Hearthstone next big expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, will be wrapping its tendrils around the community tomorrow! We're working feverishly to finish up all of our card evaluations before launch day, and today we finish up with a look at all the remaining neutral cards. Plus, check out all of the revealed cards.
(4) Aberrant Berserker (3/5)
Enrage: +2 Attack.
This solid neutral card has a heartier body than its non-corrupted cousin, but all of its stats have taken a pretty severe hit. Amani Berserker is a 2 mana 2/3 that gains three attack when enraged. This doubles the price, but doesn't double either of the other stats, and cuts one attack off from the Enrage effect. That's likely to make sure the card is fair--after all, a three-health minion is much easier to remove with a single attack than a 6 health minion. But part of the appeal of Amani is that it threatens the ability to trade up. If your opponent can't deal with it immediately, it can be used to take out a much bigger minion. At best Aberrant Berserker will be able to beat a 5-health minion, which is about average for its mana cost.
(3) Am'gam Rager (1/5)
Honestly, there isn't much to say about this card. It's not good, obviously, and its existence makes the three-Mana pool weaker for cards like Evolve or Jeweled Scarab. It is a pretty cute gag, though. Let it never be said that Team 5 lacks a sense of humor.
(2) Bilefine Tidehunter (2/1)
Battlecry: Summon a 1/1 Ooze with Taunt.
The first of a few recently revealed Murlocs, this one is less a twist on an old classic and more of a clearly better version. Its stats and effect are nearly identical to the basic Murloc Tidehunter, but instead it summons a taunted minion. That means it's more likely to stick around an extra turn so you can make use of that attack value, instead of simply having it picked off instantly by your opponent and leaving the 1/1 alone. There is some minor consideration given to the 1/1 no longer being a Murloc, so it can't be buffed by other Murloc synergy cards, but on the whole this is simply better. We can do without our Murloc Scouts.
(4) Blackwater Pirate (2/5)
Your weapons cost (2) less.
Given that Blizzard seems keen on designing Pirates to pair well with Warriors and Rogues, this makes sense as a neutral card. In either case, a two-Mana discount on all weapons is a pretty incredible value. At five health, it even has a decent chance of sticking around for a turn, especially if you can break out a free Fiery War Axe to help protect it. It remains to be seen if the Pirate synergy lends cards like this a permanent slot in any decks, but it's intriguing enough to suggest that this time they have a real chance.
(7) Bog Creeper (6/8)
Fen Creeper isn't anyone's first choice for Constructed play, but it has a hearty enough body that it's used quite a bit in Arena. Bog Creeper is bound to be similar. A big Taunt minion that still dodges Big Game Hunter is definitely good, but chances are most decks will want to play minions that have more unique effects in the late game. You wouldn't be upset to see it transform from a Recombobulator, but you're probably not going to let it take up a deck slot.
(6) Corrupted Seer (2/3)
Battlecry: Deal 2 damage to all non-Murloc minions.
This card is way too expensive in all but the most Murlocy of Murloc decks. A six-mana 2/3 would need to have a spectacular effect to justify the huge stat deficit, and to be fair, pairing it with a Consecration-like effect is strong. Consecreation even costs four mana, so if you do the math that way it evens out. But then, it also hits any non-Murlocs on your side of the board, and this late in the game it'd be unlikely to serve as a board clear. Even if it did, you'd just be putting a 2/3 on the board to face off against your opponent's six or seven Mana minion the next turn.
(5) Crazed Worshipper (3/6)
Taunt: Whenever this minion takes damage, give your C'Thun +1/+1 (wherever it is).
This card fits so neatly into a Warrior C'Thun deck it's a wonder it's not a class card. Obviously, the idea is to force your opponent to deal with the Taunt, hopefully with a field full of small minions, so it serves as both a C'Thun buff and a tool to take out aggressive decks. That makes it fine on its own, but the real power comes from being able to activate it yourself. A Mage could ping it with the Hero Power, but the Warrior has many more tools to inflict minor damage on its own minions. If C'Thun becomes a staple at all in Warrior decks, this will be an obvious inclusion.
(4) Cyclopian Horror (3/3)
Taunt: Battlecry: Gain +1 health for each enemy minion.
Another anti-aggro tool as Sludge Belcher prepares for retirement from Standard, this is a nice design. At a base of three attack it won't be good in control versus control match-ups, but it will stop a zoo deck dead in its tracks. A field full of 1/1 demons could easily boost this up to a 3/7, and in theory, your opponent would have no choice but to sacrifice them all to get rid of the monstrosity.
Even with the nerf to Iron Beak Owl, though, this is a pretty obvious pick for a Silence target in zoo decks. It will be a handy tool regardless.
(5) Darkspeaker (3/6)
Battlecry: Swap stats with a friendly minion.
It's difficult to puzzle out just how useful Darkspeaker will be. The effect is neat, and the cost is right for the stats. The question really comes down to how useful this ability is. You wouldn't want to use Darkspeaker on a larger minion, unless it's in some mortal danger that can't be transferred, like from a Warlock's Corruption. Using it on a minion with roughly even stats could work as a de facto healing mechanism, but you'd still be left with the same board composition as if it didn't have the ability. Using it on a weak minion is like granting it a few extra points of charge, but then you weaken Darkspeaker too. Players are bound to find some creative ways to use this card, but it's not readily apparent how.
(3) Disciple of C'Thun (2/1)
Battlecry: Deal 2 damage. Give your C'Thun +2/+2 (wherever it is).
Disciple of C'Thun may look weak, and it is, but it's a fair cost comparable to other cards. It's essentially a miniaturized version of Stormpike Commando, which is 5 mana for a 4/2 with the same damage-dealing effect. That makes it 5 Mana for 7 in stats, which means the Deal 2 damage function is evaluated at around 3 in stats, or 1.5 Mana. All that to say that when you add the C'thun buffing effect, you're getting roughly 6 points of value.
However, many of the C'Thun buffing minions haven't come with such heavy drawbacks, and Stormpike Commando isn't used in competitive play. If you're building a C'Thun deck, you're likely to rely more on minions that have more sturdy stats for their cost.
(8) Doomcaller (7/9)
This card is the single solution to a design problem presented by C'Thun decks. That is, if your entire deck is built around C'Thun and it dies instead of finishing the job, you're left with a mediocre deck and a bunch of minions that don't actually do anything. Doomcaller puts him back into play, with decent vanilla stats and another minor buff of his own.
Chances are you won't need to resummon C'Thun twice. If your big finisher fails, even gambling on trying one more time is a risk, much less two. So there's really no reason to include more than one Doomcaller in your deck, but C'Thun decks will almost certainly want to have one for longer control-style games. At Epic rarity it shouldn't be too difficult to obtain.
(2) Duskboar (4/1)
It's a Huffer, but without the Charge and missing one point of health. This is essentially useless for constructed play, and serves mostly to put a new mix of stats and tribal synergies into the mix. Magma Rager is so bad it became a joke (see: Am'gam Rager, above), so Duskboar will too.
(8) Eldritch Horror (6/10)
Like Duskboar, the Eldritch Horror seems mostly engineered to offer a new mix of stats for the cost. A 6/10 for 8 mana is fine vanilla stats, but it's also utterly unexciting. It makes Recombobulator and Evolve on many Legendary minions worse, since you'd just be getting a pile of stats instead of a creature with any special effects. The 10 health and BGH immunity does make it hard to kill, though, so if you see it pop up during an Arena draft there are worse options you could choose.
(4) Evolved Kobold (2/2)
Spell Damage +2
If Blizzard seems to overestimate the value of any card effect, it's Spell Damage. Case in point: Evolved Kobold. The lowly Kobold Geomancer is a 2-Mana 2/2, which is technically fine vanilla stats even if the 2-Mana minions tend to have either 3 Attack or 3 Health. So the +1 Spell Damage in that case is evaluated at around one stat point, or half a Mana.
Then comes along Evolved Kobold, with one more in Spell Damage, giving it a cost of two more Mana. That's outrageously overpriced. No thanks.
(10) Faceless Behemoth (10/10)
A ten Mana 10/10 is about as unexciting as it gets. This card has no synergy, no special effects, not even a shift in stats toward health or attack to give it a little more flavor. This is the definition of vanilla, and it seemingly exists only to make sure that effects like Evolve have an option besides Deathwing and the Old Gods.
(7) Grotesque Dragonhawk (5/5)
This card is less-bad than it seems at first glance. 7 Mana for a 5/5 is pretty horrible. However, we can see from other cards that the value of Windfury tends to rise as a minion gets harder to remove. The standard Dragonhawk has it valued around half a Mana, while Windfury Harpy gets bumped up to 1.5 Mana in stats. The rationale is simple: if you can't remove a Windfury creature quickly, it becomes a huge threat that can deal with multiple minions or deal double-damage. So in sheer valuation terms, this is fairly costed.
That said, playing on turn 7 simply isn't practical. It can and will be removed instantly almost every time. But with the Beast synergy, it becomes a decent drop for random Beast effects like Ram Wrangler.
(4) Midnight Drake (1/4)
Battlecry: Gain +1 Attack for each other card in your hand.
This inverted version of the Twilight Drake is so obvious in retrospect it's a wonder it wasn't printed earlier. Played on-curve, it will usually be a solid 4/4 or 5/4. In a heavy draw deck like Handlock, it could become a whopping 9/4 or 10/4 extremely early in the game. That gives Warlocks yet another powerful tool to establish a board early, though not as hearty as the Giants.
Twilight Drake is probably still more useful, seeing as its high health can stall a game for later when the Handlock asserts control. But as an early threat that demands to be dealt with, this is a winner.
(2) Nat, the Darkfisher (2/4)
At the start of your opponent's turn, they have a 50% chance to draw an extra card.
He could fish all day! And he probably will, because your opponent will definitely want to keep him alive. This is a neat twist on the old Nat Pagle, but the design is skewed in an odd direction. The idea is clearly that you're giving your opponent a possible benefit in exchange for great stats value. However, the stats seem to be stacked in the wrong direction. Its high health means it can't trade upwards on its own, and instead has to pick off smaller minions. Since your opponent will want to leave it alone, that means Nat will probably live for at least two turns. On average that raises the chance of a card draw to 100%, so it's effectively the same as the text reading, "Battlecry: Your opponent draws a card." Would you trade that for a relatively low-attack minion? Probably not.
(6) Nerubian Prophet (4/4)
At the start of your turn, reduce this card's cost by (1).
Now this is a cool card design. Ever been frustrated by a starting hand full of 5 and 6 Mana cards, even after the Mulligan phase? Cry no more! Nerubian Prophet is actually beneficial to have in your opening hand, because the longer it stays there the better the value becomes. If it's in your opening hand, you can play a 4/4 on Turn 3 with no downside. If you have another turn-three play instead, you can press for extra value by holding onto it for longer. After 6 turns it becomes a free 4/4. That's definitely worth the wait.
(5) Psych-o-Tron (3/4)
Taunt, Divine Shield
Psych-o-Tron is the perfect little twist on Annoy-o-Tron, and a decent replacement for Sludge Belcher to boot. It isn't a mirror image like some other cards, instead opting to boost its stats. But even at 5 mana, a 3/4 with Divine Shield and Taunt works functionally similar to Belcher. Opponents will have to deal with it twice. While it is easier to ping the Divine Shield with the Mage Hero Power or a small minion, it's a bit like the Sludge Belcher's second Taunt, and then opponents still have to deal with the minion itself. It's a nice design, even if not as powerful as the old Sludge.
(3) Silithid Swarmer (3/5)
Can only attack if your hero attacked this turn.
Silithid Swarmer is similar to Argent Watchman from The Grand Tournament. Instead of an Inspire effect, though, it's powered by attacks. That means any class with weapons can make it a good value card, but it'd be ideal in the ones that can summon a weapon at will: Druid and Rogue. Druid is going to be very in flux following the expansion thanks to the nerfs, so we're bound to see some experimentation. Rogue, on the other hand, is usually more gimmick-based, so a sheer value minion isn't as important.
(3) Squirming Tentacle (2/4)
Another utterly unexciting utility card, Squirming Tentacle fills a spot beween smaller taunts like Frostwolf Grunt and the old standby Sen'jin Shieldmasta. In fact, it represents a much closer jump toward Shieldmasta, seeing as it's gaining two extra health for just one mana. This could go in a Warrior Taunt deck, if such a thing begins to take hold with some of the other tools they've been given, but otherwise it's simply a solid Arena pick and not much else.
(2) Twilight Geomancer (1/4)
Taunt. Battlecry: Give your C'Thun Taunt (wherever it is).
This is one of the more unique inclusions of the set. Most C'Thun synergy cards either grant it a buff or give you some kind of buff if a C'Thun criteria is already met. This one powers up your C'Thun with a Taunt effect instead, and given that it will probably be a 10+ Attack and Health minion when it does hit, that's quite a Taunt to work around. Essentially, it serves as an insurance policy. If your C'Thun isn't the finishing blow, at least you know your opponent will have to deal with it somehow before they can finish you off. That makes it valuable, but by nature of this card, there's no reason to have more than one of it in your deck.
(7) Twin Emperor Vek'lor (4/6)
Taunt, Battlecry: If your C'Thun has at least 10 Attack, summon another Emperor.
This is already being hailed as one of the stronger cards of the set, and it's easy to see why. If you fulfill a fairly simple criteria, you get 8/12 worth of stats with Taunt split across two bodies. That's competitive with the retiring Dr. Boom, albeit in a much more defensive role.
By turn seven, chances are your opponent may be able to deal with a 4/6 minion. Dealing with two, however, will be a serious resource drain. If you intend to build a C'Thun deck, this should probably be a top pick and may even be worth crafting.
(2) Twisted Worgen (3/1)
The standard Worgen Infiltrator is a solid Arena pick, since its stealth promises it can wait for the right moment to take out a 2-health minion or even finish off a bigger guy. Twisted Worgen offers the same kind of utility, with stats that make it similar to the Wolfrider. Like Infiltrator, this is a card that sets up and anticipates use a turn or two later, so an early investment on an uncontested board can lead to a big swing later.
It probably won't see much constructed play, because there are simply too many ways to deal one damage to all minions including stealthed ones. But like its little sibling, it's a fine Arena pick.
(1) Zealous Initiate (1/1)
Deathrattle: Give a random friendly minion +1/+1.
And finally, we end with Zealous Initiate. This card will be wasted against any class that can easily deal one damage like Rogue or Mage, but otherwise it provides a powerful swing. 1-Mana cards tend to have an extra stat added to health or attack, so adding one to both gives it more value than most. That value is mitigated somewhat by the fact that you can't guarantee you'll be able to get the effect, if your opponent can clear it on an empty board. But as a mini version of the Paladin's Avenge, it can help make your second turn play much stronger, or even pair with a coined Zombie Chow for ridiculous turn-one value.