Scholomance Academy Card Review #10 – Gibberling, Initiation, Molten Blast, Plagiarize, Rune Dagger, Tidal Wave, Vulpera Toxinblade, Sneaky Delinquent and more!

Now that Scholomace Academy’s reveal season is over, it’s time to talk about and rate the rest of cards! Scholomance Academy is the second expansion of Year of the Phoenix. It brings back the multi-class cards idea from Gadgetzan, but builds upon it and makes the design much more interesting. The new dual class cards will come in 10 different combinations (40 cards in total) and share unique mechanics between each pairing. On top of that, we’re getting a new mechanic – Spellburst – which activates after you cast a spell, but only once (which means that any subsequent spell won’t trigger the effect again).

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 – but average does not mean bad. It might be playable in some decks, but in my mind 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 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. Even after knowing all of them, theory is very different from practice, and it’s hard to predict how the meta will look like. A card that’s great in theory might end up seeing no play whatsoever, because the most popular meta deck simply counters it. 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!

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Well, it’s certainly more playable than Feral Gibberer. Gibberling is kind of like a mini-Exotic Mountseller. Each time you cast a spell, you summon a new Gibberling, which also has a Spellburst, so casting another spell will summon another one… And you can flood the board this way.

However, the problem is that I don’t see much use for it. In the early game, you don’t have enough mana to combo it with multiple spells. Around Turn 3-4 you should be able to trigger Spellburst once, maybe twice depending on your hand, but that’s it. And then your opponent only has to kill the newest Gibberling to break the chain. At the same time, if you’re approaching late game, why would you play it over Exotic Mountseller?

Yes, the card has some insane combos. If you combo it with Lightning Bloom, Nature Studies, Power of the Wild etc. you can potentially flood the board with 2/2’s on Turn 1. But realistically, you need to have a very specific 4 or so cards in your starting hand, so the chances for that are very, very unlikely.

I think that a regular, non-spell version of Token Druid might want it if the deck runs enough cheap spells. Because those early blowout turns might be worth it having an otherwise pretty mediocre card.

Card Rating: 5/10


Uhhh… I honestly don’t see a realistic use for this card. At 6 mana, it’s super expensive. Dealing 4 damage for 6 mana is absolutely terrible. Yes, you can potentially summon something big while doing it… But how often you will activate the effect on a big minion?

Because see, here’s the thing. Most of the time you use your 4 damage to clear 3-4 health minions. Usually stuff like 3/3’s, 3/4’s, maybe 5/4’s at best (although rarely). Even if we assume an average of 4/4 outcome – that’s on average a 6 mana 4/4 that deals 4 damage. And that’s just bad. You can just put Aeon Reaver into your deck – but guess what? You don’t even do it, because while better, that’s still not good enough.

For it to be realistically worth it, you would need to clear a bigger minion – like a 7/7, 8/8 or something like that. But it’s not that easy. Priest’s removals isn’t really damage-based – you usually deal with big minions by straight up killing them. Unless you have some minions on the board at the time, you can’t easily damage a minion to 4 and then finish them off with Initiation.

It might be cool to get randomly in some matchups / situations, but overall it’s definitely not something you want to put into your deck. The average outcome is just way too weak and it’s hard to set up a good outcome. Plus against Aggro decks full of small minions, it’s wayyy too slow, killing a single minion for 6 mana while leaving the rest of their board is certainly not a good idea.

Card Rating: 2/10

Molten Blast

Spell Shaman support. At the base level, the card is pretty mediocre. It’s not terrible – 2x 1/1 that deal 2 damage is sort of comparable to Scalerider, or possibly to SI:7 Agent. But a single 3/3 body is way better than 2x 1/1 minion, even in Token-oriented builds (like, 2x 1/1 on T1 is good, but not broken in any way – 3/3 on T1 would be played in nearly every single deck). I don’t think that any deck would want to play it as it is.

However, the card scales very well with Spell Damage. Not only you deal more damage, but you also summon more 1/1’s. I think that with just Spell Damage +1, it’s already worth it. 3 damage + 3x 1/1 for 3 is really solid, and you should be able to activate it on curve quite easily with Rune Dagger. At the same time, I’m not super hyped about getting more 1/1’s in a deck that doesn’t really care about flooding the board. Spell Damage Shaman won’t likely be a Token deck, so I feel like it would be better to get a bigger minion instead of more minions. But what can you do.

Overall, I’m not super excited about Spell Shaman, because the pay-off isn’t THAT great. Molten Blast is an okay card, but it’s nothing special, you would realistically need +2 or +3 Spell Damage to really make it stand out, but you won’t get to that amounts very often. All in all, it’s pretty average.

Card Rating: 5/10

Partner Assignment

“Fix your curve” card, basically. If you play it on T1, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a T2 play and a T3 play. Also, adding two cards to hand for 1 mana seems like a solid deal. However, the fact that they’re random and specifically Beasts is not great. Druid doesn’t have Beast synergies to take advantage of, and the quality of 2-3 mana Beasts is varied. Some of them are weak, some are mediocre, others are actually playable. Assuming you get an average outcome, this card gives you a pretty bad T2 play and a pretty bad T3 play, so nothing impressive.

However, one advantage of this card is that you can play it in a deck without putting cheap minions in it. A good example – you can play it in a deck with Strength in Numbers side-quest without worrying that you will pull out a small minion with it. You can also run it in a Spell deck with Fungal Fortunes and you won’t discard it.

All in all, it’s a pretty bad card and you wouldn’t really want to play it without a reason, but it has some cool uses, so I think that it might see some play because of that. Because it’s still better to have mediocre minions on curve than nothing at all in a deck that otherwise can’t play cheap minions.

Card Rating: 5/10


It’s cool that Rogue is getting a new Secret, the three it has in Standard are solid, but pretty predictable. Adding another one to the pool might mix things up. However, Secret package hasn’t seen much play after the nerfs and it wasn’t really pushed this expansion, so it’s hard to say whether it will see play in Scholomance.

The card is… interesting? It can be a lot of value for just a single card. If you play it before your opponent’s big turn, they can either give you a bunch of good cards or just skip it altogether and play something else. You might even get 3-4 cards from it in the late game… but that’s looking at the best case scenario. In the average scenario, I think that this card just sucks.

Think about it – you can’t really play it on T2. If your opponent just plays his 3-drop, wow, you copies some random 3-drop from your opponent. That’s absolutely not a card you want to play. Heck, any time your opponent plays 1-2 cards, it’s just bad. You don’t want to get random cards your opponent played – you’d rather draw cards from your deck. And surprise surprise, you can already do that – Dirty Tricks is a thing, even even that was cut from lots of builds because it didn’t give Rogue player any tempo, only value.

Another common situation – you have a bunch of minions on the board in the late game vs a Control deck. This card won’t do anything. He will just AoE the board, Hero Power and pass. And all you’ve got is a useless board clear that you won’t likely have an opportunity to use anyway.

Rogue needs tempo. This card is very reactive, super slow, gives you no immediate advantage, it’s pretty much unplayable in the early game and even its effect is triggered the turn after. There are some situations in which it would come handy, but they are few and far between. Most of the time it will give you 1-2 cards from your opponent’s deck. But at least it’s a Secret, so your opponent might need to sometimes play around it even if you don’t put into your deck, so that’s a good thing. I think that some Rogue players might test it out, but they will likely dump it very quickly.

Card Rating: 3/10

Rune Dagger

Rune Dagger is the main hope for Spell Shaman build, but it can also be much more than that. One of the main issues with Spell Damage in Hearthstone is that you need to play the Spell Damage minion on the same turn you play your spell, otherwise it won’t likely survive. And that increases the cost of your spells a lot, ruins your curve etc. Weapons are quite different. While weapon removal is possible, not every deck runs them. Even in the weapon-heavy metas, only 20-30% decks run weapon removal, and usually only one, while every single deck can remove your minions in multiple ways, so the chances of your weapon being removed are much lower. And that’s the reason why Rune Dagger can be strong.

You can just play it on curve and then attack only when you need Spell Damage. For example, you play it on T2 and on T3 you want to remove a 3 health minion with Molten Blast – no problem. You swing and then play Molten Blast. Later in the game your opponent might put board full of 3-4 health minions and you want to clear them with Lightning Storm – sure, you swing and then play Storm. If you run Sorcerous Substitute in your deck, you can easily activate it on curve. And so on, and so on.

But I don’t think you even need to run Spell Damage deck to appreciate Rune Dagger. A regular Control Shaman might also want it, mostly to combine with AoE clears. Same goes for Aggro – you can play it with burn cards, and the weapon itself is 3 damage too. Assuming that you play 3 extra burn cards with Spell Damage, that’s 6 damage for 2 mana in total, seems worth it (however, burn-heavy Aggro Shaman decks weren’t really popular for a while now and I don’t think they will suddenly appear, but who knows). All in all, it’s a solid, flexible card, and I’m convinced that it should see some play – even if not in Spell Damage Shaman now, then in future in some other deck.

Card Rating: 7/10

Self-Sharpening Sword

Huh, that’s A LOT of damage on a 3 mana weapon. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10 damage in total. Of course, the big disadvantage is that it’s over 4 turns. Hooked Scimitar is 8 damage, but over 2 turns, so it’s probably better if we compare them directly like that. On the other hand, you need to Combo out the Scimitar, while this can be just played on curve.

All in all, it’s an interesting card and I could totally see it being played in more aggressive Rogue build, especially in a meta with little to no weapon removal. Because let’s be honest – if you get your Scimitar removed after one hit, it’s not the end of the world, since you’ve already dealt 4 – this getting removed after one hit is terrible, because you’ve only dealt one.

The card also curves out very, very well into Steeldancer and Doctor Krastinov. You swing on T3 when you equip it, then you swing against on T4 and play Steeldancer (summoning a random 3-drop). Now you have a 3/2 weapon, and on T5 you can drop Krastinov and buff it to 4/3 before swinging again. Assuming Krastinov dies (it probably will), you still have a 5/2 weapon equipped, which is then 6/1 on the last hit. That’s 1 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 6 = 18 damage in total, crazy if you think that it’s all dealt with a single weapon (with only one card to help with the damage).

Because of 4 durability, it also combos very well with Deadly Poison. If you apply it before the first swing, that’s 8 extra damage for just 1 mana. Even applying after the second swing will be +6 damage for 1 mana.

I suspect that the weapon should be playable in a faster Rogue deck that wants to deal a lot of face damage. Preferably a weapon-oriented build with Deadly Poison, Vulpera Toxinblade, Steeldancer or Krastinov. The card seems really solid, but mostly when you don’t face too many Oozes – it just takes too long to take full advantage of it.

Card Rating: 7/10

Shifty Sophomore

Stealth + Spellburst is a really nice combo. While most of the Spellburst cards need to be triggered the moment they’re played, or else you’re risking them dying before getting the effect, this is different. You can easily play it on curve and then activate it next turn, a 4 health stealth minion won’t likely die on curve. Yeah, it’s possible in some matchups, like against Hunter (Rotnest Drake).

As for the Spellburst effect. Generating a random Combo card is a meh effect. Yes, there are some really good Combo cards (Eviscerate, Edwin VanCleef), but lots of them are weak (Headcrack, Kidnapper, Necrium Apothecary in a deck without Deathrattles). So the outcomes will be really mixed. Sometimes you will get something great, other times you will get something you won’t play until the end of the game.

One advantage is that Stealth card fits well into Stealth build, but I think that I would prefer to run Infiltrator Lilian in that slot instead, to be fair. Still, between okay-ish stats, Stealth and an extra value gain, the card seems okay. Not terrible, not good, just okay.

Card Rating: 4/10

Tidal Wave

The card is super, super expensive for how much damage it deals. 3 damage AoE that affects both sides is fairly costed at 5 mana, this is 3 more. 8 mana for a 3 AoE damage is way too late, because a) you need AoE way sooner against fast decks and b) against slow decks, 3 AoE damage won’t likely kill whatever they will play at that point.

However, the Lifesteal is a saving grace of this card. In the best case scenario, you just heal up to full. But in a more realistic scenario when there are 5 minions on board in total, that’s still 15 points of healing – half of your health. Maybe even more if you run it with some Spell Damage, like Rune Dagger – make it 5x 4 damage + 20 healing in the exact same case. That’s almost like dropping Reno Jackson. If you survive against Aggro / Token deck long enough to drop this, you’ve most likely won the game.

Well, you can technically play it on T6 with Lightning Bloom, but I’m not sure if a Control deck will want to play Bloom in the first place. But the combo is quite nice against faster decks, because T6 is way better than T8.

And that’s the thing about this card, I feel like it’s super meta-dependent. If your opponents will run decks that a) can flood the board and b) can do it multiple times, to the point where they might still have a bunch of small minions up on T8, then it will be a great inclusion. In other metas – not so much. Against burn-based Aggro decks, you will be either dead or they won’t likely have many minions on the board at that point. Against slower decks, not only you don’t need healing that much, but 3 AoE is meh. So it’s a great Control card against specific matchups in mind. But the issue is that Control Shaman already does clear the job and stay alive quite well, the problem is that the deck has no real win condition in slower matchups. Well, at least it’s also something you might fit into Highlander build. I think that it might be playable at times, but it won’t be an auto-include.

Card Rating: 6/10

Vulpera Toxinblade

A very simple, yet powerful card. As a Rogue, you have a weapon equipped nearly all the time. Even if you don’t run any in your deck – you tend to have dagger from Hero Power up nearly all the time if possible. So basically no matter when you drop it, it will be useful. Giving +2 damage on a 3/3 body means that you will have at least one stronger attack. It’s kind of comparable to SI:7 Agent. Dealing 2 damage straight up is better than giving +2 Attack to your weapon, but SI needs to be combo’d out (so you can’t always play it on T3) and his effect is one-time, no matter what. If Vulpera Toxinblade survives, you can take advantage of the extra weapon damage more than once. But even the baseline of dropping a 3/3 and being able to hit for 3 for one turn makes it solid in more Aggro or Tempo-oriented Rogue builds. Similarly, it should be good in weapon-based decks like Aggro Rogue with weapons & weapon synergies.

It’s not a super exciting card, but it’s a nice tempo boost and it can snowball the game if left unchecked. As a Rogue, you rely on the weapon so much that having an Aura weapon buff is something that class doesn’t mind at all. Overall, a good card, I think that it should see a bunch of play in different Rogue decks.

Card Rating: 8/10

Fishy Flyer

Hmm, the card is actually quite cool and well-thought out. 4 mana 4/3 with Rush is not a card you would normally put into your deck, but it’s not THAT bad. You can see it as a 4 damage removal that sometimes sticks after the trade (e.g. running it into a 2/3 minion), or you can just play it on curve when you have nothing better to do, unlike removal. It also has a Murloc tag, which might matter in some decks – e.g. with Murloc Warleader on the board, it’s now a 6 damage removal instead of 4.

And then, it basically replaces itself on death with a ghost of itself – it’s the same minion (notably still a Murloc), but it no longer has the Deathrattle. So while the card itself is not strong, it also “draws” another copy of itself when it dies, providing extra value.

To be honest, Murloc tag might be its selling point. I could possibly see it being played in Murloc Paladin, but even in that build it seems average. However, you will be quite happy about generating it randomly from effects like Underlight Angling Rod. It’s a bit on the weaker side, in my opinion, but I like the concept of this card and it might see SOME play.

Card Rating: 4/10

In Formation!

I think it should cost 1 mana, and even then I would have to wonder about putting it into the deck. Because sometimes it’s not about the cost. Yes, adding 2 cards to your hand is generally a good value, but you want to have those cards for some reason. Adding two random Taunts will often just clutter your hand for no reason. There are LOTS of Taunts in the game, and lots of them are really bad. Since you don’t discover, but rather get two completely random ones, the chances of getting two good cards are slim. And even getting two mediocre cards is not really something you want. Yes, Dragon Roar has seen some play, even in non-Dragon decks, but that’s because the quality of a random Dragon was much, much higher (and honestly, still is).

The only realistic use I see is in Armagedillo deck, because even random Taunts are good if you give them +2/+2. But with only a single Armagedillo in your deck, this card will be bad 90% of time and only shine 10% of time. That’s why, unless Warrior gets some serious Taunt synergies in Standard, I just don’t see it.

Card Rating: 2/10

Intrepid Initiate

Well, 3/2 for 1 mana is certainly great – even when it comes with a downside – see Flame Imp. And so, if you could always guarantee to activate Intrepid Initiate, the card would be pretty sick. But the only problem is that you can’t, and it will often stay as a 1/2. Then is it worth your time? Let’s look at a few combos you can use to make it great.

First and most importantly – the card is way stronger on Coin than going first. On Coin, you can trigger the Spellburst right away and drop a second 1-drop. No matter what you play will be great. Blazing Battlemage – you’ve got 3/2 and 2/2. Guardian Augmerchant – 3/1 with Divine Shield and 2/1. Beaming Sidekick – 3/4 and 1/2. That’s a really powerful opener.

It also combos well with any 0 mana spell, even (and especially) if you’re going first. However, there aren’t that many 0 mana spells you want to play on Turn 1. The best one is Priest with the new Power Word: Shield – it’s 2 cards for a 3/4 on Turn 1, but in a buff-oriented Tempo Priest that 3/4 can be the opener you need. Rogue can Backstab, but only when going second and when your opponent drops a 1 cost minion (preferably one you can kill). Druid / Shaman can Lightning Bloom into a 2-drop, which is pretty juicy opener. There’s also the new First Day of School, that’s a cool combo (and you can play the 1-drops on T2). Overall, there are some ways to activate it. And luckily, if you’re going first, you don’t necessarily need to activate it on T1 – you can also do it on T2, since your opponent won’t trade into it anyway, since he just played his 1-drop (and if he plays a 2 damage removal then he can clear it no matter if you activate it or not).

Overall, I think that it might see some play in some aggressive builds which run some early spells to activate it. However, because it’s not super consistent, it’s only a bit above average. If you don’t run a deck with cheap spells, you’d rather just play Blazing Battlemage instead of hoping to get a Coin into a second 1-drop.

Card Rating: 6/10


That’s a mini-Troggzor the Earthinator. I still remember it as one of the most overhyped cards! And honestly, Ogremancer won’t likely be played for the same reason.

3/7 for 5 is a pretty weak stat-line. Yes, 7 health is hard to clear, but at 3 health it’s not a big threat. It will easily die to some removal spell or just straight up minion / weapon hits.

The effect is also pretty mediocre. When your opponent casts a spell, you summon a 2/2 with Taunt. So if it gets removed with a single card, it could as well be a 5 mana 3/7 with “Deathrattle: Summon a 2/2”. Not great.

In some rare cases, when your opponent can’t clear it, it might stop him from some good turn involving spells, because otherwise it would summon a full board. On the other hand, if you’re behind or even on the board, it will be just a vanilla 3/7 that dies to your opponent’s minions.

Is it annoying? Yes, it will be at times. It is good enough to put into the deck? I really don’t think so.

Card Rating: 3/10

Smug Senior

6 mana 5/7 Taunt is pretty bad. But as a reward for playing a bad card, you get another 5/7 Taunt (a bad card) on Deathrattle. What a great deal – two bad cards for the cost of one. I mean, from the value perspective, it doesn’t look terrible. You get a big minion that gives you another big minion on death. It’s just that I don’t really think that you need something like that. Against Aggro, where Taunts are most useful, you don’t run into value problems – you want your cards to have as much tempo as possible in order to stay alive. And against Control, you don’t really need  Taunts and it won’t be a big issue to deal with anyway.

Seems like a pack filler, to be honest. It’s not the WORST card in history, but I can’t really think of a deck that would want to play it.

Card Rating: 2/10

Sneaky Delinquent

On the other hand, Sneaky Delinquent seems better. 3/1 with Stealth costs 1 mana in theory (Spymistress) but the card is really pushed when it comes to stats. Normally a 2 mana Taunt would be 3/2, but you see – in case of Taunt, it doesn’t really matter that much. Since the minion can’t be pinged, can’t be traded off by a token and so on, whether it’s 2 health or 1 health is not a big deal.

I think that it fits into an aggressive Stealth Rogue deck. Right now you would play Skyvateer in that place, but 3/1 stats are so much better than 1/3 for an aggressive Stealth minion. And both cards give you some value – of course, drawing a card is slightly better, but having another 2 mana 3/1 with Stealth is not bad.

Other decks? Well, I’m not sure. Maybe some face deck would also want it, since it could deal 6 damage in total. You play it, hit face, opponent kills it, you play 2nd body, hit face, opponent kills it. Sure, he might be able to AoE one body for example, but depending on the situation it might not be worth it.

So I could totally see it in a Stealth Rogue, and POSSIBLY see it in some other aggressive decks. It’s not super powerful, but looks quite solid.

Card Rating: 5/10


A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

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One Comment

  1. H0lysatan
    August 6, 2020 at 4:04 am

    Self-Sharpening Sword? more like a dagger to me.
    But there’s a lot of weapon buffer this expansion, so it might build up into quite a damaging weapon.