If you’re anything like me, then reveal season is your favorite time of the year (alongside the first days of a new expansion). With nothing figured out, new cards coming every day, wild theories and early deck builds (which most likely won’t work) popping up everywhere, and that surprise when you look at some card and think to yourself – “what were they thinking when they’ve designed it?”
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at some of the recently revealed cards, reviewing them and rating from 1 to 10. The scale itself should be quite obvious, but just to quickly explain my point of view: A card rated 5 is average – it might be playable in some decks, but it’s nothing special (think something like Plated Beetle from Kobolds & Catacombs). Cards below 5 might see some play in off-meta decks, or as obscure techs, but the closer we get to 1, the lower chance it is that they will see play. When I rate card 1 or 2, I don’t believe that it will see any Constructed, non-meme play at all. On the other hand, going above 5 means that I see this card as something with a lot of potential. While I can’t guarantee that it will work out in the end, I believe that the cards with 6-8 are likely to see at least some Constructed play, while cards rated 9 or 10 are, in my mind, nearly sure hits. 1 and 10 are reserved to the worst or best cards I can imagine, meaning that they won’t be used often.
Previous Card Reviews
- Part 1 – Initial Reveal: Phantom Militia, Pumpkin Peasant, Militia Commander, Genn Greymane, Azalina Soulthief, & Baku the Mooneater
- Part 2 – Black Cat, Gloom Stag, Murkspark Eel, & Glitter Moth
- Part 3 – Warpath, Face Collector
- Part 4 – Houndmaster Shaw, Glinda Crowskin, Hagatha the Witch, Lord Godfrey and More!
- Part 5 – Scaleworm, Vex Crow, Coffin Crasher, Darius Crowley, Emeriss, and More!
- Part 6 – Blackhowl Gunspire, Lady in White, Cursed Castaway, and More!
- Part 7 – Chameleos, Witching Hour, Deadly Arsenal, Duskfallen Aviana, Wing Blast and More!
- Part 8 – Rat Trap, Dire Frenzy, Dollmaster Dorian, Voodoo Doll, Splintergraft and More!
- Part 9 – Mistwraith, Pick Pocket, Silver Sword, Bellringer Sentry and The Glass Knight!
- Part 10 – Worgen Abomination, Town Crier, Totem Cruncher, Countess Ashmore, Book of Specters, and More!
Remember that without a whole expansion revealed, it’s incredibly hard to review cards accurately, since we have no clue what else will be released and what synergies will be pushed. Not only that, but predicting an upcoming meta accurately is almost impossible, which means that some seemingly “bad” cards might see much more play, because they fit right into a new meta, and the “good” cards won’t be used, because the meta counters them. 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 with 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!
Now that is a Legendary Rogue deserves. While I understand the general hype, I’d not be SO sure about it yet – you need to remember that lots of cards like Swashburglar or Ethereal Peddler are rotating out, meaning that while the archetype gains lots of potential, it also loses some vital cards. With all of those cards present, I think that it could be seriously possible. Right now? I’m not sure.
What works really, and I mean really well for Tess is that she plays any CARD from the other class, not SPELL. Because given her random nature, playing only Spells would mean that she’s a much weaker pre-nerf Yogg-Saron, Hope's End, since Yogg activated once for every spell you’ve played, not only for the spells from other classes. However, since she plays minions too, she might be a great way to refill the board. You will just need to keep the spells that can have potentially devastating effects for after you’ve already played her, though. For example, playing that random Twisting Nether you got might not be the best idea if you plan to play Tess soon, as you might drop a bunch of minions and then Twisting Nether everything.
Since the replayed cards are cast in a random order, there is only so much control you can have over it. Between the RNG of the cards you get, and the RNG of the order and RNG of the targets, this won’t really be consistent. Yes, you might just not play AoE spells or removals you get from the random cards so you won’t have a chance to hit it… but what if you need to play that removal? Or what if you get only “bad” cards to replay with Tess? You just don’t play anything and let your opponent kill you? There is just too much that can go wrong. You could play Lilian Voss to re-roll your bad spells, but that’s a one-time thing assuming you draw her.
So, even though I think that this card has potential and it might eventually see play (or see play in Wild), I don’t think that her time is now. The archetype still basically relies on playing weak cards from the opponent’s class that might have no synergy with your deck whatsoever. Yes, this card is a nice pay-off, but that’s the only one. The rest of your deck is still quite underwhelming.
I think that this card has potential, but I don’t think that a Burgle Rogue will be a thing YET (in Standard, at least). You might still want to run her with just a few cards like Hallucination or Blink Fox instead of building a whole deck around the Burgle synergies. For example, I still wouldn’t want to play Spectral Cutlass – it looks bad even if you build a Burgle deck.
I would see something like a mix between Burgle and Miracle Rogue, something like that. But this card is definitely not enough pay-off to go all-in on the Burgle cards. We’ll need not more Burgle cards, but more Burgle SYNERGIES for this kind of thing to work. Like, you wouldn’t play a full Dragon deck and run a bunch of suboptimal and non-synergistic cards if you had only one Legendary that synergizes with the Dragons.
Card rating: 7/10
I actually think that this card is stronger than Tess herself. While Tess only goes into a narrow type of decks and can fail, and you never play her for the stats, this is just… solid. Rogue doesn’t have lots of great 3-drops, especially now that Shaku, the Collector is rotating out. This can fill the 3-drop slot, because it’s like a 3 mana version of Swashburglar. They are similar in terms of power level – Swashburglar had an advantage of having the same effect on a 1 mana body, so it had more combo potential and was easier to squeeze in into your turn. On the other hand, 3/3 stats for 3 are generally better than 1/1 for 1.
When it comes to this card, first comparison is Curious Glimmerroot, which has seen LOTS of play in Year of the Mammoth. 3/3 for 3 with extra value gained is just a solid card. This one is slightly worse, because getting a card from your opponent’s deck is better than getting a random card from their class. People usually don’t put bad cards into their decks. On the other hand, this gets extra synergies if you play it in the right deck (like with the Tess). To be completely fair, Curious Glimmerroot also scaled with the player’s skill level, or meta knowledge to be precise. I’ve been spectating some low ranked players, who were whiffing on it quite often. With this, you will always get a card – sometimes it will be bad or unplayable, but you will get something. So all in all, I think that this might be better than Glimmerroot at low ranks and worse at high ranks. Still, given that it’s comparable to a really good 3-drop, I think it’s enough for it to see play.
This will probably be played in all kinds of Rogue – Tempo, Miracle, and obviously Burgle. Because why not? You don’t mind a 3-drop on curve, either to contest the board or to put pressure on your opponent, and later in the game it won’t be useless, as it will at least cycle itself.
So, even if Burgle Rogue won’t work in Standard (and I honestly think that it will be the case, unless the last Rogue common that’s still not revealed will push the archetype even further), this card should see play in some other decks anyway.
Card rating: 8/10
Well, now the Book of Specters makes a lot more sense… If you play this + Book of Specters, which isn’t a difficult combo to pull off, as it only costs four mana, you get a 2/2 and SIX cards in your hand if you hit three minions. That’s a massive, and I mean massive refill.
Elemental Mage based around minions can really be a thing right now. You can easily build that deck without lots of spells, and it’s heavily synergistic. You could make it a sort of Midrange deck that wants to play on the curve.
Obviously, Argual also gets insane value if he sticks to the board, and while a 2/2 won’t stick that often, it is possible. Like, you often can’t kill that Knife Juggler your opponent has dropped and you have to leave it.
Overall, this card has lots of potential. It’s not broken BY ITSELF, but the Book of Specters kind of activates it.
Now the question is – is it worth to sacrifice all of that burn etc. and run a nearly full minion Mage deck? It’s a very hard question. Right now, my answer would probably be no. Elementals aren’t really bad, but the tribe doesn’t have broken early game cards like e.g. Mechs used to have with Mechwarper. It’s hard to snowball the game with them, and their synergy tends to be pretty… slow.
It will require lots and I mean lots of clever deck building, but it might be possible to get the right balance between minions and spells for this card (and Book of Specters) to still be worth it in a deck running spells. It’s really hard to say. It has lots of potential, but if the minion-heavy archetype fails, it probably won’t work.
P.S. I’ve heard some voices that it has insane synergy with Aluneth… Yeah, if you want to burn 5 cards every turn. Aluneth doesn’t fit into a minion heavy deck like that, unless all of the minions you play cost 1-3 mana. Drawing 4 cards per turn is A LOT and minions tend to be very clunky. Remember that even in Secret Mage it’s often hard to not burn cards after Aluneth, and you have ways to put Secrets into play for 0 mana, 0 mana Kabal Crystal Runners and Sorcerer's Apprentice to discount your spells. Even then you often just burn a card or two even if you try as hard as possible to not do that. 4+ mana minions are so clunky that you rarely can play them after Aluneth. And I can’t see building a 1-3 mana Aggro Mage deck right now, because Mage has no Aggro shell to play.
Card rating: 9/10 in a minion Mage deck, but it also has some potential (like 5/10) in other Mage decks as a value generator.
They are indeed pushing Elemental Mage deck, most likely a minion-based one with the new Archmage Arugal and Book of Specters. And yeah, 5 mana 5/5 that draws a card is good. But didn’t we have something similar before?
I’m obviously talking about the Servant of Kalimos. Both are 5-drops, both have the same requirement, both are Elementals and both give you one card. The stats are obviously in favor of Bonfire Elemental – 5/5 doesn’t seem much stronger than 4/5, but believe me that it is. You’re facing 5 health minions quite often in the mid/late game, and having the ability to just cleanly kill them off without having to use your Hero Power is a big deal.
Then, about the discovering vs drawing a card. Which one is stronger heavily depends on the pool of cards you discover from. In case of Servant of Kalimos, those are Elementals. Which is good since you’re playing an Elemental deck. However, Mage doesn’t have lots of class-only Elementals you’d really like to Discover (nothing like Kalimos, Primal Lord in Shaman). Discovering Bonfire Elemental or Pyros is really slow, while Steam Surger is an okay card, but nothing impressive.
The advantages of Servant of Kalimos are the fact that you can pick the card that fits the current situation, that you don’t get further into fatigue in case of a long game (unlikely, but still), that you can potentially chain them for great value (very slow, but might work in some matchups) and that the Discovered Elementals can be discounted with Leyline Manipulator.
Bonfire Elemental’s advantage is that it has more attack (a really big advantage in this context) and that drawing from your deck lets you dig through it faster to find your win condition (which would most likely be Frost Lich Jaina), drawing card also combos with Arugal (if you draw a minion, you get a duplicate).
And while you can put both into your deck (but do you really want to?), Servant of Kalimos isn’t really seen as a very powerful card, even in the few Elemental decks we had. It was okay, but nothing impressive. And this card is comparable. It might be slightly better, but only slightly, so I can’t really see it being a reason to play an Elemental Mage. If anything, the deck’s power will come from the Book of Specters (or even the combo with Arugal), and not necessarily from this.
Card rating: 6/10
Looks like a powerful card on the first glance, but let’s analyze it a bit further. It’s a bit like playing Arcanologist + the Secret you drew right away. But even better, because it costs 1 less mana.
The chances to discover a specific Secret don’t look amazing – it’s only about 37.5% after Ice Block and Potion of Polymorph leave Standard (assuming no new Mage Secret – if something new gets printed the chance goes down by a few percent). On the other hand, you don’t have to put Secrets into your deck and you can still play them, which means that you can play it in a minion-based deck. Generally, Mage Secrets are pretty good. They aren’t all super powerful, but the chances are that you will see at least a single good option depending on the deck you’re running it in.
The problem is that Mage Secrets were rarely played by themselves, without other synergies. Tempo Secret Mage was a thing thanks to the cards like Medivh's Valet or Kabal Crystal Runner. Most of the Secret synergies are rotating out. Ice Block is probably the only one that was good enough to put into your deck (slower build) even if you had no synergy whatsoever, and it’s rotating out.
There’s also a fact that a 2/2 body on Turn 4 is very lackluster. If you don’t get a powerful Secret, or your opponent plays around the one you get well, you can actually lose the tempo. Not to mention that one of the advantages of putting Secrets into your deck with Arcanologist was that you cycled through your deck faster + could put only one or two specific Secrets into you deck and always get one of them.
So, as you can see, the card has its obvious upsides and downsides. I don’t think it’s as powerful as some people are saying, especially since Ice Block is rotating out, but it’s good. It should fit well into a minion-based Mage build, maybe even Big Spell Mage, since the deck doesn’t have lots of good options in the 1-4 mana slots. Or Spiteful Summoner Mage if that will be a thing, since you could technically run Secrets without flooding your deck with low cost spells.
Card rating: 7/10
3/3 for 4 that draws a card is average. However, that card being a specific kind of card (so-called “tutor” effect) makes it significantly stronger. For example, if some cheap minions (1-2 mana cost depending on the deck) is a part of your combo, you can reliably draw it. For example, in Exodia Mage you could draw either Arcane Artificer or Sorcerer's Apprentice. If you play a combo Priest, you could draw either Northshire Cleric (which is pretty good card even in the mid/late game) or let’s say Radiant Elemental.
You COULD potentially run a Prince Keleseth deck and tutor it if you don’t draw it earlier, but running a Keleseth deck without 1-drops doesn’t make much sense.
The main advantage of this card is that, depending on how you build your deck, you always know what you will draw. Regular draws are random, so you can’t really plan around them. With this, if the lowest cost minion in your deck is 2, it’s Turn 4 and you have a 3 mana card in your hand, you might plan your next turn already – I draw that 2-drop and then play the 3 mana card alongside. With a regular draw, you might not get a luxury of planning ahead like that.
However, this is also a disadvantage at the same time. If you don’t need that specific 1 or 2 mana card, you might prefer a regular draw instead – e.g. if you play vs Aggro you might want to draw an AoE board clear instead of your low cost minion, even if it’s a part of some combo.
In an average deck, this card is comparable to Gnomish Inventor, which obviously doesn’t see lots of play. However, it might be much better in decks that specifically want to draw low cost minions, because they either synergize very well with the rest of their deck, or are a part of some kind of combo. This will probably be a niche card, but it will be good in the decks that can take advantage of this kind of effect.
Card rating: 6/10
Druid of the Scythe
Neither 2/4 Taunt for 3, nor a 4/2 Rush for 3 would be good enough to put into your deck. Of course, the main advantage of those “Druid of the X” cards are the flexibility. The fact that you can pack two completely different cards into one and play the form that fits the current situation is good. But in order for that to work, both forms need to be at least above average, a card that COULD be playable by themselves.
Let’s start with the Taunt form. 2/4 Taunt for 3 is obviously just bad. We had a card like that and it has seen exactly zero play, simply because 2/4 are weak stats and Taunt doesn’t do much to improve them. You might want to play this only if you’re desperate. The fact that lots of early game minions have 3 health right now doesn’t help – with mostly 2/2’s and 3/2’s dominating the early game, it would be better. But as it is right now, it would often get cleared without your opponent having to sacrifice any minion, and you’d need to clean-up after.
Then, the 4/2 Rush form. This one is better, but it’s still a bit underwhelming. It’s like a Huffer (from Animal Companion) on demand, but Huffer is so strong, because it can go face. Remember how bad is it to get Huffer on 3 when you play against an Aggro deck with some small minions on the board already. With just 2 health, you can rarely trade it into something and make it survive. Even if you clear a 1-drop, your opponent can just ping it or trade some 1/1 into it. A card like Righteous Protector just blocks it completely – you end up trading 1 for 1 with a 1-drop, a terrible scenario.
4 damage to a minion is a bit like Shadow Bolt. It’s better, because it can still survive after trading into a 1 Attack minion, but it’s worse, because it can’t bypass Taunts. Shadow Bolt is not an amazing card, just like this one. For one more mana, you get Swipe, which not only can go face, but also deals 1 AoE damage to anything other than your main target.
Yes, the flexibility adds a few points, but I still think that overall it’s below average. I don’t think it will see play. Maybe in a Spiteful Druid, which obviously can’t run cheap spells to not ruin his synergies.
Card rating: 3/10
This is basically a Twilight Drake for 1 more mana, which immediately gains Taunt. To be completely fair, I think that Twilight Drake is still better. Druid has enough Taunts anyway, it’s not like it absolutely needs one like that to survive. Since Aggro decks are running Silence in pretty much every build, this is also a very juicy Silence targets, more so than most of the other Taunts. Since this gains Health as the Battlecry, it will end up being a vanilla 4/1 after getting Silenced, unlike e.g. a Druid of the Claw, which would be a 4/6. That’s a huge difference – your opponent can just trade a 1-drop into it and you have no body at all to trade with.
That said, there are some advantages over the Twilight Drake. Most importantly, Oaken Summons synergy. Or rather, the anti-synergy with Drake – it would pull the 4/1 version, and this one dodges it, because it costs one more. And in case it can’t be Silenced, putting a big Taunt in the mid game against Aggro could work out quite nicely.
Plus, you could obviously run both if you don’t play Oaken Summons. If Hand Druid actually works, this would often be e.g. a 4/7 or 4/8 Taunt for 5, which isn’t that bad at all. However, I actually don’t see Hand Druid working at all. The concept might make some sense, but there are just not enough synergies or incentives to run it.
Card rating: Would be a 7/10 in a Hand Druid deck, but since that build looks weak, I’ll give it 2/10 in general.
This is basically a Druid’s version of Shield Block, but instead of always gaining 5 Armor, it gains anywhere from 1 to 10 Armor. Which is actually pretty solid.
This looks like a solid fit into a slower Druid deck. This is actually a bit like Branching Paths where you choose the Armor + Draw option, so you lose the flexibility, but it costs 1 mana less instead.
On Turn 3, depending on your Start and whether you open with a Coin or not, it should probably get you 4-6 Armor, which is good (more if you go all-in on the Hand Druid synergies and run Witchwood Apple). But the card shines mostly in the late game, after you’ve played Ultimate Infestation. After UI, your hand is often filled to its limits, meaning that you will usually be able to get 8-10 Armor from it. On the other hand, after UI, the cycling part is less important, because your hand is nearly full anyway and you don’t need more draw.
Probably depends on a meta, but if more Aggro and especially Combo decks (other than Exodia stuff that you can’t out-Armor) see play, this should be teched in into slower Druid decks as a counter. A solid card, nothing crazy good, but could see play even if Hand Druid doesn’t take off.
Card rating: 6/10
Paragon of Light
Seems like a card with high potential, but it might be a bit hard to activate it.
Let’s start with the stats. 2/5 for 3 is a good stat-line. While it’s low on the Attack side, the high health makes it difficult to remove. At the same time, let’s remember that it starts off as a vanilla minion, with no extra effects, which means that you want to drop it by itself only if you’re pretty sure that it will survive or you need to contest the board right away.
Now let’s talk about the upside. Lifesteal by itself is not that great. To be honest, no Lifesteal minions has seen play ONLY because it has Lifesteal. However, Lifesteal + Taunt is probably the best combination, as your opponent will often be forced to bump a few minions to take it down, healing you for lots of health.
But how easy it is to activate the effect? Since it starts at 2 Attack, all you need to do is give it +1 Attack. You can either do it permanently through a buff, or temporarily through e.g. a minion like Dire Wolf Alpha, but the buff option is more probable. Even a simple Divine Strength is enough to make it a 3/7 Taunt with Lifesteal. It also curves nicely into Blessing of Kings, which would make it a massive 6/9 Taunt with Lifesteal on Turn 4.
Biggest issue I have with this card is that such stat-line and effect seems to fit into a Control deck. But Control decks don’t really play buffs other than Spikeridged Steed, which already gives minion Taunt, so it’s a bit counter-productive. On the other hand, faster decks, those that play cheaper buffs or buffs that don’t give Taunt (e.g. BoK), those decks don’t really take advantage of this kind of effect.
In Wild, I could totally see this in a handbuff Paladin deck. Just after +1/+1, it becomes a 3/6 Taunt with Lifesteal for 3 mana – pretty insane in faster matchups where the healing can be good.
In Standard? Really hard to say. If Buff Paladin will become a thing, like the Quest version, it might make sense. Or maybe if some kind of Midrange Paladin running other buffs than Steed pops out.
In the end, the card might be really strong in the right deck, but I feel like there might be no deck it will fit into (in Standard, at least).
Card rating: 6/10