Galakrond’s Awakening is the upcoming adventure, which launches January 21 (first wing, that is – it will take 3 more weeks for every card to be released). Adventure isn’t a new format, but it’s the first time we’re getting one in a middle of expansions cycle, just ~1.5 months after Descent of Dragons launched. It’s been a crazy ride ever since the set launched, and we won’t get a break any time soon. 35 new cards will come out, spread over 4 weeks – that’s something important to keep in mind. E.g. if a certain class gets two cards that synergize with each other, when the first one is released it might not see any play until we get the latter.
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 without seeing all the cards, 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!
Very solid 2-drop. The most obvious comparison is Shielded Minibot, which was historically a really good Paladin card and, at the time, one of the best 2-drops in the game. Both cost 2 mana, both are 2/2, both have Mech tag, the only difference is Reborn vs Divine Shield. However, when we compare something like Murmy to Argent Squire, we can see that on small minions like that, those two are very similar. There are situations in which Reborn is better (e.g. when your opponent can’t just pop the Shield with a 1/1 minion) and there are situations in which Shield is better (e.g. it’s better with buffs). I’d say that, on average, Minibot would still be better, mostly because of Magnetic cards, which would on average benefit from Divine Shield more than from Reborn. But since Minibot is not available, well, Shotbot it is!
The card will definitely slot into Quest Paladin (Making Mummies) – it’s better than most of Reborn minions in that list and it’s a Mech so it can benefit from Magnetic cards the deck also runs. The card should also be great in Mech Paladin, which is a much more aggressive build right now than it was in the past, and it looks pretty solid now. Heck, even Pure Paladin (the one with no Neutrals) will love it – a strong class card is a big buff for the deck. Keep in mind, though, that all of them are off-meta decks. And that’s the problem – the card doesn’t seem to slot into an already powerful archetype or at least an archetype that might really take off. It’s a very good 2-drop, but I’m not sure if a good 2-drop is exactly what Paladin needs. While Shotbot won’t make Paladin great again, it will definitely help, and I imagine that it should see a bunch of play by the time it rotates out.
Card rating: 8/10
Average stats of a 2-drop are close to 2/2, which would produce a 2/5 minion – really bad. However, since it’s a Discover effect and it’s not completely random, most of the time, you will have some 3/2 or 2/3 option to pick from – so it’s going to be a 3 mana 3/5 or 2/6 lots of time. Is that good, though? Given that most of those will be vanilla minions without any interesting effects, and that quite often you won’t end up getting a 2/3 or 3/2 and you will have to pick something smaller… It’s just painfully average. I doubt that a vanilla 3 mana 2/6 would see much play, because come on, just look at some of the best decks we have right now. They are doing insane plays, and vanilla 3-drops with a single extra stat wouldn’t be anything exciting. 2/6 for 3 might be good in Combo Priest, but the issue is that a) it’s not a guaranteed 2/6 and b) the deck can already do better stuff (like drop Injured Blademaster on T3 and then Psychopomp on T4) and it’s still a Tier 3 build.
Since you SUMMON the card and not play it, Battlecries are ignored. It produces an amazing high-roll – Millhouse Manastorm, which would be a 3 mana 4/7. But it also adds A LOT of low-rolls – like Novice Engineer or EVIL Cable Rat.
Cool idea, but I don’t really see much of a reason to play it. Instead of having a semi-random 2-drop with +3 Health, you’d much rather put an actual, strong 3-drop into your deck most of the time. Especially a 3-drop that synergizes with your deck and possibly has some use later in the game. If the card would let you summon a 3-drop, now that would be way more interesting and probably playable.
It will be a solid Arena card, though!
Card rating: 3/10
I have to say that I absolutely LOVE design behind this card! It’s a really nice way to put a disruption into the game without always ruining fun for one of the players. So the idea is that playable card means the card your opponent will be able to use next turn. Let’s say that it will be his Turn 5 and he has a bunch of options – maybe a 3-drop + Hero Power, maybe a 5-drop, maybe some kind of removal spell. Once you drop Gazer, however, he will be “forced” into one of those options at random, very often not the one he really wanted to play. For example, if it hits his removal spell, he now will have a very difficult choice – he might have wanted to play a 5-drop, but now if he does it, the removal spell will be gone. So now he has to pick between a weak turn and a card gone. That’s the main strength of the card when you face your average, non-combo deck.
Of course, the card is also a potential combo disruption, but in this case, you don’t want to play him on curve. You want to wait until combo pieces become playable, then drop it – there’s a chance that Gazer will hit one of the combo pieces and your opponent will either have to play it or it will be gone. However, playing the combo piece before completing the actual combo is… not optimal, and sometimes even game-losing (depending on the context). That’s probably the best use for it, although Combo decks aren’t very common in the meta right now.
The problem is that lots of time it will hit the card they wanted to play anyway – but so did Dirty Rat sometimes pull out that big minion that you had no removal for. That’s the nature of cards like that and, well, Hearthstone in general – disruption cards don’t always work consistently.
Another issue is that it’s hard to imagine a deck that would want to put a 3 mana 4/3 with potentially no effect into their deck right now. It’s not really the game plan of decks like Galakrond Warlock or Handlock, but neither it is for a Zoo. Those don’t really care about forcing a random card out of your opponent’s hand most of the time. Still, the card is never going to be terrible, because at the very least it’s a 3 mana 4/3 that might make your opponent play out his turn non-optimally. But we would need a more combo-heavy meta for it to really shine.
Card rating: 5/10 right now, but 8/10 as a potential combo disruption in the right meta
The Amazing Reno
The Hero’s Battlecry is – and I’m not even exaggerating – amazing. It’s an unconditional board wipe. No matter what they have, it’s gone. Minions in Stealth? Gone. Divine Shields? Gone. Deathrattles? Gone. And the best part is that disappear from the game completely – they didn’t die, thus they can’t be resurrected (and I know how much you guys hate Resurrect Priest). As far as Battlecries go, it’s worth the 10 mana. Yes, 10 mana is a lot, but similar effects have seen a lot of play at 8 (Twisting Nether, which doesn’t even remove Deathrattles) and 9 (Plague of Death) – this one costs a tiny bit more, but also comes with +5 Armor and – of course – a new Hero Power.
The Hero Power, however… here’s where the problem lies. It’s random. Like, COMPLETELY random. And you can’t control it at all. If it was “0 mana, cast a random spell” active Hero Power then I would love it – but it’s Passive that you can’t control. You’re ahead on the board? It might cast a board wipe. You’re low on health? The random spell can easily kill you. You’re getting close to fatigue? Here is some card draw! You threaten lethal without any random spells? Well, why not cast a healing spell on your opponent’s face? See, that’s my point. While those things won’t happen every turn, there are many cases in which you would rather NOT cast a random spell at all, but you won’t have a choice. Sometimes it will win you the game, other times it will kill you. And that’s the issue when you compare it to something like Yogg-Saron, Hope's End or even Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron. You could control your timing on those. In many cases you simply could skip them and not cast them if they would easily kill you etc. (unless you were really desperate)
And don’t get me wrong – if I was a new / casual player I would LOVE the card. Heck, if I ever do some matches with my friends, I will definitely include it too. However, competitively-wise, I’m not a big fan of it. And the thing is that the Battlecry alone might make it enough to include in Highlander Mage. You see, the deck lacks a board wipe – sure, it has something like Flamestrike, but it’s often not enough to clear a big board. I would play Reno just for the Battlecry. But then, the random spell every turn can really screw you, and I just don’t like the fact that so many games will be decided by whether you roll The Forest's Aid or Pyroblast your own face. But I think we’ll have to deal with that.
Card rating: 7/10 even including the bad Hero Power, simply because Highlander Mage would really use a complete board wipe.
They’re really pushing the raw amount of stats and keywords they can push into a single minion. Remember Bog Creeper? This has the same stats, also Taunt, but also Reborn and “Can’t be targeted” effect. Back in the days of Ramp Druid, this card would be nuts and everyone would run it (those were the days when Dark Arakkoa has seen play even without C’thun in your deck). Heck, the card pushes the line so hard that even now, with a much higher power levels, it might be playable in a kind of Ramp Druid.
But it’s the old story – it’s a solid card that you would want to put into Ramp Druid, but Ramp Druid is not a good deck, and Winged Guardian is definitely not enough to push it into viability. Maybe with some more synergy, some kind of Beast Ramp Druid would be playable… Like, you know, Predatory Instincts is a card and it would work really well with Winged Guardian (pushing its stats to 6/16). Stampeding Roar is also a possibility, although in this case it would only be a 1 mana discount (+Rush, of course). The issue is, though, that in Descent of Dragons Ramp Druid was pushed towards Dragons tribe, not towards Beast, so this card would be so much better as a Dragon (but then again, it would be too similar to Evasive Drakonid).
Long story short, I don’t think that it will see Constructed play right now, but if Ramp Druid makes a comeback, I could definitely see it being played. Dropping it a turn or two earlier would make a big, big difference and it would work very well against both Aggro (big Taunt) and Control (big threat with Elusive) decks. But unless Ramp Druid sees some insane card in Galakrond’s Awakening (and keep in mind that there will only be 2-3 cards per class, so there’s not much room for that), we might have to wait until next year.
And, of course, it will be one of the most busted cards in Arena. Lots of stats, can’t be removed with spells, Reborn that can’t be pinged by Mage or any kind of small removal spell… Very, very good. But Arena likes those big piles of stats with multiple keywords.
Card rating: 4/10
Yeah, this is a weaker Flik Skyshiv. Not only it doesn’t destroy any extra copies, but it might not even kill the main minion – like targetting a 4/5 minion won’t kill it, because it will be left at 1 health. But Flik is really, really strong, so being a weaker version of it doesn’t necessarily mean being bad. A better comparison I would use is a single-target Lightbomb with a 4/4 body. Both cost the same, so you trade the AoE part for a 4/4 minion, worth roughly 3 mana. Any extra tempo on your removal is good – that’s for sure. The problem with normal removals is that when you drop them, your opponent can just play something again and when going back to your turn, you will be in exactly the same spot again. But even that 4/4 might let you kill something, so you maybe don’t have to invest another removal and instead you can develop your own board instead.
The issue, however, is that it doesn’t always kill a minion. I feel like too many people treat it as such, but in many cases it won’t. Galakrond Shaman was very popular recently – let’s say that he played Dragon's Pack and you wanted to kill one of the Taunts. Nope, you wouldn’t be able to do it. Handlock drops Twilight Drake? Sorry, can’t kill it. Some other popular minions that it won’t kill include Shield of Galakrond, Khartut Defender, Bone Wraith, Convincing Infiltrator, big 4/12 Dragons… Yes, it will kill LOTS of minions, but far from every one of them. And often you do have to kill one of those. And that’s a big issue – sometimes you will have to clear one of those but it won’t let you.
I’m also not really sure if Priest really wants that. Resurrect build – nope, you don’t want to add 4/4 body into your minion pool. Combo – again nope, because it’s too slow. Control – I don’t think so? Between the fact that it doesn’t kill everything and that Priest has access to lots of different removals, I’m not convinced. The only deck I really see that would want it is some kind of Tempo Priest, which is something I’ve been talking about nearly every card reveal season, but it’s never actually viable. It also has a Dragon tag, so maybe a more classic Dragon Priest approach – so a Midrange deck with strong on-curve plays… this might actually be good in that sort of deck. But the issue is that Priest doesn’t really have any amazing Dragon synergies right now. Breath of the Infinite is good, but Dragon synergy doesn’t add THAT much into it (like, when you’re behind on the board, the card is basically the same no matter if you have Dragons or not). And Chronobreaker is painfully average, not even close to the levels of old Dragon Priest synergies like Drakonid Operative or Duskbreaker.
Card rating: 4/10, unless Priest get some insane synergies for Tempo/Dragon builds
2x 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit is worth 1 mana – Lost in the Jungle has proven that. So in terms of tempo, this card is already way worse. Adding Taunt to them is actually quite nice, because it can help you protect your other minions, but let’s be clear – Taunt on your 1/1’s is not worth extra 1 mana. So in terms of tempo, Lost in the Jungle is a clear winner. However, what’s important about Air Raid is the Twinspell part. You can cast it twice – so in a way, it lets you use (an even better) Odd Paladin Hero Power twice, and when you look at it this way, it’s pretty decent.
Twinspell is just a good mechanic. Cards that let you have a decent play AND add another card to your hand (which is basically what Twinspell is) are just good. And because of that, I think that this card is above average. Because of Twinspell, you can just play it on curve, play it on Turn 4 twice (for 4x 1/1 with Taunt, which ain’t bad at all) or just weave it into two different turns. Both Aggro and Midrange builds might like to play it (but probably more generic decks, because I don’t see a Mech build putting it in, for example).
However, we’re having an issue here – Shotbot is the other Paladin card. I’d say that it’s even better than Air Raid. But are they really going to matter? Paladin is in a bad spot right now, what it needs are some build-around cards, not just some generic, strong plays. Maybe Shotbot will be good in Mech Paladin, but I can’t see the deck moving to a higher Tier just because of it. Older adventures only added two cards per class, so we might be done, and while both of those cards are solid, I don’t think that they will change Paladin’s position in the meta that much.
If anything, those two cards are probably the biggest support for Pure Paladin – with two more solid class cards, it might be playable, but “playable” in this case probably means Tier 3 at best, so nothing amazing. Still, the card is pretty good either way.
Card rating: 7/10
Grand Lackey Erkh
I dig the design of this card. While 2/3 stats for 4 are really, really bad, here’s the thing – this is not a 4-drop, you can’t treat it as one, because playing it on T4 would be a big mistake. I’d say that T6 is really the earliest you want to play it on, but it’s still pretty bad. Realistically the later the better. If you have 10 mana – that’s the best case scenario. Then you just need one Lackey to start a chain and have a really good turn. You’re going to play 6 Lackeys in total, which is A LOT of value. And, of course, a ful board flood – sure, mostly with 1/1’s, but still.
The thing is, however, that Lackeys are mostly a tempo tool. You don’t want to wait until Turn 10 to play them. Of course, you don’t have to wait that long, but on T5 this is basically 4 mana 2/3 that adds a Lackey to your hand. Even on T6 it’s a 4 mana 2/3 that adds two Lackeys to your hand – a weaker Miscreant. And you absolutely can’t count on Erkh surviving a turn – it’s a 2/3 after all. The card just seems too slow for the style of decks that runs Lackeys. Most of them don’t want to keep late game “combo piece” card, and would rather have strong on-curve plays.
The only deck I could realistically want to put him into is the Warlock Lackey deck with Dark Pharaoh Tekahn. The Lackey package with Tekahn has seen some brief play in Zoo Warlock, and I’ve also seen some Midrange builds around it. Erkh would be significantly stronger in that build, because Lackeys would be a 4/4 instead of 1/1. It would be a massive late game win condition, flooding the board with 4/4’s. But I don’t think that the deck is going to work, unless Warlock gets something interesting.
Card rating: 3/10
Eye of the Storm
Too soon, Blizzard, too soon… If anything, this just shows how absolutely broken was Dragon's Pack in the early expansion Galakrond Shaman (where Invoking twice on curve before playing it wasn’t any issue). Summoning two 5/6 Taunts for 5 mana, vs summoning three for 10 mana with 3 points of Overload. Heck, you could even summon 4x for 8 mana with Electra Stormsurge – that was a pretty common play. And that comparison really hurts.
To be fair, it’s not always good to compare cards like that – Dragon’s Pack pre-nerf was absolutely broken, so being a bit worse than something broken is not bad. However, Eye of the Storm is not “a bit worse”, it’s way, way worse. I can KIND OF understand 10 mana, but 10 mana AND 3 Overload? That’s just an overkill. 10 mana effects are meant to be powerful. Look at cards like N'Zoth, The Corruptor, like Bloodreaver Gul'dan or even Zul'jin. For 10 mana you want a game-winning effect, or at least something that your opponent will have a lot of troubles dealing with. This has no immediate effect (as in doesn’t remove anything, give you any more value etc.) and it just takes one bigger AoE to clear.
Another thing is that the card doesn’t seem to have any serious synergies – it’s just three mid-sized bodies. There’s no reasonable way to make it cheaper or cheat it out earlier. There’s also nothing Shaman has that combos with big spells as far as I’m aware (there’s Electra, but you can’t play those two together). And Shaman in particular is not the best with 10 mana cards – keep in mind that not only you need to be at 10 mana, but you can’t cast it if you Overloaded even for just 1 last turn.
I don’t really see it. The card doesn’t seem to be worth 10 mana + 3 Overload. It’s just TOO fair, and too fair cards rarely see any kind of Constructed play, which is all about cheating out tempo or value in some way (or just rushing the opponent down). I don’t think it will see any play unless they print some stuff that synergizes with it – either something that makes you able to replay it/resummon the Taunts or cheat it out earlier. I honestly think that the card used to be cheaper (like let’s say 8 mana with 3 Overload), but they got scared after seeing what Galakrond Shaman can do and didn’t want to repeat the same mistake. Right now I wouldn’t say that it’s completely unplayable, but I would say that it’s below average.
Edit: I wrote this review before The Fist of Ra-Den was revealed. Maybe Big Spell Shaman makes more sense right now. Between Fist and King Phaoris, you might be able to summon some random 10-drops thanks to it. However, I still don’t think that it’s going to be a very good deck.
Card rating: 4/10
Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk is rotating out in less than 3 months… so it’s finally time to print some support for it! Yay! No, but seriously, I actually do think that it might make Jan’alai playable. The issue is, will there be a deck that wants to play it? Right now the only really viable Mage deck is Highlander Mage. Cyclone build is… okay-ish, but not really meta, and I don’t think that it would fit there anyway. As for the Highlander Mage, I actually think that it would be perfect in terms of playstyle, but the issue is that you can’t run two copies of Amplifier and Daring Fire-Eater, making Jan’alai a bit slower. Maybe one of each would be good enough, though, after all you don’t need to play Jan’alai on curve… And honestly, maybe it would be good enough to put into a deck without Jan’alai? After all, it has decent stats, it’s pretty hard to remove on curve, and can fight for the board really well. Dealing 3 damage per Hero Power puts it in a sweet spot that lets you answer many early game threats.
Honestly, the deck it would fit most is some kind of Elemental Mage, but we’ve been there, tried that, it never really worked… Right now we have some solid cards like Elemental Evocation, and also the new Sidequest (Elemental Allies). And now a decent Elemental. But Elemental decks always had one problem – they were just too straightforward and too fair. They’re mostly about playing minions on the curve, but those minions were never over the top, never able to completely crush the opponent. And just… a bit on the weaker side. Like, come on, Mage had Bonfire Elemental, which was a CONDITIONAL 5/5/5 that draws a card. Everyone can now do that without any restrictions by playing Big Ol' Whelp. It will probably be a fun deck to play, but I don’t believe that it will be good.
And, of course, it’s an amazing Arena card. 3 mana 2/5 is already playable, now with a pretty powerful effect like this one…
But back to Constructed – I think that it’s a solid card that might see a bit of play, but nothing exceptional simply because there’s really no great deck that would really benefit from playing it. But if Mage gets some strong Elemental synergies or Hero Power synergies (most likely not now, but next year), there’s a solid chance that it will see play.
Card rating: 6/10
Alright, to be perfectly honest, the card is pretty simple, boring and unassuming, but I think that it’s really solid one. Why? Because of Twinspell, obviously. Without it, the card that would let you summon a 3/2 or draw a card would – let’s face it – be bad. The only reason to play it would be the fact that you can play it as a 2-drop or cycle it later in the game. But because of Twinspell, you can actually do both. On Turn 2, you can just drop it as a 3/2 – of course, it’s not great, but let’s be honest, Druid doesn’t have a ton of better options anyway. And then later in the game you can fill some of your turns by either summoning another 3/2 (if you need more tempo) or cycling the card (if you need more value). When summoning 3/2’s, it’s like a 2-drop Fire Fly – a 2 mana 3/2 that adds another 2 mana 3/2 to your hand. Or you can just ignore summoning the 3/2 if you don’t need anything on the board and just draw two cards for 4 mana. Good? Not exactly, but Branching Paths existed and it was often used to draw two when needed. Branching Paths also had some really underwhelming options, but the card turned out to be great because of flexibility. This ain’t on the same level, but it has another advantage…
That advantage is the fact that Quest Druid exist. I can totally see it being a Quest Druid staple. 2 mana 3/2 that draws a card? Or rather 4 mana 2x 3/2 + draw 2 cards? Hell yeah. Quest Druid really, and I mean really likes cycling through the deck, especially since most of the builds run some Highlander cards to finish the game. And you won’t really mind playing one part on Turn 3, because you will still have the second for after you finish the Quest. Twinspell + Choose One is a very strong combination in the deck.
And let me be clear – this is not the most powerful card we’ve ever seen. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it “amazing”, but it’s certainly good. My point is that the card doesn’t look very strong when you first glance about it, but then when you think about the flexibility it all comes together. I definitely see it in Quest Druid, but maybe even other Druid builds. Like, Token Druid is losing a bunch of cards in the upcoming rotation, maybe it will want to play a flexible 2-drop. Some kind of Midrange build might also be on board. I just really like the card and I think that it shouldn’t be underestimated.
Card rating: 7/10
Sky Gen’ral Kragg
Not something I expected, but a welcome card, to be honest. Some Quests were really solid back in Saviors of Uldum (such as Shaman or Druid), but they haven’t seen almost any play in Descent of Dragons. Surprisingly, Quest Priest and Quest Hunter have been the best one so far (even though they haven’t seen almost any play in previous expansion) and I have to say that most of the other Quest decks really need some upgrades.
And this card is going into lots of Quest builds, I would say. It’s a bit like Questing Explorer, but more flexible. Both are stronger than the usual minion for their mana, but in case of Adventurer, there’s no point in running it if you want to finish your Quest quickly. Kragg only requires you to have played a Quest at one point in the game, it doesn’t have to be active. Which makes it way better in the late game, especially in decks that want to finish Quest quickly (such as Quest Druid).
Of course, it won’t be played in EVERY Quest build – like the aforementioned Quest Priest. 2/3 and 4/2 with Rush would just unnecessarily flood the Resurrect pool. However, the other Quest I’ve also mentioned – Quest Hunter – is like a perfect build for this one. Let’s start with the fact that 4 mana for a 2/3 + 4/2 with Rush is just good. Most of the time you will be able to remove something and still have a 2/3 on the board, but you can also drop it on the empty board to create some pressure. Hunter benefits from it, because it’s 2 minions in one card, meaning that you progress the Quest better. Another perfect Quest deck for it is Quest Shaman. You can either play it on curve to progress the Quest, or wait until you finish it and then play Hero Power + drop it to summon 2x 4/2 with Rush instead. Either way, it’s great. In general, Quest decks always have to skip one turn and start with one card less, so a higher power level card like that would let them comeback in terms of tempo, and that’s what they want.
I would assume that it also triggers from Sidequests, but I don’t think that it’s good in decks that ONLY run Sidequest. With the regular Quest, you always draw it and play it on 1, so this card will be active. In case of Sidequests, you might draw them after Kragg, so he might be dead for a few turns (because you absolutely don’t want to play 4 mana 2/3).
So yeah, the card is strong, but one important thing – it’s better than your average 4-drop, but it’s not absolutely insane. It’s not like Highlander synergies such as Zephrys – it won’t turn bad Quests into good Quests just because you play it. It’s a support, but your Quest deck needs to be decent in the first place. One thing to have in mind, though, is that most of the Quests will lose a lot of power next expansion, so Kragg will be even more desirable then.
Card rating: 8/10
That’s a cool way to print a Neutral “Ramp” card without making it broken. Any permanent Ramp would have to be priced so high that it probably wouldn’t be viable, or else it would be too strong. But this is not a permanent ramp card – it’s only relevant as long as it’s on the board (or rather as long as you can attack with it). What I like about it is that it “ramps” you on any attack. You don’t need to attack a minion or opponent’s Hero in particular. You don’t need to kill, or Overkill anything (which made me think of Half-Time Scavenger). You just need to attack.
The reason why I say “ramps” is because it’s not a real ramp card. It’s a bit closer to adding a Coin to your hand. Or not, it’s using a Coin immediately when it attacks, because you can’t save it for the future. Since it has Stealth, if you drop it on curve, the first “ramp” is all but guaranteed. Sure, there are some ways to still deal with it, but it should trigger most of the time. So the basic idea is that it gets you up to 6 mana from 5. Ideally you want to play it in a deck that really, really wants to get to 6 mana quickly, because it has some powerful 6-drop… and I honestly can’t really think about a deck like that right now.
The issue is that it’s very unlikely that it will survive longer than a turn. It has a huge target mark on its back and everyone will remove it very quickly. High priority targets like that just don’t stick. So most of the time one extra mana is all you’re going to get out of it. My biggest problem is that you have to use that mana immediately. Unlike Coin, which you can save for when you need it, if you have no good 6 mana play (or 7 mana, 8 mana etc. if you attack later) then the extra mana is just gone, it’s useless…
I’ll be perfectly honest that I have a hard time rating it. On the one hand, if it sticks, the effect is really good. But as an one-time use, it’s pretty mediocre unless – like I’ve mentioned – you run a deck that has a power spike at T6 and wants to get there fast. It’s probably too slow for an Aggro deck, because those don’t really need an extra mana that much (because of low curve) and the minion itself is not that impactful and pretty slow. Slower decks also don’t want it, maybe the only exception is a weird Combo deck that uses it to squeeze in a 11 (or 12 with two copies) mana turn, but that’s not a very reliable way since they can just get AoE’d. It would fit more into a Midrange deck. Maybe some kind of Hunter will want to play it thanks to the Beast synergies. So I can see it being useful in some decks, but I can’t see it being meta-defining in any way. Slightly above average, but not by a mile.
Card rating: 6/10
The Fist of Ra-Den
It’s a bit like Medivh, the Guardian, but in a weapon form. It’s cheaper, but comes without a big body. It also has one more durability. And that’s actually a good comparison – Medivh maybe was not the best card ever, but it was playable, and many decks would want to have just his weapon as a card. And well, it always summons Legendaries, as opposed to a random minion. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Honestly, without carefully analyzing each mana cost, it’s pretty difficult to say.
In general, however, random Legendaries seem to be on average on a similar power level to non-Legendaries. I feel like non-Legendaries are more consistent, while Legendaries have more outliers – there are those high-rolls with lots of stats, but then there are also a bunch of low rolls (low stat Battlecries, minions with effects that don’t synergize with your deck).
Still, First of Ra-Den is just A LOT of value and tempo packed into one card. Or, let me rephrase it, it’s an immediate tempo loss, but unless your opponent destroys it, you’re going to gain A LOT of tempo in your upcoming turns. Even if you cast mostly 2-4 mana spells, you can easily summon 10 mana worth of stuff through a 4 mana card. I’m talking about 2-4 mana cards, because, to be honest, Shaman doesn’t have that many expensive spell options. If we’re talking about things above 6 mana, we’ve currently got Rain of Toads, Eureka!, The Storm Bringer and Earthquake. That’s all. Storm Bringer is irrelevant in this type of deck, Eureka would only be good in a “Big Minions” kind of deck (and I’m not sure if Big Minions + Big Spells would work well together), so we only have two options. Well, three options, because Eye of the Storm will get printed alongside it. While the card itself is pretty weak, if you decide to run a Big Spell Shaman after all, it will probably make sense to run it.
However, the archetype and a card I like Fist of Ra-Den with is Control Shaman and Earthquake respectively. Control Shaman might not be in a best spot right now, but I’m thinking more about the future. Since we’ve already been through all of the Token & Midrange Shaman builds, maybe Blizzard decides to push Control again next expansion. And Fist of Ra-Den would be a PERFECT card in Control build. Earthquake is already a solid card – it’s a big board clear, 7 damage for 7 mana is enough to clear most of stuff. But you’re usually left with no board whatsoever after playing it. And here’s where Fist would shine – you would summon a random 7-drop, giving you a huge board control lead. Now next turn your opponent might play something, you would clear it with another spell or two, summon more minions, and basically gain a total control of the game. The deck also runs some cheaper, but not VERY cheap spells, such as Lightning Storm or Hex, which would also add some power to the board.
So all in all, I think that this card is good (unless the meta is heavy on weapon removal, of course), but it will be hard to find the right deck for it currently. I don’t think that a full-fledged Big Spell Shaman has what it takes to be viable, while Control Shaman is missing a bunch of necessary tools to work in this meta. However, I do have a lot of hope for this card in the upcoming expansion and beyond.
Card rating: 8/10