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"The Witchwood" Announced As Latest Hearthstone Expansion

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The first Hearthstone expansion of 2018 is exploring some familiar design spaces, and will pack new single-player content similar to Dungeon Runs.

Hearthstone's first expansion of 2018 will be titled The Witchwood, and will be a horror-themed set with werewolves, ghosts, curses, a few "new" keyword abilities, and a single-player game mode called Monster Hunt which appears to be similar to Dungeon Run. Blizzard released a short song and animation for the new set today, as well as the set's first six cards:

 

Hearthstone: The Witchwood Trailer

 

 

Six New Cards From The Witchwood

 

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New Keyword Abilities: Rush and Echo

 

The two new keyword abilities in The Witchwood are clean adaptations of abilities from previous sets. Rush is like Charged Devilsaur - it allows a minion to attack other minions the turn it is played but not the enemy hero, while Echo is like Unstable Evolution - it adds a copy of the card to your hand which can be played repeatedly until the turn ends.

Many have speculated that Hearthstone would eventually create a keyword ability like Rush. Shadowverse (another digital card game) has an ability with the exact same name and function as Rush, and the ability has been well-received in that game. Making Rush a keyword ability and not a Battlecry trigger makes it harder to pull-off combos (Charged Devilsaur can still attack the enemy hero the turn it is played if summoned from a card like Kathrena Winterwisp), and it allows the Hearthstone design team to step away from Charge going forward, which has proven itself to be one of the more problematic abilities from a balance perspective. I'm very happy to see Rush added to the game, and expect it to be a big boost to Midrange decks when the new set drops.

Unstable Evolution was one of my favorite designs from Kobolds & Catacombs, which makes the announcements of Echo as a keyword ability a very pleasant surprise. Echo is a highly flexible ability which forces players to decide between present value and future value, and I expect that it will lead to plenty of interesting decisions in both casual and competitive games alike.

 

Start of Game Effects: Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater

 

Blizzard has tried out many cards in the past which impose unique deck-building restrictions in exchange for powerful effects, such as Prince Keleseth and Reno Jackson. The primary pitfall of these cards is that games are often defined by whether or not the they are drawn, which leads to quite a few feel-bad moments on both sides of the table. The Quest cards from Journey Un'Goro were another attempt to encourage unique deck-building restrictions in exchange for powerful effects, but Quests cards on the whole fell a bit short, and are considered to be categorically less powerful than the Death Knights from KFT or the Legendary Weapons from K&C.

With all of the Highlander cards rotating from Standard with the release of The Witchood, the new Start of Game cards are looking to fill in the design space being left behind by Highlander. These two new cards impose some pretty rough deck-building restrictions, but the reward is an effect which is guaranteed to take place at the start of the game. This design appears to be somewhere in the middle of Highlander and Quests, but with so many unknowns ahead of us it is still far too early to know how these cards will pan out in practice. Interestingly, the two Start of Game minions announced today both have relatively weak bodies for their mana costs, which makes them more like Patches the Pirate and less like Kazakus in that you probably never want to draw them.

 

New Single-Player Content: Monster Hunt

 

After the resounding successes of the Dungeon Runs in K&C, the thing which many Hearthstone players were most excited for from the upcoming set was the single-player content. With Monster Hunt, Blizzard appears to have borrowed a lot from the Dungeon Run formula while adapting it to fit the new set's horror theme:

 

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When you start a new Monster Hunt, you venture into the Witchwood as one of four unique new heroes exclusive to this game mode. Your goal is to fight through a series of eight ever more challenging encounters culminating in an epic showdown with a challenging boss fight.

 

c86f2bb9793f4e4b7b55db53113835f3.png

 

Quote

Each of the four new heroes has access to a special hero power and cards that create completely new playstyles and strategies. Their powers are great, but you will need all the help you can get against the Witchwood’s fiendish foes.

After you beat an encounter, you choose loot to improve your Monster Hunt deck. Your choice is between three sets of three cards picked randomly from a number of different thematic buckets available to your current hero. Additionally, at certain intervals you get to add special cards to your deck that improve your unique hero power or otherwise synergize with your hero in a powerful way.

- Blizzard Entertainment

 

And that's everything we know about Monster Hunts! I get the impression that Monster Hunts and Dungeon Runs will share quite a few similarities, which is A-OK in my book.

 

Upcoming Schedule

 

Though not much is known about upcoming dates for The Witchwood, Hearthstone's previous release schedule suggests a mid-April release for the new set. We can expect The Witchwood to drop two weeks after spoiler season begins, which means we'll likely have to wait until the second week of April for The Witchwood if we don't see a spoiler schedule before the end of the week. In the mean time, you can pre-purchase The Witchwood today to unlock the set's shiny new card back. This time around, the pre-purchase will give players 70 packs for 49.99 USD, which is 20 more packs than previous pre-purchases were at the same price.

What are you most excited for from The Witchwood? The new abilities? Monster Hunts? Set Rotation? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Short comment:

  • Start of Game Cards: This will make up for some interesting deck buidlings :D
  • Echo: Looks interesting.
  • Rush: Looks promising
  • Monster Hunt: If it will be similar to Dungeon Run, uninteresting.

@Aleco you might want to add that Pre-Purchasing gives 70 packs this time instead of 50 for the same price ($/€ 49,99).

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4 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

Short comment:

  • Start of Game Cards: This will make up for some interesting deck buidlings :D
  • Echo: Looks interesting.
  • Rush: Looks promising
  • Monster Hunt: If it will be similar to Dungeon Run, uninteresting.

@Aleco you might want to add that Pre-Purchasing gives 70 packs this time instead of 50 for the same price ($/€ 49,99).

Very good catch, cheers!

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Knowing this new cards, I think that Patches should have been nerfed to rush instead to nothing (or at least, should be a 0 mana card).

However, I like the idea of odd-even restriction, I'm courious if it would help aggro decks (face hunter will either do 2 damage for 1 mana, or 3 damage for 2, for example) or control deck (warrior not having to draw Justicar Truehearth).

Rush and echo are good card design. I like them. But I need to say that I'm not that worried about charge minion, I am one of those player that doesn't understand the difference between a pirate warrior hitting me in my face and a mage casting spell in my face...

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sooo, has the witchwood any connection to WoW? Or is it in any other way tied to the Warcraft universe?

can someone enlighten me :D i played only the Warcraft RTS-series

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46 minutes ago, Synesthesy said:

Rush and echo are good card design. I like them. But I need to say that I'm not that worried about charge minion, I am one of those player that doesn't understand the difference between a pirate warrior hitting me in my face and a mage casting spell in my face...

Biggest difference is the ability to do it again next turn unless you use your own resources to deal with it.

Echo will require more testing I feel. Is it the exact same as the base card, or does it play a "copy" like if you hand buff it.

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29 minutes ago, Laragon said:

Echo will require more testing I feel. Is it the exact same as the base card, or does it play a "copy" like if you hand buff it.

As Aleco said, it works the same way as Unstable Evolution you can see it here: The Witchwood

Edited by Caldyrvan

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1 hour ago, Breadd said:

sooo, has the witchwood any connection to WoW? Or is it in any other way tied to the Warcraft universe?

can someone enlighten me :D i played only the Warcraft RTS-series

According to Ben Brode, it's near the city of Gilneas, the Worgen area in World of Warcraft.

 

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Rush might be a crucial keyword for control decks I think. Charge minions are mostly fragile, and not very good for minion combat  (except Grom). Since these cards can't go face, they can be bigger in size and may allow retake of the board.

For the start of the game legendaries; fairly similar to Keleseth, however, Prince has a much easier requirement to be active. Not being able to play 2, 4, 6, 8 drops or the other way around is too big of a burden for any class. I can't think of much when it comes to them.

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2 minutes ago, FanOfValeera said:

For the start of the game legendaries; fairly similar to Keleseth, however, Prince has a much easier requirement to be active. Not being able to play 2, 4, 6, 8 drops or the other way around is too big of a burden for any class. I can't think of much when it comes to them.

Ha, that was my first thought too but a lot of players, even pros, that the requirement for Kaleseth is not worth including it. I think it's too early to say if it'S doable but if, compared to the princes, you get a guaranteed bonus.

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10 minutes ago, FanOfValeera said:

For the start of the game legendaries; fairly similar to Keleseth, however, Prince has a much easier requirement to be active. Not being able to play 2, 4, 6, 8 drops or the other way around is too big of a burden for any class. I can't think of much when it comes to them.

I see it the opposite. Not needing to draw and play them makes this new card much stronger then Keleseth... They are more similar to Patches, that you don't draw them, but you get the benefits.

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Rush seems like a sensible addition. Wonder if charged devilsaur will get that keyword. The warrior card seems decent, on curve it’s typically something like a 2/2 with Battlecry deal 4dmg; could well get a two for one from it. Later on it’s typically just a 4mana deal 5dmg to a minion. It’s not saving Warrior on its own though.

Echo I like. Phantom Militia seems decent in the right deck. In arena it’s great; you get a playable three drop that you don’t mind top-decking either.

Azalina looks like a meme card but will be interesting to see if anyone comes up with anything remotely viable for it.

The pumpkin looks like pack filler to me.

The even/odd cards are interesting. Seems like a very big limitation on deck building, but also pretty powerful. Can’t think of any current deck that comes close to meeting the requirements that it can be done without crippling it though.

Edited by Bozonik

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I think Genn will do a lot better than Baku (Unless empowered hero power is buffed compared to the current "empowered" versions unless we're talking specific control decks (i.e. padding armor for cards that benefit from armor)).

 

On uneven turns with Genn you can still play your even card and use your hero power. This can have tremendous effect depending on which class you are. Probably weakest would be something like Warrior unless they get cards that benefit from armor (i.e. minions get +1 health buff if you have at least 1 armor or something). Something much more immediate like Paladin playing a 2 mana 2/3 and then hero power for a 1/1 on turn 3 (effectively a "flexible" 3/4 stat for 3 mana, except your hero power can be used on each turn and is not spent)

 

You could try to argue that you can do the same with Baku, play a 1 mana 1/2 and 2x 1/1 squires for the exact same statline. (3/4 for 3 mana) but it becomes exceptionally enticing to just use an aoe. Especially if you hero power on turn 2 (I mean, unless you got 2 1 drops, you probably will and even if you do, you'd probably want to keep one for turn 3). you can quickly end up with 1/1's and 1/2's on the board that can be dealt with very easily. You generally have to strike a balance between big cards and small cards, and that's just much harder to pull off with Baku than it'd be with Genn.

 

Obviously, we don't know all the variables yet. Perhaps there are still cards that influence hero powers themselves or the effects they grant (Such as the warrior example above), but as it stands, genn just makes for more flexibility right now than baku.

 

Also, dem juicy 8 drops.

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After a first look on which cards are denied when you play the "Start of Game" minions: (I only mention the most, currently, powerful legends ofc there are more) I changed my mind on these cards.

Genn (Even-Cost):

Baku, (odd-Cost):

I might be wrong but every single legend on it's own may be reason enough to not play the Start of Game dudes. Compared to Keleseth it's too much to ask for I guess because there are very few powerful 2-cost legends in standard.

Or say it more simple: The Prince demands no 2 cost cards which is already a huge drawback, these new cards demand no "2,4,6,8,10,12" or "1,3,5,7,9,11" cards, not sure how they handle 0 cost cards. It's pretty much half of your collection you can't use.

Looks like they revealed 3 packfiller legends :D

Edited by Caldyrvan
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4 hours ago, Caldyrvan said:

After a first look on which cards are denied when you play the "Start of Game" minions: (I only mention the most, currently, powerful legends ofc there are more) I changed my mind on these cards.

Genn (Even-Cost):

Baku, (odd-Cost):

I might be wrong but every single legend on it's own may be reason enough to not play the Start of Game dudes. Compared to Keleseth it's too much to ask for I guess because there are very few powerful 2-cost legends in standard.

Or say it more simple: The Prince demands no 2 cost cards which is already a huge drawback, these new cards demand no "2,4,6,8,10,12" or "1,3,5,7,9,11" cards, not sure how they handle 0 cost cards. It's pretty much half of your collection you can't use.

Looks like they revealed 3 packfiller legends :D

This is what I said :)

First you objected me, then you wrote what I wrote with more detail.

For another approach; not all classes can make use of cheap hero power or upgraded hero power. Most of the time, you will replace it with your DKs hero power and the card become waste.

Only two classes I see might do it are warrior (cutting DK is still questionable but we should see the rest of the cards) and paladin (dude paladin synergy with Baku, in which you can't play Stegodon and Tarim). I mean, in how many classes Justicar saw play, so we can say that these cards have potential?

1 mana hero power seems very useless to be fair. How many times did you see a Raza after nerf? Both has deckbuilding challenges.

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6 hours ago, Caldyrvan said:

Genn (Even-Cost):

  • Un'Goro: Any Quest,

 

Actually, maybe you can play the quest with Genn. If the keyword "start of game" work as the only card that now do something at the start of game, Prince Malchezaar, it will happen after you draw your starting hand, so the quest, that you always draw as your first card, doesn't count.

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4 minutes ago, Synesthesy said:

Actually, maybe you can play the quest with Genn. If the keyword "start of game" work as the only card that now do something at the start of game, Prince Malchezaar, it will happen after you draw your starting hand, so the quest, that you always draw as your first card, doesn't count.

Oh right, I missed that :) Thank you.

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No, thats not how it works.

Even if you draw your quest, it is in your deck at the beginning. Both Genn and Baku will look at your deck as the game begins. Like your whole deck as you queued, instead of whats left after your mulligan ended. That's why Baku will work even when Malchezaar adds even costed minions to your deck. It checks what you have before the game starts.

You can't play Genn and quests together.

Edited by FanOfValeera

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They also have a video with the reveal of the card. now the question is: "what will be the "Too OP card" (see 6:33) !! 

 

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4 hours ago, FanOfValeera said:

Only two classes I see might do it are warrior (cutting DK is still questionable but we should see the rest of the cards) and paladin (dude paladin synergy with Baku, in which you can't play Stegodon and Tarim). I mean, in how many classes Justicar saw play, so we can say that these cards have potential?

I was only around for the last year of justicar in standard, during which control warrior was the only thing running it. I can see it having use in control priest and dude paladin (though it comes a bit late for Aggro). The rest it just seems too irrelevant by the turn it comes into play. Obviously the advantage with Baku is it comes into play immediately but the cost is huge. 

Dude Paladin loses Call To Arms and Tarim which are two of the three OP cards that make the deck strong. Also loses its backbone of two drops. So it wouldn’t vaguely resemble its current form.

Control Warrior loses stuff like Execute, Dead Mans Hand, Sleep With Fishes, Battle Rage, Blood Razor, DK, various big 8-drops and skulking geist. I struggle to see it manage without all those staples.

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15 hours ago, Caldyrvan said:

As Aleco said, it works the same way as Unstable Evolution you can see it here: The Witchwood

Unstable is a spell, which can never be changed, and in the video they only do it to the standard minion a few times. What I'm curious to see, is if for example a paladin buffs it using any number of cards, do they play "echos" of a 3 mana 5/7 or 1 3 mana 5/7 and the rest are back to 3 mana 2/4.

The video says "a copy" so it makes me thing it works like Saronite Chain Gang which works off the buffs.

Edited by Laragon

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