Welcome to the Archivist's Lore, the series where we explain backstory behind cards in Hearthstone and look at how closely their card effects match their lore/flavor. For this short installment, we’re taking a look at the four legendary cards that came with the Darkmoon Races mini-set at the end of the Year of the Phoenix. This set includes two characters from Warcraft and two Hearthstone-original characters.
Let’s start with the Hearthstone-original characters first. Keywarden Ivory is the daughter of Keymaster Alabaster, professor of replication magic at Scholomance Academy. Aside from this, not much is currently known about her, although she seems to have picked up a bit of her dad’s specialty in magically duplicating things.
As there isn’t much lore to work with for this character, I’d say that it does a pretty good job of matching the theme. The card largely serves as a throwback card to Scholomance mechanics and the connection with Keymaster Alabaster is conveyed subtly but effectively in both the art and mechanic.
Final Verdict: A decent callback and continuation of the flavor and effects of a past set. Nothing more, nothing less.
You might recognize this little metal-singing imp from the Trial by Felfire Story trailer. A herald of the Rusted Legion and servant to Mecha-Jaraxxus, Rustwix aids in his master’s plan to grow the ranks of the Rusted Legion with the power of Primes. In Ashes of Outland, Primes represent a powerful minion being rebuilt and “enhanced” with cybernetics that makes them even stronger and enslave their will to the Rusted Legion.
Rustwix is similar to Madame Lazul in that he first appeared as an unnamed host in a Hearthstone trailer before becoming a card and gaining a stronger identity. Flavor-wise, he’s a great callback to the entirety of the Prime mechanic from Ashes of Outland, serving in a similar function to that set that Ivory serves for Scholomance Academy.
Final Verdict: Slightly more impactful in mechanic flavor than Ivory in my opinion, largely because the card effect represents not just this minion, but the Rusted Legion as a whole. A good match considering what it’s going for.
Now we come to the two legendaries of existing characters from WoW. Moonfang is a nod to the Faire side of the Madness at the Darkmoon Faire set. She’s a large wolf that lives in the western dark woods of Darkmoon Island and is one of two unique world boss encounters at the Darkmoon Faire, with the other one being the Darkmoon Rabbit. She is summoned by players killing wolves in the forest called Moonfang Snarlers, followed by larger wolves called Moonfang Dreadhowls, and finally Moonfang herself. Moonfang appears to be a sort of matriarchal figure to these wolves, serving as the mother and protector of fast-growing wolf pups. She also seems to be able to transform people into half-wolfs for periods of time, indicating possible lycanthropy connections.
Moonfang’s card ability isn’t the greatest match with her boss fight abilities in WoW. Her main style of attack is dealing direct damage to enemies, summoning wolfs to aid her, and transforming players into her half-wolf servants for 5 minutes. Possible card effects that might make more sense could include transforming or controlling enemy minions, summoning minions on your side, or just dealing some form of damage. The ability to only take one damage at a time could possibly refer to her large size, but if that’s the case it would be better utilized on other characters that would make even better matches.
Final Verdict: While it’s great to see this prominent Darkmoon Faire character in the set, the effect doesn’t really match much of what makes her unique in the game and is a minimal flavor match at best.
Dark Inquisitor Xanesh
Xanesh reflects the “Old Gods” flavor half of Madness at the Darkmoon Faire. She’s a human servant of N'Zoth, God of the Deep and a cruel and sadistic torturer, dwelling in the old god’s twisted reality called Ny'alotha. She is an expert breaker of wills who is entrusted with tormenting the few that can resist the whispers of the Old Gods, driving them insane and slowly carving their sanity away until all that remains is unwavering devotion to N'Zoth.
She was first encountered in Blackrock Mountain by the uncorrupted black dragon Wrathion. Xanesh was attempting to revive Nefarian's twisted experiments on corrupting dragons and wanted to use Wrathion's essence to resurrect Nefarian and Onyxia (his evil siblings) to serve N'Zoth and free him from his prison so that the old god might remake Azeroth in his image. Wrathion proved to be stronger than she expected, however, and she was forced to retreat back to her master’s lair in Ny'alotha. There, she was tasked with torturing the naga Queen Azshara for betraying N'Zoth. While she was busy with that, Wrathion and a team of Azeroth’s champions invaded Ny’alotha and slew her in their quest to prevent N'zoth from absorbing their reality into his own.
In terms of mechanics, Dark Inquisitor Xanesh is a pretty perfect fit for a card related to the Corrupt effect. There are many other servants of the old gods who would work just as well, but Xanesh fits almost perfectly since it’s her job to make it easier to corrupt powerful beings as she torments them into being putty in the old gods’ tentacles. Probably best you don’t think too hard about what she’s doing to your minions, though.
Final Verdict: Very good match of character backstory and gameplay as Xanesh opens the way for you to infuse your minions with corruption and heralds the way to your victory.
Thus concludes this session of the Archivist’s lore. Which of these four cards is your favorite and why? Do you prefer the Hearthstone-original callbacks, or do you like the knowledge that a card has a detailed backstory expressed in how it plays? Let us know in the comments.