ByJeff Zhu, writer at
I spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about Hearthstone. Follow me @GreenRangerHS
Jeff Zhu

In the weeks leading up to the release of the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, 's development group Team 5 has been up to its usual shenanigans of slowly revealing cards from the massive 132-card set. The Grimy Goons were the first faction to have their reveals.

In addition to five cards being revealed by known players, there was a voting system that encouraged individuals to vote daily and would reveal the boss of the , Don Hon'Cho. This was a needlessly tedious process, and one that ratcheted the hype for the card, which was finally revealed after a whole week. And as it turned out, it was, well, a big letdown.

My initial reaction to the card was negative, as the weeklong buildup and subsequent simplicity of the card just wasn't worth it.

But after a couple of minutes, I came to my senses and realized that Don Han'Cho is actually a really good card after all. I mean, it has value that could make it one of the best cards in the new expansion. I was OK with the fact that the card looked boring, though a lot of people on Reddit did not echo my sentiments, with many posts saying how bad Don Hon'Cho is. There was even this ridiculous poll:

What is this guy on?
What is this guy on?

Is the anger over Don Hon'Cho justified? Or is the community overreacting once again? Let's explore why this new card is better than our initial reactions have us believing.

Simple But Effective

Because Don Hon'Cho is such a simple card, he is very easy to evaluate. He is a 7-mana 5/6, meaning he is a 5-mana body, with 2 anti-tempo. The +5/+5 buff is better than the 4-mana buff Blessing of Kings. So in a quick-and-dirty calculation, Don Hon'Cho is worth a little more than 9 mana for what he does.

This ability of buffing random cards in hand has pros and cons over a regular Paladin buff spell. The pro is that Don Hon'Cho doesn't require another minion on the board to buff, rather, just a minion in hand, which is easier to pull off. The con is that the buff is random and you can't target a minion of choice. Because buffing any minion is better than buffing nothing, I'd say the pros outweigh the cons. So all in all, Don Hon'Cho might be worth 9.5 mana. This isn't broken like Dr. Boom, but has quite a big more value than the seven it costs to play.

Synergy With Current Cards

Though we haven't seen many of the cards in the new expansion, some obvious card combos do come to mind. A +5/+5 on will allow you to summon 3 7/7 minions for 5 mana. Dispatch Kodo will allow seven points of targetable damage, and creating a 7/9 minion, all for 4 mana. Wickerflame Burnbristle becomes a 7/7 Divine Shield and Taunt minion, with a plus ability for 3 mana. Rat Pack becomes a 7/7, which will spawn a full board of rats. Aside from the legendary, you could run duplicates of the other cards, increasing the chance of getting the +5/+5 buff in hand.

Synergy With Existing Cards

It doesn't take new cards to get excited over Don Han'Cho. Cheap taunts like Fierce Monkey could be played the same turn as the Don. Charge minions will get the +5 attack, allowing a cheaper alternative to in face decks. Brann Bronzebeard, played before Don Hon'Cho will allow +10/+10 distributed to hand minions. Another interesting card to consider is Soggoth the Slitherer, who becomes a 10/14 unmovable Bulwark.

The Backlash Against Don Hon'Cho

There are several reasons why some people are upset at the Don Hon'Cho reveal. Aside from the card being flat-out boring, along with a bunch of other Grimy Goons, there is anger about the cards all doing the same thing. Prior to the reveal, some thought Don Hon'Cho would allow the player to create a custom weapon. I though that Don Hon'Cho would provide custom buffs, with things like Taunt and Divine Shield that come with variable costs. The expectation that Don Hon'Cho would be creative obviously stems from the reveal of . Revealed at , Kazakus is the Kabal legendary, and the most creative card to date.

Principal designer Mike Donais explained that when played, Kazakus has the possibility to discover 135 different potion combinations. The player undergoes a triple discover, choosing a mana cost, and two separate discovers for different abilities. While Kazakus is extremely flashy, and awards higher-skill players for making good decisions, it is at the mercy of two discovers, which means there is a bit of RNG in it. In the end, I think Don Hon'Cho will be a more useful card in Hearthstone, given the lesser reliance on RNG and player skill. But I get that these two boss legendaries are on the opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to creativity, making Don Hon'Cho more disappointing for some.

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Another argument against Don Hon'Cho that's related to Grimy Goons cards is that they all have the same mechanic. If the mechanic of buffing hand cards is not viable in the competitive meta, most of the cards will not be played. This all-in approach has some benefits, as it makes the Grimy Goons consistent in constantly buffing cards. While it is a completely valid concern that the cards won't be played due to the meta, I have confidence in the Hearthstone dev team and its play testing for all the cards.

In the end, I think the argument against Don Hon'Cho is a bit ludicrous and reactionary. It's OK to be disappointed in the lack of creativity, but to call it one of the worst legendaries is absurd. Fortunately, most people in the Hearthstone community recognize that Don Hon'Cho appears to be a pretty good card, and can overlook his boring ability.

Hearthstone: Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion is expected to be released by the end of 2016. What do you think of the new cards?


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