By DjBigRuss

In today's article, DjBigRuss gives his first impressions of The Grand Tournament expansion, and an overview of some of the cards that were revealed during the Blizzard Presentation.

Well it finally happened! Hearthstone's next major expansion, The Grand Tournament (TGT), was officially announced and unveiled to the world yesterday. The new set will include 132 new cards, and will release in August. Lead Designer Eric Dodds gave us some insight on the new set’s theme, and 15 new cards were revealed with more being spoiled leading up to release. Today I will be giving some of my first impressions of The Grand Tournament, and how it may impact the metagame of Hearthstone going forward.



I’ve recently discussed how certain hero powers are weaker than others, and that some classes can build strategies around the hero power while others can’t. Instead of creating new hero powers to solve this problem, The Grand Tournament has introduced the Inspire keyword. Inspire activates when you use your hero power, giving you motivation to use it outside of situations you normally would. I think this is a great addition to the game, and will create more complex game situations where you won’t just drop an “on-curve” minion every turn.



Prior to this new set, Shadowform and Steamwheedle Sniper were the only cards that altered the hero power of their class. The Grand Tournament plans to change that in a big way with new class specific and neutral hero power altering cards. Maiden of the Lake gives each class a mana cost reduction of their hero power, giving you more opportunities to take advantage of Inspire and play your turns more efficiently. Coldarra Drake and Fallen Hero give a boost to Midrange Mage strategies, giving the class more options for clearing the board. Poisoned Blade is interesting because it gives an effect similar to the pre-nerf Rogue Hero Ability. It will be very interesting to see what other hero power altering cards are in the set.



A few weeks ago, I discussed the problems with Shaman in the current competitive format. Some of my major gripes were the weakness of their hero power, and the lack of totem support. The Shaman cards revealed so far in The Grand Tournament certainly aim to fix those weaknesses. Totem Golem is essentially a 2 cost Totem version of Spider Tank, giving Shamans more early game help. Tuskarr Totemic has the potential of being really powerful when you summon things like Mana Tide Totem, Flametongue Totem, and Totem Golem. Draenei Totemcarver, Thunder Bluff Valiant, and the new Inspire mechanic all give Shaman players motivation to create an army of totems. I'm not sure that these cards are enough to bring Shaman to the forefront of competitive play, but they are certainly a step in the right direction.



In addition to Totems, the main Grand Tournament website confirmed that more support for Tribes is coming in the expansion. “Rally new recruits to your cause: dragon, pirate, ogre, and even murloc knights will clash astride size-appropriate steeds to showcase their prowess.” The past two weeks I’ve written about the current state of tribes in competitive Hearthstone. With the exception of Demons and Mechs, all of the other tribes are in need of support to push their theme to the next level, so it’s exciting to see Blizzard continue to support these tribes in future sets.

While we know support for these tribes are in The Grand Tournament, we’ve only seen a couple cards revealed so far. Skycap’n Kragg is a direct support card for Pirates, and the 2nd Pirate Legendary we’ve seen so far in the game. If you base his power level on the current Pirates available in Hearthstone, he is a pretty weak card overall, but I would assume more Pirates (that perhaps make create more Pirates) will be in the set. Coldarra Drake isn’t directly a support card for Dragons, but it is a really solid minion for Mage. If more neutral Dragon minions are in the set, Dragon Mage could potentially be a thing very soon. I’m very excited to see the rest of the tribal minions in the set, and am hopeful that we will see more competitive tribal decks after the release of TGT.  



After the reveal, presentation, and show matches I’m very excited for the impact The Grand Tournament will have on the competitive format. I didn't mention Lock and Load or Nexus-Champion Saraad, but I certainly think both are strong enough to see competitive play. It is interesting to note that no new nerfs or buffs to existing cards were mentioned during the presentation.

This means that either: Blizzard expects TGT to change the current metagame enough that they don’t need to nerf anything right now, or they don’t believe any card in the current format warrants changing. What did you think of the cards released so far? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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