I mean, of course it can't attack. It's a fictional building in the World of Warcraft universe. A static structure constructed from bricks, mortar and, I dunno, probably wattle or something. And yet, somehow, Mor'shan Watch Post might just be the strongest new minion card introduced in Hearthstone's new Forged in the Barrens expansion. It's certainly on course to be one of the most ubiquitously played.
Forged in the Barrens, which launched yesterday, contains a 'cycle' (ie, a themed group) of three Watch Post cards. They're all neutral, none of them can attack, and each has a beneficial effect which is triggered when your opponent does something.
The cheapest is Far Watch Post, a 2-Mana 2/4 , which increases the cost of each card your opponent draws by 1 Mana (up to a maximum of 10). That might sound like small potatoes, but when you consider how carefully Hearthstone cards are balanced by cost, even a small hike can make them borderline unplayable, because paying the extra Mana drains the tempo from your turns.
Played early enough—ideally 'on curve', which is the same turn as its Mana cost—Far Watch Post is incredibly annoying to remove due to its 4 Health. Your opponent either has to trade existing minions into it, or use spells or weapon attacks. Even if they can kill it cleanly, chances are that means not developing their own board at the same time, again putting them behind on tempo. They could just ignore it, of course—after all, it can't attack, what with being an inanimate tower on stilts—but that line commits them to playing a lot of over-costed cards.
According to the very early data from HSReplay, many people are experimenting with Far Watch Post. It's the eighth most-played card in the last 24 hours, with decks running it boasting an average win rate of 56.4 percent. However, its bigger brother the Mor'shan Watch Post is even more scary/annoying. Mor'shan Watch Post is a 3-Mana 3/5 which, again, can't attack. Its hook is that whenever your opponent plays a minion it will summon a 2/2 Grunt in response.
(Narratively, the little orcs are rushing out of the Watch Post to confront the interlopers. Here I am, aged 44, thinking about the backstory of a cartoon building in a card game. Where did it all go so right?)
[Below: Trump picked Mor'shan Watch Post as his #1 most powerful card before the set launched.]
As with the smaller version, the conundrum posed by Mor'shan Watch Post is: How the hell do you get rid of it efficiently? Playing minions against it is pretty much a no-no unless you want the board crawling with angry orcs. So chances are you have to divert from your game plan in some way. After all, very few decks can afford to just stop playing minions and expect to have a good time.
Again, the data is only a day old, but Mor'shan Watch Post is already sitting at the sixth most-played card in Standard, with an average deck win rate of 56.7 percent. I wouldn't be surprised to see those numbers climb higher as lists get further refined.
Over in the Arena mode, our contributor Luci Kelemen informs us that the card is an absolute terror, because drafted decks have an even harder time finding the tools to dismantle an early Mor'shan Watch Post. The number one thread on r/ArenaHS is players calling for the card to be blacklisted, with many sharing stories of how it has carried entire games.
The third Watch Post card is the most expensive: Crossroads Watch Post is a 4-Mana 4/6 which buffs your minions by +1/+1 whenever your opponent casts a spell. So far that's seen the least play, and for obvious reasons. It being the most expensive means your opponent is more likely to have an existing board or spells in hand to deal with it. Plus the benefit is much more situational because you need to already have minions in play, which is a tough condition to meet in a game where board control is everything.
I should also mention that there's a final pay off card for running Watch Posts in your deck: the neutral legendary Kargal Battlescar. He's a 7-Mana 5/5 whose text reads: 'Battlecry: Summon a 5/5 Lookout for each Watch Post you've summoned this game.' These kind of army-in-a-can cards have often been strong, and Kargal feels like an auto-include if you're running the 2 and 3-Mana Watch Posts, but honestly the Posts would probably see play even without him.
So what decks might you try Watch Posts in right now? A couple that I've been liking are Feno's revamped Miracle Rogue and APXVoid's hero power Mage. Very different play styles, and of course the caveat bears repeating that we are only a day into the expansion, but the fact these neutral cards slot in so easily suggests they're here to stay in a lot of different decks.
I think there's also an additional element to the Watch Posts' surging popularity. There's something inherently funny about bullying opponents with a building. Particularly because Hearthstone has rarely explored using large objects for its minion cards—with the notable exception of the trailblazing Blackhowl Gunspire, from The Witchwood expansion, and the equally memeable The Tide Razor pirate boat in the Battlegrounds mode—so it feels weirdly fun to play them.
Will we ever get buildings as a tribal tag? If it paves the way to an expansion with Scourge Necropolises as cards, or perhaps even Stormwind Cathedral as a cool Legendary, then I certainly hope so. For now, stick Watch Posts in everything and wait for the rent (and rage) to roll in.