Quoth the Raven


A few days ago, I noticed a post on Instagram about the new Hearthstone “year” and was surprised.  I don’t know why I was surprised.  I knew that it was about this time that they started their version of Standard and then it would have been around this time that they had their first rotations.  However, unlike Magic, a game that I am almost always aware of new sets and rotations, Hearthstone is more of a hobby.

Bear in mind that Magic itself is only a hobby and you will then understand the priority that Hearthstone is not for me.  I am back to playing a bit each day to complete a daily quest or two.  I watch the game on stream because it is an easy game to just veg out to while I’m writing or doing school work.  Every once in a while I get delusions of grandeur and think that I’m going to grind to legend one month.  So far, I haven’t pursued that particular goal.  With my current schedule, I don’t think that I will anytime soon, either.

So, to make a long story short (I know, too late!) I had no idea that the rotation was imminent.  Once I saw the Instagram post, I decided to do a little bit of research on what was imminent for the “Year of the Raven.”  Needless to say, true to form, Blizzard did not give much information other than the name and the cards that were rotating into the Hall of Fame.  Sure, I could speculate.  Since I’m not a Hearthstone acolyte and I haven’t played WoW consistently for about 5 years now, any speculation on my part would most likely be wildly inaccurate.

When has that ever stopped us before?

The Good

Once upon a time, Molten Giant was part of an OTK warrior combo that quickly got nerfed via the Warsong Commander nerf.  They had to further nerf Warsong Commander when OTK Patron Warrior became a thing.  The final nail in the coffin of this card came because of the stifling nature of handlock and the fact that they often could cast all giants for very cheap or even free, as was the case for this card.

I was a huge fan of the old Handlock decks because they fit right into my playstyle.  It was a control deck that required several different decisions to be made on every turn.  I wasn’t the best Handlock player, though, and I understand why the deck became so dominant when played by players who are much better than I am.  This card needed to be nerfed if it was to continue into the future and shake up the standard meta.

I mentioned in my discussion of the latest round of nerfs that I liked that Blizzard wasn’t ignoring their eternal format as I was afraid they might.  Some of those decisions were directly related to the Wild format.  This decision is the same.  Because there are more tools to deal with a pre-nerf Molten Giant, they’re giving it a chance to see if it can find a place in the meta.  I don’t know if this will allow old Handlock to shine again, but I’m holding out hope.

The Bad

Out of the three cards that are being put into the Hall of Fame, this is the decision that I understand the least.  While this is a frustrating card to play against, I don’t often see it in Standard decks at all.  I play against it all the time in Wild already because I play against a bunch of Mill rogue and occasionally see them in a Freeze or Quest Mage deck.

I’d have rather seen Doomguard in this slot and I’m not the only one.  I’ve seen more than one discussion in Twitch chat (yes, they do happen sometimes) and on message boards about how annoying it is to play against Warlock with Doomguards, cubes, and Skull of the Man’ari.  Warlock may or may not have been as oppressive as everyone thought when they nerfed priest (mostly) with the last patch, but I do know that I have seen a lot of Warlock being played on stream.  I’m astounded that Doomguard is not in this spot.

This leads me to believe that maybe they are releasing a standard card that does a similar thing or would cause this card to be busted wide open.  I know that Blizzard seems to shy away from pushing a mill strategy, even though some players want to see that in Hearthstone.  I understand why Blizzard would not want it.  Without a graveyard and the possibility of interaction, cards that are burned are gone.  It’s just not a fun strategy for the kind of game that Hearthstone is designed to be.  Hopefully, Blizzard hasn’t decided to make mill viable in Standard.  The fact that this card is moving to Wild only makes me think that they have.

The Ugly

This is perhaps the single most frustrating card to play against in the game.  Since the only win condition is to reduce your opponent’s health to zero, adding immunity to the game messes up all calculations and delays that victory by at least one turn.  Since mage also has very powerful minion removal, the ability to gain life through Artificer now, and the ability to have more than two Ice Block in their decks, a sure victory often becomes a defeat that nothing could have been done to prevent.

So, I understand that reason for moving this card to Wild.  However, they just gave a few new cards to Rogue that give them immunity for a turn similar to this card.  So, I don’t completely understand the decision.  Granted those cards work slightly different from this one and they can be played around (especially the secret that only grants immunity after damage is dealt and it doesn’t prevent the damage) easier than this one.

As a result, in addition to moving this card to Wild, perhaps they should have also adjusted this card so that it works more like that card or something.  I honestly don’t know how they would change the card other than to make it like the rogue card, but that seems like a lazy way of doing things.  A quick look at the most recent Wild snapshot shows that Mage decks that use Ice Block are only considered Tier 2, so perhaps Blizzard knows what they’re doing.  So, I’m skeptical, but I guess that’s why I don’t design card games.

The Verdict

There are other things that they have announced.  First, that we here at 2 Generations Gaming are most excited about is the announcement of a tournament mode.  Yes, we can start to network and advertise the web page with our own tournaments in Hearthstone!  When Chris told me about it, I was beyond excited.  When we first started having the idea for the web page, I always wanted to do a tournament for Magic and we’ve even had discussions about that, too.  Things are really starting to come together.

Two other cool things for filthy casuals like us is that they are altering some of the more difficult quests to finish and making them easier.  This will mean less time invested in getting my gold to buy my packs that I will never open.  Finally, the new Druid hero is finally here and she is easy to get.  Win 10 Standard games over the season and you will have Lunara instead of Malfurion.  All great stuff.

As far as the new set, I don’t have much to say right now.  I refuse to speculate because I’m mostly ignorant to both Hearthstone and World of Warcraft at this point.  Anything that I might say or think will be simply guessing and even though I made the joke earlier, I’m not usually one to engage in wild speculation on what Blizzard might do.  As we saw with my analysis of Ice Block, it is sure to be incorrect.

However, I have seen some speculation from others who know better than I do.  First, someone said that the year of the Kraken seemed to deal with mystical and god like powers.  Then, the year of the Mammoth dealt with large creatures and effects.  Therefore, the year of the Raven will deal with dark and dreary themes.  This made them conclude that the next expansion might have something to do with Duskwood.  There was another image out there that made theory seem plausible, but I don’t exactly see Duskwood in that icon at the middle of the teaser.  I suppose that we will see.  Continue to visit for more of my analysis as we get closer to the release.

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