Shadowverse’s Next Update Comes with a Bang and a Boom

Shadowverse’s Next Update Comes with a Bang and a Boom

The digital card game universe is at an interesting juncture now, with many big titles competing for our precious gaming time and (even more precious) money. While a lot of the online focus has pitted Hearthstone and Gwent in a Reddit-fueled brouhaha, Cygames’ Shadowverse has been preparing their new expansion, Wonderland Dreams. With the normal excitement that comes along with every new digital card expansion, the release of Wonderland Dreams also comes with a whole host of new updates for Shadowverse. These updates, I believe, will make Shadowverse the most feature-heavy digital card game in the market.

Wonderland Dreams

The new 104-card expansion is going to have an emphasis on Neutral cards. Considering that the leaders in Shadowverse don’t do anything unique themselves, and just rely on their class-specific cards, the entire Neutral card pool is fair play. Flavor-wise, many cards are based off classic fairy tales. You see cards based off The Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Alice, Wizard of Oz, Jabberwocky, Snow White, etc. Considering Shadowverse has a weaker story base, and is not really reliant on another game series for lore, it allowed them to take a somewhat radical direction for the flavor.

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New cards with a theme

New Main Story Chapters

The PvE gets 9 new games in, as Chapters 9-11 are available for Rowen, Isabelle, and Urias. The last major update for Shadowverse included Chapters 9-11 for three other classes, and this resumes it for three classes. I assume these characters are going to go through a familiar story arc of being satisfied in a fake reality, getting tired of living in a fake reality, fighting Eris, and going back to reality. What’s interesting about this is that it leaves the Havencraft leader, Eris, out without Chapters 9-11. Given that this character is omnipresent in all the other storylines, something else could be cooking.

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Story Mode gets weird sometimes

Solo player missions

Just another source of rewards for completing the Story missions or Practice mode. Another boost for people who like PvE more than PvP.

New private match features

I personally think this is the most exciting bit of news for the entire Shadowverse update. Currently, you can already have a regular match with a friend, or even a Take Two (draft mode) match with a friend. Best of 3 and Best of 5 matches are incoming. While this is a fun way to spend time playing card games with friends, this feature is obviously more useful for online tournaments. If it comes with a score tracker for the best of 3 or 5 for verification, even better.

A more curious new private match feature is spectating Take Two. You get to create your opponent’s deck! This wording is a bit ambiguous and could mean two different things. It is possible you can do a co-op on Take Two, by helping your friend draft the deck. It could also mean a new private match mode in Take Two, where you get to draft each other’s deck. I believe the latter is coming, which is an extremely interesting decision. This would result in the strategy of drafting the worst deck possible, to handicap your opponent. I would assume strategies would include drafting a very high-cost deck, drafting cards that have little synergy, or just drafting bad cards. Take Two is always a compromise, and I will be looking forward to this.

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Random action shot

Set Leaders for individual decks

This doesn’t mean anything for f2p people like me who just have 1 leader for each class, but this lets you put different leaders for different decks. So if you want a hero to represent aggro, and another control, you can do that. A bit of a step up over Hearthstone’s favorite class hero for all decks. Again, this doesn’t apply to me since I only have 1 hero per craft. But that could change!

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Forte, a leader I don’t have

Buy Items with Vials

Vials are the resource you spend to make cards, the arcane dust if you will. For the first time, you get to spend vials on things that aren’t cards. Currently, all the customization features (extra leaders, card backs, etc) have to be bought with Crystals (real money). This may allow a person to buy customization features without spending real money. So it may be possible for me to buy a new hero after all. We still don’t know what the new items are yet.

Text/Voice language switching

I assume this allows us to change the languages in the client, without having to right click “Properties” in Steam. This is big, since the English version of Shadowverse is a little different from the Japanese version, and perhaps other language versions. There are different voice lines for example. Everyone wanted the Arisa “gasp” back. Isabelle wears a weird boob cover in the English version. This will just make things easier and more user-friendly. Have it your way!

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(GASP)!

Take Two card changes

Given that I haven’t sunk too much time playing Shadowverse and am less familiar with the game, I don’t know much about Take Two. Unlike Hearthstone, where I am 95% geared towards the Arena mode, I don’t really have that bias for Take Two in Shadowverse. Basically the card offering pool is going to change. All the cards from the expansions will be available, all Bronze-class cards, and prize cards (Basic) cards will also be avaiable. This means that all Silver, Gold, Legendary Standard cards, plus one Havencraft card, will be out of Take Two. This is pretty much the opposite rotation that Hearthstone does, as they retain the Standard card set never rotates out. Having too many cards in Take Two is definitely a problem, and they are taking an interesting approach to dealing with it. I would assume the cards in the Standard set are more boring, and provide the on-curve stability for cost.

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More than just a generous game?

In sum, Shadowverse is going to get a lot of new features coming with the new expansion, next week (6/28). Shadowverse has been known to be the most generous digital card game around, giving out card packs and Take Two tickets often. I think with this update next week, Shadowverse will be known as the most customized and feature-heavy digital card game period. While adverse reactions to fanservicy anime artwork and brand loyalty will still keep people from playing Shadowverse, there is a lot to like with what is to come for this game.

Simple But Effective: Don Han’Cho, the Latest Trigger in Hearthstone

Simple But Effective: Don Han’Cho, the Latest Trigger in Hearthstone

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:

What is this guy on
What is this guy on

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?

Notable Characters in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan Trailer

As a dedicated Hearthstone player, “blogger,” and enthusiast, the one-month wait until the new Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion is one of the most exciting times of the year. 34 cards were revealed during the last two days of BlizzCon, 31 intentionally, and 3 via grainy Disguised Toast filming. While the remaining cards will be bleeding out through the course of the month, I (along with many others) am pressed to see the remaining cards. I decided to take a frame-by-frame look at the Gadgetzan trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTyeE5oK7LQ), along with other promotional images to determine what other cards will be coming out in this expansion.

Frame 0 (promo shot)

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In this promo shot, you see a gnome, who travels with a white rat. This probably represents a Hearthstone player. On the left, you see the Kabal rep, most likely the Kabal Talon Priest. The Lotus rep, possibly Lotus Assassin, is standing in the doorway. The Grimy Goons  have an orc who looks like a detective and a goblin. The orc has knuckles and has card packs hidden under his vest.

Frame 1

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The first shot from the trailer has all three factions represented. The Grimy Goons have a goblin, and orc (with knuckles). The Jade Lotus have their leader, Aya Blackpaw and her big Pandaren bodyguard, and the Virmen (rabbit). The Kabal have their leader Kazakus and a blood elf female.

Frame 2

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This scene shows the Jade Lotus faction, and their jade smuggling activities. In the background, you see two characters, a Hozen (monkey character) and a Jinyu (goldfish) moving a jade statue. In the foreground, you see Aya Blackpaw, her bodyguard, and the Virmen, who has a sack of gold.

Frame 3

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This scene shows the Kabal, and their activities involving red mana crystals. You see a Draenei female, who is collecting mana crystals. Two Imps are mixing the concoction.

Frame 3.5

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Kazakus appears and lights up a round bottom flask of his potion.

Frame 4

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This scene shows the dealings of the Grimy Goons, and the first appearance of boss Don Hon-Cho, who has caught the Jade Lotus Virmen. You also sees a Kobold, the Goblin with facial hair, and a Gnoll.

Frame 4.5

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Other members of the gang include a Tauren wearing a bow tie, and an Orc female who is dressed like a torch singer.

Frame 5

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In this action-packed scene, a Grimy Goons vehicle has the Goblin with facial hair, a Kobold, an Orc, and a Tauren with guns blazing.

Frame 5.5

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The Jade Lotus are on the receiving end of the pursuit. You see the Virmen, Hozen, and what looks like a Mantid. They seem to have lost their bag of gold.

Frame 6

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We see a Blood Elf warlock and Imp, with a shipment of red crystals.

Frame 6.5

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The Jade Lotus ambush includes the Mantid, Hozen, Virmen, and the Pandaren bodyguard.

Frame 7

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Here the Kabal members are intimidating Grimy Good members, the big Orc, and the facial haired Goblin. Members of the Kabal in this scene include the Arrakoa, female Draenei, and a Demon that looks like a Satyr.

Frame 8

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The final fight scene includes a host of characters. For the Kabal, you see the pair of Imps, the Blood Elf female, the Arrakoa, and Kazakus, who now looks like a horse. For the Jade Lotus, you see Aya Blackpaw, her bodyguard, and the Virmen. The Grimy Goons in the back have a Gnoll, the facial-haired Goblin, and Don Hon-Cho.

Frame 8.5

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All of the characters from Frame 8 remain in the fight scene. Now there is a black Tauren, a Murloc ninja, the “detective” Orc, and another mysterious character with a bat on the left.

What we can glean

  • Kazakus is a confirmed as the Kabal Legendary. From simple deduction, we can assume Don Hon-Cho and Aya Blackpaw are the other faction legendaries.
  • The Jade Lotus Virmen apears in practically every scene. Given there could only be 3 tri-class cards, this could be the third Jade Lotus card. It could also be a Rogue, Druid, or Shaman card, though it wouldn’t really fit in a class seemingly.
  • The Hozen monkey-like minion appears a whole lot himself.
  • The Grimy Goon Goblin appears a whole lot himself. The Grimy Goons already have a card called Grimestreet Informant. He could appear as the third.
  • The Orc detective could also be the third Grimy Goon, but has a better chance of being a Warrior class minion.
  • It’s hard to tell what the third Kabal card could be. Warlocks seem to have a bunch of possible minions with the Blood Elf female, pair of Imps, Draenei.

Overall, the cast of characters in this trailer is extremely diverse for Warcraft racial groups. You see a lot of Horde characters, along with random animal characters. As with any promo trailer, a bunch of these characters could wind up not being cards in the expansion. But I expect the more commonly-appearing cards to be guaranteed characters.

What a Time to Be Alive

 

Given this blog is all about Hearthstone, what an exciting week it has been leading up to today. It all started with the sleuthing of Disguised Toast. Then came a mural in Brooklyn. And the Spanish website, which turned out to reveal everything revealed today. The upcoming expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods was announced a couple hours ago, and is set to launch late April – early May. Here’s what has been confirmed on stream:

  • This Monday (3/14 St Patty’s Day), we will get the 9 deck slots.
  • The patch will also include a preview of wild/standard formats. It is not launching this Monday.
  • During the promo period, every user will get 3 Old Gods packs, and the legendary C’Thun. The promo card back might be pre-order only.
  • The 20-something nerf to Classic/Basic cards was not discussed.
  • More cards revealed over the weekend and from now on.

Unlike League of Explorers, there is a big amount of time until this new expansion hits, giving time for people to save up gold or whatever. While we are stuck with the stale meta some more, this is probably the most exciting time to be a fan of Hearthstone, with the eager anticipation of waiting for cards to be revealed. When I started playing Hearthstone, I visited Hearthpwn a lot. Then I started going to the site less and less, due to the frequency of banal posts, complaining, and “custom card makers” everywhere. Now, I have no choice but to visit that site every day, in case a card gets revealed.

And this slow card reveal will go on for weeks. Streamers likely have their hands on some cards to reveal. Magazines and websites will have some cards. A bunch of cards in foreign languages and unconfirmed names!

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Originally called “Scared Warrior”

It will all lead up to “massive card dump day,” which is probably the most exciting day of the year.

And of course there will be speculation and sleuthing among the Hearthstone community. I went through great lengths to figure out Subjugator Kor’ul maybe a card, and there have been trailer rumblings of Corrupted Hogger and Coldlight Seer.

All and all, it is a great time to be a Hearthstone fan. Some can’t take this slow reveal, hype-building strategy. I won’t have it any other way.

 

Bold predictions for Hearthstone’s next expansion

It’s going to be one whole month before Hearthstone has it’s next big announcement, which is likely about the next expansion. With that in mind, let’s make some stupid predictions for this expansion!

  • Windfury + Charge – In TGT, we got the Silent Knight, the first to combine Divine Shield and Stealth. While Mega-windfury and Charge are present in VOLTRON, that card is going to be impossible to pull off in 2016. I expect this combination of mechanics in some form. Maybe a crazy Shaman 5 cost, overload 5, 4/1 with windfury + charge. Or some weak 2/1. Windfury + Charge is going to be an aggro staple, if implemented, and will likely need to be heavily overcosted or too weak to play.
  • Enchantments/Towns – Continuous spells/enchantments are a common TCG feature, and Hearthstone tested it out with the Fate Brawl. Seeing as how that went smoothly, I wouldn’t be shocked to see these come by. I can see the subject of enchantments being a town in WoW, or some important character’s blessing/curse. I also see them being anti-tempo, expensive cards, which could be Epic or Legendary.
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I expect enchantments to be a little more creative when they’re out
  • War Golem becomes 7/8 – We know that Dr. 7 is off to the showers in 2016, and the standard cards may be altered. There is no reason to not make War Golem a 7/8. It’s still not going to be played in constructed play. I do expect a 7/8 to come up in this expansion, and it will be pretty good in the arena.
  • Smaller magic eaters emerge – Loatheb has the unique ability to make spells expensive. With him out of the picture, this entire mechanic is gone. Because Malygos is virtually unaffected by Standard Play, Hearthstone could really become Wizard Poker. I expect smaller scale Loathebs emerge, making spells cost 2 or 3 more.
  • Warriors get something scary – It’s been a while since Warriors have struck fear in my heart. These armoring up guys and do nothing and armor up some more are not as pugnacious as I like. I expect some new minion that is destructive, and will be very anti-Control Warrior. They do need a new guy like this after the Patron nerf.
  • Paladins getting something OP – Sort of a running gag, but Paladins are taking a big hit with Standard Play. I fully expect them to get something OP to make them top dog in Constructed Play. Maybe a Divine Shield + 1/1 for 2-mana spell? A secret that gives them a random same-cost mana card that the opponent plays? A 5/4 divine shield minion for 4 mana?
  • Rogue gets a stealth weapon combo – Rogues haven’t received a new weapon since getting a damn Wrench. Without Tinker’s Oil, Rogues are in need of a new win condition. I can see some weapon having a combo effect of stealthing something.
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Dang ol trees
  • Druids get magical – It seems the Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo finally got the attention of Blizzard, and is getting changed significantly in some way. Druids currently have some tools to deal spell damage, with some powerful spells and Jungle Moonkin. Throw in Innervate, Malygos, Thaurissan, you might have something. Expect some spellpower help or more damage spells in the expansion.
  • Murlocs and pirates – With standard play, we lose two decent Murlocs in Puddlestomper and Siltfin Spiritwalker. Expect a new Murloc. Pirates also have been in the discussion of getting more help. Some tribe is going to have to pick up the slack after Mechs are banished.
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More cannons?
  • Land destruction/cloggers – I’m not sure where Blizzard has stood on the 7 minion board spots, but it would be a viable strategy against some flood decks. Maybe some minion that occupies 2 minion spots when its alive. Or some minion that summons 0/8 Can’t Attack guys on the other side.

Maybe none of these things will happen. In any event, I’m ready for the next reveal, and collecting dust/gold in the meantime.