Blizzard has provided Metabomb and its sister site Eurogamer with a new card to reveal from the Kobolds and Catacombs set!
To say it's no ordinary card is a bit of an understatement. Say hello to Temporus, the Priest's Legendary minion from the upcoming expansion:
Temporus is a 7 Mana 6 / 6 Dragon, but you've probably already noticed the really interesting thing about this card: the Battlecry. Once played, both players are gifted a double-turn, but it's the opponent who gets the first chance to exploit this huge opportunity.
As high-risk, high-reward strategies go it's up there with the best, and we had some immediate thoughts about how this card might fit into the current and future meta.
Fortunately, Metabomb [MB] had the opportunity to talk through them all with Game Designer Peter Whalen [PW] and Art Director Ben Thompson [BT] a little earlier on this week.
Read on for their insights into the design of the new Legendary, the decks most likely to exploit its strengths, the likelihood of an overall control meta, and the difficulty of anticipating the impact of unique cards like Temporus.
Temporus Interview with Peter Whalen and Ben Thompson
MB: This is obviously a very unusual Battlecry and so the first thing I want to do is get a very clear understanding of exactly what happens when you play Temporus onto the board.
PW: You play Temporus and the effect goes off. It's pretty cool, with swirling light blue effects, then you finish the rest of your turn.
Your opponent then takes their turn. Their End Turn button will say Extra Turn, just like with Time Warp from the Mage Quest. They play their turn, then get a second turn.
It then goes back to your side. Your End Turn button will say Extra Turn and sparkle a little bit. You'll finish your turn, then you get a second turn. Then things go back to normal.
MB: When people first see this card, I think the first question they're going to have is to ask if this exact Battlecry is unique to Temporus in Kobolds and Catacombs?
PW: Oh yeah, very much. This is an unusual card. This card is very unique.
MB: What deck archetypes have you specifically targeted that you believe Temporus is going to be a part of? In terms of both existing archetypes and new ones?
PW:There are a couple of different ways you can play this card.
One is to play a pretty defensive deck that can win the game in those two extra turns. You can get yourself into a position where your life total's high enough and you have reasonable board control. You can play this and you're pretty sure your opponent's not going to kill you in two turns. Then it's pretty easy to kill the other player if your deck is set up for it in the two turns you get at the end of that.
There's a very interesting risk/reward element with playing Temporus, where I need to be pretty sure you can't beat me on the two turns I'm going to give you. It's also interesting from your opponent's perspective: “OK I've got two turns now. What are the two crazy things I can do to fight back?”
You can also play it in decks that aren't designed to one or two-turn kill. You can play some kind of Midrange Dragon Priest deck that can play Temporus on Turn 7, and your opponent probably doesn't manage to kill you. You can then take advantage of your first turn to clear his board, and then use the second one to establish a board of your own.
You can get a pretty big swing back in your favour.
MB: One of my concerns was how effectively Dragon Priest would be able to capitalise on Temporus, given its current formulation.
PW: So, there's Duskbreaker which in Dragon Priest will let you deal three damage to all other minions, assuming you have a Dragon in your hand. It's a very powerful way for Dragon Priest to get control of the board back.
MB: The new deck that I presumed Temporus could be a central part of was Malygos Priest. Is that a thing you see happening with cards like Malygos, then Radiant Elemental(s) and burst damage being played across two turns?
PW: That is certainly a thing people are group to try with Temporus. We'll see how powerful that is.
The biggest challenge with it is surviving your opponent's double turn. I think as that deck evolves it'll be interesting to see how those games play out, and how you're going to set up your defenses.
MB: Regardless of the precise tier list you prefer to use, everyone knows what we're talking about when we talk about a Tier 1 deck. Will Temporus find a way into that Tier 1 meta?
PW: It's pretty hard to tell. Kobolds and Catacombs is going to shape the game in a lot of different ways. We don't think "Oh we're sure these four decks are going to be Tier 1 and these are going to be Tier 2". We just don't know that.
Our players invent all kinds of decks and archetypes that we didn't expect. That's part of the fun of deck-building and creating new stuff in Hearthstone. It's hard to say whether Temporus is going to be Tier 1 or not. I just don't know the answer to that.
MB: Do you think it'll be popular enough that we'll see counter decks that specifically exploit that two-turn opportunity?
BT: I hope so! I think that's certainly where a lot of the fun is going to come from with this. I do love that the design team put your opponent's turn first. I think that's the interesting switch-up. I think it's fairly obvious that if you got your first two turns when you wanted them it would be pretty awful.
PW: It's pretty rare to see counter decks that deliberately disrupt other decks in the game. It's pretty rare that decks get above a 20% play rate. It happens very, very occasionally, but my guess is that a Temporus deck won't hit that level so it's pretty unlikely you'll build a deck that's going to destroy it and lose to everything else.
I think the actual [counter] gameplay in it is to hold big threats in your hand to take advantage of the Temporus turn if you're playing against that deck.
MB: With a lot of decks you get those very clear tells early on in the match about the kind of opponent you're facing. Do you think there'll be that same kind of telegraphing when you're playing against a Temporus deck?
PW: I think if the Temporus deck proves popular then yeah, for sure. On the other hand, I think there's an opportunity for players to put Temporus into a different shell, so they can take advantage of the fact their opponent has no idea they're going to do it.
It's one of those cards that's most powerful when it's a surprise. If you can put it into a shell where your opponent's not expecting it, I think that's going to be where it's at its best.
MB: Often when you see cards like this with a very unusual effect they're certainly fun and exciting to play, but inconsistent and uncompetitive - Exodia Paladin, for example.
Unless we enter a true control meta, I'm concerned Temporus might end up as a bit of a win-more card that simply gives the opponent too much opportunity to kill you first. Is that a reasonable concern?
PW: When we've done powerful, crazy, weird effects in the past, sometimes they've been incredibly powerful and seen very good competitive play. Things like the Quest Mage have seen a bunch of play, and Quest Rogue saw lots of play and was very powerful.
Those are very weird effects that are hard to evaluate on Day 1. Certainly there have been effects that seemed powerful and weird but didn't end up seeing tonnes of competitive play. Swamp King Dred is a good example. It was a weird card and it didn't end up seeing a lot of play.
It's hard to evaluate - I guess the main thing about weird cards is that they're hard to evaluate almost by definition. We'll have to see how Temporus evolves - it's hard for me to say “Yeah! This is going to be a powerful card in Kobolds and Catacombs.”
MB: Do you anticipate a slower, more control-orientated meta in Kobolds and Catacombs? Is Temporus indicative of the direction you're taking?
PW: It's tough to tell. We're putting in powerful board control effects like Duskbreaker. They're cards that are best when you're behind. Duskbreaker is a card that's good if you don't have board-control, because it'll damage your own minions as well.
We're putting in some more cards in that direction that are your comeback cards. These are cards where if my opponent does something very aggressive, and I'm doing something more defensive, I have more opportunity to come back onto the board. Duskbreaker's a good example of that and there are others in the set.
We're putting in those cards to allow those defensive players to have options to come back and play a defense role. Whether that evolves into “This is going to be a control meta” or “This is an aggressive meta”? That's kind of up to our playerbase, and how the cards fall out.
MB: Looking at the cards we've seen so far - like Duskbreaker and Temporus - are we returning to a point where Dragon Priest is the signature deck for the hero? Is that a deliberate design intention?
PW: Right now we see a bunch of different Priest decks in the game. There's a Highlander Priest deck, there's Silence Priest that has done fairly well lately. There is a Dragon Priest in the metagame right now that's more of an Inner Fire / Divine Spirit deck, but it's popularity is pretty low.
What we want to do in an expansion is new archetypes people can experiment with. I think Highlander Priest is going to be very, very good, I think Silence Priest is still going to be quite good. If Dragon Priest can evolve as another opportunity for people to experiment with, then that's great.
I don't want to say I think Dragon Priest is going to be the strongest deck - I think it's going to be another option for Priest.
One of the things I like with Kobolds and Catacombs is that Dragons fit the fantasy. It's about the dungeon crawl experience, going underground and facing all of these classic fantasy monsters. Dragons are a really big part of that.
We've seen Dragon Soul as the weapon and what that means for Priests as a whole in Kobolds and Catacombs. We've seen Temporus and Duskbreaker, and there's a number of cool Dragon things going on. That's a great fit for the fantasy, as well as fitting in an archetype that's a little bit under-served in Priest right now.
MB: On that subject of exploring underground and encountering these fantasy creatures, how does Temporus fit in thematically - given its place in the Caverns of Time from WOW's Burning Crusade expansion?
PW: Things didn't go that well for Temporus in Caverns of Time. He had to retreat underground to lick his wounds, and so naturally with the Kobolds tunnelling around they ended up where Temporus was.
As the Kobolds are exploring, they're digging into tunnels and catacombs all over the place, and they're going to run into some crazy stuff. There's Rin, the First Disciple who's started this ritual to find a horrible demon. The Kobolds tunnelled into her catacomb, and they've also tunnelled into the chamber where Temporus is hanging out.
MB: Ben, from an artistic perspective, how do you go about taking Temporus from WOW and transferring it into Hearthstone? What's your starting point?
BT: World of Warcraft offers some awesome fertile ground for a lot of great ideas, be they artistic or story-driven. Getting the chance to put Temporus into Hearthstone is no small part of that.
Getting the image that we felt was very familiar - the look and feel of Temporus, and the breath weapon - we always run into a problem with very, very big creatures having to fit into a very small frame.
Temporus is not small. He's not a whelpling, he's a big dragon, so as such when we run into that we typically look for something distinctive about their head or head piece - the way their head or crest works.
In this case, the breath weapon itself going off and getting a hint that this is not fire being used - this is not your typical fire dragon. Those kinds of things are what we're going to lean into. The artist was excited to do Temporus because as it turns out he's also a WOW player. So he was super-excited and couldn't wait to dive in and try his hand at it.
PW: I love the Dragon art in this set. There are so many good Dragons!
To find out more about the new expansion, make sure you check out our enormous Kobolds and Catacombs guide. Our equally in-depth Dungeon Run guide also has the lowdown on everything to do with Hearthstone's upcoming single-player content.