Reevaluation of Old Gods: Shame! Shame!

It has been about three months since Whispers of the Old Gods came out and (obviously) even longer since the first cards were spoiled. Now people are itching for the next expansion, and it is expected to be officially announced in just a few days (link). I thought, before that hype train leaves the station, now would be a good chance to take a look back at my pre-release predictions about Old Gods. I wrote up my predictions, including a comprehensive list of my ratings for all the cards of the set, here.

For those who are too lazy to click a link, my top 10 most impactful cards prediction was as follows:
1. C’Thun
2. Thing from Below
3. Eternal Sentinel
4. Call of the Wild
5. Master of Evolution
6. Disciple of C’Thun
7. Steward of Darkshire
8. Ravaging Ghoul
9. Ragnaros, Lightlord
10. Undercity Huckster

My good calls (4/10):
As predicted, C’Thun was huge for the first month or so, but has now tapered off to just a couple competitive builds. Thing from Below is used in almost every shaman deck, but that was a really easy call, so I’m not too proud of myself. Call of the Wild is, predictably, super OP, and the new card Hunters are built around. Finally, Ravaging Ghoul is a solid card that is now in almost all Warrior decks and was a good part of what helped make Tempo Warrior a top deck.

My “meh” calls (4/10):
These cards are all good, and see some play, but probably shouldn’t have made the top 10 cut.

IMG_1178
Yeah, I misspelled “high.” I’ll blame that on the early morning. #GreatMinds #SeemsGood

Master of Evolution is powerful and sees some play in a moderate amount of shaman builds, but just can’t compete with all the other shaman OP-ness and frequently does not make the cut. Disciple of C’Thun was, for some time, played as I anticipated it would be (good enough even for non-C’Thun decks), but that passed fairly quickly, as most decks prefer Argent Horserider. Overall, Disciple is one of the best C’Thun cards, but not good enough to play outside of those decks and, therefore, probably not a top-10 card. Ragnaros, Lightlord saw a lot of play early in the format, back when everyone thought Control (mostly N’Zoth) Paladin was the top deck in the format. However, that deck has fallen by the wayside and “Happy Rag” doesn’t really fit in the meta any more. Finally, Undercity Huckester has seen a lot of quiet appreciation is non-miracle rogue decks, but those, too, quickly fell by the wayside as the meta defined itself. A few people (including Sjow and myself) used Huckster in miracle variants, but that never really took, either.

 

My “wut?” calls (2/10):
Steward of Darkshire never really broke through at any point in the meta. It sees some play, and does did create a new archetype as I expected, but it turns out that new archetype wasn’t very good. Steward sees more play in Wild, wherein a lot of the good token generating cards are available to it, but even there it does not always make the cut.

Eternal Sentinel is still a good card, but when the meta slowed down, people cared less about being overloaded for a turn and cared more about the overall power level of the cards being played. The only time that you really want to un-overload is after elemental destruction, which is mostly used with Hallazeal, which is the one time you might prefer to have lava shock as an additional little heal.

My most underrated cards:
My entire set re-ranking is here (link). There are a decent number of mistakes documented in it, so please witness my shame fully, but if you want just the highlights, these are my votes for cards I most undervalued before release.

1. Darkshire Councilman
35224I was all like, “If you play just one or two guys after you play him, you get value. Too bad all the good token generators left the format!” Well, I was half right. Turns out that Forbidden Ritual (below) is pretty good, the other new token generators aren’t bad, and, even if all that were not the case, it’s not that hard to play 1 or 2 guys IN A DECK FULL OF 1-DROPS! Darkshire Councilman is Zoo’s single biggest threat as left alone for even just one or two turns it can quickly close out the game. It’s even nuttier in Wild, of course, like I thought it would be, but that does not excuse my lower Standard rating.

2. Flamewreathed Faceless
35226Who would have thought that a 4cc 7/7 would be good, especially after BGH’s nerf? *Puts finger to ear a la classic John Stewart when doing his “this just in” double take* What’s that? Everyone? Everyone but me knew this would be good? Oh, that’s right. I can’t really explain why  didn’t see this shaping the meta except that I got too cute comparing it to Earth Elemental and overthought it.

3. Forbidden Ritual
35217I saw a bunch of vanilla, non-demon 1/1s as a liability that filled your board when you wanted to play better things and that died to every form of AoE (which, in my defense, was a little more common pre-Old Gods) as soon as it was a threat. I also didn’t like that it didn’t have a “top end” like the other rituals, in that it was limited by your open slots which at no point, ever, would allow you to play it for 10 minions. I failed to put 2 and 2 together and see how Ritual synergizes very well with Darkshire Councilman and makes for an immediate threat with minimal hand commitment.

4. Fandral Staghelm
Fandral_StaghelmAlthough I fully-anticipated that Fandral would make his way into at least some druid builds, I missed one KEY fact about him that made him one of-, if not the single best card Druid now has access to: he affects your minions and spells. I blame that misconception on the spoiled images of the new minions with no corresponding special spell images (which makes sense, as minions stay on the board whereas spells do not, but had the effect of momentarily destroying my reading comprehension skills). Obviously, spells make up at least half Fandral’s value so my under-valuing was somewhat excused. However, as a professional reader and writer (that’s basically all we lawyers do), this mistake is particularly embarrassing.

5. Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End
yoggI saw this card as a purely casual plaything that would add very little to the competitive Hearthstone scene. While my mistake was a common one at the time, I think I was also partially blinded by my distaste for overly-RNG cards. As it turns out, playing 20 spells for free in one turn is, on average, pretty good. Also, there are some situations wherein you will certainly lose if you have any other card in the game in your hand, but a lucky Yogg can pull you back into it. Unlucky Yogg and you just lost a game you should have lost anyway. The overall quality, and the ability to win hopeless games, have made Yogg extremely impactful at even the highest levels of Hearthstone play–it is decidedly not a casual only card.

In sum, my predictions were about as bad as they always are (which is also probably about on par with the rest of this goofy community), but I’m ok with it. Part of the excitement and fun of Hearthstone is seeing the cool things people come up with, and seeing how unpredictable even this allegedly-“simple” game is. I look forward to getting my ratings wrong on the next adventure/expansion soon!

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