Welcome to another edition of the Archivist’s Lore, the series where we take a look at Hearthstone cards and compare how well their mechanics reflect their character, backstory, or general lore. Today, we’re taking a look at the Prime legendaries that were released as a feature of Ashes of Outland.
These cards all share the mechanic of having a Deathrattle which shuffles an “upgraded” version of the card into your deck. Within the context of the Ashes of Outland story, this mechanic represents the characters achieving a more powerful form, often a cybernetic one given to them by Mecha-Jaraxxus as he “rebuilds” them as minions in his Rusted Legion.
This adorable little guy is the leader of the sporelings of Sporeggar, located in the Zangarmarsh region of Outland. The descendants of one of the many sentient plant species that used to cover their world, sporelings are essentially mushroom people. Peaceful and friendly, they are still often forced into conflict with the larger and more aggressive fungal giants. They befriended and aided the Alliance and Horde in Outland against the naga incursion which threatened them by throwing the ecosystem of the marsh out of balance and creating natural disasters.
This minion stacks up pretty well in terms of flavor. As a small creature, it makes sense that he is of low cost, and the taunt ability reflects both his position as a sort of gatekeeper to the town, as well as an ability he has in Warcraft called Sporeskin, which makes him sturdier and helps reduce damage.
Msshi’fn Prime appears to depict the gentle sporeling reshaped by the Rusted Legion into an aggressive lord of fungal giants, which he commands and summons in his card ability. While this part of the card is purely Hearthstone lore—as will be the majority of the Primes—the fantasy reflects well in the card with his new fungal giant size giving a higher cost and stats, and the relationship between the two races making the transformation easy enough to imagine.
Final Verdict: A nice showcase of a mostly overlooked character that translates abilities well and has some “Hearthstone fanfiction vibe” at the same time.
Zixor is a Hearthstone original character, but its species is part of Warcraft lore, known as a warp stalker. These reptilian predators once roamed the forests of Draenor, using their natural camouflage to sneak up on their prey. After Draenor was destroyed and became Outland, many of these beasts were warped and corrupted by the fel magic of the Burning Legion and Twisting Nether. This gave them the ability to teleport by phasing in and out of the physical and astral dimensions at will, a power that disturbs magical energy flows and causes spells to fizzle out wherever the creatures blink into existence, making them an annoyance to magic-users.
In Warcraft, they are tamable as hunter pets, possessing an ability called “Warp Time”, which slows time around the enemy, reducing their movement speed by 50% for 6 sec.
It would appear that Zixor is a particularly powerful alpha of sorts among the warp stalkers of Outland, granting it a name and identity as an apex hunter. The rush ability makes sense on the card, accurately reflecting the skills of a master of predatory ambush pouncing on you quickly before you even know it’s there. The enhanced prime ability is a bit harder to pin down, but it appears that whatever “upgrades” the Rusted Legion gave to this beast have enhanced its speed or magic. While it’s possible that these enhancements allow Zixor to literally duplicate itself, that ability has never been known to exist in warp stalkers. Most likely, the ability to summon three copies of this minion represents either Zixor leading a pack of warp stalkers, or an upgrade that allows it to phase and move so quickly that it appears to be multiple ones attacking at once.
Final Verdict: Good depiction of a predator attack, but the translation of lore into effects is rather confusing on the Prime version.
Astromancer Solarian was a devoted follower of Kael'thas Sunstrider and one of the bosses of Tempest Keep's “The Eye” raid in Warcraft, in which players have to fight her, after facing Al'ar, before they can fight Kael’thas himself. Because this raid was back in the Burning Crusade expansion, before the game started focusing on communicating more story in the game, not much is known about who Solarian was outside of her boss fight in the raid.
The majority of the fight sees Solarian using her powerful arcane magic to shoot arcane missiles and infusing raiders with so much arcane power that they harm nearby allies. Near the end of the fight, she becomes “one with the void” and takes on the Voidwalker-like form pictured in her Prime card. All of this matches the cards effect pretty nicely, since it’s all about making spells more powerful and shooting them at your enemies.
Final Verdict: Honestly, there’s not much for them to get wrong here. The character is known for pretty much one thing at this point, and the card imitates that pretty well.
Ok, so this is one of those Hearthstone-original characters that’s designed to be cute, fun, and support an archetype more so than it’s intended to make sense from a story perspective. Honestly, I’ve never understood or liked the fact that Hearthstone keeps on associating murlocs with paladins, since there is literally no connection in lore between the two. Still, I suppose that could change someday. Nevertheless, Hearthstone actually gave this murloc and his Sungill tribe a story that just didn’t get a ton of press.
According to the tale, the Sungill tribe of Murlocs were originally from the shores of what is now known as the Blasted Lands, the region of land outside the Dark Portal. A troll by the name of Witch Doctor Tor'gash abducted their entire clutch of eggs, so they tracked him all the way to Outland to rescue them. When the Sungills found their eggs, they discovered that eggs had already hatched and been released in Zangarmash. Not knowing how to get back home, the tribe decided instead to settle in Outland. Most of them became corrupted by the fel energies that permeated Outland, and split off to became the Felfin tribe, warring with the Sungills. With the Felfin winning, and the Sungill under siege, the chieftain wasn’t sure what to do, so a tidehunter named Murgurgle staged a coup, deposing the previous Chieftain by force, and led his remaining people on a daring attack to burst through the Felfin lines, and escape to the open lands of Outland. Making him Chieftian against his will, the Sungill gave him the title of Murgur, (which is presumably a great honor among murlocs). When he later fell to the Rusted Legion, Mecha-Jaraxxus took note; he was the fiercest murloc he had ever seen. And so, Mecha-Jaraxxus rebuilt him, as Murgurgle Prime.
The Divine Shield abilities likely refer to Murgurgle’s skills as a protector and leader, while it's cost and Prime cost are appropriately representative of his size and upgraded power.
Final Verdict: Hearthstone literally wrote this story for the card, so there wasn’t much they could mismatch on it, was there?
This creepy-looking floating rock face is the Reliquary of Souls, which was built by Illidan Stormrage to store souls for use in his fight against the Burning Legion. These souls were necessary to power the portals that he and his demon hunters used to travel through the Twisting Nether to attack Legion worlds. To acquire these souls, Illidan stole interned draenei souls from Auchindoun, a draenei holy site and “city of the dead”. Plus, he also kept the souls of all the people he killed, since he had a very extreme “ends justify the means” kind of outlook. The Reliquary served as a place for him to store all these suffering souls until they were needed to power a portal.
The appearance of the Reliquary has three faces. The face pictured on the first version of the card is the Essence of Suffering, while the Prime image depicts another face called the Essence of Anger. A third face that is not shown in the art is called the Essence of Desire. These three faces are manifestations of the emotions and torment the souls inside are enduring. Additionally, the Prime image appears to exhibit a bit of cybernetic plating, indicating that this version had a bit of tinkering from the Rusted Legion.
The cards actual effects don’t match up very much with the abilities of the Reliquary as a boss in the Black Temple raid in Warcraft. In the raid, the Essence of Suffering tends to focus on reducing the armor of the players, as well as their ability to regain health through regeneration or being healed. The Essence of Anger, meanwhile, is extremely aggressive and attacking fast and hard. No element of draining health or being immune to spells is featured in the boss. I’ll give a bit of leeway to the Prime, seeing as its abilities could be attributed to being upgraded by the Rusted Legion. I’ll also give props for the Essence of Suffering being the initial card and the Essence of Anger being the last/Prime, since that is also the correct order that they are faced in the raid.
Final Verdict: Great card that communicates strong flavor, just not the same flavor that its Warcraft version has.
Akama was the leader of the Ashtongue Broken, a tribe of draenei who were corrupted and twisted by the fel energies of Outland. He initially allied himself with Illidan in hopes of taking back the Black Temple from the orcs and demons that had conquered it. However, he soon decided that Illidan was no better than the demons he fought, and allied with Maiev Shadowsong to secretly betray Illidan when the time was right. However, Illidan discovered Akama’s duplicity and ripped out a portion of Akama’s soul, binding it to his service. This part of Akama’s soul was called the Shade of Akama, and represented his darkest personality traits. At Illidan's whim, the shade could be unleashed and devour Akama from within, binding him to Illidan's will. Through Akama's spiritual ties to his Ashtongue tribe, it would be able to bind them to Illidan as well. This constant threat caused Akama to follow Illidan's orders and not openly rebel until his shade was defeated at the Black Temple.
This Prime is an excellent incarnation of lore and character traits into card abilities, interpreting Akama’s secret rebellions and plans as a Stealth mechanic. The Prime version also makes perfect sense, as it depicts the Shade of Akama, which is both dark in nature and a spirit, so it makes sense that it has the ability to be permanently Stealthed. This is also one of the few Primes to depict a transformation in lore, rather than a Rusted Legion upgrade.
Final Verdict: In terms of matching lore to mechanics, this is the kind of card I tend to judge other cards against. It’s very simple, yet effective and matching in flavor.
Lady Vashj was a night elf who served as a handmaiden to Queen Aszhara in the Ancient Night Elf Empire. After the War of the Ancients, in which Azshara’s forces failed to summon the Burning Legion into Azeroth, the capital city of Zin-Azshari sank underneath the waves. When Azshara made a deal with the Old God N’zoth, she, along with Vashj and other loyal night elves, were transformed into naga.
Years later, Lady Vashj obeyed the Old Gods command to aid Illidan’s quest to destroy The Lich King in the hopes that it would spark war and chaos on Azeroth that they could use to their advantage. However, it is likely that she eventually came to truly admire Illidan and served him devoutly, given that she referred to him as her master with her dying breath. She was responsible for rescuing and recruiting Kael’thas Sunstrider into Illidan’s service, as well as overseeing Illidan’s operations in Zangarmarsh to provide water for his armies. She was slain by adventurers desiring to free Zangarmarsh from the naga, making her last stand in Serpentshrine Cavern.
Vashj’s card’s focus on Spell Damage is simple, but fitting, as many of her abilities as a raid boss involve her shooting lightning or manipulating water. Very much in step with Hearthstone Shaman spells. Her Prime art depicts her revived and enhanced by the Rusted Legion with robotic limbs, snake hair, and tail. These enhancements are likely what provides her with enough power to reduce the cost of spells, as this ability doesn’t seem to be related to what she could do before.
Final Verdict: In terms of matching flavor, it’s a bit mediocre since its only link is Spell Damage, which can be used to represent a variety of different abilities. Her Prime form is the coolest in terms of card effects, but that’s Hearthstone-original lore, so I can’t count it in this verdict.
Kanrethad Ebonlocke was the founder of a group of warlocks known as the Council of the Black Harvest. He was obsessed with uncovering how Illidan was able to transform into his demonic shape and control demons without succumbing to corruption or enslavement by the Legion. Desiring to obtain such power and become a demonic entity himself, he snuck into the Black Temple after Illidan’s defeat and used the Shrine of Lost Souls—which previously held the Reliquary of Souls—to attempt a transformation. However, he absorbed too much fel energy and became corrupted, requiring his companion to banish him and keep him imprisoned at the fel volcano in Shadowmoon Valley known as the Hand of Gul'dan. During the Burning Legion’s Third Invasion of Azeroth, the Legion, along with a group of fanatics called the Cult of the Green Flame, tried to claim Kanrethad’s power for themselves. To prevent this, the Council of the Black Harvest stole crystals from the cult and used them to drain the fel energy out of him, returning him to human form.
This card is another excellent translation of lore to mechanics. Kanrethad’s Prime form represents his enhanced demonic power after his transformation, although some cybernetics can be seen in the art to make him fit in with the Ashes of Outland theme a bit better. His focus on summoning demons fits his flavor perfectly, as gaining easy control over demon armies was his primary objective.
Final Verdict: Another wonderful translation. Could do without the extra cybernetics for more accurate lore, but I couldn’t design a better match myself otherwise.
Kargath Bladefist was the Warchief of the Fel Horde of orcs on Outland, and the founder of the Shattered Hand Clan of orcs. In his youth, he was imprisoned by the Ogres of the Gorian Empire and cut off his own left hand to escape, replacing it with a blade. Inspiring and leading other slaves and gladiators who followed his example, he led a great revolt against the ogres. He later joined Gul'dan's Shadow Council, seeking to dominate all of Dreanor and his fellow orcs.
Kargath was left behind on Dreanor when it was destroyed and turned into Outland. When the demon pit lord Magtheridon came to rule Outland, Kargath drank the demon’s blood, becoming a fel orc with red skin and a crazed bloodlust. After Illidan conquered Outland and disposed Magtheridon, he imprisoned the pit lord and ordained Kargath as his warden. Moving his new prisoner to Hellfire Citadel, he used Magtheridon as a source of new demon blood to create even more fel orcs for Illidan’s army. Both he and his demonic prisoner were slain in Hellfire Citadel by adventurers seeking to end his brutal reign over Hellfire Peninsula.
As a card, Kargath is more of a general warrior synergy than anything else. You can’t really say that rushing into battle and being armored contradict anything about his character, but they don’t connect to anything special or unique about him either. His Prime form depicts him with Rusted Legion upgrades, including a chainsaw hand, which at least fits in well with the Ashes of Outland story line. Whatever the case, the card is certainly good at portraying him as a ruthlessly powerful warrior to be feared.
Final Verdict: Noting too special here in terms of matching lore, but still makes a good impression as a card on its own.
This concludes our coverage of the stories behind the Prime minions of Ashes of Outland. Which Prime is your favorite, either as a card or from their story? Let us know in the comments, along with any other cards that you would like to know about in regard to the connection between their story and card effects.