Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 9)

The card reveals for Hearthstone's Witchwood expansion are underway. Shacknews is diving in with our card analyses by looking at the cards that have been unveiled to this point, as we hit the home stretch.


Blizzard is kicking off card reveals for Hearthstone's next expansion. The Witchwood will introduce 135 new cards, using new Echo and Rush mechanics and also introducing a Monster Hunt single-player mode. The Witchwood marks Hearthstone's eighth expansion and the first one for the Year of the Raven.

As is tradition, Shacknews is stepping into the murky forest to break these cards down by the handful. We continue by looking at the first of the cards revealed by various outlets, including YouTube content creators, Twitch streamers, and news sites.

Need a recap? Here's what you may have missed:

Hearthstone: The Witchwood - The GDC 2018 Interview with Dave Kosak & Dean Ayala

Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 1)
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 2)
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 3)
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 4)
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 5)
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 6)
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 7)
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 8)

(2) Archmage Arugal (2/2)
Type: Minion
Class: Mage
Rarity: Legendary
Whenever you draw a minion, add a copy of it to your hand.
Source: Virtual on Facebook

Analysis: There seems to be a big push for a Mage that runs more minions. Archmage Arugal seems to be the centerpiece of this movement.

One deck that could make the most out of this minion is the Elemental Mage, running Frost Lich Jaina and multiple Elementals. That includes Arcane Artificer, Servant of Kalimos, and Steam Surger. Pluck them out with cards like Arcane Intellect or Aluneth. And remember, Leyline Manipulator will discount any copies of any of these cards.

For those playing Wild, Mech Mage will love this Legendary. Fill the board with multiple Mechwarpers and start drawing those cards. It shouldn't take too much effort to get an army of Mechs ready to go.

(5) Bonfire Elemental (5/5)
Type: Minion - Elemental
Class: Mage
Rarity: Rare
Battlecry: If you played an Elemental last turn, draw a card.
Source: Tyelerootd on Twitch

Analysis: Here's a powerful new tool for the Elemental Mage mentioned earlier. Card draw is so precious for this deck, especially as the Mage player tries to draw Frost Lich Jaina.

But even without the card draw, the Bonfire Elemental is just good on its own. A Turn 5 minion with a 5/5 body is certainly strong and the Mage doesn't have a lot of good Turn 5 minions. If there's no Servant of Kalimos available, this is a great substitute. The reliable 5/5 body will also make this a strong choice in Arena decks.

(4) Arcane Keysmith (2/2)
Type: Minion
Class: Mage
Rarity: Epic
Battlecry: Discover a Secret. Put it into the battlefield.
Source: Hearthstone LatAM on YouTube

Analysis: Well, if you thought Secret Mage was dominant now, just wait. This is an insanely powerful card for that deck, not only putting a 2/2 body on the board, but granting the Mage player a new Secret and playing it!

That could mean throwing up a fresh Explosive Runes or Counterspell. It could grant the Mage player a Secret that they wouldn't typically play, but would fit the situation at hand, like a Vaporize or Mana Bind.

What makes this all the more infuriating for the Standard player is that, as of the moment this feature is posted, there is currently nothing set to replace the departing Eater of Secrets. So right now, there's currently no counter for Secrets other than the Hunter's Flare. And even that gets nullified by Counterspell!

Unless there's a new Secret counter that's getting unveiled on Monday, the one saving grace for the Secret Mage's opposition is that a handful of key cards like Medivh's Valet and Kabal Crystal Runner are both rotating out. Otherwise, Arcane Keysmith is a huge winner for Mage.

(4) Witchwood Piper (3/3)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Rare
Battlecry: Draw the lowest Cost minion from your deck.
Source: SnowKiss on Douyu

Analysis: Witchwood Piper works particularly well in zoo decks that are all about getting as many minions on the board as possible. It's an easy card draw and one should immensely help Warlocks with their myriad of low-cost minions and also Paladin players looking to draw a quick Righteous Protector.

But the Piper will also be a big help for the Exodia Mage that needs to draw their Sorcerer's Apprentice. Getting the pieces to the Exodia Mage to make it work is a key element of this deck and the Piper should help get that ball rolling a little more.

(3) Druid of the Scythe (2/2)
Type: Minion
Class: Druid
Rarity: Common
Choose One - Transform into a 4/2 with Rush; or a 2/4 with Taunt.
Source: RenieHouR on Twitch

Analysis: It's been a while since the Druid has had a handy 3-drop like Druid of the Flame. This isn't quite that, but it has some utility options.

A 4/2 with Rush is essentially a reliable Huffer that can't go face on the first turn. It can go 2/4 Taunt in a pinch, but it can mainly be used to trade into mid-sized threats. It might not fit into many aggro decks, but it'll certainly fit into Arena decks just fine.

(5) Bewitched Guardian (4/1)
Type: Minion
Class: Druid
Rarity: Rare
Taunt. Battlecry: Gain +1 Health for each card in your hand.
Source: Dog on YouTube

Analysis: This would seem to feed heavily into the idea that Blizzard is pushing the Hand Druid archetype. The problem is, the Twilight Drake provides the same stats and effect for 1 Mana less.

For a 5-Cost Taunt, I like the Witchwood Grizzly much more, especially because it can be combined with the Witching Hour spell to bring it back with its full base stats. The Bewitched Guardian shouldn't be any Druid player's first choice, given the other options that are available.

(3) Ferocious Howl
Type: Minion
Class: Druid
Rarity: Common
Draw a card. Gain 1 Armor for each card in your hand.
Source: Dog on YouTube

Analysis: This has the potential to be a major Druid staple, given how easy it is for Druid to fill their hand. It's not just the Hand Druid cards that are being added in this expansion, either. Think of the cards that get put in the Druid player's hand after playing Ultimate Infestation.

This will go nicely with some of the Druid's other Armor spells, like Earthen Scales and Branching Paths. It's definitely the bottom-tier of those spells, but it's still a solid way to Armor up while digging into the deck. This is especially important for Combo Druids and Jade Druids, both of which are heading off into Wild.

(3) Paragon of Light (2/5)
Type: Minion
Class: Paladin
Rarity: Rare
Has Taunt and Lifesteal while it has 3 or more Attack.
Source: JasonZhou

Analysis: This is an interesting Paladin minion for a couple of reasons. The effect kicks in while it has 3 Attack or more, so the idea is going to be to buff it up. Yes, there are plenty of Paladin spells that can buff this. Even though most of the handbuff cards are going off into Wild, Val'anyr is still around and it can fully support this minion.

But the other interesting thing here is that the effect doesn't need to be triggered by a spell. Even a temporary effect, like something from Abusive Sergeant or Stormwind Champion. Likewise, if it's buffed, then the effect can be removed with Pint-Size Potion or Aldor Peacekeeper.

If the Paladin gets more buff options, I could see this getting more play in Standard. As it is, this is an enticing choice for Wild players.

That's it for now! There's only one round of card reveals left set for later today at 11AM PT, so come back tomorrow as we do a quick Lightning Round. Also, I haven't forgotten that I also promised to take a more detailed look at Hagatha the Witch. That'll be this week, as well. Hearthstone: The Witchwood officially releases on Thursday, April 12.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 9, 2018 8:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Hearthstone: The Witchwood Card Analyses (Part 9)

    • reply
      April 9, 2018 8:16 AM

      That paragon of light can also be activated with: blessing of might, blessing of Kings, and a lucky unearthed scepter draw (+1 attack to minions), and the ridiculous Spikeridge Steed

      I think it's a strong 3 drop also at a 2/5 body. It'll probably show up in that Lilywhatever deck that copies spells cast on minions.

    • reply
      April 9, 2018 1:09 PM

      Me earlier: What makes this all the more infuriating for the Standard player is that, as of the moment this feature is posted, there is currently nothing set to replace the departing Eater of Secrets. So right now, there's currently no counter for Secrets other than the Hunter's Flare.

      Me now: That's better.


      • reply
        April 9, 2018 1:30 PM

        With iceblock going to wild anyway, it would not have been that infuriating since that is the only secret which grants extra turns with no counterplay options.

    • Zek legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      April 9, 2018 2:04 PM

      As a Hearthstone outsider, it's so weird to me that they have to just create an entirely new meta for the game from scratch once per year. Like somebody at Blizzard just sat down and decided "hmm, I'm thinking 2018 is the year of the Minion Mage." Which seems like it completely rewrites the identity of that class? I don't have anything insightful to say, it just isn't the way any other type of game works.

      • reply
        April 9, 2018 2:15 PM

        which is precisely why Magic is still going strong after 25 years whereas essentially every other competitive game/genre has nowhere near that lifespan (especially for individual players). The genre includes a built in outlet to reintroduce the discovery phase that most games lose after a few months (or less) of play, replaced only with the mastery phase which many/most players tire of eventually. Cynically people view this as a money grab on the part of the producer but in practice it means players get a game that is always fresh and evolving in a way that PC games have only recently discovered with ongoing service revenue but are generally still limited by the core gameplay being relatively static in comparison.

      • reply
        April 9, 2018 2:54 PM

        The ladder meta sucks right now. There’s not a gentle way to put it. The only new decks that have emerged are things like control priest and mind blast priest and that’s because the dragon package that priest has is so strong that you can include it and then figure out the win condition afterwards.

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