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.

Blackrock Mountain Cards Preview #4

Cards

With Blackrock Mountain releasing its first wing this week, Blizzard has revealed all of the cards that will be added into Hearthstone with the new adventure.  I’ll go over seven of the new cards that have been revealed in this article with the remaining seven covered in one last article.  We’ll look at the three remaining legendaries and some of the first cards that will be released with the expansion.  Some look like guaranteed mainstays in the new meta game, while others make for better comic relief than competitive cards.  Either way, fun times abound.

Emperor_Thaurissan

First up is Emperor Thaurissan, the first legendary that we’ll get and easily the best.  His stat line may be a little undervalued for the cost, but his ability to reduce the mana costs of the cards in your hand makes up for it.  Since it triggers at the end of your turn, you’re guaranteed to get some value out of him.  There’s also the fact that there aren’t too many great turn 6 plays in the game already.  I have no doubts that Thaurissan will enjoy the same kind of popularity as Naxxramas‘ Loatheb as there simply isn’t a deck that he’s bad in.

Majordomo_Executus

This guy is hilarious, but also extremely impractical.  When Majordomo Executus dies, your hero will be replaced with Ragnaros the Firelord and your hero power will now deal 8 damage to a random enemy.  It sounds awesome, but then you realize that Ragnaros only has 8 health and this transformation leaves you extremely vulnerable.  It could act as a heal if you’re desperately low on health, but it will only get you so much and you can’t heal higher than 8 afterwards.  This could have some potential in Warrior with the aid of armor for added surviability, but will most certainly be relegated to joke card in all other scenarios.

Chromaggus

Chromaggus straddles the line between being good and being goofy.  On the one hand, his stat line isn’t great and his effect has a good deal of randomness to it.  On the other hand, the simple virtue of having more cards in your hand than your opponent is a major advantage.  In control-focused decks, he could be viable as a late-game asset that keeps your resources plentiful.  However, he may not be practical enough for many decks.

Gang_Up

The new Rogue spell, Gang Up, certainly isn’t a card that many competitive decks can fit in.  Getting three minions of your choice from what’s currently on the board sounds nice, but you still need to draw into them afterward and this can cost you a great deal of tempo.  However, it will be great in a certain type of joke deck called Mill Rogue.  Mill is the tactic of intentionally filling your opponents hand inorder to burn their most important cards and to kill your opponent with fatigue damage once their deck runs out.  One weakness of the deck is that you tend to burn yourself out as quickly as your opponent, so a card that increases the size of your deck would certainly be useful.  It’s not a great card, but I’m definitely glad to have it.

Resurrect

Randomness is a factor in the Priest’s Resurrect spell, but it may still be viable at a competitive level.  Odds are fairly good that you’ll get at least a 2 mana minion and that will be decent value.  If you get anything bigger, then this card is incredible.  The biggest problem is that the odds will depend on the minions that your opponent is using and high aggression with smaller minions is very popular at the moment.  It’s a good card, but now might not be the best time for it.  Oh, and speaking of aggro…

UPDATE: I JUST noticed that the card specifies friendly minions, so my problem with getting a bad minion from your opponent is not actually an issue.  This card is 100% awesome.

Quick_Shot

Raise your hand if you hate face-damage Hunters!  Quick Shot is strong just as a 3 damage spell for 2 mana, but the added effect of card draw when your hand is empty makes this insane as a late-game topdeck.  Your best hope is to try and bait your opponent into spending it in the early game where it will still get good value but won’t lock down a win.  Otherwise, the nightmare of your opponent drawing into lethal has just gotten worse.  Hunter is currently incredibly strong and this card is only going to make them more powerful than ever before.

Druid_of_the_Flame

Finally, we have Druid of the Flame, a 3 mana 2/5 for Druid.  You have option of making it a 5/2, but you’re never going to.  It’s okay, but pretty bland for a class exclusive minion.  It is worth noting that transformation is immune to silence, so whichever buff you pick will stick.  Also, both forms count as beasts, so this may encourage players to use Druid of the Fang more.  It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it can be viable in most decks.

There are only seven more cards to cover and they’ll be here soon.  Until then, let us know which cards you’re most excited to play with.

Enough Is Enough, Ubisoft…

Ubisoft

While browsing the internet in a tired stupor, I stumbled upon an article that immediately piqued my interest in all of the wrong ways. Within the piece, there was a quote from Assassin’s Creed writer Darby McDevitt in which he proclaimed that Ubisoft would be working on the Creed series until at least 2025.

Surely this is just a joke, right? After rubbing my eyes and attempting to wake myself from this nightmare, I was both crestfallen and ultimately unsurprised that this was no dream, nor was it optical trickery.

Of course this was real. Of course Darby was telling the truth. It is Ubisoft, it is an age of on-disc DLC, pre-order bonuses, pay-walls, day-one-patches, and unfinished products being sold on shelves without consideration for the consumer.

It is the world we live in. Assassin’s Creed is but one tiny entity in an amoeba of absolute bulls#&t, and I’m sick of it.

 Assassins-Creed-3-Perch

I – Hey you, with the suit… your hubris is showing.

I want to begin by analyzing the quote that started this whole thing.

“We’ve created 500, 600, 700 years worth of history that we hope to start teasing out for the next 10, 20 years or however long we’re around. I particularly love the lore. I’ve been working the past two years, with all the other writers, on getting a great document together on the First Civilization.”

At first it seems harmless. The guy has passion, I’ll give him that. He seems excited about the world they have crafted and having such an immense wealth of material at your disposal would make anyone optimistic.

The problem is that he talks about this as if it will actually last the next one to two decades. He assumes that his project has the means of surviving this long and that the fan base that he is so eager to cater to will remain interested after several years of absolute bollocks.

At this point it must sound like I’m about to start ripping into Darby for his words, so I’ll just state for the record that my anger is not directed towards him. My anger is directed at Ubisoft. When you take into account their track record and the rather arrogant attitudes they’ve had as a public entity, it’s safe to assume that Ubisoft definitely has this plan in mind. Of course they’ll try to suck every last dollar out of the fans to make a profit on this series. It makes sense from a business perspective, but they go way too far every time.

The assumption that Ubisoft can keep Assassin’s Creed as a franchise afloat for two decades is not only a sign of hubris, but a sign of blind greed. We’ve seen what happens to popular franchises like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and it’s becoming a case of history repeating it self.

 

It’s worth mentioning that Assassin’s Creed’s sales figures are a bit of an early sign, as both Rogue and Unity combined sold on par (10 million) with Black Flag alone. Another example of this is that Brotherhood managed to almost topple (8 million) both Rogue and Unity’s sales as well.
It’s worth mentioning that Assassin’s Creed’s sales figures are a bit of an early sign, as both Rogue and Unity combined sold on par (10 million) with Black Flag alone. Another example of this is that Brotherhood managed to almost topple (8 million) both Rogue and Unity’s sales as well.

Away from the quote, I’d like to focus on the apparent five hundred to seven hundred years of lore that is being established for the franchise. I get that to build a great story, you must have a strong foundation. Tolkien proved this with his stories, and countless other authors and designers alike. it is disheartening however, when the products we receive from Ubisoft are coming packed with almost no story development. As the series has gone on, the main plot has taken such a back seat that it was almost non-existent in recent titles. This is the story that drives you, and it is neglected every single time in some manner so that it can be further extended into fifty more sequels.

 This practice is like spreading a small portion of butter over a large piece of bread. It has been spread too thin to have the taste you desire, rendering each bite a tease. I’m tired of being teased and mocked with this ‘modern day’ story that grows increasingly uninteresting and stale as we spend countless hours sailing ships and climbing buildings just to find out that Desmond took a breath!

 If you have so much lore and story planned, start using it to build better stories now rather than thinking so far ahead. Your franchise is in dire need of revival, and it might help if you focus more on the present instead of on what you could potentially do in years.This is assuming your shameless company doesn’t go under.

ACU_Screenshot_LuxembourgRiot

II – Self control is a thing of the past.

We’ve briefly touched on the prospect of popular franchises dying because of arrogant and selfish publishers sucking out every iota of magic that their intellectual property had. I think it is important that we look to the past to mold the future, something Ubisoft is clearly incapable of doing.

With Assassin’s Creed, you had an exciting and fresh – albeit limited – IP with a ton of potential. It was well received and sold well, so a sequel made sense. Assassin’s Creed 2 came out around two years later, armed with a ton of significant improvements over the original game. It was a breathtaking experience, and though it didn’t do much to change the combat or mission structure, it was a hallmark product for Ubisoft.

They started off with a bang, that much is sure. As the titles came out however, it came with increasingly shorter development times, increasingly large and disconnected studios teaming up for development, and a reckless abandonment of much needed polish and evolution in the form of new mechanics and the like, they’ve gone downhill at a rapid rate.

Beyond this, Ubisoft seemingly wanted to make every new game ‘bigger’ than the last. If you read my piece about why less is more, you’ll remember that my stance was this. While ‘more’ is great and fun, more for more’s sake is an awful way to do things.

Each Assassin’s Creed game after 2 that wasn’t simply a direct Ezio sequel, tried to outdo the last game by being bigger. Bigger worlds, expansive landscapes, endless side quests, eventual naval combat. While some of this stuff is excellent, each game comes out more unfinished and broken than the last. Biting off more than you can chew is not a good idea, and it seems Ubisoft doesn’t learn from their mistakes. Having a four hundred thousand gigabyte patch to fix what was possibly one of the worst abominations we call a ‘game launch’ in recent memories, proved this notion.

assassins-creed-2-pc-14

III – Give us what we desire.

If you’ve visited any Ubisoft or Assassin’s Creed message board, group or facebook page, you’ll see that there are always talks about what the fans want to see in the series. Ubisoft did a much appreciated survey that listened to players feedback to help mold the series, and that was a great first step. The second great step they took was that they actually fixed some of the long-standing problems the series had, such as the free running mechanics and mission structure. AC Unity was a good for this, but the game was still bogged down in many many other ways.

We can credit them for listening (a bit) but there are many more problems and requests for the series that go completely ignored. Where is our revamped combat system? Where is our fully finished, stable, bug free product? Where is our asianic setting that everybody and their Grandpa wants?

“Feudal Japan would work as an Assassin’s game, for sure, but I feel like it would start to look like ‘oh, have I played this?’ You know what I mean – ‘oh, I’ve been a ninja before, I’ve been a samurai before.” 

That’s where it is according to Alex Hutchinson, creative director for Assassin’s Creed 3. It is entirely bogus if you ask me, and I’ll tell you why.

Think of the last time you got to run across rooftops as an assassin in feudal China or Japan. Think of the last time that you were able to have a one on one showdown with a cloaked Samurai. Think of the last time you were able to navigate through the architecture that makes the feudal Asian time periods so interesting. You probably thought of games from the 90s and early 2000s that either sucked hard, or were cult hits that didn’t sell well enough to stay around this long.

The fact is this: We do not get these types of games any more beyond a few low budget flops. There is a huge market for them again, but the biggest franchise for playing as an Assassin neglects it, and it’s disheartening.

ACRO_Preview_Screenshot_Island_Gang_Air_rifle_aiming_1412933431

IV – The fans deserve better.

While I could talk all day about how lazy and vapid the Creed series has become, or how Ubisoft absolutely can’t find a single clue amongst their massive stack of cheddar, I’d like to end this with a statement. The fans deserve better.

Ubisoft is a company. Companies exist because of, and survive on, money. Consumers who buy the company’s products are the people that fuel the company to continue doing work. We can’t expect every company to then bow down to the consumer because of this fact, but a little appreciation would go a long way.

Ubisoft has earned a massive fan base that will basically mail them free money in the hopes that a new Assassin’s Creed game will come out. They should be recognising this and trying to make their games all the better for the fan’s sake. Hell, let’s just forget the fans for a second and say that they should do this for their own sake. Build up that reputation again Ubisoft, you sadly need to at this point.