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.

Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods Preview #1

Another Hearthstone expansion is around the corner and, fortunately for me, Blizzard didn’t immediately reveal the entire set when they announced it.  That means it’s time for another look into the future for the popular digital card game and all the eldritch horrors lurking within it.  Hearthstone’s next expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, will introduce 134 new cards to the game centered around four of the most ancient evils that plague the world of Azeroth.

C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, Y’Shaarj, and N’Zoth are beings of such horrific power that even the fiercest villains that you’ve faced in your journeys through Naxxramas and Blackrock Mountain are trifling in comparison.  Ragnaros and his fellow elemental lords were created by the Old Gods essentially to serve as action figures in their games of war, and the black dragon Deathwing that single-handedly caused the Cataclysm is like their adorable puppy.  Even killing an Old God does almost nothing to quell its power, as Y’Shaarj has been raining mayhem across Pandaria for millenia using its final breath alone.  Trying to kill the Old Gods is already an extremely bad idea on its own as many of Azeroth’s races, including dwarves and gnomes, are the result of the Curse of Flesh that the Old Gods cast when the world was young and breaking the curse would result in Azeroth’s destruction.  Needless to say, the Old Gods are not to be toyed with and depicting them in our silly card game of robot clowns and grumpy poultry has probably doomed us all.  Well, might as well have fun while we’re still alive and not sprouting tentacles everywhere!

WOTOGCthun

Our first card is the first of the Old Gods that World of Warcraft players came face-to-face with.  The all-seeing C’Thun loves being the center of attention and has plenty of cultists to give it just that.  On its own, C’Thun is actually a really bad card with a weak stat-line and an underwhelming effect.  Fortunately, it has plenty of worshipers that help make it significantly more potent.  Cards like Beckoner of Evil and Twilight Elder will buff the power of your C’Thun, even if its sitting somewhere in your deck.  C’Thun definitely looks like a card designed for combo decks where the cultists control the early game and C’Thun comes in for the grand finale.

While collecting all those cards sounds like a hassle, there’s good news.  Opening your first card pack from the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion will instantly award you C’Thun and two copies of Beckoner of Evil on top of the usual five cards.  The best part is that all of the cultist cards revealed so far have great stat lines and can easily hold the board while your waiting to play C’Thun.  For example…

WOTOGChosen

Here’s a good example of what C’Thun’s worshippers are capable of.  Even without her ability to buff C’Thun, a 4/2 with divine shield for 4 mana is very strong.  Considering that Piloting Shredder is being rotated out of standard mode, C’Thun’s Chosen could be a suitable substitute and is playable even in a deck without C’Thun.  The fact that C’Thun’s servants are serviceable without him is great news for Arena as drafting C’Thun in that mode is already going to be next to impossible and will only become more unlikely over time.  Giving them good stats not only makes C’Thun decks more viable, but it also prevents Arena from being flooding with garbage over this one expansion.

WOTOGHogger

The Old Gods are well known for their corrupting influence, and many familiar cards are going to have twisted reimaginings introduced.  One example is the bane of every new Alliance player, the gnoll gangleader Hogger, being mutated into the monstrosity pictured above.  The corrupted Hogger certainly has better stats than the vanilla version that we’ve had since Classic, but his effect is now much less reliable.  However, the Doom of Elwynn could serve as a counter to C’Thun.  Not only could he tank a large chunk of C’Thun explosive entrance on his own, the additional gnolls he summons would also absorb a lot of the damage.  That said, I can’t help but feel that the Grim Patron card already does that job and does it better.  Maybe a new Patron Warrior deck will find space for Hogger, but he’s currently one of the least promising new cards.  For the record, these corrupted cards are going to be their own thing and won’t replace the existing ones.  You can run both the corrupted Hogger and the original one in the same deck.

WOTOGShaping

One new set of cards that WotOG will introduce is the Forbidden Spells line.  All nine classes will receive one Forbidden Spell, and each will have their level of power based around the amount of mana you currently have available.  While they all cost zero mana on the surface, they actually spend all of your remaining mana crystals and will have a greater effect with the more mana you spend on it.  I see a lot of potential in these cards already as they’re highly flexible and you can get exactly the amount of mileage you need out of them.  Only three have been revealed thusfar, but I already expect that several of the Forbidden Spells will become mainstays in a lot of future decks.  Paladins will get a healing spell and mages will be able to deal spell damage to a minion, but the one that’s captured my attention the most is Forbidden Shaping for priest.

Granted, there is a lot of randomness involved in what you’ll get out of the card and there’s a good chance that you’ll get stuck with a weak battlecry minion like Faceless Manipulator after spending most of your mana.  However, I feel like the amount of flexibility that it gives your deck may just be worth taking that risk.  No matter what point in the game you draw it, it guarantees you a minion that you can play on curve.  You can even play it for zero mana for a Wisp if you’re especially desperate to just get another body on the board.  It’s certainly something I could recommend in an Arena draft, though even I’m not sure what kind of constructed deck it could actively benefit.  On a final note, I’m very curious to see what Druids are getting as their use of mana has always been crazy.

WOTOGNZoth

N’Zoth is the most mysterious and possibly the most powerful of all of the Old Gods.  Little is known for certain about this reclusive horror, but there are countless rumors of its influences.  One example is that the corruption of Deathwing is believed to be its doing.  N’Zoth has yet to actually appear in World of Warcraft and it seems that Hearthstone has received the honor of revealing its true form to the world.  That, or this is simply Innkeeper Stonebrew’s personal interpretation of the creature (or Tysmurph’s interpretation since he actually did the art for the card, but I’m roleplaying here) and the real N’Zoth remains to be seen.

While N’Zoth’s stat line is fairly poor, its effect easily makes up for it.  As Curse of Naxxramas has shown, deathrattle minions are some of the most powerful in the game and filling your board with them is insanely good.  N’Zoth definitely looks like it will be one of the new high-level legendaries and can benefit almost any deck.  The fact that it doesn’t die to Big Game Hunter is also a bonus.  There are just a few things to keep in mind to get the most out of it.  For one, it can only summon minions that natively have deathrattle, so cards like Unearthed Raptor and Explorer’s Hat won’t interact with with it.  Second, while I don’t know exactly how the card is designed, I assume that it will prioritize minions based on the order they died.  That means that your stronger deathrattle minions like Sylvanas won’t be summoned because you played too many smaller ones like Loot Hoarder early on.  Still, a board full of deathrattle minions is nothing to sneeze at.  The last thing to keep in mind is that aggro decks exist and will shut this down hard.

That will be enough to cover for now, but there are still plenty more exciting cards left to look over.  Next time, we’ll look at a card for warlocks who are sick of being warlocks, new legendaries for shaman and priest, and more.