Boys, look who it is! Last week we discussed some fun old Mage friends and a few of the neutral variety. If you haven't had a chance, make sure you head over to this link to check it out and see just how annoying a 4/12 Taunt that can't be removed by Spells or Black Knight can be!
This week we're going to pull another double header and look at the forces of Light and Darkness: Priest and Warlock. The development process for both of these classes was a somewhat difficult task but I'm quite pleased with the result.
Also, a friendly reminder for those of you who might not have been following along. There will be a Warcraft III: Battle Chest giveaway at the conclusion of the series! If you weren't aware, or need to be reminded of the rules then head back to Legendary Hopefuls: Part 3 for a quick refresher!
At first glance you might think I’m off my rocker – but bare with me here. Yes, I’m aware that Aelthalyste is a Banshee. I’m also aware that she is a high ranking Priest in the Forsaken’s Undercity and is the unofficial leader of the Cult of the Forgotten Shadow. In case you’re unaware, the Cult is an organization comprised of Shadow Priests. Suffice it to say, this makes her a great candidate for an interesting experiment: a card that gets value out of Shadowform. In most cases, Aelthalyste will play exactly like a Chillwind Yeti (and that’s not bad!) but if the Priest is also running Shadowform she gains crazy value and becomes a great punisher of greed. Her ability can potentially cause your opponent to change their plans and play cards for the sake of mitigating damage. Those running “giants” decks will likely frown at a turn 3 Shadowform followed by a turn 4 Aelthalyste (unless they’ve got a Soulfire and Mortal Coil in hand). Her value decreases somewhat as the game progresses since hand sizes typically decrease at later stages; however, the chip damage can still accumulate and stack well with the damage from Shadowform. All in all, she makes a great addition to almost any Priest deck as a replacement, or additional, Yeti – and if you want to build around Shadowform, then she’s basically mandatory.
The great Archbishop Benedictus is the leader of the Church of Holy Light in Stormwind comes from very modest beginnings. He was the son of a merchant and was expected to follow in the family business until he found the calling of the light after a near death experience. After that, he trained under the tutelage of Archbishop Faol and quickly rose through the ranks. After Faol passed away, Benedictus took over and continued his good work. Well, he continued his good work until it was revealed that he’s the Twilight Father, leader of the Twilight's Hammer Clan. Which is, to say the least, not exactly a quality you want in your religious figurehead. As the Twilight Father, he works directly with Deathwing. So you can see how that might be a conflict of interests. Despite all that, Benedictus is still a soft spoken man and as with most Pontiffs commands silence from his flock when he speaks. As a result, we have this very interesting card text. Benedictus acts as a Silence effect for Battlecries -- something that doesn't currently exist. This powerful effect can really throw a wrench in someone’s plans and in some cases, that someone could be you. While at first it might seem pretty awesome that you can keep your opponent’s Black Knight, Tinkmaster, Jaraxxus, Defender of Argus, Big Game Hunter, Aldor Peacekeeper, Faceless Manipulator…etc. from triggering…well, it is pretty awesome. However, you’re also potentially letting your opponent use cards like King Mukla, Leeroy Jenkins, Every Warlock Demon Ever, Deathwing, Injured Blademaster, and Arcane Golem with no drawback. Needless to say, this Archbishop expects a quiet battlefield. Unless of course, you somehow manage to Silence him instead.
Another day, another new mechanic to discuss. Before we get into the specifics of what Sleep does in this context, let's talk about our friend the Dreadlord Mephistroth. He was originally the 3rd ranked Nathrezim behind Tichondrias the Darkener and Anetheron the Envoy of Archimonde. They would've made for great candidates for this article if not for one problem -- they're both quite dead. And not undead, but dead-dead. Mephistroth has excelled at surviving while his brethren have fallen and has resided within the Twisting Nether, presumably growing his power and influence. As a Dreadlord he has access to a number of abilities (although lacks the Vampiric Aura of his generic counterparts) and generally prefers to act through subtle manipulation rather than overt action. One of the aforementioned abilities that dates back to the Third War is the power to put any creature to sleep. This ability was used to great effect within WC3 to briefly incapacitate a foe; however, skilled opponents could quickly attack their own unit to wake them. Within Hearthstone Sleep works a lot like Freeze...except with a varying duration. A sleeping unit will remain asleep until the effect is removed or the unit takes damage...it's that simple. The ability loses a lot of value against Mages but against the other 8 classes it can still be quite potent. In addition to not being able to attack (like Freeze) a unit with Sleep will not have it's card text triggered while sleeping. This means that a sleeping Knife Juggler wouldn't throw daggers and a sleeping Ysera wouldn't generate Dream Cards...which is pretty funny really (too bad Ysera Awakens wouldn't work as advertised!). The ability is essentially a means of Soft Removal that can be potentially undone by your opponent and doesn't really work well on Taunts. Chances are you will get the same value as Freeze out of it, but additional rounds of Sleep can give you more time to prepare...and a Sleeping Venture Co. Mercenary in Arena would be quite possibly the worst thing ever. Even if your opponent manages to immediately remove the Sleep effect, you still get a 6/6 for 6 which is essentially a Dread Infernal. As a side note, the 6/6, 6 stat line on Mephistroth was not an accident.
Speaking of Ysera, allow me to introduce you to Kil'jaeden the Deceiver. Kil'jaeden is an extremely powerful eredar demon lord and is the leader of the Burning Legion. Yes, that Burning Legion. He has been around for over 25,000 years and is the creator of the Lich King. Suffice it to say, this guy's got so much power it's practically flowing out of his ears. He wasn't always such a bad guy though. Before he willingly aligned himself to the Dark Titan, Sargeras, he was one of the three leaders of the eredar along with Archimonde and this guy you might know named Velen. Unfortunately, for their friendship, Kil'jaeden sided with Sargeras and Velen sided with...not being a power hungry maniac. Their relationship is now tumultuous to say the least. Kil'jaeden has basically been the reason all the bad stuff keeps happening on Azeroth. Long ago he manipulated a series of events to initiate the creation and opening of the Dark Portal which And if he has it his way in Hearthstone, his Dark Portal will continue to bring stuff through from the Twisting Nether to make more bad stuff happen. Much like Ysera, Kil'jaeden plays for 9 mana and generates "special" cards every turn he sticks around. Unlike Ysera, however, he can be taken out by Big Game Hunter and Shadow Word: Death. In addition, the 8 Health means that he may not stick around as long as our friendly neighborhood Emerald Dream Dragon Aspect. The five cards Kil'jaeden can conjure up are also markedly different than those from Ysera. The most similar card is the Felhunter. This little guy is a specially trained Fel Stalker (who looks remarkably similar to a Zergling) with the purpose to hunt down and kill spellcasters. He is basically a Laughing Sister with inverted stats. This allows him to do more damage late game but also get taken out remarkably easier. The next possible Dark Portal Card is Ritual Sacrifice which allows for late game Warlocks to draw even further into their deck at the cost of board presence. Next up is the Wrathguard who is an elite form of Felguard. He plays for the same cost as an Emerald Drake and has slightly improved stats and Taunt. Typical of Warlock cards, this comes at a somewhat detrimental cost to the caster; however, 2 mana crystals in the late game isn't necessarily crippling. Speaking of crippling, Cripple is next and was one of the Necromancer spells dating back to WC3 that was used to shut down big threats. And here it serves as a form of Soft Removal for large late game threats -- it's basically Kil'jaeden's answer to Dream except that it can't really be used defensively. Finally, we come to Obliterate which turns every card in a Warlock's hand into a half-Soulfire. Coupled with Ritual Sacrifice and Life Tap, this could be used for a very potent game ending burst that pulls you back from the brink of defeat. I initially wanted each card discarded to do 3 damage but decided that the ability to do 30 damage for 0 mana on turn 10 was a bit much to say the very least.
Tune in for the next column where we'll look at 4 more Legendary Hopefuls. + Show Spoiler +
Poll: Favorite Hopeful From This Edition?
Shadow Priestess Aelthalyste (123)
Archbishop Benedictus (121)
Mephistroth the Coercer (82)
Kil'jaeden the Deceiver (236)
562 total votes
Archbishop Benedictus (121)
Mephistroth the Coercer (82)
Kil'jaeden the Deceiver (236)
562 total votes
Your vote: Favorite Hopeful From This Edition?
Legendary Hopefuls Series
Hopefuls Part 1: Alleria Windrunner, Maiev Shadowsong, Neptulon the Tidehunter, Muradin Bronzebeard
Hopefuls Part 2: Farseer Nobundo, Muln Earthfury, Lady Vashj, Kurdran and Sky'ree
Hopefuls Part 3: Warchief Vol'jin, Kilrogg Deadeye, General Turalyon, Danath Trollbane
Hopefuls Part 4: Loque'nahak the Spirit Beast, Beastmaster Leoroxx, Cho'gall, Lady Sinestra
Hopefuls Part 5: Khadgar, Kael'thas Sunstrider, Bovan Windtotem, Therazane the Stonemother
Hopefuls Part 6: Shadow Priestess Aelthalyste, Archbishop Benedictus, Mephistroth the Coercer, Kil'jaeden the Deceiver
Hopefuls Part 7: Tyrande Whisperwind, Nordrassil the World Tree, Jastor Gallywix, Zul'jin the Amani Chieftain
Hopefuls Part 8: ???