Another month, another five new Mercenaries. Check out this guide to understand how to play and pronounce everything from Chi-Ji to Xuen!

Mercenaries got its first official event! Flavored with Lunar New Year energy, five new Celestial Mercenaries should be showing up on battlefields near you. Though their power level might not be as high as Lokholar and Balinda, some of these crazy new Beasts and Dragons do look like welcome heroes.

Before we start talking, here’s a quick pronunciation guide:

  • Long’xin = “long shin”
  • Chi-Ji = “chee jee”
  • Xuen = “shuen”
  • Niuzao = “nyoo zao”
  • Yu’lon = “yoo lawn”

First up is our big baddy Caster Legendary (finally not a Fighter): Long’xin!

Long’xin’s Maxed Stats, Abilities, and Equipment

Long’xin

Best Equipment: Bottle of Infinite Stars (Heroic Ichman)

Coin Farms: Ichman (5.8)

Final Equipment Unlock: Heroic Ichman (5.8)

In my opinion Long’xin is an amazing example of a Legendary Mercenary. Epic and funky design, every number is Good Enough, and each piece of their kit is Useful and Competitive. The offensive spells aren’t too fast, the defensive spells aren’t too slow, and flexibility is high! (Did you know Celestial Breath can crit a Protector, roll over to another Protector, and crit a crit?!)

Most initial comps that included Long’xin saw to see him coming in off the bench. Full Dragon backlines involving Sinestra and Yu’lon are also starting to tick up in popularity, forfeiting Cookie in favor of a new option. But one of the best new decks on HSReplay is actually a full Dragon opener, alongside Yu’lon and Sinestra. Here’s hoping to more Mercs like Long’xin!

Coins Spend-Path:

  • Step 1: Celestial Breath 2 & 3 (175C)
  • Step 2: Among the Stars 2 & 3 (175C)
  • Step 3: Work on maxing the above two spells and then Bottle of Infinite Stars (100C+)

Coins Priority: High– Long’xin loves to have every ability maxed out… they’re all so good! The earlier you get to working on these Coins, the better. The alternative “best Equipment” can use some love too: Band of Burning Novas could do some absolutely wild stuff with Mukla+ starts. When Long’xin can be used on their own or with Dragons, Beasts and Arcane comps, it’s hard to go wrong.

Chi-Ji’s Maxed Stats, Abilities, and Equipment

Chi-Ji

Best Equipment: Blazing Band

Coin Farms: Kazakus (5.12)

Final Equipment Unlock: Heroic Kazakus (5.12)

Early on in the history of Mercenaries no one knew how to evaluate healing. Everyone could count up the strict damage numbers and realize when things died, but healing was too hard to grasp in theory. Chi-Ji is very new in a number of ways. “Heal Power” is a new keyword– and their entire kit basically has to deal with Healing.

Now we’ve come to understand the strength of heals– from Malfurion to Anduin to Sinestra to Cookie, manipulating your own health can be extremely strong. That’s what keeping Chi-Ji’s hopes in good spirits, because their abilities seem medium without the Hopium. The best bet is to go all-in on Blazing Song with Blazing Band for your Equipment to stack Healing Power. Malfurion’s Liferoot Staff is probably the “best” target to add Healing Power to– small, consistent heals benefit best from a flat increase– but I’m not sure if “Malf + Chi-Ji + X” is going to be good enough.

Coins Spend-Path:

  • Step 1: Blazing Song straight to Rank 5 (475C)
  • Step 2: Blazing Band 4 (425C) is the Equipment that enables your whole kit
  • Step 3: Firestorm 5 (475C)

Coins Priority: Low– Chi-Ji is coming with an entire Quest Chain of Tasks that will dump Coins on you during the Celestials event. As long as you can do them before the end of the Lunar event on March 8th, Chi-Ji should hit a level that’s fun to try out. Long’xin, Xuen, and Yu’lon all deserve attention before Chi-Ji!

Xuen’s Maxed Stats, Abilities, and Equipment

Xuen

Best Equipment: Celestial Chestplate (Level 30)

Coin Farms: Ivus (5.10)

Final Equipment Unlock: Heroic Ivus (5.10)

Xuen was my “starter Pokemon” from this bunch and felt like a good Merc to grind early. Like Lokholar from the last set, this is the Mercenary that can hit PvP with a minimum of investment. Unlike Lokholar, Xuen doesn’t really do anything particularly insane or counter a broken strat.

In many cases Xuen felt like a more linear, bigger-number Samuro– a 4 Speed Fighter, but with less range (no Immunes, no Mirror Images). You don’t need an activator for Xuen like Double Strike requires, so this does allow for some different builds. A lot of the early Xuen comps feature things like Mukla and Balinda to generate Summons to borrow Attack from with Pounce, not the all-in Aggro Deck that Samuro tends to create.

Coins Spend-Path:

  • Step 1: Level up Pounce allll the way to Rank 5 (475C)
  • Step 2: Only then work on Celestial Chestplate (100C+)
  • Step 3: Get Tiger Lightning to Rank 5 so it can tie at 6 Speed with other abilities

Coins Priority: High– At the end of the day, this is one of the new Mercs that can technically become playable the fastest. Because of this, Xuen’s Coin Priority is going to be relatively high. Xuen desperately needs Pounce and Celestial Chestplate maxed out to feel playable, but this is achievable early on. 900 Coins is all it takes! Unfortunately their hype began to die down as the Dragons’ began to pick up, but we’ll always take cheap, playable, balanced Greens.

Niuzao’s Maxed Stats, Abilities, and Equipment

Niuzao

Best Equipment: Bullish Belt (Heroic Balinda Stonehearth)

Coin Farms: Balinda Stonehearth (5.9)

Final Equipment Unlock: Heroic Balinda Stonehearth (5.9)

This is one tanky boy! The least played of all the new Celestial Mercenaries, Niuzao feels like a sort of Bench Cornelius. Bullish Fortitude is slow with its 1 Cooldown (or 2 CD with the Bullish Belt Equipment) but theoretically stops 40+ damage over two turns!

The real issue with Niuzao is convincing yourself to play a Defense-oriented bench instead of a “Closer” style one. Sinestra, Cairne-Diablo, Lokholar, Nature Bench– these are all threatening options. Perhaps there’s an insane all-in-Jaina or all-in-Anduin comp that can aim to protect a Merc for literally the entire game, but it hasn’t popped up yet short of MAM.

Coins Spend-Path:

  • Step 1: Begin working on Bullish Fortitude 2 & 3 (250C)
  • Step 2: Take down Balinda to unlock Bullish Belt
  • Step 3: Level up these two to max out on Niuzao’s supportive role, then Headbutt 2+ (100C+)

Coins Priority: Lowest– Not only does Niuzao not need a ton of Coins, but they have a lower priority than every other Mercenary on this list. Between being a Rare Merc for easy Coin access (theoretically) and only really needing Bullish Belt and Fortitude juiced up to be playable, Niuzao can afford to passively stack up in your collection.

Yu’lon’s Maxed Stats, Abilities, and Equipment

Yu’lon

Best Equipment: Pearl of Yu’lon* (Heroic Rotimer)

Coin Farms: Rotimer (5.7)

Final Equipment Unlock: Heroic Rotimer (5.7)

Yu’lon is the most surprising of all the Celestial Mercenaries because they were rated so low coming in, yet they performed second-best (to Long’xin). People didn’t realize just how good making all of your Dragons into Cornelius could be, or how insane it is to stack Enveloping Mist’s bonus Nature Damage right before a Cookie Snipe. Heck, even Jade Gust makes Gul’dan blush!

Whenever a Merc can be combined with or without its tribe is really exciting. And it’s really great to get a Protector that can come off the bench and continue to provide options for comp construction. We only had Cairne and Ragnaros for the longest time, then Malfurion, and now maybe some Lokholar or Thrall– Yu’lon is a welcome addition.

Coins Spend-Path:

  • Step 1: Jade Gust needs a couple bumps– get to at least Rank 2 (50C)
  • Step 2: If you want Dragons, go Pearl of Yu’lon— if you want Nature, go Enveloping Mists
  • Step 3: Whatever you do, just save Jadeflame Buffet for last!

Coins Priority: Medium– It’s a little stinky that you really want Enveloping Mists to 2 Speed or else Yu’lon would be easy to get ready. Now you want at least three pieces to max rank: Jade Gust, Enveloping Mists, and an Equipment. The more Dragons you enjoy, the better Pearl of Yu’lon gets– but seriously, don’t sleep on the stacking Nature Damage. Serpent Pendant* is quite powerful, often representing +6 Nature Damage for free. Once you start Cookie Sniping a Reincarnated Cairnes from full health you’ll know what I mean!

Conclusion

It looks like at least three of these Mercs are going to see legitimate play– honestly, that’s a great number. One of my favorite parts about this batch of Mercenaries is how we underestimated the power of Yu’lon and Long’xin in particular (just like how we “missed” Sinestra at first). The Dragons have really impressed me lately, especially since they haven’t need precipitously fast Speeds to compete.

Let us know who you decided to focus on this patch and what you’re looking forward to doing with them! Keep your ear to the train tracks here at esports.gg, and good luck out there.

Steven Mullahoo -

Steven Mullahoo

| Twitter: @MullahooTTV | Twitch: Mullahoo

Steven “Mullahoo” Mullahoo is a Hearthstone coach, commentator, writer, streamer, and explorer. This Rogue main has been all over the fantastic world-- Mullahoo started the competitive Magic: the Gathering team at Tufts University, coached high school League of Legends teams, and played in not one but four Quidditch World Cups. Creator of the animated series, Scoop Universe, Mullahoo can be found hunting waterfalls as a cartoon geologist in the Northeast.