We lost count to how many expansions Hearthstone has received since 2014, but Blizzard keeps releasing them and players keep coming form them, so here we are once more. Saviors of Uldum is the new expansion, injecting 135 new cards that you can get in packs, or create with crystal dust. The theme, as the name implies, is Uldum, a World of Warcraft area that closely resembles ancient Egypt. In other words, expect magic, geniuses, titans, and powerful artefacts.
At a practical level, Saviors of Uldum introduces three game mechanics: Reborn, Quests, and Plagues. Quests are not a new concept, cards that the player launches at the beginning of a match with a specific goal to accomplish. When that requirement is met, the player's heroic power is replaced by a far superior power, such as Rogue's 3/2 blades with immunity, or the Warrior's ability to summon 4/2 golems. Plagues are essentially special spells with destructive power, such as the Warrior's Plague of Wrath, which destroys all wounded minions.
Truly new is the Rebirth mechanic, which as the name implies, allows a minion to be reborn with 1 health point after he dies. Let's look at the Warrior's Restless Mummy as an example, a 3/2 minion that costs 4 mana crystals, and has Rush. Reborn means that Restless Mummy can hit an opponent, die, and then reborn and hit another opponent again - or the same if the original target still stands. It is an interesting mechanic, with practical uses by itself, but it can be enhanced with other combinations. From what we have seen so far, this doesn't strike us as an unbalanced mechanic, as Reborn minions tend to have slightly lower attributes than cards with an identical cost.
In addition to the new mechanics, Uldum Saviors also introduced a number of new general cards, that from what we have seen so far, allowed players to create several types of viable decks for most classes, more than usual. We've seen Hunters thoroughly exploiting their secrets, while others preferred to amass large armies of beasts for the Hunter's Quest. As for the Warrior, some may opt for a Taunt focused deck, or bet on their weapon-focused Quest. This, of course, on top of existing decks, which can now be reinforced with some new cards.
We have seen a good variety of decks, but one thing that struck us was the number of Decks centred on Secrets. Secrets, if you don't remember, are spells that are triggered after an opponent performs an action, such as sending a minion to your player's hand after attacking, or cancelling an opponent's spell when used. Secrets are a particularly frustrating type of deck to deal with, as they can counteract your actions, forcing you to lose precious resources and turns. Fortunately, there are neutral cards that can neutralize secrets, and there are few things as satisfying as throwing the Chief Inspector to the board, nullifying all active secrets.
We were also impressed by the creativity of some cards, but one, in particular, won our heart - Zephyr, the Great. At an attribute level, he's rather unimpressive, a 3/2 minion that costs 2 mana crystals. His ability, however, is amazing: "Battlecry - If your deck has no duplicates, wish for the perfect card." What this actually means is that Zephyr will allow you to choose one card among three options, gathered form either the basic or the classic sets. These, however, are not randomly picked, on the contrary. Zephyr (the AI in fact) will read the current context of the match and offer the best cards to the player in that specific situation.
For example, if your opponent has a weapon equipped, Harrison Jones will surely be in the lot. If you're low on health, Zephyr will offer you cards that guarantee health boosts. Conversely, if the enemy is low on life, Zephyr will try to offer cards that immediately kill your opponent. Does the opponent have many minions? You can count on a card to eliminate or silence them. Don't have any minion on the board? How about a copy of the Paladin's Tirion? Just keep something in mid - Zephyr will take into account your mana, which means that if you cast him in the second round, your options will be very limited. It is, therefore, better to wait for the right time to play him.
No wonder Zephyr the Great is, according to Blizzard themselves, the most complex card they ever created. As for the possibility of being overpowered, well, don't forget that you can't have duplicate cards in the deck, which can be a big drawback.
We had already enjoyed the previous expansion, but not as much as we are enjoying Saviors of Uldum. In addition to offering many alternatives to players, it's a really fun expansion in terms of cards, effects, and variety. If you were looking for a shakeup to return to Hearthstone, Saviors of Uldum might be it.