Hearthstone next big expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, will be wrapping its tendrils around the community in about a month. There's plenty to be revealed in the meantime, though. To keep pace leading up to the launch, we're taking a fresh look at all the new card reveals every Friday.
(9) Blood of the Ancient One (9/9)
If you control two of these at the end of your turn, merge them into 'The Ancient One'.
It only makes sense that an expansion with an Old Gods theme would have to feature the biggest minion to date. At 30 Attack and 30 Health, The Ancient One more than doubles the next biggest minion, Deathwing, by default. Unless you're a class with access to armor, that big minion can kill you in one hit even if you're at full health. All of that makes it a formidable minion.
(9) The Ancient One (30/30)
Now to talk about why, despite all that, it's not a competitive card. At nine mana, you have a large swath of better minions that come with their own win-condition-enabling effects, from Ysera to Rafaam. Blood of the Ancient One doesn't do anything particularly special on its own, and you need to double that investment to 18 mana to enable the dream play. Since decks have a two-card limit, you'll really only have one shot at pulling this off, unless you also pack some cards that can duplicate minions.
The most realistic scenario revolves around Naga Sea Witch, the card that makes your other cards cost 5 apiece no matter the original cost. If you can get it out on turn 9, and then play both Bloods or a Blood and a Faceless Manipulator on turn 10, you'll have your prized Ancient One. Even then, you'd have to protect the Naga Sea Witch for a turn, and hope your opponent doesn't have any cheap removal like Big Game Hunter. If so, you just wasted a lot of mana and at least 10% of your deck on nothing.
It's a great card design in terms of flavor, but the card itself just isn't that practical.
(3) Blood Warriors
Add a copy of each damaged friendly minion to your hand.
For the ever-popular Control Warrior, one major weakness is board presence. The deck relies heavily on removal and a few crushing combos, so facing off against an opponent that overwhelms with minions can force it to run out of gas. Blood Warriors attempts to solve that with a slightly cheaper, but more conditional, version of the Mage's Echo of Medivh.
In fact, if you combine this with Whirlwind, it provides virtually the same effect as that Mage card, for the same cost, but leaves your minions damaged (or dead, if they had one health) in the process. Still, an Echo-like effect arguably has more place in Warrior than it does in most Mage decks. It's very easy to see Warriors packing two of these to get a few extra Taunt minions, an extra Grommash, or even another Ysera. That would help extend them well into the late-game, and giving Control Warrior even more ability to outlast opponents is a big deal.
(8) Call of the Wild
Summon all three Animal Companions.
Hunter has never had a particularly effective late-game, and this powerful spell may just change that. Essentially, this card summons the three Animal Companions that can be summoned by that three mana spell: Leokk, Misha, and Huffer. So effectively, for eight mana, you get a 2/4 to boost your minions, a 5/4 with Taunt, and a 5/2 with Charge, all in one spell. Even summoning them individually with Animal Companion would be one more mana, so this is both cheaper and has the added benefit of certainty and packaging several cards into one.
It won't make its way into Face Hunter decks, since those want cheap, flexible damage that can be combined if a game drags on. For a more Mid-Range Hunter, though, it's likely to become a staple.
(5) Hammer of Twilight (4/2)
Deathrattle: Summon a 4/2 Elemental.
Shaman already has access to a few weapons, but none of them have really become staple for mid-range or control decks. Stormforged Ae is a fine utility card, and Doomhammer has become a must-include for aggressive decks. Charged Hammer never caught on and Powermace is about to turn almost useless with the retirement of Goblins vs Gnomes from Standard. Hammer of Twilight is the first card in a while to stand a decent chance at a solid control-oriented option.
At 4/2, it's comparable to the Paladin's Truesilver Champion or the Warrior's Death's Bite. Both of those come with solid effects that play well with their class. Hammer of Twilight costs one more than both, but it leaves behind a minion. Minions are inherently valuable because they can attack your opponent's face a potentially infinite number of times, and they can trade with opponent's minions. A 4/2 minion could be evaluated at about 2-3 mana, which makes its effect more economical than the Death's Bite Windfury effect, and about on-par with the Truesilver healing. For an extra mana that's a steal.
(4) Master of Evolution (4/5)
Battlecry: Transform a random friendly minion into a random one that costs (1) more.
Blizzard seems very intent on making Mid-Range or Control Shaman a viable deck type, and it's putting out some very powerful Shaman cards to assure that happens. Shaman has always excelled at getting extra value for the cost, usually in the form of random effects or its Overload mechanic. Master of Evolution is a different way to continue that theme, by coming with decent "Yeti" stats and packing a powerful effect to boot.
This is a way to make your totems a little more useful, or to boost another card on the board. You could save it for a big swinging late-game play, or play it on-curve to gain a big board advantage. If you play it with a three-mana minion already on the board, you're basically getting a second four-drop for free. Don't forget to attack your opponent's face before you transform them, though.
(4) Mire Keeper (3/3)
Choose One - Summon a 2/2 Slime, or Gain an empty Mana Crystal.
The Druid's "Choose One" mechanic is one of its most identifiable signatures, and as a 4-mana 3/3 the Mire Keeper can be fairly compared to the staple, Keeper of the Grove. That card also features a choice, but Mire Keeper is less reactive. While Keeper of the Grove lets you silence or ping a minion for some damage, Mire Keeper is about pushing board control. You get either 5/5 in stats spread across two bodies, or an empty Mana Crystal to let you skip ahead in your curve.
Either one is a powerful effect, and which becomes the more popular trend will depend a lot on how the Druid class shakes out after the impending balance changes. There's word of a big nerf coming to the Force of Nature / Savage Roar combo, so having a lot of little bodies on the board may not be as valuable then as it is now. Either way, versatility is the Druid's strong suit, and this allows it to play a little more offense on turn four.
(3) Ravaging Ghoul (3/3)
Battlecry: Deal 1 damage to all other minions.
Unstable Ghoul has become something of a staple in Warrior decks since its introduction in Curse of Naxxramas. With it leaving Standard rotation, it seems Blizzard has decided to fill that gap with a class-specific version that's better than its Unstable cousin in almost every way.
At three mana, it does cost one more than Unstable Ghoul, and it doesn't have taunt. But, the taunt was essentially just to guarantee your opponent would need to attack into it, so that you could set up combos with your Acolyte of Pain and Armorsmith. Now that the 1-damage effect is a Battlecry and you can control when it triggers more easily, the taunt isn't as necessary. You also get two extra attack for the increased cost. This is likely to replace Unstable Ghoul's place in Standard, and perhaps even in Wild as well.
(3) Spreading Madness
Spell: Deal 9 damage randomly split among ALL characters.
Warlocks may be the class with the least need for removal against zoo decks, since they usually are the zoo decks. Plus, their card draw gives them a lot more flexibility to draw into a solution against opposing minions.
That said, Spreading Madness is a good utility card. It synergizes well with Molten Giant, letting you take some ping damage while also clearing or weakening your opponent's board. It plays well with an underplayed card like Floating Watcher. And in a pinch, it could even be your finisher, as long as you wouldn't be risking a draw as it damages you too. It remains to be seen if the big random effect is useful enough to replace smaller but more reliable effects, but in theory, it's a fine addition to the Warlock line-up.
(6) Thing from Below (5/5)
Taunt: Costs (1) less for each Totem you've summoned this game.
The random nature of the Shaman hero power makes it a tricky class to play. Blizzard has added totem synergy cards before, and Thing from Below aims to capitalize on that. Even if you've only gotten one totem off, it's a 5-mana 5/5 with taunt. If you've gotten two, it goes down to four mana. Every level below that becomes pretty absurd amounts of value for the cost, and Blizzard has confirmed it works with totems summoned by Tuskarr Totemic as well.
A lot of card evaluation comes down to "the dream" versus realistic scenarios. Lots of cards can have amazing effects in dream scenarios, but the real staples are the ones that are consistently, realistically good. It's fairly easy to envision a situation where you get this card for four mana or less, so it's bound to become an auto-include in any Shaman deck that banks on its totems.
(10) Yogg-Saron, Hope's End (7/5)
Battlecry: Cast a random spell for each spell you've cast this game (targets chosen randomly).
Hoo boy. And we thought Y'Shaarj was bad last week. This one is somehow worse.
From the start, we can see that its stats are way out of sync for its mana cost. A 10 mana card needs 20 points in stats to pass the vanilla test, which means this one comes in with an 8-point deficit right from the start. With that kind of stat weakness, it must have a really powerful effect, right?
Well, yes, kind of. But the effect is also incredibly unreliable. It casts a random spell from the pool of all the spells in your chosen format, Standard or Wild. Blizzard has confirmed that conditional spells like Backstab will trigger but just fizzle, and end up being wasted. Spells without specific targets could target you. Buffs could target enemy minions. Heals could target your opponent, or an enemy minion, or just one of your own minions that is already at full health. The effect is wild and has a ton of variance.
What's worse, it doesn't really get better as you power it up. This is a card that osensibly is better the more spells you cast. If you cast eight spells by the time you use it, for example, you'd get eight random spells cast from it. What a value! But every time you throw another random spell on the pile, you increase the chances of hurting yourself or your minions. One or two random 4- or 6-damage spells might not kill you, but several of them could. It could get slightly better if you're facing off against a board full of enemy minions, since it would have many more targets, but it could end up buffing those minions instead. Yogg-Saron can even kill himself upon play!
We said in a previous card review that at 10 mana, a card needs to win you the game. This one might win you the game, but it could just as easily lose you the game. That's bound to make for some entertaining YouTube videos, but it's awful for competitive play.