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Card Reviews – What I Learned from Whispers of the Old Gods and One Night in Karazhan

by - 2 years ago

We had an exiting past weekend full of Hearthstone with the group stage of the Hearthstone World Championship happening over the course of five days. We also have an even more exiting time ahead of us with the Blizzcon 2016 starting Friday, Nov. 4th. Not only will the top 8 players of the World compete for the title of world champion 2016, there is another thing all of us are anticipating at least with the same amount of excitement is the announcement of the new expansion. It will most likely be announced in the “Hearthstone – What’s Next” session, starting Nov. 4th, 12:30 p.m. PDT (8:30 CET).


We already had some teasers thrown at us and we can get some of the things that we might expect already. Nevertheless, the full picture is still unclear. You can see the teaser images below and you can read all the details by hitting the links to teaser1, teaser2 and teaser3.

After this short introduction, let’s head to the main topic of this article: cards reviews and card rating. Beginning with WotOG, I started to do individual card reviews and power rankings of the cards that were revealed before the actual release of the sets. These predictions thankfully were mostly in line what we saw later as the meta was settling after the actually being played. Nevertheless, in every set there are cards of which the impact is estimated wrongly even by pro players; either being overhyped (e.g. Deathwing, Dragonlord) or underestimated by a huge margin (e.g. Wicked Witchdoctor). Therefore, I sat down to reflect what I should take into consideration while reviewing the next expansion (see “Gadgetzan” teaser images above) which will be most likely announced this BlizzCon. The following points came to my mind as a source of error in evaluating newly released cards:

  • 1-mana cards tend to have a higher impact than anticipated and are often stronger than they appear at first
  • Don’t limit your view “on curve”. Playing on curve IS indeed powerful and the strongest decks in Hearthstone history follow this concept (Midrange Druid, Secret Paladin). Nvertheless, there are exceptions to the rule (Control Warrior, Handlock)
  • Synergy is a force to be reckoned IF there are enough cards that play along (Tunnel Trogg and Arcane Giant, Cloaked Huntress; negative example: beast synergy before Karazhan)
  • Don’t forget old cards outside of the actual meta or tech cards (Crazed Alchemist, Acidic Swamp Ooze)
  • Comeback cards rock (N’Zoth)
  • Win-more cards tend to be forgotten (Chromaggus)
  • Mana cost reduction is very powerful (Emperor Thaurissan, Innervate)
  • RNG effect can turn out both ways, good and bad. RNG is inherent to card games and quite often powerful. Embrace it but don’t follow it blindly (Yogg-Saron ([especially pre-nerf], Piloted Shredder; negative example: Yogg-Saron’s Servant)
  • Immediate effects in highly-costed minions tend to outperform delayed impact. (Ragnaros the Firelord vs. Rhonin)
  • Card draw is one of the most powerful effects as is the discover mechanic
  • Random card generation may wiff and is most of the times weaker than card draw. (Babbeling Book, Burgle mechanic) Exception: fatigue strategies
  • Believe in new deck concepts, developers do think about cards prior to release. (Beast Druid)
  • Even though new concepts might be less powerful than existing ones they can be fun! (Burgle Rogue)
  • Conditional effects are more powerful but there has to be a fitting deck environment for them to work properly (Blackwing Corruptor vs. Forlorn Stalker)
  • Big Bombs hard to evaluate. Historical examples are the wrong evaluation of Dr. Boom (highly overperformed compared to initial assessment) and Deathwing, Dragonlord (was max. overhyped)
  • Spells have big impact and tend to be underevealuated (Maelstorm Portal)

Last but not least:

  • Despite all theorycrafting efforts, predictions my end up inaccurate; playtesting is the gold standard for a reliable evaluation
  • Additionally, with the drip by drip release of cards, synergies might not be clear until the full picture is unwrapped

Martin "OtakuMZ" Z.

Real life physician and afterhour card battler. Martin "OtakuMZ" contributes to the Hearthstone team of BlizzPro since late 2015. Additionally, he contributes analytic articles for Hearthstone and Gwent as a member of Fade2Karma and in his collumn on the Gwentlemen site. He is best known for his infographics which can be accessed at a glance at https://www.facebook.com/hsinfographics and https://www.facebook.com/gwentinfographics

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