Before Blizzard launched the first expansion for its popular online card game, Hearthstone, many players wondered if we'd be treated to additional hero classes in the coming expansions. So far, we have yet to see any of World of Warcraft's additional classes — Death Knight, Monk, and the upcoming Demon Hunter — added to the game. But that didn't stop user SVertigo over on the /r/CustomHearthstone subreddit from creating a compelling concept for a Monk hero.
Origins of the Monk in World of Warcraft
The overall picture of the Monk class in WoW is of one trained in patience, discipline, and balance. They are masters of the martial arts whose Zen training allows them to take on any of the three roles available (healing, damage dealing, or tanking). The Way of the Monk design for Monks' hero power is an excellent example of how this multi-faceted nature could be implemented into Hearthstone. The card neither deals a high amount of damage or heals for a large amount of health, but does a solid job of both. This not only makes it a fitting representation of one of Monks' standout designs but also a hero power that doesn't run the risk of being overpowered.
In terms of lore, the Pandaren were the first Monks who then taught these arts to fellow races after leaving their home, The Wandering Isle. The two representatives who left the Isle were Aysa Cloudsinger and Ji Firepaw, the former to the Alliance, the latter to the Horde. This makes Aysa an excellent choice for the initial Monk representative in Hearthstone (with Ji being an obvious choice for a future variation or a powerful addition to the Monk deck).
The Monk as a Healer
Of course, it wouldn't be a full representation of Monks without cards specific to their various roles, and Surging Mist is no exception. The healing card, which shares its name with its World of Warcraft counterpart, serves as a powerful spell with a low mana cost. The low mana cost may at first seem too powerful, but considering Surging Mist has the ability to be an instant-cast spell in WoW, the cost matches that aspect quite well.
The Monk as a Damage Dealer
While Monks do yield weapons in World of Warcraft, their biggest advantage comes from their mastery of the martial arts — quick punches, powerful kicks, and knowledge of exactly where to strike to cripple their opponents. One of the stronger — and more fun — abilities to use as a damage-dealing Monk is Fists of Fury, which throws a powerful flurry of punches to all targets in front of the Monk. SVertigo's Surging Fists card seems to be a take on Fists of Fury that does an excellent job of mirroring its effect in WoW, with a classic Hearthstone twist. Splitting the damage among all enemies is a nice way to keep the card from being as powerful as Fists of Fury but still retaining much of the flavor Fists of Fury offers.
Monks wouldn't be martial artists without the ability to surprise opponents with extra-fast attacks and the above two cards exemplify that. Both cards act as a way to provide Windfury — the ability to attack twice — and each does so in different ways. Swift Claws makes use of Monks' oft-overlooked capability to equip weapons while Tiger Strike mirrors its WoW version by giving a way to quickly sneak in an extra attack amidst your normal melee strikes. Moreover, with Tiger Strikes being an effect that procs fairly often, the 1-mana cost of the card is more than fitting as it allows players to use the card quickly and surprisingly to catch opponents off guard.
The Monk as a Tank
And lastly, the Monk class's ability to tank makes its appearance in this hero concept as well. The Transcendence card above is slightly different from its WoW match, but that doesn't stop it from being a useful tool in the same vein as many of Monks' other tanking abilities. Once again taking a design concept reminiscent of Monks' ability to juggle damage-dealing with all their specializations, the card gives a small buff to your hero damage and an incredibly powerful defensive cooldown.
What's a good tank without a little bit of crowd control? Spear Hand Strike, another card with a matching WoW ability, brings forth the Monk's ability to strike enemies directly in their pressure points. This card once again tosses a small amount of melee damage in the mix — a recurring theme for all aspects of Monks — and also silences the enemy for one turn. Its 4-mana cost is fitting for a spell that normally has a 15-second cooldown and finds yet another way to implement a WoW ability into Hearthstone.
The Many Minions of the Monk
And lastly, it wouldn't be Hearthstone without specific minion cards to aid your hero. The initial list of minions run the gamut of low-cost cards that showcase aspects of Monks, especially the original ones of Pandaren origin. While each of these adds attack in their own way, they each have separate effects which help make them all unique and powerful cards Monks would surely want to stock their deck with.
All in all, SVertigo has created a very compelling start to a Monk hero in Hearthstone. While there's no telling how long it will be before Monks are officially added to the game, this concept proves there is a solid foundation on which to build a Monk hero. Not only do these cards fit well within Hearthstone's format, they also bring to life the spirit of the Monk class in unique ways that would take time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of in the overall meta.
While the basic card list here is missing some higher-cost cards and some interaction potential with neutral cards, SVertigo recently posted a follow-up list of cards that would help round out the Monk deck. I, for one, am more excited than ever for a Monk hero after seeing this concept. I hope to see more from SVertigo and the Hearthstone community in the future.
And always remember, if you have your own hero concept you'd like to share, you can contribute your own concept as a Creator to Now Loading!