Hearthstone’s Scholomance Academy expansion is fast approaching and with it comes a new meta. In addition to all the brand new archetypes brought about by the new expansion, it is also an opportunity for old build-around cards to re-invent themselves and find a new time to shine. For example, the Quest cards from Saviors of Uldum are still part of the Standard format and many of them are just waiting for the right support to become relevant again.
During Ashes of Outland, Quest Warlock has been the main quest deck, but the fifth nerf patch saw Quest Druid rise up to become a contender for the best Druid deck in the game. Fine, this may have been because Druid became one of the weakest classes with those nerfs, but it does show that there are archetypes just below the surface, just waiting for a chance. None of the other Quest decks have been competitive during Ashes of Outland even though some of them have seen experimentation and attempts at resurrection.
In this article, I will examine the support Quest decks get from Scholomance Academy, and I think there are some that may become relevant again.
Quest Druid was playable throughout Ashes of Outland, but it largely stayed under the radar. I played the archetype after every nerf patch, and every nerf to other classes kept making it better. Finally, the archetype gained some spotlight attention after the fifth and final nerf patch weakened Spell Druid significantly, making Quest Druid competitive within its class.
Quest Druid floats mana during the early game to get powerful payoffs in the mid-game: Oasis Surger for a pair of 5/5 Rush minions never goes out of style, Hidden Oasis for a 6/6 Taunt minion and 12 healing is phenomenal, and Nourish for two mana crystals and three cards is amazing.
Quest Druid gets three interesting new cards in Scholomance Academy:
- Nature Studies is one of the most powerful new study cards. Not only do you get a spell, but you also discount your next spell, and it does not have to be played on the same turn. Therefore, you can, for example, complete your Quest on turn five and have a five-mana Nourish ready to go. Other Druid decks may use the card with Overgrowth, it is simply a phenomenal tool.
- Groundskeeper fits well with the expensive spells that are always included in the Quest Druid deck. It is also a non-adventure alternative to Steel Beetle, without which Quest Druid would have struggled against aggression during Ashes of Outland. It is possible that the final list will run both, it depends on how much aggro there is on the ladder and how much value you can afford to put in the deck as compared to just defensive tools.
- Speaker Gidra also works well with all the expensive spells in Quest Druid. It gives the deck some more much-needed removal: not quite as much as was lost with Wardruid Loti rotating out of Standard in April, but something anyway.
Quest Druid is always vulnerable early in the game because it needs to float some mana to advance the Quest. However, there is plenty of room to adjust the deck for more aggressive or more value-oriented meta. One card that I have greatly enjoyed in the archetype is Sathrovarr, but I expect a lot of aggression early on and do not dare to try the high-value route until the meta stabilizes a little.
Quest Hunter has had a hard time in Ashes of Outland. The most successful version of the deck runs Beastmaster Leoroxx, Ramkahen Wildtamers, and King Krush for a potential OTK combo, and those are not cards you’d really want to include in Quest Hunter. The deck gets trampled on by Demon Hunters and any other aggressive decks, and generally has a miserable time.
Scholomance Academy may change this all! Realistically, it probably won’t, but it does improve Quest Hunter’s early game quite considerably, so there is a chance!
There are several interesting cards from Scholomance Academy that could fit into Quest Hunter:
- Wolpertinger is the new Alleycat. While Quest Hunter cannot buff it in hand to make it big, just getting it out there early in the game advances the Quest and contests the board.
- Adorable Infestation is another sweet early-game card for the archetype. You need a minion for it to target, but you have plenty of those, for example Hench-Clan Hogsteed and tokens from Desert Spear, and you also get to summon another minion and get one more into your hand for plenty of Quest advancement. These early-game cards are vital to re-enable the archetype.
- I am also interested in attempting the Deathrattle package in the deck, namely Bloated Python, Teacher's Pet, and Vectus. Deathrattle minions that summon more minions and a token-generator that summons even more minions from Deathrattle effects advance the Quest at lightning speed and make Quest Hunter’s board more sticky and difficult to remove.
Other than that, it’s Quest Hunter business as usual with plenty of token generators and a pair of Sea Giants thrown in for good measure. With more early game cards and stickier minions, Quest Hunter could try to win the game with other means than the OTK combo again.
Unfortunately, Raid the Sky Temple is not a good card. The Hero Power you get from it is inconsistent and you’re generally just better off not playing with it. With The Amazing Reno being a far superior option for an alternative Hero Power, it is hard to see the Mage Quest get any traction even in Scholomance Academy.
Making Mummies has the unfortunate role to be tied to a Year of the Dragon mechanic, Reborn. With no new Reborn support coming and Paladin not getting any new card draw to replace Crystology, Quest Paladin looks dead.
Is your body ready for another Resurrect Priest meta? I guess that was a rhetorical question, nobody can be ready for that. As an upside, I expect a stealing Priest archetype like Galakrond Priest to be superior to Quest Priest anyway. Wait, that’s actually even worse. I don’t even know.
Anyway, Quest Priest is getting a couple of really interesting cards:
- Raise Dead is just bonkers in Quest Priest. You get to deal damage to yourself, thereby getting a target to heal and you get some of your resources back. This card was made for loving Quest Priest, and Quest Priest was made for loving this. This alone gives me hope for the archetype.
- Sphere of Sapience is another card that was tailor-made for Priest. A class that had all of its meaningful card draw taken away takes any help it can get, and getting Magic’s Scry mechanic can really help Priest find the right tools for the job.
I’m not sure whether these new cards are enough to bring Quest Priest back to the meta, but getting a bunch of resources, help with advancing the Quest, and more consistent draws are things that can definitely help a deck.
One of the Quest decks I’m most excited about is Quest Rogue. Rogue and Warrior are getting a lot of weapon synergy cards, and the Quests of both classes are focused on weapons, so this might be the time for them to come back.
Quest Rogue is getting so much new stuff, it’s hard to decide which ones will fit into the deck:
- Wand Thief seems like a sure bet. Discovering Mage spells is great, no matter whether you find burn or stall tools. You also get to advance your Quest at the same time!
- Vulpera Toxinblade looks like a generally strong Rogue minion. It can fit in Aggro Rogue, but also in Quest Rogue. Early in the game, it can turn your dagger into a 3/2 weapon, and later in the game, you can use your Quest-enhanced weapon to hit for five while remaining immune.
- Steeldancer works well with weapons and weapon buffs and can provide powerful swing turns in the mid-game.
- Doctor Krastinov is simply a superior Captain Greenskin (unless you can benefit from the Pirate tag): buff up your weapon while removing a threat, and possibly threatening to buff the weapon again next turn unless dealt with. I really like this card.
This list does not include Cutting Class, which is yet another new synergy card. Whether to include it or not was a hard decision. There are so many good options for the archetype and I really wanted to include the Shadowjeweler Hanar package for increased survivability. That package includes Dirty Tricks, which may be enough card draw. Perhaps Cutting Class is stronger than Steeldancer, for example, and the deck should include all the card draw. Time will tell.
There would also be a new Rogue Secret available for the deck: Plagiarize. I am so far bearish on the card because the cards you get from it may not be useful and even for Quest Rogue, they may end up being Neutral cards instead of cards from another class. It is definitely an interesting card though and warrants further testing.
The way I envision Quest Rogue to work in Scholomance Academy is that it has a number of good tempo tools in Underbelly Fence, Vendetta, and Blackjack Stunner and it can use its weapon to control the board while pushing in damage. Random cards from other classes open up new paths to win individual games and dictate whether you pursue an aggressive strategy or a slower gameplan.
Quest Shaman could be viable in Scholomance Academy, but there are no really interesting new Battlecry cards for the archetype, so it does not look particularly exciting.
Quest Warlock will certainly see play and there will be many attempts to refine it: in any non-rotation expansion, the meta decks from the previous expansion are always experimented with to determine which ones of them are good enough to stay on top.
What route Quest Warlock will take is an interesting question. The new Soul Fragment mechanic is a double-edged sword for the archetype: Soul Fragments provide healing and increased Quest advancement, but they are terrible to draw with the Quest Hero Power because then you will miss out on the discount for the card that is drawn by the fragment. If you go for Soul Fragments, they take several spots from the deck and you need to decide what to replace. For example, is Mo'arg Artificer still good enough? It provided important healing, but that healing can now come from Soul Fragments. It also provided increased damage to the board, but many of the Soul Fragment synergy cards deal damage to minions anyway.
Also, do you run the full Soul Fragment package or just a part of it? Spirit Jailer in particular seems like a poor fit to Quest Warlock, and I’m not sold on Shadowlight Scholar either. In fact, I’m also a little uncertain how good Soulciologist Malicia is in a deck that draws a lot with Plot Twists. Do you run out of Soul Fragments? This is something that needs testing to fully ascertain.
The Soul Fragment synergy card I like the best is Void Drinker: a big Taunt minion that hits the board early in the game is exactly the kind of survival tool Quest Warlock is after.
Soul Fragments also put duplicate cards into your deck, making it more difficult to activate Zephrys the Great and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza. Will these cards be dropped from the deck or do you accept that they are dead cards even longer? If you drop Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, how do you enable Nether Breath and Crazed Netherwing? In this sample list, I’ve gone for Bloodmage Thalnos and Evasive Drakonid as replacements to keep the deck flowing more smoothly, but it is possible that either the Highlander synergy cards should still be included or that the entire Soul Fragment package will prove to be sub-optimal for Quest Warlock.
It will be interesting to see whether Quest Warlock can stay on top as the main Malygos-wielding direct damage deck or if something else can rise up to contest it.
Quest Warrior is the Quest deck I’m the most excited about. There have been attempts to make Quest Warrior work in Ashes of Outland, and it has got close, rocking around 49% win rate at best. With so many weapon synergy cards coming in the new expansion, there is a real possibility that Quest Warrior becomes a playable deck that you will meet on the ladder.
There are just so many new tools for Quest Warrior:
- Reaper's Scythe is a powerful new weapon that has a cleave effect from Spellburst. This can be activated only for one turn, but there are so many ways to use it. For example, a simple Upgrade! turns the weapon into a sweet cleaving machine. You can also get the weapon back later with Hoard Pillager, at which point its Spellburst effect is ready to activate once again.
- Steeldancer works well with all the weapons Quest Warrior wields and can give you some major tempo swings.
- Cutting Class is an excellent card draw tool for Quest Warrior as you are rarely without a weapon.
- Doctor Krastinov is more removal and another way to buff up your weapon.
- Lord Barov is perhaps a more questionable fit. I use it over Brawl because it allows for more targeted removal and can be used with weapons, minions, Sword and Board and Bladestorm. It can also help push through Taunt minions for lethal.
There are still many questions about the right way to build Quest Warrior. In most current builds, you see Ancharrr and Risky Skippers, and it is possible that they remain the optimal way to build the deck. Ancharrr is not an ideal weapon to get back after you have already drawn some Pirates though, so I’m wondering whether it could be replaced by other weapons and Cutting Class for card draw. Livewire Lance and Reaper's Scythe are the most valuable weapons currently available to Warrior, so building around them seems ideal if Risky Skipper is not needed.
Quest Demon Hunter
Just kidding, Demon Hunter does not have a quest card. Yet. A quest would not have the best synergy with their one-cost Hero Power, but it would be interesting to see Demon Hunter get this mechanic at some point in the future.
There are several Quest decks that have potential in Scholomance Academy. Warlock, Druid, Warrior, Priest, and Rogue all look promising, and Hunter gets some new key tools as well. I would not count Shaman out of the game either even though Quest Shaman, in particular, doesn’t get anything too interesting from the new expansion. Paladin and Mage are the Quest decks I really don’t see as having any chance to return to the game.