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Hearthstone: Will Mojomaster Zihi be Rastakhan’s Dirty Rat?

Combo disruption may not just be for Warlocks after all. One of the latest revealed Legendary minions for Rastakhan’s Rumble has the potential to punish ramp, slow combo decks and dodge late-game powerhouses. By setting both players to 5 mana, Zihi is powerfully disruptive. But is the Mojomaster the tech we need? Or will it just delay the inevitable?

Ruining Ramp

Hide your mana

We all know the feeling. Malfurion drew Wild Growth on two, Nourished for mana with an Arcane Tyrant on four, plopped down a Death Knight on five and looks to coin Ultimate Infestation or play a Master Oakheart on six. When Druid draws the nuts, then it can feel pretty uninteractive, with little you can do to stop the incoming tempo apocalypse that happens when your opponent has 2-4 more mana crystals than you.

But Mojomaster Zihi offers a solution. By equalizing both players to 5 mana, Zihi completely obliterates this advantage. The Druid will now be behind on both cards and tempo due to spending both on now-useless ramp. The ultimate payoff for ramp in a big bomb like UI or Master Oakheart is now out of reach, and you will force the Druid to rely on topdecks for several turns simply to survive. This is an optimistic scenario; Master Zihi is Legendary, so the odds of getting them right when you need them is inherently limited. But the card also has a ton of other uses.

Stalling to survive

zihi
You can’t just ignore the board when Zihi’s a threat

Most game-winning combos in Hearthstone require 9-10 mana. Shudderwock, Zerek’s Cloning Gallery, Mecha’thun, Toggwaggle and Malygos all need a lot of mana as well as a lengthy setup. By cutting the opponent’s mana pool, Zihi gives you three or four more vital turns to kill them.

This is massively powerful. Against combo decks, winning the board can mean nothing if it happens too late. If you can’t kill your opponent before they ‘go off’, then no amount of board presence will save you. But Zihi lets you turn that board advantage into several turns of potentially lethal damage by delaying your own demise until your opponent is back up to 9 or 10 mana.

Rewarding the board

This is huge for midrange or control decks. Combo decks tend to have limited removal to fit their combo, so after a while they stop trying to clear and just try and survive to kill you. Once Shudderwock’s played their Volcanos, their only real answer to a board of mid-sized threats is to stall out with freezes, taunts and heals. Likewise, Druid hides behind Scarabs and Armour. Zihi targets these delaying tactics, allowing you to get in the repetitive minion damage you need to win.

By rewarding the ability to fill the board with medium-large threats, Zihi will be a great option for any control or midrange deck that can take the board but struggle to burn down combo. Even Warlock, late-game Paladin decks, Control Priests and other minion-heavy late-game decks will benefit massively from including this against combo decks.

Loatheb reborn?

One option to consider is if Zihi will be similar to Loatheb’s eventual role as AOE insurance for aggressive decks. But a number of factors make this unlikely. For one, 5 mana is still enough to play Volcano, Brawl, Dragon’s Fury and Priest’s new Mass Hysteria.

But beyond that, 6 mana is a lot to pay for a 5/5 that doesn’t do anything on curve against non-druids. It simply doesn’t do enough, fast enough, to be anything other than an extremely niche anti-druid tech in aggro.

However Zihi ends up, it’s refreshing to see interactive and interesting combo disruption that requires planning and foresight. Here’s hoping it lives up to the hype. At the very least, it will make Druid cry on occasion, and isn’t that enough?

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com

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