Hearthstone is about to release Journey to the Sunken City, its first expansion in the Year of the Hydra. This card set takes players deep beneath the oceans of Azeroth to the ruins of the ancient empire of Zin-Azshari. Now known as Nazjatar, the sunken city is home to gargantuan sea monsters, ancient secrets, and the mystical naga ruled by Queen Azshara. Each card coming to Hearthstone explores these forgotten depths with new keywords, art, and atmosphere.
Game Rant recently participated in the Journey to the Sunken City Theorycrafting Event, a six-hour preview of the upcoming expansion that offered people the chance to build decks using all the new cards and test them against one another. The event gave fans a first look at how new keywords, like Dredge and Colossal, interact with the game and allow them to experience the atmosphere of Journey to the Sunken City.
New Strategies in Voyage to the Sunken City
Many new cards in Journey to the Sunken City spawned creative strategies from players in the Theorycrafting Event. Demon Hunters in Hearthstone get a new card called Abyssal Depths, which draws the two lowest-cost cards in their deck, including vital playmakers like Vanndar Stormpike or Lady S’theno.
Journey to the Sunken City also introduces the Naga creature type, which gains additional effects when spells are cast with them in hand. The Priest’s Naga let them draw cards or strengthen minions, and the legendary Priestess Valishj replenishes Mana Crystals based on the spells cast in a turn. With Radiant Elemental now back in Standard, Priests players in Hearthstone are already creating long, devastating combos with these cards.
The Shaman class in Hearthstone is known for the Elemental creature type, but their new Naga cards have synergy as well. While Fractured in Alterac Valley gave them access to Frost cards, Journey to the Sunken City takes their elemental abilities one step further with cards that reward playing Fire, Frost, and Nature spells. Mages also got several Naga-related cards which work well with existing strategies for the class. In addition to the Legendary Commander Sivarra’s ability to return spells to the Mage’s hand, Spellcoiler replaces itself with a new spell. These cards appeared in many Mage decks, even if they didn’t focus on Naga specifically.
However, Hearthstone Mage players saw the return of Mech creatures in Journey to the Sunken City. Even their new Colossal minion – Gaia, the Techtonic – is a show-stopping win condition. Most of the new Mage decks in the Theorycrafting event revolved around one of these two creature types.
The Warlock Hearthstone class received a popular strategy with the Abyssal Curse. These generate cards in the opponent’s hand that deal damage for two turns before disappearing, each dealing one more damage than the last. Warlock players enjoyed this mechanic, and several ideas to employ the Abyssal Curse appeared during this event.
What’s more, Warlocks finally got their own Murloc creature cards for the first time since the lone Seadevil Stinger in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Among them, the two-headed Gigafin Colossal minion was used by players to devastate with board-clearing capabilities.
Familiar Hearthstone Mechanics With a New Twist
Many of the new cards in Journey to the Sunken City enhance existing strategies and revitalize old ones. The Druid class in Hearthstone is an excellent example, with its focus on gaining Mana Crystals faster than the opponent. Several new Naga cards enhance this style, including the legendary Naga Hedra the Heretic, which Druid players can use to fill their board with minions after ramping up their Mana.
Existing Hunter strategies get a similar facelift. The Questline card Defend the Dwarven District has been popular since its introduction in United in Stormwind. With its reliance on damaging spells, the new Hunter Naga cards are a perfect complement – especially Twinbow Terrorcoil and the Legendary Raj’Nazjan. Hunter Naga do double time, as they fit just as well in Beast Hunter decks, especially alongside Azsharan Saber, Harpoon Gun, and the Colossal Hydralodon.
Among the new nautical-themed card mechanics to appear in Journey to the Sunken City, Dredge is one of the most interesting. These cards allow players to search the bottom of their deck for a card to put on top. This keyword pairs well with other cards that “sink” new cards to the bottom of a deck.
Paladin is one of the classes that benefits most from the new Dredge keyword. Many of their class-specific cards revolve around Mech creatures, including the Colossal Leviathan submarine. Playing these decks makes one feel like they are on an undersea expedition, filling their board with mechanical minions to aid in their search for treasure. With Paladin Mechs from previous sets, many are already developing new strategies for Wild Hearthstone.
Of course, no aquatic expansion would be complete without pirates. Journey to the Sunken City sees the return of the Pirate Rogue, with incredible new cards like the Legendary Pirate Admiral Hooktusk. Most of those who aren’t Pirates use the Dredge mechanic to pull even more Pirates up from the bottom of their decks.
That said, the Warrior class is not to be outdone. Since the Raid the Docks Questline was introduced with United in Stormwind, Pirate Warrior has been a popular deck. Pirate cards like Obsidiansmith and the Colossal Nellie will ensure Pirate Warrior remains a Hearthstone staple. Warriors also get an excellent weapon with the Azsharan Trident, and powerful Dredge cards to fetch it. Pirate players will have a difficult time choosing whether Rogue or Warrior will be the best Pirate deck in Standard play.
all in all, Journey to the Sunken City promise to be a Hearthstone expansion unlike any other. The art of the cards and Heroes sell a strong atmosphere, especially with music that is both catchy and intense. The new mechanics are fun and rewarding; Dredge makes one feel like they are trawling the ocean floor for sea treasure, and there’s a lot of drama when a Colossal minion takes the field. hearthstone’s latest expansion is setting sail into uncharted waters, and the atmosphere it delivers is one full of mystery and creativity in equal measure.
Hearthstone is available now for mobile and PC. Journey to the Sunken City releases on April 12.
MORE: Hearthstone Interview: Christie Golden and Valerie Chuu Weigh Anchor on Narrative and Atmosphere of Voyage to the Sunken City
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