Hearthstone’s next expansion, United in Stormwind, will be released on August 3 (August 4 in ANZ) and is set to bring some powerful new cards and mechanics into play. Questlines are, for example, three-part quests with small rewards at each step, topped off by a legendary once completed (see example below). Professional tools are also a bit like mini-missions – they are equipped as weapons, but give players a bonus when a certain condition is met.
No visit to Stormwind would meanwhile be complete without a party, and these will be represented in the game by magic formulas such as buff a minion, and then leave the mountain behind when this minion dies. And finally, there’s the marketable keyword, which I think will probably be the best new keyword since Discover. Negotiable cards can be exchanged for a random card in your deck for a mana, so players can include highly situational cards in their decals without being overly punished.
Hearthstone – United i Stormwind Reveal Cards
Everything looks very promising, and for fans of certain classes, the new set of 135 cards may not come soon enough. For example, if you are a Warlock player, the class does not really have many powerful options right now. However, that is likely to change, and our map reveals today shows one of the directions Warlock can go – not forward, but back … back to one of the ever-present staples from the last seven plus years of Hearthstone – Zoo. Introduction, Shady Bartender:
For those unfamiliar with Zoo Warlock, the archetype is mini-driven and seems to try to overwhelm the opponent by building boards they have to clear turn after turn. The basket on the deck is low – usually peaks at 5 or so to ensure that what they draw can usually be played, and as the game progresses, the zodiac utilizes Warlock’s heroic power (take two damage and draw a card) to ensure they can play at least two cards each turn. Historically, buffers have also been a big part of decks, as they allow cheap henchmen to swap (ie kill a bigger and more expensive one), or to wear extra damage to complete the game.
Shady Bartender fits nicely into the part of the Zoo that is about polishing craftsman, and can perhaps be compared to a card like Fungalmancer, which became a very powerful alternative in proactive swarm or Zoo-style deck when it was in the format. Shady Bartender is obviously a bit different, as it has a + 2 / + 2 buff which is mainly baked into its higher base stats. (By the way, these higher base stats are not as important as you might think – the most important thing to understand why cards like this can be good is the fact that you hope to land them on henchmen who survived the previous turn and thus have the initiative. The buffs translate immediate damage / extra survivability.) It also has both a higher potential on the upside – as it is able to hit a full board with minions, as well as a significant warning – the only minions buff are demons.
Now it’s pretty limiting, but there are a lot of demons kicking around in the game these days. If you look at Zoo Warlock lists that were played a few months ago (for example this list from Orange and this one from Rusinho), is a high percentage of minions including demons, so if we’re in a world where the Zoo can get on the board and stay on the board, Shady Bartender can be pretty good. That said, there are a critical mass of demons you need to have in your decal to consistently land it on at least two minions – as it really is when the card gets good, so how feasible it is to see. Later in the game, you can pair it with another Warlock card we’ve seen from the upcoming set – Demonic Assault – to help you remove something and develop a more threatening board into one.
The icing on the cake for Shady Bartender, however, is the fact that the card is negotiable. So in those cases where you draw it, but are not on the board, or if you have it in your hand but your opponent empties the minions, you can use a mana to send it back to your deck and get another card that will hopefully help more in the given game mode.
Will Zoo Warlock be good enough at United in Stormwind? It will definitely need more support in the cards that are yet to be revealed, but if it is, the chances are high that Shady Bartender will be in the – * ahem * mix.
To see more new cards, check out the official United in Stormwind website.
Cam Shea is currently on lockdown in Sydney, but is looking forward to the trip to Stormwind in early August. He never tweets.