Yesterday was the release of the second full Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft expansion, The Grand Tournament. The online card game made by Blizzard — creators of Diablo, Starcraft and World of Warcraft — officially released its 132 card add-on to the game yesterday. The release sent fans scrambling to crack open new packs, piece together new decks, watch Twitch video streams, and maybe even play the game if the servers were working.
I got a set of 50 packs and have a few initial impressions about the new set from reading message boards and watching streamers grapple with these new cards. The only two Legendary cards I got were The Mistcaller and Skycap’n Kragg — not exactly the legends I wanted when two of the best ones are in classes I enjoy playing the most (Priest and Warrior), perhaps I didn’t believe enough in the heart of the cards. Either way, 50 packs was more than enough to mess around with my current decks and observe the impact of these new cards.
In a match against a Shaman who was two damage away from defeat, I quickly came back by playing Healing Wave, which normally heals by 7, but with the joust mechanic allowed it to heal by 14, essentially taking my victory right from under me. The same giant swing occurred in a Priest match that played Confessor Palestress. I overlooked her ability to summon any legendary when a hero power is used, so of course Deathwing, one of the game’s strongest cards, is summoned and all the momentum I previously had was lost. But to my end I did find that using the Rogue card Cutpurse, whose ability provides a coin whenever it attacks the opposing hero, very useful. My current Rogue deck is reliant on Troggs and the stealth mechanic cards, which is strange and certainly not competitive, but the extra coin triggers combos and allows for board control in a way I underrated.
One of the unsurprising, but still enjoyable, aspects of the new expansion is professional streamers coming to terms with the new cards at the same time as the general public. New deck types are being invented (Dragon Priest, Joust Hunter, etc.) and with all of the new cards in play a bit of the roboticism that exists with streamers playing decks they’ve been playing for months is nicely broken up. On Twitch, misplays were more likely, not being sure of what card to mulligan for and even streamers set in their ways tried out newer cards because flood gates were open to so many possibilities.
The initial post-release confusion will eventually settle down. The “correct” competitive decks will be chosen. Certain new cards will never see play again. Other older cards will be given new life. Streamers will go back to their ever jaded, but never-ending task of entertaining their donors. Message boards will temper back down from stressing about overloaded servers. But before normalcy returns, enjoy the game for the brief time when no one knows the correct play.