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 #2 – Headmaster Kel’Thuzad, Combustion, Infiltrator Lilian, Brittlebone Destroyer, Disciplinarian Gandling 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!
Another strong dual class card, but this time it clearly favors one side – Warlock. Mountain Giant has rotated out to Hall of Fame, and this might be used to replace it. Yes, you won’t be able to drop it on T4, but at the same time, it will be better in the late game, since discount is permanent and eventually it will cost 0 mana, unlike Mountain which could only go down to 3 and only if you had full hand (well, down to 1 with Valdris Felgorge, but then you needed 12 cards in hand). It’s also better against Aggro, where you could not tap enough and Giant was often out of range. So first things first – this seems like a great include in slow Warlock decks. Not only it will permanently go down in cost with every Life Tap, but also when you heal up or e.g. play active Crazed Netherwing. It will be really easy to get it down to cheap.
I also think about building a self-damage Zoo deck, which (like I’ve mentioned in my previous review) is almost already a thing. Warlock liked Sea Giant, even though the card could rarely be dropped in the early game and it often costed quite a bit in the late game. Even a 4 mana 8/8, which doesn’t require THAT much work, is amazing threat.
In Priest, though… Well, the situation is a bit different. If possible, you want to avoid Hero Powering – you’d rather play some threat or removal. Some removals or other cards will also make it cheaper, but will it be cheap enough? Another thing is that against Control decks, you might not take almost any damage as a Priest. If you play a Warlock, you can always deal damage to yourself (well, unless you’re nearly dead, but that’s generally not a problem vs Control) – Priest might not be able to gain health. Then, after you turn into Galakrond, you won’t have that many options to activate it. So while I’m not sure if it will be THAT good of a card to put into your deck, I’m convinced that it will be an amazing one to get from mid-late game Invokes. Those Priest/Warlock minions look really strong so far, and strong Priest minions will make Galakrond way better.
Overall, a very good card, I would be baffled if it didn’t see any play. But like I’ve said – it seems more like a Warlock class, and Priest will just benefit from a much better Galakrond pool (unless another Priest cards we’ll see changes that).
Card Rating: 8/10
Interesting card – Cabal Shadow Priest that’s harder to activate, but for cheaper. It’s basically 2 mana vs he fact that you need to activate it and can’t choose the target. The downsides are considerable, BUT 2 mana is a huge difference too.
However, what I like about it is that it’s a 4 mana 2/6 Taunt at the very least. Which means that even if you don’t steal anything important, it already has a solid body + even snatching a 1/1 will make it worth it. It’s a bit similar to how Mind Control Tech worked, but your opponent doesn’t need to have 4+ minions – sometimes you high roll and steal a big thing, but even getting some small minion was good enough for a 3 mana 3/3.
It will obviously work best with Lazul's Scheme. This combo is quite insane if you’ve been keeping Lazul’s in your hand for a few turns and your opponent drops something bigger. Play this + Lazul’s on some 8/8 minion and you’ve got yourself a 4 mana 2/6 Taunt + 0 mana Mind Control. Yeah – that’s strong. But I’m not sure if Lazul’s Scheme will make into the list, because the card is otherwise clunky and realistically it needs to sit in your hand for many turns before you can steal anything big with it. You would probably need to run BOTH this + Cabal Shadow Priest before you put Lazul’s Scheme, but who knows?
But even without it, Priest plays enough cheap spells to make it work. Now if you play against an Aggro deck like the current Tempo Demon Hunter, stealing that 2/2 from them while putting a 2/6 Taunt on the board is good enough. Heck, sometimes just putting a 2/6 Taunt on the board is good enough.
With Lazul’s Scheme, it’s an amazing card, but putting Lazul’s Scheme in your deck will reduce your win rate in games during which you can’t pull off that combo, so it’s probably not worth it. Without Lazul’s Scheme, it’s… okay. It’s good, but I don’t think it’s as insane as people are thinking it is. At the end of the day, it will be just a 2/6 Taunt for 4 pretty commonly. Which is not the end of the world, but it wouldn’t make into your deck. That’s why it will really need to work for itself in the situations where you can activate his effect.
Card Rating: 6/10
Ace Hunter Kreen
Damn, this card is pretty disgusting. It’s a combination of Violet Illusionist and Deathspeaker, which works on ALL minions, for as long as it stays on the board. That’s just sick. It means that when you drop it, you can attack anything without taking damage (like Violet Illusionist), but also your minions can do the same. This card will decide tempo-oriented matchups – when you both have board and it’s time to trade, if one of you drops Ace Hunter Kreen first and clears everything without losing board… it’s often game over. Similarly, if you play against a slower deck, they drop a big minion, especially a Taunt, you can just play Kreen and kill it for free, leaving your board intact. While Warglaives of Azzinoth were nerfed, the card has insane synergy with those too – you can hit a big minion 4 times without taking any damage. Hero Power first and that’s 16 damage. And that’s immediate effect – if it stays on the board, your opponent basically can’t play minions without removing it first, or they will just get cleared for free. Of course, it will usually get removed, but it already did its job at this point.
Sometimes you don’t even need a board… Highlander Hunter plays a lot of Rush/Charge minions, for example. In the late game, if you need to remove something big, you can drop Dinotamer Brann + this, run King Krush into something and it survives. Of course, you always prefer to hit face, but it’s not always possible e.g. if your opponent threatens lethal. And letting you 8/8 live is a huge tempo gain in those cases. Similarly, you can play it with Siamat and go for Windfury + Rush and clear two minions while not taking any damage. Then, something like Diving Gryphon or even Unleash the Hounds can also benefit from this card even if you don’t have any board before. Yes, it’s better when you already have a board – that’s a given – but my point is that it’s not completely useless when you don’t. And you can always save some health by attacking with a weapon the turn you play it too.
The card seems like auto-include in both Demon Hunter & Hunter. It just seems to good and looks like a prime nerf candidate even before it’s released. Of course, I know, it’s too early to say, but just look at it. The only issue in Hunter is that the 3 mana slot is REALLY packed. You have so, so many good 3 mana cards that you ultimately have to cut some great cards to fit it in (and you can’t realistically play 10 three mana cards in a Midrange deck). And that, well, it works best if you already have the board AND your opponent also has board you want to trade into, otherwise it can be a bit clunky. That’s why I can’t justify giving it 10/10, but it was pretty close…
Card Rating: 9/10
Mozaki, Master Duelist
Interesting effect, but seems a bit too slow in a regular deck. Realistically, you can’t count that a card like that will survive a turn. Yes, sometimes it will, and then you might be able to take off with it, but you need to assume that most of the time it will die. So the way I see it is that you need to combine it with a bunch of cheap spells on the same turn, then drops some crazy, but cheap spells. Highlander Mage most likely doesn’t want it – it doesn’t play enough cheap spells and doesn’t benefit enough from Spell Damage (you would need to change your build, but you won’t change it just because of this card). I think that Cyclone Mage is the deck that would like it most right now, even as a “I drop this card for 5 mana, in the worst case scenario it’s a 3/8 and if it happens to survive, I just take over the game thanks to lots of Spell Damage”.
The best way to run it seems to be some kind of weird Combo deck. Like you play Incanter's Flow earlier in the game, drop it, drop Sorcerer's Apprentice, play a bunch of cheap spells (preferably some stuff that generates other spells too, like Magic Trick), get it up to at least +5 Spell Damage, then burn your opponent down with Arcane Missiles and Frostbolt. Maybe the aforementioned Cyclone Mage will become more of a combo deck thanks to that?
To be honest, the card doesn’t look very strong right now, but the effect has A LOT of potential. It’s an effect that becomes crazy powerful if people find a way to abuse it. Also, it might get much stronger if Mage gets another cheap spell or two, especially if they get a solid 0 mana spell.
P.S. I just thought about it after writing the review. You can play Mozaki + Maiev Shadowsong on T9. Then stall for a turn (e.g. Blizzard / Frost Nova). Then it goes back from Dormant and you have 10 mana to work with and basically a better Malygos on the board. The combo is really slow – it’s T11 at the earliest and you need to basically skip T9… But it’s an interesting thing to think about.
Card Rating: 4/10 right now, but MIGHT be overpowered in some Combo deck if Mage gets more cheap spells to activate it.
That’s quite interesting. As a weapon, it sucks. 3 mana 2/2 weapon is just not good. It needs to have a strong effect in order to be playable. And this effect is… actually quite good. However, it also needs a pretty specific deck to work – a deck that plays some mid-late game spells.
The biggest issue I see is that you HAVE to follow it up with a rather expensive spell, since Spellburst triggers on the first spell you play, no matter what it is. You can’t “save” it for later. If you need (or want to) play a cheap spell, the effect is gone. So if you play it on T3, you want to play at least a 3-4 mana spell next turn (because that’s roughly when the card becomes solid) or skip playing spells completely until you can play use something more expensive. Another obvious issue is that if you don’t trigger it right away, it can get destroyed. Yes, it’s not as easy to destroy a weapon as it is for a minion, but people are running Oozes in nearly every meta. Hard to say how weapon-heavy the upcoming meta will be – if we get a few good Spellburst weapons, then my guess would be that anti-weapon techs will be rather common. Another downside is that you can only swing with it once BEFORE you trigger the effect. Second swing means that the weapon is destroyed = no effect. Another thing is that those classes already have weapons around that mana cost. Warrior has Livewire Lance and Ancharrr, both of which fit Tempo/Enrage Warrior more + Wrenchcalibur at 4. Paladin has Underlight Angling Rod, which is actually a solid T3 weapon even in non-Murloc decks, and then either Lightforged Zealot (Pure) or Truesilver Champion (the rest of decks).
But now onto the good things. If you play a deck that runs some mid game spells, then it can be truly powerful. For example, in Paladin you can curve this on T4 into Consecration on T4, very often clearing the entire board (because you also get a weapon hit) and summoning a 4/4 with Taunt. In Warrior, it’s AMAZING card with Brawl. Normally Turn 5 Brawl might leave you in an awkward spot, because one minion still survived, so you still take some damage and opponent just redevelops. With this you end up with a 5/5 Taunt. There are also some high rolls – like I already mentioned Big Warrior in some of my previous reviews, and I believe that the deck would also like it. It doesn’t want to play small minions, but thanks to this card it could turn spells into small-midrange minions. And it could also high roll a Dimensional Ripper into a 10/10 Taunt + 2x whatever minion you get. But high rolls are not something you put a card into your deck for, of course.
Overall, I think that the card has potential. I feel like it’s pretty average now, BUT might get better if we get some strong 4-5 mana spells for either of those classes, especially proactive spells that don’t need board to work. Because stuff like Consecration, Blessing of Kings or Brawl are situational and you might not want (or be able to) to play them on curve.
Card Rating: 5/10
Shaman is getting more Totem support – I can approve it! It’s their unique tribe, but they barely even had a viable Totem deck in the history of the game. Ashes of Outland was actually pretty close – Totem Shaman was the best way to play the class, BUT it was still weak (Tier 4). Playable, but weak. However, it’s a great deck shell and with some more support it can easily take off. And this looks like a solid support.
On the one hand – yes, you play 5 mana for a 4/5 with 2 Overload. It’s really, really slow. But you know what? It’s not like your opponent can just ignore it and push the tempo. Thanks to Totemic Reflection or Splitting Axe, they can’t risk leaving it on the board or you start copying it. At the same time, if they clear it, they also want to get rid of basic Totems. Otherwise you start buffing them, copying them and so on and so on.
The biggest issue for Totem Shaman is making a board and sticking it so you can start buffing. If your opponent is clearing all of your stuff, you have no way to start doing your combos. But this card should allow it. Opponent will have hard time clearing BOTH the 4/5 and all the Totems, which makes it very sticky.
Transform effects get rid of it really cleanly, but hey, they aren’t really that popular.
Of course, the card is not insane and it doesn’t push Totem Shaman into Tier 1 range or anything. But it’s a good step for the deck to be competitively viable.
P.S. And Windshear Stormcaller might finally see play! In Wild… Okay, I still doubt it.
Card Rating: 7/10
I honestly have no clue how to rate it. Seriously. Hand disruption is SO rare in Hearthstone that it’s hard to compare the card to anything else we had, which also means that it’s hard to judge its realistic value. You can play against someone who prepared a 5 card combo, discounted it, and then you just shuffle it back into their deck, removing any discounts. I’m talking about oldschool combos with Emperor Thaurissan, but even now it can be a HUGE disruption for a deck like Quest Warlock, which usually keeps a full hand and discounts some cards to 0 with Hero Power.
The card is absolutely crazy. Not even in terms of power level (I think it’s strong, but not as strong as some people), but the effect itself is something that might lead to many broken keyboards. And actually pretty difficult to time correctly. You see, ideally you want to play it when your hand is nearly empty, so you draw as many cards as possible. 4 mana to draw 4 when this is the only card in your hand is insane. But in that case, you’re also guaranteed to trigger the Outcast. But do you actually want do to it? If you play against Aggro, you can also draw them a bunch of cards, a bit like Jeeves used to sometimes do. If you play against Control and you see that they don’t have a way to clear your board, they’re missing an AoE, you playing it gives them a much higher chance to find it (because instead of seeing a single new draw – the one at the start of their turn – they will see 5 in total). Sometimes it might seem a good play at first glance, but after thinking about it for a bit it turns out that you don’t even want to do it.
Okay, so there are two options I see here. One is playing it in Aggro as a refill and just not care about the Outcast effect. Sure, it will trigger, sometimes it will be good for your opponent, sometimes bad, but it will always draw you a lot of cards and help you find the stuff you’re looking for (like burn damage for lethal). The other use is to tech it against Control & Combo decks to not only reduce their hand size to 4 (while it could be e.g. 8 cards before), but also disrupt any combos you see they’re preparing.
Sadly, I’m afraid that the card will just be played as an Aggro refill, possibly instead of either Spectral Sight or Skull of Gul'dan. If the meta will be slower (where it will disrupt your opponent quite commonly), that is – in a fast meta it’s probably better to run cards that only draw for you. And if Demon Hunter starts seeing play in other form than Odd in the Wild, I can imagine it being used there as a disruption if the meta demands it.
Card Rating: 8/10
Uhhh… it seems really insane in both Demon Hunter and Warlock. Copying the lowest cost Demon in your hand is an okay effect for 1 mana. Not very strong, but the card might already be useful at times – mostly for the combo stuff or to copy some high value target that you want to have as many copies of. Most of the time it would be mediocre, though.
However, the Outcast is what pushes it really hard into viable territory. You get +2/+2 in total of a handbuff AND get an extra card for 1 mana. That’s really, really strong. Let’s say that you’re playing Demon Hunter, it’s Turn 3 and you have Battlefiend in your hand. You play this and now you have 2x 2/3 Battlefiend you can play right away. Same goes in Zoo Warlock – copying either Flame Imp or Voidwalker is a great mixture of value & tempo.
But now we’re getting to more specific targets. In Warlock, you have Imprisoned Scrap Imp. Getting another copy of it is sick, as it’s one of the best cards in your deck if you build it around it. Also in Warlock, Darkglare is a powerful target. You make it a 4/5, so it’s harder to remove, and get another copy. And it’s a key card if you play “self-damage” Zoo deck. In Demon Hunter, Satyr Overseer is another good target – decks often prepare a 2 mana AoE for it, but after handbuff it will have 3 health, surviving as a 5/1, making it pretty annoying in case your opponent wanted to drop an AoE. And you also have another copy – so he has to deal with even more of them. Demon Hunter can also deal 4 damage to the opponent, discount Frenzied Felwing to 0, play Felosophy, and then drop 2x 4/3 for 1 mana in total (spent on Felosophy itself).
Of course, Outcast means that it’s not always active. But playing around with and against Demon Hunter has taught me that cheap Outcast cards aren’t very hard to activate and you can count their effect as active most of the time.
And that’s just the cards we know – I’m pretty sure that we’ll see some more Demons for Warlock / Demon Hunter this set. I think that the card would be playable already, and if the decks get another good target… Yeah, it can lead to some unfair early/mid game turns.
Card Rating: 8/10