Hearthstone has been a hot topic of debate recently, due to the fact that about a month ago Blizzard announced it was going to nerf a card called Warsong Commander. The user-base responded with uproar.
The reason for this is because the change the developer made to the card effectively knee-capped a deck known as Grim Patron, a deck-build that had dominated the in-game player ladders for the better part of six months. The fact that Blizzard decided to do this a month before the Hearthstone global finals took place at BlizzCon 2015 only added to the fanbase’s ire.
Warsong Commander in isolation, wasn’t a particularly powerful minion, but used in tandem with several other cards – the Grim Patron, for instance, which is a 3/3 card that replicates itself whenever it takes damage and doesn’t die – its passive ability to give any minion with 3-attack or below an instant charge had the potential to wreak havoc. (For a full explanation, check out the video below:)
The reason for all of this preamble is that Blizzard’s new expansion, announced at BlizzCon, contains quite a few cards that make the Warsong Commander look positively vanilla. In fact, some of the cards in the League Of Explorers expansion look ridiculously overpowered to the point where one has to wonder how long it’ll be before one of them – or several of them – are nerfed.
Take the new Hunter Card, Adventurer’s Hat, for example. This is a card that bestows a +1/+1 and a random Deathrattle on any minion it’s played on. It then goes straight back into the players hand. If that doesn’t sound like too much of a nuisance, bear in mind that Adventurer’s Hat is a 2-cost card so it can be played on up to five minions in one turn. That’s five extra points of damage if the minions are ready to attack.
Then there’s the Summoning Stone. When players cast a spell once this card is in play, it will automatically summon a minion of the same mana cost as the spell. Sounds cute, right? Well imagine the damage a Priest could do with this if they cast Mind Control, or a Warlock who just tossed Twisting Nether onto the board.
By far the barmiest card in the new expansion is The Golden Monkey. Players have a to jump through a couple of hoops to bring this card into their deck and once it’s there, luck certainly plays a factor. However, once it’s in their hand, their opponent is in for a world of hurt because The Golden Monkey’s Battlecry turns every single card in the player’s deck and hand into Legendary Minions.
Oh, and The Golden Monkey is a 6/6 minion with a Taunt that costs just 4-mana to bring out. That’s only 1-mana more than the now useless 2/3 Warsong Commander. Grim Patron deck fans must be shaking their heads in bafflement.
As you may have gathered, The League Of Explorers expansion is rather bonkers, even when compared to The Grand Tournament expansion, and that takes some doing. It’s also shot through with a silly sense of humour and many of the cards it contains are resolutely off-the-wall.
There’s also a brand new mechanic called ‘Discover’. Cards that carry this ability essentially throw up a series of options or a new card for players to select.
Alongside the new cards, The League Of Explorers has a new adventure for players to get stuck into, and if the BlizzCon build of the expansion was anything to go by, the new levels will be as barmy as the cards. The level on offer had no opponent in it. Instead, players were ranged against a collapsing corridor.
The player has ten turns to get out of the corridor – and this essentially translates into having to survive for ten rounds. Every turn the corridor would tap to its ability to throw obstacles into the payer’s path and if a turn ends without the player removing the obstacle (or monster) in their way, they take damage. If their life runs out before the ten rounds are up, they’re dead.
The level is boisterous fun and a testament to the imagination of the Hearthstone team who show they’re not only capable of throwing new content into the game at a clip, but that new content doesn’t have to stick to a tried-and-tested formula.
As far as the esports pros are concerned, The League Of Explorers throws a massive monkey-wrench into a system that’s already seen one very weird expansion less than three months ago, and had one of its most powerful decks crippled completely. It’s likely Blizzard may make some changes once the new cards come int0 play and players start using them to craft new decks, but in the meantime, players may be advised to prepare for a period of upheaval and to see chaos as an opportunity rather than a hinderance.