The Witchwood Card Review Part 10 – Worgen Abomination, Town Crier, Totem Cruncher, Countess Ashmore, Book of Specters, and More!

If you’re anything like me, then reveal season is your favorite time of the year (alongside the first days of a new expansion). With nothing figured out, new cards coming every day, wild theories and early deck builds (which most likely won’t work) popping up everywhere, and that surprise when you look at some card and think to yourself – “what were they thinking when they’ve designed it?”

In this article, I’ll take a closer look at some of the recently revealed cards, reviewing them and rating from 1 to 10. The scale itself should be quite obvious, but just to quickly explain my point of view: A card rated 5 is average – it might be playable in some decks, but it’s nothing special (think something like Plated Beetle from Kobolds & Catacombs). Cards below 5 might see some play in off-meta decks, or as obscure techs, but the closer we get to 1, the lower chance it is that they will see play. When I rate card 1 or 2, I don’t believe that it will see any Constructed, non-meme play at all. On the other hand, going above 5 means that I see this card as something with a lot of potential. While I can’t guarantee that it will work out in the end, I believe that the cards with 6-8 are likely to see at least some Constructed play, while cards rated 9 or 10 are, in my mind, nearly sure hits. 1 and 10 are reserved to the worst or best cards I can imagine, meaning that they won’t be used often.

Previous Card Reviews

Remember that with only a part of the whole expansion revealed, it’s incredibly hard to review cards accurately, since we have no clue what else will be released, what synergies will be pushed or how rotation will shape the meta. I advise you to pay more attention to the description than the rating itself – I will try to explore some of the potential synergies and reasons why a given card might or might not work. I also encourage you to share your own predictions and reviews in the comment section. Even if you aren’t sure, don’t worry, no one is! There is nothing wrong with being wrong, I have never seen anyone who nailed most of the card ratings before the release. But, without further ado, let’s proceed with the reviews!

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Worgen Abomination

It’s not the Sleep with the Fishes replacement Warrior has needed… To be fair, this card doesn’t even remind me of Sleep. It’s kind of like a conditional Baron Geddon with a slightly better stat-line. However, I’m not a big fan of it.

This feels like a Warrior card, but might not actually be best in Warrior. Yes, it seems like the obvious choice because of the Whirlwind effects, but Baron Geddon is often just as good in those decks while not requiring any sort of activator. If you have minions on the board and you play Whirlwind, it will damage your minions too anyway, so why play it over Geddon? The only reason I see is the 6 health, which is harder to remove than 5 health, but that’s about it. It might be tried out, people might experiment with it a bit in Warrior, but ultimately I feel like it’s not going to be good enough.

Where this card might be played are decks that can damage opponent’s minions while leaving their own minions intact. A great combo would be, for example, with Maelstrom Portal. If your minions have full health, it wouldn’t hit them, so it would only damage opponent’s stuff for 2. But Portal is rotating out. You can still add 2 extra damage to Lightning Storm, but it’s not that good.

You could also theoretically combo it with something like Arcane Explosion in Mage, but it’s not like Mage desperately needs more late game AoEs (it’s quite the opposite, actually, there are too many AoEs in Mage and no space to put them). Or maybe with Fan of Knives in Rogue, but that’s also very slow. Hunter could use Unleash the Hounds, but that’s a 10 mana combo… in Hunter… I can’t really see it.

Remember that unlike Geddon, which you can drop by itself, this usually has to be combined with something else, unless your opponent already has a few damaged minions on the board (which is of course not always the case).

Theoretically you could also try it out in a deck that plays lots of small/token minions – you trade those small things off and play this guy, dealing lots of extra damage to the opponent’s board and having a pretty threatening 6/6 body.

All in all, most of those things could already be achieved with Baron Geddon, yet it didn’t see almost any play in the last 2 years or so. Only Big Spell Mage is running it (not always), but that’s because of the synergy with Frost Lich Jaina. It’s a decent card, but I don’t feel like it’s good enough to see Constructed play.

Card rating: 4/10

Town Crier

It’s not flashy, it doesn’t have a crazy effect, but it’s basically the strongest card in the entire expansion. 1 mana 1/2 that draws you a card, and a specific card on top of that (tutor effects are usually stronger than regular card draw) is absolutely insane. It will be an auto-include in any Warrior deck running Rush minions – so definitely the Tempo/Midrange build, but probably a Control Warrior too if he they decide to run Rush minions as well.

This card is on Kobold Librarian levels of power, maybe even stronger (given that Warlock has Life Tap and Warrior actually needs to add card draw to the deck). It’s better than Arcanologist, which is already a busted card, because it’s the same effect for 1 less mana.

One thing I absolutely dislike about this card is rarity. The effect is not unique, it’s not cool or complicated. It’s just plain, simple, and we had lots of similar cards in the game already – most of them being Common or Rare. This is an obvious auto-include, probably in multiple Warrior decks. It’s not a choice, you will simply HAVE to play this card in those decks. And it’s Epic, making the entry barrier so much higher. 2 necessary Epics are often even harder to get than a Legendary, e.g. I have every Classic Legendary there is (from packs opened over the years) and I’m still missing lots of Epics. It means that lots of people will simply have to craft them when wanting to play Warrior.

But yeah, the card is absolutely busted. Not much more to say about it. The only way for it to not see play is if Warrior will still be bad after the rotation.

Card rating: 10/10

Totem Cruncher

But why? Why would you want to destroy your own Totems? If you play a deck that wants to play totems all the time, then you don’t want to destroy them. If you don’t play a deck that wants to play totems all the time, this won’t get too much value. But wait, there is a method in this madness.

You definitely don’t want to play it in any regular Shaman deck. Yes, your Hero Power totems are often useless. But you still have to pay for them, it’s not like they come for free. Making this card big is a huge mana investment. For it to just break even (4/5 Taunt for 4 is playable), you need to pay 2 more mana on an extra Totem, which puts this card’s total mana cost from 4 to 6 etc. It ramps up, but even if you destroy let’s say 3 Totems (which is super rare, as your opponent will usually actively destroy them for you), you’ve paid 10 mana in total for a single 10/11 Taunt, which can easily get Silenced back to 2/3 or just destroyed with a single target removal.

However, where this card might make sense is a Genn Greymane deck. With no Odd cost cards, you’d often play an even card + Hero Power on those Odd turns. And if you will play a deck without Totem synergies, you wouldn’t mind destroying them that much. For example, you could Totem on Turn 1, then Murkspark Eel on Turn 2, then some other 2-drop + Totem on Turn 3, and then eat those two totems on Turn 4 and have a 6/7 Taunt in play. This scenario looks really good.

The thing I dislike about this card are the initial stats. 2/3 for 4 is very low, it’s unplayable by itself and very weak to Silence. Good thing is that it ramps up pretty quickly, and since you will play Totems very often starting from the mid game, it should be quite easy to make it work. In the worst case scenario, it will be a 5 mana 4/5 Taunt, which is meh, but even with one extra totem, it’s going to be a 6/7 Taunt and so on.

On the other hand, if you play a deck that plays Hero Power Totems so often, wouldn’t you like to put more Totem synergy in? And if you do, wouldn’t it be better to not eat them? Yeah, that’s the thing too. So in the end it’s pretty much impossible to tell which way to build deck would be optimal, and if any of them will actually work.

Overall, it’s an interesting card. Definitely unplayable in regular decks, but might have some potential in Even decks.

Card rating: 7/10 in Genn Greymane decks, 2/10 outside of them.

Countess Ashmore

I thought we were done with the Neutral Legendaries, but hey, we got one more. The Curator is rotating out and we’re getting a new version, and it’s arguably better. Curator was already a solid card – while it wasn’t always popular, there were at least a few decks that have played it during its time in Standard. This one is better, because the condition seems easier to meet. Beast, Dragons and Murlocs were rarely “generic” cards you’d want in every deck. Outside of a few exceptions, they were usually played only in specific decks built around their synergies.

However, this one draws a Rush minion, Lifesteal minion and Deathrattle minion. If we go with the Curator way to think about it, drawing 2 cards should be good enough and 3 cards should be insane. Deathrattle is probably the easiest one to get – lots of decks play some kind of Deathrattles.

Also, it doesn’t specify “minions” – it should mean that it can draw non-minion cards with those effects. Which means that, for example, Warrior might be able to draw Blood Razor and Priest could draw Spirit Lash. That’s a big deal. For example, you might want to play this in the Deathrattle Priest. Deathrattles are obvious, then you draw Spirit Lash as a Lifesteal (or well, just an Obsidian Statue, but you could play both just to be sure) and you can throw in a Rush minion or two, because they probably won’t be bad. Similarly, if you play a Warrior deck with Rush, you will also play the Woodcutter's Axe (and possibly Blood Razor too), so the Deathrattle part will be filled.

6/6 stats are also better than 4/6, but the lack of Taunt might hurt. Curator was often played for the Taunt in faster matchups and it often saved my life when I was staring at lethal. This can’t do the same. However, drawing Rush and Lifesteal cards is also good in Aggro matchups if you’re still alive at this point – Rush can fight for the board immediately, while Lifesteal, well, heals you.

While I don’t think that there will be lots of decks that will want to play it, since it’s inherently slow and fits only into the decks running at least two of those keywords, it looks really good on paper. Even if it doesn’t see play right now, it should get better as more Rush and Lifesteal minions are released over the rest of this Standard year (as Deathrattle isn’t really a problem, you can always put something like Loot Hoarder or Bloodmage Thalnos or even Plated Beetle into your deck).

Curator was a good card. Not broken or anything, but just good. I feel like this one is slightly better, so I would be absolutely surprised if it has seen no play.

Card rating: 8/10

Book of Specters

It’s one of those “it would be completely broken in the right deck, but the right deck might not exist” cases. Best case scenario, which is drawing 3 cards for 2 mana, is absolutely insane. It would be almost on the Divine Favor in slow matchups level of broken, but it would also work against Aggro. So where’s the catch? Well, you either need to play a deck with no spells, or you need to hope that your draw RNG is good enough.

To be completely honest, even 2 cards is going to be good, which means that it might be, on average, worth to play even if your deck is 20 minions and 10 spells. However, the more spells you add, the less consistent it becomes. Drawing 3, or even 2 spells, is a very bad outcome.

Also, the type of spells you play is important. You CAN’T put this into the deck where a certain spell is your win condition. The spells you play need to be “disposable”, in a way that discarding them won’t ruin your game plan. That last part, for example, might disqualify it in Exodia Quest Mage, as burning Molten Reflection, Simulacrum or some random spell generators (which you need to finish the Quest) can be really bad.

A deck that this card would fit into is a minion-based Aggro Mage deck. We had a deck like that in the past, actually – Mech Mage. The deck used only Frostbolt and Fireball as the core spells, with some builds also utilizing Mirror Entity, Unstable Portal or Arcane Intellect, but those weren’t necessary. Even assuming that you play 6 spells in total, you still have 24 minions, so a pretty high chance of getting 3 draws.

Right now, a deck like this does not exist. Mage has a very weak early minion shell. Or let me rephrase that – Mage has a solid early game minion shell, but it’s STILL centered around spells. Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Arcanologist, Kirin Tor Mage etc. are all weak if you run a deck with almost no spells (or no spells at all).

You’d basically need to run a mostly Neutral minion shell, and the current Neutral Aggro options aren’t that spectacular. You could run Murlocs, for example, but Mage has no Murloc synergy whatsoever. And that’s the problem with this card.

However, if some new cards get printed and people figure out a way to build an Aggro deck that is very light on the spells, then yeah, this is going to be completely busted.

Card rating: 10/10 in the right deck, but realistically 4/10, since such a deck doesn’t exist yet and you’ll have to high-roll it in the regular deck.

Mossy Horror

This is a neutral Shadow Word: Horror on a stick. For 2 more mana, you get a 2/7 minion, which is actually quite good. For example, Book Wyrm was a 2 mana spell on a stick (Shadow Word: Pain) and you had to pay 4 mana for the 3/6 body. Which wasn’t that bad, to be fair, the card has seen a fair share of play. But this one is even better.

However, there are two problems with this card. Horror was often used on the curve to deal with Aggro boards – this one can’t do the same thing. Aggro Paladin plays Call to Arms and you just can’t wait two more turns to deal with it. Another problem is the lack of Pint-Size Potion. While SW: Horror was often decent even without it, the Pint-Size pushed it into the “great removal” range, as you could deal with anything up to 5 Attack, which is a huge difference.

That said, the fact that it’s neutral and that it can still counter lots of plays in the mid/late game, I think that it can be good. For example, Paladins can still play that Call to Arms past Turn 6. Druid can play Spreading Plague or Living Mana depending on the deck. It could also be good against some Control Warlock boards, with cards like Voidwalker (from Voidlord), Stonehill Defender etc. Can be used to hit those pesky Northshire Clerics and Radiant Elementals against Priest. It’s also great against Shaman, because it destroys all of the Totems, as well as some common minions (e.g. Fire Fly, Hot Spring Guardian).

This card will mostly be a meta call. If lots of board flood type of decks will be played, or cards that summon multiple 0-2 Attack minions will be popular, then this is going to be a great choice. If not, well, the answer is simple. I actually quite like this card, it’s not overpowered, but it can work very well in the right meta.

Oh, and it’s a good candidate to play in the Lady in White deck. The difference between 2/7 and 7/7 is huge. After Lady in White, it will be playable even if it doesn’t hit anything.

Card rating: My guess is 7/10, but it heavily depends on the amount of 2 or less Attack minions in the upcoming meta.

Festeroot Hulk

This card has nice ramp potential, but the starting stats might make it a little too weak to actually see play. 2/7 for 5 is bad. You’d realistically need to get it to 6/7 before you’d actually want to put it into your deck. So your minions need to attack 4 times before this card is something you’d want to play. And then it snowballs.

But attacking 4 times is not that easy. This card is only good if you already have a few minions on the board and you can drop this and buff it immediately. If you’re behind on the board, it’s too slow. Even with 1 or 2 minions on the board, it might be too slow.

It synergizes with Rush minions, and it buffs itself after it attacks too, but I just can’t see it working too well. Warrior decks aren’t really about flooding the board. And with just a few minions, this will simply ramp up too slowly to be viable.

Maybe it could see play in some board flood deck, but right now there are no Warrior cards that would support such a thing. Which means that it doesn’t look good. You have to do some work to even bring this card into playable state, and then still do more work before it actually snowballs enough, making it too slow in the decks Warrior might play.

Card rating: 3/10

Splitting Festeroot

I really like this concept. You play a minion that splits into two minions on death, and those two minions split again. Without Silence or a transform effect, this is a nightmare to deal with. If you want to clear it through normal trading, you need to kill 7 bodies in total – that’s pretty insane. It’s really, really annoying.

But is it good? Well, I don’t think it is. 8 mana for an initial 4/4 minion is absolutely horrible. It gets more value when it dies, but why would your opponent want to kill it? It’s not like a 4 attack minion will threaten you in the late game. You can most likely just ignore it and take advantage of their tempo loss. Even if he trades it, and then trades the 2/2’s, it takes 3 turns in total to get full value out of it.

This is not a minion you want to play from your hand, as there is almost no matchup in which it would be good. For example, Violet Wurm is way bigger, and also summons a bunch of stuff on Deathrattle. It’s faster than this card and it still doesn’t see play, because it’s too slow. The only deck it was ever played in is Kathrena Winterwisp deck, but that’s because it’s a Beast (this one doesn’t have any tribe).

If this will see play, it won’t be in a “fair” way if you know what I mean. No one will want to play this from hand. I could see this being played if there was a way to cheat it out on the board, even in a 1/1 form like Barnes or Dollmaster Dorian do (Dorian is too inconsistent, though).

The card is cool and I like the flavor, but it doesn’t feel too good. It’s too slow even in a slow meta, and the upside is not that significant. I would rather put a Violet Wurm into my deck before this, to be honest.

Card rating: 2/10


A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply


  1. Alsozatch
    April 6, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I can’t believe my eyes. Mech mage is reborn in wild. I didn’t think it could be brought back but it has been. There are already lists woth respectable winrates on hsreolay running Fungalmancer, so mech mage has huge potential.

    • StickyDice
      April 9, 2018 at 5:29 am

      I think mech mage could be brought back especially with the new cards that are being introduced.
      For example Book of Specters. Keep you’re hopes up !