Journey to Un’Goro: Kalimos, Primal Lord

Hearthstone’s Journey to Un’Goro expansion card reveal season is underway, and one of the revealed cards is the new Shaman class legendary minion, Kalimos, Primal Lord. It is truly a sight to behold.

Let’s take a closer look!

The 4 mana 7/7 meme continues, sort of

Kalimos is an immensely powerful and flexible late-game card. It is a 7/7 Elemental for 8 mana, and as a battlecry it will cast an elemental invocation of your choice if you played an elemental on the previous turn.

The available elemental invocations are:

  • Deal 3 damage to all enemy minions
  • Fill your board with 1/1 Elementals
  • Restore 12 health to your hero
  • Deal 6 damage to the enemy hero

Compared to existing spells, the value of each of these effects is a little below 4 mana: Greater Healing Potion heals a friendly target (not just the hero) for 12 for 4 mana, Consecration deals 2 damage to all enemy characters (including the hero) for 4 mana, and Fireball deals 6 damage to a freely selected target (not just the enemy hero) for 4 mana. All Kalimos Elemental Invocations are slightly less general than these cards.

Therefore, in a way, Kalimos is a 4 mana 7/7 that also casts a 4 mana spell. It fits the description of a desirable high-cost minion in Hearthstone: nice body with an immediate effect.

Flexibility and balance

The best part about Kalimos is its extreme flexibility. Need a heal to outlast aggro? Check. Need to clear a board? Check. Need a bit of additional reach to find lethal? Check. With such a level of flexibility, Kalimos is able to find a spot in any Shaman deck that can fulfill its battlecry condition.

The conditional battlecry also nicely balances the card. The Elemental tribe as a whole is dependent on constant use of Elementals, and some of the revealed cards, such as Fire Fly, are meant to create cheap Elemental tokens so that you can fill in the gaps. I expect this to create interesting play and counterplay where whenever the Elemental Shaman does not play an Elemental on a particular turn, the opponent can be more confident, because many powerful plays are not available for the Shaman on the following turn.

Kalimos is a perfect fit to both midrange and control Elemental Shaman decks.

Can Kalimos find a non-Elemental home?

However, could there be room to play Kalimos outside strictly Elemental decks? In theory, yes. You need to run a few activators, but if there are enough cards with an Elemental tag that you want to include in your deck anyway, you might be able to squeeze in Kalimos without going full Elemental.

A Midrange Shaman deck could run Unbound Elemental and Fire Elemental, and Control Shaman loves Earth Elemental. Both decks can also run Al’Akir the Windlord. All of these old cards will receive the Elemental tribal tag in the expansion. That said, so far there does not seem to be the level of natural support to encourage running Kalimos in a non-Elemental midrange or control deck.

Aggro Shaman and Jade Shaman are not interested in the card: it is too slow for Aggro Shaman, and Jade Shaman has its own gameplan and no room for any Elemental shenanigans.

Refining the Elemental Shaman

All that said, these same considerations will appear numerous times as Elemental Shaman lists are getting refined. The typical story of such a tribal deck is that at first tons of tribe members see play, but quite rapidly that number is thinned down to the bare minimum with other slots taken by non-tribe cards that are stronger on their own. This development happened with both Dragon decks and C’Thun decks and experimentation is heavily underway in Jade Shaman decks right now.

However, no matter how many Elementals an Elemental Shaman will run, it is difficult to see any lists cutting Kalimos, unless an Aggro Elemental Shaman archetype will surface.

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