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?”
To our surprise, instead of having to wait until 26th, we’ve got a few more cards revealed before that date.
I’ll take a closer look at them in this article, 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 – 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.
Remember that with only 10 cards seen, it’s incredibly hard to review them accurately, since we have no clue what other cards will be released, or how rotation will shape the meta. 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!
First things first – I wrote my first part of reviews just a few days ago and I was already wrong! For some reason, I assumed that the Odd/Even effects will be present only on those two Legendaries, but it seems like we’ll be getting some support cards. However, to quote the game designer Mike Donais, not every class will get those and mostly the “less obvious” combinations are going to get more synergies. For example – this one! For Mage, going for the Odd cards only and Baku the Mooneater seems weird. But let’s first take look at the card itself.
3/3 for 3 with card draw and Spell Damage… well… It’s a miniature Azure Drake. However, given that it costs 2 mana less, effect is scaled 1:1 and the only difference is -1/-1 in stats (well, and a Beast tag instead of Dragon, but it’s mostly irrelevant in Mage) – the card turns out to be way more powerful than Azure Drake, which was already a great pick in Mage. Especially the Spell Damage part, which was only a nice addition on the Azure Drake, seems to be one of the main selling points of this card. It’s much easier to combo 3 mana spell damage minion than a 5 mana spell damage minion. For example, you CAN play this on Turn 10 with Flamestrike to deal 5 damage. It’s a great card throughout the entire game – good thing to drop on the curve and scales very well into the late game.
I believe that it’s the most powerful of all the odd/even synergy cards revealed, and yet I also think that it won’t see any play. With out current knowledge, I don’t believe that Odd Mage will be a thing, unless the class gets a few powerful Odd-cost spells right away.
Because, you see, what’s the point of having Spell Damage minion when you pretty much can’t play any good spells? Or well, you can’t play other strong cards too? Here is just a quick list of things you’d need to drop from your deck: Frostbolt, Doomsayer, Arcanologist, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Primordial Glyph, Fireball, Polymorph, Blizzard, Meteor. At the same time, some of the odd-cost spells like Volcanic Potion or Firelands Portal, that you might use to fill the curve, are rotating out. Secrets can also be played, but without Arcanologist, their value gets down significantly.
I don’t believe a Control Mage would be able to sacrifice so many cards just to get this mini-Azure Drake and upgraded Hero Power. At the same time, I don’t believe that a messed mana curve and lack of Frostbolt, Fireball etc. is worth the sacrifice for a faster, more Tempo-oriented Mage deck. Not to mention Aluneth, which is MVP in all of the fast Mage lists.
So my only guess is that, in case they print some more big, odd-cost spells, a Big Spell Mage might actually want to play it. Dragon's Fury is odd, Arcane Tyrant, Dragoncaller Alanna and Frost Lich Jaina are odd, but the only big odd spell left is Flamestrike. Literally. Firelands Portal and Greater Arcane Missiles are rotating out, and all other spells are even. Baku actually makes sense in Big Spell Mage. The biggest challenge is getting through the early game, and a 2 damage Hero Power that can hit anything as well as this Black Cat might actually help. Even though the card won’t affect the Hero Power from Frost Lich Jaina, that’s not a big deal – by the time you play her, it should have already done its job.
To sum things up, I believe that the card is amazing, even broken, but it’s still not worth the sacrifice in Mage unless the upcoming Mage spells will be strong AND odd-costed. Even then I’m not sure if it won’t be better to just play it with Blizzard, Meteor etc.
Card rating: 4/10, unless they print some really powerful odd-cost spells
On the other hand, I think that Gloom Stag is worse than the other revealed cards. If you play a full Odd-cost deck, it’s a 4/8 Taunt for 5. Which is obviously good – but not “amazing”. Such a card would normally be priced at 6 mana. Druid already has a 4/6 Taunt in the 5 mana slot (Druid of the Claw), which has some extra flexibility, as it can Charge too. At 6 mana, Druid has Dark Arakkoa, which is a 5/7 (comparable stats to 4/8), but with an extra effect of buffing C’Thun. I wouldn’t be surprised if Druid got a 4/7 vanilla Taunt for 5 mana some day.
So in case of this card, the upside isn’t really great. 4/8 Taunt for 5 seems bad compared to other odd/even synergies revealed so far. Of course, if Odd Druid will be played, this card WILL see play – there is simply no reason to not put it into such a deck. But it simply doesn’t add a lot of incentive to run such a list. Why?
Because there is no way, and I mean NO WAY that a slower Druid deck (even Midrange) would want to drop all of the even cost cards. Just look at them and think for a bit. Wild Growth, Wrath, Swipe, Oaken Summons + Ironwood Golem, Branching Paths, Spreading Plague, Ultimate Infestation. Those are all cards you would want, or at least consider running in such a deck, and they’re all gone. Half of your deck. It’s really not worth it. I mean, Oaken Summons into Ironwood Golem is a 4 mana 3/6 Taunt which gives you 6 extra Armor. I’d say that it’s already comparable with a 5 mana 4/8 Taunt. And you don’t have to throw away all your other even cost cards to play it.
So right now, the only way I can imagine Odd Druid seeing play is through some kind of Aggro build. However, Aggro builds will have their own problems – Enchanted Raven, Mark of the Lotus and Mark of Y'Shaarj rotate out. Odd cost cards would also mean that you can’t possibly play Power of the Wild, which means that you would be left with no AoE buffs – not to mention that you’d need to drop any 2-drops like Dire Wolf Alpha or Druid of the Swarm. Is it worth it? I really doubt it.
Card rating: 2/10
Out of the cards revealed today, I feel like this one has a highest chance of seeing play. Not because it’s the best one (but honestly, I think it’s the second best one after Black Cat), but because it might be easiest to make Even Shaman out of the bunch.
Let’s start with the card itself. 2 mana 2/3 are solid stats. 2 damage on Battlecry, however, is AMAZING. Of course, 3 damage would be better – we all know how powerful Medivh's Valet is when Mage has a Secret up. But unlike Medivh’s Valet, this could also be played on the curve with the extra effect. 2 damage is often enough to clear a 1-drop or even some 2-drops, later in the game it could help with the board control too or provide some small burn damage. Great card.
Okay, but here’s the thing. Even though I think that Shaman’s Hero Power is one of the best ones to have for 1 mana (you can play it on Turn 1, it’s synergistic), I don’t think the deck would work in Standard right now. The problem is the lack of synergies. For example, Hero Power had great synergy with Thing from Below. You could bring it down to 0 mana very quickly. But it’s rotating out. We had another card that would fit really well into such a deck – Thunder Bluff Valiant. But not only it’s odd-cost, but it’s also Wild only.
So in the end, I feel like in order to make this deck work, we’d need more Totem synergies. Not necessarily direct synergies – for example, Flametongue Totem, even though it doesn’t directly synergize with the Totems, would be amazing in such a deck. Since you would put a totem up almost every turn, it would be much easier to get Flametongue value.
But, it obviously wouldn’t be without sacrifices. Lightning Storm and Volcano would be gone, it means that you would be left with no AoE at all, unless they print some even-cost one. Mana Tide Totem, Hot Spring Guardian and Healing Rain would also be gone, and Jinyu Waterspeaker, which would be the best healing replacement, is gone from Standard.
However, as you can see, the amount of high quality cards you need to sacrifice is not as high as in the previous two builds (Odd Mage and Odd Druid). Depending on the cards that we will see in this expansion, or upcoming expansions, it might actually work. But with the current knowledge, I can’t rate it higher than average.
But as a general point, Shaman REALLY needs some powerful cards to not be completely irrelevant. The two last expansions were nearly non-existent for Shaman and in the current meta it’s still getting carried by its 2016 and Un’Goro cards. However, with all the 2016 cards rotating out (including the whole Jade mechanic), things don’t look too well for the class. If the class base doesn’t look good, the Odd/Even synergies look even worse. The thing is, if the class hasn’t got enough good cards to fill the normal deck, it will surely not have enough good cards to fill even/odd-cost deck.
Card rating: 5/10, higher if they print some strong even mana cost cards – especially board clears and totem synergies.
This card is pretty weak. I think it’s around the level of Stagg – it has a higher potential, but a WAY worse “worst case scenario”.
So, the thing is, doubling health of all of your minions is great effect. But, since the minion costs 5 mana, it’s not exactly very flexible. You will rarely be able to play a big minion and buff it on the same turn.
It seems like it would fit into some sort of Combo Priest with Divine Spirit + Inner Fire, but no, it really wouldn’t. Not only can you not run Divine Spirit (even cost), but also cards like Radiant Elemental or Shadow Visions.
If the Dragon package will still be a thing after Drakonid Operative is gone, it definitely won’t be a thing with this card. Twilight Drake, Duskbreaker and Primordial Drake are all even cost, so Dragon package is out of question.
Other even cost cards that you will need to sacrifice are Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing (with Shadow Word: Horror gone, we might be back to the Auchenai combo for the clears), Shadow Word: Pain, Eternal Servitude (it’s not like you’d want to play it in Big Priest anyway, but hey), Silence, Free From Amber, Mind Control.
So here’s the thing – in what kind of deck would this see play? My only guess would be some board-based, Tempo Priest? Something similar to the current Spiteful Dragon Priest? But Odd deck means that you can’t play either Dragon package or Spiteful Summoner (not to mention Grand Archivist or Big Spells). Cards that would fit a deck like that, e.g. Drakonid Operative or Kabal Talonpriest are also rotating out.
As much as the upgraded Hero Power might come handy sometimes, I just can’t find any good use for this card. Really. I’ve read somewhere that it combos nicely with Void Ripper. You stick a high health board and then drop both on Turn 8 for a massive damage swing. But how good would it actually be? Most of the high health minions that you could stick are either Even cost or are rotating out.
If you want to play Midrange/Tempo deck and just use it to buff your minions, to make your board stronger, then you’d most likely have to sacrifice too much, not to mention that with the current cards, it’s just impossible to build such a deck on the odd-cost shell. At the same time, if you play a Combo deck, you’d be better off just playing Divine Spirit – it’s more flexible, easier to combo and easier to draw (Shadow Visions). This is one of those cards that might seem strong when you first look at it, but it’s just too unreliable to realistically work. They would need to REALLY surprise me with the upcoming Priest reveals for this card to make sense. The thing is, EVEN if you build an Odd Priest, you might still not want to play this card if you go for a Control-oriented build (which feels to be the right way with the upgraded Hero Power).
Card rating: 2/10