Unstable Portal

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Unstable Portal
Unstable Portal(12178).png
Unstable Portal(12178) Gold.png
Set: Goblins vs Gnomes
Type: Spell
Class: Mage
Rarity: Rare
Cost: 2
Abilities: Generate, Increment attribute, Modify cost
Tags: Random
Artist: Sean O'Daniels

Add a random minion to your hand. It costs (3) less.

The denizens of Azeroth have no idea how much work goes into stabilizing portals. We spend like 30% of GDP on portal upkeep.

See this card on Hearthpwn

Unstable Portal is a rare mage spell card, from the Goblins vs Gnomes set.

How to get[edit | edit source]

Unstable Portal can be obtained through Goblins vs Gnomes card packs purchased online from the Battle.net shop, or through crafting.

Card Crafting cost Disenchanting
Unstable Portal 100 20
Golden Unstable Portal 800 100

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • This spell has two steps:
    • First it generates a random minion card and adds it to your hand. Any collectible minion may be generated, regardless of class requirements (for a complete list of the possible minions that can be generated by this spell see Minion card list).[1]
    • Then, it creates a cost-modification enchantment attached to the generated card that reduces its mana cost by 3.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

While the random minion generated is the most obvious determinant of Unstable Portal's value, the mana considerations of the spell itself also present both benefits and drawbacks. Players must weigh Unstable Portal's potential against these concerns, including the chance that it simply makes a "bad" minion that fails to synergize with the deck or is inapplicable to the situation.

Mana savings

The general function of this card is to pay 2 mana for a minion that costs 3 mana less, so you gain 1 mana overall. However, mana cost cannot be reduced below 0, so the 3 mana reduction will not always occur due to the number of minions in the game that cost 2 or less mana, reducing the statistically expected benefit. Among collectible cards as of The Grand Tournament, there are 84 2-cost minions, 42 1-cost minions, and 2 0-cost minions. Considered with the 334 remaining minions that do net to lower cost with the spell, the average savings in the long term is about 0.6 mana per use of Unstable Portal.

Spell synergy

As a card draw effect that provides more mana savings than it costs, this card combines well with spell-synergies, allowing the mage to play twice as many cards for what will likely be 1 mana less in total. Examples include Mana Wyrm, Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Archmage Antonidas: with each of these cards, Unstable Portal triggers their effects for 2 mana that will be "refunded" later when the generated minion is cast at a discount. Furthermore, the mage gains the benefit of the spell synergy effects right away, even when the generated minion is best saved until later.

Tempo

The basic strategy for Unstable Portal is to take a possible loss in tempo - by spending 2 mana to play the spell - in exchange for a possibly larger tempo boost by virtue of the discounted minion. Depending on the minion generated, it may be possible for the card to "provide returns" right away, but usually the boost occurs in a subsequent turn.

In the early game, it is often ideal when the generated minion costs one more than the total mana for the turn, allowing the minion to be played immediately, one turn earlier than normal, as with the Coin. For example, something like an Injured Blademaster (3 mana) generated on turn 2 can be played right away for a nice tempo boost. However, the earlier the turn, the higher the chance is that the drawn minion will not be able to be played until a later turn, meaning there will be a delay between the cost (and tempo loss) of this card and the hopefully worthwhile return.

Due to its random nature it can be a big risk to use this card early on, especially facing aggressive decks. "Losing mana" by getting an inexpensive minion like a Mana Wyrm, or losing tempo getting an unplayably expensive minion, could cause you to forfeit early control of the board, which can lead to a fast loss. This is therefore not a reliably strong early play, although it does have the potential to provide a significant advantage. If not under great pressure, the chance to be able to play (for instance) an 8-mana minion on turn 5 may outweigh the absence of a 2-mana minion on turn 2.

One-turn combo

By providing a discount that lasts indefinitely (until the minion is played), Unstable Portal can increase "burst potential" late in the game by allowing more cards to be played in a single turn. This might be used in a damage combo, such as a 2-mana Leeroy Jenkins being played with other damage, but it could benefit any situation where the minion might normally be killed before its abilities can be combined with other cards, or "flooding the board" with many minions at once is desired.

This advantage applies even to cheap cards that gain no net benefit from the 3 mana discount, potentially making them more of a worthwhile result than it initially appears. Even a Young Dragonhawk reduced to 0 mana cost makes it easier to immediately "power up" a Questing Adventurer cast on a later turn, despite there being an overall mana loss from the Unstable Portal and Dragonhawk combined.

Cross-class potential

Class cards from non-mage classes may be generated by Unstable Portal. This can allow for powerful synergies with mage cards that are usually impossible to achieve, for instance Prophet Velen doubling the power of the mage's numerous damage spells and hero power. Perhaps the most unexpected draw from this spell is Lord Jaraxxus: despite being a mage, Jaraxxus can be played and fully transforms the player into the alternate hero as per the card's usual behaviour.

Fundamental unpredictability

The extreme randomness of this card makes it hard to strategize around. Even if it turns out that it would have produced the perfect minion for a given situation, cautious players may still choose to use a less perfect option in their hands since they can rely on those options to not be total disasters. This may leave Unstable Portal in the position of only being used when a player is either already winning, with mana to spare on a potentially "useless" minion, or when completely desperate and lacking other options. Some players may therefore prefer other cards which, even if more limited in potential than Unstable Portal, can at least be reliably compared with other lines of play to weigh potential outcomes.

Lore[edit | edit source]

Portals are a line of useful Mage utility spells that allow the caster to transport themselves and their party members to one of several fixed locations (including all friendly capital cities).

The art for Unstable Portal depicts a portal to Ironforge. This card shows the city's snowy exterior, while Ironforge Portal shows its molten heart.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This card was hinted at by the first Innkeeper's Journal blog, Patron Dispenser, which revolved around mage portals bringing customers to the inn. It also featured the card art later revealed to be used in the Unstable Portal card.
  • The location seen through the portal is the dwarven city of Ironforge, making this a literal Ironforge Portal, although that card was not added until nearly 2 years later.
  • When Medivh is the mage player's hero, a voiceline will play, saying "And from the portal comes...!" presumably from a younger Medivh.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Unstable Portal, full art

Patch changes[edit | edit source]

Goblins vs Gnomes logo.png Patch 2.0.0.7234 (2014-12-04): Added.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-11-09). 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hearthstone Goblins vs Gnomes interview. (2014-12-17).