantage, but this is the only one that outright loses the game for you every time you play it.  Going down to a measly 8 health is a death sentence in almost every scenario.  Taking a huge risk like that might be worth it if becoming Ragnaros packed a good punch, but dealing 8 damage to a random enemy is a surprisingly weak hero power.  Often times, you’ll prefer having a 1-damage hero power that you can direct than a bigger blast that goes wherever it wants.  Well, at least you can use cards like Ice Block and Steamwheedle Sniper to work with it… Oh, wait, he can’t even do that.  Turning into Ragnaros drops the immunity you gain from Ice Block, and Steamwheedle doesn’t interact with Ragnaros at all.  Majordomo is the epitome of pay-to-lose.

That wraps up this list of the best of the worst that Hearthstone has to offer.  What other cards stand out in your mind?  I can certainly think of a few that just missed the cut, and one of their names rhymes with “Kek my beer, I’m a slug”.