Hearthstone next big expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, will be wrapping its tendrils around the community next week! With it creeping ever closer, we got all of the remaining card reveals this week. For that reason, this breakdown won't be a full review of all the newly revealed cards, because there are simply too many to squeeze into a single article. Instead, we'll be fitting in as many as we can, with more reviews coming over the next few days before the expansion launches on Tuesday. While you wait to hear our evaluations, check out all of the revealed cards.
(2) A Light in the Darkness
Spell: Discover a minion. Give it +1/+1.
This Paladin card has a nice effect, but like lots of spells with random minion effects, it raises the question of whether the effect is worth trading a spot that could have been used for a specific minion. In this case, you're getting 1/1 in additional stats, which is decent, but you have to spend two mana to get it. That means the Discover mechanic is worth one full mana on its own, which it generally isn't in other situations. Just look at the Druid's Raven Idol, which has both a Choose One (which is now evaluated at almost one mana) and Discover, both combined, for one mana itself.
So, will you run A Light in the Darkness to get a slightly buffed version of a slightly random minion? Probably not. But it's a cool flavor card.
(3) Addled Grizzly (2/2)
After you summon a minion, give it +1/+1.
The Druid is the best class to manage this bear, because it has the best chance of keeping it alive for its effect. If you can grant the +1/+1 to at least two other minions, it's a good value. The Druid's ability to ramp mana and reach three faster than other classes, as well as its multitude of Taunt minions, means you may be able to protect the Grizzly. But even then, at two health it does die to most AOE spells.
All that means this may be better as a late-game play, when spending three mana is no big deal and you can combo it with other minions in the same turn. That way you'd still get the effect before it's inevitably wiped out.
(8) Anomalus (8/6)
Deathrattle: Deal 8 damage to all minions.
So this time around, the Mage Legendary basically serves as a gigantic board clear. With Silence becoming a bit more rarified, your opponent will likely need to trade a lot of its minions into Anomalus or just prepare for a total wipe. It's sort of comparable to Ragnaros, but this time, everyone is the insect.
It's hard to imagine fitting Anomalus into an existing deck type though. Mage has lots of cheaper board clear options that only impact the opposing side. The Freeze Mage archtype is totally built around the concept. Spending eight mana for a board clear that hits you too and that you can't control since it's a Deathrattle isn't all that appealing.
(3) Carrion Grub
This Hunter card is a 2/5 for three mana, which is already a solid extra stat point above the vanilla test. It also includes the Beast tribal, letting it synergize well within the Hunter class. It's not a terribly exciting card since it has no special effects, but it's a solid one. Hunters are likely to rely on three drops that are more specialized, but you wouldn't be too disappointed if this pops out of your Ram Wrangler.
(2) Cult Sorcerer (3/2)
Spell Damage +1. After you cast a spell, giv eyour C'Thun +1/+1 (wherever it is).
This is a pretty powerful effect with no loss in stats, continuing the trend of strong Mage cards for this expansion. A 2-mana 3/2 with a Spell Damage boost would already be a fine class card on its own. This one takes it a step further by combining with your C'Thun as well. Combined with a Frostbolt it becomes 4 mana for 4-points of removal, plus a 3/2 minion, plus a 1/1 C'Thun buff. Combined with Fireball you can take out a 7 mana minion and boost C'Thun. The list goes on and on.
In Wild, where Tempo Mage has historically relied on lots of cheap spells like Spare Parts for Flamewaker, the combinations could get downright gross.
(6) Dark Arakkoa (5/7)
Taunt: Battlecry: Give your C'Thun +3/+3 (wherever it is).
As Druids stare down nerfs to the old reiable Combo, we've wondered where it would go from here. We've seen hints of more Beast synergy, but Dark Arakkoa implies that C'Thun decks will be particularly good for Druids as well. Druids are one of the few classes to get its own C'Thun minion, and it has the biggest effect of any C'Thun-buffing minion as well.
In terms of vanilla stats, it's not bad. Druids specialize in big Taunts, so a 6-mana 5/7 as it prepares for its 7 mana 5/10 is decent enough to stand on its own. Plus, the 6-spot isn't particularly contested for Druids, so it could slide in easily.
(1) Divine Strength
Spell: Give a minion +1/+2.
And here's another excellent reason why A Light in the Darkness won't see play. Divine Strength grants another stat point and you can put it on whatever minion you want. Most of Paladin's buff cards boost strength, not health, so this makes for a unique utility card that may let you hold onto a minion for another turn even as you use it for removal. That makes it ideal for setting up 2-for-1 trades, which is a must for winning the tempo game. It's not a terribly exciting card, but it's good for utility, and better than some alternatives.
(4) Fandral Staghelm (3/5)
Your Choose One cards have both effects combined.
Druids have languished without a great Legendary to call their own, but Fandral Staghelm is such a cool card design it has to see at least some experimentation. At 3/5 for 4 mana, it's decent stats and hearty enough to stick around for a turn if played on-curve. That would lead nicely into your 5-mana Druid of the Claw, which would become a 4/6 with Charge and Taunt. A couple turns later, Your Ancient of Lore becomes a 7-mana 10/10 with Taunt. Even smaller cards gain ridiculous value: Druid of the Flame, for example, becomes a 3-mana 5/5.
Obviously, Fandral is going to have a target on his back. It will be difficult to keep him alive through several turns. But since he has decent stats on his own, even getting a single use of his effect makes him incredibly valuable.
(3) Feral Rage
Spell: Choose One - Give your hero +4 Attack this turn; or gain 8 Armor
Another nice utility card, this is either half a Bite or a more limited Healing Touch, and competitively priced in both cases due to the Choose One mechanic. Neither of those cards see much play, but effectively combining them both into one card that can serve either purpose might be enough to earn a spot in Druid decks--especially now that its Combo nerfs are going to force Druids to rethink their deck composition.
(1) Fiery Bat (2/1)
Deathrattle: Deal 1 damage to a random enemy.
Blizzard will be nerfing Leper Gnome, a staple in Face Hunter decks, so it's a little strange to see them producing a card that is so similar to it. Fiery Bat has the same stat line, and almost the same ability, albeit with halved damage and the caveat that it could hit any enemy. So it's not quite as overpowered as Leper Gnome, and in fact may be part of the reason for the nerf, but it's still a strong turn one play for aggressive decks. We'll have to see whether aggro flourishes with all the new cards and under the new formats, but it's certainly a viable option.
Plus, it's a nice wink and a nod to the first Hearthstone World Champion, Firebat.
(1) Forbidden Ancient (1/1)
Battlecry: Spend all of your Mana. Gain +1/+1 for each mana spent.
The Druid version of a Forbidden card is a minion with some cool flavor, which guarantees you'll always stay perfectly on-curve. This minion would be a 4/4 on turn 4, a 5/5 on turn 5, etc. Like the Mage's Forbidden spell, trading mana for exact damage isn't exactly good, but the Forbidden cards are meant to be viable due to their flexibility. Forbidden Ancient can be as little or big as you need him to be, or just an extra 1/1 or 2/2 body on the board for token players.
At one mana base cost, it's more expensive than other Forbidden cards and requires an initial investment on top of the mana-dumping effect. But, it's a minion with predictably defined stats, which means it's more powerful than a one-time effect.
(4) Infested Wolf (3/3)
Deathrattle: Summon two 1/1 Spiders.
In the apparent continued effort to make Control Hunter a thing, the Haunted Creeper is getting replaced with this cheery (and bigger) monstrosity. The double spiders make it 5/5 worth of stats for 3 mana, split across three bodies. That's pretty decent no matter how you slice it right from the start.
On top of that, it's a triple-dose of Beast synergy. The Wolf and both spiders are all beasts, so even if your opponent manages to clear the Infested Wolf, you'll still have a beast on the board to synergize with your turn-five Ram Wrangler. That makes it strictly better for Hunters than Haunted Creeper, since the Spectral Spiders it left behind didn't have a tribal synergy.
(1) On the Hunt
Spell: Deal 1 damage. Summon a 1/1 Mastiff.
This card seems odd, because at first glance it's just the neutral Elven Archer in reverse. Instead of summoning a minion that does one damage, the spell-based damage comes first and then summons a minion. Elven Archer isn't really run in most decks, because a 1/1 body isn't worth the trade-off. So what makes this one different?
For one, being a Spell means it synergizes with cards like Lock and Load, which benefit from spell use. Aside from that, the Mastiff is a Beast, so you get some cheap Beast synergy if you need it to activate a Ram Wrangler or Kill Command. It's a nice utility tool, and likely to find its way into at least some faster decks.
(5) Princess Huhuran (6/5)
Battlecry: Trigger a friendly minion's Deathrattle effect immediately.
This is a strange card. It's the latest in Blizzard's seemingly constant attempts to tie Deathrattle effects to the Hunter class. However, many of the best Deathrattle cards are on the way out of Standard, and at five mana, you can't play it on turn 5 to trigger Sylvanas or Savannah Highmane. Plus, at 6/5 for 5, it probably gets taken down by any other 5-drop, and even some 4-drops, so you really have to play it for its effect.
It's essentially a more limited version of Feign Death, possibly to replace it in rotation. In terms of Legendary card value, this effect is valued at around 1 mana, but Feign Death was 2 mana and could trigger several Deathrattles at once. It didn't see play because it was hard to set up, so Princess Huhuran will probably be difficult to find a place for as well.
(3) Rallying Blade
Battlecry: Give +1/+1 to your minions with Divine Shield.
Paladin already has some of the best weapons in the game, second only to Warrior. Rallying Blade is a powerful weapon, but it will need to be built into decks that center around Divine Shield effects. With the extremely common 2-drop, Shielded Minibot, preparing to retire from Standard, Paladins need to find other Divine Shield minions or tools to make this effective.
Fortunately, a few of the new Whispers cards do just that. Selfless Hero and Steward of Darkshire both synergize with Divine Shield, so it's conceivable that you could have two minions on the board with shields by the time turn three rolls around. That alone would make it worthwhile, or you could save the Rallying Blade for a later-game play and combo it with cheap Divine Shield minions in the same turn to flood the board. It's not as efficient as the Warrior's Fiery War Axe, but then, what is?
(1) Selfless Hero (2/1)
Deathrattle: Give a random friendly minion Divine Shield.
Can't have a Shielded Minibot? Make your own! With Selfless Hero on turn one, you're almost guaranteed to grant Divine Shield to whatever you play on turn two, and those usually have better than 2/2 stats like the Minibot. That makes it a great Tempo card, because it helps your second turn trade for longer.
All that said, it also puts a target on Selfless Hero's back. Your opponent is bound to expect a turn-two play to take advantage of its effect, so they may just wipe it out with a fast card or Hero Power as quickly as possible. Even in that instance, though, you forced them to make a sub-par play to deal with a minion that only cost you one mana. And if the synergy with Rallying Blade is real, this starts the snowball effect right from the word go.
Spell: Destroy a Frozen minion.
Yipes. Not only is Freeze Mage not getting nerfed with the expansion, this hard removal card makes it even stronger. It's essentially a two-mana Assassinate that, while very conditional, plays very well with the Freeze Mage style. Paired with Frost Nova, you could freeze the entire board and take out one particularly pesky big minion all for five mana. It also pairs well with the Demented Frostcaller from the Whispers expansion, given that its random freezing effect might hit the target you want, and then using Shatter would make its freezing effect hit yet another minion.
(1) Shifter Zerus (1/1)
Each turn this is in your hand, transform it into a random minion.
Shifter Zerus is a strange little card. At one mana, it's tied for the cheapest Legendary to date, and it's difficult to design a Legendary effect around such a low cost. Zerus' ability is to become any minion, at cost, which raises the question: why wouldn't you just put the minion you want into your deck in the first place?
It may be that you lack certain cards and you're banking on Zerus to fill in the gap. More likely, you're hoping he becomes a class card that synergizes well with your other abilities. Unstable Portal has proven that combining class minions with classes they were never meant to be in can make for powerful effects. Gambling one card slot on the chances that he'll come in handy sometimes may be worthwhile, but the randomness will always be less reliable than simply packing your deck with your desired minions.
(3) Twilight Flamecaller (2/2)
Battlecry: Deal 1 damage to all enemy minions.
As mentioned, Mage is getting some of the best cards of the expansion. So it only makes sense that they can't all be winners. Twilight Flamecaller is decent but not spectacular. It combines Arcane Explosion with a 2/2 body, and combining cards is inherently valuable because it opens a deck slot for other inclusions. But, Arcane Explosion isn't generally used, and a 2/2 body on turn three will die to almost anything your opponent can play.
This is a great utility card if the meta gets extremely fast or you need to grind through several ranks of Face Hunters. But with it having slowed thanks to Reno, and with more slowdown likely as the Old Gods arrive, it's hard to see where a card like this fits.