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Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons card analyses (Part 1)

Hearthstone reaches the end of the Year of the Dragon, as Shacknews begins our analysis of the full Descent of Dragons expansion.

1

Hearthstone is approaching the end of the Year of the Dragon, but something has been missing so far in this Standard year. Oh, yeah! Where are the dragons? So yes, Blizzard realized there should be dragons in the Year of the Dragon and that's the main idea behind their card game's next expansion, Descent of Dragons.

Card reveals for Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons have begun and that means it's time for Shacknews to once again break them down one-by-one. Before we start, let's look at one of the big themes for this expansion: Galakrond. Galakrond is a total different animal, so we won't mix his cards in with these analyses. We'll look at each class' Galakrond separately. For now, let's focus on the other cards and how they'll affect the Standard and Wild metas.

So let's start with the cards revealed at BlizzCon.

Hearthstone - Shield of Galakrond

(5) Shield of Galakrond (4/5)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Common
Taunt. Battlecry: Invoke Galakrond.

Analysis: It's a pretty simple minion to start with. Are you using Galakrond in your deck? Then this goes in your deck. It's really that simple. The 4/5 stat line on a Taunt is perfectly fine for what's otherwise a straightforward minion. If you're running a Galakrond deck, it'll probably replace your Rotten Applebaum, which shouldn't be too big a loss.


Hearthstone - Seal Fate

(3) Seal Fate
Type: Spell
Class: Rogue
Rarity: Rare
Deal 3 damage to an undamaged character. Invoke Galakrond.

Analysis: If you have Galakrond, you'll probably consider this spell for your deck. Without Galakrond, this is an enhanced and much more expensive Backstab, which hardly seems like it's worth the effort. This will see play in Galakrond decks and maybe off a Discover effect, but rarely outside of those circumstances.


Hearthstone - Lightning Breath

(3) Lightning Breath
Type: Spell
Class: Shaman
Rarity: Rare
Deal 4 damage to a minion. If you're holding a Dragon, also damage its neighbors.

Analysis: For a Shaman spell, this is a much better value than what a Shaman usually gets for this same effect. Look back at spells like Tidal Surge, Jade Lightning, or Avalanche. All are worse values than Lightning Breath when holding a Dragon. Even vanilla Lightning Breath is a better value than the first two spells noted.

So with that said, Lightning Breath feels like a winner for the Shaman player, capable of taking out multiple targets for 3-mana and without Lightning Storm's Overload drawback.


Hearthstone - Ysera Unleashed

(9) Ysera, Unleashed (4/12)
Type: Minion - Dragon
Class: Druid
Rarity: Legendary
Battlecry: Shuffle 7 Dream Portals into your deck. When drawn, summon a random Dragon.

Analysis: This is a phenomenal Legendary, arguably better than vanilla Ysera. In fact, you might even get lucky and get a vanilla Ysera off one of these Dream Portals. This is an excellent tool for the Quest Druid, which can quickly buff whatever dragons come out of the Dream Portals. And with card draw tools like Crystal Merchant, it shouldn't take too much trouble to draw those dragons.


Hearthstone - Breath of Dreams

(2) Breath of Dreams
Type: Spell
Class: Druid
Rarity: Rare
Draw a card. If you're holding a Dragon, gain an extra Mana Crystal.

Analysis: An excellent card for Druids looking to ramp up in the early game. Quest Druids can get a lot of use out of this, as well, preparing them for the later game when the Quest kicks in. Druids have been lacking good ramp tools since Wild Growth was nerfed. This will help fill that role again nicely and fits beautifully in a deck with Ysera, Unleashed or an "In case of emergency, use Deathwing" deck.


Hearthstone - Dragonbane

(4) Dragonbane (3/5)
Type: Minion - Mech
Class: Hunter
Rarity: Legendary
After you use your Hero Power, deal 5 damage to a random enemy.

Analysis: One of the main themes of this set appears to be Hunter cards working with the Hunter's Hero Power. So it looks like Aggro Hunter is getting ready to make a comeback. Dragonbane can fit in that vein nicely, working as a control option. But if it gets placed on an empty board, Dragonbane will attack the opponent's face after the Hunter uses his Hero Power. That's a potential seven damage to face, which can significantly add up unless Dragonbane is dealt with quickly. Dragonbane can do a lot of damage in aggro decks and I'd expect to see him a lot if the Aggro Hunter does see a resurgence.


Hearthstone - Dwarven Sharpshooter

(1) Dwarven Sharpshooter (1/3)
Type: Minion
Class: Hunter
Rarity: Common
Your Hero Power can target minions.

Analysis: Not every card will point the Hunter's Hero Power straight to the face. Dwarven Sharpshooter is a more efficient, on-curve Steamwheedle Sniper, allowing players to use the Hunter Hero Power as a control tool. That makes this a pretty solid Turn 1 drop, making it easier to control the opposition's board in the first few turns. It'll be a toss-up as to whether this or Shimmerfly gets the coveted Turn 1 spot for Hunter.


Hearthstone - Emerald Explorer

(6) Emerald Explorer (4/8)
Type: Minion - Dragon
Class: Druid
Rarity: Common
Taunt. Battlecry: Discover a Dragon.

Analysis: The Dragon Druid isn't an archetype just yet, but if it was, this would be an excellent card to put in that deck. A 4/8 Taunt that lets you add another powerful dragon to your hand is outstanding value and provides a valuable wall for Quest Druids to buff up in subsequent turns. I'd expect to see this card quite a bit in Standard.

Wild players should definitely be excited to see this, given that it can prove to be a valuable resurrection piece for Hadronix.


Hearthstone - Dragonblight Cultist

(3) Dragonblight Cultist (1/1)
Type: Minion
Class: Warlock
Rarity: Rare
Battlecry: Invoke Galakrond. Gain +1 Attack for other friendly minion.

Analysis: The key to this minion is that it can Invoke Galakrond, but outside of that, it's nothing to get excited about. While it can go as high as seven Attack, its health stays at one, which means it's a paper tiger. Don't look for this thing to be a big help, even in a zoo deck.


(3) Fiendish Rites
Type: Spell
Class: Warlock
Rarity: Common
Invoke Galakrond. Give your minions +1 Attack.

(1) Praise Galakrond!
Type: Spell
Class: Rogue
Rarity: Common
Give a minion +1 Attack. Invoke Galakrond.

Analysis: These are two sides of the same coin, so let's lump these in together. Fiendish Rites and Praise Galakrond! are two weak spells whose main function is to Invoke Galakrond. While the former might see play in a zoo deck, the latter doesn't really work too well, outside of maybe trigger a Combo card. Either way, they're cards that don't see a lot of play outside of a Galakrond deck.


Hearthstone - Evasive Drakonid

(7) Evasive Drakonid (7/7)
Type: Minion - Dragon
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Common
Taunt: Can't be targeted by spells or Hero Powers.

Analysis: Pour one out for poor War Golem. This outshines that basic card in every way and will be a must-have in Arena. It'll also prove to be a higher-tier card out of a Discover effect. A solid new dragon and a good option for a lot of dragon decks.


Hearthstone - Phase Stalker

(2) Phase Stalker (2/3)
Type: Minion - Beast
Class: Hunter
Rarity: Rare
After you use your Hero Power, cast a Secret from your deck.

Analysis: Here's a bit of a twist on Masked Contender. This will still pull a Secret out of your deck, only now it's triggered by Hero Powers. So you can either hope it stays alive to Turn 3 or you can drop it on Turn 4 and ensure its effect goes off. Regardless, it's a must-have in Secret Hunter decks and will definitely replace Masked Contender when it rotates out in a few months.


Hearthstone - Twin Tyrant

(8) Twin Tyrant (4/10)
Type: Minion - Dragon
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Common
Battlecry: Deal 4 damage to two random enemy minions.

Analysis: Does anybody else miss Primordial Drake? Sadly, it doesn't look like it's coming back to Standard anytime soon. Twin Tyrant won't fill its void anytime soon, but at least it can hit a few minions pretty hard and put up a solid stat line along the way. Twin Tyrant isn't a dragon I'd expect to see in a lot of builds, but it's going to be another top-level Discover target. And with that 4/10 stat line, it's not going to be an easy out.


Umbral Skulker

(4) Umbral Skulker (3/3)
Type: Minion
Class: Rogue
Rarity: Epic
Battlecry: If you've Invoked twice, add 3 Coins to your hand.

Analysis: If you're lucky enough to Invoke twice in your first three turns, then congratulations on a potential Turn 4, 10/10 Edwin VanCleef. Coins can work wonders for Rogue players, especially if they need to trigger minions like Gadgetzan Auctioneer or Questing Adventurer. Those are some valuable minions to get rolling while you get Galakrond online and that's worth running Umbral Skulker's weak 3/3 stats.


Hearthstone - Veiled Worshipper

(4) Veiled Worshipper (5/4)
Type: Minion
Class: Warlock
Rarity: Epic
Battlecry: If you've Invoked twice, draw 3 cards.

Analysis: Like Umbral Skulker, this activates if Galakrond is Invoked twice. And for the Warlock, the Veiled Worshipper has a myriad of uses. In a zoo deck, it replenishes the Warlock's deck and keeps the minion train rolling. It helps move the Quest Warlock's deck moving forward. And if you're playing more of a tempo game, you can drop this with a Fel Lord Betrug or a Dollmaster Dorian and activate their effects. This is one of the better Galakrond cards, especially as it carries a decent 5/4 stat line to go along with its four-mana cost. A strong new contender for the Warlock.


Hearthstone - Learn Draconic

(1) Learn Draconic
Type: Spell
Class: Mage
Rarity: Common
Sidequest: Spend 8 Mana on spells. Reward: Summon a 6/6 Dragon.

Analysis: This is the new Sidequest mechanic at work and while it's not a guaranteed opening draw, like Quests are, they're good to have for the later game. Quest Mages, specifically, will get the most use out of this, since Mage players will get a lot of expensive spells over the course of their game. The good thing about Sidequests is that since they aren't Legendary, there's a good chance that they can pop up out of a random draw, making it possible to summon multiple 6/6 Dragons over the course of the game.

A Turn 8 Power of Creation can fill up the board quickly, so keep that in mind as you look for quick ways to trigger this spell. It might even make a Turn 7 Luna's Pocket Galaxy more viable.


We're just getting started looking at Descent of Dragons cards. Come back throughout the next few weeks as we give the full set the analysis treatment prior to the expansion's release. Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons is set to release in December.

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?

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