It looks like we’ll be taking part in some online schooling ourselves as Hearthstone’s latest expansion, Scholomance Academy, is set to go live on August 7. If you, like any good student, are looking to do some advanced reading before the first day of school, then you’re in luck, because we’ve got some study tips for you.
Thanks to our good friends at AKG Games Philippines and Hearthstone SEA, we got a chance to try out the new cards and mechanics of Scholomance Academy ahead of its launch date. Are you anxious to see which decks are going to be ruling the meta for the next few weeks? Well, we’ll get to that, but first let’s take a refresher on all the new mechanics coming with the release of Scholomance Academy.
If you’ve played World of Warcraft, you’d know that Scholomance is actually a school of necromancy for the young and aspiring necromancers of the Scourge. Fortunately in Hearthstone, you don’t have to be a ghastly summoner of the dead to enroll at Scholomance, but you’re gonna need a bit of class and spell mastery if you want to get a high GPA (which, in this case, could stand for Good Plays Average).
Here are the new, key mechanics for Scholomance Academy:
In Scholomance Academy, you have the freedom to pursue your various scholarly interests through the Double Major program. Have you always played the Rogue class but wished you had some Mage class burst damage? Ever wished Anduin could use the power of the Light in the same way that Uther does? Well, now you can put together the best parts of your favorite classes to craft some Dual-Class decks of your own.
The Dual-Class cards provide more flexibility to your decks, allowing you to shift between class archetypes according to your match-ups. As a mechanic, they feel like a homage to another card game with multi-colored cards whose name rhymes with Tragic: The Slathering, and it might be more than a coincidence considering we’ll also be able to “Scry” in this expansion. It’s a nice nod to a classic card game that also fits with the flavor of the expansion; Scholomance Academy is, after all, a school of magic.
What’s a school of magic without some spell-triggered effects? Spellburst, a new keyword being introduced in this expansion, is a mechanic that gives a one-off effect after you cast a spell. Not only does it provide some value for mana cost, but it also allows players to choose the timing for when the effects are triggered. You can play a Spellburst minion and trigger its effect in any of your following turns when you play a spell, granting you more control over what happens on the board.
Finally, for when you want to make sure you have enough spells to trigger those Spellburst effects, there are the Studies cards. Studies are powerful 1-mana spells that also provide a 1-mana discount for the next card of a certain type that you play. Their 1-mana cost as well as the discount they provide can help to smoothen out your mana curve and extract value from your Spellburst cards in the early turns, and in the late-game they can open the way to some crazy combos. I’m sure Kael’thas Sunstrider would approve of your Studies.
We were able to play two hours of the new expansion to see all the new mechanics and cards in action. I made three decks to test out some new mechanics: Soul Fragment Warlock, Buff Paladin, and Buff Priest. While my Dual-Class Priest and Paladin decks were quickly crushed by my opponent, the Soul Fragment Warlock deck showed some promise.
The addition of the Soul Fragment mechanic gives Warlock and Demon Hunter decks some extra heals as well as valuable tempo minions to play in the early turns, so expect to play against some Zoolocks and Aggro Demon Hunters in Ranked mode. You’re going to want to play around their Soul Fragment shenanigans.
Having played more Battlegrounds than Ranked/constructed Hearthstone in the past few months made my deckbuilding skills rusty, but I was able to glean some strong decks from my opponent NoblePatron (piloted by Hearthstone pro and AKG Games Community Manager, CaraCute). She played Spell Damage/Mana Giant Mage, a Zoo-type Shaman deck, and a Scholomance variation of Aggro Rogue, among other decks. These three decks strongly rely on Spellburst effects and discounts to fit in as much damage and value each turn, so they can end the game before the opponent can get a chance to build a strong late-game board state.
I anticipate that Spellburst will play a huge part in the upcoming meta because their strong effects can help you swing the game in your favor in the early turns. You’re gonna want some Silence, AoE damage, or any other appropriate counters in your deck when the expansion goes live. Of course, you can also fight magic with magic, and see how you fare with some Spellburst-heavy decks of your own.
There were a lot of other decks I wanted to try out but couldn’t due to time constraints, but I’m happy to share that the Dual-Class, Spellburst, and Studies cards refreshed the gameplay experience of Hearthstone more than I expected. You’d think that the Spellburst and Studies cards would be playing second fiddle to the Dual-Class cards, which seem to be the star of the expansion, but I found all three key features to be equally fun to play with and figure out.
Spellburst isn’t as straightforward a mechanic as it seems, and because its effect relies on both your spell timing and your minion staying alive, it adds a level of depth to strategizing and decision-making like no other mechanic we’ve seen in Hearthstone before. When day one of the expansion comes, don’t sleep on your Spellburst cards, you’ll see just how good they are when you put them into play.
The Scholomance Academy expansion goes live on August 7, and I’ll be doing a more in-depth review of the set once I get to play some decks from all the classes. Make sure to stay tuned for the latest news on Hearthstone as the expansion will continue to unfold over the next few months. And don’t be late on your first day, you wouldn’t want to anger Headmaster Kel’Thuzad.
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