HearthStone

Final Thoughts: A Retrospective on the Ashes of Outland Set

Content of the article: "Final Thoughts: A Retrospective on the Ashes of Outland Set"


Introduction

As AoO continues its descent into twilight, and we are dazzled with card reveals that inspire us to dream about whacky combos, brutal curvestone, and new mechanics to scry for, I thought it would be a good time to look back on Ashes of Ouland. During those magical days before its release, which AoO cards did you gravitate towards, but never end up collecting or playing? Which cards did you overlook that turned out to be new favorites? How did you find the new class?Let's have a look, but before we do, a couple of disclaimers.

  1. I'll do my best to stay impartial, but that isn't completly possible. I'll put sections that are mostly opinion in italics, and if you disagree, that's ok–feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments.

  2. I was going to focus entirely on the cards, but I can't justify not addressing the new class, so we are going to talk about that, however, this is still intended to be about the cards.

  3. I won't be talking about the single-player content or Arena.

The Demon Hunter Class

There is no dening that Demon Hunter ended up being extremely controversial. There are a couple of posiive and negative things to talk about. First, the positive, Demon Hunter and its free initiate set (combined with the new and returning player free decks), made this the most friendly expansion ever for new and returning players. We were all basically given two near-competitive decks for free. It's also worth pointing out that this is the first time a new class has been added to the game, so that alone generated great excitement.

However, on the negative side, this was one of the most poorly balanced expansions in history. We've arguably seen more unbalanced single cards or decks, depending on who you ask, but there is no doubt that Demon Hunter was badly unbalanced and it ruined the beginning of the expansion for many players. 7 of their 15 AoO cards were nerfed, some multiple times, showing a significant failure to balance the class properly before releasing it.

In my opinion, Demon hunter failed on another level, thematic. Sure, it has a new mechanic, outcast, and it uses demons as you'd expect, but it feels very much like Rogue with a sprinkling of other classes thrown in. It doesn't exactly feel like a new class, or rather, like they needed a new class in order to explore new gameplay ideas. The new expansion is introducing a disruption theme, but as far as AoO is concered, it could have all fit within the bounds of other class identities. Overpowered seems to be the identity for AoO.

The Primes

The big expansion gimmick was the prime minions, that start out small and then shuffle a prime version into your deck upon death. Some were better than others; some were good initially but you didn't want to draw the prime; some had good primes but the base form was underwhelming; and some were just good all the way around.

It was a nice idea, and while some saw more play than others for a variety of reasons (tutor potential, lack of class viability overall, or not fitting into the best deck of that class), they all felt thematic to their class, powerful but not so powerful that they felt unfair, and overall a good addition to the game.

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Imprisoned Minions & Dormant

The other expansion gimmick was the Imprisoned minions, which had to go dormant for 2 turns before actually hitting the board, upon which they gave out far more value for mana than normal. Overall it was a mixed bag. Magtheradon didn't pan out as well as people hoped, and Maiev, while a good card that saw play, was not the Ziliax she was made out to be.

On the other hand, many of the individual imprisoned minions turned out to be stars, and at times deck defining in the case of Warlock.


The Cards

Demon Hunter Cards

As I said already, 7 of their 15 AoO cards were nerfed, along with some of their other cards as well. It was simply an overpowered set of cards that pushed tempo gameplay, with a few bits and bobs here and there to lay the seeds for other archetypes in the future. I could talk about Warglaives, Priestess, Altruis, etc., but if you played at all this expansion, you are likely very familiar with their library.

Mage Cards

Solarian Prime is a hell of a card, and they received other gems as well, from spell mage staples like font of power and apexis blast, to highlander heros like imprisoned observer and evocation, to all around staples like deep freeze. It was a solid set for Mage that gave them not only valuable tools for multiple decks, but some fun toys as well.

Druid Cards

Druid received an expansion defining set, with fungal fortunes and glowfly swarm composing the heart of most druid decks throughout, as well as bog beam and ironbark for that explosive 7 mana play. This didn't leave much room for other interesting cards like germination, imprisoned satyr, and Archspore.

Hunter Cards

Hunter had a wealth of deck choices this expansion, with almost nothing being bad. The big standouts this set are Imprisoned Felmaw, Zixor, and Scavenger's Ingenuity. Zixor is arguably the most impactful prime as its usefulness in the early game, ability to be tutored reliably, and game swinging potential in the late game helped to define the Highlander Hunter expeirence.

Paladin Cards

The good news is that every Paladin card released in AoO has seen serious play. The bad news is that all of those decks, from Murloc, to Pure, to Libriam variants, have ranged from hot garbage to barely playable.

The libram package is fun and interesting, but not quite strong enough to compete with the high power level of other classes. The murloc support was excellent, and Murloc paladin has seen glimpses of viablity throughout, but it's never been consistent enough to be top contentder. Hand of Adal was a much needed draw and buff, and Liadrin, while seemingly made for LIbrams, can actually work well with any buffs in the Paladin arsenal, and I think we haven't seen the last of here as a strong value card in Paladin.

I crafted the entire Paladin set on day 1 because it's one of my favorite classes and I have over 2k wins with it, but it was hard this expansion.

Priest Cards

Priest had a good set this expansion. Renew, Veilweaver, Apotheosis, and Soul Mirror have stood the test of time, and a couple of the other cards saw some experimentation as well. Reliquary of Souls ended up being a better Shaman card than a Priest card, but it was solid support set all the same. They have had to rely on Galakrond for an actual deck core however.

Rogue Cards

Rogue had an excellent set this expansion. Much like Priest, they have had to rely on the Galakrond core to build their deck around, but AoO gave them support for two variants in the form of secrets and stealth. Both are quite good, and while secret was favored most of the expansion, stealth has had its moments to shine as well.

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Hanar and Stunner were both nerfed for being too strong. Greyheart Sage is one of the best draw cards Rogue has gotten in a while, and both Spymistress and Ambush are good enough to be contenders for standalone power.

Shaman Cards

Shaman has been a mess this expansion, and that's partially due to the mess that is their AoO set. Unlike Palaidn that had two coherent packages in their set, but just lacked the raw power to be competitive, Shaman's set is all over the place. They received support for spells, totems, evolve, and elemental decks all at the same time. The Lurker Below is a good legendary, especially after it was buffed, but as I write this, Shaman has only seen very marginal success with a revived Galakrond Evolve deck and Highlander deck that leaned heavily on standalone cards and Highlander cards like Zephyrs and DQA.

Warlock Cards

Warlock has made due with a rather underwhelming set, that somewhat lacks focus the same way the Shaman set does, and has flirted with the dumpster on a few occasions.

Imprisoned Scrap Imp and Hand of Gul'dan revived zoo on their own, to much success. A little too much success because Scrap Imp was nerfed. Thankfully, players were able to cobble together a powerful deck using Malygos, the Warlock Quest, and a bag full of healing, removal, and damage spells to create a control deck with the potential for a significant late game finisher. Felbolt turned out better than people thought, but mostly Warlock has had to get by without much help from its AoO set.

Warrior Cards

Warrior, like Druid, had an expansion defining set. The foundation was already there, but AoO introduced the cards that put the enrage archetype over the top. Corsair Cache ensured a consistent Anchaar draw, which in turn drew key pirates, most notably Risky Skipper, which then damaged all the minions on the board, which then allowed a significantly reduced Bloodboil Brute to come out. Combined with other powerful combos like Warmaul Challenger and Rampage, and Inner Rage + Gromm, as well as the ability gain lots of armor with Armorsmith, and Enrage Warrior (and its variants) were some of the only decks that could challenge Demon Hunter all expansion.

In addition to Enrage Warrior, players also found success with other archetypes once some of the key cards were nerfed and Demon Hunter started to falter in playrate. These decks were more control oriented, and while they focused on the bomb package introduced in previous sets, they did incorporate other AoO cards that Enrage Warrior didn't use, such as Bladestorm, Sword and Board, and the prime–Kargath. Overall, it was a very fertile expansion for Warrior players.

The Neutrals

There were many great neutrals this expansion, many terrible ones, and some fun stuff that never found their place in the sun. Let's have a look.

Winners

Maiev Shadowsong — Although she wasn't as good as people thought, she did become a common sight among highlander decks, and specifically stayed in the highlander Hunter deck for most of the expansion, making her a played card in one of the best decks of the expansion.

Terran Gorefiend — People weren't sure what to make of this card when it was announced, but it turned out to have a place in the Egg version of Enrage warrior, which was one of the most powerful decks of the expansion.

Guardian Augmerchant — Out of all the "augmerchants", this is the one that saw play. I don't really think it's that great, but it does see play in multiple decks

Bonechewer Brawler/Overconfident Orc — Although Orc has seen a big decline, they have both seen considerable play as cheap taunts that have the ability to either trade-up or push damage based on their ability to gain attack.

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Mo'arg Artificer — Almost exclusively seen in Malygos Warlock, it has become a staple of that deck for the ability to deal 8 damage and heal for 8 with Nether Breath.

Frozen Shadoweaver — Perhaps the most underrated neutral card. People knew it would be decent, but it's seen a significant amount of play due to strong vanilla stats and the ability to slow down both Demon Hunter and Warrior during their critical early game turns.

Losers

Maiev Shadowsong — Despite being a winner overall, there is no doubt she is a loser when compared to expectations. Being good isn't good enough when people thought you were the second coming of christ.

Magtheridon — Plenty of people wrote it off as trash when it was announced, to be fair, but there was a lot of rumbling about it being great as well, along with theorycrafting. It didn't exactly see zero play, but it turned out to be a far cry from the power level people had expected.

Waste Warden — I have never seen this card used in a game of Hearthstone, and considering the expections of the community, that makes it a loser.

Fun but Forgotten

Al'ar — I don't personally regret crafting this card as it's provided my meme deck with lots of good fun, but it's not exactly competitive.

Replicat-o-tron — There has been a few very mild attempts to make this work, but it's just bad. Still, the idea is cool.

Infectious Sporeling — People had a lot of fun imagining the shenanigins that this card could conjure up, but much like waste warden, I have never seen it.

Kael'thas — Perhaps a controversial placement, as it was clearly a winner in early Druid decks, but it hasn't seen any serioius play since its nerf, which is a shame since it has such a cool effect.


Conclusions

Ashes of Outland has lots of amazing cards full of fun and flavor. There was plenty of class and meta defining cards, helped no doubt by the rotation, and the introduction of a new class had a huge, if somewhat negative impact on the overal game.

Let me know what you think.

I wrote this on my phone, so please excuse any uncaught spelling or grammar errors. Thank you

Source: reddit.com

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