Wow! I'd like to start off by saying I was extremely wrong in criticizing how dull and cheesy this new expansion looked as we were slowly spoon fed cards by community release. I legitimately couldn't have been more wrong. Hearthstone has honestly never been this fun to play, and there are a few major reasons for that. If you're on the fence about checking out the latest expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, I hope you'll read this blog and realize why you need to get in the game right now.
Slower Game: Creatures are Much More Meaningful
With the loss of GvG and Naxx cards, this meta, although still new and in experimental status, is notably slower and more focused on smart trading and building up to your win conditions. The previous meta, pre WotOG, made it feel like playing anything but extremely broken, standalone creatures was almost a waste of a turn. With the new standard format, and typically slower and more modest creatures, I actually feel like each creature I played not named Piloted Shredder/Sludge Belcher/Loatheb is meaningful...Essentially you no longer have to play incredibly broken creatures for them to affect the game state. On the flip side, actually removing creatures feels a lot better as well. Perhaps it's just the novel feeling of not having to see the same, OP minions being played each turn on curve, but overall the slower games just feel like you can play such a wider variety of creatures without being immediately punished. It's incredibly rewarding to be able to tech in build decks around what would previously be considered mediocre or unplayable pre-expansion.
Decision Making and Deck Knowledge Very Noticeable
While I'm only toiling at ranks 8 and 7, certainly not the pinnacle of Hearthstone skill, it's very noticeable how much more impactful correctly piloting a deck has become. While Hearthstone will always have a major RNG element to it, it feels much more tilted to the better player/deck than I can even remember. Because you're no longer simply hoping to top-deck good value or tempo cards and slapping them down without much thought, this expansion much more heavily rewards good trading and decision making. I haven't yet been mindlessly zerg'd down by a mindless deck, which is a beautiful breath of fresh air. Nothing against aggro deck players - but having to make good choices and trades has made queuing on ladder much more entertaining. Again, the slower pace of the game has contributed greatly to that aspect.
C'thun and Yogg-Saron Decks are Actually Great
My primary concern in this expansion was that there was a myriad of high cost, high impact creatures that would dull the game and make it a binary experience for both players. I was so very, very wrong. C'thun decks are actually quite terrifying, and never before has Hearthstone introduced a suspenseful element to the game where a player is feeling like they're slowly building up to something great (and fun). The game was much more tempo-focused, and while that's still an important aspect of a player's turn, these massive Legendary minions introduce a new type of game-play that ties into your cards' lore...Giving you a feeling of progress within your game more so than just "I can afford to play this big card now." Yogg-Saron is probably the most hilarious spell in the game, and while casting it usually means a win (Or desperate loss), it's nice to finally get the feeling that each turn you're playing towards your win condition as you sit back in maniacal laughter while watching tons of spells go off, wreaking havoc on the board.
NO MORE DRUID COMBO BOYS!
Perhaps the best change that everyone is happy about - no more getting SMorc'd by a turn 9 Druid combo. This deck alone plagued the ladder to the point where I would heavily consider just conceding when queuing into mid-range druid. Mid-range Druid actually feels great to play and is fun to play against. It's still a very strong deck, but it plays by the new meta rules now that it doesn't do a guaranteed 14 face damage, and usually more if you couldn't clear every enemy minion. Thank you, Blizzard!
This meta almost makes me feel like I'm playing Magic: The Gathering on a nice, digital interface. Of course there are still considerable differences, but the slower pace and more meaningful permanents is a very welcome change. So, what are you waiting for? Fire up that client and all of you jaded Hearthstoners, get the hell in here!