Season Five arrives and finally the Faerie Dragon announced way back in Blizzcon is joining the chaos. But there's a twist! The Faerie Dragon doesn't fight For the Horde! Or the Lich King, or King Terenas, or any family we've seen before. The Faerie Dragon is our first new mini from a new family, the Cenarion.

Before we dive into the mini, who are the Cenarion? The Cenarion Circle are an order of Druids, Nature Spirits, and Fae Creatures - centred around their patron Demigod and namesake, Cenarius (slain by Grom during the events of Warcraft 3). Notable members include Malfurion Stormrage, the leader of the Night Elves. The omission of many Night Elf units and leaders from Rumble so far seems to indicate they'll land as part of this tree-hugging family. So, we might see Dryads, Ancients, Druids, and more coming when the rest of the family arrives.

It's a little surprising the Cenarion arrive with just a single mini, rather than as part of a larger batch released at once. But the upside to this is we get more of the family faster, and when the leaders do arrive, they'll have more than 1 or 2 choices for their family slots.

What about the Faerie Dragon? It's a flying mini with resistant, as promised. At 3 cost, it's cheap enough to slot into armies without too many constraints, while expensive enough to take advantage of Rend's discount ability. At 180 health, it's about as tough as a Gryphon Rider, though note that the resistant trait means it will survive a SAFE Pilot (but just about die to Deep Breath).

The Faerie Dragon has some other interesting traits. It gains Nullify, which makes the Dragon immune to Poison, Burn, Stuns, and Slows. It also has Detect Stealth, allowing the Fae to target and destroy enemy minis hiding in the shadows. These traits, combined with her general resistance serve her well in the disrupter role. The Poison and Burn immunities seem less relevant at the moment. There's limited sources of either that could affect FD without also killing her, but the poison auras in Gnomeregan Map Two come to mind.

How about damage? Faerie Dragon has the same short range as Gryphon Rider at 5, but deals slightly less damage with 170 every 1.5 seconds (compared to 160 every 1.1 seconds for Gryphon). Of course, she also deals elemental damage instead of physical. Fairly similar offensive potential to the Gryphon, but trades some damage output for more utility and defenses.

Let's look at talents. We have the following:

  • Phase Shift: Teleport back when attacked
  • Invisibility: Gain Stealth
  • Fae Blessing: Grant Resist to a nearby Ally. Ability has one charge.

First, we can look at the defensive talents. Phase Shift and Invisibility both offer different defensive options. Phase Shift we've seen before in Jaina's Blink ability, which might be useful for fighting Drakes or Harpies but is generally going to be used to keep FD in your backline. Invisibility is more straightforward, allowing the Dragon to get closer to ranged opponents before engaging, dampening the effect of her limited range.

There doesn't seem to be a clear winner between those two talents, and I imagine we'll be picking them as needed. The other talent is really exciting, and could make the Faerie Dragon viable just by itself. Fae Blessing is the first time we've seen the ability to put resistance on minis other than via Drakkisath's Resistance Aura. Drakkisath has recently emerged as seemingly the best way to handle the Onyxia encounter, allowing you to push a large group into her and keep them alive. I imagine Faerie Dragon is going to find a lot of usage in a similar role.

As for PvP, there's good and bad. The Fae Blessing ability can allow your minis to weather elemental removal. For example, a Necromancer can survive Deep Breath, Blizzard, and Safe Pilot if blessed by the Faerie. A flying resistant mini should also be fairly hard to kill by itself. With stealth to get in range, and nullify to shrug off the frost (the cold never bothered her anyway), a Faerie Dragon can still clean up a lane being contested by Baron Rivendare's Skeleton Mage spawns.

On the other hand, many players run Bubble Murlocs in order to fight Gryphons, and Faerie Dragon shares the same weakness while costing more. They also probably lose the 1v1 with the Gryphon, with most players opting for the increased range on Gryphon (as well as other sources of physical damage like Huntress, Darkspear Troll or Maiev fan being popular choices).

What else is coming to PvP? We're seeing a change to how modifiers rotate. Instead of each one lasting six weeks, it's going down to three instead. This ensures that every week, either a Tower, and Enchant, or a Modifier will be rotating out, and every week in PvP will be slightly different.

This is a pretty significant change to PvP. In the meta reports, we've seen how dramatically leaders can rise and fall with the changing PvP environment, so expect a lot of volatility and players being kept on their toes.

The upside is the meta will stay fresh, and even the worst meta is only a week away from shifting. The downside is that it puts more strain on player collection and player knowledge, as they try to keep up with the churn. Whether or not this is net positive we'll have to see, but I think Rumble PvP needs a shot in the arm of excitement more than it needs stability, so I'm expecting we'll land in the black.

It's a step in the right direction, but probably not enough to make the mode accessible, which is the major issue it faces currently. Players still struggle both to start the mode, transition from the PvE campaign, and compete with experienced and high-level players as they head into the 3000+ honour range. But keeping existing players happy and playing is important for when the rest of the playerbase joins them.

Before the start of Season Four we got a hint that something more was coming Soon. Is this everything Season 5 has..?