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 the game. Questlines, for instance, are three-part quests with small rewards at each step, topped off by a legendary one once complete (see the example below). Profession Tools are also a little like mini-quests – they’re equipped like weapons, but give players a bonus when a specific condition is met.
No visit to Stormwind, meanwhile, would be complete without getting a mount, and these will be represented in-game by spells that buff a minion, then leave the mount behind when that minion dies. And finally, there’s the Tradeable keyword, which I think is likely to be the best new keyword since Discover. Tradeable cards can swapped for a random card in your deck for one mana, allowing players to include highly situational cards in their decklists without being overly punished.
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It’s all looking very promising, and for fans of certain classes, the new set of 135 cards can’t come soon enough. If you’re a Warlock player, for instance, well, the class doesn’t really have many powerful options right now. That’s likely to change, however, and our card reveal today shows one of the directions Warlock may go – not forward, but back… returning to one of the ever-present staples of the last seven plus years of Hearthstone – Zoo. Introducing, Shady Bartender:
For those unfamiliar with Zoo Warlock, the archetype is minion-driven and looks to try and overwhelm the opponent by building boards they have to clear turn after turn. The curve of the deck is low – generally topping out at 5 or so to ensure whatever they draw can usually be played, and as the game progresses Zoo players take advantage of the Warlock’s hero power (take two damage and draw a card) to ensure they can play at least two cards a turn. Historically, buffs have been a huge part of the deck too, as they allow cheap minions to trade up (i.e. to kill a bigger, more expensive one), or to pile on additional damage to finish the game.
Shady Bartender fits neatly into the part of Zoo that’s all about buffing minions, and could perhaps be compared to a card like Fungalmancer, which became a really powerful option in proactive swarm or Zoo-style decks when it was in the format. Shady Bartender is obviously a little different, as it has one +2/+2 buff essentially baked into its higher base stats. (Those higher base stats, incidentally, aren’t actually as important as you might think – the key thing to understand about why cards like this can be good is the fact that you’re hoping to land them on minions that survived from the previous turn and thus have initiative. The buffs translate to instant damage/extra survivability.) It also has both a higher potential upside – as it’s able to hit a full board of minions, as well as a considerable caveat – the only minions that will get the buff are demons.
Now, that’s pretty restrictive, but there are plenty of demons kicking around in the game these days. If you look at the Zoo Warlock lists that were being played a couple of months ago (such as this list from Orange and this one from Rusinho), a high percentage of the minions included are demons, so if we’re in a world where Zoo can get on the board and stay on the board, Shady Bartender could be quite good. That said, there’s a critical mass of demons you’d need to have in your decklist in order to consistently land it on at least two minions – as that’s really when the card becomes good, so how feasible that is remains to be seen. Later in the game you could pair it with another Warlock card we’ve seen from the upcoming set – Demonic Assault – to help you clear something and develop a more threatening board in one.
The icing on the cake for Shady Bartender, however, is the fact that the card is Tradeable. So in those instances where you draw it but are not on the board, or you have it in hand but the opponent clears your minions, you can spend a mana to send it back to your deck and get a different card that hopefully helps more in the given game state.
Will Zoo Warlock be good enough in United in Stormwind? It will definitely need more support in the cards that are yet to be revealed, but if it is, chances are Shady Bartender will be in the – *ahem* – mix.
To see more new cards, check out the official United in Stormwind site.
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Cam Shea is currently in lockdown in Sydney, but is looking forward to his trip to Stormwind at the start of August. He never tweets.