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.
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!
It’s a broken Arena card, and I mean it. Arena is a format where War Golem is a decent card (just about average), and single target removals aren’t that common. So this is AT WORST an average card, and at best a War Golem + a bunch of 5/5’s. Summoning just a single 5/5 makes this card top tier, and it’s not going to be that difficult. All you need to run it into a 6 or less health minion. It doesn’t even have to survive – minions still trigger their Overkill effects if they die while making the attack. In the late game, it might stop your opponent from playing small and midrange minion completely, so if he doesn’t have a big bomb or a removal he might be blocked out of the game.
But… since I’m mainly reviewing cards for the Constructed format, it’s obviously not as good out there. The problem is that there’s no way to immediately trigger the effect. If there was a consistent way to give it Rush, or a card akin to the Magic’s Prey Upon (or other similar cards), this would be so much better. As it is right now, it just seems too slow to work well by itself. The effect is indeed powerful, and you could really snowball the game with it, but even the most powerful effect is no good if you can’t trigger it.
That said, this card is a Beast, so I COULD see a Big Beast Druid being a thing with some more synergy. Nobody said that Witching Hour can only be used with Hadronox (it works very well with other high mana cost Beasts too), and it also has a nice synergy with the new Oondasta (getting it out of your hand for free is an amazing tempo play). It’s slow at 7 mana, but if you add it to the pool of Beasts and then revive it for 3 mana, it’s suddenly much better. I could see an archetype like that, but until we get some more synergies, I think that the card is below average.
Card rating: 4/10
I’m 99% sure that this card will see play. Deathrattle Hunter is an already existing, strong archetype and it fits right in. The deck runs Kathrena Winterwisp and a small (in quantity, not mana cost) Beast package – usually 4 minions. Kathrena is obviously an insane tempo play – given that the Beasts deck runs cost 6 to 9 mana, the card pulls two huge bodies on top of the 6/6. However, drawing some of the Beasts before playing Kathrena can get pretty awkward. For example, Witchwood Grizzly is still great vs Aggro when they run out of cards, but it can be nearly unplayable against slower decks. This could solve that issue – pulling it straight from your hand would give you some tempo and circumvent a negative Battlecry. Of course, getting Oondasta straight from Kathrena is great. It’s not as aggressive as King Krush or even Charged Devilsaur (which can go face in that case), but it creates an even harder to deal with board.
But Deathrattle Hunter might not be the only deck that would want to play it. Like I’ve mentioned when reviewing Ironhide Direhorn, I could see some kind of Big Beast Druid happening. Druids can get to 9 mana more easily than other classes thanks to the ramp, and it would be an insane tempo swing if you pull out something like the 7-drop I’ve mentioned earlier or – even better – a Tyrantus. Witching Hour reviving this is obviously nuts, but it giving you a 3 mana 7-drop or a 12/12 is also fine.
Overall, I really like this card and I think that it’s going to be powerful. I’m nearly sure that it will see play in Deathrattle Hunter (unless they get such amazing cards that they will drop the Kathrena + Beasts strat, but that would be too much for the ladder to handle), and I’m quite hopeful that it will find home in other decks too over the course of its run in Standard. Any deck running Big Beast synergy will want to play this. Heck, some slower decks can even play just Oondasta + 2x Witchwood Grizzly, which is already a borderline playable card even without any synergies. Grizzlies will be useful in Aggro, and you will be able to use Oondasta as a removal + way to pull them as 3/12 against decks that hoard more cards (e.g. Even Warlock).
Card rating: 9/10
Oh the memes! I really hope that we’ll eventually get a series of chickens, just like we do have a series of Ragers with new iterations every now and then (Steel Rager is the latest one).
This card obviously references an Angry Chicken, a card that most of the newbie players tried to make work somehow. One of the first decks I’ve built was a Druid deck with Mark of the Wild, Mark of Nature etc. that tried to make it survive a trade and then kill the opponent with +5 Attack. Obviously, it didn’t work as well as I’ve expected (I genuinely thought that I’ll be tearing down the ladder with it), but I have fond memories of the card.
Gurubashi Chicken seems to be very similar to Angry Chicken when it comes to the power level. On the one hand, Overkill is harder to trigger than Enrage. Enrage can be triggered by yourself, you also don’t have to kill something to trigger it (e.g. you trade a 3/3 into a 1/4 – Enrage triggers, Overkill doesn’t). On the other hand, Overkill can be triggered multiple times, so in theory, if you keep buffing it and running it into weenies, +10 or +15 Attack is possible. Of course, that’s a pipe dream and it won’t realistically happen in any competitive game, but
I probably don’t have to tell you that this card is bad – it’s about the same power level Angry Chicken is, especially since after you get the first trigger, you won’t likely be trading further. But I like the flavor and I absolutely LOVE that art!
P.S. The only realistic use for it is to combine it with some Beast through Deathstalker Rexxar. +5 damage from Overkill might matter, especially if you find a way to give it Rush / Charge. But it’s still not much better than Angry Chicken is for that purpose.
Card rating: 1/10 (Art rating: 10/10)
A New Challenger…
First of all, quick reminder that Discover effects can pull only Class + Neutral minions, so in this case it will be Paladin + Neutral.
The current pool of Paladin + Neutral 6-drops is… okay. It’s not amazing, but there are some cool cards. You can hit some really great combos, like pulling a Damaged Stegotron (5/12 Taunt with Divine Shield), Frozen Crusher (8/8 Taunt with Divine Shield), even something like Mechanical Whelp can be great in the right scenario (not a big initial body, but Taunt forces your opponent to trigger the Deathrattle and you get a 7/7 on top of the 2/2 with DS + Taunt). Cairne Bloodhoof is very good value, obviously, and giving it Taunt means that it becomes much faster. Bone Drake is also solid if you want more value. There are definitely some good options. On the other hand, though… We have a bunch of very weak cards, such as Glowstone Technician (Paladin card, so will come up more often), Arcane Dynamo, Mossy Horror, Priestess of Elune, or anti-synergy cards, such as the ones which already have Taunt, Divine Shield, or both (Sunkeeper Tarim, Argent Commander and especially Sunwalker come to mind). I think that there are significantly more below average pulls than above average pulls, but given the fact that it’s Discover, you will be able to get something decent nearly every time.
The card reminds me of Free From Amber. It’s not the best card around, but having an option to pull one of the three minions depending on the situation is a pretty strong effect, plus the fact that it summons this minion means that it skips the Battlecry – it can be a good thing in some cases (like Damaged Stegotron, which doesn’t deal damage to himself).
Overall, it’s an okay defensive tool, but it just seems to have a slightly too weak pool of cards to consistently deliver. Control Paladin might like it, but it would like it even more if some more strong 6-drops, especially Paladin 6-drops, get printed. If that’s the case, I could see it in this kind of archetype, or maybe even some Midrange build. Especially since it has nice synergy with Shirvallah, the Tiger – reducing its mana cost by 7 could go a long way, especially if you could play those two together on a single turn, it’s a really solid tempo play.
Card rating: 6/10 (higher if some good 6-drops get revealed, especially for Paladin)
This card is actually pretty close to Electra Stormsurge – they’re both powerful 3 mana Legendaries that combo with specific spells. While Electra worked best with spells that don’t target anything (such as AoEs, Healing Rain etc.), this is basically the opposite – it’s amazing with nearly any single target spell Shaman has. Unlike Electra, its effect can also trigger multiple times – to compensate for that, it has significantly weaker stats (1/3 instead of 3/3). And funnily enough, those two can synergize with each other to a certain extent. You can play Zentimo, drop Electra and then double a single target spell, each of which will hit 3 minions. It seems especially potent with something like Earthen Might.
Even looking at the current pool of Shaman spells, the card is just good in Midrange/Tempo/Control Shaman archetypes. This + Lightning Bolt is a semi-AoE spell (3 damage to 3 minions). With Hex, it clears 3 minions no matter how big they are. With Unstable Evolution it can transform 3 minions at once – just this + 4-5 casts of Unstable Evolution and you’re having a wide board of massive minions from just a bunch of totems. Earthen Might becomes an AoE buff, and can draw a bunch of cards if the minions you have are Elementals. I could even see a nice burst combo. Let’s say that you stick 3 minions to the board that can readily attack (it’s not THAT difficult in Shaman). Let’s say that those minions have 4 attack in total. You play Zentimo + Windfury + 2x Rockbiter Weapon and your 4 damage turns into 26 damage out of nowhere. The last combo seems a bit too clunky, but maybe a variant of it might work.
Zentimo is just good, just like Electra is. Any Shaman deck with at least a few good single target spells will at least consider running it, and a bunch of them will probably do just that. Any strong single target spells released over the next few expansions will also boost its strength. I would be really surprised if it didn’t see at least some play.
P.S. It was confirmed that the card indeed DOES triple Overload too, so using it with something like Lava Burst becomes less appealing (as 6 overload damage next turn is quite a lot), but it doesn’t automatically become bad with any sort of Overload.
Card rating: 8/10
Hero Powers cost 2 mana. This card costs 2 mana and makes your Hero Power free. Which basically means that it’s a 0 mana 2/1 on the turn you would want to use your Hero Power. If it was an unconditional 0 mana 2/1, I would call it really powerful (Aggro decks would seriously consider running it), but as it is right now, it’s not as good.
The card works a bit like Kobold Librarian – it’s basically a Warlock’s Hero Power slapped on a 2/1. But not only that 2/1 costs 1 mana instead of 2, but you can use BOTH it and your Hero Power – in this case you can’t. So even Warlock, which has arguably the strongest and most commonly used basic Hero Power, probably wouldn’t want to run it – Kobold Librarian is just in a completely different league. It only works for your NEXT Hero Power, so Shadowreaper Anduin shenanigans aren’t an option either.
I think that this card has too low of an impact to see play. In the late game, you DEFINITELY don’t want to trade a card for a free 2/1 minion that will just die to some random trade, AoE, Hero Power etc. And in the early game, you don’t really want to be using your Hero Power – you’d rather play some good standalone 2-drops most of the time. It’s comparable to a standalone 2-drop on Turn 2 (a lot of the 2-drop are even better), and later in the game you’d rather have something else than a free Hero Power, especially if you don’t starve for mana anymore.
It would be another story if Hero Cards had more expensive Hero Powers – e.g. something like 4-6 mana Hero Power. Then you could absolutely justify playing it for a small early game tempo boost, as well as the late game synergy with those. But it’s not the case.
Card rating: 2/10
Spirit of the Dragonhawk
It seems like Hero Powers will be one of the Mage’s themes this expansion. However, as much as I really like the Mage’s Loa, this card seems a bit clunky to use. This + Hero Power is a 4 mana version of Shooting Star. It’s true that if you play it one turn, you can Hero Power again next turn (assuming it doesn’t die to AoE), but then it’s 6 mana for 2x Shooting Star – still not a great deal. In order to make it work, you really need your Hero Power synergies, such as the new Daring Fire-Eater. But then it’s basically the same thing as Cosmic Anomaly + Shooting Star, but it leaves a less scary board behind. Of course, you can add more pieces to the combo – e.g. Pyromaniac, but it makes it even more expensive and less consistent (8 mana 3 cards combo is not something you want to hoard in a Midrange deck like that). Then, cards like Daring Fire-Eater of Pyromaniac are quite mediocre by themselves, with no other synergies.
Of course, the dream is to have Frost Lich Jaina up, play this and shoot three one health minions. But let’s be real here – it’s hard to find a single 1 health minion against a good player, let alone 3 of them.
Regular (non-Odd) Hero Power Mage looks like one of the “deck recipes” of the expansion – cool synergy, fun gameplay, but not actually competitive enough, because it requires too many synergies and the outcome is not THAT good. But so far, Odd Mage looks a bit more promising, and it obviously can’t run this 2 mana card.
Card rating: 3/10
Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk
This card seems really, and I mean really powerful. Ragnaros the Firelord was so omnipresent that Blizzard decided to Hall of Fame it. At 8 mana, it was played in multiple Midrange and Control decks all over the ladder (similarly to how The Lich King is played right now). What if you could play it for 7 mana? With a 4/4 body on top of it? Well, that’s like having a Spiteful Summoner high-roll without having to build a Spiteful Summoner deck at all!
Yes, the card has its condition. Obviously. It would be beyond broken if it didn’t. And here’s the thing. In regular Mage decks, such as Big Spell Mage, this kind of condition basically restricts this card from seeing play. Then, if you start putting Hero Power synergies and boosters to your deck (Spirit of the Dragonhawk, Daring Fire-Eater), you make this card more consistent, but your deck more and more clunky overall. Will a pay-off of having such a strong 7 mana play be enough for players to do it? Hard to say, I’m personally not sure.
But there is one deck that can run Jan’alai without really sacrificing anything. By just playing the way it’s playing anyway. That deck is Odd Mage. It was first pushed slightly in The Witchwood with Black Cat – a very strong card if you happen to not play any Even-costed card. The problem was that some of the best Mage cards are Even, so running an Odd deck decreases your average card quality by A LOT. That, plus there’s not that much synergy going on with your Hero Power. Boomsday Project didn’t change that much, it added Stargazer Luna, which is a strong 3 mana play, but nothing to really boost the deck’s viability. But it seems that Rastakhan’s Rumble is pushing this theme much harder. Pyromaniac, for example, is a really solid Odd Mage card. 2 damage Hero Power makes it much easier to trigger its effect, and 3/4 stats for 3 mana are pretty okay. Then, there’s something like Daring Fire-Eater, which makes the combo even easier, but more importantly, it makes Jan’alai even easier to get. Yes, because Jan’alai is the ultimate Odd Mage synergy card. It costs 7, so it fits right in. The requirement is to deal 8 damage with your Hero Power – which basically means using your Hero Power 4 times. In a deck built around the Hero Power. If you play just a single Daring Flame-Eater, it reduces the number of necessary Hero Powers to 3 – which should basically mean that playing Jan’alai on curve is something you might be able to do quite consistently. And a 4/4 + Ragnaros on Turn 7 is definitely a massive win condition.
I’m not sure if those are all of the cards that Odd Mage might want to play this expansion. If it is, then the deck might still might be one or two steps from being viable. To be honest, some Odd-costed single target removal would go a long way, since the deck can’t play Frostbolt, Fireball or Polymorph. But in general, I see the deck’s potential and I will definitely experiment with it at the start of next expansion.
Jan’alai is obviously a very powerful card. I won’t give it 10/10, because it might still be a bit difficult to trigger it, but any deck that will be able to deal 8 damage with Hero Power by the late game will DEFINITELY play it.
Card rating: 9/10
I don’t really see playing this in a regular Mage deck without other synergies. Look at it this way – would you play a 3 mana 1/1 that deals 3 damage? You probably wouldn’t, because it doesn’t sound very good. 1/1 is negligible and 3 damage for 3 mana is mediocre. It’s not a terrible card, but it’s not very good if you think about it this way. You need some synergies.
The most obvious and strongest synergy is the one with Spirit of the Dragonhawk, but I’ll be honest – it’s still pretty clunky. It’s a 2 cards combo and 5 mana to deal 3 damage to 3 minions. Jaina is the queen of AoE, the class really doesn’t need something like that. That’s why I don’t think that a full-blown Hero Power Mage will work out very well.
The card works okay in Odd Mage. The deck already deals 2 damage with Hero Power, so this pumps it up to 4, which means that it can clear most of the mid game plays, as well as deal some serious damage to the opponent. But maybe most importantly – it helps you get to the Jan’alai faster. In a deck that runs the 7-drop, you want to get it on the curve as often as possible. So if anything, that might be the best use for this card. It’s not particularly powerful, but it makes using an actually insane card more consistently.
Now, the problem is that this is not a 1-drop. Odd Mage desperately need some sort of good 1-drop, especially after Mana Wyrm was nerfed.
Card rating: 6/10 in Odd Mage, 3/10 in non-Odd Mage
I really like the whole “discard the lowest cost card” thing. I was saying multiple times in the past that we need some way to control the discards in order for this mechanic to become more widespread. With it being completely random, only the most powerful and aggressive cards can realistically see play, because you can’t afford to discard your win conditions in slower decks (and Zoo doesn’t really have a single card “win condition”).
With this, discard can become more widespread in slower decks without actually worrying about discarding one of your high cost cards and losing the game because of that. Take this card as an example – 2 damage AoE for 1 mana is really amazing. It’s like Volcanic Potion, a card that has seen pretty common play in Mage. Demonwrath has also seen some play in RenoLock in the past. The downside is that you discard a card from your hand. However, getting rid of the lowest cost card might be a fair trade. Let’s say that you still have a Coin – discarding it is basically like making this card a 2 mana 2 damage AoE, a great deal. But a lot of the cheap cards aren’t really crucial, so getting rid of them for clearing an Aggro deck’s board is like a bargain.
All of that said, I actually think that this card might have came a bit too soon. Right now, with 2x Defile and 2x Hellfire, Warlock seems to have enough early and mid game AoEs. I don’t think it needs more, unless the meta gets really fast and board-floody. However, after the Defile rotates out, I could totally see slower Warlock builds (assuming they survive rotation in the first place) using this card in a faster meta.
And of course, this kind of discard effect makes decks that want to discard a specific (especially low cost) card more consistent. For example – if you run a card like that in Clutchmother Zavas deck, you can manipulate your hand in a way that you will discard her all the time and then drop a 2 mana 10/10 for example. Of course, this specific effect doesn’t work too well in a deck like Discard Zoo, but we actually have another card that does.
Card rating: 5/10 right now, but might be ~7/10 after Defile rotates out
High Priestess Jeklik
If I’m counting correctly, it’s the fourth card that “wants” to be discarded after Fist of Jaraxxus, Silverware Golem and Clutchmother Zavas. And honestly, it might be on the stronger side. Unlike other cards, which lean towards the tempo (especially Fist and Golem, which give you an immediate effect), this one gets more and more value as you discard it. If you hit it with a discard card, you get an extra copy of it in your hand, for two in total. Given that it negates the discard effect too, instead of losing one card you gain one card, making it +2 card advantage in total ON TOP of getting an immediate tempo from the discard card like Soulfire or Doomguard.
If you play this in a faster Discard Warlock, it’s basically a Discard sponge that gets better and better over time. The more times you hit it, the more copies of it you will have in your hand, which means a higher chance that you will discard it instead of something else. And once you run out of steam, you will have a steady flow of 3/4’s to drop on the board.
And to be absolutely honest, 4 mana 3/4 Taunt with Lifesteal is borderline playable already in a slower deck. It’s a Sen'jin Shieldmasta, where you trade 1 health for Lifesteal – not that bad of a deal. If you add something like Shriek to that deck, if you can play all of your smaller stuff and make her the lowest cost card in your hand, triggering this effect would be really solid.
And then, we have Quest Warlock. I honestly don’t think that the deck will work, because it’s not like it needs more support – Lakkari Sacrifice is just not impactful enough. The flow of 3/2’s gets nice after a few turns, but it’s pretty slow initially.
Overall, I’m quite sure that Jeklik will find its place somewhere. Between a solid base body and an incredible discard synergy, it’s a really solid card.
By the way, THIS is how Blood-Queen Lana'thel should have looked in the first place.
Card rating: 8/10
Ummm… Isn’t this card just absolutely amazing in any deck that runs Discard effects? Even in Zoo? 6 mana for a 6/6 body is decent, just below the vanilla stats. But you also get to draw up to 3 cards. Or rather, put them into your hand – which is better than drawing most of the time, since it doesn’t bring you closer to fatigue.
In a faster deck like Zoo, this is an amazing refill. You can now drop your Doomguards and Soulfires much more freely without worrying about running out of steam, because you will just get everything back with this card. It also makes The Soularium better, since even if you draw two cards you can’t play, you might still get them back with this, and a bunch of higher mana cost cards will definitely be relevant later in the game. It’s also a solid threat by itself, something that can’t be ignored. My only worry right now is that it’s most likely too slow for the current Heal Zoo iteration – it would fit into a slightly slower, more Midrange variant much better.
In a slower deck, it lets you run some Discard cards without actually worrying that you will get rid of one of your win conditions. Even if you drop it, you can just get it back with it for basically no tempo loss. And funny thing is that you can get infinite value if you discard one Soulwarden and then play the second one. You get it back, and can play a 6/6 every turn without running out of resources (and if you’ve discarded 1-2 other cards, you also get them back).
So it’s just… great card all around. But funny thing is that it might not see play at all. It’s completely reliant on how well the Discard mechanic will turn out to be. If no Discard cards are played, it’s absolutely useless, as it won’t draw you anything. Similarly, if Zoo won’t drop a super aggressive play style it has right now for the sake of something a little slower, I don’t think that it will want to play a 6 mana card like that, even if it refills hand. Funny thing about cards that require synergy to work – even if they’re some of the most amazing cards, but the decks that want to run them are bad / don’t work, they can not see play at all. I honestly think that it won’t happen to this card, but it’s definitely a possibility.
Card rating: 9/10 in Discard decks… but will those decks work? Can’t say yet.
3 mana for a 2/6 Taunt is obviously nice… but is it actually worth a discard? I honestly wouldn’t say so. It’s not on a Doomguard power level, for example. On the other hand, the “targeted” discard is a nice bonus – it’s always better to know what you will get rid of than having to rely on the RNG.
You see, discarding Coin is often seen as one of the best outcomes, because it’s not really worth a card most of the time (in Warlock, that is). But if you discard Coin with it, it’s basically as if you’ve paid 4 mana for it. 4 mana for a 2/6 Taunt… doesn’t it sound familiar? (Stegodon)
I have to say that it’s probably better than Lakkari Felhound if we talk about bigger Taunts that Discard, but given that Lakkari hasn’t seen any competitive play, it’s not exactly the greatest comparison.
But like I’ve said, I don’t think that it’s worth the discard, especially in a world where Tar Creeper exists. If anything, you might want to play this in a deck that WANTS to discard stuff – either a Quest Warlock (which I still don’t believe will work, because it doesn’t suffer from lack of ways to trigger the quest, it’s just too slow and clunky in general) or a regular Discard deck, running Discard-matter cards, such as Clutchmother Zavas or the new High Priestess Jeklik.
When it comes to targeted discards, I actually think that Shriek can see more play, because it makes sense in non-Discard decks like Control Warlock. This card doesn’t, so it completely relies on a full-blown Discard deck to work in order to see play.
Card rating: 6/10 in a Discard deck, 2/10 outside of Discard decks
Dragon Warrior is back on the menu? Sounds cool to be honest, because Dragon Warrior (both the Midrange and the Control variants) used to be some of my favorite decks.
Assuming Dragon Warrior works, this card is quite good. It’s an Execute stapled onto a 3/2 body for 3 mana. Cheap cards that combine an okay, small body with a solid spell have usually seen at least some play (let’s say Ravaging Ghoul). This would definitely see play, especially in Odd Warrior, which naturally can’t run Execute.
So yes, if a Dragon Warrior will exist, ESPECIALLY Odd Dragon Warrior, this card will be a staple, it’s just good. But is it worth building a Dragon deck around? Definitely not, it’s not on a Duskbreaker or Drakonid Operative power level.
Which means that it’s a simple story – if Warrior gets more strong Dragon synergies, or just strong Dragon cards that it will want to play (to guarantee being able to use this card consistently), by all means, the card will see play. But if not – it won’t see any play at all.
Card rating: 8/10 in Dragon Warrior, useless outside (but right now I can’t see Dragon Warrior working, it needs more synergies)
Tutoring 3 cards for 3 mana is absolutely broken. So that’s it, end of story, right? Wellll, not exactly. You see, the thing about tutor is that it’s good only if you have a deck that wants to tutor those specific things – in this case Pirates and Weapons. But the problem is that not only Pirate Rogue is not currently viable (it shapes up to be better in this expansion, but we’ll see), but a) it’s an Aggro/Tempo deck, so probably only a slightly slower build would want to run it and b) it might not want to run more weapon besides Hero Power (because at least right now there aren’t many great Rogue weapons available).
This card would be the strongest in some kind of Midrange Pirate Rogue that plays weapons too. In that kind of deck, it’s basically 10/10 – you get A LOT of juice just for 3 mana, and triggering Combo is not really that difficult. Even if you can’t trigger it, drawing two Pirates can still be a nice topdeck in the late game. However, whether a deck like that will exist or not heavily depends on how the rest of Pirate synergies in this expansion shapes up.
That said, I think that there is a deck that might want to play it right now. Probably not two copies, but one would be pretty solid. The deck is Kingsbane Rogue. It obviously does play weapon, so it would have another way to tutor it – either to draw it initially (which is key to victory), or to get the buffed one back to the hand. It also does run Pirates – some builds use 2x Cutthroat Buccaneer and Captain Greenskin, I think that 3 Pirates are enough to justify running one copy.
It’s odd-costed, so in theory you could also run it in some sort of Pirate Odd Rogue, but… I don’t think that would be a good card in there. Most likely you wouldn’t want to play more weapons than just your Hero Power, so the Combo part would be wasted. And just drawing 2 for 3 is not good enough for a fast deck like that.
Overall I think that the card has potential – I would playtest one copy right now into Kingsbane Rogue, and it might be a staple if some kind of Midrange Pirate Rogue pops out in the meta (they might be pushing something like that, after all, remember that one of the Rogue’s Legendaries will be a Pirate).
Card rating: 6/10 in Kingsbane Rogue, 8/10 in some kind of Midrange/Tempo Pirate Rogue ASSUMING it runs weapons (but I have doubts that a deck like that will exist), useless in regular Rogue decks
Well, it seems that they’re slowly running out of ideas… This card is a better version of Arcane Giant (trading 1/16 of stats for a Taunt is a great deal), and Arcane Giant is an amazing card (I’ve even put in on the list of best neutral Epics ever). However, Arcane Giant has never really seen play in Priest. Most of the decks either didn’t play enough spells to make it work, or it just wasn’t necessary. That’s the thing about Priest – the deck is rarely about late game tempo swings.
However, there is one deck that might fit into that description. It runs A LOT of spells (most popular build uses 19 to be precise), and it wants to get some solid late game tempo swings. The deck is Resurrect Priest (Zerek's Cloning Gallery build). When it comes to getting it from Shadow Essence or reviving, it’s not as strong as The Lich King or Obsidian Statue, but a 7/8 Taunt is still a 7/8 Taunt. Plus, the deck relies heavily on Lyra the Sunshard value in some games, so casting those 12 spells shouldn’t be that hard. The question is – can you actually fit it into the deck? That seems very tough.
I like the fact that it can be dropped right after Psychic Scream turn in the late game. Most of the time, Scream takes your entire turn and you can’t do anything. Having a 7/8 minion on board is a massive difference – you either have something to trade with immediately after, or force your opponent to deal with it on his turn (so you get back most of the initiative).
Of course, the card would be amazing in a sort of Spell Priest deck that runs Legendary weapon (Dragon Soul), but players have tried to make it work multiple times. It’s way too weak in the early/mid game until it starts to roll the spell synergies, and this is not going to help with that. It would be a nice addition, but not a card that makes the deck.
So all in all, despite the card being really powerful in theory, it might turn out to not see much play in practice. Of course, even if it doesn’t now, we still have 3 more expansions when it will be in Standard, so maybe some kind of spell theme will get pushed eventually.
Card rating: 8/10 in theory, but might not find the right deck and not see play at all
Vanilla statted minions with powerful effects are always something to watch out for, and this is no exception. 3/4 for 3 are about the best stats you can get without a downside, and it comes with a quite huge upside on top of that. But it also shares a similar theme with some of the other cards from this expansion – it’s strong, but it might not find the right deck.
Even though you need only a single +2/+2 buff to make it worth it, in order to make this card quite consistent, you need to play a deck packed with Beasts. And I mean packed – 10 to 15 Beasts seems like a good number. If you play less than that, you might drop it and then not draw anything even if it sticks to the board.
The deck it might fit into most is probably Quest Hunter. I know that it’s like beating a dead horse at this point, but that deck is literally packed with Beasts after you finish the Quest. Dropping this and following by a few copies of Carnassa’s Brood (which would get buffed and possibly draw another one to also get a buff) is a massive board swing. A bunch of 3/2’s might not be that scary, but a bunch of 5/4’s is. They’re also much harder to remove, since they don’t die to 2 and 3 damage AoEs (which are pretty common). Of course, it’s a card that makes Quest Hunter better AFTER it completes the Quest, and doesn’t really help with actually getting it done, so it probably won’t push it into viable territory.
Another deck I think about is some sort of Midrange Hunter – just a classic build with many Beasts and Beast synergies. It’s a solid 3-drop and a very high priority target. When dropped early, Aggro decks will treat it almost like it did have Taunt (because they don’t want you to snowball the game with huge Beasts) and slower decks will throw their premium removals just to get rid of it (which means that they might not have them for your another play, such as Houndmaster Shaw on T4). The problem with this kind of Hunter is that it doesn’t have a lot of things going in card draw department, so you would need to rely on topdecks to get value.
Yet another deck I could see using it is maybe some kind of Warlock. Either a Beast-heavy Zoo build (Zoo cycles a lot thanks to Hero Power and The Soularium), or maybe a Hir'eek, the Bat deck. Drawing it with this on the board would make it 3/3 immediately, so borderline playable. Still, since you can’t really control when you will draw it, it seems like too much of an RNG. But it’s a possibility.
Overall, it’s a very powerful card if it finds the right deck. But again, the problem is that it fits into very specific builds, and those builds might not be the best right now.
Card rating: 7/10
Spirit of the Tiger
Spell-heavy Paladin build is getting better and better. Now it has another incentive to play those expensive spells on top of just making Shirvallah, the Tiger cheaper.
I’m not sure about this card. On the one hand, gaining extra tempo by summoning big minions while casting spells seems to be more of a Midrange Paladin win condition. But at the same time, the fact that it costs 4 mana and does nothing immediately means that it might not fit into such a deck. A slower build can afford to have a dead turn or two, because it will just sweep the board next turn (while summoning some minions with this card). Even Paladin probably won’t want to play this, because it’s too slow. So a Control build with Shirvallah seems like the best option.
It’s true that Control Paladin does need a win condition, but I don’t think that summoning some vanilla minions is that win condition. It’s not good vs faster decks, because you win those matchups without it. And against slow decks, it’s okay, but a few threats still won’t outvalue cards like Bloodreaver Gul'dan, Frost Lich Jaina or Deathstalker Rexxar, nor it will counter opposing combos.
Maybe with some more spell synergies you can try to make it work. Drop it one turn, play Spikeridged Steed or A New Challenger... next turn to protect it, if your opponent doesn’t have any direct removal you might snowball the game like that. But the problem is that it’s really hard to get any immediate value out of this card until the late game (on T10 you can play this + Steed on the same turn), and if you don’t, it’s pretty vulnerable to AoE or stuff like Mossy Horror.
So overall, while this effect is pretty powerful, between the fact that it’s pretty slow initially and that it’s hard to justify playing it in a faster deck, while the effect still doesn’t give a slower deck any real win condition… Yeah. If Control Paladin will turn out to be good because of other cards, I could see it being played. But I don’t think it’s going to push the archetype enough to make it viable.
Card rating: 4/10