With each new Hearthstone expansion comes change. For some decks, it means a host of new tools, bolstering pre-existing strategies. But some cards can alter the approach entirely, becoming a cornerstone of a new look for a class. Our exclusive card reveal, Dark Pharaoh Tekahn, may do exactly that for Warlocks.
Tekahn has been featured prominently in Warcraft before, both as an enemy in World of Warcraft and as a Warlock hero in the Dalaran Heist—the single-player quest experience in the Rise of Shadows expansion. But in Saviors of Uldum, the upcoming expansion for Hearthstone, Tekahn will take to the board to inspire confidence in his troops.
Dark Pharaoh Tekahn
Dark Pharaoh Tekahn is a five-mana cost 4/4 Legendary minion for the Warlock class with a pretty interesting Battlecry. When he hits the board, all your Lackeys become 4/4.
Those who have played Hearthstone for a while will find this eerily similar to a Rogue quest that once dominated the game, Crystal Core. And like the Core, Tekahn is intended to be the centerpiece of a deck.
Lead game designer Peter Whalen tells me that the idea behind Dark Pharaoh Tekahn's role is to show how he ties into the greater narrative and the League of E.V.I.L. As a general, Tekahn was a good pick to be a "buildaround" for a Lackey presence in the Warlock class, similar to Heistbaron Togwaggle for Rogue players.
Though Tekahn went through a few iterations, including one where he added Lackeys to your hand and another especially fun one where he destroyed your Lackeys and gained power from them, the team settled on this overall Lackey buff as the cornerstone for Warlock Lackey. As Whalen puts it, they're trying to encourage players to "look at Lackeys in a different way" for Warlock decks.
"We wanted to see what ways Lackeys could evolve, and so that means especially focusing on some of the other evil classes, what can they do with Lackeys," Whalen says.
As to where this could fit for Warlock players, game designer Alec Dawson posits the thought of a Zoo deck that makes greater use of Lackeys. Zoo, for those not up to speed on Hearthstone jargon, is a type of deck focused on getting low-cost minions on the board and generating more using Warlock's natural card draw. Basically, it wants to get control of the board early and never let it go. It's one of my favorite archetypes to play, personally, and Tekahn seems like a prime candidate to design a new Zoo-lock deck around.
"You would probably play Tekahn in sort of this Zoo build, but now you're adding a lot of wacky synergies within that deck," Dawson says. "It's a different take on it, different build, different look to the classic Zoo deck, and now you're going to be playing a bunch of Lackeys in that deck."
To build out the Zoo a little more, we got a look at a few more cards. First up is a solid body to get on the board early: a two-cost 2/2 Demon with Lifesteal, called Vilefiend.
While this fella is likely to cause some early hurt and offset the card draw pain for Warlocks, it's the new Lackey coming this expansion that's sure to beef up the Zoo. This is the Titanic Lackey, a new Lackey for the Saviors of Uldum expansion:
While many Lackeys offer a strategic or offensive boon, Whalen and Dawson frame the Titanic Lackey as a defensive option for decks making use of the Lackeys. As Whalen puts it, it'll make cards more "sticky," so your lower-cost minions aren't getting cleared off so easily.
It also lets some decks, like a Rogue or Warlock Lackey deck, get a wall up early thanks to the Taunt attribute. This, combined with some low-cost minions and even other Lackeys, could get real ramp-up started.
It all ties into this expansion and where it fits in the yearly cycle of Hearthstone. Lackeys are one of the overarching game tools that Blizzard has been tinkering with for this cycle of expansions, and the designers are hoping Tekahn helps shake up the norms by imaging what a Warlock take on Lackeys can be.
"We really wanted to make sure that Lackeys, as a yearlong mechanic, evolved throughout the next expansion," Dawson says. "And we think it makes you think about Lackeys completely differently, you approach how you build a Lackey deck differently. Tekahn, his Lackey deck, that Warlock deck plays much differently than how Lackeys play in Rogue."
Saviors of Uldum is the second expansion in this Year of the Dragon cycle, hitting the servers on August 6. Alongside focusing on the good guys a little more than prior expansion Rise of Shadows, this new set of cards looks to add Quests back into the fold. While the Warlock quest, Supreme Archaeology, doesn't quite fit into the aggressive playstyle that Tekahn is promoting, the two could combine into a draw-heavy, Lackey swarming deck. Or Warlock could have two warring archetypes with different schools of thought. Either way, playing Warlock is going to get a lot more interesting come August.