Zephrys the Great Guide – Everything you need to know about the best Hearthstone card ever

There is something truly special in Saviors of Uldum. A card Peter “LegendaryFerret” Whalen has called his favorite Hearthstone card, surpassing Whizbang the Wonderful. A card Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig tweeted is his “favorite card that we’ve ever made.”

The card, the mystery, the legend. Zephrys the Great.

In this article, we’ll explain in detail everything you need to know about Zephrys. Let’s go!

Zephrys is not very self-explanatory. “If your deck has no duplicates, wish for the perfect card.” What is that even supposed to mean?

Zephrys’ Battlecry is actually a Discover effect. It offers you three cards to choose from, and these cards can be any cards from Basic and Classic sets – and from any class, unlike regular Discover. There is, however, one limitation: Zephrys does not offer cards that allow you to replay it, such as Shadowstep and Youthful Brewmaster. If it offered Shadowstep, there would be a rather hilarious OTK with Knife Juggler on turn 4. Yeah, it’s probably for the best that it does not exist.

There is a complicated algorithm behind Zephrys that attempts to determine the best possible cards for your current situation. It looks at several variables, such as your mana, the board state, classes, and how many cards each player has in their hand. However, it does not look at what cards you have in your hand, so if there is a combo you could pull off with cards in your hand, Zephrys does not know about that. The first rule of playing with Zephrys is to work together with it: make plays from your hand first if you want to help Zephrys find a specific card for you.

Zephrys likes to win games, so it will always look for lethal. However, Zephrys is extremely risk-averse. If there is any way to have 100% lethal (remember, it does not check your hand!), Zephrys will give it to you. If there is the smallest chance to fail, it might not. For example:

Zephrys emphasizes cards that you can play immediately. You can affect the cards you are offered by spending or not spending your mana. If you play Zephrys on curve on turn two, it will offer you some good three-drops to play next turn. However, it likes to offer you cards you can play on the current turn whenever possible, and while it often offers at least one card for next turn, cards to play next turn are a lower priority for it. If you are at low health and want to become Lord Jaraxxus, spend some mana first to incentivize Zephrys to look for more cards for next turn.

Zephrys doesn’t understand unique minion effects. If your opponent has a minion with very strong effect (like High Priest Amet, for example) and you want to Silence it, Zephrys most likely won’t offer you a way to do it. That’s because he only sees minion as a pile of stats and recognizes only basic Keywords, such as Taunt, Windfury or Deathrattle. The only exception is Doomsayer, which was added in a recent hotfix – if Doomsayer is on the board, Zephrys should offer you Silence to deal with it. They’ve decided to make it a one-time exception given how popular the card is and how devastating it might be to get the wrong card after already playing him.

Under the hood, Zephrys runs simulations, but it is not a machine learning algorithm. As you learn what Zephrys likes to offer you, you can be confident that this knowledge will remain useful, its preferences will not change.

Overall, Zephrys is a major game changer for Highlander decks. It means that every Highlander deck has potential access to a number of powerful plays on any turn:

The original Reno Jackson only healed you to full health. Zephrys the Great goes far beyond that, the examples above are a mere fraction of its capabilities. That’s why some players are putting Zephrys even in the decks that have no other Highlander synergies, or even run duplicates (to play it after already running out of them).

Old Guardian

Ville "Old Guardian" Kilkku is a writer and video creator focused on analytic, educational Hearthstone, and building innovative Standard format decks. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/OldGuardian Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/old_guardian

Check out Old Guardian on Twitter or on their Website!

Leave a Reply

39 Comments

  1. Phi
    August 30, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Don’t put either of the Portal Demons in your deck! Seems obvious but sometimes you can miss stuff that shuffles cards into your deck like Portal Fiend/Overlord, Baleful Banker or Dire Frenzy.

  2. Phi
    August 30, 2019 at 7:29 am

    Zephrys the Great is an amazing card and one of my all time favorites. That being said wouldn’t Bomb Warrior completely shut down his effect? As long as the opponent can keep at least 2 bombs in your deck that is. Surprisingly I’ve noticed the popularity of Bomb Warrior has gone down quite a bit recently. Do people not notice this, or is it not quite as devastating as I’m imagining?

  3. Xhant
    August 27, 2019 at 1:27 am

    I saw a video where someone had a frozen Ancient One (30/30) on the board, and Zephrys didn’t offer a silence. Did it get patched?

  4. Bazillions
    August 26, 2019 at 5:25 am

    Hello all.
    I put Zephrys into my Control Warrior deck because most of the time I get down to single cards easily. I replaced Plague of Wrath with him. He’s working out well, especially at times where all you have is clearance in your hand and need some damage.

    I’m generally not of the opinion that Zephrys should be put into a regular deck to ONLY play him when you get to single copies of your cards. However, in Murloc Pally and Control Warrior decks, he plays really well.

  5. MilesTegF
    August 7, 2019 at 7:05 am

    Hi, first of all, i think is great that a special guide has been made to discuss this card, cos indeed, is probably the most complex card in HS ever made, so thanks a lot for this!

    I was wondering how well he interacts with secrets. I know secrets are not “public information” for him to know, but can he guess what secret is not up, based on the board interactions?
    Example:
    An enemy mage is at 6HP and has “counterspell” up. I am at 10 mana and attack first with a 1dmg minion, leaving him at 5HP. Now i play Zephyr. Will he know that is safer to offer me a charge minion (like al akir or Leeroy) than a spell (like fireball) cos its already “tested” that a charge can pass through the secret, but its not yet confirmed that a spell can pass through? Or does he symply ignore secrets and offer me both choices?

    • Old Guardian - Author
      August 7, 2019 at 9:46 am

      He does not know at all. Same with cards that have been bounced back to the hand, Zephrys just does not know.

      I’ve seen Zephrys give Windfury spell for lethal against a Hunter with a Secret up, and that Secret turned out to be Pressure Plate that killed the buffed minion. Zephrys also offered Pyroblast at the same time, that would have been lethal the following turn. So he tends to offer you options for lethal if there are multiple, so that you can use your own knowledge of possible secrets and try to play around them.

  6. AntoineAS
    August 3, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    Too bad it can’t discover card from other expansions :'( but i suppose it would have been too complicated to code (and maybe the card would have been too strong)

    • Alkoviak
      August 7, 2019 at 7:44 am

      I think it comes as a protection against a protection again what happened with Hunter DK. The fact that due to community outcry they had to change how the card worked.

      The fact that the hunter DK as to include an ever increasing pool of beast means that they need add lots line of code at each expansion just for that card. That hunter card lifetime cost probably went from a few thousand dollars to ten of thousand dollars

  7. ElManKo
    August 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

    The hándicap Is real, confirmed tanks Zephrys,

  8. Thriss
    August 3, 2019 at 3:28 am

    I wonder if it can give you a hint about something you couldn’t know yourself… for example:

    1. Opponent is at 12 life and you have Mountain Giant in your deck – it is the top card, but you don’t know it, because you still have more cards in deck. Now you play Zephrys with 5 mana left… will he offer Holy Wrath, basically saying: “Play this and you will win” 🙂
    2) If you are saying that he doesn’t see my hand, I suppose the same goes for the opponent’s hand, right? For example if I am stabilized with some taunt minions, but have 10 health against mage, would Zephrys offer some heal if opponent has Pyroblast in hand?
    Or for example if he offers Mirror Entity, does it mean: “Play this, because your opponent has just one minion in hand and it’s big”?

    • Taznak
      August 3, 2019 at 5:25 am

      Based on what Peter Whalen said when the card was revealed, the answer to 1) is No, the answer for 2) is that Zephrys is no more likely to offer you healing if your opponent has a Pyroblast than if he does not.

      As to the third example, you may know more than Zephrys does about your opponent’s hand. Maybe your opponent played a Splintergraft and you know he’s got a 10/10 Al’akir in his hand. In that case, you could play a Secretkeeper and an Arcane Flakmage, then play Zephrys while having 3 mana left over, telling Zephrys that you’d really like a 3-mana secret right about now.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      August 3, 2019 at 8:06 am

      Zephrys only knows the “public” information – stuff that BOTH players can see. So class, health, board state, number of cards in hand, number of cards left in deck etc.

      He doesn’t know what you’re holding or your opponent is holding. He doesn’t know what decks you play or your opponent plays. He doesn’t know what cards are in your deck and in what order are they. He doesn’t know any of those. So answer to all of your questions is “no”.

      • Phi
        August 30, 2019 at 7:42 am

        In light of Zephrys only knowing that which is public knowledge should there be a patch that would allow him to know there’s a card in the opponents hand that had been bounced back from the board? This would be known to both players so it wouldn’t be breaking his “rules”. Maybe the code would be too complicated?

  9. JoyDivision
    August 2, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    I wonder … why ‘discover’? In (almost ?) all situations you describe, there is always one best card … so why 2 other choices? Is it supposed to be a test to proof that the player actually recognizes the best card? I mean … why take any other card than Fireball with the opponent at 6?

    Nonetheless, Instacraft on day 1 if I don’t open him or get him.

    • Taznak
      August 3, 2019 at 5:12 am

      Because not all situations are as simple as finding lethal with a Fireball. If you play Zephris on curve on turn 2 against an empty board, what is the best card to get? Zephris offers you Wild Growth, Animal Companion and Brightwing, depending on whether you’re looking for mana ramp, a strong minion or long-term value for your turn 3 play.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      August 3, 2019 at 8:01 am

      I would argue the opposite – in almost all situations, there is no single best card. I mean, if Zephrys had access to ALL the data, like your hand, opponent’s hand, decks both of you are playing etc. then it would be possible to pick 100% best card most of the time. But it’s not the case and it’s up to you to make a decision.

      Let’s say that you drop him on T6 with 4 mana left and opponent having a mid-sized minion on the board. You get a 4-drop, a 7-drop and a removal. Would you say that it’s obvious? Because I wouldn’t. Maybe you want to kill the minion immediately, because you have no other removal in your hand? Then you pick it. Maybe you aren’t worried about it that much but want to push the tempo? You pick 4-drop. Maybe you already have other play to fill the remaining mana in your hand? Then you pick a play for next turn. All 3 options are perfectly viable and there is no best option – it depends on your deck, your opponent’s deck, your game plan, cards in your hand, what you expect your opponent to have in your hand and so on. Another example – you’re running low on cards but you also want to put pressure on your opponent because he’s at 15 already and you want to kill him before he finds X card – would you rather pick a Sprint to refill and basically skip the turn or a good, big minion to put on the board immediately? Again, there is no correct choice here – it all depends on many things. When you’re low – do you pick healing or do you risk it and pick something else instead? It’s Turn 8, your opponent is low but you can’t kill him immediately because he’s at 10 and you know that he might heal – do you risk picking a Pyro so you can potentially get lethal in 2 turns, or do you pick something that might be more useful immediately?

      It giving you lethal or it giving you an AoE clear are the most obvious examples, but it will be much harder in most of cases. Discover also makes the card way more fun as well as skill-testing – you will often have to make a decision based on your game/meta knowledge and not only on the information that are available to Zephrys.

      • JoyDivision
        August 4, 2019 at 11:39 pm

        Sure there are situations where the outcome isn’t as obvious as Fireballing your opponent at 6. And yes, Zephrys not concidering all available data is a thing.

        Nonetheless, as the Fireball example shows, in most cases there is one best card – it just might be less obvious which one is it. 😉

        I think psychology is a big part of the discover process – on one side, we can be sure that Blizzard would be cursed a million times if the one card Zephrys gave you didn’t save the player. On the other, people like to have the illusion that freedom of choice is in their own hands. So choosing is more satisfying.

        Ah, what fun this card will bring to Wild – getting offered Reno Jackson, Tree of Life and Nozari against the Aggro opponent … (Reno is the best card, btw 😉 ).

        • JoyDivision
          August 4, 2019 at 11:45 pm

          And before this gets commented … when you’ve already drawn him, of course.

          If not, then it depends on the board state which of the two remaining cards is the best. 😀

          • JoyDivision
            August 4, 2019 at 11:51 pm

            And before THIS gets commented … I’m stupid and my Wild dreams got smashed. Only Basic and Classic … yeah, should’ve remembered that. :/

          • Stonekeep - Site Admin
            August 5, 2019 at 12:04 pm

            And by the way, I know that the premise of the comment is wrong (because of the only Basic/Classic cards thing) you COULD play Reno before drawing your other copy :p Your deck would still be full of singleton cards, and it doesn’t count what you have in your hand.

            As for the previous comment about choice – technically in every case there is a “best” card to get, but in most of cases even player won’t know which one it is (because he doesn’t know opponent’s exact deck list, hand, order of draws, whatever random cards HE might discover etc.). You can also say exactly the same thing about plays each turn – even if you have 10 different plays, there is always THE best one to make (the one that will lead to the highest win %). But do players always make them? Of course not, that’s why skilled players have a higher win rate – because they pick the best plays more often (but still not always, because even the best players in the world can’t always predict what their opponents have / will do).

            I do think that it’s more than an illusion of choice and skill will play a significant part in picking the best one based on your meta/game knowledge. And skill will also play a significant part in putting yourself / your opponent into situation where Zephrys will offer you the perfect card. It’s easy to pick that Fireball once your opponent is a 6, but you might start playing in a way to put your opponent down into lethal range a few turns earlier and planning for it ahead 🙂

      • Phi
        August 30, 2019 at 7:46 am

        In light of Zephrys only knowing that which is public knowledge should there be a patch that would allow him to know there’s a card in the opponents hand that had been bounced back from the board? This would be known to both players so it wouldn’t be breaking his “rules”. Maybe the code would be too complicated?

  10. Nikpan19
    August 2, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    In the example described with ziliax , if you were playng as a mage or a Hunter, shouldn’t it offer you a fireball to finish off your opponent with your hero power, or it doesn’t see it and you have to pin him first

  11. MilesTegF
    August 2, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    I was thinking… Maybe control decks might run it as well.. like… a Control Warrior could run this in control vs control match and save it to use it at the late game when the deck is almost empty before using Ellysiana. It would be a dead card when facing aggro most of the time, but so is Ellysiana and she still sees play just for those matches.

    • Valsharoth
      August 3, 2019 at 4:57 am

      It can’t give Elysiana. It only gives basic and classic cards.

      • MilesTegF
        August 3, 2019 at 7:32 am

        I’m not saying it can give you elysiana, i’m saying that you can actívate it’s really useful effect in the late game, cos eventually your decir won’t have any duplicates. I’m saying it compares to elysiana in
        that, for non Highlander decks, it’s effect would only become useful un control vs control marches when approaching fatigue.
        I’m not sure yet tho, cos vs aggro, control decks can afford to have a dead card in Hand.. not sure if they can afford to have Two.

        • Stonekeep - Site Admin
          August 3, 2019 at 7:52 am

          But the effect is not winning you the game in Control mirrors. It just gives you one extra good card with a 3/2 body, which is nearly irrelevant so late in the game. I really don’t see it being worth having another dead card throughout the entire game. It’s not like Elysiana, which adds 10 cards to your deck and prevents fatigue – you will get let’s say an extra threat. Or a removal.

          This effect is amazing, but not “I will wait until I have no duplicate in my deck before playing it” amazing. It’s a card that you want to have available at all times, because you never know when it will come handy.

  12. Albionflux
    August 2, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    new ziliax, going into almost every deck

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      August 2, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      It would go into 100% of the decks if it could, but it won’t. Read the card carefully 🙂

      • Albionflux
        August 2, 2019 at 3:42 pm

        i know about the restriction
        still think it will be in a lot of decks
        just have to hold it longer

        • Stonekeep - Site Admin
          August 2, 2019 at 7:17 pm

          You’re saying that people will play it in non-highlander decks? No way, unless they run maybe 3-4 duplicates max. In your average deck, you’d need to get through like 2/3 deck on average to get it activated, and it’s just not worth to keep a dead card for so long. It’s good, but not THAT good.

          • Alkoviak
            August 2, 2019 at 8:14 pm

            Could replace Elysiana is control deck. The body is better as an early play to fight against an aggro board while if you wait until fatigue they may propose you Elysiana ?

            Would have to be extensively tested

          • Stonekeep - Site Admin
            August 3, 2019 at 7:48 am

            We would have a different conversation if it could give you literally every single card in the game, but Elysiana is not in the pool of cards Zephrys can give you.

          • Alkoviak
            August 2, 2019 at 8:15 pm

            that was stupid, only basic and classic

          • Taznak
            August 3, 2019 at 9:56 am

            I think it’s not implausible to run this in a non-highlander deck. If you can take advantage of the 3/2 body if played on curve, this could be a mediocre card when drawn early, and a great card when drawn late. The 3/2 statline for 2 mana means it’s not _that_ bad to just play without the battlecry.

            I don’t think all decks will want it, or anywhere close to a majority of decks, but I could see some non-highlander decks wanting this, especially ones that draw a lot of cards quickly.

  13. Kanapesh
    August 2, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    If you are at 9 in hand on turn 3, and the board is empty (and you don’t have a “1 mana draw a card” type of card to play first), do we know if Zephrys will prioritize a 1-drop or offering a Mountain Giant ?

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      August 2, 2019 at 2:28 pm

      My guess is that it would give you both to pick from – a 1 mana card to fit into that turn, or a powerful card to drop on next turn (and since it knows how many cards you have in hand, it would see that you would be able to play Mountain Giant next turn).

      But we’ll get to test it soon. I honestly can’t wait to play around with the card, it made me so much more hyped for the expansion!

  14. Poulpitor
    August 2, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    Very interesting and precise analysis of the card ! Thanks, it helps a lot for the understanding !