Rastakhan’s Rumble Card Review #1 – Sul’thraze, Shirvallah, the Tiger, Hir’eek, the Bat, Hex Lord Malacrass, Cannon Barrage and more!

If you’re anything like me, then reveal season is your favorite time of the year (alongside the first days of a new expansion). With nothing figured out, new cards coming every day, wild theories and early deck builds (which most likely won’t work) popping up everywhere, and that surprise when you look at some card and think to yourself – “what were they thinking when they’ve designed it?”

Sadly, we’ll have to wait some more time until the reveal season starts in full force, but we’ve already got some cards and interesting mechanics to talk about. I’ll take a closer look at them in this article, 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 this card as something with a lot of 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.

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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!

Spirit of the Shark

This card reminds me of Brann Bronzebeard. He has proven that doubling your Battlecries can be a very powerful effect. But, he costed 1 less mana, came with a better body and wasn’t played much in Rogue anyway (was good in Jade Rogue, but that was more of a meme deck). However, Spirit of the Shark has something going for it – not only it starts with a Stealth, making it much harder to clear (unless your opponent wants to commit an AoE), but also works with Combo cards. Those two are big deal.

The thing about Rogue is that it’s the highest tempo class of them all. It lives and dies for the tempo, and playing a 4 mana 0/3 is a massive tempo loss. So whether it will be good or not mostly depends on how well the class will be able to regain that tempo back. Right now, there aren’t many Battlecry and/or Tempo minions that would take the tempo back. Edwin VanCleef is the one that comes to mind, but it would just create a bigger body, which has diminishing returns. A 18/18 is of course better than 10/10, but if your opponent has removal/Silence it’s the same thing anyway (and if he doesn’t he probably loses anyway). Elven Minstrel draws 2 extra cards, but that’s a low tempo play followed by a low tempo play. SI:7 Agent deals 2 extra damage to the target, which is cool, but not something to put it to the next level.

This card doesn’t seem to fit into your Classic Tempo/Miracle/etc. Rogue, but I feel like it has a lot of combo (not keyword combo) potential. For example, it would go really well into a Pogo-Hopper deck. I know that those decks are meme right now, but doubling the Battlecry makes them grow twice as fast. You play Pogo + Shadowstep + Pogo with this on the board and you get +8+/8 to your Hoppers.  And of course, it HEAVILY depends on the new Battlecries / Combo cards we’ll get this expansion. Overall I think that it has some potential, but most likely not in the current popular Rogue strategies, because it’s too slow for the decks that rely early/mid game tempo. It looks more like a combo activator.

My biggest worry is that Mossy Horror might become even more relevant if Spirit cards see common play, and it can completely destroy them. Removing a 4-drop and possibly some other small minions for 6 mana with a 2/7 body is well worth it, on top of being an answer to stuff like Spreading Plague.

Card rating: 5/10 (but HEAVILY depends on new Battlecries/Combos)

Sul’thraze

Overkill is a new mechanic. It means that if you deal excess damage, the card does something extra. E.g. in this case it’s the ability to attack again, which means that if you use it to clear a minion that has 0-3 health (assuming it stays at 4 attack and you don’t buff it), you will be able to attack again. I think that this card might be underestimated.

But let’s start with some comparisons. We already had a slightly similar card – Fool's Bane. It had 3 attack, 4 durability, and you could swing it as many times as you wanted. IT was sometimes teched into Control Warrior, but pretty rarely and it wasn’t a great card overall. But the biggest issue with Fool’s Bane is that you could never go face with it. That’s not a problem with Sul’thraze.

Warrior already has a weapon for clearing Midrange boards – Supercollider, which was one of the best Warrior cards in the recent expansions. And while it’s true that a Control deck probably wouldn’t drop it for Sul’thraze, it again shares a similar theme with Fool’s Bane. While it CAN attack face, it’s not very efficient, since it only deals 1 damage per turn.

This card should be compared to something else –Arcanite Reaper, a card that was played in Aggro and Tempo Warrior decks in the past. Arcanite Reaper is 5/2 weapon, while this is 4/4 – a 4/4 is obviously better, but it also costs 1 more mana. However, I feel like the extra effect makes it significantly better than Reaper – the fact that you can use it as a really good board control tool while still pulling face damage on top of that is great. With Arcanite Reaper, hitting smaller minions felt really bad, because you’ve lost so much damage. In this case, you can do both – clear a minion and still hit face for 4 (or more if you buff it). The 4 durability is also amazing – assuming you attack face every turn, that’s 16 damage over 4 turns. Yes, it takes long to get all of that damage, but it’s A LOT. One Upgrade! pushes it to 5/5, which is 25 damage over 5 turns. That’s almost enough to kill the opponent with this weapon alone, and it’s A LOT of burn.

I really don’t think that it will be played in Control Warrior over other options like Blood Razor or Supercollider. And it won’t fit into Odd Warrior anyway. But if some kind of Midrange/Tempo Warrior pops out, I could totally see it being played. Maybe the deck might even run Hench-Clan Thug for a good measure, if it would be weapon-heavy (I mean, this card can immediately buff it to 5/5 or even 6/6 quite easily).

Card rating: 8/10, but mostly playable in Midrange/Tempo style of Warrior

Sharkfin Fan

It feels similar to Hench-Clan Thug in terms of decks that it would fit into. I’d say that the card is weaker in general, because since it doesn’t grow itself, it’s always pretty easy to kill. Hench-Clan can grow out of range of some removals quite quickly, this can’t. But it can still give you some nice value – just a single attack pushes it over vanilla, and any extra attack is more and more tempo/value.

Rogue is obviously the class that this would fit into most. It’s the only class with weapon on demand, so this could get value throughout entire game. The problem is that a) it can’t fit into Odd Rogue, which is the best Rogue deck out there and b) your Hero Power costs 2 mana, so you’d rather curve out with Hench-Clan thug on T3 than with this (maybe this + 1-drop would be good too, but less reliable). There’s a thing that fixes those problems – Genn Greymane. Even Rogue is a meme deck right now, but with enough support it might get a bit better, and this looks like a good card you would want to play in there. You play Hero Power on T1, this on T2 + attack, if it doesn’t get removed then you can play a second or another 2-drop and attack again + re-Hero Power. It can snowball quite nicely. But I don’t put too much hope into Even Rogue, it’s just not an archetype that seems very powerful.

The deck this has most chance to see play in is Pirate Rogue, in my opinion. The thing is, though, that there aren’t many Pirate synergies in Standard right now, definitely not enough to build a viable deck around it. This might change, since it seems like Rogue’s theme this expansion will be Pirates. The card can be especially potent in Wild, where you can combo it with Ship's Cannon too – each of the 1/1’s you summon would deal extra 2 random damage!

There’s also synergy with the new Warrior weapon, but it comes too late. You want those cards to snowball your early game, a 2/2 with a bunch of 1/1’s aren’t that scary later in the game.

Card rating: 3/10 with the current card pool, but might be good in Rogue if the class gets some sweet Pirate synergies (+it’s better in the Wild)

Shirvallah, the Tiger

It looks absolutely terrible in the current Paladin class. The class is pretty minion-heavy, even the Combo OTK Paladin doesn’t play that many spells (especially expensive spells). The card is obviously bad in any kind of Aggro / Midrange Paladin, as those want to have strong early/mid game and not some late game payoff.

The main problem with this card is that it’s straight up unplayable until you play a bunch of spells. It’s not like some other cards that are weak but still playable. E.g. Corridor Creeper can still be played at 5 mana, it’s a bad play, but if you don’t have anything else to do, you can still do it. This card simply CAN’T be played at 20, 15 or even 11 mana. You need to play at least 15 mana worth of spells to even be able to use it, and even then it’s sill terrible. Ideally you want to make it 0 mana, but it would be good enough payoff even at 4-5 mana (immediate removal, solid body and some healing). However, in order to do that, you would need to play 20 mana worth of spells, which still makes it a strictly late game card.

Let’s say that you have a really spell heavy game. You play Consecration on Turn 4, Call to Arms on Turn 5 and Spikeridged Steed on Turn 6. You would expect to be able to play this card after, but no, you still can’t. That’s “only” 15 mana worth of spells, so you still need to play another one. This will come down on Turn 8-9 at earliest (while technically it’s possible that it might drop on T7, that’s very unlikely, as you would need to play some spells basically every turn), it’s hard to imagine games in which you can play it before that. And that’s the problem. It’s just too late. Control Paladin doesn’t need tempo swings vs slower decks, because it doesn’t play for the tempo, but for the value (or combo). This is an anti-Aggro card, but it comes down too late to be a relevant anti-Aggro card. As it currently looks, this card would be really relevant only in Midrange matchups, and that’s not enough to make it a good card. And of course, let’s remember the fact that Control Paladin is not in the greatest state right now.

Unless we see some more synergies, I have to say that this card doesn’t look too good.

P.S. Theoretically you can get it from Prismatic Lens and make it really cheap really easily. But then you end up with a completely unplayable spell, and I don’t think that it’s worth the hassle (you still need to spend at least 4 mana for it AND the 25 mana spell will just stay in your hand until the end of the game).

Card rating: 3/10

Spirit of the Bat

This is a Zoo card, but not really an amazing Zoo card. Let’s start with the mana cost – while 2 might seem cool, it means that you can’t play it in Prince Keleseth deck. It won’t be a big deal after the rotation (because Keleseth) will be out, but for now I guess that Zoo will still want Keleseth.

The problem with this card is that it’s good only in very specific scenarios. You already need to be ahead on the board, your opponent needs to have some minions too, and you need to trade your minions into their minions. It does nothing when you do efficient trading (which you should aim to as Zoo – you want your minions to survive trades if possible). It does nothing if you plan to go face. It does nothing if you play vs a slow deck that doesn’t play many minions. It does nothing if you’re behind on the board.

The card reminds me a bit of Sonya Shadowdancer. Everyone and their mother said that the card will be insane in Tempo Rogue, and it turned out to be okay there – it wasn’t even a staple. And Sonya was way more powerful than this is – you’d rather get 1/1 copies of the minions you lost than +1/+1 buff on a random minion.

Another point of comparison would obviously be Soul Infusion. You get +2/+2 for 1 mana, so in order for it to be really worth it you’d probably need to get at least 4 triggers. And even then, the advantage of Soul Infusion is that you can more or less control what will get the buff. And that’s actually not that easy. Faster mirrors are mostly about trading blows, you rarely stick many minions on the board. And in slower matchups you often prefer going face, or your board is constantly getting AoEd.

Yes, if this card sticks to the board, it can snowball it in the long run. But how often a 0/3 minion sticks to the board? If it did often, then Shaman decks would be absolutely busted thanks to the Flametongue Totem. But the truth is that after you get your initial value, it’s usually cleared.

The card has obviously great synergy with Loa – Hir'eek, the Bat, but that’s like a pipe dream. Hir’eek is a combo card and Zoo is not a combo deck.

Maybe it will see some play in token-heavy Zoo after the rotation, when Keleseth is no longer there. But even then I’m not sure. Right now it doesn’t look too strong.

Card rating: 3/10

Hir’eek, the Bat

The biggest problem with Hir’eek is that it’s a combo card (you NEED to combo it with handbuffs for it to be viable), but you want to play it in Zoo. And Zoo doesn’t want to play combo cards.

It becomes borderline playable, but still probably not good enough for a 2-cards-combo if you hit it with one Soul Infusion. Realistically you would want to hit it with both copies, or get some more buffs from cards like Prince Keleseth or Spirit of the Bat for it to be worth it. But the thing is, it’s not that easy for a few reasons. If you draw it pretty early, not only it’s a dead card, but it’s a discard magnet. Any time you play Soulfire or Doomguard you will have a high chance to discard it. So you don’t want to draw it early. But then again, what if you draw your Soul Infusion / Spirit of the Bat early? You just keep it and not play it? That’s also a bad strategy because of the discards, but also because of the tempo – Zoo is a tempo deck, you don’t want to hold onto cards for a long time if you can play them. You will have a higher chance to win if you hit that Soul Infusion on your Chain Gang, Doubling Imp or whatever and play it as soon as possible than if you hold it for god knows how long.

And if you want a massive late game board refill in Zoo, why not just play Bloodreaver Gul'dan? Yes, it’s more expensive, but you don’t need to combo it with anything – you WILL play a bunch of Demons throughout the game and then resummon a big board. But you know why Zoo decks rarely play Gul’dan, even though it would be more consistent? Because it’s not necessary. That’s not the deck’s game plan. You want to finish the games in the mid game, Turn 7-8 is already very late for the Zoo. If you haven’t won by that point, if you play vs a faster deck, you’re probably dead (because they’ve got ahead and crushed you) and if you play vs a slower deck, they probably have some AoE kept just in case, because they don’t need it that much when you’re in topdeck mode.

And a slower Warlock deck definitely doesn’t want to play it. Spirit of the Bat is not a good card if you don’t run many small minions, especially tokens, so you would be left with Soul Infusion to combo with it. And then you basically get a 3 cards late game board flood like Dragoncaller Alanna in Mage… but Alanna is a single card, not 3.

Card rating: 2/10

Surrender to Madness

This card is super weird. On the one hand, getting +2/+2 deck-wide buff is amazing. On the other hand, losing 3 mana crystals is like losing the game. There are actually two kinds of decks I might see trying it, but I honestly don’t think it will work in either of them.

The first one is a super fast deck with lots and lots of cheap minions. You play this on T3 and then start topdecking cheap, buf buffed minions. Like 3/5 Dire Mole or 3/3 Argent Squire with Divine Shield. The problem? Not drawing this card. If you play a deck full of 0-3 mana minions, you run out of cards incredibly quickly. And while they’re good in the early game, they become irrelevant quite quickly. You would end up with strong 3-4 turns and then you would run out of stuff to do, getting completely outclassed by any other deck. Another problem – your opponent would be 3 mana crystals ahead. Your buffed 1-drops would have to fight against their 4-drops, your buffed 2-drops against their 5-drops etc. And despite the +2/+2 buff yours would still lose most of the time. Oh, and it doesn’t affect your hand – so you rely on topdecking the right cards. Not a great strategy.

Then, another kind of deck is some minion-heavy, slow Midrange deck. Something along the lines of Spiteful Priest (but obviously not Spiteful, because this card would ruin it), Then you wouldn’t play it on the curve, it would be a late game play when losing a few mana crystals is not that big of a deal. If a big part of your deck costs 3-7 mana, then playing it on Turn 10 wouldn’t matter that much. But here the problem is that it also has no immediate effect, and you would have to wait until absolute late game to use it.

Losing mana crystals is a big deal. Warlock cards that destroy a single mana crystal are often hard to play, because they ruin your curve. This destroys 3, crippling you way more. The card has some meme potential, but I don’t think it’s playable in a competitive deck.

Card rating: 1/10

Immortal Prelate

Oh look, it’s a minion version of Kingsbane! Of course, it being a minion means that it’s much weaker, since it’s vulnerable to effects like Silence and Transform.

In theory, a card like that can be really powerful. Every time it dies, if you buffed it, it gets stronger and stronger, getting shuffled back into the deck. It’s amazing if your deck is concerned about fatigue too, playing two copies of those should be enough to pretty much not worry about fatigue.

The card can get insane value over time, but the problem is that it’s super slow. 2 mana 1/3 is very weak, it’s something that you nearly can’t drop against Aggro on Turn 2, because it will get eaten before it does anything. Keep in mind that the first buffs you play on it also don’t have any immediate pay-off – you’re just buffing an understatted 2-drop. Only when it dies and you draw it again (or pull it out from your deck) it starts giving you value/tempo, and that might be too late. It’s a bit like Dire Frenzy in Hunter. In theory, having a bunch of overstatted Beasts shuffled into your deck sounds sweet. In practice, not enough immediate payoff makes it just too slow and unreliable (keep in mind that once it gets shuffled, you might not draw it in a while).

Another issue is Silence/Transform. If you want to use it as a massive late game threat vs Control decks… it probably won’t work. Because most of the slow decks run some sort of card that lets them deal with it. Odd Warriors have Ironbeak Owl, Even Warlocks have Spellbreaker, Shudderwock Shamans have Hex etc. And it’s not like they have to draw it early – they can Silence/Transform it after it gets shuffled and played again.

And finally, what kind of deck would want to play that? Quest Paladin – not really, it’s just too slow, you’d rather play the Murloc 2-drops that gives you the buffs back on Deathrattle (so you can finish the Quest quicker). Control Paladin? It doesn’t play enough buffs for it to be worth it. Maybe Even Buff Paladin? That might be a consideration, actually. The card would suck against Aggro, but it could be a great long term threat in slower matchups, as long as it would get Silenced…

The thing this card has going for it is the Call to Arms synergy. The fact that you can pull them out with CtA makes it a bit better, but the main problem here is that CtA can’t be played in Even Paladin, the most likely candidate to run this card.

It’s a pretty cool card, and it can find its niche, but I don’t see it being too good, simply because it’s soooo slow and it’s counterable. Kingsbane is also super slow, but there’s nearly no way to counter it completely.

Card rating: 4/10

Void Contract

But why would you ever do that? I’ve seen someone saying that you might play it in Zoo. Another guy was trying to argue with me that it might fit into Even Warlock… The answer is no, twice.

As for the Zoo, I don’t think I have to explain it. It’s a 8 mana card that does nothing. It’s one of the last cards you would ever want to put in Zoo.

As for the Even Warlock, the argument was that it counters combo deck and your opponent is on average losing more cards than you are. Well, yes, it counters combo decks – that’s the only reason why you would ever consider running it. But Even Warlock doesn’t struggle against combo decks – most of the combo matchups, e.g. Shudderwock Shaman, Malygos Druid, Kingsbane Rogue are 50/50. And even if it did, why not tech in Demonic Project instead? It’s enough to improve your win rate in a combo-heavy meta. I could see running Void Contract only if literally 70-80% of the ladder were combo decks.

Yes, on average it destroys more cards in your opponent’s deck, but what does it accomplish? Against Aggro, it does nothing. Literally nothing, they don’t care that you destroy half of their deck. Same thing against Midrange. Both of them will be happy that you’ve basically skipped a turn. So maybe Control? Well, that’s also not a good idea. If you’re ahead in fatigue, you will still be ahead after playing it (e.g. 10 vs 16 will turn into 5 vs 8). Sure, you will be LESS ahead in fatigue, but it’s not that big of a deal, especially since you’re skipping turn just for that. And as an Even Warlock, you don’t want to hit fatigue anyway. Most of the time you want to have as much time to kill your opponent as possible, you want to run your opponent out of removals, stick some threats and kill them. THEY want to get to the fatigue faster. Oh, and if Bloodreaver Gul'dan is still in your deck, you have 50% chance to get rid of your biggest threat.

It makes even less sense in Control, where you just want to run Rin, the First Disciple instead.

I honestly have no clue what’s the deal with this card, maybe we’ll get some synergy for it, or maybe it’s just a meme card. But at this point I can’t seriously give it more than 1/10.

Card rating: 1/10 unless the entire ladder starts running combo decks

Savage Striker

It’s not a very interesting card, to be honest. At least right now. Druid has very limited ways of gaining Attack, and the fact that this card is just a vanilla 2/3 until you gain some attack means that you don’t really want to drop it on the curve. It also messes up

I mean, in theory it’s basically Savagery on a stick. Normally if you put a 1 mana spell onto a 2 mana card and leave the vanilla stats, the card is broken as hell – but in this case, Savagery is one of the most situational and worst cards Druid ever had access to.

Right now the best way to use it is Malfurion the Pestilent. After you turn into DK, it becomes quite good – if you combine it with Attack Hero Power, it’s a 2 mana 2/3 that deals 3 damage to opponent’s minion. That’s neat, but you don’t want to run it with JUST Malfurion, because it’s pretty bad until you play it. You can still combo it with your basic Hero Power for 1 damage, but it’s not great. Technically, you could run some cards like ClawGnash or Bite, but they’re simply not good enough. This card isn’t good enough for you to suddenly run a bunch of bad cards just to combo with it.

Right now it doesn’t look great, but maybe we’ll get more synergy. If Druid gets some GOOD and CHEAP ways to gain extra Attack, then I could totally see this card being played, especially in a sort of Midrange deck, as a great tempo tool.

Card rating: 3/10 right now, but might be much better if Druid gets some good ways to gain more Attack

Springpaw

Despite it being really simple, I think it’s one of the better cards from this initial reveal. It’s very similar to Fire Fly, which is known to be one of the best 1-drops in the entire game. Yes, it loses 1 health on both bodies, but you gain Rush and Beast synergy instead. It seems to be a bit worse in the early game, but makes it up in the mid/late game, where it will be much more relevant than Fire Fly.

You can combo it with Hunter's Mark as an instant removal. You can ping off the 1 health minions (Hunters have troubles pinging stuff, Candleshot is the only reliable way to do so right now), you can combo it with something like Houndmaster. If you run it in a deck with Toxmonger, it gains Poisonous, making it a great removal for big minions (like a Boar 2.0). While most of the time it’s a worse On the Hunt, you can say the same thing about Fire Fly – it’s a worse Dire Mole, but just like Fire Fly it comes with a second body you can utilize. E.g. you can drop them both on T2, or you can play one on T1 and keep one to fill your curve later.

The card just screams Quest Hunter. And while I don’t think that Quest Hunter will suddenly become viable, this will definitely be the deck’s staple.

Right now it still has to compete for the 1-drop slot with cards like Fire Fly or Dire Mole, but both of those will rotate out with the first expansion of 2019, so that’s when this card might spring into Hunter decks. But even right now, I could see it being played in some sort of Beast-synergy Midrange Hunter build.

It’s not a crazy good card, but I’m pretty sure that it will see play at some point.

Card rating: 7/10

Baited Arrow

In the best case scenario, Baited Arrow is a 5 mana 5/5 that deals 2 damage to a minion. Which would actually be quite good – probably would see some play. But the problem is that it’s only the best case scenario. You NEED to hit a 0-2 health minion for the Overkill effect to trigger, meaning that if you use it on anything with 3 or more health, you just get 3 damage for 5 mana – absolutely terrible.

This card will sit dead in your hand every often, since you will wait for the moment when opponent plays the minion you can summon 5/5 from, or at least for some other spell you can synergize with. And there is actually one solid synergy – Hunter's Mark. Hunter’s Mark + this will be a guaranteed kill on any minion + a 5/5 for 6 mana and 2 cards. Not absolutely crushing, but pretty good.

However, for the most part, Flanking Strike is just better. It deals 1 more damage (if you want to summon a minion, that is), and costs 1 mana less, but the biggest deal is that you CAN use it on a higher health minion. Your opponent played a 5/5? You can Flanking Strike it and hope that the 3/3 trades into a 5/2 next turn. Or you can use it to trigger your Devilsaur Egg. Plays like that happen, and you wouldn’t be able to do it with Baited Arrow.

It might see some play in Spell Hunter, because the deck loves spells that summon minions. However, the deck is already pretty packed, so it might be hard to fit it in.

Overall, I’m not too impressed with this card, but it doesn’t look terrible.

Card rating: 4/10

Rain of Toads

This is a bit like Phantom Militia, but you pay the last Taunt’s cost as the Overload. Militia is 3x 2/4 Taunt for 9, this is 3x 2/4 Taunt for 6 + 3, which makes it slightly better overall, since you can play it earlier, when it’s still more relevant. On the other hand, you CAN’T control how many of them you want. You sometimes play militia just for a single 2/4 because you also want to do something else that turn.

It looks like Blizzard got burned by Spreading Plague (rightfully so) and they don’t want to release another powerful spell that floods the board with Taunts again. And so, in the end this card is comparable to a common Taunt that has seen zero play in Shaman. Well, it’s definitely a bit better, although not by a huge margin.

I can see two decks in which this might be played. First one is Even Shaman. The deck likes flooding the board, and doesn’t care that much about 3 mana of Overload on Turn 6, since it can just jam a 4-drop on next turn (or Flametongue Totem + another 2-drop). Three 2/4 Taunts is a nice board flood for the mid game and the deck can take good advantage of that.

Another deck is Overload deck running Lesser Sapphire Spellstone. It upgrades the Spellstone by itself, and it’s a good stall tool for the mid game. But I feel like Earth Elemental is just a better option, especially since it’s also a good Spellstone target in case it sticks (plus it synergizes nicely with Ancestral Spirit). Maybe they will want to play both?

So the card by itself is pretty bad, but it might be good enough to play in some decks because of the synergies. Hard to say at this point, but I don’t think it will ever be amazing. Oh, and you won’t mind pulling it from Hagatha most of the time – it will be a nice option vs Aggro and more value vs Control.

Card rating: 4/10

Pyromaniac

Let’s start off with the fact that this card is absolutely nuts in Arena. 3/4 are premium stats for a 3-drop and you would play a 3 mana 3/4 without any effect, period. Anything extra is a nice bonus, and in this case the bonus is REALLY nice. You use your Hero Power to finish off minions quite often, and if you can draw an extra card sometimes, it makes the card even better. Especially after Turn 5, when you can play this + Hero Power on the same turn.

But since we’re rating cards for Constructed, I’m no longer THAT optimistic. It doesn’t really fit into the regular Mage decks. Tempo Mage would like the 3/4 body, but it doesn’t like pinging minions that much. Plus it has some better draw options, such as Stargazer Luna or Aluneth. On the other hand, slower Mage decks don’t really need card draw as it is. It has nice Frost Lich Jaina synergy, but once you’re that late into the game, you rarely need or even want to draw.

However, this card would be amazing in Odd Mage. It’s mostly a Midrange/Tempo deck, but it actually wants to Hero Power, since it deals 2 damage instead of just pinging. 3/4 stats are solid, and drawing a single card from it should be pretty easy (with a possibility for more, of course).

Odd Mage would need a lot more support to be viable, but it’s a good start, actually. I don’t see how it would work in other Mage decks, though.

Card rating: 8/10 in Odd Mage, but Odd Mage will probably be bad anyway… 3/10 for other decks

Hex Lord Malacrass

This is a really interesting effect and a reason why I like Hearthstone – effects like that are impossible in paper card games, and aren’t very popular in other digital ones. Yet HS tries to experiment with stuff like that all the time.

Your starting hand is your post-mulligan hand. 3 cards if you’re going first, 4 cards if you’re going second. So this card is basically an 8 mana 5/5 that draws you 3-4 cards (technically it can draw 2 cards if it’s in your opening hand AND you go first, but that won’t be the case often). Or even better – it doesn’t DRAW them, it GENERATES them. That’s a big deal in matchup where fatigue is a big deal, but you want to have as much value as possible (e.g. Big Spell Mage). That’s a really solid value generator on paper. The question is, however, does Mage need it?

Faster Mage decks definitely don’t, it’s way too slow. But maybe Control Mage of sorts? Like Big Spell Mage? The thing is, even though you want to mulligan for a cheaper cards, in a deck like that you will still end up with some biggest stuff in your hand most of the time, which you wouldn’t mind doubling at all.

It’s also a great card in slow Mage decks that are going for the hand synergies (AstromancerMeteorologist), since it fills your hand quite nicely.

The deck I would see it fitting most is Reno Mage in the Wild. The deck doesn’t mind more value, and you often mulligan for cards like Reno Jackson or Kazakus, and getting second copies of those is something you would just love.

So all in all, it will depend on how greedy Mage decks can get and whether they will need more value generators or not. Because this is an AMAZING value generator for a slower deck – puts some tempo on the board, gives you a bunch of cards and generates them instead of drawing. I would not play it over The Lich King. But maybe over Sindragosa? Sindragosa is better after Frost Lich Jaina, but definitely worse value-wise before her. The card might not see play right now, but the rotation will take a lot of high value, late game plays Mage currently has, so it might actually shine then.

Card rating: 5/10 right now because Mage has other good late game options, but might be better when they rotate out

Cannon Barrage

Pirate synergy in Rogue! I was actually waiting to see some. Rogue was always in a weird spot when it comes to Pirates. At times, it had enough Pirate cards / synergies to for a Pirate deck to ALMOST be viable, but it was never good enough.

It’s an interesting card, and it can actually be a solid finisher in Pirate Rogue deck. However, in order for it to work, you can’t just run a Pirate package and call it a day. You need a full-fledged Pirate deck, when most of your minions are Pirates. If you have 3 Pirates on the board, which is kind of a good, but not the best case scenario, this is 4x 3 damage for 6 mana – 12 in total. Ideally you would want for it to go face most of the time, but sometimes clearing minions can also be good, especially if you aren’t winning the game yet. Even with 2 Pirates, that’s 9 damage in total, which is not terrible (comparable to Avenging Wrath, but it’s 3x 3 instead of 8x 1, for better or for worse).

Still, there are a few problems. First of all – you need a Pirate Rogue to be viable. Right now there aren’t even enough Pirates to support a half of Pirate deck, so this expansion will have to do A LOT of work in order for this card to work. Second problem is the fact that this card is a bit win-more. It works best when you already have a bunch of Pirates on the board, and at that point you have  a relatively high chance to win. However, it’s not EXACTLY like that – it’s in the same way that Savage Roar is a win more card. Having 3-4 small pirates doesn’t mean that you’re winning the game, and this can push enough damage to finish the opponent. Savage Roar is actually a good comparison – this is like a Pirate Savage Roar for Rogue.

It also combos nicely with the new Sharkfin Fan – it can spawn a bunch of 1/1’s which then deal 3 extra damage each with Barrage.

The card has a higher chance of seeing play in the Wild, actually. But it might be playable in Standard in case enough Pirate synergy gets printed.

Card rating: 3/10 right now, but might be much higher if Rogue gets enough good Pirates to build a deck around them

Stonekeep

A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over four years of playing and three years of writing about the game, he has achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

24 Comments

  1. […] Card Review #1 – Sul’thraze, Shirvallah, the Tiger, Hir’eek, the Bat, Hex Lord Malacrass, Cann… […]

  2. JoyDivision
    November 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

    I’m not completely done with the review, but … how can you rate the Bat lower than the Tiger? You said it for yourself … in a vacuum, the Tiger CAN’T EVEN BE PLAYED. So, the Bat has to be better, right?

    imho, the Tiger should be rated 0/10 as long as there are no clear support tools in this expansion. I mean … the f**cking card CAN’T BE PLAYED. 😀

    PS: There is that Paladin spell that draws a card and deals it’s cost in damage, right? Smell a meme deck here with Giants and the Tiger …

    • C0l0rs
      November 5, 2018 at 2:01 am

      you don’t need the giants, it’s a mecha’thun-ish-otk. cycle through everything, shuffle 4 copies of this in your deck via elekk and bankers and 2xholy wrath the turn after for 50 facedmg. only probleme here: that’s a 2-turn-lethal that can’t kill druid or warrior where after the first turn you have used 7 mana [Shirvallah (0) + 1xelek (3) + 2xBanker (2×2=4)=7] to heal for 7 that is insanely bad tempo and obviously can’t even kill most of the controle-decks.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      November 5, 2018 at 3:46 am

      You’re technically right, but I think that Tiger has a higher chance to work than Bat.

      The problem with Bat is fundamental – it’s a Combo card that you want to play in a Zoo deck. While it’s possible that they push it somehow by adding more and more easy to get / powerful handbuffs, I just don’t think that it’s going to be the case. If they did, those handbuffs would probably be played by Zoo without Hir’eek, or Hir’eek would be just an addition, an extra win condition if you might.

      On the other hand, TIger makes more sense fundamentally. Both the minion and the requirement to make it work fit into a slow Midrange / Control Paladin deck, and mana cost discounts can’t be underestimated. If you play a deck with multiple spells, it WILL be down to 0 mana at some point, and it will be a very strong play then. When you play Zoo, Hir’eek might not ever be playable, because if you get it late, you might not have your handbuff cards already (because you’ve already used them), and if you get it early, there is a very high chance that you discard it… and dropping both Soulfire and Doomguard doesn’t sound right unless, again, they print some really powerful handbuff support.

      But you’re right, maybe I just should rate both of them at 2 right now. I just have more hope for the Tiger than I do for the Bat, but that’s just me. In case of early reviews, a lot of the ratings are just guesses, especially for the heavy synergy cards (like Loas in this case). But I still think it’s fun, at least I enjoy writing them 🙂

      • JoyDivision
        November 5, 2018 at 6:56 am

        To be honest, I don’t have any hope for both and would’ve rated them both 0/10. 😉

        • Stonekeep - Site Admin
          November 5, 2018 at 7:28 am

          1/10 is my minimum rating, but I reserve it only to the cards that really don’t make sense. Those two have a bit of potential, even if for an off-meta / meme deck. And they CAN get stronger with the right synergies.

          But yeah, in general I don’t have much hope for either of them too, lol.

  3. Brandon
    November 4, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Not to mention that questsare always in your starting hand… For that reason, malacrass is much better

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      November 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      Much better? I think you mean much worse. It’s a Mage Legendary, it’s hard to complete the Quest ONCE, there’s no way that you’re going to consistently complete it twice during one game.

      If anything, you MIGHT want the card in Quest Mage, because if you had some spells in your opening hand, the generated ones would count as if they didn’t start in your deck. But that’s a stretch too, since you can’t consistently control your starting hand.

      • C0l0rs
        November 5, 2018 at 2:09 am

        well maybe questmage becomes shomewhat more controlish with lots of cardgeneration and less comboish (i mean you can fit the quest in a bigspellmagedeck as the 1-mana is not a drawback as long as it’s always in your startinghand) and the extra-turn becomes just a value-thing instead of an otk-thing (then again letting the enemy skip 2 turns basically gets you 2 turns faster into fatigue).
        I’m not convinced myself, just wanting to say that there is a possibility as we haven’t seen many cards yet.
        PS: do not forget that the cards that you get via malacrass also count towards the questcounter.

  4. Remieh
    November 4, 2018 at 4:00 am

    This really seems to be the problem with the latest expansions. They are working towards some ideas for each class (pirate rogue, treant druid, hand mage, etc) but they just dont release enough cards to support the idea. Then next expansion they work towards other ideas but never complete any of them, which always leaves the “themed” decks as tier 3 or 4, because they are simply not supported enough.
    All these cards are very mediocre and the ones with potential need much more support, something that they surely wont get due to the limited amount of cards being released (where many of them are just random filler cards with no purpose whatsoever (for constructed at least).

    Not getting any hopes up for this expansion either… Sadly…

    • JoyDivision
      November 5, 2018 at 2:24 am

      I think it’s a little more complex … there actually were times when with each new expansion, Blizzard very clearly told the players which strategies they should go for (like, Dragon Priest or C’thun decks). And … most players didn’t like that, because for them it felt like their creativity was limited by handing out blueprints for viable strategies.

      Right now, what they’re trying to do (in my opinion) is to give the players more deckbuilding freedom by NOT going all in on obvious strategies. The downsides are that there will be lots of cards that aren’t playable immediately and that there aren’t many (any) totally new strategies when an expansion is released.

      I might be wrong though; maybe Hearthstone’s developers just don’t know what they’re doing. 😉

  5. Nidnam1252
    November 3, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    I think Baited Arrow could work well in Mech version of Deathrattle Hunter.

    Being able to target your own Spider Bomb/Mechanical Whelp to trigger the deathrattle and get a 5/5 gives it some added versatility and makes it less likely that it will sit in your hand with nothing to shoot.

  6. Qwerty019283
    November 3, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    I saved up 5000 gold for this expansion hoping it would be as strong as knc and msog. I believe I’m somewhat screwed.
    on average, there are 1 wow cards along with 15 decent/ok/good/men cards. For example there’s Baku among mad haters and gilean royal guard. This has one or 2 semi viable cards and 10+ trash tier

    • Lord Nurav
      November 3, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      Yeah, I save up a lot of gold for each expansion and have been quite dissapointed with the last two (I opened harbringer Celestia and boomzooka in the 40-something packs I opened and nothing else of much note) and I think that Blizzard might be overcompensating for the possibility of cards being too strong

    • C0l0rs
      November 5, 2018 at 2:13 am

      they tend to not reveal the strongest cards early. the mainfocus on the first reveals usually is:
      1. what is flashy and generates attention?
      2. what fits good into the little release cinematic/story?
      3. what describes the expansion/new mechanics good?

      you might now say “but they showed us boom and hagatha and boom n stuff in previous expansions” yes they did, but that’s because they might be strong, but most importantly they fit all three categories above as the expansions where build around them.

  7. Miguel Santiago
    November 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    I agree with most of this, except your comment on rain of toads, where you said Earth elemental may be a better choice. Rain of Toads is strictly a better card because it gives 3 blockers instead of one, which requires more removal. The 3 2/4 bodies can also help flood the board mid game in case you have a timely bloodlust and in Wild, you’re looking at 3 4-drops (I believe?) That can be evolved simultaneously instead of a single 5 drop. On top of being tutored by that new stormchaser card if you’re looking for a quick out (basically spending just one more Mana for 3 2/4s and an extra body) that’s situationally better than Phantom Militia.

    Best part though, is it also makes Hagatha more powerful, as it’s a spell she can potentially toss your way for the low cost of a 1/2 elemental.

    • Skoopy
      November 4, 2018 at 3:25 am

      I totally agree here! Just much more targets to evolve, or to hold your backline, even surviving Hagatha, or do they even give 3 spells when Hagatha is active? But after the Giggling nerf, Mossy Horror and MCTech find now less play than before. With all these frogs and Spirits especially for a lategame combo i see MC and Mossy growing in popularity as tech cards again. You also can play your spirit on turn 2/3/4 whatever, to hope and follow next turn with combo. So there is potentially space to play Mossy on turn 6/7/8.

      • Miguel Santiago
        November 4, 2018 at 1:20 pm

        I think mossy will still be viable tech as long as there is some form of Taunt druid right now lol.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      November 5, 2018 at 4:38 am

      Rain of Toads is a better card in some scenarios, but it’s far from strictly better. It’s like saying that Phantom Militia is strictly better than Sleepy Dragon, because it creates 3 bodies vs 1 – that’s just not true.

      The obvious upside is having a higher defensive capability – it has 12 health in total vs 8 of Earth Elemental, plus 3 bodies means that it’s less vulnerable to Silence and single target removal. When comparing to Earth Elemental, I was talking about the context of one specific deck – Overload Shaman – so I don’t know how stuff like Evolve or Overload are relevant. Yes, that’s a thing, but it’s not going to come up with this deck outside of the random spells from Hagatha.

      But at the same time, 3 bodies means that it’s worse vs AoE (e.g. Mage can sweep it with Flamestrike, they can’t do the same thing with Earth Elemental). 2 attack on individual Taunts means that in the mid game they will probably die without killing much. They’re great against small minions (1-2 health), but worse against higher health minions, which are more likely to be present at this point in the game. Earth Elemental also combos better with Ancestral Spirit – it’s the second best target (after duplicated Snowfury Giant, of course) for Ancestral Spirit. And finally, Earth Elemental costs 1 mana less – being able to play it on T5 vs T6 might make a significant difference against Aggro. It also doesn’t get countered by Mossy Horror, which is very common (much more common than techs that counter Earth Elemental like BGH or TBK).

      All in all, I still think that Earth Elemental is a better choice for Overload Shaman, but it doesn’t mean that the deck will play both + it also depends on the meta (decks & techs).

  8. Lazarus900
    November 3, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I try to temper my expectations, and those around me, whenever an expansion is announced. Better to be pleasantly surprised than let down because my hype is off the charts. Thanks for keeping your predictions grounded.

  9. to
    November 3, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Wow….you are a negative Nancy….I’ll reserve my judgement till when they have revealed half the set…I’ve learned from the past that cards that look terrible end up not being bad at all when all is said and done..

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