Gareth’s Will, a 1-cost Vanishing
I have been given the full art version of Gareth’s Will to spoil/preview, and once again, the artwork is phenomenal. (Dat Dragon with the swirls inside, ye.) From a gameplay perspective, Gareth’s Will is essentially a 1-cost Vanishing. On your turn, it can return a champion to its owner’s hand while keeping your gold available, or it can draw two. Therefore, most of the uses for Vanishing will naturally transfer over to Gareth’s Will:
- Bounce an opponent’s ambush/already-in-play champion
- Bounce then replay your [Sage] champion
- Bounce a champion your opponent Turned/Helioned/Fairy Entrancered and get that champion back to your hand
- Bounce a champion blocking your breakthrough champion after blockers (allowing you to do full damage to the opponent while preventing them from blocking with something else)
- Bounce your champion before you use a board clear [Wave of Transformation]
While these cards are very similar, the 1-cost vs 0-cost distinction creates some important differences with regard to Ally Effects, Play-Flexibility, and Deck Building.
Since Vanishing is a 0-cost card, it can never trigger Sage Ally effects, even when used to draw 2. Gareth’s Will, on the other hand, does trigger Sage Ally effects, and it can even let you double trigger Sage Ally effects in a single turn.
While a single Sage Ally effect can be pretty nice in a single turn (and the fact that this triggers Sage Ally effects when used to draw 2 is one of its greatest strengths over Vanishing particularly in limited formats), double triggering Sage Ally effects doesn’t particularly wow me (unlike Evil, Good, and, to a lesser extent, Wild).
Before Pantheon, Sage Ally effects only included Shadow Imp, Temporal Enforcer, Forcemage Apprentice, Keeper of Secrets, Psionic Assault, and Blue Dragon. Of these, the only amazing one to trigger twice in one turn is Keeper for a double recycle. Imp/Forcemage Apprentice/Blue Dragon can do an extra 2 damage which is fine, Psionic Assault is strong but can’t be triggered twice in one turn (except for Frantic Digging shenanigans), and Enforcer is only interesting if built around (0-cost blitzers for instance) or if against tokens. In addition, none of these are amazing to trigger while maintaining an available gold or during combat.
However, Pantheon introduces Gareth’s Juggernaut and Master Forcemage which are both quite interesting with Gareth’s Will. Playing Gareth’s Juggernaut on your turn followed immediately by Gareth’s Will removes an opponent’s blocker, gives your Gareth’s Juggernaut unbreakable, and leaves your gold available to answer an opponent’s play. Solid.
It could also be nice in a dedicated 0-cost blitzer bounce deck. Play and attack with Dark Knight. Play Gareth’s Juggernaut, Gareth’s Will your Dark Knight (protecting Dark Knight from becoming vulnerable on your opponent’s turn, giving G’ Jugg unbreakable, and keeping your [Sage] gold up), and then attack. 10 unbreakable blitz damage from hand without committing your gold and only losing 1 card, pretty nice. (15 damage if you replay the Dark Knight and attack.)
Similarly, Master Forcemage‘s ambush and expend abilities synergize nicely with Gareth’s Will. If you ambush the Master Forcemage into play on your opponent’s turn, you can start your turn by attacking with it. If your opponent plays a champion in combat, you can use Gareth’s Will to remove that champion, prepare the Master, and leave the Master ready to either expend (possibly while still attacking) or make a second attack (or even possibly a third). As an interesting note, aside from Rift Summoner, no ambush champion can attack for that much damage  the turn after it is played (without buffs).
The greatest weakness Gareth’s Will has compared to Vanishing is that it isn’t as flexible. As a 1-cost card, Gareth’s Will can’t be played when your gold is already down, Vanishing can. Gareth’s Will also restricts your [second] gold to Sage cards the turn you play it, so you can’t do something like Vanishing an opponent’s champion and then play Winged Death/Scarra’s Will. Finally, Gareth’s Will only gives you an extra gold once on your turn, so you can’t use 3 in one turn, like you can with Vanishing (or Brachiosaurus).
As a 0-cost card, Vanishing requires you to run 2 1-cost Sage cards for every copy included. Therefore, running 3 Vanishings partially determines about 1/6 of your constructed deck. (3 of those 1-cost cards probably being Ancient Chant.)
As a 1-cost card, Gareth’s Will has no inherent deck-building requirements, so it could be run as your only Sage card(s) in your deck. But, if you want to make use of the second ability (which the card is bad in constructed if you don’t), you need to include a decent number of 1-cost Sage effects. This effectively limits it to Sage-focused decks (33+ Sage cards) partially determining at least 1/2 of your constructed deck.
On the bright side, in Sage-focused decks, Sage 0-cost slots are incredibly precious (Muse, Amnesia, Arcane Research, Shadow Imp, Forcemage Apprentice, Hasty Retreat, Keeper of Secrets, Spike Trap, Warrior Golem, Frantic Digging, Siren’s Song, Vanishing, [Ogre Mercenary/Citadel Scholar are less viable in constructed], and now Gareth’s Juggernaut, Force Lance, Alchemist Assassin, and Erwin Architect of War). Therefore, Gareth’s Will can give you a Vanishing-like effect without taking 0-cost slots, which could be quite valuable.
Overall, the card is certainly worth experimenting with in constructed, especially in a 0-cost blitzer, bounce deck with the addition of Gareth’s Juggernaut and Alchemist Assassin, since it doesn’t take your even-more-precious 0-cost slots. It also seems pretty nice in limited formats where you have a decent amount of Sage 1-cost effects (since a Vanishing effect is already strong). However, in limited formats, if I have the choice of Vanishing or this, I almost certainly pick Vanishing for the flexibility.