It is up to the plucky League of Explorers to stop the united villains and luckily they have a whole host of new cards to try do so. Hearthstone’s latest expansion, Saviors of Uldum, has a lot of mechanics and cards that feel like throwbacks to earlier sets, which means depending on how you enjoyed those cards will colour your perception of this set rather strongly.
I have mentioned before that Hearthstone being a digital-only card game means that cards can break design limitations that physical card games have. Creating cards out of thin air, making new cards, buffing cards in a deck or checking conditions like whether a deck is singleton or all odd cost are all possible in digital, but would be rather painful in physical. I want Hearthstone to lean into things that it can do that other card games can’t. But instead, Saviors of Uldum feels like a rehash of a place we have been before, two things that many players were very grateful to leave behind: Quests.
Quests are back again, a mechanic that allows for almost zero interaction for the opponent. There is no stopping a quest that requires X number of X creatures to be summoned, and most of the quests fall into that category. Every quest results in a new Hero Power for the rest of the game, which is well, a lot like what Death Knight offered. Except you don’t need to draw your Death Knight: your quest card is always in your starting hand and many of them are very simple to accomplish.
If you have an issue with bumping into one or two decks again and again, I have bad news for you: That Shaman or Paladin? I bet I know what their turn one play is going to be. All the way from Rank 25 to Rank 1, standard is seeing Quest Shaman and Quest Paladin. If you shudder thinking about what Quests and Death Knight did to the gamestate, then you will feel a similar jolt here.
If you shudder thinking about what Quests and Death Knight did to the gamestate, then you will feel a similar jolt here.
The saddest part is that keywords like Reborn were strong enough on their own to make for some good plays, without now being conflated with Quest Paladin’s shenanigans.
When not dealing with those decks, get ready to see this card a lot as Highlander decks are all the rage again Meet Zephrys the Great. Wait, why does that sound familiar? Oh Reno Jackson, the previous Neutral Legendary Highlander.
Zephrys is a pretty amazing card and a lot of work went into designing it, which shows when you cast it. This card will discover three cards that will help your current situation, but it only looks at information available to both players. In other words: your HP, enemy HP, cards in play, number of cards in hand and in deck, mana after casting and mana next turn. Secondly, it only summons cards from the Basic and Classic sets. In some cases, these cards could be exactly what you need to win. A fireball that will kill a low health enemy, a healing spell for you at low health, a board clear or the like. Of course having a card that offers something beneficial at any point in the game has so much value that high-level play is full of Highlander decks right now. Alakazoom indeed!
While Saviors of Uldum helps some fading deck archetypes bounce back, Hearthstone needs to take a serious look at itself and the untargetable spots that it is creating again and again. Mechanics that make a change that doesn’t revert after you clear it from the board need to have some kind of counter or removal. Hearthstone has made so many card effects that feel like Magic the Gathering’s enchantments but without a single enchantment removal card. Until this gets changed in some way, any card that offers these permanent state changes (different hero power, etc) will rule the game and feel ultimately frustrating to play against over and over again.
Fun new cards aside, Saviors of Uldum has a few too many throwbacks to things that seemed exciting until you ran headfirst into them again and again. The lack of interaction with these deck and card designs, along with no way to counter or reduce their effects has turned the meta into a frustrating state as highlander and two quests rule the roost. Being on the receiving end isn’t fun and well, some of the decks make me feel dirty playing them.