In April 2016 Hearthstone’s third expansion was released. Whispers of the Old Gods brought to our collection the four big gods of Warcraft’s lore. Far from whispering, C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, N’Zoth and Y’Shaarj came out screaming, demanding their place in our decks. A titanic fight between the most powerful creatures in the Universe to gain control of a Metagame that ended up being quite diverse. N’Zoth loaded control-Deathrattle decks, C’thun created a new buffing dynamic with his cultists, while Y’Shaarj appeared in ramp style decks and crazy Barnes’ synergies. But there was a God who brought to the Meta the end of all hope.
The Downfall of Hope
At first sight, it seemed that “Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End” would be the less used of the four gods. Pure RNG, the king of randomness was a legendary neutral minion created by Blizzard just for fun. The goal was to work in trolling archetype decks, but what looked like a joke turned into a nightmare. Yogg showed up in ranked as much as the other Gods or even more and, to our surprise, he was also deciding big tournaments. His Battlecry was so OP that in the 3rd of October 2016 balance update 6.1.3 Blizzard was forced to nerf him. But the God wasn’t disenchanted for his full refund and continued being played by his most faithful disciples. The truth is that Yogg can be MacGyver, fixing an impossible to win game, but also can become Mr. Bean, destroying all your chances of winning in the most pathetic way. Even so, he still has his place in countless decks. But, what is it that makes this god imperishable?
Playing with Yogg-Saron
Yogg’s Battlecry effect casts a random spell for each spell you’ve cast during that game, so this gives us a clue on which decks Yogg fits better, being archetypes like control and miracle the most current and Mage, Rogue, Druid and Priest as the classes that best dominate the old god. Here are some examples: Hotform’s Legend Yogg Tempo Mage, the Rogue deck with which Ryzen got 12 victories in a Heroic Tavern Brawl, a kind of Jade Druid that is being used in this summer’s Dreamhack and in Hearthstone Global Games or the Secret Mage that a few players brought to the Spring HCT. Definitely decks with a lot of spells, with spell-generating cards (Babbling Book, Primordial Glyph, Cabalist's Tome, Shadow Visions, Lyra the Sunshard or even Jade Idol) and cards from which you can discover and draw spells like Hallucination.
To sum up: the more spells you cast, the better for Yogg. But be careful being too greedy. If you hold Yogg in your hand for too long while playing spells to fatten him up, you might end up losing the game. It is like when you have to wake up and you keep hitting the snooze button. In the end, you’ll fall sleep and be late for work.
When to play him? That’s like Coca Cola’s formula and sometimes it is more complicated than it looks. Yogg’s main function is to provide the salvation to a game you couldn’t win with any of your other cards and your win condition depends on the spells he casts. So let’s rephrase the question: What should we expect from him? First, regaining board control thanks to cleansing spells, being ideal those that exclusively affect enemy minions like Blizzard, Flamestrike, Lightning Storm or Starfall. Second, we will look for health restoring spells like Holy Light, Greater Healing Potion or anyone that combines cleansing with healing like Holy Nova, Siphon Soul or the Knights of the Frozen Throne’s new card Spirit Lash (although these last two can destroy Yogg itself ending his effect). Spells that give armor are also useful like Earthen Scales, Ironforge Portal or Shield Block, and secrets like Explosive Trap, Ice Barrier, Ice Block, Spellbender or Noble Sacrifice will help dodging death.
But in the end, Yogg will do as he pleases, so playing the god of death is a risky action and we should to keep in mind that it can have devastating side effects for our ambitions. In that way, we have to watch out for fatigue if we draw too many cards because of spells like Nourish, Arcane Intellect or Sprint which can also saturate our hand and burn some cards we wanted to count with on later turns. Another important aspect are self-inflicting damage spells that can lead us to the “Concede” button. Finally, you have to be careful not to burn the rope and leave actions half done like attacking with recently appeared charging minions; attacking with your hero if a weapon has been equipped; forget to use extra Mana Crystals that may have appeared due to spells such as Innervate; or not using reduced-cost spells that Primordial Glyph may have put in our hand. Keeping all of this in mind and knowing that Yogg chooses targets randomly (god bless this mess!), it is advisable to release the monster in those turns where your opponent has control of the board and threatens us with his minions or when the health difference between both heroes is significant. But it is not always a desperate measure that is played as an epilogue of the game by crossing fingers and praying. Many times your opponent is near to death but you don’t have the means to defeat him. Playing Yogg is looking for that final push.
As you can see, there isn’t a specific moment when playing Yogg gives you an instantly win. But even so you have to prepare your late game for the old god’s arrival, evaluating future actions depending on whether Yogg will keep you alive turning the game upside-down or if his appearance will be brief as a sneeze. Also you have to think how your next turn will be if Yogg leaves you with some Mana Crystals overloaded. Finally, I recommend that you attack with your minions before playing the old god. There are spells like Twisting Nether, DOOM! (which has Yogg in its design) and Brawl that can destroy your own minions making you lose all possible initiative. These many outcomes make playing Yogg not just a matter of chance but a well calculated risk/reward move.
In conclusion, we will continue seeing Yogg in the future Metagame, resolving situations in a dramatic and absurd way and maybe with the arrival of Knights of the Frozen Throne he will fit in other classes, like our forgotten Warlock (sniff). But one thing is important, without the old god, Hearthstone would miss the awesomeness that turns monotonous and boring games into real action movies with more surprising twists than Game of Thrones.