During yesterday's stream we finally got to see the fabled highlander support card of this set, Zephrys the Great. His unusual effect has been a talking point of the Hearthstone community, and in this post we recap everything that we know about the card currently.

Zephrys the Great Card Image

What makes you so Great, Zephrys?

The Basics

Zephrys won't have any unique tokens to give you. Instead he offers you a choice between three Basic or Classic cards that he thinks are suitable for the current situation. The offered cards are not restricted to the class you're currently playing. Some additional things we learned during the stream:

  • He only offers you "cards you might want", so you won't get offered e.g. Bloodfen Raptor.
  • He will try to give you cards from different categories, like tempo or value options.
  • He tries to prioritize cards that are playable this turn but can also offer choices to play for next turn.
  • We saw him in action twice during the stream:

Solving Sticky Situations

The card is clearly popular amongst the developers as well, since both Peter Whalen and Chadd Nervig were actively answering questions of the community on Reddit and Twitter.

  • Zephrys considers the general situation when choosing what to offer.
    • Classes, leftover Mana, board state, hand size, health of heroes...
  • He will not consider individual cards in your hand.
    • He e.g. won't see that you have The Coin in hand unless you play it before playing Zephrys.
    • He can only spot lethal on board, he won't consider the damage spells in your hand until you've played them.
  • He will never offer cards that can bounce him back into your hand (Shadowstep, Brewmasters).
  • He will consider opponent's Secrets to some extent when offering cards.
  • He can be very specific and offer Hungry Crab when facing Murlocs or Sacrificial Pact when facing Lord Jaraxxus.

If you wish to see more Zephrys in action, don't forget to tune in to the theorycrafting streams today and tomorrow on the respective channels of the content creators listed in the linked post.

Don't want to get spoiled by deckbuilding and gameplay just yet? Try honing your Zephrys-obtaining skills with our Saviors of Uldum Pack Opening Simulator.

Quote From Blizzard Developers

My favorite card that we've ever made. The amount of effort that went into bringing you this one individual card absolutely dwarfs all other cards.

My favorite thing is when you play him, and are like "<card>? That's weird, why would it… OH WAIT THAT'S LETHAL!"

(Chadd Nervig)

FAQ: He looks at all *public* info in the game, no private info. i.e., it looks at *how many* cards are in your hand, but not what cards they are. Considers minions, classes, hand sizes, deck sizes, health, etc.

(Chadd Nervig)

So, Say there's a bunch of taunts and crap in the way, and you can put your opponent to 6.

If you don't make any attacks and just jam Zephrys, will it give you a Fireball?

Presumably if you make all the attacks first and put your opponent to 6 then play it, it definitely will?

Yes, it'll consider how low you can get the opponent from your minions (and even hero power). In both cases, it'll offer you the Fireball.

(Chadd Nervig)

What if, because there's multiple taunts in the way with <4 health, Flamestrike is lethal but no direct damage card is. Does it still recognise that?

Yep, it'll find that.

The most common card that I've seen be surprise lethal that I hadn't thought of is… Mass Dispel!

(Chadd Nervig)

Let’s say you have coin late game, will it take that into account as well?

Not unless you coin first; he doesn't know what cards you/opponent have in hand (even if a player could guess what they are by hand-tracking).

(Chadd Nervig)

Oh I missed that part, it doesn't even know what cards *I* have.

So you need to spend cards from your hand first, to weaken board or set up lethal etc to manipulate those options further?

Correct. On an empty board, opponent at 12hp, you have Fireball and Zephrys… Play Fireball first. Then he'll give you a second Fireball. If you Zephrys first, he won't know your other card is a Fireball.

(Chadd Nervig)

Does he look at remaining mana and will sometimes give options based on that?

Yep! One of the most skillful things about Zephrys is nudging him into giving him a card you want by leaving that much mana left over.

(Chadd Nervig)

So it will always give you 3 options of cards you have mana left to play?

No, remaining mana is just an important factor, since doing things this turn are much better than doing things next turn. He'll often give you a mixture of a couple plays this turn, and something for next turn.

(Chadd Nervig)

So if I have Knife Juggler its gonna give me shadowstep for lethal? :)

For gameplay reasons, he will not give you ways to replay himself (Shadowstep, Brewmasters, himself).

(Chadd Nervig)

If opponent has a mage secret would it consider the secrets which can't be possible anymore? I.e. since it's counterspell it would give you a boar instead?

He does consider enemy secrets, though doesn't keep track of what you've checked for already. But he will give you Flare, for example. Or if there's lethal, he'll give you multiple ways to get lethal, so you can pick which one you think is least likely to be blocked by secrets.

(Chadd Nervig)

If you are playing vs Jaraxxus does he offer Sacrificial Pact every time?

<A gif with the caption "EVERY TIME!>

(Chadd Nervig)

It made me want to add brewmaster to my deck so I could play it again!

Especially against murlocs so I could Hungry Crab them twice in a row :)

(Mike Donais)

Can you confirm (or deny) that hero health plays into the discover options for Zephyrus?

Yes, very much so. It’ll give you healing or burn (or bloodlust) late game and hero health can also change the priority of things like taunt minions.

(Peter Whalen)

Given that this card is an expansion card and will rotate, I'm curious why it only looks at basic and classic cards. Is that just to keep the algorithm from getting unbearably large and taking too long to process? Was it a technical decision, a gameplay/design decision, a balance decision, or what?

Partly technical since there's a lot of manual work involved in figuring out how to rate the cards, but the bigger reasons to me are design.

A big part of playing with Zephrys is understanding what it's going to offer you and playing it in a situation where you can maximize your payoff. That gets harder and harder the weirder the cards are in the pool and also with more cards in the pool. Basic and classic provided basically everything we wanted - a good mix of removal, AoE, minions, and situational cards - while being pretty simple and well-known to most of our players. This also means you only end up learning the card once rather than having to relearn every expansion. The other big perk is that basic and classic have fewer really extreme cards which reduces the frustration of playing against it. There's pros and cons both ways, but all told I'm happy with going this direction.

(Peter Whalen)

Did you consider having Zephrys just look at cards from Saviors of Uldum, like how Trailblazer Elise worked back in Journey to Un'Goro?

Would it have been too difficult for the games AI since you guys (presumably) didn't have as much data on Saviors of Uldum compared to Basic and Classic?

Biggest challenge there is you don't have all the core effects in Saviors - basic has removal/AoE/minions/etc at a bunch of different costs for a bunch of different situations. Our expansions tend to have more situational cards that go in particular archetypes rather than catch-alls like you see in Basic and Classic. Since those tend to be the most useful things to get off of Zephrys, you'd be a lot more limited if we restricted to just this set.

(Peter Whalen)

Is the rule set fixed?

Yes. However, it's virtually impossible to replicate the exact same gamestate beyond the first couple turns, since so many variables are considered, even down to how many cards are in hand, and left in each deck, etc.

(Chadd Nervig)

So if you have a mega handisize on a turn you could play mountain giant, it might offer you a mountain giant?


(Chadd Nervig)

So let's say you have Electra in hand and your opponent is at 10 health, it won't give you lava burst because it doesn't look at what cards they are, correct?

Correct, it won't know you have Electra.

(Chadd Nervig)

what if you have played electra already, but no spells, will it recognize that the battlecry is still active?

In general, Zephrys knows about normal game mechanics, but not unusual minion special effects and triggers. He's extremely smart, but there are some obscure things he'll miss.

(Chadd Nervig)

Does it understand conditions have been met? If your opponent is at 5 health and you have a beast as a mage, will it give you Kill Command?
What about rng lethal? If you have 3 mana and your opponent is at 4 health, does it understand you have a chance to win the game is huffer?

It does understand conditionals like Kill Command.

He doesn't rely on RNG solutions. In that case, he'd give you some combination of Soulfire, Eviscerate, Lava Burst, and Heroic Strike.

(Chadd Nervig)

I want to add to the question.
1. so I am guessing, if there was a situation where there was only a single rng out, it wouldn't offer it?
2. and what if my opponent played rebuke last turn.. will I still get those options of soulfire, evis, etc?

1. It may still if there's not other better options, but it won't value it as lethal.
2. Good question; I'll check on whether it accounts for Rebuke, not sure offhand.

(Chadd Nervig)

Will it give you an earth shock or a spellbreaker if you need to remove a taunt to have lethal ?

Yep! Or a Silence (Priest spell).

(Chadd Nervig)

let’s say your opponent has a 3/2 on board, would it give you backstab?


(Chadd Nervig)

So if my opponent has lethal on board and I need either a mass removal or a heal or taunt to survive which would it prioritize? What about if I'm playing against Mage and they might have a lethal burst spell next turn, will it see that and give me a healing spell?

He'll generally offer you multiple survival options if you need them to survive. Even if they don't have lethal on board, he'll commonly offer healing if you're very low on health.

(Chadd Nervig)