Hearthstone's latest expansion, Voyage to the Sunken City, was just announced, and the reveal season is in full swing. There's a lot of stuff to be excited for, from Colossal monsters and forgotten archetypes, to underwater adventure and serpentine foes. However, take a close look at things, and you'll notice some similarities with a more... pre-historic expansion. Not necessarily when it comes to the mechanics, but certainly in themes and characters. So come along, and let's go on a Journey down memory lane.
Journey of the Mammoth
Let's start off with a quick refresher. Journey to Un'Goro was released on the 6th of April 2017, almost 5 years ago. It was the second expansion to launch at the same time a rotation would happen, after Whispers of the Old Gods.
Elise and the kids
Its main premise was that Elise Starseeker, one of the members of The League of Explorers, would take a group of small adventurers (who may or may not grow up to become some of the Mercenaries introduced in the Year of the Gryphon) into Un'Goro Crater, an ecosystem of Dinosaurs, Elementals, and Tortollans.
Mechanically, the expansion was quite diverse, marking the introduction of both Quests and Legendary Spells into the game, as well the very fun, though sadly never revisited, Adapt. It also added a new Minion type, Elementals, whose distinct playstyle centered around having played one of them in order to activate certain effects.
Now that we know what Un'goro is all about, let's see what it and Sunken City have in common, starting with the fact that both are based on classic novels.
A Classic Adventure With a Fantastic Explorer
This one might not be immediately obvious, but each expansion bears a striking resemblance to a classical story that was initially published in a magazine before being collected as a single novel. Journey to Un'goro is similar to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World", while Voyage to the Sunken City reminds us of Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas" (that's a nautical term).
"The Lost World"
"Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas"
Obviously, both expansions deviate greatly from the novels, adding a Hearthstone flavor to them. One way both of them do this is via the League of Explorers. We already mentioned Elise in Un'Goro, and the Sunken City brings back Sir Finley as a guide for the crew under Ambassador Faelin.
Property of Ancient Beings
Un'Goro Crater was created by the Titan Keeper Freya as a means for the Titans to experiment with the local fauna and flora and do with it as they please. Many of the creatures there were either created or transformed as a result of Titans messing around with the very ecosystems of Azeroth. As Sunkeeper Tarim would put it, "Un'Goro belongs to the Titans".
Sunken City takes us to Zin-Azshari, the former capital city of the Kaldorei Empire. It became part of Nazjatar, the capital city of the Naga, after it collapsed under the water as a result of the Great Sundering. The Naga were created by the old god N'Zoth from Zin-Azshari's former residents, and serve him. Seeing as the region belong to the Naga, one could say that Zin-Azshari belongs to N'Zoth.
Zin-Azshari, before the Great Sundering
The two regions have a nice opposite nature to them. While Un'Goro was made for the Titans with the purpose of creation, Zin-Azshari was taken by N'Zoth as a result of a destructive event. This opposition is reinforced by the fact that the Titans, beings of order, and the Old Gods, beings of chaos, are mortal enemies.
Old Cards, New Tricks
One of the biggest things to come out of Journey to Un'Goro are the Quests. At their core, they're Spells, but this was the first time we ever got Legendary Spells. They also have very unique mechanics, in that they start in your hand, occupy a special place on the "board" when played, and interact with the cards you played after the fact. This is something that was never done before, and while they could be hit and miss, their impact cannot be denied - with them coming back 3 times; or 4 if you count their non-Legendary counterparts.
Now, we have something similar taking shape with Colossal Minions. Sure, we've had Minions that summoned other unique Minions from the very start of the game, like Razorfen Hunter. But this is the first time this summoning happens regardless of where the original comes from. And while it's far too early to say, the extremely generic name implies there's a good chance we'll see them again. This is enforced by the fact that some mechanics introduced in the first expansion of a year (Rush, Dormant Minions, Spell Schools, and, of course, Quests) tend to make a return later.
One in Three
Journey to Un'Goro introduced Adapt into the game, which allowed minions with this ability to pick one of three randomly chosen power-ups, from a pool of 10. Voyage to the Sunken City introduced Dredge, which lets you look at the 3 cards at the bottom of your deck and move one to the top.
The two mechanics are basically the antithesis of each other. While the former gives you immediate board presence from a pool of uncollectible cards, the latter gives you access to collectible resources on a delay. Still, both mechanics are strongly tied to the expansion they originated in, let you choose from a pool of 3, and, just like we never saw Adapt outside of Un'Goro, we'll likely not see Dredge in the future.
New Tribe On the Block
Our final similarity between the two expansions is the introduction of a brand new Minion Type (a.k.a. Tribe) for Hearthstone. We already mentioned Elementals earlier, and Sunken City is giving us Naga. Both of them had minions in the game prior to their expansion launch, and were only given their own tribe tag later down the line.
Each tribe also seems to have their own conditional effects. Elementals trigger theirs if you played another Elemental the previous turn. Meanwhile, the Naga seem to gain an effect if you were holding one in hand while playing a Spell, or vice-versa, based on Spellcoiler and Serpent Wig.
Interestingly, both tribes have a history with the Old Gods. The Elementals were forced to serve them when the 4 original Elemental Lords - Ragnaros the Firelord, Neptulon, Al'Akir the Windlord, and Therazane the Stonemother - were enslaved by the Old Gods: C'Thun, Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound, N'Zoth, the Corruptor, and Yogg-Saron, Hope's End. The Naga, on the other hand, used to be Night Elves before Queen Azshara made a deal with N'Zoth, who turned them into their current form.
Do you think Voyage to the Sunken City will make the same impact Journey to Un'Goro had on the game? Or is this ship already sinking? Let us know in the comments below.