Knights of the Frozen Throne spoiler season started a few days ago. We’re getting more and more cards every day and we're already beginning to see a bigger picture of the expansion already. Hero cards, Lifesteal, Freeze effects, Deathrattles – these seem to be the main features of the upcoming set.
Just like every expansion, I’m going to take a look at the cards and review them. I’ll rate each of them between 1 and 5, where 1 is “unplayable”, 3 is “average” (might see SOME play, but no fireworks) and 5 is “probably broken”. Of course, rating cards this early is always a tricky task – not only have we not seen the whole expansion yet, but predicting the meta correctly is a nearly impossible task. That’s why the final rating will be icing on the cake. Instead, I’ll try to focus on the cards themselves – in what decks they might be played, what synergies they have (and possibly will have), their potential, etc.
Let’s start our first Knights of the Frozen Throne card review.
Deathstalker Rexxar was the first Hero card revealed. Hero cards are very tricky to rate since we haven’t seen anything like them before. Some might argue that Lord Jaraxxus is basically like a Hero card, and they'd be right to a certain extent, but that’s still only a single card in a single class.
One thing is sure – Hunter’s Hero card is exciting. It promotes the slower play style – for 6 mana you get the initial 2 damage AoE and 5 Armor, but what’s really important is the new Hero Power. Every time you press the button, you’re going to get two Beast cards you can stitch together into one Zombeast. Sounds cool, right? It is cool, and it can lead to some really broken combinations, but at the same time, it’s incredibly slow.
Experience has taught me that Control Hunter is not a thing and Blizzard would need to push it really hard to make it a viable deck. I was hoping that the Un’Goro’s Dinomancy would be a birth of the slower Hunter deck, but it didn’t happen. Why? Because Hunter doesn’t want to play a slow deck, simple as that. A Hero Power that might be broken in some other decks is just not that good in the Hunter. That’s because of the standard Steady Shot – 2 damage to the opponent’s face – is exactly what Hunter wants. Not some slow buffs, not Zombeasts, but a steady source of damage to pressure the opponent and finish them off.
I can’t say whether Control Hunter will be a thing this expansion - I doubt it will be, but we still need to see a lot of cards. And even if it is, this is more like a support card, not the main win condition. After all, it’s a 1 card out of 30 – you first need to draw it and play it, you can’t build your whole game plan around it.
Alternatively, it might be used as a finisher in Midrange Hunter. After you run out of steam, you change into the Death Knight version of Rexxar and just build Zombeasts every turn. And yes, that might make some sense, but only until you figure out how slow the Hero Power actually is. Remember that you add minions stats, effects and mana cost. BUT you also need to count the 2 mana you use on your Hero Power. Then you realize that if you mix Vicious Fledgling with Stonetusk Boar, it doesn’t cost 4 mana – it costs 6. It suddenly makes even those “broken” combinations much weaker. There is no guarantee that you will get any Charge minions to finish the opponent off, while there is a guarantee that you would be able to deal 2 damage per turn with the old Hero Power.
So overall, I don’t think that the card is good enough to see any play. It’s definitely fun and I will most likely test it myself right away, but it just doesn’t look competitive.
Card Rating: 2/5
Giving all the minions in your deck +1/+1 is a powerful effect. Having such an effect on a 2-drop is insane. However, such an obviously broken card wouldn’t get into the final release, so it must have a huge downside. That drawback is you can’t play any other 2 mana card. Not 2 mana spell, no 2 mana minions, no 2 mana card, period. This can be the only 2 mana card in your whole deck unless you want to risk Prince Keleseth not being activated.
This basically means that it will normally be the only 2 mana card in your whole deck, eliminating 95% of the potential deck candidates, because most of the decks just have to play their 2 mana cards. Aggro decks can’t really skip Turn 2, they play multiple 2-drops. Control decks often run other cards in that slot (e.g. Warrior plays Fiery War Axe and Execute, Druid plays Wild Growth and Wrath, Mage plays Frostbolt, Arcanologist, Primordial Glyph etc.). So yeah, in those decks, the card simply sucks.
The key here is to find a deck in which this card doesn’t suck. So far, the only convincing suggestion I’ve heard was Quest Hunter. The deck wants to play a Quest and a bunch of 1-drops. It still would want to play some 2-drops, like Crackling Razormaw, but it can get away with not having those. Since the deck runs A LOT of 1-drops, giving them all +1/+1 will also be a big boost. And if you happen to play this card after the Quest is finished, all the Carnassa's Brood become 4/3. Solid stuff. It actually makes sense, the question is whether the Quest Hunter will be viable in the first place, because this card surely won’t make it viable.
The worst thing about it is that you really, really want to play it on Turn 2, but you have no way to guarantee that. It’s only a single card, so there is about a 25% chance to play it on Turn 2. That’s way, way too low for it to be reliable.
Consistency issues aside, this card is very strong in any deck that doesn’t need to play 2 mana cards. However, so far there were no viable decks like that. Which makes me think that this card won’t see any play.
Card rating: 4/5 in the right, viable deck (which probably doesn’t exist), 1/5 in the rest of them
Shallow Gravedigger is like a 3 mana 3/1 that draws a card on death. Except it doesn't draw a card, but adds a random Deathrattle minion to your hand. The keyword here is random. Discovering a Deathrattle is not that bad because you can at least choose between a few options. But there are tons of bad Deathrattle minions out there and a 3/1 for the cost is a very weak stat line, so it’s all about the draw. It should give you a strong card about 40% of the time. That’s not good enough.
If you want to play Deathrattle deck and you need card draw, just put Loot Hoarder in – one mana less, 1 Attack less, draws an actual card from your deck, making it way, way more consistent.
Card rating: 1.5/5
Priest’s version of Whirlwind with Lifesteal, Spirit Lash deals 1 AoE damage and heals the player for each damage dealt. It’s a surprisingly good card. The Priest class always struggles with early removal of a lot of minions. It has Dragonfire Potion later down the road, but in the early game, it needs to run all kinds of Wild Pyromancer shenanigans, or Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing. Of course, 1 AoE damage is not that much, but like Maelstrom Portal has shown, it can be really helpful. Since it’s a Whirlwind effect, it also means damaging your own minions but that doesn’t have to be bad. Damaging Northshire Cleric can basically draw you a card if you heal it - it can also combo nicely with Circle of Healing (AoE your whole board when you have Cleric on the board and then CoH to draw many cards). A lot of the Priest decks run Acolyte of Pain, which is great minion to damage.
And it has a solid combo with Spell Damage. E.g. playing it with Bloodmage Thalnos turns it into a 2 damage AoE and TONS of healing. Imagine it hits 5 minions, that’s 10 points of healing already.
The card’s power really depends on how many AoE and/or healing Priest will need. The card is clearly powerful vs Aggro decks, especially board flood ones (like Token decks or Zoo), but neither the small AoE nor healing is useful against slower decks. Running it will probably be a meta call, but I don’t imagine a meta without a lot of Aggro decks. So overall, I like this card.
Card rating: 4/5
A 4 mana 3/2is not great. I mean, yes, Chillblade Champion has Charge and Lifesteal which means you can immediately attack something and heal for 3.
But let's first figure out what kind of deck would want to play it. Aggro? Not really. An aggro deck doesn’t care about its own health total that much so Lifesteal is not that good. For them Chillblade is often a 4 mana 3/2 with Charge – a weaker version of Kor'kron Elite. It might be a better idea to play Wolfrider if you really need a Charge (I’d even play the Stormwind Knight over this one in Aggro). Control? Well, the card can be like a 4-Cost version of Bash, but can’t go through the Taunts, doesn’t heal when you’re full health and doesn’t have Armor synergies. But it can get buffed and it will heal for more assuming it attacks more than once. But the thing is, Control decks don’t need more healing. Control Paladin is the deck packed with healing – it can run more healing than it can utilize.
So maybe Midrange? Midrange looks like the most solid option. Healing can be useful, Charge can be useful, it’s like an all-around minion. It's not that bad, but I just don’t like it - I don't think it's good enough to make it to the Constructed. Stats are the biggest problem. And who has ever said, “I would like to have even more healing in my Paladin deck”? If you need an instant removal for 4 mana, you just play Truesilver Champion.
Card rating: 2.5/5
This card has very quickly became a meme after being the only card revealed on the first day of reveal season (in EU time). But it’s also really, really bad. It deals 5 damage to your whole board on Deathrattle. It’s a huge downside, so it should have a huge upside to make up for that, right? Well, no. It’s a 4 mana 5/6 which is basically a Chillwind Yeti with +1/+1. You can’t play it in any deck running minions, because you don’t want to blow up your own board. You don’t want to play it in a deck that doesn’t run almost any minions, because you don’t run many minions for a reason. So where do you want to play it?
Okay, but seriously. I’ve read some people saying that it might make sense to play it in Silence Priest. But I don't think it'll fit in the archetype at all. Silence Priest is a deck that plays Humongous Razorleaf – a 3 mana 4/8 minion. A 3 mana minion that has way better stats than this 4-drop. And in the worst case scenario, if you can’t Silence it, it won’t blow the rest of your board. You don’t want to play Silence to get a +1/+1 Yeti. You wanted to play it on Eerie Statue, which is a 7/7, not on a 5/6.
Another one I’ve heard is a deck that actually wants to blow up its own board. Such a deck doesn’t exist right now, so it’s impossible to say if it will be viable. Maybe it would make some sense in some weird Egg-Deathrattle-mix that wants to kill its own stuff, but I’m judging the card with the info I have right now and it’s terrible. I give it +0.5 point for the meme value and that’s all.
Card Rating: 1.5/5
I actually think that Plague Scientist is pretty strong. Giving a minion Poisonous on demand is a very powerful effect. Sadly, the effect is on a Combo, not on a Battlecry, but it still might be okay.
A lot of people have been treating this card as a 3-drop and that’s simply wrong. It’s more of a mid/late game removal card, not a 3-drop. You would rarely want to drop it on Turn 3 anyway, maybe to answer Tar Creeper, but that’s it. You’d want to play this card instead of Sap and just kill the stuff in the late game instead of bouncing it back to the opponent’s hand.
The card combos very well with small minions, so the obvious choice would be some sort of Tempo Rogue. If you have a lot of 1-drops on the board, it can be amazing. You can trade that 1/2 Fire Fly into a 5-drop thanks to this card. If Tempo Rogue ends up being played, I suspect this would be a common sight.
Another really interesting combo is Southsea Deckhand and this. It’s 4 mana for a hard removal and a 2/3 body on the board, another insane tempo swing, even better than Vilespine Slayer. Speaking of Vilespine Slayer, I think that it’s an auto-include in Rogue for a good reason – the card is very good and it’s most likely better than Plague Scientist. But it doesn’t mean that Rogue doesn’t need more strong removals.
One interesting consideration is that it’s the first board wipe available for Rogue ever. Wild Pyromancer + Plague Scientist + cheap spell is a weaker version of the Paladin’s Wild Pyromancer + Equality. But that’s one of the most powerful board clears in the whole game, so calling it a worse version of it isn’t really an insult. I don’t think that it will make a Control Rogue viable, but having a full board clear in case of emergency is always good for a class like that.
Card Rating: 4/5
Ice Breaker is a 3-Cost 1/3 weapon and that's a good thing. Clearly, Blizzard has learned their lesson with Spirit Claws and Jade Claws and they REALLY don’t want another Shaman weapon not meant for Aggro to be utilized in Aggro and this very clearly can't. It’s a control weapon meant to finish off Frozen minions. In theory, it can get 3-for-1 value if you have an access to good ways to Freeze minions. Right now, Shaman doesn’t. Yes, a new card was released – Voodoo Hexxer, but I don’t think it’s enough for this weapon to see play, because it’s not reliable enough. It might die before you even Freeze the target you want to kill.
You can also combo it with Glacial Shard, which is much more reliable and is actually pretty solid in the late game. If you have a weapon equipped already, Glacial Shard can destroy any minion (and put a 2/1 body on the board) for just 1 mana, that’s a great tempo move. However, it also costs you health, so hitting big stuff might be a problem.
One thing to mention is that you don’t really want to run it with a deck with other weapons. It’s not a weapon you will use quickly. It seems that you might not attack for multiple turns if you don’t have a good target or Freezes, so any more weapons might sit dead in your hand. At the same time, it makes this weapon very vulnerable to any removal like Gluttonous Ooze - it's so easy to get this weapon sniped if you're having it equipped for multiple turns.
I think that it might work in some kind of Frost-oriented Control Shaman. But the deck would need more Frost synergies to work. With our current knowledge, I can’t rate it too high, but it might get better score once we know more cards.
Card Rating: 2/5
Even though the community didn’t receive this card too well, I actually like it. Not as a standalone card, but rather as a part of a bigger plan. A plan to make slower Discard Warlock decks viable. So, one thing is for sure – this card WON’T make that happen alone. It’s simply not enough. It’s just a support card. But if the archetype does work, this will be brilliant.
People severely underestimate the Lifesteal mechanic in Warlock. Warlock is a class that desperately needs healing. It can utilize health much better than others. Health = card advantage. With cards like Bloodbloom, health = tempo. Even a few points of healing is very precious and this card might be much more than just a few.
Let’s say that you discard three cards before playing it, I think that’s fair assumption. Then this is a 4/6 minion that heals you for four every time it deals damage. If you manage to keep it alive for one attack, then something trades into it, it’s a vastly superior Antique Healbot, which was a staple in Warlock. Remember that it heals even when hitting back – if your opponent decides to trade it, you still get the healing. So the only way to prevent healing would be killing it with a spell (or well, Silencing it, but that's not a common thing right now). So, it’s most likely to not heal you for anything against slower decks, but against Aggro or even some Midrange, it’s nearly a guaranteed heal. Against Aggro, it could as well have Taunt, because they can’t just ignore it.
My biggest issue with this card is that you run it in a Discard deck and it can get Discarded without giving you anything. That creates a really awkward situation and can ruin a lot of games.
But like I’ve mentioned, this card alone is not enough to make a slower Discard Warlock viable. We have a Cruel Dinomancer, which is another solid card in such an archetype, but it still needs about two more cards to be viable. Will those two cards be released in this expansion? We’ll see.
Card Rating: 3.5/5
Wow, a less aggressive version of the Death's Bite. But in this case, less aggressive doesn't mean worse (okay, maybe a bit, but Death's Bite was broken, so we shouldn't expect another card like that soon). The 2 Attack means – just like with the Shaman’s weapon – that it can’t really be utilized in Aggro. An Aggro deck doesn’t want to play a weapon that deals 4 damage for 4 mana and AoE’s twice (most likely clearing its own board). But it might be a reasonable pick in the slower Warriors.
As soon as you equip this weapon, it acts like a bit weaker Swipe. It deals 3 damage to the target you attack and 1 to the rest of the minions. And then, next turn, you can repeat the same thing. The card is AMAZING in a more aggressive meta, I imagine it would see a lot of play, especially against the Token decks that often stack tons of minions on the board.
It also curves nicely right after the Acolyte of Pain – if ignored, it will be very easy for Warrior to get value.
What I like about it is that the second Whirlwind can be saved for later, just like with the Death’s Bite. It can be used to set up some other cards, e.g. it will be a 4 damage AoE for just 2 mana with Sleep with the Fishes – insane tempo move. In the late game, it might even be combined with King Mosh for an ultimate board clear, but that’s more likely a fancy interaction, not the main reason to play it.
The more I think about the card, the more I like it. I think that it will be a really solid Control Warrior card, and it might make into the decks that want to damage their own minions (akin to the old Patron Warrior).
Card rating: 4.5/5
Prince Taldaram is a very weird card. While Prince Keleseth's Battlecry is probably an easier condition to meet than “not running 2 mana cards”, it’s still very hard. The one deck I had in mind that might be able to get away with this is Ramp Druid – it can easily ignore the 3 mana slot. But what’s the point of actually running this?
You get a 3 mana version of Faceless Manipulator. And not exactly, because only the effect is copied, the stats are always 3/3. So, what’s the point?
I thought about copying a powerful Deathrattle effects but then I remembered Unearthed Raptor. A card that you could run two of - at least in Rogue - that has better stats, no condition and it wasn’t even broken. So no, I don’t think that it’s worth to run it to copy the Deathrattles.
So what’s the actual point? I really don’t get it. If you want to copy stuff, Faceless Manipulator is actually a better choice most of the time. Even though more expensive, it’s unconditional and it copies stats.
If you would play a deck that doesn’t want to run 3 mana cards anyway then go ahead and put Taldaram in. You might find it handy sometimes, but it’s really hard to find a deck like that right now.
I actually think that the card might be kind of broken in the future. In Wild, where all the crazy combos happen, at some point you'll be able to build a deck with no 3 mana cards (it will be easier in Wild), having a 2 mana discount as opposed to Faceless might be a big deal and activate some combos that weren’t available before. I can’t think of any right now, but I’ll let the more clever deckbuilders figure it out eventually. But since this review is for Standard, I don’t really have much choice, it's just not great.
Card Rating: 1/5
Nerubian Unraveler is a mini-Loatheb, but is more expensive and worse. I was pretty excited for the card at first, but now I think it’s just bad. First of all, it’s a 6 mana 5/5 which you don’t want to play in just any deck, only as a very specific tech. Then, the effect is mirrored. Sure, your opponent is crippled, but so are you. And its effect only increases costs by 2 mana, so it doesn’t block everything. E.g. you could Loatheb against late game Mage to stop Flamestrike. Now it will just cost 9, but will still happen if Mage needs to play it.
The card seems like a very specific tech. It would need to be played in a spell-heavy meta, but in a deck that runs little to no spells. Right now I can’t find a good application. Cards like that are the reason why I’d like a sideboard option in Hearthstone. It’s probably not good enough to put into your deck, but might make into a sideboard to counter some stuff.
Card Rating: 2/5
If Mountainfire Armor was a 3 mana 4/3 that gives you 6 Armor it would be broken as hell. But it’s not that easy. Your opponent needs to kill it for the effect to go off, not you. So basically it’s your opponent who controls whether you will get that Armor or not.
It doesn’t really work as an anti-Aggro option in a Control deck. Aggro decks will just ignore it and you will be forced to trade anyway, or else you will lose even more health. And ultimately it will be just a 4/3 vanilla minion.
Maybe in Aggro? The stats are pretty aggressive, and it’s more likely that your opponent will kill it. But no, why would you do that? You don’t need the extra Armor in Aggro (most of the time), so what’s the point?
Right now I’m thinking maybe some sort of Midrange/Tempo Warrior. On one hand, it’s pretty aggressive, so the opponent will be more likely to kill it. But on the other, Armor isn’t useless because makes games longer.
It has nice synergy with N'Zoth, the Corruptor as a cheap Deathrattle minion, and it’s likely that your opponent will want to clear it after you’ve revived it (and bunch of other stuff) with N’Zoth, thus the Armor gain will be there. N’Zoth decks often play Infested Tauren, even though it’s not an exciting minion at all, so why not this one? It MIGHT see some play in the Midrange/Control N’Zoth, but I don’t think that it will be gamebreaking.
Card Rating: 3/5
Historically, Hunter Legendaries have sucked. There wasn’t a single Hunter Legendary that has seen serious play outside of the off-meta decks or early expansion experimenting. Well, okay, some of them were playable – e.g. Swamp King Dred or Dreadscale, but they were never really good. This might change with the new expansion. Professor Putricide looks amazing, and Secret Hunter might actually revive. The card gets insane value. Whenever you play a Secret when it’s up, it plays another one, for free. It’s like drawing a card AND playing it – crazy tempo. And it’s all on a 4-drop with vanilla stats (5/4). So where’s the catch?
Well, the mana costs. If you drop it on Turn 4, it won’t likely survive. If you want to combo it with Secret right away, it will cost at least 6 mana, which is pretty expensive for a Hunter (and you want to play another Hunter “Legendary” on that turn anyway). So basically, it will work best in two scenarios. First is late game – if you have it and put two Secrets to play, it can really do wonders. And another one, the best case scenario, is having Cloaked Huntress on the board going into Turn 4. Free Secrets means free tempo, it’s already hard to deal with Huntress + 2-3 Secrets. If Putricide will basically double that tempo, that’s usually game for the Hunter.
But luckily for the non-Hunter players, the best case scenario shouldn’t happen that often. Hunter would need to have Cloaked Huntress AND Putricide AND 2-3 Secrets ready for the Turn 4 AND that Huntress would need to live. It won’t happen often. But even without it, Putricide is still a solid Legendary. Playing it on curve isn’t the worst thing ever – if it survives, great, if not, too bad, it’s still only a 4-drop. And the late game shenanigans will be crazy.
And the best thing is that those Secrets are random. You can’t play around them. Normally Hunter decks usually run the set of same Secrets, especially if you play against netdecks, you know exactly what to play around. Random ones from Putricide? No clue, you have to guess.
Of course, there is a chance that the card will see zero play. The card’s viability is heavily tied to the Secret Hunter’s viability. The deck is in a very average spot right now, and if it won’t get more support next expansion, even the Putricide won’t likely help it.
Card rating: 4.5/5
At first I thought that it’s a pack filler, but I guess that it might have a bit more value. Generating resources from outside of the game is always good, especially if the minion isn’t heavily understatted. Yes, the stats are only okay – 2/6 isn’t the best, but it could have been worse.
Generating a Mirror Image has some uses. First of all, defense. The card will likely buy you some health/time against Aggro. Second, it’s a cheap spell, so you can turn it into a Fireball with Archmage Antonidas. But most importantly, it’s a cheap spell generated from outside of your deck. Which is exactly what Quest Mage (Open the Waygate) wants. It might see actual play in Quest Mage, especially if the deck gets some more support.
I've heard people comparing this card to Arcanosmith, even saying that it is worse, and that's simply wrong. Arcanosmith is a 3/2, this is 2/6, it's a huge difference. And Arcanosmith summons a single 0/5 Taunt right away, this one you have much more control over. You can drop it on Turn 4, but keep the Taunts until you really need them.
Don’t get me wrong, the card isn’t the new auto-include like Arcanologist, but it might be okay-ish.
Card Rating: 3/5
This is actually the first Rogue healing card ever printed. And it’s not that good. The thing is that Rogue doesn’t really play big weapons. Most of the decks don’t play any weapons besides the Hero Power. In order to play this card, you’d need to go all in on the weapons and weapon buffs, which doesn’t look like a great idea. Sure, if you play Assassin's Blade + Deadly Poison + Leeching Poison, that’s 20 damage (and healing) total over 4 turns. But you’re investing a lot – 8 mana and 3 cards. Imagine this getting destroyed by an Ooze, that would be a game over most likely.
The big Rogue weapons are just too slow. Rogue does NOT need to kill minions with weapons, it has access to much better removal. And even if Rogue wanted to kill big minions with weapons, Envenom Weapon is still probably a better idea, and you can play that one on the Hero Power dagger.
The only solid combo I see is the one with Obsidian Shard - although only when you play some cards to discount it. If you play Shard for 0-1 mana, then playing this is not a huge tempo loss like is with the Assassin's Blade. But it's still a strech.
For this card to be viable, it would need to come with a weapon buff already attached. In the current state, I don’t think that it will see play. However, the fact that Rogue desperately needs some defensive options might make people consider it.
Card Rating: 2.5/5
One of the most hyped cards so far. And one of the highest rated cards so far. But I’m afraid that it might be a trap. It looks shiny, it promises tons of value, but in the end it’s slow. You pay 8 mana and you pretty much summon an 8/8, you don’t do anything else. Yes, you also summon two Frozen Champions, but those are 0/1 and can’t attack, opponent can just ignore them. Unless he desperately needs to AoE, you will be stuck with two 0/1’s on the board. So in order to get value, get two random Legendaries, you will most likely have to ping those yourself. So spend two more turns and 4 more mana to get them. And it’s not like random Legendary means a great card. Legendary was usually associated with huge, high value cards back in the day, but it has changed a lot since then. A lot of the new Legendaries are, well, just weak. Let’s take the new Princes as an example – their effect won’t likely be active and they will be just two, small, vanilla minions. And even if you get something big, remember that it also costs a lot.
So, slow card, VERY low tempo, high value, but random. I mean if you play a Control Mage, and I mean a real, proper Control Mage, not a Burn Mage or something (which cares for the late game tempo more than for the value) and you play against another Control deck, it might make sense to play it. Especially if you play the N'Zoth, the Corruptor version (which already is a thing with Pyros), because then you can double-dip on the random Legend value and you’re pretty much sure that your opponent will clear them for you the second time (AoE vs N’Zoth). But the card might be not good enough in the Standard, especially in a faster meta. It’s just very, very slow.
Why would Mage play it over let’s say Medivh? Similar initial stats, but Medivh gives you a crazy tempo AND value once you start flinging spells.
All in all, the card would definitely be great in a slow meta, especially in a N’Zoth deck. But I’m waiting for that mythical “slow meta” ever since the game’s launch and it never really happened. So I’m afraid that I have to call it average – it might see play as the late game value in some Control-oriented Mage lists, especially in the Wild, but I don’t imagine that it will be gamebreaking in any wa.
By the way, what’s worth noting is that Mage will have a very high chance to discover it with Netherspite Historian. Sadly, with no other class Dragon synergies, there might be no reason to run the Dragon package.
Card Rating: 3/5
No, thanks. As much as I’d like to take 10 Armor for 2 mana, giving a huge discount to all minions in my opponent’s hand is not something I want to do. While Armor is generally not that useful in slower matchups (outside of some huge Shield Slams), I can still use that Shield Block or whatever Armor generating card without worrying. This one? It’s often a dead card. It’s dead for nearly a whole game against some Control decks (the ones you really don't want to give discoutns to), it’s dead for a long time against Midrange and it’s dead against Aggro until they run out of cards or nearly run out of cards. Even in the current meta, Aggro decks aren’t 100% all-in decks that just mindlessly rush you down and run out of cards on Turn 5. Sure, maybe Token Druid or Pirate Warrior, but if you look at Token Shaman or Murloc Paladin, you’ll see that those decks have a lot of staying power into the mid/late game. You absolutely can’t give them any discount on minions, or else they outtempo you even more.
Okay, I actually see one use of this card – baiting people into the Brawl. If you play a very reactive, Control Warrior deck with two Brawls, two Sleep with the Fishes, two Primordial Drakes and such, you might have enough AoE to answer whatever they are playing. And I can’t lie that 10 Armor is quite a lot and it can be useful. But the thing is that you don't always have Brawl to follow-up. Even if you do, if opponent is playing smart, he won't play into it - he will force it and then overwhelm you with discounted units and force you to have another AoE clear.
This card might also seem okay against the spell-focused decks, but that's not always the case. The thing is that spell-focused decks usually run a few minions, but minions that they want to be cheaper. E.g. you really don't want to give Mage a cheaper Alexstrasza or Archmage Antonidas. Or I don't know, imagine discount Gadgetzan Auctioneer (vs Rogue or Druid) by two, that’s not really something you want to do. And any combo deck that relies on minions? Same thing. That's the thing about this card - you never know what you're discounting for your opponent. It can work really well if you don't hit anything significant, but it can also backfire.
I don’t really think that the card will see play, but maybe in a specific deck (slow, Control Warrior) in a specific meta (mostly Aggro and fast Midrange). Or maybe they want to print more Armor synergies in this expansion? Because Shield Slam alone might not be enough to justify using it.
Card Rating: 2/5
This, on the other hand, might be one of the best cards revealed so far. I simply love it. 3 mana 3/4 are great stats, especially in Mage. Mages suffer from no good Turn 3 play. Yes, Secret Mage has Kirin Tor Mage + Secret move, and that's great, but all the slower Mage lists have no real Turn 3. All their plays are very low tempo - setting up a slow Secret, drawing cards, which is not exactly what you want against Aggro. So having a 3/4 minion is already okay – vanilla 3/4 is not good, but dropping Manic Soulcaster on Turn 3 vs Aggro was often the right move. Having an option to do that is nice. Because let’s be honest, we shouldn’t expect this card to draw on Turn 3. But later in the game? Hell yeah.
If you play a deck with multiple Freeze effects, like Frostbolt, Water Elemental and Blizzard, let’s say in some sort of Control Mage, it should be really easy to activate it eventually. You play Water Elemental Turn 4, Turn 5 you attack something (or something traded into it and is Frozen) and play this one. 3 mana 3/4 draw a card. Really, really good.
But, unlike most of the people who are calling that it will see play in Freeze Mage, I don’t think it will. Freeze Mage rarely cares for the small minions’ stats past the early game. 90% of time your minions aren’t going to stick to deal any damage anyway. And both Acolyte of Pain and Arcane Intellect are already card draws in the 3 mana slot, card draws that isn’t conditional. This fits a Control Mage or maybe Midrange Freeze Mage (which doesn’t exist yet, but might if more Freeze synergy gets printed).
Card Rating: 4/5
It’s a bit similar to the Alley Armorsmith, but instead of the Armor, it freezes everything. I think that the card is a very strong defensive option and might be insane against Aggro/Midrange decks. The thing about freezing is that it works really well if it’s the opponent who is freezing his own minions. Let’s say that he attacks with 3 minions to trade it in and they all survive. They will be frozen, which means that they will basically skip another round of attacks. If they had 8 attack in total, that’s like getting healed for an extra 8, on top of all the damage tanked by the Taunt minion – 16 healing in total + whatever damage the minion has dealt for just 5 mana.
However, what I’m more interested in is the Frost synergy. Shaman got Ice Breaker revealed, which can get really powerful with the right Freezing cards. I don’t think that this alone is enough, but since two cards of the expansion hint at that kind of synergy, we might see more.
Right now I won’t judge it for the Freeze synergies, because those simply aren’t there. But just looking at it, it might actually see play in some slower Shaman builds. It’s a good defensive option, it’s comparable to the Alley Armorsmith, slightly stronger or weaker depending on the situation. But the problem is that the real Control Shaman isn’t really a thing right now, and that card alone isn’t the reason to revive it.
Oh, and it’s another reason to run Stonehill Defender in Shaman. It adds another good class Taunt to the pool, increasing the card’s consistency even more.
P.S. Between this card, Alley Armorsmith and few others, it MIGHT be time to dust off your Stampeding Kodo for the next expansion!
Card rating: 4/5
Umm, the card that reddit was so excited for ever since it first appeared in the trailer. Yeah, the art looks cool, but the effect is very medicore. Don’t get me wrong, the card isn’t even that bad, it’s just a bit boring. The aggressive statline on minions is often blocked by the fact that they’re easy to remove. While some classes rely on the minions, it might removing this a nightmare for the others. For example, Druid won’t be able to Wrath it, Mage won’t be able to Frostbolt it or Priest won’t be able.. wait, it’s 4 attack anyway. But won't be able to Shadow Word: Death it after it's buffed.
The card by itself is okay-ish, but what makes it interesting is the next card you’re most likely going to play – Houndmaster. A 4/3 that can’t be targeted is still weak. It dies to 2-drops, most of the weapons etc. But a 6/5 you can’t target is now much harder to clear. Houndmaster is the reason why I think this card might see some play.
However, the problem is that the Hunter’s 3 mana slot is already full. Midrange Hunters already have to choose between Animal Companion, Rat Pack (which is already cut, because it’s too slow), Eaglehorn Bow, Kill Command, Unleash the Hounds and Deadly Shot. Assuming that Secret Hunter becomes a thing, Cloaked Huntress will be another point of consideration. The card might be really hard to fit. The main question is whether it will be stronger than Animal Companion – if it turns out to be, then it will see common play in Hunter. If not, then it will probably be slotted as “another 3-drop” instead of Rat Pack, which is rare already. And it probably won’t fit into the Secret Hunter build, because this one simply needs to run Cloaked Huntress.
Card Rating: 3.5/5
Oh, that card is really hard to rate. First thing – it will NOT bring back Ancient of War, because the Taunt part is a buff, not a minion’s text. Similarly, it won’t bring any minion that you give Taunt to, like if you Mark of the Wild a big guy, it won’t get revived. I’m not sure how it will work with Twilight Geomancer and C'Thun, but I assume that it won’t work. It will, however, work with the Druid of the Claw - even though the initial minion you play from the hand doesn't have Taunt (and so it wouldn't count for something like a Warrior's Quest), the minion it transforms into has a Taunt keyword (if you pick the 4/6 option, obviously).
So let’s look at the list of potential Taunts Druid can run: Shellshifter, Druid of the Claw, Dark Arakkoa, Jade Behemoth, Ironbark Protector. I think that we can rule out the Jade Behemoth, because it won’t be played in Jade decks. Ironbark Protector also doesn’t seem like a card you would run just because of this. But there are also some neutral options like The Curator and Primordial Drake. So overall, I think that we have enough Taunts in Standard to make it work.
Overall I like the card. I’ve heard people saying “too slow, too slow”, but you need to remember that it’s the Druid we’re talking about. If you play it in Ramp Druid, you’re probably like two mana ahead of your opponent anyway. Against Aggro, just surviving to the late game and playing big Taunts is usually enough to win. But this card might be gamebreaking against Midrange decks. The games are usually longer, so you play more Taunts. And you usually needs more value to win against them. So this card might provide. Not to mention that it’s even better against slow decks, because then you can wait with it until you will summon six Taunts. Even if you just force a big AoE clear, that’s one big AoE clear less. Of course, not every time, because they might be saving a Polymorph or Hex or something similar for that, but that’s a problem with most of the big minions.
The card has cool synergy with N'Zoth, the Corruptor, although it might not work in Standard, because Druid doesn’t really have other big Deathrattle cards it wants to play. However, it can be played in a Wild for an ultimate bunker Druid deck. You play Deathlords, you play Sludge Belchers, then you bring them back with this card, then you bring everything back with N’Zoth anyway, then if they die again, you get a board refill once more. Pretty crazy.
What I don’t like about the card is that it’s slow. Not even mana-wise, that’s bearable for the Druid. But the fact that it’s a 3/7 minion that needs to die is pretty difficult. It’s not a big threat, so the opponent can ignore it. And if he doesn’t play a big threat into it you can trade into (he probably won’t, because why would he?), then it might take another turn or two to get the value off. So I’m not sure, it probably depends on the meta. It might look like an anti-Aggro card, summoning a bunch of Taunts, but it’s just too slow to be anti-Aggro. However, I can see it being an anti-Midrange card as long as people don’t start teching in the Silence this expansion.
P.S. I’ve just realized that even if it doesn’t affect Taunted C’Thun, it might actually work in C’Thun Druid. Between Dark Arakkoa, Twin Emperor Vek'lor and Crazed Worshipper, the deck has enough Taunts to consider running it as an extra late game win condition.
Card rating: 3.5/5
It seems that Blizzad is really trying to push the slower Hunter archetype. Because in a slow Hunter deck, especially N'Zoth list, this card could really work. However, I still assume that no such thing as a "Control Hunter" will exist, and all we might get is a slower Midrange Hunter deck. So, would this card fit into such a deck?
The answer is probably no. It costs 7 mana, so it's very expensive for a card that has no immediate impact. The fact that's it's pretty big AND has Deathrattle is a good thing - it has a Savannah Highmane effect of "I don't want to kill this card, because it will summon more stuff, but I can't leave it on the board, because it will kill me". It costs one more, but has two more health than Highmane, so it might seem like it's actually a good card to curve out into if it also summons something powerful. Yes, there is always but it summons a random friendly Beast that died this game. This basically means that playing small Beasts dillute the outcome pool of this card. And majority of the Hunter's early game and mid game is, exactly, small Beasts.
I'd say that the smallest thing you want to summon from this is something like a 3-drop (e.g. Bearshark, Misha) or a 4-drop (Infested Wolf). But it means that you can't play Alleycat, Jeweled Macaw, Fiery Bat, Kindly Grandmother, Crackling Razormaw, Rat Pack (especially since the 1/1's are also Beasts). You also can't play Unleash the Hounds, because it puts a lot of 1/1 Beasts into the pool. Even Infested Wolf is very questionable, because it summons two 1/1 on Death. So you basically can't play most of your early game and a portion of your mid game. Heck, even Highmane can dillute the pool with two 2/2's.
Yes, of course, you can high roll a Savannah Highmane and make this one of the most broken cards in the game. But in a normal Hunter deck, you have a much higher chance to summon a 1/1 or a 3/2 instead, which is not a great outcome - it makes this card a bad version of Highmane.
What's the solution? You might not play the small Beasts at all. Play this in a deck running only bigger Beasts - e.g. Nesting Roc, Stranglethorn Tiger, Savannah Highmane. This way it will have no chance to low roll and will always be insane. But the problem is, what do you play in the early game? Hunter can't play a non-Beast early game, it just doesn't have one. You can play a bunch of Neutral cards, but what's the point of having a powerful 7-drop if you will be losing the early game every single time?
So this card looks like a RNG fest, and that's why I don't like it. The card isn't very weak, but in my opinion it's just too inconsistent to see common play. Or maybe I should say that I REALLY hope that it won't be played, otherwise people will high roll a 1 in 10 Highmane when playing against you and you won't be able to do anything about it.
Card Rating: 2.5/5
That's all, folks. I will write more card reviews once more cards are revealed. You should expect another one early next week!
If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know in the comments. Since the cards are new, they were untested etc. I might have made a mistake somewhere, I could misunderstood how the card works or maybe look at the synergies that aren't there.
And if you disagree with my rating, let me know. It's really hard to rate cards so early, when we didn't even see majority of the set yet, but I'd like to hear your opinion.
A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. He's achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs. You can follow him on Twitter @StonekeepHS.