It's been quite a day for Hearthstone players. Today's announce of the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion has ushered forth a handful of new cards, just the first of 134 new spells and minions set to hit Blizzard's card game. We broke down those cards earlier today, but the most intriguing cards of the first batch introduced is one of those Old Gods, the tentacle-laden, eyeball-opening C'Thun. Shacknews broke down the first of the new cards earlier today, but we wanted to give a special slot dedicated to C'Thun, given that his effect is a unique one, in that he's gradually built up over the course of the game with the aid of his 16 helper minions.
So what kind of synergy potential does this raise? Let's take a look at some of the best spells and minions to help make C'Thun into the monster that strikes fear into the heart of Azeroth.
This is an easy one. Skill players have already been making good use of Brann's double Battlecry effect. Now imagine what happens if it's on the board when a 10+ Attack C'Thun is ready to roll. C'Thun would truly embrace its potential as a finisher play, possibly doling out well over 20 damage the moment it's played. It's still unknown just how deep the C'Thun rabbit hole can go, since we've yet to see the full list of minions that can boost the Old God, but if C'Thun can get boosted to at least 15 and is played alongside Brann, it's almost an instant win.
The trick, of course, is keeping Brann alive for such a scenario. The problem with C'Thun is that both players will recognize when a C'Thun booster is being played, meaning the opponent can adjust their strategy accordingly. And if Brann hits the board, the top priority will become to eliminate him immediately. Fortunately for Druids, they may have a workaround for that.
Now this one could hurt. Innervate will offer up a bonus 2 mana crystals on a play, so it's theoretically possible for Druids to play both C'Thun and Brann Bronzebeard late in a game. At that point, there would be no stopping it and the opponent will just have to sit back as they get pounded with lines of damage. But with C'Thun's 10 mana cost and Brann's 3 mana, how viable is this play? Druids would have to use up two Innervate cards just to make this play possible, so how common could this combination possibly be?
Well, one thing to think about is that the other common use for Innervate is about to go away in some fashion. The Hearthstone developers have made it no secret that Forces of Nature/Savage Roar is not long for this world and will get nerfed in some fashion in the coming weeks. That leaves an Innervate-sized void in the meta and intrepid Druid players may give this a shot as a potential substitute.
But still, two Innervate cards is a costly and potentially unviable combination. Fortunately for Druids (again), there's another helpful card for them waiting in the wings, so to speak.
Aha! Now that Innervate combo suddenly becomes a lot more doable. Aviana will reduce C'Thun's cost from 10 to 1, so it's possible to play Aviana and C'Thun all on Turn 10. That should be enough in itself to potentially clear the entire board and give the opponent a tough choice: deal with the cost-reducing Aviana or address the all-powerful Old God staring them in the face.
But as mentioned, the money is in Innervate. If you can play Aviana and have C'Thun, Innervate, and Brann all in your hand, get ready to go to work. A lot of things need to go right for this to work, but just imagine the absolute chaos that can ensue.
If Aviana's not to your Druid's taste, there's still one last option.
Emperor Thaurissan is always a grade-A threat and all-too-often, he's eliminated immediately after he's played. But the damage will be done and if Druid players can lay down Thaurissan while C'Thun or Brann are in their hand, it'll keep the combo to just one Innervate card. In fact, if the Druid player is lucky enough to go second, Innervate might not even be required at all. A Coin will work just as well and that would even open this combo up to all classes.
The odds of all this coming to fruition is still unlikely, but are the gears of potential starting to turn? There are certainly more and more possibilities coming to light for C'Thun, but Druids will not be the only ones to benefit. In fact, there are plenty of cards that will make the most of C'Thun's ability.
Youthful Brewmaster/Ancient Brewmaster
As mentioned earlier, I came up against this particular scenario myself. When C'Thun was called back by Youthful Brewmaster's Return effect, the Old God retained all of its boosted stats, flying in the face of all Hearthstone logic to this point. That meant it was time to get hit for well over 10 damage a second time!
A boosted C'Thun is tough to eliminate on its own, but it's entirely possible with cards like Assassinate, Shadow World: Death, Big Game Hunter, or Polymorph. You'd definitely better do so, because if C'Thun is returned for any reason, it will strike again and if it's boosted any further by other minions, it may hit even harder the second time around. On that note...
Oh, lord, the possibilities with Rogue! Rogue doesn't need to waste time with the Brewmasters or their ilk. Valeera has her own return spell and it's a very useful one. Shadowstep can call C'Thun back (again, its boosted state will remain) for another turn and it will run for more cost-effective 8 mana. Unfortunately, with the cost only being reduced by two mana, it means the C'Thun/Brann combo won't quite work in a single turn. But two extra mana can be precious for Rogues. It's not just that they can pile on with Eviscerate or anything similar, but a single mana.crystal will also set up Conceal to give C'Thun stealth and leave it safe for the next turn. That one hurts.
But maybe your Rogue doesn't want to rely on just one C'Thun. Why play one when you can play many?
Ahhhh, yes, here's Gang Up, the Rogue spell that can shuffle three copies of a minion into your deck. Imagine packing in three more C'Thuns late in game? Let's say you're in a situation where you need to roll the dice and potentially clear the board immediately? C'Thun could certainly grow more powerful. Once C'Thun is played, his stats will continue to be boosted by his minions. So if your Rogue comes across a second C'Thun, thanks to the Gang Up effect, it'll be ready to unload with even more power.
Control will be essential with C'Thun-based decks, because you'll want to make the most of its effect. Don't count on it staying on the board, since it's all too easy to remove a high-powered minion. The money is in the effect and if your Rogue can last long enough to play more than one of these guys, she'll be in the driver's seat for the rest of the game.
Given C'Thun's powerful effect, the question becomes, what can stop it? As mentioned in the card breakdown, the best way to stop C'Thun is to go pure aggro and try to end the game as quickly as possible. C'Thun is harmless if the game is over before Turn 10. That means Hunters will continue to rule the roost, as will the increasingly popular aggro Shaman. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that the game has already passed its 10th turn. What's the best way to prepare for the onslaught that's coming.
The class that's definitely in the best position to defend against C'Thun is Warrior. Control Warriors will have likely built up a high Armor count by Turn 10, especially if Justicar Trueheart is employed at any point. If a Warrior's Armor total is high enough, it's absolutely likely that it can withstand a C'Thun assault. On top of that, Warriors can turn the tables on C'Thun by using Armorsmith's effect to reduce some of the sting of C'Thun's initial barrage. Another counter idea came from lead designer Ben Brode himself. Grim Patron will eat C'Thun's assault for breakfast and invite all of his friends to the buffet. This is the one instance where C'Thun not only cannot clear the board, but will inadvertantly have the opposite effect. One Execute play later and C'Thun is toast.
If Mages are nearly at the end of their rope, there's the Ice Block secret that can help keep them alive for another turn, regardless of how wide C'Thun's effect reaches. If a Mage is left at 1 Health, Reno Jackson becomes a life saver, even if that still presents the problem of C'Thun himself.
Any other ideas for how to stop the Call of C'Thun? Or any ideas on how to make the absolute most of his Battlecry? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.