Scholomance Academy Card Review #4 – Archwitch Willow, Doctor Krastinov, Star Student Stelina, Lorekeeper Polkelt, Sphere of Sapience, Vectus and more!

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!

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Good stats for the mana cost (although 3/4 or even 2/5 would be better for a card with constant effect which you want to keep around for as long as possible). The effect is also very strong, but realistically you need to drop both on the same turn, otherwise 3 health minions is too easy to deal with.

At first it would see more like a Tempo/Midrange kind of minion, but I honestly don’t think so. You don’t really want to play it on Turn 3 because it will just die, and vanilla 4/3 for 3 is bad. On the other hand, you don’t want to keep it in your hand for a long time, because then it’s clunky.

So I think that it’s more of a Control card. You keep it until you can play it with a Rush card on the same turn, then you gain an extra copy of it. Now, the most important thing are Rush cards themselves. In the last rotation, they were played in every Warrior build, mostly thanks to Town Crier, one of the best 1-drops in the history of Hearthstone. Right now we’re in a completely opposite situation. Kargath Bladefist has seen some play in Control Warrior, but that’s it. And while it’s a good combo (shuffling 2x Kargath Prime is really juicy), you absolutely DO NOT want to put Playmaker into your deck to combo with just Kargath. It’s way, way too clunky. You need at least 4-5 Rush cards in your deck to consider it, and probably even more for it to be good inclusion.

So besides Kargath, when looking at good Rush cards, we’ve got Restless Mummy – the first body being 3/1 is not a big difference and it has Reborn too. We’ve also got the new Doctor Krastinov and I dig that combo, but specifically in a Bomb Warrior build (giving your Wrenchcalibur +2/+2 is crazy powerful) – and Bomb Warrior build might not want to play enough other Rush minions. Oh, and Bloodboil Brute, but it doesn’t really fit into Control Warrior. From Neutrals, we also have Evasive Wyrm – solid combo, but Wyrm is not great by itself, unless you play a Dragon deck and it doubles up as an activator.

As you can see, the problem is that the card is not great in Tempo/Midrange, not to mention that the 3 mana slot is very contested in those builds. And in Control builds, we don’t have enough viable Rush cards now. This card would be great if we had more strong Rush cards you want to put into your deck. Right now it just doesn’t seem good enough to play with just Kargath & Mummy. So right now it’s on the weaker side, but I guess that it has potential and I can imagine it being played if we get more good Rush cards.

P.S. I’ve heard some people talking about Scion of Ruin, but Playmaker specifically says after you PLAY a Rush minion, not after you SUMMON a Rush minion. You only play the first body, so you would just get an extra 3/1 with Rush. Not a great combo.

Card Rating: 4/10 (more if we get some good Rush cards)

Archwitch Willow

I really dig the artwork, but the card seems… meh? Stay with me, it seems meh RIGHT NOW. Because let’s look at big Demons which are available in Standard… Yep, there’s actually one that you want to put into your deck – Enhanced Dreadlord. And that’s definitely not enough to run this card. You need to have exactly one in your hand and one in your deck for it to work correctly. You obviously can’t play any small Demons, so you would need to fill the missing slots with… I don’t know, Fel Lord Betrug? Doesn’t seem bad, but you really want those Demons to have immediate impact like Rush or Taunt. Siegebreaker? It’s a pretty terrible card, the effect is useless in such a deck, so it’s a 5/8 Taunt for 7 mana. Yeah, I just don’t see it. You want those Demons to be playable individually (and Enhanced Dreadlord kind of is), because otherwise your deck will suck if you don’t draw Willow.

BUT, since we’re getting a card like that, I would imagine that we’ll also see some big Demons. Possibly big Warlock / Demon Hunter Demons, because DH class might also try to build a similar deck (Pit Commander). Now, if we get another big Demon with Taunt / Rush / something like that, the card suddenly becomes more interesting and worth considering. Assuming this pulls two great Demons, then it’s A LOT of stats on the board. And since those Demons would come with some extra keywords, it means that the card is not only playable against Aggro, but it’s often a game over if you survive until Turn 9.

That said, another issue is that if it’s the only way to pull or take advantage of those Demons… yeah, not sure if that’s worth making the deck around. You get one big swing, but then you have to play a lot of big Demons while you might prefer to let’s say run Dragon synergies for Nether Breath etc. Cube Warlock used to have Skull of the Man'ari, two Possessed Lackeys AND Bloodreaver Gul'dan to get them all back. In Wild format you also have Voidcaller for the consistency sake (which is, most of the time, a better Lackey). In Standard you have no such thing. That’s why this card is impossible to rate correctly now. If we don’t get any more support, I really do think that it won’t see any play. But with more support, it can be an important piece in Big Demon Warlock. Even if not now, then maybe in future expansions (both her and Dreadlord won’t rotate out until 2022).

Card Rating: 3/10 now, but might be 9/10 if we get enough Big Demon support

Doctor Krastinov

Huh. It’s like Captain Greenskin on steroids. Weeell, not EXACTLY. The card itself is most likely more powerful than Greenskin. Rush makes a big difference even though it has -1 Attack, and it might buff your weapon twice. On the other hand, if your opponent has no minions on the board, it won’t buff your weapon at all, since it won’t attack. Similarly, if your opponent only has a 5/5, sure, you CAN buff your weapon, but you’re running into a bad trade. And it has no Pirate tag, which is not a HUGE deal, but it’s good given that Ancharrr is currently played in every Warrior deck.

Like I’ve said, the card itself is probably better, so even without Pirate tag it might see play. It has Rush AND is a super high priority target, because your opponent can’t just leave it alone. Just like Greenskin, it curves nicely from a 4 mana weapon like Wrenchcalibur – if Bomb Warrior will be played, I can totally see this being included. It doubles up as a removal AND weapon buff, which makes it really useful in a deck like that. Tempo Warrior might also want to play it.

Now, Rogue. I’m honestly not sure. Deck like Galakrond Rogue wouldn’t really want to play it. Sure, you can upgrade your dagger from 1/2 to 2/3, but that’s not going to make such a massive difference. You want to play some weapon, be it Hooked Scimitar or Waggle Pick – those are worth upgrading. E.g. Waggle Pick going from 4/1 (assuming you attacked once) to 5/2 is 6 extra damage, and that’s a lot in some kind of Aggro Rogue. So right now, I can see it being played in something like Aggro Rogue that runs actual weapons and not just Hero Power.

Overall, it’s a good card, it’s slightly better than Greenskin (only slightly mostly because you can’t realistically count on this attacking multiple times, especially since it will be damaged after your first hit into something), and I think that it will see some play, but it doesn’t look broken or anything. Obviously might get stronger if Warrior or Rogue get some good weapon you want to buff.

Card Rating: 7/10

Pen Flinger

That’s a really interesting effect. Obviously an Elven Archer powercreep, but come on… it’s not like Elven Archer was ever a powerful card (yes, before you say – I know that it has seen some play, but it was in Holy Wrath Paladin and it was for a very specific purpose + even then it wasn’t a very strong card). So having a stronger Elven Archer is not going to hurt anyone. Right?

Well, obviously 1 mana 1/1 that deals 1 damage is not something you’d put into your deck. If it was the case, people would run Archer. So you need to take value from the Spellburst part in order for it to be playable. But how can you actually do it? Honestly, I have no clue. Yes, every deck can randomly bring it back sometimes. Unless it dies, every time you cast a spell it turns into a 1 mana ping… not the worst thing to have in your deck, but not particularly impressive either. And it will die, very easily – it’s just 1 health so it literally dies to anything that deals damage.

One thing that’s worth mentioning is that bringing it back to your hand is not always a good thing. You need to spend 1 mana to replay it – it’s not a lot, but sometimes you’d rather have a 1/1 on the board to deal some extra damage, or maybe trade into one small minion your opponent has WITHOUT using any extra mana. But you can’t control Spellburst, it will just trigger no matter what.

I mean, maybe there are some crazy combos that will run this card (let me know if you find one), but I just don’t see much of the use. There are decks that can bring it back to hand constantly (e.g. Libram Paladin thanks to Libram of Hope – of course you can’t cast it on Pen Flinger, but you constantly cast it on other minions). But do they actually want to do it? 1 mana 1 damage pings every now and then are just painfully slow and not that useful. The game has been about tempo, not about small, but “infinite” value that you have to pay for again and again. I don’t think it’s useless, but I don’t think it will make an impact.

Card Rating: 3/10

Star Student Stelina

Huh, it looks like Demon Hunter becomes the disruption class alongside Warlock? Between Glide and this, you now have two ways to get rid of some cards in your opponent’s hand (not permanently, just shuffle them back). But while Glide can also be used to refill your own hand, Stelina is purely a disruption card, a reverse Madame Lazul of sorts. But there’s one big difference – while Lazul is a Battlecry card, Stelina is an Outcast card. Yes, Outcast isn’t particularly difficult to activate, but it’s not always active on curve.

Between that and the fact that it’s a 4 mana 4/3, I don’t really see this as an Aggro/Tempo Demon Hunter card. VS other Aggro decks, tempo is much more important. You might win the value war, but if you lose tempo, you often lose the game. Against Control you might be able to snatch a removal from their hand, but you might also not get rid of anything useful and they will be happy about you playing a 4/3. It’s not terrible, but I just don’t see it.

It seems a bit more useful in slower decks – since you don’t really care about playing your stuff on curve that much, you can hold onto it for a bit longer until you get the Outcast off. Then you could shuffle your opponent’s best play into their deck and while you still lose tempo, you don’t care that much, because then you just throw some AoE like Chaos Nova and make a comeback. But the question is – will Demon Hunter actually want to play a slower deck?

The biggest thing is probably Combo disruption – being able to shuffle a key piece into your opponent’s deck can easily delay it by a turn or two, and that’s a big deal. However, Combo decks aren’t very popular in Standard. Quest Warlock is the closest to what we have, and shuffling back their Malygos for example might be a big deal. Similarly, you can also shuffle some card they’ve discounted with Hero Power, that’s not bad.

Overall, the card could be worse, could be better, but I think it might be playable in some decks. I feel like it costed 3 mana initially, but they’ve realized that it’s too strong at 3. At 3 it would see play in every deck, because it’s a much better tempo play.

Card Rating: 4/10


I don’t think that this is particularly strong, more like a tech card if the meta will demand it. See, there are two main problems.

First of all – Consume Magic is already a card. 1 mana Silence + card draw if Outcasted. Yes, it won’t hit “Can’t be targeted…” minions, but those are pretty rare cases. Most of the time it will do its job. The cheaper the Silence is, the better, because you still have a lot of mana to do other things, like kill your opponent after you get rid of a Taunt.

The second issue is that the minions you Silence are not always the minions you want to run it into. Let’s say that you want to Silence some mid game Taunt – in order to do it with this card, you need to attack it, so it dies. It becomes 3 mana “Silence a minion, deal 2 damage”. Earth Shock for 2 more mana with 1 more damage. I know, different classes, but it’s just not worth it.

And yes, you can ignore the Silence and use it as a straight up Rush minion sometimes. Without the Silence part, though, it’s a 3 mana 2/3 with Rush, a really weak card. You can kill some stuff, but honestly, DH has access to much better minions, and even a bunch of Neutrals are better than that.

So ultimately, it’s good if you face small (like 1/1 or 2/2) minions with some powerful effects you want to Silence off. For example, it’s great vs Edwin VanCleef. It would be good against cards like Mechanical Whelp (yes, I know it’s no longer in Standard, I’m just giving an example). Or against buff-heavy Paladin deck, because Paladin often buffs 1/1 Recruits. Or, like I’ve mentioned above, against “Can’t be targeted” minions, e.g. Winged Guardian. So I could see it as a tech, but only in a very, very specific meta. Most of the time, Consume Magic is just a better and more flexible Silence option.

Card Rating: 3/10, would be higher if Consume Magic wasn’t a card

Lorekeeper Polkelt

Huh, that’s a really cool design. Ordering your deck is something we’ve seen in Tavern Brawls, but never in actual game. And this time you order it from the highest cost to the lowest cost, meaning that all of your small, usually early game / weak cards land at the bottom, so you can have a powerful turn after powerful turn. The card comes with premium 4/5 stats and costs only 4 mana, so it won’t be difficult to fit into your turns, be it Turn 4 or some later turn with e.g. a removal.

It reminds me a bit of Hemet, Jungle Hunter. And I remember people overvaluing it by A LOT, many people have said that it will be auto include, you will play it in every slower deck to just get rid of your cheap stuff and drop bomb after bomb. As it turned out, Hemet had its place in the meta, but mostly in very specific combo decks. However, I feel like Polkelt is a bit better than Hemet, because it might fit into some Midrange decks too, not only Control/Combo.

The most obvious use is to play it in Holy Wrath Paladin. If Shirvallah, the Tiger is still in your deck, you can just drop this + Holy Wrath for 25 on Turn 9. But it’s Wild, the power level there is much higher, so I don’t think it will be a problem. In Standard, hmm… the best I can think of right now is Quest Warlock. After you finish your Quest, hitting a high mana cost card with Hero Power is amazing. You can play Polkelt + Tap to draw one of your 9 mana Dragons (Malygos, Alexstrasza, Dragonqueen Alexstrasza) – all of them are obviously amazing for 0 mana.

Now, the card can also be useful in slightly faster decks. E.g. let’s look at Tempo Demon Hunter. In the current lists, this means that you’re guaranteed to draw Skull of Gul'dan or Warglaives of Azzinoth. Those are cards you would definitely pick with Sightless Watcher, which notably sees play in some builds. But instead of guaranteeing one good draw, you would get all of them. Skull, Warglaives, Metamorphosis, Glaivebound Adept would be all on top of your deck, and you would have an amazing turn after amazing turn. That doesn’t sound bad – not sure if it’s good enough to play a vanilla 4-drop, but still it’s a nice consideration. And the same thing can be said about other Midrange decks that curve out around 6-8. While you totally want to draw your early game cards in the early game, come Turn 6-7 and you’d rather see the top of your curve instead.

THAT SAID, there are two things that people are missing. First is probably obvious – cheap cards =/= bad cards. For example, many removal cards are cheap and they’re still stuff you want to draw later in the game – like Warrior’s Shield Slam or Priest’s Shadow Word: Death. Then, cheap cards let you fill your curve better, if your hand is full of expensive cards it gets a bit awkward. E.g. if your entire hand costs 6-8 mana, you can’t drop two of them on the same turn.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the effect is not permanent. Every time a card is shuffled into the deck, the deck is also shuffled. For example, if you play Plot Twist as Warlock after Polkelt, you will draw random cards, not the most expensive cards. Similarly, your opponent shuffling something into your deck (e.g. Wrenchcalibur, Bad Luck Albatross) also gets rid of the order and randomizes it.

That’s… a lot. Sorry for the wall of text, but it’s an effect we have never seen before, so it’s really hard to rate it. Between vanilla stats and an effect which can be a major upside in some situations, I’m nearly sure that it will see play. How much? It’s hard to say. Maybe midrange decks will just ignore it, because it will be too clunky. But even then, it has some serious combo potential, and I would be very surprised if players didn’t find a way to abuse it somehow.

Card Rating: 9/10

Sphere of Sapience

Oh my… talking about “effects we have never seen before”. Scholomance Academy is really pushing its limits, and I LOVE IT. Not only we’re getting a Neutral Weapon, the first one in history (we had some ways to generate a Neutral weapon, like Medivh, the Guardian or The Lich King, but never could actually put one into our decks), but it has a brand new mechanic. Wellll… brand new for Hearthstone, at least. Because in reality it works like Magic’s “Scry”. The effect lets you look at top X cards of your deck and either leave them at the top (in any order) or put at the bottom. In MTG, the card would just read “At the beginning of your upkeep, Scry 1” or something like that.

While the idea is simple and, like you already see, has been used previously in another card game, I love it in Hearthstone. Draw consistency is one of the worst RNG problems the slower decks face – if you draw all of your big drops early in the game, you lose. If you draw your small cards constantly in the late game and you don’t get your threats, you also lose. With this card, you can say “nope” to up to 4 draws and get another card instead. You play a Control deck, you’re fishing for your AoE and you find a 9 mana minion on Turn 5? Just put it on the bottom. You play a slow Midrange deck and you top deck your 1-drop? Get rid of it, hopefully you draw something better.

However, while the effect is great, there are still some downsides. The biggest one is – obviously – that you need to spend a card to do it, while it does nothing by itself, no body on the board, no tempo. Decks that draw a lot might like it, some faster deck won’t want to sacrifice one of their few early game cards to have it. Another issue is that it’s a weapon. Not only it might get destroyed without doing anything (although since it’s only a 1 mana investment, it won’t be THAT big of a loss), but if you play a deck that runs other weapons, it’s not a good thing to have. I mean, it might take a long time to use the entire card. At the very least it’s 4 turns, but if you like your draws, you just keep them. You might be holding it equipped until Turn 7-8 even if you equipped it on Turn 1. Which means that using it in a weapons deck is awkward.  For example, Control Warrior might want it, but at the same time, if it will run any weapons it will ruin everything. Rogue is the best example – no Rogue deck will play it, because it means that you can’t use your Hero Power at all.

So… fast decks that can’t afford to start with one card less (even with a bonus of draw filtering) and weapon decks won’t likely want it. Right now the best decks I can see for it are Combo decks. Against faster decks, it will help you find the necessary removal, while against slower decks it will dig for the combo pieces. Like I’ve said at the beginning, I love the fact that they’re experimenting, and this mechanic is awesome. But I think that people are overvaluing it. In reality, it seems like a solid card in a few specific builds, but not an auto-include across the board like some are suggesting.

Card Rating: 10/10 mechanic, but 6/10 power level


Really good card, but you will need to find some very specific decks to run it. At the base level, it’s a 5 mana 6/6 in total stats, spread between 3 bodies. The 4/4 doesn’t trade that well and 1/1’s die easily, but the total amount of stats is actually solid for the cost. It’s not great (e.g. Silver Hand Knight doesn’t see any play, obviously), but it could have been worse.

Now the effect… I honestly think that it’s quite simple. If you run some powerful Deathrattle cards – you run Vectus. That’s right. I just don’t see any reason why wouldn’t you. While the base stats are mediocre at best, slap two solid Deathrattles onto the 1/1’s and it becomes a whole different story. The prime candidates are, well, decks running Prime minions… For example, in Hunter, if you run Zixor, Apex Predator, then shuffling an extra Zixor Prime into your deck is sick (although you PROBABLY would prefer to do it in Beast Hunter and not Highlander, since shuffling 2nd in Highlander deactivates your Zephrys etc.). Same goes for other Primes like Kargath Bladefist, Astromancer Solarian or Kanrethad Ebonlocke.

However, there’s one big “but”. Right now, decks don’t really run a lot of Deathrattles. Because you don’t want to play it with just one or two – you need the Deathrattle minions to die BEFORE playing this card. If you play two Deathrattles in your deck, it will often be useless until the very late game. Realistically, you need to run at least 4-5 Deathrattles, some of which are preferably smaller minions, in order to make it work. This way you could still drop it on curve and e.g. get some minion summons (e.g. Eggs) or card draw (e.g. Loot Hoarder). If you have some later game Deathrattles, then it’s even better, because then if you drop it later in the game, you have a chance for an even bigger effect.

I feel like in vacuum, the card is incredibly strong. But in reality, it will be hard to find it the right deck. Neither small, early game Deathrattles, nor impactful late game Deathrattles are particularly popular right now. Even if some decks play them, they don’t play enough to make this card work consistently, because you need two of them to die before you get a full effect of this card. That said, we still might see some better Deathrattles by the end of this reveal season + there’s still a bunch of expansions ahead of us before it rotates out. So I’m sure that it will see play at one point.

Card Rating: 9/10 in the right deck… but right now seems closer to 6/10, because it’s hard to fit.


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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Leave a Reply


  1. Avengedfish
    August 7, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    your reviews are on point man, much moreso than a lot of streamers. Good call on the sphere of sapience imo it only fits in niche combo decks. Keep it up!

  2. Nihaoma
    July 25, 2020 at 8:38 am

    My take:
    1, Paladins might actually use the pen guy for somewhat Anduin effects, and it’s gonna be super annoying to face even though might not be game-breaking.
    2, Vectus is one of the strongest cards in the set because it is super consistent in decks like cubelock or any deck that runs a prime, like the author already said. A lot of decks will try to fit him in. Very excited for this one.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      July 25, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Pen Flicker will definitely be annoying to face, that’s true. But annoying doesn’t necessarily mean strong.

      And yeah, Vectus has a world of possibilities in Wild. In Standard I feel like we need a few strong Deathrattles on top of Primes to really make it stand out.

  3. A person who reacts to this
    July 25, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Oooh so it shuffles the entire deck every time something enters the deck. So all types of sorting in decks are useless in classes like rouge who almost always adds something to it’s deck. And that also means that Lorekeeper Polkelt is not a counter for bomb warrior :O
    Good info.

    And also good reviews as always.

    • A person who reacts to this
      July 25, 2020 at 8:33 am

      Or well maybe Lorekeeper Polkelt is good for rouge, it can draw out it’s biggest card and then shuffle it’s deck easily again.

      • Nihaoma
        July 25, 2020 at 8:39 am

        I’m thinking any deck that wishes to draw Malygos consistently an ASAP would want to run this card, 100%.

  4. Goldenpantss
    July 25, 2020 at 8:17 am

    So….. if you re order the deck, and shuffle 1 card back in like Solairian Prime the whole deck reshuffles?
    Has this been confirmed because we’ve not had a reorder effect before have we?

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      July 25, 2020 at 9:56 am

      Yes, it was confirmed back in the day by devs that every time something is shuffled into the deck, the whole deck is shuffled. Then it didn’t make a big difference, but right now it does.

      And we kind of have a similar effect in the game right now – Sightless Watcher in Demon Hunter. If you put a card at the top, then you shuffle something into your deck, the card you picked will no longer be at the top (I mean, it CAN still be, but only if you randomly roll it right there). You can test it yourself 🙂