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A new video shows how much work went into creating the art, animation and sound of Kobolds & Catacombs.
Ben Thompson and Jomaro Kindred talk about the artistic direction of Hearthstone's latest expansion, while Hadidjah Chamberlin explains how she brought life into the board by creating most of the expansion's card effects. Lastly, it's always impressive to see the voice actors at work; they are all very talented!
The first week of K&C has brought has many surprises, including Corridor Creeper and the No-Minions Hunter deck.
After just one week with the new Kobolds & Catacombs cards it feels a little early to declare a definitive tier list for the competitive ladder. It's safe to assume that the best decks from the previous format, Tempo Rogue and Highlander Priest, will remain competitive options in the K&C meta, but many new decks have already been discovered which appear more than capable of keeping up with the top decks from KFT.
The first week of K&C has been packed with surprise stand-outs and unexpected strategies. A staggering number of powerful new Epic cards are defining a number of new archetypes, while a decent number of cards which were expected to define the meta have yet to find a home. To help catch you up to speed on the state of the ladder, let's count down ten of the biggest surprises from the still-developing K&C meta:
#10 - Big Spells Mage
Five of the ten new Mage cards were designed around the Big Spells theme, yet Mage isn't even the class which is currently making the best use of Spiteful Summoner and Grand Archivist. Dragon's Fury was predicted to be one of the top cards in K&C but Big Spells Mage has failed to put up impressive results. Endemic Mage spells such as Frostbolt, Arcane Intellect, and Primordial Glyph drag down the power level of cards like Raven Familiar too far to justify their inclusion in Big Spells decks, yet the minion-based replacements for these cards have yet to prove themselves as suitable tools for controlling the board in the early game. With how aggressively the current metagame is shaping up to be, Big Spells Mage will need to find a way to control the board before turn five if it ever wants to compete.
#9 - Druid Decks
Coming out of Knights of the Frozen Throne, Druid laid claim to three of the best decks in all of Hearthstone: Aggro Druid, Jade Druid, and Big Druid. Though none of these decks have become unplayable K&C, it'd be difficult to argue that any of them are Tier 1 options at the moment. Dire Mole was a huge pickup for Aggro Druid, the Master Oakheart/Dragonhatcher package has provided Big Druid with a consistent late-game plan, and Lesser Jasper Spellstone has given Jade Druid a meaningful tool for interacting with troublesome minions in the early game, but it seems as though the other classes have improved far more than Druid has. Druid's Recruit sub-theme has seen moderate success, and the archetype still has plenty of room to improve as the meta matures. Despite Druid's lackluster results so far, I'd expect that the class has far too many powerful tools to ever become irrelevant. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new-look Recruit deck start to put up results in the coming weeks.
#8 - Tempo Mage
Tempo Mage was a deck that teetered on the edge of Tier 1 throughout the KFT meta, but it appears to have broken through in K&C thanks to Aluneth and Explosive Runes. Many pro players are calling Aluneth the best card in the set despite the fact that it only sees play in aggressive-slanted Mage lists. Tempo Mage has always done a great job at pressuring its opponent's life total, but Aluneth has given it the tool it needed dig for the Fireballs and Firelands Portals is often needs to close out the game. This is to say nothing of Explosive Runes, which has managed to exceed its lofty expectations and has cemented itself as a devastating tempo play off Kirin Tor Mage. Tempo Mage already feels like a well-oiled machine, and I expect the deck remain a consistent force throughout the K&C meta.
#7 - Call to Arms
Before K&C was released there was a debate as to the best way to build a deck around this powerful new card. Should you throw it in a deck with Prince Keleseth to Recruit buffed-up one drops? Should you put in a Murloc based deck, even though Murlocs get a lot of their value from Battlecries? Should you try to fill your deck with powerful hits like Dirty Rat and Knife Juggler at the expense of having good two drops on curve? Yes, yes, and yes. It turns out that getting three minions onto the board from one card is pretty great no matter how you choose to set it up.
Aggro Paladin is one of the three or four best decks in the current meta and still has plenty of room to improve, as the current iterations feel quite far from being finely tuned. It's clear enough that Call to Arms will be the focal point of Aggro Paladin lists going forward, and probably fair to assume that the deck will only get stronger as players discover the most powerful uses for it. Everybody expected Call to Arms to be a great card, but I don't think they expected it to be quite as omnipresent as it has been thus far.
#6 - Control Warlock
No deck picked up more cards from K&C cards than Control Warlock, a deck which deserves to be considered for early Tier 1 status. Voidlord gave the deck the trump card it needed to stall out the game against faster decks, while Rin, the First Disciple has provided it with the trump card it needed to beat other slow control decks. Both of these powerful late-game cards are held together by the massive bursts of lifegain the deck picked up from Dark Pact and Amethyst Spellstone, which simultaneously synergize with even more playable new cards from K&C: Kobold Librarian, Vulgar Homunculus, and Possessed Lackey. It seems as though Cataclysm is the only card from K&C which hasn't bolstered Control Warlock in some fashion, a fact which bodes well for the archetype's long-term viability.
#5 - Spiteful Summoner
Very few neutral cards from K&C are seeing more widespread play than Spiteful Summoner, a swingy new minion which is already responsible for birthing several new decks. Spiteful Summoner is the big payoff for Sattelite's Big Spells Dragon Priest, which has been my personal favorite deck from the first week of K&C. Many Pirate Warriors have shed their Upgrades! to play Spiteful Summoner as a devastating curve-topper with Lesser Mithril Spellstone, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few other aggressive decks attempt similar changes. I'm less confident in the staying power of Spiteful Summoner than I am with some of the other Epic minions we'll talk about shortly, but the card has already shown more promise in the first week of K&C than most players would have expected.
#4 - Carnivorous Cube
Dedicated Deathrattle decks across all nine classes have struggled to put up results in The Year Of The Mammoth, having lacked a powerful payoff card other than N'Zoth as a reward for building around Deathrattle synergy. Deathrattle Rangers, Warlocks, Druids, and Priests seem to have found that payoff card in Carnivorous Cube.
Carnivorous Cube generates decent value with minimal effort, netting two minions after it dies while providing a meaningful body when played on curve. It becomes devastating when combined with effects like Play Dead, Spiritsinger Umbra, and Faceless Manipulator, which break the symmetry of the card's Battlecry trigger. The best Cube list appears to be "Cubelock", which is capable of using Spiritsinger Umbra and Doomguard to one turn kill. Failing that, it can summon Voidlord a million times while making powerful tempo plays with Skull of the Man'ari and Possessed Lackey. I would very surprised if Carnivorous Cube wasn't featured in a few more viable decks that crop up in the coming weeks.
#3 - Leyline Manipulator
Leyline Manipulator was pegged by the Hearthstone community to be one of the top new cards from K&C, but after one week it's seeing virtually no play. Elemental Mage isn't close to being a competitively viable deck, and the Questless OTK Mage lists have failed to supplant the Quest-based versions. A major part of the reason that this card has underwhelmed is that it doesn't lower the mana cost of Shifting Scroll as players predicted it would. It seems unlikely that the Questless OTK Mage deck will suddenly discover a new piece of technology which will make the deck competitively viable, which rests the hope for Leyline Manipulator on the emergence of Lesser Ruby Spellstone and Elemental Mage. I wouldn't hold my breath.
#2 - Corridor Creeper
It's probably fair to say that no card was more poorly evaluated by the Hearthstone community than Corridor Creeper. Most players (including myself) pegged Arcane Tyrant to be the next big thing, yet Corridor Creeper is the card from K&C card which is currently seeing the most widespread play. It's way easier to reduce the cost of Corridor Creeper to two or less than players expected before getting their hands on the card, which has made it a two-of inclusion in virtually every aggro deck in the current metagame. It's even starting to replace Bonemare in certain lists, implying that it's a better card than Bonemare. It's safe to say that crafting a pair of Creepers is a wise investment of dust, as we're likely to be seeing two copies of this card in every Hunter deck from now until it K&C rotates from standard. Well, almost every Hunter deck.
#1 - No-Minions Hunter
Hi Reddit! Remember these cards?
To My Side! was the laughingstock of r/Hearthstone when it was first spoiled, yet the No-Minions Hunter deck is currently posting higher winrates than any other Hunter archetype. To be fair, the best card in the deck is Lesser Emerald Spellstone, but there's absolutely no denying that Rhok'delar and To My Side! are powerful payoffs for what has been a viable deck in the early meta.
No-Minions Hunter is very difficult to beat when it curves Greater Emerald Spellstone into To My Side!, but I have my doubts about the deck's staying power. It performs worse at higher ranks, suggesting that skilled players can find ways to beat it. If you can avoid getting blown out by Explosive Trap and Wandering Monster then you'll enter the midgame with a board advantage against No-Minions Hunter, which typically struggles to play to the board until turn five. Regardless, No-Minions Hunter is great against classes without 3 damage board wipes for Greater Emerald Spellstone, such as Rogue and Druid, and will likely remain a powerful yet meta-reliant deck for the remainder of The Year Of The Mammoth.
Winter Veil begins next week on Hearthstone and a special Tavern Brawl will award three Knights of the Frozen Throne card packs.
Next week's Tavern Brawl will be really similar to the Gift Exchange one back from 2015 and February 2017. There will be some differences though, as the Brawl will have a Kobold flavour and it will have a new name: Wacky Waxy Winter Veil's Brawl.
As Winter Veil is a frosty season, the reward will obviously be three packs from Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. It's not sure if the Winter Veil Wreath card back, which was associated with the Gift Exchange brawl during the previous years' Winter Veils, will be available this time to those who don't already have it.
‘Tis the season! In celebration of Winter’s Veil—and to give all you adventurers something to do that doesn’t involve taking candles—Greatfather Kobold has prepared a special distraction, er, Winter’s Veil tavern brawl packed with wacky, waxy gifts!
These treats aren’t just on the game board! The reward for winning your first game of this Tavern Brawl is THREE festively frosty Knights of the Frozen Throne card packs!
Greatfather Kobold’s helpers have been busy decorating the Orgrimmar game board for the tavern brawl, but you can also experience the holiday in Stormwind while enjoying other play modes. And no matter how you play, don’t forget to show your opponent some holiday spirit with the return of the Happy Winter’s Veil greeting emote!
Greatfather Kobold will drop off some tastefully wrapped, candle-bearing gifts on turn one—four on each side of the board, for a total of eight. If you unwrap a gift, you’ll receive a Legendary minion that costs three fewer mana to play! Greatfather Kobold will keep the celebration going by periodically parachuting in more presents. Don’t be greedy, though! You’ll only get a discounted Legendary minion from the gifts Greatfather Kobold left on your opponent’s side of the field.
How will you build your deck to make the most of these potent presents?
The Wacky Waxy Winter’s Veil brawl begins December 20 and lasts through December 24, so be sure to drop in and celebrate!
A very Happy Winter’s Veil to you and yours! (source)
For now, you can enjoy this week's Tavern Brawl, which is Valeera's Bag of Burgled Spells.