Zechs Files: A First Look at The Witchwood, Hearthstone's Latest Expansion

Hearthstone Michael “Zechs_” Radford

Blizzard officially announced the launch of their next expansion for Hearthstone. It's time to venture into the forest.

It’s that time again.

Time for new life to be breathed into Hearthstone with its latest expansion.

The Witchwood was officially announced yesterday and with it came a whole bunch of new cards and features. What perfect timing for my column. Thanks Blizz.

Lets get through the boring stuff first. Witchwood has 135 new cards, a new spin on the Dungeon Crawl mode that was so popular in Kobolds and Catacombs and the set will be released mid April. Shaman gets a new hero card, Hagatha, and we will all get a few free packs for logging in. Finally, the bundle package is getting a nice update, with preorders netting 70 cards for the price of 40. Blizzard has clearly been listening to complaints about the increasing cost of the game.

Alright, that’s all cool and everything, but what about new cards? I’m sure you have seen them by now, but how good are they? It can be difficult to evaluate cards in a vacuum, especially when said vacuum only contains six cards.

It is made all the more difficult when two of the cards are Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater. The cycle of Princes from Knights of the Frozen Throne originally flew pretty far under the radar, only for Keleseth to become one of the strongest legendary minions in standard for a while. These cards are similar, but the effects are a) more difficult to build around and b) probably not as good.

Genn, in particular, is a pretty mediocre effect unless we get some silly cards to combo with it. Maiden of the Lake never saw any serious standard play and that card was much easier to fit into one’s deck. Baku’s ability is much stronger in the right deck (ie Control Warrior) but is equally awkward to build around. This one might be worth the payoff, however. Justicar Truehart was an integral part of Control Warrior decks back in the day, and with Dead Man’s Hand already pushing the class towards unbeatable late-game status, Baku is at least worth testing. It helps that many of warrior’s best spells are odd-costed: Shield Slam, Brawl, Shield Block. Execute will be a big, big miss, but will it be back-breaking? Time will tell.

The other legendary card spoiled, Azalina Soulthief, looks like a pure meme card to me. I can see it being a fun Divine Favour against Control Warlock or something, but a seven-mana 3/3 is just awful. I expect to see more of this card in Trolden videos than in my ladder games.

The remaining cards are unexciting, but are really only there to show off the new (sort of) mechanics. A 2/4 taunt for three isn’t spectacular, but Echo itself looks like a great mechanic that has the potential to be pretty busted. Repeatable effects that don’t cost extra cards can be very dangerous, even if the first example, in the shape of Phantom Militia, is pretty tame.

Rush is particularly boring, but somewhat necessary. Charge has been a problematic mechanic for Hearthstone and this version of it is pretty underwhelming. It basically plays like Charged Devilsaur 99% of the time, except that if you summon a Rush minion some other way (Freed From Amber, for example) it still can’t attack face. Rush is not a battlecry ability so there is no way to negate the downside. Weirdly, then, Rush is probably best in defensive decks that are looking to clear the board. That’s exactly what Militia Commander looks like, as a 5/5 on turn four can get a lot of work done, even if it reverts to a 2/5 after that. It’s not likely to make a splash in constructed, but looks like a decent arena card to my inexpert eyes.


Excited for the new set

I need to see more
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Michael “Zechs_” Radford
<p>Michael &quot;Zechs&quot; Radford is an esports veteran and has been writing about professional gaming for longer than he cares to remember. He currently lives in Leeds and is hoping his upcoming offspring will be talented enough to play esports professionally rather than just write about other people doing it.</p>


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