Hearthstone gets its first new class as Illidan Stormrage arrives in a swirl of blades and fury

Ever since Hearthstone launched, players have been asking again and again: when is the next class? Hearthstone’s nine classes are modelled on their World of Warcraft counterparts, but there are more than nine classes in WoW, leading players to wanting more, possibly wanting their favourite class represented. Now that wait is finally over. After six years of waiting, we are prepared.

Meet the Demon Hunter

Illidan Stormrage, everyone’s favourite tragic badass hero, is swooping into Hearthstone in April, bringing the hero count to 10. Demon Hunters in Warcraft lore are highly aggressive, agile fighters that make use of demons and demonic energy to fight the Burning Legion, using souls to power their assault. In Hearthstone this aggression continues with Hearthstone’s first 1 Mana Hero power. Demon Claws costs 1 Mana to give your hero +1 Attack, Demon Hunters are ready to take the fight to the enemy, and it does wonders for the mana curve.

At a Hearthstone event earlier this year I got to spend the day playing Demon Hunter and the various cards of the next expansion (more on this in another article) and the day quickly evolved into people trying to build decks to beat the aggressive Demon Hunter decks that were seeing a lot of use. With Demon Claws costing 1 Mana, the fighting can start on round 1 and possibly never end. Illidan’s arsenal of glaives and cards that provide attack mean that hitting things with your Hero is very much a core of this class.

From the Umberwing that gives you a 1/2 weapon and two 1/1 Felwings to the mighty Warglaives of Azzinoth, which allow for more than one attack in a turn if you attack minions, your arsenal has many ways to help you keep attacking the enemy. Some of creatures and spells have great synergy with this, meaning you need to keep track of which cards are best played before an attack, or after one.

A turn 1 Battlefiend will quickly grow if the enemy doesn’t remove it, while the 3 mana Satyr Overseer can produce a lot of value. Add in a card like Twin Slice, which costs 0 and adds +1 attack to your hero and gives you a Second Slice card which also costs 0 mana and gives your hero +1 attack and suddenly your first three turns are brutal as you apply more and more pressure.

The Demon Hunter’s bag of tricks keeps tightening the screws with cards that offer significant value. Glaivebound Adept costs 5 mana for a 7/4 with a Battlecry that deals 4 damage to any target if you attacked this turn. There are cards to summon 3 or 6 1/1 Illidari with Rush. The Demon Hunter’s minions aren’t around to be buffed and looked after. These cards will rush headlong into the fray, allowing Illidan to use their souls to recharge. Feast of Souls draws a card for each friendly minion that died this turn, replenishing your hand to continue the fight. No wonder nobody trusts you, Illidan.

The Outcast

Demon Hunters are the pariahs of society, and this is the unique mechanic of this class. The Outcast keyword triggers when a card is either the left-most or right-most card in your hand, meaning play order of cards and thinking of future turns is really important when playing as a Demon Hunter. While many of the cards pack enough of a punch without this keyword activating, the extra effort is really worth it for many of them. Skull of Guldan, for example, is 5 mana to draw 3 cards. But if you play it with Outcast, those 3 cards have their cost reduced by 3. Digging for answers and still being able to play them, or fill the board next turn make the Outcast trigger well worth the 5 mana. Eyebeam is a great removal card, costing 3 to deal 3 damage to a minion, with Lifesteal. However with Outcast, the spell costs 0. I adore this mechanic as it gives you a lot to think about while planning out your turn and the next. It also is only possible in a digital card game, where players can’t shuffle cards around in their hand. Is it worth waiting a turn to get Outcast on a specific card, or is it better this turn? What about cards that work before the hero attacks and after the attack? There is a lot to think about while playing the Demon Hunter, feeding into the fantasy of this aggressive yet tactical hero who thinks on his hooves.

Not just aggressive

While early game aggro will be the focus of several decks, Demon Hunter also has access to some real late game brutes and tricks to slow down the enemy. Illidan can burn the Mana of the enemy, making them play the next turn with 2 less mana. Or summon Wrathspike Brute for 5 mana, a 2/6 Taunt that deals 1 damage to all enemies every time it is attacked. Or Hulking Overfiend, the 5 mana 5/10 with Rush that can attack again if it kills a minion. Clear the board of early game threats with Chaos Nova, a 5 mana spell that deals 4 damage to all minions or finish them off with Metamorphosis, which turns your next two hero power usages to 1 Mana: Deal 5 damage.

The Demon Hunter prologue goes live on April 2, and the hero joins the fray on April 7.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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