In the weeks leading up to the release of The Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, Team 5 (Hearthstone devs) has been up to their usual shenanigans of slowly revealing cards from the massive 132-card set. The Grimy Goons were the first faction to have their reveals. In addition to 5 cards being revealed by known players, there was a voting system that would reveal the boss of the Grimy Goons, Don Hon’Cho, one that encouraged individuals to vote every day. This was a needlessly tedious process, and one that ratcheted the hype for the card. The card was finally revealed after a whole week, and it turned out, well, boring.
My initial reaction to the card was negative, as the week-long wait and simplicity of the card just wasn’t worth it.
After a couple of minutes, I came to my senses and realized that Don Han’Cho is a really good card. I mean it has value that could make it one of the best cards in the new expansion. I was okay with the fact that the card is really boring. Though a lot of people on Reddit did not feel that way, with a lot of posts coming up saying how bad Don Hon’Cho is. There was even this ridiculous poll:
Is the anger over Don Hon’Cho justified? Or is the Hearthstone community overreacting over another issue?
Simple but Effective
Because Don Hon’Cho is such a simple card, he is very easy to evaluate. He is a 7-mana 5/6, meaning he is a 5-mana body, with 2 anti-tempo. The +5/+5 buff is better than the 4-mana Paladin buff Blessing of Kings. So in a quick-and-dirty calculation, Don Hon’Cho is worth a little more than 9-mana for what he does. This ability of buffing random cards in hand has pros and cons over a regular Paladin buff spell. The pro is that Don Hon’Cho doesn’t require another minion on the board to buff, rather just a minion in hand, which is easier to pull off. The con is that the buff is random and you can’t target a minion of choice. Because buffing any minion is better than buffing nothing, I’d say the pros outweight the cons. So all and all, Don Hon’Cho might be worth 9.5 mana. This isn’t broken like Dr. Boom, but is quite a bit more value than the 7 it costs to play.
Synergy with Current Cards
Though we haven’t seen many of the cards in the new expansion, some obvious card combos come to mind. A +5/+5 on Dopplegangster will allow you to summon 3 7/7 minions for 5-mana. Dispatch Kodo with allow 7 points of targetable damage, and creating a 7/9 minion, all for 4-mana. Wickerflame Burnbristle becomes a 7/7 Divine Shield and Taunt minion, with a plus ability for 3-mana. Rat Pack becomes a 7/7, which will spawn a full board of rats. Aside from the legendary, you could run duplicates of the other cards, increasing the chance of getting the +5/+5 buff in hand.
Synergy with Existing Cards
It doesn’t take new cards to get excited over Don Han’Cho. Cheap taunts like Fierce Monkey could be played the same turn as the Don. Charge minions, will get the +5 attack, allowing a cheaper alternative to Leeroy Jenkins in face decks. Brann Bronzebeard, played before Don Hon’Cho will allow +10/+10 distributed to hand minions. Another interesting card to consider is Soggoth the Slitherer, who becomes a 10/14 unmovable bulwark.
The Backlash Against Don Hon’Cho
There are several reasons why some people are upset at the Don Hon’Cho reveal. As described earlier, the card is flat-out boring. Along with a bunch of other Grimy Goons, which all buff minions in the hand, there is anger about the cards all doing the same thing. Prior to the reveal, some thought Don Hon’Cho would allow the player to create a custom weapon. I though that Don Hon’Cho would provide custom buffs, with things like Taunt, and Divine Shield that come with variable costs. The expectation that Don Hon’Cho would be creative obviously stems from the reveal of Kazakus.
The expectation that Don Hon’Cho would be creative obviously stems from the reveal of Kazakus. Revealed at BlizzCon, Kazakus is the Kabal legendary, and obviously the most creative card created to date.
Principle Designer Mike Donais explained that Kazakus has the possibility to discover 135 different potion combinations when played. The player undergoes a triple discover, choosing a mana cost, and two separate discovers for different abilities. While Kazakus is extremely flashy, and awards higher-skill players for making good decisions, it is at the mercy of 2 discovers, which means there is a bit of RNG in it. In the end, I think Don Hon’Cho will be a more useful card in Hearthstone, given the lesser reliance on RNG and player skill. But I get that these two boss legendaries are on the opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to creativity, making Don Hon’Cho more disappointing.
Another argument against Don Hon’Cho and all related Grimy Goons cards is that they all have the same mechanic. If the mechanic of buffing hand cards is not viable in the competitive meta, most of the cards will not be played. This all-in approach has some benefits, as it makes the Grimy Goons cards have a lot of consistency to constantly buff cards. While it is a completely valid concern that the cards won’t be played due to the meta, I have confidence in the Hearthstone dev team in their play-testing for all the cards.
In the end, I think the argument against Don Hon’Cho is a bit ludicrous and reactionary. It’s okay to be disappointed in the lack of creativity, but to call it one of the worst legendaries is absurd. Fortunately, most people in the Hearthstone community on Reddit recognize that Don Hon’Cho appears to be a pretty good card, and can overlook his boring ability.
What do you think of the new cards?