by NeonPix, feat. Darius
Picture the scene; 80,000 Hearthstone fans (MrDestructoid) are sitting in chat, proclaiming Naxx is out and spamming trumpWhat and forsenW eagerly awaiting the Americas Winter Championships to begin. After a ten minute countdown and a gratuitous helping of Reynad roasting, we are thrown to the desk with Ben Brode and Wong Yoo and all is well. Until Mr Brode dons a cape that wouldn't be out of place in a showing of “Hot Fuzz” (Ten points for Gryffindor if you get the reference). The lights dim, and Brode's already booming voice becomes even more sinister to a point where you would believe you were listening to Brian Blessed (That's my last British culture reference, I promise).
We are then shown the cinematic for Whispers of the Old Gods (Herein abbreviated to WOGS). From this cinematic, we learn that Hearthstone is about to become very dark. We are shown some (let's go with questionable) cards from the upcoming set in Polluted Hoarder, Corrupted Healbot and Validated Doomsayer. From there we are introduced to the first of the “Old Gods” in C'Thun.
C'Thun reads “Play this minion, cast Avenging Wrath for 0 mana”. And that's all well and good, Until we were introduced to the concept of the cultists that are trying to awaken this Old God.
These two Cultists are only the beginning for the C'thun (I want to say) archetype, and with two copies of these cards alone, pushes C'thun to 12/12. Not bad, but you know me by now, any greasy looking archetype can be expanded on. With the information available to us at the minute let's look at what we can do with each class to maximise the impact of C'thun!
Let's assume that we only have this five card line to be going on with, this gives us 25 cards worth of wriggle room for each class to base around a deck dedicated to the big squid god of tentacles, and for the purpose of this article we will assume that we are looking towards the standard format.
To build a base for these lists, we need to first look at the pool of cards available to us in the neutral setting. Those guys who sit on the fence between Gul'dan and Thrall whilst they have their lovers spats, rather than getting involved and sorting out the problems they chip in from the sidelines. Mercenaries for hire if you will. Or snakes. I prefer snakes.
The stats on the cultists above are impressive. Aggressively costed if you will. These minions are admissible floaters once used, but these base stat lines offer the opportunity to trade, and trade well. To capitalise on these already sturdy stats, Abusive Sergeant can buff them further to trade in a more favourable manner.
Youthful Brewmaster and Ancient Brewmaster
Show me a card with a battlecry that triggers and is integral to your strategy, and i'll show you a Pandaren ready to take advantage of that effect. The ability to re-use the battlecry of Beckoner of Evil will add both two attack and toughness to the eventual C'Thun and two damage to the Battlecry. Which can be reused by this duo of Pandaren bouncers.
Following on with the theme of taking advantage of triggers, Faceless Manipulator can be used in many ways too, the first being granting a third and fourth copy of Twilight Elder. That and the manipulator offers synergies with a certain ginger explorer that i'll get to eventually.
Thaurissan will help cut the cost of a one-turn blitz of effects that reign down an inordinate amount of buffs for C'thun. Be it cutting the cost of Beckoners, or the cost of that red-headed explorer, it's possible to combo out buffs for days, thanks to Thaurissan's discounts.
Brann has had a colossal impact on the game since release (Don't say I didn't warn you) and it looks to continue the trend with the advent of WOGS. Brann allows you to trigger Beckoner twice in one summon. That's a +4/+4 buff to C'Thun, that's without Brewmasters and Thaurissan discounts. Dependant on the board state and stability, the discounts from Thaurissan when combined with Brann could leave you with a truly massive one-eyed squid god that could cheese you a game in a one turn swing.
Hypothetically speaking, Thaurissan could stay on the board and trigger twice. From there, this line of play is available turn ten;
Brann Bronzebeard (One Mana) Nine mana remaining
Faceless Manipulator > Brann Bronzebeard (Three Mana) Six mana remaining
Beckoner (Zero Mana) +8/+8
Beckoner (Zero Mana) +16/+16
Youthful Brewmaster (Zero Mana) Beckoner returned to hand
Youthful Brewmaster (Zero Mana) Beckoner returned to hand
Beckoner (Two Mana) +24/+24 Four mana remaining
Beckoner (Two Mana) +32/+32 Two mana remaining
As we are living in magical christmas land, I feel that this play (whilst unlikely) has the greatest potential impact using only neutral cards, and is possible with ten mana leaving C'Thun with a massive 38/38 body and an Avenging Wrath for 38 total. Assuming that the life total and total toughness on the opponent's board doesn't top 38, you win the game.
Disclaimer: All of the following lists will at least include two Youthful Brewmasters, two Beckoners and a C'Thun, hence they're not lists that feature 30 cards.
Steven: Warrior doesn't offer much to the archetype. The main thought behind this list is along the same vein as the standard tank Warrior list, armouring up to a point where you are effectively untouchable outside of incredible burst.
The synergy whirlwind provides with Acolyte and Armorsmith allows extra draws and further tanking along some tiny area of effect damage for those pesky 1/1 minions that can soak up the damage of the eventual C'Thun.
The only out of the norm pick here is the double Brawl. The idea behind double Brawl is there to reset the board somewhat (Something that is a theme throughout these lists) and wipe potential targets for the following turn's C'Thun play.
With the amount of armour the deck will accumulate throughout the game, I feel that this list has strong potential to see turn Ten through this mechanic and double Brawl.
Darius: Personally, I think C'Thun Warrior could be fantastic. With the release of C'Thun, we might be able to see a comeback of the elusive, yet never quite popular MidRange Warrior. The list I brewed is actually decently versatile: If you get ahead on board using the C'Thun minions amongst others to trade efficiently, you can capitalise on it further similarly to a Mech deck does nowadays. Since you're running sticky minions, it's hard for opponents to get rid of them, except for the occasional Brawl or Twisting Nether.
In case you do fall behind however, you have a nice array of removal to save your buttocks. Running two Taskmasters you are bound to Execute a threat, and with Double Bash/Shield Block a Shield Slam will do plenty.
In case it goes to the late game, and you need to remove an immediate threat like say Chromaggus, a combination of Ancient Shieldbearer + Shield Slam will provide similarly to a Shieldmaiden + Shield Slam does nowadays. The new Warrior card also allows you to stall until the mighty C'Thun hits the board. There is plenty of draw potential as well, with Acolyte teaming up with Taskmaster, potentially achieving a double draw thanks to Brann.
Varian is a personal piece of flavouring that I think could be amazing however: The only card you wouldn't really want to pull would be C'Thun himself, since you'd miss his Battlecry, but it'll still be another massive minion. Varian could easily turn a lost board into a huge comeback with style.
Shaman does not have the luxury of an inherently good hero power, and as a result, needs to run Sir Finley Mrrgglton. The hero powers you endeavour to find here are Armour Up, Lesser Heal and to a certain extent Shape-Shift. This is all in an attempt to make it to that turn ten where the combos become available.
From here, we play standard Shaman shenanigans, without the primal desire to Smorc, rather control the board and keep health and toughness to a minimum.
Healing wave can hit one of two desirable targets in C'Thun and Alexstraza which is incidentally included to improve the effectiveness of C'Thun.
Cards like Lightning Storm and Hex are to be used to sweep health from the board with the choice to play C'Thun the following turn. The standard Brann/Thaurissan link-up is also included to fly us away to magical christmas land and deliver us those dream scenarios as detailed above.
The Fire Elementals allow us to curve out into a more aggressive Mid/Late game whilst not affecting the end game target.
Rogue, I feel has massive potential for a C'Thun list. Between spells such as Gang Up and Shadowstep, the possibility to make a C'Thun with a possible 50/50 stat line. That is frankly insane, should it get to that point.
A 50/50 stat line allows you to kill a Warrior with full health and 20 armour, A handlock player at full health with double Molten Giant and Sunfury Protector, and practically anything maining Reno Jackson.
Preparation/Sprint is available to plough through cards (Whilst hopefully not drawing C'thun) whilst the other Rogue spells such as Backstab, Betrayal, Sap and Vanish clear the way to face for our squid based overlord C'Thun.
Dark Iron Skulker is something of whimsy perhaps, but it's another area of effect card that can put in work sweeping before the C'Thun is played.
Paladin as a class has cards in it's arsenal that really appeal to the squid deck, the most apparent of these being their area of effect spells and combos. Equality plus Wild Pyromancer or Consecration offers board wipes to set up for a full-face C'thun.
From this the deck can curve out into a more control-oriented deck through use of cards like Keeper of Uldaman and Tirion Fordring. With Dr.7 being lost to the wild format, Dr.8 is still a very viable option that can stave off aggro decks, should you reach that point in the game, and the ashbringer can also be used to clear the way for C'thun's stare.
Truesilver Champion is also a great option at the paladin's disposal, clearing the board of a potential 16 points worth of health whilst clawing back health through use of the sword itself.
Outside of those points, the Paladin hero power is a great way of maximising the impact of the damage output of C'thun. Whilst keeping 1/1s on the board there is an always the option of trading those in to bigger minions to ensure some of the eyeball blasts make their way to their desiredlocation, and everybody knows face is the place.
While we all know Hunters LOVE to go face, they are also very efficient at keeping a board quiet through a combination of spells. Spells such as Powershot, Multi-Shot and Explosive shot are (some say over-costed) spells that deal damage across several minions in one activation.
Hunter's Mark and Unleash the hounds are also stellar ways to keep the board quiet whilst buffing the living tar out of C'thun. When you add the Hunter hero power to the mix, the effort put into getting the opponent within range of the C'Thun eye blast is made very easy.
Dreadscale is a mini Baron Geddon, dealing area of effect damage to everything on the board, whilst Hunter's Mark deals with high priority targets.
Ball of Spiders and Savannah Highmane are at the top of our curve, both serving different purposes. The Ball of Spiders keep your hand stocked with options generated by the game, and as a result are admissible throw-away bodies that can be used for efficient trades whilst Savannah Highmane presents the opponent with a problem that requires an instant answer, and forces silences or hard removal in the later portions of the game.
Warlock could play C'Thun in one of two ways. It could adopt the Zoo philosophy of play, or the handlock ideology. The Zoo philosophy would be better served in a deck that is Zoo and nothing else, in my opinion. You're just adding fluff and frills when mixing C'Thun into the Zoo list.
As a result, the optimal C'Thun list would look something like a Handlock list had thrown-up on a Zoo list and neglected to clean it up.
The standard Zoo baseline of Mortal Coils and Power Overwhelming roll through Dark Peddler and onto the more Handlock choices of Sylvanas and Molten Giant up top, with plenty of area of effect spells through the middle in Hellfire, Demonwrath, Shadowflame and finally curving out at Twisting Nether for a total board wipe come turn eight or sooner when used in conjunction with Emperor Thaurissan. The Power Overwhelmings can be used in conjunction with the early game C'Thun buffs to keep you out of trouble until you get into the realms of dropping C'Thun.
Alexstraza can also be used to either bail yourself out of trouble from over-zealous tapping or it can be used to land the opponent within that sweet spot of around 15 health for the squid blast to provide the desired effect.
Steven: Mage generally doesn't have the best set-up to accommodate C'Thun (I'm expecting tweets in two months time telling me how wrong I am when C'Thun Mage is tier zero and i'm hiding away in a cave on Dagobah) *More points for gryffindor if you get that one.*
I worked with the tools available to me, and the Mage list I came up with is an odd take on Freeze Mage, which offers the security of the Ice Block/ Ice Barrier secrets and eventually bursting out on turn 9 with Alexstrasza and either Archmage Antonidas or C'Thun itself.
The list is teched out with the standard Thaurissan/ Brann/ Manipulator/ Brewmaster line that is the backbone of any C'Thun list that we have built up to now.
This list in my opinion is the worst one I have built from the nine classes, but we here at Team MetaMinds are all for equality, and Mage has to make a showing when mentioning all other classes.
Darius: When I first saw C'Thun, the first cards that sprung to my mind were Duplicate and Echo of Medivh. And then it hit me: Both of them are going to go out of rotation as soon as Whispers of the Old Gods hits!
So with the cards we have left, I agree that C'Thun Mage is probably not going to have a major impact. However, this nifty little Echo Mage variant, using C'Thun minions instead of Giants, could be a decent deck to play in Wild!
People are going to play Wild... Right?
Steven: Finally, we look at Priest. Priest as a class supports the idea of colossal area of effect damage through liberal use of the Auchenai Soulpriest and Circle of Healing combo, alongside Holy Nova.
While the deck has lost Lightbomb, it still has a lot of cards that affect the board state, such as Entomb and Cabal Shadow Priest, whilst keeping yourself just out of reach of the damage your opponent can inflict.
Alongside these combos, the deck mains one copy of Confessor Paletress. The deck can re-stabilise and throw legendary minions at the opponent while healing in the process, which forces hard removal that could otherwise be used on the C'Thun that is coming later on in the game.
Darius: I took a different approach towards a potential C'Thun Priest. Now a minion-based Priest, similar to Dragon Priest, sadly falls out of question due to vital cards like Velen's Chosen and Dark Cultist are passing away. While a Control list seems to be the more obvious one, I feel like it wouldn't keep up to say an Elise list.
So hereby I present to you: C'Thun-Velen-Combo Priest!
Since C'Thun is a Combo in itself already, and the minions provide decent bodies, we need card draw and a second potential win condition. This is Velen + Double Mindblast. If you feel spicy, you can add a Malygos to this list too. It will be pretty hard to pull off, and the lack of Lightbombs is infuriating, but I have a dream. A dream that this Combo will prevail.
The new Priest Legendary could potentially come in handy as well, reproducing a Velen, Thaurissan or Malygos (If they survive one turn, hint: They usually don't.)
Darius: With the already announced Druid nerfs, it can be a bit difficult to look at Druid as a potential class for C'Thun fans. The newly announced Druid card that synergizes with C'Thun is neither horrible nor spectacular in my book: Yes, a 4/10 for 4 Mana is extraordinary, and even when played at 4/5 it's alright, but the effect most likely won't be triggered on curve, and "alright" usually does not make the cut.
Due to the good stat lines on C'Thun minions so far though, they lend themselves to a feature of the Druid class that is frequently overlooked: A nice array of buffs! With card like Mark of the Wild, Power of the Wild or even Cenarius, you should be able to keep your Templer in particular alive and well! Strong taunts like Druid of the Claw or Ancient of War will make sure to protect them as well.
In general the archetype lacks something that make it stand out, like say C'Thun Rogue. Due to cards like Innervate and even a nerfed Savage Roar, Druid is a versatile class that can take all the toys from other classes and make them work anyway. C'Thun Druid will work, similarly to the way Mech Druid works: It "works", but really you're better off playing a different class to fulfill your C'Thun needs.
Steven: In summary, I am far more excited for C'Thun after writing this article than I was before writing it, and I was the equivalent of a toddler at christmas back then. The lists I have put together above are to serve merely as a guide, a template, building blocks.
While I am sure that C'Thun will have an earth-shattering effect on the landscape of Hearthstone (although it may take a while for people to agree with that statement) Blizzard appear to be embracing the idea of Archetypes. It's the beginning of a revolution in this card game. A revolution that doesn't generally tie to any specific class. A set of nine or so cards that follow one theme that can be splashed into any class and still create the desired effect is the very definition of an archetype, something I am very excited to see become a regular thing in Hearthstone. The process of applying these “Nine or so” cards to each class promotes the idea of creativity in the community. Granted, this creativity will all but evaporate when the cards hit twitch and the streamers have screenshots of their list plastered under gratuitous adverts.
Darius: Okay, okay, I'll bite. The C'Thun archetype looks pretty cool, and with upcoming cards that support it further, it could turn out to be the next Dragon archetype: Not Tier 1 but certainly Tier 2/3. I'm not sold yet on the Pandaren Brewmasters and using 5 Mana to reproduce a 3 Mana minion, but I've been wrong before.
From the lists we've brewed so far, I'm probably most excited for C'Thun Warrior, Rogue and Paladin. Depending on how hard Blizzard hits the Nerf hammer upon Druid, it might be relevant too, but only time will tell. And that C'Thun Mage list? Definitely going to try it out as soon as I can!