Over the Thanksgiving break, I had limited access to Internet, but occasionally checked Reddit on my phone for Mean Streets of Gadgetzan card reveals. On Thanksgiving Day and Friday, I became aware of Hearthstone Reddit blowing up with Rogue players and other agitators joining in on the ruckus. As a Rogue player, I have been often frustrated when taking it to Standard Ranked Play, given the overwhelming presence of faster Shamans. The Rogue frustration can best be summarized in these points:
Blade Flurry was nerfed for design space reasons. No weapon buff has been seen since. Fan of Knives and Dark Iron Skulker are the only AoE for Rogue. This came just as Shaman aggro and midrange swarms became popular.
Rogues have no source of damage mitigation, whether healing or armor or immune. This combined with the propensity for Rogue to draw cards makes Rogue impossible to run as a control class. Any controlly Rogue class card is unplayable as such.
Burgle Rogue is the main deck type being pushed in the last few sets. Burgle Rogue is fun but not competitive. You have no win condition and are literally playing Randomonium. Rogue has been consistently the 6th or 7th best class over the Old Gods/Karazhan meta.
Combo decks are being nerfed as a whole, as they are not interactive, and this appears to be the only way Rogues can win with the cards.
Rogues have a strong set of Evergreen cards, but this makes playing Rogue not fun, as you are playing the same set of cards you did before Naxx came out. (Did Naxx come out yet?) Also, Gadgetzan Auctioneer is a crutch that Rogue decks can’t play without.
Timeline of MSG Rogue Card Reveals
11/4/16 – BlizzCon
11/5/16 – BlizzCon Disguised Toast Leak
11/21/16 – Jade Lotus Reveal Week
11/22/16 – Stream Reveal
11/24/16 – Jade Lotus Reveal Week
11/25/16 – Stream Reveal
Hope is not lost yet, as there are still 2 class cards (1 common and 1 epic) to go. I expect 1 more Jade Golem mechanic card, which could save the class from complete ineptitude in Standard play. Dean Ayala did state that Rogue has the best ways to utilize the Jade Golem mechanic, with Shadowsteps and Unearthed Raptor. I also do long for a weapon buff in the epic slot, as there hasn’t been a viable weapon buff since Tinker’s Oil. Things don’t look good, and playing this class isn’t fun right now. We just need a good Jade card, and a weapon buff. Is that too much to ask? Well, we still can dominate arena at least. Right?
Every time a new Hearthstone expansion rolls around, my affliction starts again. The anathema of having to see new card reveals is a bit consuming, forcing me to stay on Hearthstone Reddit for the latest news. I was sated early today, with the reveal of 3 new cards, seemingly quilboars that are part of a bike gang. While the cards are very flavorful in fitting in with the new expansion theme, they are also situational cards that aren’t all that competitive. Still, the common and rare hog riders have some important implications that will affect how the Arena is played.
The common card, Tanaris Hogchopper, will be at the crux of this discussion. It is a 4-mana 4/4, which is a seemingly very common stat distribution you see in the Arena. This makes it a little below-average, but certainly playable over many cards. The card gains Charge if your opponent has an empty hand, making the upside a card better than a Kor’kron Elite.
Card advantage is not guaranteed in the Arena, and there is always a need to contest the board by playing minions. As such, topdeck wars do happen a good deal. The Tanaris Hogchopper simply punishes players who will unload their hand in a push for lethal, or to contest the board. While it is prudent to hold onto backup minions when you make a read of a board clear (i.e. Flamestrike), most classes won’t have them. This will change the way Arena is played, and will making one think twice about throwing everyone out there. While there are guaranteed cards that provide charge like Reckless Rocketeer and Wolfrider, this guy is a common and gets the increased offering bonus as part of the new expansion. Plus this guy fills the 4-drop curve, and has a decent size for a charge minion. You will see this card a lot, and it could have a big impact on gameplay decisions.
The rare card, Spiked Hogrider, is a 5-mana 5/5, also possesses playable stats as a serviceable 5, like Clockwork Knight. The upside of this card is like a Doomguard with less health and doesn’t require discards. This card gains Charge on taunts, so it can easily wipe out value minions like Sen’jin Shieldmasta and Sludge Belcher. With additional removal in hand to remove a taunt, this guy can be used to go face. Given the rarity status of this card, and the need to play taunts in the Arena, this guy shouldn’t be played around. Overall, the Spiked Hogrider is just a fine 5-drop in the Arena, but the Tanaris Hogchopper has a bigger impact on Arena gameplay.
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.
Because almost everyone who plays Hearthstone is helplessly addicted, it’s no secret that everyone is drawn to the ongoing Old Gods card release. As such, people sleuthed their asses off to get the latest scoop and posted it on Reddit. Thumbnails were obtained of all the streamer card voting reveal cards, and by which streamer. What is unknown is what each card does, obviously.
So which ones am I most excited to see? Here are the remaining 15 cards in ascending order of excitement.
#15 – Tiddler Celestial
A mantid it looks like, wearing a crown. Pretty boring thumbnail.
#14 – Scamaz
Looks like Ancient Shade, but with well-defined muscles. Another lackluster reveal!
#13 – Savjz
This really looks like a spell. The Faceless in the picture looks ensnared or impaired in some way. Of course this could be a minion card, but looks like a spell really. A Priest Spell.
#12 – Reynad
What do you call a book of dark arts? A grimoire or something? Most likely a Warlock spell. But that tentacle!
#11 – Firebat
You’ve got a Murloc wizard/spellcaster guy, but he has tentacles for legs. While this guy has a good chance of being OP, could this open the door for Mage or Warlock Murloc decks?
#10 – Trump
Looks like an imposing Faceless minion, most likely a rare or epic card. I mean look at this, it can’t be common!
#9 – Kranich
Some people think this could hint at Cho’Gall, but it looks like a dead giveaway at a spell. I mean the focus is on the death ray, not on Cho’Gall himself. Some kind of hard removal looks likely.
#8 – Thijs
This is some next-level ish. Possessed wisps? A big AOE spell? The possibilities are endless!
#7 – Richard Knight
So clearly you see all of Rexxar’s Animal Companions in a violent lunge. 9-mana summon all of Huffer’s companions? Always Huffer still applies!
#6 – Zhang Ding
This one is likely getting released soon, but a very spiny, infested dragon. It doesn’t look like a legendary dragon, but could be some rare or epic. A Twilight Drake of some sorts? Also dragon art is just amazing.
#5 – Lifecoach
So an orc is getting cloned. Or is this dude so mad that his rage side takes up matter? I am willing to bet this is a Warrior spell.
#4 – Roger
Looks clearly like an infested Druid minion, given the antlers.Though it also looks like a goblin, and I don’t think goblin druids exist. Anyhow, this guy looks really cool.
#3 – Kno
As a Rogue player, this is probably the one I care about the most. It’s basically Valeera with armor. So it’s likely a Rogue spell or weapon. Also obviously, Valeera follows the chainmail bikini protocol. Full armor would hamper her aerodynamics!
#2 – Kibler
People are saying this is Deathwing, but looks more likely some form of Black Dragonflight. Just a really cool looking dragon.
Winner – Dog
It’s crazy that of these 15 thumbnails, a goddang cup is the most exciting to me. Some things are clearly minions or spells, belonging to certain classes. This cup is just a mystery. I am dying to know what this does, even if it is horrible.