A post-mortem of Hearthstone’s Blackrock Mountain adventure
With Blackrock Mountain adventure released, we can now do a full class by class review of the expansion. Which classes gained the most? Which classes lost the most? We didn’t see any major features released with Blackrock Mountain, but with the phone release of Hearthstone, developers have succeeded in bringing the game to two new platforms. Accessibility to the game is at an all time high and no doubt contributed to the recent 30 million player milestone.
Most valuable card
A Blizzard Watch council that consisted entirely of myself, Liz’s Kermit the Frog, and Anne’s coffee mug decided unanimously that Emperor Thaurissan is the real MVP of the set. 6 mana for a 5/5 body that continuously reduces the mana cost of cards in your hand is simply amazing. The Emperor is the new kill-me-now card during the midgame. If left unchecked, card combinations that weren’t possible before become possible now. He converts a druid’s turn 9 Savage Roar (3) and Force of Nature (6) combo into a turn 7 combo instead. You can use Emperor Thaurissan with almost any class and watch him go to work. The problem is that anyone else can do it. The more cards you have in your hand when Emperor Thaurissan hits the board, the greater the value.
Face Hunter and Midrange Hunter decks benefitted immensely from Quick Shot. That card functions as a Frostbolt with a draw mechanic attached to it if your hand is empty and provides a method for hunters to reload their hand. Core Ragers have not had any kind of impact in constructed play as they’re seen as both too vulnerable and too conditional.
Alas, Volcanic Lumberer won’t be lumbering into any major druid lists anytime soon. He’s billed as both too clunky and too expensive. There are much better cards at similar costs. Wouldn’t you rather have a nice, shiny dragon instead? Druid of the Flame actually saw potential in the 3 mana slot for combo druids, but players swiftly reverted back to Shade of Naxxramas due to the evasive properties inherent to the card. An early game Shade turns into a powerhouse late game that can clear the way for your combo or be the finishing blow. I’d actually posit that Emperor Thaurissan benefited druids the most.
With Resurrect added into the game, priest players have a new way of recycling their dead minions. The skill cap required for priest continues to be high. Priest games just seem to lack any sort of consistency to their game plan. While priest decks have the potential to be strong, what seems to hurt them is the inability to put their plans in motion and playing a largely reactionary game. Twilight Whelp did absolutely nothing either.
Warlock players must’ve jumped out of their chairs because they didn’t just get one awesome card: they received two class cards that were both beneficial. In fact, if Hearthstone is anything like World of Warcraft, I firmly expect there to be warlock nerfs in the next patch. Imp Gang Boss has single-handedly revived Zoo because it provides a method to increase board presence with all those extra potential imps it can generate. Demonwrath provides a nice way to soften or clear the board without hurting your demons in the process.
The addition of Flamewaker offered new mage strategies and deck tinkerers are busy finding ways to break open the card. Freeze Mage has skyrocketed back into the spotlight with the availability of Emperor Thaurissan as well. The jury appears to be out while the world waits with bated breath on what mages will concoct next. Dragon’s Breath does add another arsenal into the mage toolbox, but it is getting more crowded. A Frostbolt with a mage hero power can do the same amount of damage with less mana used (without the need to fry other minions on the board).
Even though it wasn’t strictly a class card, Grim Patron opened up a new deck style for warrior players. Grim Patron added not only a competitive deck style, but a fun one to boot! Who doesn’t get tired of the ol “EVERYONE! GET IN HERE!” sound after a satisfying Whirlwind? The addition of Grim Patron successfully negates the blandness of Revenge and Axe Flinger. The staple control warrior decks did not see any exclusive major improvements.
Unfortunately, shaman players did not see a ton of love in their cards from the set. Fireguard Destroyer added a rather attractive looking (yet inconsistent body) with a minor drawback. The fact that it can slot into the 4 mana range for shamans is still a much needed boost to the arsenal. In terms of spells, Lava Shock came with a neat mechanic of completely freeing up any overloaded mana crystals. If we were to summarize future shaman decks in one word, it would be “potential.” One of my plans is to continue to tinker with a shaman list and find a way to make it competitive, fun, and playable. Of course, it might not actually happen.
Poor rogues. Mill rogue is apparently a thing now with Gang Up and Coldlight Oracle but it can be a touch unreliable. I would not recommend it if you’re serious about climbing the ladder. Dark Iron Skulkers are an excellent utility card for softening the board but it isn’t able to wipe the board if the opponent already has wounded minions. Rogues just didn’t get much love in this set, it seems.
Dragon Consort is a card that seems to have been included purely to give paladin players another deck archetype. You’re not going to see this type of obvious deck steering in other classes. Players are still trying to find ways to break dragon paladin lists and there’s been some potential so far. There are limited cards that offer synergy with dragon card types. Of those, some of them just plain suck (or aren’t accessible). Blackwing Corruptor is a great way to swing board momentum in your direction and even without a dragon in hand is still a fairly efficient body on his own. In a future deck spotlight, we’ll take a look at some of the dragon decks out there and dive into detail. Obviously, we can’t forget Solemn Vigil either. This card is one of the few ways a paladin can refresh their hand early on in the game without having to wait until a turn 8 Lay on Hands.
The adventure mode components of Blackrock Mountain appeared to have been well received. A few of the encounters could be gamed with the bugged Kel’Thuzad and taunt minion issue where some bosses would not attack at all. From my experiences, priest decks were the surprising class that offered the most solutions to the boss challenges. The healing spells and hero power bought sufficient time for players to execute their game plan (which often consisted of a cheesy Inner Fire and Divine Spirit combo on some minion). My personal favorites were the Dark Iron Arena, Vaelastrasz, and Majordomo Executus.
A tournament mode of sorts would be great. How many of you readers have played poker online at some point? I used to play a fair bit when I was much younger. While I had a hard time stomaching the 8 hour+ events, I didn’t mind joining smaller events commonly called Sit and Go. These ranged from 9 to 45 players and went by fairly quick. The ladder is great, don’t get me wrong. However, it mainly appeals to players who already are legendary or players trying to be legendary. There are players who want to compete, and another competitive mode would be healthy for the game. I envision a mode where something like 8 players can signup for a modest gold fee of 100 gold (or something comparable to the arena). Players battle it out in the official Conquest format with the top placers receiving a percentage of the gold back in return. They can always scale it up from there if interest is strong.
Achievements still need to be a thing! There’s been daily quests which are a neat way of encouraging players to utilize different classes or game conditions. But achievements are where you get to showcase your talents and abilities. Can you deal 25+ damage in one turn? Have you defeated your opponent while you’re at 1 life? Can you unload 8 cards out of your hand in one shot? Can one of your minions get the killing blow on 6 or more of you opponent’s minions? What about defeating your opponent after you’ve run out of cards in your library?
What were your favorite cards from Blackrock Mountain? Are there any new features of your own that you’d like to see come from the next adventure?
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