StoneKeep takes an in-depth look at the newly released card Barnes!
In World of Warcraft, Barnes was the opera master. He introduces players to the encounters, similarly to what he did in the adventure itself. In Hearthstone, he keeps his announcer role, but instead “announces” 1/1 copies of random minions from your deck.
In the initial Karazhan reviews, Barnes was considered one of the strongest cards of the expansion. I rated it as probably the best card in the set and – most likely – meta-defining one. But was the hype right? While it’s not a Dr. Boom level of power (luckily), the card turned out to be very useful in many different decks. So I’ll have to say yes – the hype was right.
I wanted to analyze the potential synergies of our favorite stage manager and talk a bit about the decks that he fits into just right.
Barnes is a 3/4 minion with an incredibly strong Battlecry. It summons a 1/1 copy of a random minion from your deck. We’ve already seen a very similar effect – Priest’s Legendary Herald Volazj also summons 1/1 copies of minions, but rather of those already present on your side of the board.
In the worst case scenario* it’s a 3/4 minion that summons a vanilla 1/1. Summoning any of a minion that has no effect at all or the effect is Battlecry puts a simple 1/1 on the board. Obviously, 3/4 + 1/1 for 4 wouldn’t ever be played, just like Chillwind Yeti isn’t played (arguably 2 bodies might be better in some decks, but it’s still not enough). But you can’t really say that it’s a terrible card, it’s just average (but card that is “just average” doesn’t have place in Constructed).
What makes Barnes amazing, though, is that the minions keep their effects. So if you summon a minion with a powerful ongoing effect or Deathrattle, the 1/1 copy is going to keep it. So if you play minions with keywords like Taunt, Charge, Divine Shield – it’s already a bonus. But the card starts to shine when you throw in cards like Emperor Thaurissan or Cairne Bloodhoof into your deck. And that’s exactly what I’ll focus on.
*Excluding Doomsayer. Doomsayer is, as far as my experience goes, the only card with “negative” effect that’s commonly played and has anti-synergy with Barnes.
In this section I’ll list the commonly played cards that have synergy with Barnes’ Battlecry. The minions that you want to summon through his effect. The truth is that Barnes is just weak in certain decks – if you don’t run those minions or they’re just a small fraction of all the minions you run, it won’t be worth to play it. But the more of them you put into your deck, the better Barnes will perform.
First of all, I’ll bundle up all the cards that have pretty small synergy with Barnes, but it’s a synergy nonetheless. I’m talking about cards with additional keywords like Taunt, Charge, Divine Shield, Stealth or Spell Damage. The bonus you get from those minions is minimal, but it sometimes might make a difference. Having a 1/1 Taunt in the late game might stop enemy from getting a good trade or even save your life. Getting a 1/1 Charge might give you lethal or allow to immediately kill a 1 health minion. Divine Shield makes your minion more sturdy – it basically turn him into Argent Squire (and funnily enough, that’s the most common minion with Divine Shield being played). Stealth makes the minion more likely to survive until your turn, so you can dictate the trade. And Spell Damage might make your removal better. Like I’ve said, those abilities are rarely game-changing, but sometimes even the smallest advantage can make a difference. A few examples of common minions with those effect that you can put into your deck (in a random order): Argent Squire, Azure Drake, Kor'kron Elite, Thing from Below, Argent Horserider, Voidwalker, Cult Sorcerer, Stranglethorn Tiger, C'Thun's Chosen etc.
There are also another kind of effect – small, ongoing effects. Those are the upsides that can give you a slight advantage in certain scenarios, but the effect is pretty small and won’t likely have big impact on the game. Those include cards like Dire Wolf Alpha, Knife Juggler, Tunnel Trogg, Mana Wyrm, Frothing Berserker, Wild Pyromancer, Imp Gang Boss, Twilight Elder, Northshire Cleric etc. While yes, those can gain extra value, the effect is rarely gamebreaking and it’s often kept in check by the fact that those cards are at 1 health or require another cards to really synergize with them.
Barnes gets some extra synergy with Silence cards. Those 1/1 minions are actually full copies, but with the stats changed to 1/1. It means that Silencing them will revert the stats to original. Getting a 1/1 Ragnaros the Firelord is surely good, but it’s very easy to kill it. But if you Silence it, while you’ll lose the effect, you’re going to get a 8/8 vanilla minion on the board. So if you run Silence in your deck, most likely Spellbreaker, there is an extra incentive to run Barnes too (or vice versa – if you want to put in Barnes, you can consider putting in the Silence too).
Then, we move into a much stronger territory – Deathrattles. I’ll start with the small ones and move up to the big guys. I’ve ignored the Deathrattle cards that aren’t commonly used (e.g. Dreadsteed) or the ones that give you a VERY minor advantage (e.g. Possessed Villager, Fiery Bat), because the list would be just too long.
Bloodmage Thalnos, Loot Hoarder and Undercity Huckster – I’ve put those three together, because their Deathrattles are similar. Drawing a card. Bloodmage gets some extra spell synergy, so it’s obviously stronger in the decks that play him, but we’ll focus on the draw. 3/4 + 1/1 + Deathrattle: Draw a card is suddenly much stronger effect. At 4 mana cost, we have 2 neutral card draws – Gnomish Inventor that’s 2/4 (compared to 4/5 stats of Barnes in total) and Polluted Hoarder, who is 4/2. Barnes is much stronger than either of those. It would be one of the most popular card draw mechanics and probably the most commonly played 4-drop if the effect looked that way. P.S. Huckster is slightly weaker, because drawing a card from your deck is most likely better than drawing a random card from opponent’s class, but it’s still on a similar level.
Infested Tauren and Kindly Grandmother – Again, similar effects – Infested Tauren gets a 1/1 with Taunt, but Kindly Grandmother summons a 3/2 instead of a 2/2. It’s not game-winning yet, but it’s definitely a strong thing to get. After summoning one of the two, Barnes already becomes a stronger version of Piloted Shredder and most of us knows how good the card was.
Tomb Pillager – A nod to the Rogue. It might seem that Tomb Pillager’s Deathrattle is pretty mediocre. It would be in most of the other decks. But Coin has really high value in the Rogue class. It activates the combo cards, it has insane synergy with Gadgetzan Auctioneer (not only it draws a card, but also gives you extra mana to e.g. Conceal him) and it can allow Rogue to make a huge Edwin VanCleef.
Sylvanas Windrunner – The card has probably the highest potential among Deathrattles. Because with a little bit of luck, it might STEAL opponent’s biggest threat, so it’s 2 in 1 – he loses a big minion and you gain it. The effect is very good, maybe even the best one to get in the late game, but I didn’t put it on the top of the list for 2 reasons. First one is that you prefer to drop Barnes on turn 4, when her effect won’t be that amazing yet (it might be easy to play around and you won’t likely steal anything big) and then it often relies on the RNG. Still, it’s one of the cards you want to get most.
Cairne Bloodhoof, Twilight Summoner and Savannah Highmane – Once again, I’ve put those three together, because their effects are similar. Mini-Cairne summons one 4/5 minion, mini-Twilight Summoner summons a 5/5, while mini-Highmane summons two 2/2’s. All of the Deathrattles are very strong. Those definitely CAN win the game – from my experience with Barnes, getting a turn 4 1/1 version of Cairne is often too much value for enemy to handle.
Tirion Fordring – Arguably, this one has the strongest Deathrattle. Not only the initial 1/1 gets both Taunt and Divine Shield (almost an Annoy-o-Tron), so enemy can’t ignore it, but when it dies you get a 5/3 weapon. If not countered by the weapon destruction effect, at this stage of the game pretty much everything is in the range of this weapon, so keeping the board control shouldn’t be a very hard task. Or if you don’t want to “waste” charges on minions, it threatens 15 face damage in total. Meaning that no matter what kind of Paladin you’re playing – a 5/3 weapon in the mid game should come really handy.
And finally, we have the last category – minions with ongoing effects. This category is more tricky. Deathrattles are pretty much guaranteed to get you value. Not only is Silence not very common, but most of them are good even if Silenced (because then you get full stats of the minion). Minions in this category are slightly different, because either the effect gets stronger the longer 1/1 copy stays on the board OR you need to perform some extra actions to get that value.
Continue reading “An In-Depth Look at Barnes – Analysis & Deck Lists”