Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was released in 2014 with nine classes, and so it remained for six years. It is only natural that it stayed that way, considering how a card game lives or dies on the delicate balance of classes and cards, and the introduction of a new class - with a set of new cards - implies a greater risk of imbalance than many other changes or additions.
And so it was that the Demon Hunter was launched with extremely powerful cards that catapulted him to the top of the pile of most played classes and with the highest percentage of victories. It is unfortunate that after what was apparently years of development, the Demon Hunter still managed to launch with obvious imbalances. At least Blizzard was quick to react this time around, implementing nerfs just a few days after launch.
But what's it like to play the Demon Hunter? Well, at the moment it's a very offensive class, designed to get in your opponent's face. It lacks control but makes up for it with the ability to steal life from your opponent, and it's capable of fetching cards from the deck with great frequency and at a good tempo. At the moment, already considering the adjustments done to its abilities, the Demon Hunter is a fun class for those who enjoy going for the enemy without mercy, but with a distinct style of play.
The Demon Hunter also has access to an exclusive mechanic - Outcast - which increases the effect of the card if played from one end of the hand (either far right or far left). The Spectral Sight card, for example, allows you to fetch a card for two mana crystals, but if it is played from one end, it will fetch two cards instead of one.
Finally, it should be made clear that the Demon Hunter is free for all players, although you will need to go through a sequence of PvE missions - also free - to unlock the class and some of its cards.
The 150 cards added by the expansion bring two other mechanics for all classes: Primes and Imprisoned Demons. Primes are legendary minions, and there is one per class. The original version is not very powerful and has a relatively low cost, but when they die, they put a Prime in the deck which is considerably more powerful. Kargath Bladefist is the Warrior's starting Prime, a 4/4 minion that costs 4 mana and has Rush. Upon dying, it puts Kargath Prime in the deck, a 10/10 minion that costs 8 mana, has Rush, and if it kills another minion, offers the Warrior the armour equivalent to his attack power (10 in his basic state).
As for the Imprisoned Demons, these are minions that enter the game asleep for two turns but unleash powerful effects as they wake up. The Demon Hunter's Imprisoned Antaen is a 10/6 minion that costs 6 mana and enters asleep for two turns. Upon waking up it deals 10 damage spread across all enemies. It should also be noted that while they are asleep, the Imprisoned Demons are invulnerable to everything - it is literally impossible to remove them from the table in that state.
These mechanics are interesting, and there are good cards in there, but apart from the Demon Hunter, we didn't see much difference in terms of the decks and tactics used. Yes, the existing decks were reinforced with some cards, but in general, we're not seeing great variety nor new ideas. Probably because it added the Demon Hunter, Blizzard chose to be a bit more conservative with the other classes and decks.
Although not directly associated with the expansion, Blizzard has also implemented a number of new features with the 17.0 update. Some cards have been removed from the base game, others have been changed, and some have been added. Battlegrounds also received changes and rebalancing, but one of the biggest changes concerns the ranking system. Instead of having a basic table, players will be divided into several categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Legend. With the exception of the Legend category, all the others include ten levels that you must overcome to advance.
Unsurprisingly, the Demon Hunter is the highlight of Ashes of Outlands; it's a fun and powerful class for those who prefer to play on the front foot. However, if the Demon Hunter doesn't appeal to you, you won't find that much to be excited about in Ashes of Outlands. Yes, there are new cards for all classes, and some are interesting and fun, but in general, little has changed in terms of decks and strategies. Hearthstone remains fun, but the new expansion has done little to rekindle our enthusiasm.
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