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
Remember that with only a part of the whole expansion revealed, it’s incredibly hard to review cards accurately, since we have no clue what else will be released, what synergies will be pushed 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 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!
This card is very good. Rush is a powerful mechanic – not as powerful as Charge, but it’s a HUGE tempo boost. It’s a card you can easily drop on Turn 4, but it also has a really good late game scaling, because when you’re on 10 mana, you can easily play it alongside some other minions.
When it comes to Houndmaster Shaw, the best comparison would probably be Tundra Rhino. It’s not limited to Beasts, costs 1 mana more and it’s 2/5 instead of a 3/6 – quite huge difference. On the other hand, it gives Rush instead of Charge and doesn’t get Rush itself. All in all, however, I think it compares favorably, and Tundra Rhino was already a card used in some of the decks.
Another card I would compare it to, not because of the effect, but because of the stats & impact is Priest of the Feast. The card has proven that 3/6 stats can contest the board quite nicely, and an ongoing effect like that requires a quick answer. Unlike Priest of the Feast, which only had to be answered right away when you play a fast deck (you can’t allow Priest to heal), this card has to be killed quickly in every matchup. After all, Hunter can start gaining tempo starting next turn and one thing is sure – you don’t want Hunter to stay ahead.
And the last card I want to compare it to is Fandral Staghelm, because I think that both will have similar impact. They’re absolutely “must-kill” 4-drop, because if they don’t die, they can snowball the matches quite easily. Fandral has better snowballing potential on curve (Nourish), but this one is harder to take down.
It has great synergy with Lesser Emerald Spellstone too – you can use the 3/3’s you summon to immediately trade into something. It’s hard to say whether a non-Spell Hunter deck will want to play Spellstone (Secret Hunter is taking a hard hit because it loses Cloaked Huntress), but if it will, this is a great combo.
I feel like this card should be played in all but the Aggro (and well, Spell, for obvious reasons) Hunter decks. It’s not game-breaking and not meta-defining, just like it doesn’t have broken synergies with any given deck. But it’s just well-rounded, strong card that will fit into non-Aggro/non-Spell decks.
Card rating: 8/10
It’s solid, I guess? Rotten Applebaum doesn’t look like anything impressive, but it’s not good to underestimate the Neutral Taunt/healing cards.
It’s definitely not a good choice with classes that have access to lots of defensive tools already – e.g. Warrior or Priest might not want to run it. But at the same time, the classes that are low on Taunts/Healing/defensive plays in general might want to use it. For example, I could see Warlock or Rogue playing it. Especially since Mistress of Mixtures rotates out and Warlocks might be looking for some more healing. As for Rogue, if some kind of slower Rogue decks pop out, it might be their defensive card of choice. It’s probably a bit weaker than Prince Valanar, but at the same time, it doesn’t restrict you in terms of deck building.
Probably the only downside is that the healing is tied to the Deathrattle, not Battlecry… Which means that this card is super vulnerable to Silence against Aggro decks – not only does it get rid of the Taunt, but also the healing.
It would also have insane synergy with N'Zoth, The Corruptor, but that one is rotating out. Still, I could see using it in the Wild (in N’Zoth decks) instead of Sludge Belcher in decks that need healing more than Taunt.
There’s not much more to say about it, but I like it. It’s above average. I would be surprised if it wouldn’t see any play, to be honest.
Card rating: 6/10
At first I thought that the 2/2 Treants are going to cost 1 mana and I thought “hm, this card is actually pretty solid, it’s like a much better Force of Nature”. And then I’ve realized that they cost 2 mana instead, so my rating of the card immediately dropped from “good” to “terrible”.
So, you spend 2 mana and don’t do anything immediately. You “draw” 3 cards – but not 3 good cards. You draw 3x vanilla 2 mana 2/2. And that’s it.
So if we sum it up, this card is 8 mana for 3x 2/2 minion. And that’s, obviously, not good. For the board flood strategy, playing Living Mana is just sooo much better, even if you consider that you lose the mana for (usually) one turn.
It seems that the only reason to play it is the synergy with the next card, but even if you play a deck with Wispering Woods, I don’t believe that you would want to play this card either…
Card rating: 1/10
This card is decent, but it has one significant problem. If we had a dedicated (even non-Aggro) Token Druid deck, its hand size would probably not be that high all the time. And the decks with a bigger hand size (like Big Druid or Malygos Druid) wouldn’t really want to play this card.
It would make some sense in a kind of slower Token Druid – we’ve seen some decks like that a while ago, slotting Wisps of the Old Gods. It was often used to summon Wisps, and well, if you have 7 or more cards in your hand, this would be great. I think this card starts to be “good” in such deck when it summons five 1/1’s. 4 might be playable in certain situations, but not great (think Call in the Finishers – the card has seen virtually zero play outside of the Murloc Shaman, a very fringe deck).
I feel like this card might be playable in a Token-style Midrange Druid, like the good old Violet Teacher decks. That said, the fact that Mark of the Lotus rotates out at the same time makes it significantly weaker. 1/1’s are much easier to take down and much less threatening than 2/2’s. It still has synergy with cards like Power of the Wild, Savage Roar and Branching Paths, though.
Right now, I don’t think that such a deck has enough support to work, though. This card is also not enough to push it in the playable territory. If we see more synergies – it might work. If not – the deck, as well as this card, will be unplayable.
Card rating: 4/10
That’s not something I expected, to be honest. It’s a Loatheb effect on a spell, which costs 2 mana. Before Loatheb rotates out of Standard, it was one of the most common and most powerful Legendaries. This card is not even remotely as strong as Loatheb – for just 3 more mana you had a 5/5 body attached, so it was playable (and solid) even if you didn’t expect your opponent to play lots of spells next turn.
This card is super interesting, but I don’t think it’s really good. I think that people are vastly overestimating this card. When playing as an Aggro deck (that’s most likely where you would want to put this card in), Rebuke will be good only in one specific scenario – you’re ahead on the board and you play against a slower deck that can clear your board with a spell. You block it for one turn. Well, it can also be used in a slower deck vs combo decks, but that’s not really too reliable and not something you’d want to add to your deck (as it’s often a dead card).
This card isn’t good, because it has very limited uses. Like, let’s say that you put it into your Aggro deck. If you play vs an Aggro or Midrange deck, you probably won’t really find it useful most of the time. Sure, you might make them play sub-optimally for one turn, but you also spent 2 mana (and a card), so your turn was weaker too. It’s only really useful in an Aggro vs Control matchup, and not every single one – minions can still clear the board, so it won’t stop e.g. Duskbreaker.
The fact that it costs a card and comes with no body or a way to cycle will make it a dead card too often, I feel. It might be used as a tech card in faster Paladin builds, a meta call basically. If you face slower decks that AoE your board all the time, you can tech it in. So I wouldn’t call it useless, but it’s very situational and I don’t think it will be that good. Or rather, it will have its moments, but more often than not it will just be a bad card in your hand.
Overall, I feel like people are looking into the “best case scenario” too much and ignoring the fact that this is not helping you get into the state where this effect is good. It’s terrible in your opening hand, it’s terrible if you have weak board or you’re behind in general, it’s terrible if you play vs another fast deck. There are simply significantly more situations in which this card is bad than good.
Card rating: 3/10, better in a heavy spell meta (as a tech).
I can’t really see many good uses for this card, to be honest. I have two things in my mind. First is obviously Big Priest. Getting a copy of Obsidian Statue or The Lich King for 3 mana is great, even if that copy is at 1 health. And by the way – CURRENT health is down to 1, max health is still bigger (so e.g. you can heal that minion up immediately).
Other Priest decks don’t really play minions with powerful ongoing effects / Deathrattles, which could benefit from copying them. And Big Priest is most likely out of Standard with Barnes and Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound rotating out.
The other use might be some sort of combo. For the combo purposes, this is a bit like 3 mana Faceless Manipulator. But, when talking about effect-based combos (not Charge based), like Prophet Velen or Malygos combos, we already have Mirage Caller, who does the same job for the combo purposes… and yet it doesn’t see any Standard play. You COULD want to use it instead of Mirage Caller in Combo Big Priest, since the deck doesn’t want to summon the 3-drop from Barnes or Shadow Essence, but that’s Wild and I’m talking about Standard, so I won’t go deeper into that.
Maybe some new archetype? Like Midrange Deathrattle Priest with Quest? Playing this on a Deathrattle minions can be good (you don’t care that it’s on 1 health that much, because you’re still getting some value), and it gives you +1 on the quest. It also has amazing synergy with Carnivorous Cube. But the problem here is that N'Zoth, The Corruptor rotates out, and he was vital part of such decks.
You can possibly do some Radiant Elemental shenanigans, akin to Mage’s Sorcerer's Apprentice + Molten Reflection. 2x Radiant + 2x this costs 5 mana in total, and you get 4 mana discount on all the spells. But right now, I honestly have no clue how could you utilize this fact. Might be part of some combo in the future.
It’s one of those cards which are very hard to rate – it doesn’t really fit into the existing archetypes, but it has some potential to shine in the right deck, and can even be a part of some deadly combo in the future. Right now, however, I can’t rate it too highly, because I don’t think it’s going to see play with the information we have.
Card rating: 3/10
I think it’s one of the most interesting cards in the expansion so far. There is so much theorycrafting involved – there are tons of cards this could work with, but the main question is – can you make it work consistently?
At 6 mana, this minion is super expensive. Even if it’s Turn 10, it might still be hard to combo it with anything. For example, if you want to combo it with a 2 mana minion – you can only play it twice. Getting an extra copy of a 2-drop is of course good, but not game-changing. You can do something like playing four 1-drops, but then again, are there any 1-drops Warlock would want to play four times? (remember that Mistress of Mixtures is rotating out, so it can’t be a form of emergency healing) Kobold Librarian is great, but you’re basically killing yourself.
This is one of those cards that are broken IF they survive a turn. IF this would survive a turn in the late game, you can, for example, play 5x Gnomeferatu (insane combo in slow matchups). Or play five Knife Jugglers – that’s 10 knives + a board that has to be answered or else your opponent just dies. Or play Summoning Portal and then summon five more 3-drops (or three 4-drops). Or drop six Sea Giants (the first one needs to cost 4 to do that, so there has to be 6 minions on the board in total first). Or do many other things.
But the thing is, that’s a pretty big “IF”. Such high priority targets rarely survive a turn. Good thing is that this card has 7 health, so it might be a bit more durable than e.g. Emperor Thaurissan, but still. Most of the Control decks will have a way to remove a 3/7, and Aggro can either ignore it (because it’s super slow) or trade into it and develop more stuff. Or even Silence it.
A lot of things can happen. We might get some more combos with the new cards. Or maybe some great 1-drop that you might want to replay 4 times in the late game. Right now, I think this card has LOTS of potential, but is not reliable enough. To perform the best combos, it needs to survive a turn, and it won’t likely survive a turn…
That said, I will definitely test it out if I open it!
Card rating: 4/10 (might get more if we see some good 1-drop to go alone with it later)
This card is super cool! I actually never thought about one card with every single tribe. But here it is. And it’s really interesting, as there are tons of opportunities to play it. I mean, you can play it in Pirate deck, in Dragon deck, in Murloc deck etc.
At the same time, it will never really be “broken” in any of those decks. For example, it’s not as good as Murloc Warleader in Murloc decks, it’s not as good as, I don’t know, Southsea Captain in Pirate decks and so on.
The 3/4 stats for 3 are solid, it’s pretty much as good as you can get without having any downside. But 3/4 by itself is not enough – vanilla 3 mana 3/4 wouldn’t see play. It’s the synergies that make this card.
Yes, this card is super flexible… but the thing is, you rarely will use more than one tribe at once. Would you actually put a 3/4 vanilla Murloc into your Murloc Paladin deck? Or 3/4 Dragon into a Dragon Priest? It’s really hard to say, but that’s the most likely scenario for this card.
Come to think about it, the card would probably be strongest in multi-tribe deck. Sadly, lots of cards that support this kind of archetype are rotating out. For example, Zoobot or The Curator. But it might still be possible to make some sort of e.g. Murloc Pirate deck.
And I actually think that those multi-tribe decks will be where this card finds home, IF it finds home. It might be used as a sort of “filler” card if you need more synergies, but the thing is, most of the tribes simply have better cards.
Before I rate it, I need to talk about one important thing, another reason why putting this into a single tribe deck might not be the best idea. From your perspective, it will synergize only with the tribe you run. But from the opponent’s perspective, EVERY hate card will work on it. Cards like Hungry Crab and Golakka Crawler used to be popular tech cards, there is also a Dragonslayer (which is rare, but I’ve seen some decks teching it). Heck, it even dies to Sacrificial Pact – sure, Warlocks don’t really play it, but the point is that it will die to hate cards WAY more often than other cards. So you put yourself at a significant risk for not that big of a reward.
All in all, it might see SOME play in single tribe decks if you really need to fill your curve with a 3-drop, but the real place for this card to shine are multi-tribe decks. It doesn’t seem like this will be a thing, but they MIGHT print more support for such a thing. We’ll see. Right now, even though I find this card incredibly cool, I think it’s just average.
Card rating: 5/10
It’s another card like Babbling Book in Mage or Swashburglar in Rogue. Those two have seen quite a lot of play, so this one might also do, right? Well, it MIGHT, but I think that the two cards I’ve mentioned are significantly more powerful.
First of all, the stats. You often drop those minions in the early game, especially on Turn 1. I can’t stress out how much better 1/1 stats are than 0/1 in the early game. 1/1 minion can actually trade into something, this just stops some damage (usually 1-2) and dies. Taunt is probably better in the mid/late game, and it has synergy with Flametongue Totem but against Aggro decks those first turns are significantly more important. Taking down their own 1-drop saves you tons of health and can be a difference between winning and losing a game. This can’t do that.
Another thing is card it gives you. Shaman spells… aren’t exactly the best ones. In terms of power of the Battlecry, it’s about on the level of Swashburglar – it often gives you something useless/weak in your deck. The best example would be Ice Fishing in a deck with no Murlocs, but other cards like Primal Talismans, Bloodlust, Ancestral Healing, Totemic Might, Windfury, Cryostasis etc. can also be very situational or useless (remember that you’re most likely playing this in a slower deck without big board). Swashburglar, however, was played for two more reasons – it was a Pirate for the sake of synergies with Patches the Pirate/Southsea Captain AND it was a cheap Combo activator. This one doesn’t really get extra synergies – Beast has no synergy with Shaman and cheap minions don’t really do much. Well, there is a synergy with the new Shaman Hero, but later about that.
Overall, I can see this being played, but that’s mostly because Shaman doesn’t have many other early game options. Definitely not in a faster/more tempo-oriented deck, because it would prefer a better 1-drop like Fire Fly. But if Control Shaman will be a thing, this might be slotted into it from the lack of better options. Still, overall it’s rather average.
Card rating: 4/10
Hagatha the Witch
So, we’ve got a new Hero card, this time for Shaman. The previous one, Thrall, Deathseer, was supporting the Token/Evolve playstyle. Even though this one seems to synergize with lots of small minions too, it obviously doesn’t belong in such a deck. This is a Control card. From the initial effect to the passive Hero Power you’re getting, it’s just more board control and more value for slow Shaman decks.
For every minion you play, you get a random Shaman spell (the Hero Power is passive, so you don’t have to use any mana on it). In the long run, the card can give you insane value. But hey, I’ve just said that Shaman has lots of bad spells when reviewing Witch’s Apprentice. And it’s still true – but this time you get multiple spells over the course of the game (assuming a game vs other slow deck) – which means that it’s both more consistent, and that bad spells don’t really hurt you that much, since you have tons of value even if 50% of the spells you get are bad.
The thing about this is that it’s a win condition by itself in slow matchups. You can play mostly defensive cards and this should accumulate enough value over the course of the game. Getting 10-15 spells for free, even if they aren’t best, means A LOT. Which means that you can build a pretty defensive deck, and this can serve as a big part of your main late game win condition.
And I think that the card is actually solid. If Control Shaman sees play, it should see play too. It’s especially potent in some kind of slower Elemental Shaman for the extra synergies. For example, a Fire Fly becomes AMAZING with this card. It’s a great early game card, but it also gets a great late game scaling once you play the DK (two spells for free). Grumble, Worldshaker could also shine – bringing back some of the cards to your hand means more spells. Other cards that have multiple bodies, e.g. Stonehill Defender or even some Echo minion can give you lots of value too.
But I haven’t talked about the Battlecry yet. I don’t think it’s impressive in slow matchups, but it’s actually good against Aggro. 3 AoE damage might sometimes save you, and even though you’re losing the tempo (because 3 damage AoE is worth ~5 mana – e.g. Excavated Evil), it’s not that bad.
THAT SAID, this card will see play only if a slower Shaman deck, like the Control Elemental Shaman I’ve mentioned, will be a thing. Given the current state of the Shaman, it actually might not happen. Shaman would need some really broken cards this expansion to work, and after seeing three Shaman cards, none of them is terrific.
Card rating: 7/10, but probably won’t see play, because Shaman (including Control Shaman) is in a terrible state right now.
It looks like a card that can only fit into certain decks that can easily deal with the 2/1’s that it summons, but in such a deck this card can be really awesome. First let’s analyze it assuming you can’t kill the 2/1’s.
You play a 5/8 and summon two 2/1’s for your opponent, meaning that technically, if they trade back, you have a 5 mana 5/4 minion with Rush. That’s not the end of the world, but it wouldn’t be playable in Constructed. There is also a bigger downside against Aggro decks – your opponent probably won’t trade with those 2/1’s, but will go face instead. Building a bigger board for your opponent might not be the best idea. It can also be stopped by small Taunts, e.g. Righteous Protector on the board makes it completely unplayable by itself. By itself, the card is probably 2/10 or something similar.
However, you wouldn’t want to put it into any deck. The first thing I have in mind is Warrior – either Control or slower Midrange/Tempo deck. The ones running Whirlwind effects. The card is a bit similar to Cornered Sentry, but honestly, probably even better. If you can play a Whirlwind effect on the same turn you drop it, it becomes a 5/7 minion with Rush for 5 mana. That’s absolutely insane – not only you should be able to clear most of the early / mid game minions, but you also will have a solid body left-over. For example, the best case scenario would be playing Blood Razor on Turn 4, attacking once, then playing this on Turn 5 and attacking second time. That would be a terrific play against most of the aggressive decks. You can also combo it with Warpath in the late game, especially if you could use that AoE damage anyway.
Another deck that it MIGHT slot into, but less likely, is Control / Big Spell Mage. The deck is really light on minions and it could use some. On Turn 7, you can play it and ping one of the 2/1’s immediately, but it gets even better if you’re a Frost Lich Jaina already. Even assuming that you trade it into the second minion, you end up with a 5/6 and Water Elemental on the board – that’s really good.
One thing worth mentioning is that if you can avoid the Battlecry, this is very good. For example, if you can somehow Recruit it, or summon it from your hand, it gets extra value. 5/8 Rush card is very powerful if you don’t have to summon small stuff for your opponent. But it might be pretty difficult to get around the Battlecry.
So, all in all, I think that this card will be very bad in most of the decks, but it might find its home, especially in some sort of Tempo/Control Warrior with Whirlwind effects. Since you need to combo it with 1 damage AoE to really be good, I don’t think it’s going to be broken, but it should be solid in the right deck.
Card rating: 7/10
I like the fact that they’ve introduced the Rush keyword. For example, this could be pretty broken if it had Charge. This + Inner Rage could result in some combos, as it would only cost 2 and turn it into a Leeroy Jenkins. As a Rush, you can still nuke something for 6, but that something has to be a minion.
This card in particular is pretty okay. Or, let’s put it this way – it’s good if you play against a token-heavy deck. For example, your opponent plays a 1/1 minion on Turn 1 – you kill it and still have a 4/2 on the board, a 4/2 that can actually attack him next turn. Even if your opponent plays a 2/, it should still be good – clearing a 1-drop and having a 4/1 minion is not bad.
Which makes it a great card against Paladin, for example. You can clear something small, even their 1/1 from Hero Power, and have a 2 mana 4/2 minion.
But then, against minions with more than 1 health, you can’t really get a free trade. Let’s say your opponent plays a 2/3 2-drop, then it’s ultimately 1 for 1. Given that the 2-drop probably did something for your opponent (like Arcanologist), it’s not a good deal. It gets even worse against 3 Attack minions – for example a 3/3, which is a pretty common stat-line. If you want to kill it, you have to play this, activate it first with e.g. Whirlwind and only then kill the minion, not very efficient.
Of course, later into the game you might use it alongside a Whirlwind effect that you would use anyway. A 4/2 minion with Rush for 2 mana is basically “deal 4 damage to a minion”, which is a solid 2 mana card, but honestly, it’s not super impressive.
So the best case scenario is facing an aggressive deck in the early game. This will definitely be a meta-dependent card, but just like the last one, I could see it being played in some sort of Tempo/Control Warrior focused on the Whirlwind effects. But then again, such deck would ALREADY be good against Token-heavy decks, like Dude Paladin… so I’m not too excited after all.
Card rating: 4/10
The other Warlock Legendary (Glinda Crowskin) is a bit more… meme card. But this? Oh my, this is CRAZY! Remember how Abyssal Enforcer was actually a decent card? This is so much better. It’s a 2 damage Defile, which would already be worth about 5 mana, with a 4/4 body attached to it. We all know how good Defile is when you can set it up. This is so much easier to set up, because instead of 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. health, you can skip every second one and it will still clear everything. You can have a 2, 4, 6 and 8 health minion on the board and this will clear everything.
This feels like a better AoE clear than Twisting Nether, to be honest. Of course, Twisting Nether doesn’t need to be set up, but just like Defile, this gets tons of extra value when you face Deathattle minions + it has a 4/4 body and costs one mana less. Clearing those pesky Voidlord boards should be easier now in the mirrors.
The 4/4 body doesn’t seem like much, but this part shouldn’t be ignored. One of the biggest downsides of Twisting Nether is that you usually start your next turn behind, as your opponent has time to fill up the board again. Starting with nothing vs having a 4/4 minion to trade into something or deal damage is a big difference.
There’s just nothing bad about this card, maybe except the mana cost. 7 mana is quite a lot in the faster matchups, but Control/Cube Warlock games to definitely last that long, even against Aggro. This should be an auto-include in this archetype, and basically any slower Warlock deck. I would be absolutely surprised if this didn’t see lots of play. Hands down the best Witchwood card revealed so far.
P.S. The only thing I don’t get is – why is this a WARLOCK Legendary? I mean, those pistols don’t really seem like a great fit in the class…
Card rating: 9/10