Descent of Dragons was just announced at BlizzCon, and we’ve got a HUGE batch of new cards! Usually, we get 10-15 cards whenever a new expansion is revealed, but this time we’ve got 36. We also have some new mechanics, Invoke / Galakrond combo in particular, something that is pretty complex for Hearthstone and requires a lot of analysis (Neutral Invoke cards, for example, will work completely different depending on which class you run them in). That’s why it took me a bit longer to finish the first review, but it’s here now!
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at the newly revealed cards, reviewing them and rating from 1 to 10. The scale itself should be quite obvious, but just to quickly explain how do I see it: A card rated 5 is average – it might be playable in some decks, but it’s nothing special. Cards below 5 might see some play in off-meta decks, or as obscure techs, but the closer we get to 1, the lower chance it is that they will see play. When I rate card 1 or 2, I don’t believe that it will see any Constructed, non-meme play at all. On the other hand, going above 5 means that I see the card as something with more potential. While I can’t guarantee that it will work out in the end, I believe that the cards with 6-8 are likely to see at least some Constructed play, while cards rated 9 or 10 are, in my mind, nearly sure hits. 1 and 10 are reserved to the worst or best cards I can imagine, meaning that they won’t be used often.
Remember that with only a handful of cards seen, it’s incredibly hard to review them accurately, since we have no clue what synergies will be printed or which themes will be pushed. I advise you to pay more attention to the description than the rating itself – I will try to explore some of the potential synergies and reasons why a given card might or might not work. I also encourage you to share your own predictions and reviews in the comment section. Even if you aren’t sure, don’t worry, no one is! There is nothing wrong about being wrong, I have never seen anyone who nailed most of the card ratings before the release. But, without further ado, let’s proceed with the reviews!
Check out our other card reviews:
- Descent of Dragons Card Review #2 – Breath Cards, Dragon Explorers, Dragonbane, Phase Stalker, Learn Draconic, Toxic Reinforcements and more!
- Descent of Dragons Card Review #3 – Talritha, Shu’ma, Galakrond, the Unbreakable, Nether Breath, Amber Watcher, Kronx Dragonhoof, Veranus, and more!
- Descent of Dragons Card Review #4 – Sanctuary, Flik Skyshiv, Valdris Felgorge, Chromatic Egg, Chenvaala, Dragonqueen Alexstrasza and more!
- Descent of Dragons Card Review #5 – Ancharr, Kobold Stickyfinger, Cumulo-Maximus, Zzeraku, Nithogg, Bandersmosh, Frizz Kindleroost and more!
- Descent of Dragons Card Review #6 – Stormhammer, Kaahrj, Chronobreaker, Platebreaker, Embiggen, Goru, Dragonmaw Poacher, Murozond and more!
- Descent of Dragons Card Review #7 – Wing Commander, Storm’s Wrath, Sky Claw, Galakrond the Tempest, Rolling Fireball, Mana Giant and more!
- Descent of Dragons Card Review #8 (Final) – Violet Spellwing, Elemental Allies, Skybarge, Aeroponics, Skyfin, Squallhunter, Tasty Flyfish and more!
Galakrond, the Nightmare
I’ll start my reviews with Galarkonds, since the new Hero cards seem to be a central piece of this expansion. Just a quick reminder – five E.V.I.L. classes (Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior) will get a Galakrond Hero card. It starts in its weakest state, but gets upgraded once you Invoke it. You need to Invoke it twice to upgrade once and two more times for the final upgrade (so FOUR times in total to get to the strongest version). Invoking Galakrond also triggers its Hero Power – so if you play a card with Invoke keyword, depending on the class you’re playing, you will also get an extra effect. Got it? Alright, so let’s talk about the first Galakrond – Rogue version.
Galakrond the Nightmare draws 1, 2 or 4 cards, depending on the upgrade, and makes them cost (0). His Hero Power adds a random Lackey to your hand. Both of them seem to be geared towards a tempo deck – Lackeys, drawing 0 mana cards to get more tempo, equipping a 5/2 weapon… it all sounds great, except the fact that in general, Invoke cards are pretty slow. To the point that I don’t think Tempo Rogue will want to run them. For example – Shield of Galakrond. It’s a 5 mana 4/5 Taunt that adds a random Lackey to your hand. Devoted Maniac is a 4 mana 2/2 with Rush that, again, adds a random Lackey. Now compare it to EVIL Miscreant, which costs 3 mana and adds two of them – it’s a big difference. Even Praise Galakrond! and Seal Fate are pretty slow. Seal Fate is barely better than Backstab in terms of damage – you pay 3 mana more for +1 damage and – of course – a random Lackey. But it’s still not a great deal. And Praise… well, the +1 Attack is negligible lots of time, so it’s not much better than a random Sinister Deal (and the random part is big).
However, we also have another Invoke synergy, which might just save the Rogue Galakrond decks – Umbral Skulker. 4 mana 3/3, so weak stats, but it adds THREE Coins to your hand. THREE Coins! It’s a lot of extra mana. Between that, and the fact that Rogue’s Galakrond is probably too slow for Tempo builds… it opens some possibilities for other decks. One of them is Miracle Rogue – Umbral Skulker has insane synergy with it, not to mention that Galakrond himself also works nicely (you can either discount Gadgetzan Auctioneer to 0, or spells to 0). The deck can be built a bit slower than a more aggressive Tempo Rogue, and it can have some absolutely insane mid/late game turns. Given the amount of cycle, the deck could easily run Chef Nomi as its win condition, Leeroy Jenkins combos are also a possibility.
Another deck I could see Galakrond package in is some sort of Malygos Rogue, or maybe some other combo build. With Galakrond drawing 4 cards, there’s a solid chance to hit either Malygos or some burn spell. Then, the extra free Coins can make your Malygos turns quite easy. Just the three Coins alone, with no other discounts, let you play Malygos + 2x Sinister Strike + Eviscerate for 25 damage. And it’s not only Malygos – other combos that require more than 10 mana can also benefit from those extra Coins.
I still think that Rogue is first and foremost a tempo class, so a faster build without Galakrond will most likely still dominate, but I think that other possibilities are also quite tempting. Of course, it all depends on the meta we’ll have, but if the meta will be slow or greedy enough, those slow Rogue decks can flourish without being afraid of dying early.
Card rating: 7/10
Galakrond, the Wretched
I think that Wretched version of Galakrond is pretty interesting and some people might be sleeping on it, dismissing the effect as “too random”. Yeah, you definitely CAN get 4x small demon that will be nearly useless, but on average you’re bound to summon something bigger too. There’s Dread Infernal, Illidan Stormrage, Siegebreaker, Riftcleaver, Portal Overfiend, or even Lord Jaraxxus. But even if we count average stats as 3/3 (realistically they’re a bit higher), summoning 4x 3/3 for 7 mana and equipping a 5/2 weapon is still a great deal. But of course, you need to Invoke it first.
Turning your Hero Power into summoning 2x 1/1 is pretty solid for the late game, since you’re most likely running it in a Token-based build. It might seem that sacrificing Life Tap is a bad idea… but keep in mind that Warlock is also getting Veiled Worshipper – a single copy of it counts for 3 Life Taps (while having good stats, costing less and not dealing damage). If you play two, it’s like you Life Tapped 6 times, which is A LOT. So I don’t think that card draw will necessarily be a problem, especially since you will still be able to tap in the early/mid game until you play Galakrond. But most importantly, it’s a great Hero Power to invoke. Adding a random Lackey or especially a random Priest minion are slower – this immediately summons 2x 1/1, which is the highest tempo one so far. It makes those slow Invoke cards more manageable, and sometimes even good. Let’s say 5 mana 4/5 Taunt that summons 2x 1/1 – it’s not great, but you aren’t really overpaying or falling behind on the board. Notably, Fiendish Rites is not bad either, because at the very base it summons 2x 2/1 for 3 mana, but the board-wide +1 Attack buff is also nice when you run it in a Token deck.
The picture is clear – Warlock’s Galakrond fits into a Token/Zoo Warlock deck. So the question is – will it be good enough to actually run in the deck as a finisher? Or will your Invoke cards weigh you down too much and it won’t be worth to sacrifice some early/mid game power? I honestly think that it might be worth it, but it still depends on the other Invoke cards we’ll see (because I assume that we haven’t seen them all yet). Thanks to the Wretched’s Hero Power, Invoke cards aren’t sacrificing that much tempo, and the gain of final form is massive. For example, Zoo builds often run Leeroy as a finisher… Galakrond will be WAY better. 5/2 weapon is nearly as much immediate damage, but more over two turns, and it also lets you get some board control instead of just going face.
I will definitely try it out, and I think that it has some serious potential if you build a token-based Zoo deck.
Card rating: 8/10
Galakrond, the Unspeakable
Infinite value Hero card is back? Yep, that’s right. Galakrond, the Unspeakable is going to give Priest steady flow of minions to play every turn, making the deck very, very difficult to outvalue in the late game. It’s not as good as let’s say Deathstalker Rexxar, which could control what he’s getting. I think that they just don’t want to repeat the same mistake again. But it’s still infinite value no matter how you look at it.
Now, the main question is – will the meta be greedy enough for it to matter? Because while infinite value, the Hero Power is painfully slow. You pay 2 mana to get a RANDOM Priest minion… and there are many mediocre Priest minions. Realistically, it matters only against other Control decks, or maybe slower Midrange builds. Aggro games and faster Midrange games are going to be over without needing so much value. A big downside of this slow Hero Power is also making Invoke minions very weak in faster matchups. Against slow decks, you will have even more value… which is not necessary, since your Galakrond will give you a lot anyway.
The card doesn’t fit into Combo Priest. It doesn’t fit into the likes of Resurrect Priest. So realistically, it would only be played in Control Priest, and ONLY in a very slow and greedy meta, where going for infinite value is a good option. Yes, the immediate effect of destroying 4 minions is great, but you will most likely be dead by the time you Invoke it four times against faster deck.
Oh, there’s one more thing – Fate Weaver is a card that requires you to play Galakrond and Invoke cards, and with two copies you get up to TWO mana cost discount on your entire hand, which is huge. It would take too long to figure it out right now, but I think that it might activate some combos. However, that won’t make Galakrond good – in this case Galakrond would simply be a mean to an end, so playing some other combo.
P.S. We still haven’t seen Priest Invoke cards, and they might be really powerful… but I can’t really rate something I haven’t seen. Also, I’m rating this card for what I think might be the upcoming meta. It’s already hard to think one unreleased expansion ahead, and there will be the entire next year too. If we enter some greedy meta period, and all of the other infinite value generators from other classes will be gone after rotation, Priest with Galakrond might dominate.
Card rating: 5/10
Shield of Galakrond
Right now, I think that if any Galakrond will see play, so will Shield of Galakrond. It’s the most well-rounded Neutral Invoke card, and honestly it even looks better than most of the class options we have so far. While 5 mana 4/5 Taunt itself is weak, because Invoking triggers Hero Power things get better. 5 mana 4/5 Taunt + 2x 1/1, 5 mana 4/5 Taunt that adds a random Lackey to your hand, 5 mana 4/5 Taunt that adds a random Priest minion to your hand are the exact effects we get so far. Are those strong? Nope, they’re mediocre at best, but that’s all it takes for Shield of Galakrond to see play. The biggest downside of Galakrond is that you have to run bad Invoke cards to upgrade it first. If Invoke cards were strong, there would be absolutely no reason to not run Galakrond. But now if your Invoke cards are not bad, but average, the downside is already heavily negated.
I also like the fact that it’s a Taunt card. I would imagine that many Galakrond decks will be slow, and will use a big Galakrond to make a tempo comeback. Having a mid game Taunt means that the chances of dying before getting to play upgraded Galakrond are now lower.
That’s why I think that if any Galakrond will be played, this card will also see play.
Card rating: 8/10 in Galakrond decks (or useless if Galakrond won’t see play)
On the other hand, Devoted Maniac seems to be one of the worst Galakrond activators… 4 mana 2/2 Rush is SO SLOW. It should seriously cost 3 mana. The only deck I could remotely see it being played is Galakrond Warlock, since 2x 1/1 makes up for some tempo loss… but even then it’s still slow. Looking at Shield of Galakrond, it has vanilla stats of a 4-drop with an extra effect (Taunt). That’s a 1 mana difference. This one has vanilla stats of a… 1-drop. That’s 3 mana difference. Yeah. Rush makes up for some of it, but only slightly. On Turn 4, rushing for 2 mana is often useless, because most of the minions should have 3+ health at this point.
When it comes to Invoke cards, it’s like bottom of the barrel so far. We would need to literally not see any more remotely viable Galakrond activators for it to see play.
Card rating: 2/10 in Galakrond decks (or useless if Galakrond won’t see play)
3 mana to deal 3 damage to undamaged minion + add a random Lackey to your hand. Like I’ve already said above when discussing Rogue’s Galakrond, it’s a pretty low tempo play. I would imagine that a similar card without Invoke would cost 1 mana, so when it comes to immediate value/tempo, you’re paying ~2 mana to add a random Lackey to your hand. A pretty bad deal. Tempo Rogue, the best Rogue archetype for the last… few years (Odd Rogue was also a tempo build), won’t want to run it. So realistically the only reason to play it is to Invoke Galakrond.
Since it’s a removal card, a part of this tempo loss is negated (because you get SOME effect immediately). It’s also a reactive card, so I could imagine a slower Rogue deck wanting to play it if they run Galakrond. I think they’d rather play this than let’s say Devoted Maniac. But when it comes to Invoke cards, it looks pretty average.
Card rating: 5/10 in Galakrond decks (or useless if Rogue’s Galakrond won’t see play)
+1 Attack and adding a random Lackey to your hand for 1 mana is… not terrible, but not great. Sinister Deal also costs 1, and it’s not a bad card, that’s true. But being able to Discover that Lackey instead of getting a random one is huge. With 3 options, you can nearly always pick something that’s good in a given scenario. You also have a much higher chance to find whatever specific Lackey you’re looking for (like Discover a spell one, or 2 damage one). With one more Lackey added this set, adding a random one will be even less consistent. And +1 Attack? Well, it’s a nice addition, but lots of time it won’t really matter. It’s definitely not a card you would put into your deck, but we need to remember that you play it in order to Invoke Galakrond. In this context, given that it’s cheap, has some small effect etc. it’s not a terrible choice.
Since it costs 1 mana, you can use it to activate Combos. The downside is that you need to have something on the board already first (unless you want to buff your opponent’s minion). It’s also solid with Auctioneer – making it a good choice in Galakrond Miracle build.
Like I’ve said before, I don’t think that Tempo Rogue will want to run Galakrond, but if slower decks run Galakrond strategy, I can see it being playable.
Card rating: 6/10 in Galakrond decks (or useless if Rogue’s Galakrond won’t see play)
Some are dismissing this card way too quickly. What’s important to remember is that in this case, Invoke will trigger FIRST and then his Battlecry will trigger. So on an empty board, with no other minions on your side, this will be a 3 mana 3/1 + 2x 1/1 Demon. Even as a baseline, it’s a better Microtech Controller that also Invokes your Galakrond. Okay, maybe not better, because Mechs are more relevant tribe than Demons until the end of this Standard year (after that Magnetize cards rotate out and Mech tribe will be mostly irrelevant, at least until another Mech expansion). Microtech Controller is a card that sometimes sees play in Token decks. Galakrond Warlock would be a token deck. So far it’s one of the better Invoke cards we’ve seen.
And remember that’s just a baseline. If you already have 2 minions on the board, it will be a 5/1 with 2x 1/1. Of course, more attack doesn’t scale very well on a 1 health minions, because it’s still easy to remove, but your opponent won’t ALWAYS have a way to answer it efficiently (like a 1/1, or ping). And it’s always better to have more attack.
The card also has a nice synergy with Plague of Flames in case you want to run it – not only it Invokes you Gallakrond, but you can clear 3 minions at the same time with this 2 cards combo. But I’m not sure whether Galakrond decks would run Plague in the first place. On the one hand, it fits token decks quite well, but on the other, they don’t want to get rid of their entire board. I guess that it will depend on the meta.
All in all, I really like it and it makes me really hopeful for Galakrond Warlock.
Card rating: 8/10 in Galakrond decks (useless if Warlock’s Galakrond sees no play).
Another Warlock Invoke card, and one I really, really like. It’s quite obvious that Warlock’s Galakrond deck will be built around tokens. In this context, paying 3 mana to summon 2x 2/1 AND give +1 Attack to the rest of your board is… actually powerful. I honestly think that it’s something a regular Zoo Warlock might also run, and that tells a lot. Given that you will summon 2x 1/1 every time you Invoke, you will end up with lots of tokens, and turning those 1/1’s into 2/1’s adds A LOT of damage, makes your trades significantly better and so on. It can also be used as the extra burst damage on bigger boards – if you have 5 minions already, it’s +5 damage for 3 mana. Not nearly as good as Savage Roar, but I think that it might lead to many lethals.
It’s a well-rounded Invoke cards, which has amazing synergy with Warlock’s Galakrond, fits into the type of decks you would want to run Galakrond in and so on… I dig it.
Card rating: 8/10 in Galakrond decks (useless if Warlock’s Galakrond sees no play)
While I’m still not sure whether Priest’s Galakrond will end up seeing play… when it comes to activators, this is a decent one. At the very base, it’s an Assassinate. Which is not the best card ever printed, but honestly it’s not that bad. Paying 5 mana to kill any minions is passable. But then, you will also add a random Priest minion to your hand AND you will work towards upgrading your Galakrond. Sure, it’s still slow, but at least you’re clearing something immediately – so if you target a midrange or big minion, you might land even in terms of tempo, or even gain some. The issue is that – again – it shares the same strengths and weaknesses as Priest’s Galakrond in general. It’s weak vs Aggro – spending 5 mana to clear something small won’t cut it. And it’s great against slow decks, because you often get 2 for 1 – you removed something and you gained an extra card.
If Priest’s Galakrond sees play, I’m quite sure that it will see play. But, like I’ve mentioned when reviewing it, we would need some greedy decks in the meta to take advantage of this slow, infinite value Hero Power. Will that happen? Hard to say.
Card rating: 7/10 in Galakrond decks (useless if Priest’s Galakrond sees no play).
And now onto other Invoke synergy cards. Galakrond is not the only minion that can take advantage of Invokes. There are cards that require only two Invokes to already be insanely powerful… and the truth is that two Invokes should be a piece of cake in Galakrond decks. First one is Rogue. Umbral Skulker, despite weak stats, has INSANE effect. Rogue is known for being the class that can utilize Coin really well. Tomb Pillager was a great card, because it gave a single Coin. Sure, it had better stats too, but a) Coin was on Deathrattle and there’s A HUGE difference between 1 and 3 Coins. 3 Coins in Rogue is nuts. They can be used to activate combos, to draw cards with Gadgetzan Auctioneer, to buff Questing Adventurer and so on. I mean, Rogue played Counterfeit Coin in their deck, that’s how much the class values Coins.
Of course, once again, it’s not a good fit into Tempo Rogue, because you will rarely have it active on curve. And if you have to wait until T5, T6 or even later to get the effect off, it’s not a good tempo card, because if you draw it early it’s dead for way too long. That’s why you would want to run it in a deck that wants those coins, but not for Tempo reasons – either to combo with Auctioneer (because who doesn’t like 3 cards + 3 mana for free) or to use in some other expensive combo like with Malygos. In the right deck, Umbral Skulker might be a bigger reason to run Galakrond than Galakrond itself.
Card rating: 8/10 in Galakrond decks (useless if Rogue’s Galakrond sees no play)
This. Card. Is. Nuts. Another reason why I believe that Galakrond Warlock will be a thing. You only need to Invoke twice before playing it, and it has a MASSIVE pay-off. Drawing 3 cards for 4 mana would already be good, but you’re getting a 5/4 body on top of that. And Invoking twice is not that difficult if you build your deck around it. Maybe you won’t be able to play it on curve consistently, but you don’t need to – this kind of effects (hand refill) has great scaling. Cycling through your deck increases your chances of finding Galakrond quickly, and simply adds more juice. Early in the game you will still be able to Life Tap, but after you turn into Galakrond, your Hero Power will summon Imps, so you might run out of cards… but not with this.
This card is just so insane. The only downside is that you might sometimes need to wait until Turn 5-6 to activate this effect… but in the worst case scenario, even playing it on T4 as a 5/4 is you absolutely need to play for the tempo is not the worst thing ever (although wasting this Battlecry definitely hurts). But that downside is really minor, given that you would easily pay 5-6 mana for this card and it would still be amazing. Like seriously, this card would cost like 8 mana if it didn’t require you to Invoke first.
Card rating: 10/10 in Galakrond decks (useless if Warlock’s Galakrond sees no play)
Another Galakrond / Invoke pay-off… but also Dragon, which is interesting. We don’t know how Priest’s Legendary Dragon or Breath card will look like yet, nor we do know whether the class will get some more Dragon synergies. Maybe the way to go will be Galakrond/Dragon hybrid build?
Of course, if you run Galakrond deck, you play this – there’s no doubt about it. Having vanilla stats and a super powerful Battlecry makes it a no-brainer. It has an Emperor Thaurissan effect on Battlecry, and you can run two of those, which means that you can have a GUARANTEED 2 mana discount… more than Emperor could provide if it died right away. And that’s the part I think has the highest potential.
Just like Umbral Skulker adds Coins in Rogue and activates some combos, this card might also see play just for the sake of its effect and not necessarily for Galakrond. If people can figure out some combo deck that can take advantage of not one, but two mana discounts, then we might have a winner. Once again I see why Mind Blast has rotated out – it would be a piece of cake to play Prophet Velen or Malygos + 2x Mind Blast + 2x Holy Smite finisher with MB still in Standard.
The card is very difficult to rate – not only it’s hard to tell whether Galakrond will be good, whether Dragon Priest will be good, but also whether we might get some cards that can form a new combo after mana discounts. So at this point my rating is not much better than a guess, but hey, that’s how early reviews often work.
Card rating: 7/10 in Galakrond decks (useless if Priest’s Galakrond sees no play)
We’re done with Galakrond, Invokes etc. and now we start reviewing Legendary Dragons. Each class is going to get one, and we’ve already seen five. Let’s start with Ysera!
Ysera, Unleashed is like a big version of Rogue’s Fal'dorei Strider. The card has proven that sacrificing some tempo immediately for a massive gain later in the game can be worth it. Of course, 9 mana 4/12 is even slower than 4 mana 4/4, but we also need to put them into a context of different classes. Druid has Ramp, Druid has more defensive tools and so on. That’s why I really like Ysera’s effect, WAY more than the regular Ysera, which most of the time gives you just a single Dream card and that’s all. This, while slow initially, will have a significant effect over the next X turns.
Dragons tend to have bigger bodies too – the smallest ones you can summon are 3/2’s and 4/1 (Twilight Drake), but those are low-rolls. Most of the Dragons are 8/8, 4/12 or even 12/12 – those big bodies will be really juicy to get, especially since Druid is not a bad class at cycling. Of course, the power level of a random Dragon will also heavily depend on this expansion. It added some small ones (Azure Explorer & Primordial Explorer – Azure Explorer is actually not that bad thanks to +2 Spell Damage), but even more bigger ones (all the Legendary dragons, Emerald Explorer, Evasive Drakonid). So far Descent of Dragons has improved a pool of random Dragons significantly, but we’ll see whether the trend continues.
Now, the issue is – what deck would you want to put Ysera in? Quest Druid, maybe? I could see that – you could run her instead of Nomi. While Nomi is only playable after you cycled through entire deck, you can drop Ysera on curve and still take advantage of the effect. On the other hand, you can also drop her when you no longer have cards in your deck, and you will draw all Portals next turn and summon a board full of random Dragons, probably comparable or even better than a board full of 6/6’s.
In theory, a best deck would be… Dragon Druid. We have Breath of Dreams, Emerald Explorer, this one… But so far it doesn’t seem enough to build a full Dragon Druid deck. We’d need some more Dragon synergies first, but who knows?
Then there’s a more classic Ramp Druid… Ysera, Unleashed would be amazing in that kind of deck, especially in slower matchups. But classic Ramp Druid was killed when Ramp cards were nerfed. Breath of Dreams MIGHT fix that, but you would need to play a dedicated Dragon-based Ramp Druid… So I guess that we’ll have to wait and see.
Card rating: 7/10
Malygos, Aspect of Magic
I really love this card. The power level of cards you can discover is so, SO high. I would really compare this effect to Zephrys the Great – while you don’t always get the perfect card for given scenario, the fact that those cards are way above normal power curve makes up for it. The card is absolutely broken, but… You need to play it in a Dragon deck. Or maybe not even a full Dragon deck, but you need to have at least a bunch of Dragons that you can activate it with. Which basically means that depending on the quality of other Dragons that will be available to Mage, this can be amazing or useless.
If anything, slower Mage decks are built around singleton synergies, and I could totally see this fitting into Highlander Mage as another power spike card. Highlander deck already runs Kalecgos, Twilight Drake is not out of question, it might also slot in the new Azure Explorer (value card + Spell Damage can be really useful)… but that’s still not enough. I imagine that Evasive Drakonid or Twin Tyrant might be good enough, but it’s hard to say at this point.
Long story short, if a) Mage’s Breath card will be good enough and b) there will be another 1-2 solid Mage or Neutral Dragons / Dragon synergies, then I think that Malygos can be an absolute powerhouse. But if you would need to start adding mediocre / bad Dragons into your deck in order to be able to activate it consistently… that’s not really worth it.
Card rating: 9/10… but only if Mage will get some more good Dragon cards / synergies.
Deathwing, Mad Aspect
I feel that this card will be most powerful in… Shaman. Seriously. Mogu Fleshshaper + Mutate will be able to roll it now. And I doubt that it will be cut from the deck, given that it was already an important part of it before Doom in the Tomb. And that’s scary. It’s one of your best rolls, which is one of the reasons I hate Evolve effects – they’re very inconsistent and can be nerfed or buffed by simply adding more minions of a given cost. But to be fair, we don’t even know whether Shaman will be any good next set, so let’s wait with that.
As for the card itself, it’s not bad. When dropped on empty board, it’s 8 mana 12/12 – a big pile of stats, but sometimes that’s all you need to win the game. However, when your opponent has some minions, it can be used as a board clear. If he has 1 minion – you could treat it as 12/12 with Rush. Two minions – Rush & Windfury. Even more minions? That’s even better! The card would also be nuts against token decks – those usually have full boards, but of small minions, meaning that Deathwing would be very likely to survive. So in those cases, it’s not only a board clear, but also a huge threat. At low health, yes, but your opponent still has to deal with it, because taking 12 hurts. And what if your opponent has lots of attack on the board and Deathwing would just die before clearing everything? Well, there are two options. There’s Commanding Shout, which makes it a full board clear + 12/1 no matter what. But that’s a 2 cards combo, costs 10 mana, and it would mean adding Commanding Shout to your deck. But there’s also second option – don’t play it! It’s not like it’s your only board clear. If your opponent dropped a wide board, you’re happy to drop Brawl or Plague of Wrath. You pick a right tool for the job, and on many boards Deathwing will be it. I especially like using it as a single target removal – it’s like a better Siamat in those cases. Of course, the downside is that you can’t use it when you have a board of your own, but assuming that you play it in a Control deck, that shouldn’t be an issue.
And of course, it has a Dragon tag. Will Dragon Warrior make a comeback? Remember that the class already has two solid synergy cards – Smolderthorn Lancer and Emberscale Drake, so if anything, it has one of the highest chances of making a comeback (Dragon package was already briefly popular in Odd Warrior last year). It would probably sit in your hand for a while, waiting for the right opportunity, activating Dragon synergies on the way. And maybe you could even drop War Master Voone to duplicate it? Who knows. Depending on the other cards we see, Control Dragon Warrior might be a thing once again.
Card rating: 7/10
Waxadred is a card I really like. It has above the curve stats for a 5-drop (6/5 or 5/6 would be the vanilla stats) AND an extra effect. Of course – you would never play a vanilla 5 mana 7/5 in your deck. But because it keeps coming back, and because of extra synergies, I believe that it will be really solid. Unless Silenced or transformed, it will eventually keep coming back. And the later it gets, more often it will revive. The card reminds me of Sherazin, Corpse Flower – a card that you could drop on T4 and then keep reviving it as the game goes. On the one hand, this is more random and will probably take a while longer to revive at the start. On the other hand, Sherazin had weak on-curve stats (-1 health compared to vanilla, this has +1 attack compared to vanilla), a limit on how many times you can realistically revive it (because you would eventually run out of cards) and lower combo potential. Oh, and of course – no Dragon tag (which might be relevant IF Rogue will want to build a Dragon deck after all).
Like I’ve mentioned already, Silence and transform seem to be the only counters. Or well, Silence is not even a counter, because your opponent played Silence and you still have a 5 mana 7/5 – that’s a fair trade. Transform effects are a serious counter, but in the end, your opponent is still transforming your 5-drop – it’s not like you’ve paid 7-8 mana for it. SThey most likely aren’t gaining much tempo back (Hex and Polymorph are 4 mana each).
The card has amazing synergy with Myra's Unstable Element. Once you get to the bottom of your deck, then it will just keep coming back every time it’s killed. It also has synergy with some other stuff – for example, play it in the same deck as Necrium Blade and you shuffle more Candles, each reviving Waxadred. Even triggering it once means that you now have twice the chance of getting it. There are also more meme-y cards like Shadow of Death. This is combo is quite amazing – you end up with essentially four Waxadreds in your deck. First time you summon one through Shadow, and then when it dies it shuffles a Candle back, which gives you another Waxadred when you draw it… And since their number doesn’t go down (unless, again, Silenced or Transformed), with 4 of them in your deck at least one of them will pretty much permanently sit on your board. However, Shadow of Death combos usually sound much better in theory than in practice, so I don’t think that will be the way this card might be used… but Necrium Blade is much more plausible, given that you can just play it as a 3/2 weapon even if you don’t draw Waxadred.
If Rogue will attempt a Dragon strategy, this will be an auto-include But I think that it’s powerful enough that you might even try it out in Tempo Rogue, given that Myra’s is a staple in there. Or, let me rephrase it – assuming that Tempo Rogue slows down a bit. The deck has been all over the place for the last year or so – we’ve seen much slower and much faster variants, the latter could be even classified as Aggro. In an Aggro deck, Waxadred is probably too slow. But in a slower Tempo build, it should be good.
Card rating: 8/10
Nozdormu the Timeless
At first, I thought that this is going to give you full Mana Crystals and I was sure that it’s going to be the most broken card in the history of Hearthstone… but as it turns out, it only sets your maximum Crystals to 10, so no free mana. It’s still a crazy design and I’m surprised that they decided to go with it after all.
If you play it on Turn 4, you end up with 0/10 mana and an 8/8 on the board… and then your opponent has all 10 mana to use. That’s the biggest issue I have with this card – your opponent gets to play his stuff first. Which means that if you want to play it early, you already need some board clear prepared – preferably Wild Pyromancer + Equality, but Shrink Ray alone could also do most of the time. That’s because your opponent is likely to put a lot of board pressure, so if you can’t answer it, he might just swing everything at you and kill you out of nowhere.
Later in the game, when both of you are at 8+ mana, it’s basically a 4 mana 8/8, since the Ramp doesn’t matter much (or at all). Which is not bad, of course – 8/8 won’t have the same impact on T10 as it has on T4, but it’s still a solid, big body.
It’s a Dragon too, obviously, but I don’t think that Dragon Paladin will want this – Dragon Paladin seems more like a Midrange deck, and giving your opponent 10 Mana Crystals as a Midrange deck might not work out well. Right now, I don’t think that this card will see play. It would only make sense in Control Paladin, especially a heavy-end one with lots of high mana cost cards. This way you could drop it early and then overwhelm your opponent with big plays, but you would also have some board clears just in case. It’s an interesting card, and I believe that it might find its place eventually, but I don’t think we have the right shell for it just yet.
Card rating: 4/10