Scholomance Academy was just announced last week. It’s 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!
Check out our other reviews:
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #1 – Devolving Missiles, Lightning Bloom, Rattlegore, Shan’do Wildwalker, Troublemaker and more!
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #3 – Flesh Giant, Ace Hunter Kreen, Mozaki, Master Duelist, Totem Goliath, Glide, Felosophy and more!
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #4 – Archwitch Willow, Doctor Krastinov, Star Student Stelina, Lorekeeper Polkelt, Sphere of Sapience, Vectus and more!
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #5 – Ras Frostwhisper, Groundskeeper, Turalyon, Adorable Infestation, Secret Passage, Jandice Barov, Keymaster Alabaster and more!
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #6 – Soul Fragment Cards, Instructor Fireheart, Professor Slate, Speaker Gidra, Forest Warden Amu and more!
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #7 – Ancient Void Hound, Trueaim Crescent, Wyrm Weaver, Demon Companion, Double Jump, Voracious Reader and more!
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #8 – Bloated Python, Teacher’s Pet, Overwhelm, Reaper’s Scythe, Coerce, Wolpertinger, Tour Guide, Raise Dead and more!
- Scholomance Academy Card Review #9 – Robes of Protection, Mindrender Illucia, Twilight Runner, Commencement, Blessing of Authority, Cutting Class and more!
It was obvious that we’re going to see the new version of Kel’Thuzad himself, but I didn’t expect it so early! The card is really cool and flavorful. His effect basically raises the dead – the minions you killed join your side as undead. And it’s also very powerful. Getting everything you’ve killed with a spell can lead to some massive board swings.
But first, let me explain the effect, because I’ve seen a lot of confusion. Spellburst triggers AFTER the spell, which means that the spell itself can’t kill the Spellburst minion, otherwise it won’t do anything. If Kel’Thuzad dies during the spell, his effect won’t do anything. So, for example, if you thought about combining him with Plague of Flames or Brawl – no, it won’t work. To be more precise – in case of Brawl, it will work only if he’s the one who wins it. So I guess that if you’re really desperate you can try to high-roll it sometimes, but most of the time it will be a bad play.
At the same time, he works very well with AoEs that only kill opponent’s minions, as well as single target removal. But let’s be real – the most expensive AoE clears that will kill opponent’s mid-sized & big stuff usually costs more than you can afford to play on the same turn as Kel’Thuzad, and you can’t realistically count on him surviving a turn. So your options will usually be to get a bunch of small minions with cheap AoE, such as Breath of the Infinite, or a single bigger minion with single target removal like Shield Slam. And don’t get me wrong – both options are still great, but you shouldn’t imagine him “stealing” boards full of big minions, because that just won’t work most of the time.
One thing to remember is that you have to play Kel’Thuzad and the FIRST spell you cast has to be the one that kills minions, because that’s what triggers Spellburst. For example, you can’t drop Kel + Lightning Bloom + Earthquake in Shaman, because Lightning Bloom will trigger . That limits the possible plays even further.
Still, I think that the card is very strong. It sort of turns your removals into Mind Control (not EXACTLY, because you get a base copy of the minion, so no buffs, but also no health damage), and that’s great for tempo. For example, in Priest you can play this + Shadow Word: Death, clear something big and get it back. So for 2 cards and just 7 mana, you’ve cleared let’s say a Bloodboil Brute, and got yourself a 4/6 + 5/8 with Rush. Against faster decks, you can combine it with a small removal or AoE and also get a nice swing.
Overall, I think that you can seriously put it into any Control deck and it will work (or maybe even some Midrange decks with spell-based removal). It’s going to be stronger in some and weaker in the others, but the extra tempo you get is going to be mighty useful in any matchup. High-roll situations won’t happen very often, but will from time to time (e.g. when you drop it, it survives a turn, then you slam a big AoE) – and then you often just win the game on spot. But even the average scenario of just “stealing” 2-3 small minions with AoE or a single big minion with single target removal is good. Even the base stats are okay. I like it.
Card Rating: 8/10
It’s Shadow Bolt with an upside, POWER CREEEEEP! Okay, just kidding, you can’t really compare stuff to bad cards (from other classes) and call it power creep. But still, 4 damage for 3 mana is a “baseline” – whether it sees play depends on how strong the upside will be. And in this case, it’s quite interesting.
This card reminds me a bit of Rolling Fireball – not the effect itself, but the flexibility of removal. Rolling Fireball turned out to be one of the better Mage removals released lately, and that’s because it can be used both as a single target removal and as a pseudo-AoE. 8 damage to a minion for 5 mana is bad. So is 1 AoE damage for 5 mana (assuming your opponent has a board full of 1/1’s), for example. So would be a card that dealt 4 damage to two random minions. But the best thing about Rolling Fireball is that it combines all of those into a single card. Combustion is a bit similar in that manner.
You can ALWAYS use it as a 4 damage for 3 mana. Is it good? No, it’s not. But it’s not terrible, it will get its job done most of the time, on Turn 3 you can basically clear anything you want with it. But what’s good about it is that you can, just like Rolling Fireball, use it as pseudo-AoE card. Let’s say that your opponent has three 2 health minions – e.g. Imprisoned Satyr and two 2/2’s he got from his effect. Just target the middle one and all three die, because it will deal 4 damage to your target, but you only need 4 to kill it, so then 2 excess damage is dealt to other minions. The card will destroy a lot of early game Aggro boards, and won’t be useless against slower decks, just as a 4 damage to a minion.
It’s not crazy powerful or anything, but it’s flexible enough that I think that it should slot into Highlander Mage, at least if Aggro decks will be common. I also like the card’s design – in general, I like cards that make you think about positioning, in this case it’s not worth it to put 1 health minion in the middle, because then the adjacent minions will get hit for 3. Good card.
Card Rating: 7/10
I’m on the fence about it. The biggest issue is that you ideally want to drop it on curve, since it seems like a solid tempo minion, but in order to do it, you need to have a weapon equipped already. In Rogue, that’s not a problem because of Hero Power, but then it will summon a random 1-drop, which is pretty bad (4/4 + 1-drop for 4 mana is meh). Like sure, if you get a Combo’d Hooked Scimitar up on 3 and then drop this on 4, that’s incredibly powerful. But I’m just not sure if it will be consistent enough. Waggle Pick also combos well with it, but it’s a super awkward curve unless you have a 1-drop to fill it with. Rogue doesn’t run weapons unless they’re really amazing (or well, if they have a good card to tutor them, like pre-nerf Raiding Party). And Warrior… well, in Warrior it would be nice with T3 Livewire Lance or Ancharrr. You get those on curve quite often, mostly because you also run Corsair Cache to tutor them. But even then, 4/4 + random 2-drop is solid, but not THAT powerful, and it only works if you happen to play weapon on curve.
In theory, it can be better in the late game, but still, what weapons would you want to combo it with? In theory, Control Warrior can run Gorehowl, but in practice the card hasn’t seen play in years. Similarly, Aggro Warrior (like Pirate) can run Arcanite Reaper, but then you need to wait until T6 to play this minion.
Of course, we’re very early into the reveal season, and I expect some more weapons. Both Warrior & Rogue can get solo class weapons, and I’m pretty sure that they will also share a dual class weapon. But without seeing them first, it’s hard to judge this card. Most of the time either the results are subpar, because 1-3 mana weapons generally don’t have that much attack, or you end up with an awkward curve and have to hold onto that card until T5-T6 or even later.
Right now Aggro Rogue, assuming the deck gets another good weapon, seems to be most likely candidate. Between Deadly Poison, Scimitar and maybe another 2-3 mana weapon, it can be a really good 4-drop. But I’m not THAT convinced. 4/10 for now, but might get better with more reveals – especially if some good 3 mana weapon gets revealed so it will be more consistent on curve.
Card Rating: 4/10
Cycle of Hatred
Huh… Huuuuuuh… Control Demon Hunter support? Is that real life? Actually, I really hope that Demon Hunter will be able to play other archetypes than Tempo, so I’m excited!
Looking at this card, two things are clear. On the one hand – 3 AoE damage for 7 mana sucks. And I mean SUCKS HARD. The baseline would be Flamestrike, which deals 4 damage, but only to oppo. Earthquake deals 7 damage to the entire board, in two hits, which makes it even better. On the other hand, summoning a minion for every minion you clear is great. It does two things – lets you turn the stuff you remove into some tempo of your own, but also “protects” your smaller minions from the AoE, because you get 3/3’s back if they die too. And that’s good.
But overall, the biggest issue is that 3 AoE damage is generally bad in the late game. You REALLY want it to happen on T4, T5 or some time around that, that’s when you need it against Aggro. Waiting for even one turn is bad, having it two turns later is even worse. Sure, you might get a board full of 3/3’s, but so what if you’re dead? At the same time, against slower decks, 3 AoE damage isn’t going to do awful lot, since they often don’t run many small minions. Combining removal with creating minions is always nice tempo move, but you aren’t likely to get more than 2-3 3/3’s anyway, and it’s not like it will particularly affect a slower build.
Still, there are some matchups in which the card is godlike. Like against Spell Druid – imagine dropping this vs Glowfly Swarm. Or even an Exotic Mountseller board when you combine it with another removal – lots of the minions summoned have 3 health or less. I can imagine that it would be strong against any Token decks – those are the decks that refill the board multiple times, so you still need cheaper AoEs, but that would be a good “final nail in the coffin”.
So while I can see it being playable in some metas, I think that it’s in a pretty awkward spot – too slow for an AoE removal vs faster decks, and not strong enough as a threat vs slower decks. I’m happy that Control Demon Hunter is getting some support, but this ain’t gonna make it good, I’m pretty sure.
Card Rating: 3/10
Most opinions I’ve seen is that the card is terrible, but I wouldn’t say so. It’s not the best card ever, but it seems pretty solid. Imagine Piloted Shredder – 4 mana 4/3 which summoned a random 2-drop on Deathrattle. First body is comparable – 4/2 with Stealth is similar to 4/3, probably even better given that Rogue has some Stealth synergies. Then, a 4/2 that attacks immediately is better than a random 2-drop. So overall, this card is a bit like a better Piloted Shredder, the only downside is that it dies to 2 AoE damage, but even then you still get a 4/2 minion back. That said, Piloted Shredder was nuts during completely different times. Right now I’m not so sure that it would see play, so a slightly better Shredder might not be as insane as it sounds for old players.
I’ve actually played around with Wasteland Assassin in budget decks, and the card is surprisingly okay – I think that it would be very powerful at 4 mana, and Lilian is a bit similar. Oh, and it has Deathrattle for the sake of some synergies. Right now we don’t really have a great way to build Deathrattle Rogue deck, but if we do, it might got into it.
The usual scenario I could see with this card would be clearing a minion, summoning a 4/2, which would either clear another minion or deal 4 damage to the opponent. “Attacking a random minion” effect is good tempo, even if the target is not the most optimal, which has already been proven by Imprisoned Felmaw.
Lilian doesn’t seem super exciting as a Legendary, but it feels good. I can imagine some more aggressive strategies slotting it – we already have some Aggro builds running a Stealth package. Possibly even Stealth Galakrond Rogue, although it’s difficult to find any “free” slots in Galakrond Rogue, so yeah.
Card Rating: 7/10
I love this card’s effect – what a great way to combine Priest & Warlock while keeping the card just as balance in both of them. If it said “heal” or “take damage”, then it would clearly favor one class over the other. Changing health means that it works with both Warlock’s self-damage and Priest’s healing just as well. And that’s basically how you want to play it – in the worst case scenario, you Hero Power + play this for 6 mana. In Priest, it will be a 6 mana 3/3 with “Battlecry: Destroy a minion, restore 2 Health to your Hero.” and in Warlock, it will be the same, but with 2 damage + draw instead. Being able to combo it with Hero Power makes it super consistent, the only situations in which you can’t do that is when you’re at 30 Health as Priest or 1-2 Health as Warlock. And the base case scenario is already comparable
But now we’re getting to the good stuff. Hero Power is not the only card you can combo it with. For example, in Warlock you can do it with all self-damage cards, which are actually rather popular. “Self-damage” Zoo with Flame Imp, Darkglare, Neferset Thrasher etc. is would probably like this card. Like, dropping Imp + this on T5 is insane tempo – you get rid of your opponent’s 4-drop, while putting a 3/3 + 3/2 on the board. Slower Warlock decks might also like it, especially if they run cards like Nether Breath (which is pretty much a given currently) or Sacrificial Pact (still played in Galakrond Warlock). But slower decks already play Keli'dan the Breaker, which is… well, slightly worse as a single target removal (because you don’t get any extra combos), but better if you high roll and draw it the turn you need AoE. Not sure which one of the two would be ultimately better.
Now Priest also has access to some healing other than the Hero Power. Renew or Penance are the two that come to mind, but e.g. Lifesteal from Apotheosis is also a viable way to trigger it. The only issue here is that once you turn into Galakrond, the Unspeakable, it will be much harder to trigger it, since your Hero Power will be gone. But assuming that the class will have enough other ways to heal or (possibly) self-damage, then it should be fine.
And I expect that the mix of self-damage and healing might be the theme of Priest/Warlock cards, so we might even get another synergy or two. I think that it’s already a strong card, and it might get even better with more reveals.
Card Rating: 8/10
Another expansion, another egg! Since Eggs were usually slotted into Zoo Warlock anyway, they just took a shortcut and made this one a Warlock card. And it’s a pretty strong one.
On the surface level, it’s similar to Scarab Egg, which has seen some play in the deck. Instead of 3x 1/1, you get 2x 2/1, increasing the damage a bit, but reducing the bodies by 1. They’re honestly comparable and analyzing which one is better would require a deeper dive into the meta, which we don’t know how will look like. That alone makes it a 5/10 card – nothing special, but good enough.
However, the extra effect is what might push it into being amazing. If you Discard it, instead of simply “losing” the card, you end up summoning 2x 2/1 minion for free. So you turn a downside into an upside (because Zoo loves free tempo). The card is on a similar power level to Silverware Golem, probably even stronger, because even ignoring Discard effects, I would rather put the Egg and not a vanilla 3 mana 3/3 into my deck. And Silverware Golem was really amazing tempo tool in Discard-oriented Warlock.
The biggest issue are the Discards themselves. Soulfire is the only one that would “consistently” get rid of it, but the problem is that it’s not really THAT consistent – you would need to reduce your hand down to those two cards to guarantee it. Doomguard is out of Standard. And the “new” Discard cards target highest cost cards – Expired Merchant & Nightshade Matron. The card also doesn’t combine very well with Handbuff of Imprisoned Scrap Imp, because the buff is gone if you Discard it (but it’s not THAT big of a deal).
Right now, I think that it might see some niche play as a Scarab Egg with an upside from time to time, when you manage to hit it with Soulfire. But we’re just 1 or 2 good Discard cards away from making a full Discard Zoo Warlock deck viable, and it would be one of the better cards in that deck.
Card Rating: 5/10 now, but possibly 8/10 if some good Discard effects get introduced.
Am I crazy, or is this High Priest Amet power level? Or even stronger, since it’s also playable in Warlock, a class which can utilize this effect even more? It just seems so, so, soooo good.
Let’s start with the basic – stats. 3/6 for 4, basically the best you can get. Arguably 4/5 can be better sometimes, but not on a minion that you want to stick (the more health = the better). So even if you just drop it on T4, you can put pressure on your opponent to remove it, and in the worst case scenario you’ve played a solid minion with no effect. But his effect… oh damn.
4/4 stats aren’t super big, but they are a real threat. Which means that you can turn any small minion into a real threat in the mid/late game. Because it kills the minion and summon a new one, it means that the first has resolved – in other words, all the Battlecry or Deathrattle effects on the first body will go off and THEN you will get a 4/4.
The card has insane synergy with 1-drops, including Lackeys. Not only their effects work like they normally do, but they also end up with 4/4 bodies. But not only Lackeys – you can play any 1-drops like Beaming Sidekick, Fiendish Servant or Guardian Augmerchant, get their effects off and make them 4/4. Or even the new Boneweb Egg I just reviewed above – 2 mana 4/4 + 2x 2/1.
Of course, when it’s on the board, you won’t be able to play big minions. But why would you want to? Your whole turn will be playing small minions and you will be happy with a board full of 4/4’s that your opponent will have to remove or die. You can save big things for later. It’s a thing your opponent just can’t leave alone.
What’s even better is that unlike something like Houndmaster Shaw, which did help, but didn’t win game by itself, this card can really seal the game if you drop it on curve and your opponent doesn’t clear it. Next turn you can get a few 4/4’s and gain so much tempo that it will be impossible to catch up.
The only reason why I’m not giving it 10/10 is that it can be a bit clunky at times, if you don’t happen to have any small minions in your hand, the effect CAN turn into a downside. This will 100% go into Zoo Warlock. I’m honestly not sure about Priest – slower build like Galakrond probably won’t want it (Disciple of Galakrond works well with it, but that’s about it), but maybe some mythical Tempo Priest? Who knows? It looks more and more possible with the cards we’re getting. And I certainly expect Gandling to be one of the highest priority removal targets in the game after it launches.
Card Rating: 9/10