Introducing Archmage Vargoth.

Hearthstone fans don’t have to long to wait until the next expansion – Rise of Shadows – drops, but we’ll actually be getting a little taste of what’s in store ahead of the April 9 (April 10 in ANZ) release date. Yes, much as players were given a copy of Marin the Fox ahead of the release of Kobolds & Catacombs, we’re getting a free legendary minion ahead of Rise of Shadows.

Who is this minion? IGN has the exclusive reveal:

And it's free!

And it’s free!

As you can see, Archmage Vargoth is a neutral four drop with a potentially powerful – and repeatable – effect. He’s relatively weak in terms of stats, but the six health is important, as this high health makes it slightly more likely he’ll stick around more than a turn.

So what would you want to do with this ability? Any number of things – remove an extra minion or amp up a board clear, double a card draw effect, get an extra buff, etc. Because Vargoth is neutral, there are any number of ways he could be utilised in a deck, but speaking generally, the best spells for him to re-play will be those that have the fewest conditions to be good; ideally those that can’t backfire – that are basically only advantageous for you, thus negating the “targets are random” part of the card text.

Think of some of the spells that would be brilliant if you could get Vargoth to play them a second time in a turn. Just from the basic and classic collections there’s Swipe, Power of the Wild, Soul of the Forest and Force of Nature for Druid, Animal Companion, Deadly Shot and Unleash the Hounds for Hunter, Arcane Missiles, Mirror Image, Arcane Intellect and Blizzard for Mage, Consecration, Holy Wrath and Avenging Wrath for Paladin, Mindblast, Thoughtsteal and Holy Nova for Priest, Deadly Poison, Sap, Fan of Knives and Assassinate for Rogue, Far Sight, Feral Spirit and Lightning Storm for Shaman, Hellfire for Warlock, and Whirlwind, Battle Rage and Shield Block for Warrior.

And if you’re ahead, there are plenty more cards that would be amazing.

Once you factor in all the other sets there’s clearly a stack of potential to make this card do work for you. However, it’s worth pointing out that you’re not going to build your deck around Archmage Vargoth, as his ability is a value utility, as opposed to a win condition. And you’ll only have one in your deck, so there’ll be plenty of games you won’t even draw him. So the right decks for this card will likely be those with a fair amount of existing synergy – i.e. decks that have a mix of spells that make it likely you’ll get value from this card if you find a spot for it. You’ll also need to be mindful that if you play two spells alongside this card, the one that’s cast a second time is random. So no, don’t coin into Vargoth.

In terms of interactions, I asked Team 5 to clarify a few different things. As you’d assume, for instance, Zul’jin won’t cast the second Vargoth spell, as he only casts spells the players themselves cast. Spirit of the Tiger also won’t trigger off Vargoth’s spell.

For spells with Overload, yes, you’ll be overloaded twice. Once for the spell you cast, and once for the copy that Vargoth casts.

For Choose One spells, he will cast a random option, so if you’re hoping to double buff your board as a Token Druid using Power of the Wild, well, you may wind up with an additional 3/2 Panther instead. Discover is also random, so you won’t get the same choice twice from Hallucination. Cards where the randomness happens ahead of being played, however, function much as you’d expect. Unidentified Contract, for instance, becomes one of a handful of different iterations as it enters your hand, and whichever version you play is also the one Vargoth will play.

Unleash 2 Electric Boogaloo.

Unleash 2 Electric Boogaloo.

For Rise of Shadows specifically, Twinspells will work great with Vargoth. Say you play Unleash the Beast with him on the board, you’ll get an extra copy of the second half. As far as schemes are concerned, Vargoth plays the base version. So you could cast Dr. Boom’s Scheme for ten armour, but at the end of your turn Vargoth will cast it for one.

What’s particularly exciting about this card is that we’ll have a few days to experiment with him in the current Standard meta before Rise of Shadows comes out and three sets (Journey to Un’goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne and Kobolds & Catacombs) rotate out of Standard. Of course, when that happens a whole new wave of experimentation can begin. And let’s not also forget – there are endless possibilities in Wild.

What do I want to experiment with? Vargoth could slot right into Jade Druid in Wild, and let you get more out of a Jade Idol or Jade Blossom, not to mention Ferocious Howl, Branching Paths and Swipe. I’m also very much into the idea of trying this in Kibler’s Tesspionage deck before rotation. Vargoth, after all, is a little like an earlier Valeera the Hollow – double casts of Academic Espionage, Deadly Poison, Hallucination, Sap, Fan of Knives and Walk the Plank are all likely to be beneficial. You could also take it into Wild and add in Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil. And finally, also in Wild, I can’t help but think this may be interesting paired with Echo of Medivh and Molten Reflection.

Long story short, it’s a free legendary that’s good enough to see play and has some serious meme potential to boot. Huzzah!

Cam Shea is Editor in Chief for IGN’s Australian content team and tries to spend as much time as possible in Japan. He’s on Twitter.

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