The base of Blackrock Mountain is before us. Hearthstone’s second Adventure drops this Thursday. What do you seek within the mountain? Hopefully a Dragon-themed Hearthstone deck. Because it looks like we are heading in that direction.

Blackwing Corruptor

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for Orc Warlocks and especially the Tier 5, Corruptor Raiment armor set from the Burning Crusade days of World of Warcraft. So I am already predisposed to like this card based on the illustration alone. This however is not a Warlock card. The Blackwing Corruptor brings a discount (in mana cost and stats) and conditional Fire Elemental to any class that wants decent stats and 3 damage wherever they want it.

The Corruptor was one of the first two cards revealed this week, which means it was hanging in that weird space where I was unsure of how good he may be since I had yet to see a lot of Dragons from the Blackrock Mountain reveals thus far. But three more cards were previewed just yesterday, and they were all Dragons. So I am feeling a little more confident in these minions that are dependent on having Dragons in hand. 5/4 are ok stats for the Mana, but this Orc's power lies in it's Battlecry. I will constantly be worried about the multitude of ways my opponent can deal 4-damage ( Swipe, Truesilver Champion, and Piloted Shredder just to name a few of the current favorites) but if I can deal 3-damage the turn I play this card I am more than happy to take that risk.

A lot of the Blackrock cards are looking a little awkward for Arena, and Blackwing Corruptor really isn't any different. If you are lucky enough to get a good assortment of Dragons in your Arena deck and the Corruptor comes up late in the draft, he's pretty much an auto-pick. In the more likely scenario that there aren't enough Dragons in your Arena deck to give good chances of activating the Battlecry, the continued prevalence of Mage and their dread 4-damage board-clear Flamestrike makes this minion much less appealing.

Dragon's Breath

This card confuses me in a similar way that Core Rager did last week. I am not sure if Hunters are going to want to empty their hand post-BRM, and I'm not sure Mages are going to want to start building decks around trading minions. I don't see how this spell fits into existing Mage decks, which makes me to wonder what new Mage archetype Team 5 is hoping will emerge. Mages have a lot of targeted damage spells already, and (unless the effect is triggered at least twice) they're all better costed than Dragon's Breath.

Where I start to go is thinking about Dragon Egg, and cards that go down the similar path of making the player want to kill their own minions. Killing the eggs give me Whelps (or Nerubians in the case of Nerubian Egg) while discounting the cost of the spell. Adding attack value to eggs and allowing for a trade can very quickly reduce the cost of Dragon's Breath if both my minion and my opponent's die in the exchange. If any other minions come with Blackrock Mountain that incentivize trading I can see Dragon's Breath being a strong card. As it currently stands I am quite skeptical.

Volcanic Drake

This Dragon has me very excited to build my first Dragon-themed deck and simultaneously laugh in the face of Big Game Hunter. Now this minion doesn't have any fancy abilities, but minions are going to die and this Dragon will be able to be played earlier than Turn 6. I am very anxious to see how this card works in my Pally deck for some added value to my Muster for Battles. In the situations where I have to run my three Silver Hand Recruit into a minion or two I will end up getting a 3-Mana discount on this Drake (and if the Recruits don't die there's always Quartermaster). Paladins aside there are many deck types out there with expendable minions.

This Dragon also looks well balanced. While I'm very happy with the thought of getting out a high-damage minion for cheap or even free, I have to put myself on the other side of the board. It's going to feel a little unfair when an opponent gets one or two of these guys out for cheap or free. But the 4-health is manageable. I just talked about all of the ways 4 damage can be dealt when talking about the Blackwing Corruptor. And as a heavy Paladin player I feel pretty safe with my Truesilver. The exception is Arena, where there's no guarantee of having the removal you want. I think Volcanic Drake is going to be a monster in there.

Drakonid Crusher

The Crusher is a card I am much more looking forward to playing around with in Arena than in Ranked. The 6-Mana slot is one that you don't want too many cards in, and there are a lot of powerful 6-drops currently vying for inclusion in constructed decks. I don't see players swapping out Savannah Highmanes or Sylvanas Windrunners for a worst-case scenario vanilla 6/6, and until Dr. Boom goes out of style Big Game Hunters are going to give a buffed Drakonid Crusher a helluva time staying alive. The exception may be Dragon decks. I have seen enough Dragon cards now that I think there will be a few viable Dragon-themed decks. And I wouldn't consider the above Volcanic Drake as a 6-drop due to its effect, so it wouldn't compete for the 6-drop slot against the Crusher.

In Arena minions like Boulderfist Ogre and Lord of the Arena see plenty of play. Drakonid Crusher is right in that same Mana to power sweet spot if your opponent isn't below 15 Health. At worst it's a Boulderfist Ogre with one less Health. If your opponent is below 15 Health, the Drakonid is a marauding 9/9 in a space where large Attack minions are significantly safer.

Nefarian

With Ragnaros the Firelord already a Legendary minion in Hearthstone, Nefarian was the big bad I couldn't wait to see... and Blizzard did not disappoint (yes, there are quite a few downsides to this card but I can't get over the awesome flavor). I was curious to see what aspect, if any, of the Nefarian fight in WoW would be included into the flavor of the card. With Onyxia already filling up the board with minions I was found it unlikely Nefarian would do something similar (even though Nefarian starts out with a huge add-phase in the MMO). Instead they went with Nefarian's ability to turn a class's own abilities against them. The way this has manifested in Hearthstone is what looks to be the coolest random effect I've seen so far, getting to use your opponent's class spells against them.

To make me want to invest a lot of Mana into one minion, that minion has to impact the game in a meaningful way the turn that it is played. Nefarian does that. He could be removed before he ever gets a chance to spread his megalomaniacal wings (and at above 7 Attack that is very likely), but I still get to keep the two spells he gave me. This is similar to why Dr. Boom is so good. The Boom Bots come into play regardless of what happens to the doctor. Big emphasis on "similar" though; Dr. Boom severely outshines Nefarian because attacking with the Boom Bots cost no more Mana, and are good in any situation.

While not always the case, it has to be mentioned that randomness can go horribly wrong. Anyone who knows my history with Crackle knows I believe this. Nefarian may give you Tinker's Sharpsword Oil or Deadly Poison on a class that has no weapons. Which of course means the only solution is to start running Blingtron 3000 in every deck that also has a Nefarian, right?! This gives Nefarian a similar downside to Thoughtsteal. And while many Priests play Thoughtsteal, I don't see the random nature of Nefarian's ability outperforming the consistently amazing Ysera for the 9-drop slot on a Dragon deck. Unless of course you want to make an extremely long-game Dragon-themed deck that has multiple huge threats. Excuse while I start theory-crafting a self-healing Druid Dragon deck to rival some of Dills' famously crazy themed decks.

If you enjoyed this rundown of the newest card-reveals from Blackrock Mountain, check out last week's "Imps, Whelps, and Dragon Wizards." And also check out Jocelyn and my recent interview with Hearthstone's Art Direct, Ben Thompson. All seventeen of the revealed Blackrock Mountain cards are in the HearthHead database and the deckbuilder if you want to start putting together your Dragon deck!