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Voyage to the Sunken City - Queen Azshara Returns in Hearthstone
11/4/2022 em 13:36
While World of Warcraft players look up to the skies in hopes of a Dragon-centric expansion announcement this week, the Hearthstone community takes a deep dive into Warcraft history. On April 12,
Voyage to the Sunken City
, Hearthstone's first expansion of 2022, finally launches and invites players to go on a subaqueous expedition. The main setting tells the story of Ambassador Faelin, a slightly overweight Highborne night elf, who is in search of his hometown, Zin-Azshari, after the Great Sundering.
Everybody who knows only the slightest bit of Azerothian history can already expect what Faelin and his friends will find on the bottom of the ocean - but how did Hearthstone recreate the beautiful yet dangerous world of Nazjatar, empire of Queen Azshara and her Naga?
I'm Tharid, a writer for Wowhead's sister site Hearthstone Top Decks, and I'll be covering the new content around Hearthstone's upcoming expansion called Voyage to the Sunken City. If you want to check out the most recent news about the expansion and Hearthstone in general, head over to
The Search for Zin-Azshari
The first cinematic trailer of Voyage to the Sunken City makes it more than obvious that Ambassador Faelin is out to visit his hometown Zin-Azshari.
Many millennia ago, the city formed the cultural center of power within the Kaldorei Empire. Queen Azshara and her Highborne resided in the capital that was built around the Well of Eternity, the incredible source of power that allowed the elves to wield arcane magic. One day, Azshara was approached by her close counselor Xavius about a possible alliance with Sargeras, who sought to use the powers of the well as well. In exchange, the queen was promised that she will be able to expand her empire even further. However, the cunning Sargeras exploited and directly caused the first invasion of the Burning Legion. What followed was one of the most horrific conflicts in Azerothian history: The War of the Ancients.
As we all know, the grand finale of said war is best described through
Azshara's Warbringer cinematic
. The Well of Eternity collapsed and caused a massive explosion that resulted in the Great Sundering. At the heart of the explosion, Zin-Azshari and its citizens were bound to be completely destroyed. However, Queen Azshara made yet another pact with the dark side: The Old God N'Zoth offered her and her people salvation - and she agreed to serve the Corruptor on her own terms. In that very moment, the mighty Naga were born, who, under the reign of Queen Azshara, have played an integral part in Warcraft lore ever since.
Now back to the Voyage to the Sunken City:
A GameRant interview with Christie Golden
unveiled that Faelin resided in Suramar when the Great Sundering had happened, serving as an ambassador of Zin-Azshari. He doesn't know anything about the dire fate of his hometown and decided to hire a mechagnome engineer called Ini Stormcoil to build and navigate the expedition's submarine. Together with Ini and Sir Finley, one of the famous members of the League of Explorers, Faelin is out and about to find his queen and her empire's capital.
Colossal Minions and Dredge Keyword
What the expedition crew finds first, however, are terrible sea monsters of overwhelming size. As one of the two new mechanics in the Sunken City expansion, Team 5 fully utilizes the advantages of digital card games by introducing the
Colossal minions come in multiple parts, showcasing their sheer largeness on the board. In the case of
Glugg the Gulper
, the relatively weak 7-mana 3/5 body also summons three so-called appendages - hence the
card text. Additionally, Glugg gains stats of friendly minions when they die. Most Colossal minions have synergy effects with their appendages or the board in general, making them difficult to deal with.
The Colossal keyword continues to deliver Blizzard's design philosophy to connect gameplay and fantasy. Including powerful minions with high mana values should pay off on average, so playing them has to feel great - and the combination of multi-card art design and powerful visuals as showcased by the gargantuan
does exactly that.
The second new keyword is called
. The fantasy behind this mechanic is more than obvious: On their way to the bottom of the ocean, the brave adventurers will undoubtedly find long-forgotten treasures and riches.
The Dredge keyword lets you look at the three bottom cards of your deck and puts the one you want on top of your remaining card pile. The released Dredge cards of this expansion show that Blizzard is open to keyword design that can easily apply to both minions and spells. That again offers new ways to play the game with a high amount of new cards.
After the continuous release of mechanics that interacted with the board state or minions directly, Dredge looks to promote active deck manipulation, a meta dimension of card games that Hearthstone hasn't touched too much since its initial release back in 2014. The release of the Dredge keyword is a good thing - because putting choice directly into the players' hands instead of letting them pray to the RNG gods creates new levels of much-needed determinism within Hearthstone.
Queen Azshara and the Naga - An Addition Long Overdue
Last but not least, Hearthstone's upcoming expansion introduces yet another new minion type: the Naga.
The WoW community as a whole has fantasized about a Naga expansion for the longest time - and that also applies to Hearthstone players around the globe, as Naga cards have been in the game since its inception. After probably playing too much WoW back in Patch 8.2, Team 5 has heard the call and implemented a very unique tribe mechanic for the Naga.
Recognizing their magical powers gained in their former lives as Highborne, Naga in Hearthstone synergize heavily with the usage of spells in all forms. What is also interesting is the fact that
the majority of all Naga cards are relatively cheap
compared to other minion types. The four legendary cards below showcase a certain cost efficiency while rewarding spell-focussed gameplay:
Besides their obviously strong card effects, almost all named Naga minions pay homage to their counterparts in World of Warcraft - may it be
, the first boss in Azshara's Eternal Palace,
, the Azshara-crazed priestess from Ranazjar Island in Desolace, or
, the Demon Hunter Class Hall champion from Legion. As always, Team 5 took their time and sifted through all chapters of Naga history to portray one of the most iconic antagonists of Azeroth.
This sentiment rings particularly true when looking at the greatest of all Naga cards:
Equipped with a solid 5/5 body for 5 mana, this neutral legendary card screams value. In a spell-heavy deck, Azshara's Battlecry requirement is easily met - and in return, players get to choose one of four exclusive treasures:
It's safe to say that every single one of these four cards can pack a punch no matter if played in a hyper-control or an aggressive deck. What's much more exciting though is the fact that the four items tell the story of Azshara's life.
First there is
Xal'atath, Blade of the Black Empire
. The dagger that helped us to eventually defeat the mighty N'zoth has been one of the focal points in Azshara's role as an antagonist of the Battle for Azeroth expansion.
Next in line is the
Ring of Tides
, an artifact hidden in Vol'dun that Azshara wanted to call her own as part of her evil plans in Patch 8.0.
Another powerful artifact that Azshara has used to her advantage is the
Horn of the Ancients
. During the Cataclysm expansion, Azshara's naga stole the ancient druid artifact to distract Malfurion during the
Battle for Darkshore
Last but not least is the
Tidestone of Golganneth
, one of the most powerful artifacts that the world of Azeroth has ever seen. The stone that was also one of the Pillars of Creation helped forge Azeroth as we know it today. Millenia ago, Azshara happened to destroy the tidestone in hopes that its explosion would destroy Azsuna and Suramar City. Later on, the Naga queen tried to restore the relic to use it to her advantage. You can read up how well that went in
Lore of Queen Azshara guide!
This Voyage is an Homage!
Thematically, Hearthstone's first expansion of 2022 is one of Team 5's more safe bets: A Warcraft fan favorite as a setting, a popular race as a minion type, and loads of references to the rich history of the Naga. All that is accompanied by the return of the beloved
League of Adventurers
, Hearthstone's trusty adventurer group, and many more cards of the past with
2022's Core set rotation
No new game modes, no incredible reveals
- Team 5's decision to fully support existing content pipelines over the course of 2022's Standard
Year of the Hydra
is a good thing. On that note, returning to three individual expansion settings makes even more sense from a story perspective. Ultimately, The Voyage to the Sunken City is a simple expansion that showcases Team 5's learned lessons regarding the definition of a successful new set - an incredibly iconic setting, insanely creative card effects, and a banger of a cinematic trailer song.
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