More discussion about the recently revealed Frozen Throne cards.

Knights of the Frozen Throne spoiler season started last week and we're making good progress on the set. As of the time of writing, a full half of the 135 cards have been revealed. This is the second part of our review, so it continues exactly where I stopped last time. If you want to read the reviews for cards revealed up until July 26th, check out the Part 1. If you want to read the reviews for cards revealed between July 27th and July 30th, check out the Part 2.

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.

Stitched Tracker

This card is a bit similar to the Paladin's Howling Commander. However, when reviewing that one, I've mentioned that "3 mana 2/2 draw a card" is not really great unless it has something more to it. Drawing a Divine Shield minion is a pretty average effect. However, Kabal Courier has seen some play, because it gives you an option to pick one card out of three from a pool of random cards. And look at that - another Discover card, but this time you can Discover a minion from your deck. So not only are you drawing from a pool of great cards, but you also pick one of the three options. It makes it much, much better than just "draw a card".

One important note is that it creates a copy of that card and not draws it. It means that if, for example, you play in a slow matchup and you pick Savannah Highmane (one of the best cards vs slower decks), it doesn't remove it from your deck, which means that you still have significant chance to draw one (or even two!). It also means that you can discover a duplicate of some Legendary minion. It would be incredibly useful if N'Zoth Hunter became a thing - imagine picking an extra N'Zoth, the Corruptor vs a deck you can afford to play that long of a game.

Overall, the card is really great. It's definitely not a good Aggro card, because it's too low tempo. But I imagine that a slower Midrange or Control decks would love it. I'm still not convinced that Control Hunter will become a thing, but a slow Midrange build with N'Zoth might work depending on the meta.

Card rating: 4/5

Sunborne Val'kyr

Interesting minion. If I had to compare it to something, I would say that it reminds me of Defender of Argus. Both are permanent buffs to adjacent minions, both add two stats. Argus has much weaker stats (2/3 vs 5/4), but it also adds Taunt and costs one mana less. I'd also say that in the decks that want to buff minions, +1/+1 is generally better than +0/+2.

It's not a bad card, but it's nothing amazing. If you don't have minions to play it on, it's just a vanilla 5/4 for 5. With only a single buff, it's like a 5/6 for 5, which is not playable in Constructed.  So in the reality, it would need to hit 2 minions every time for it to be worth, and having 2 minions up on Turn 5 every time is not really that realistic.

I think that Argus is better - more flexible, Taunt is important vs Aggro, +1/+1 is better in Zoo-like decks, but this one will be a really solid Arena card.

Card rating: 1.5/5

Archbishop Benedictus

One of the most discussed cards from the upcoming expansion. And yes, there is a lot to discuss. The effect is really crazy, we've never had something like this before. I thought that Dead Man's Hand is already interesting, but look at that.

But here is the thing. This card is terrible. It's a meme card. It has very weak stats (7 mana for a 4/6) and in majority of the matchups, the effect is not an upside - it's a downside. On average, your opponent's deck will be weaker than yours FOR YOU. Because of the class synergies etc. So you're adding a bunch of, on average weaker, cards to your deck. There is no point to do that, outside of one thing: Fatigue.

This card counters fatigue decks. In a classic Control vs Control matchup, the game was often decided by fatigue. Players didn't want to draw, had very similar amount of the late game value etc. I remember Control Warrior mirrors getting to 13-14 points of fatigue damage, it was crazy sometimes. Not so much in the Priest, but still. So here's the thing - in a matchup like that, having let's say 10 extra cards in your deck when your opponent has nothing to play already is insane. Not only you aren't taking fatigue damage, but you're still drawing stuff when they are not. It's like an auto-win in scenario like that.

But here's the problem. Days of those matchups are long gone. Games rarely end in fatigue right now. If you play Control Priest, most of the time fatigue doesn't matter. Games vs Jade end sooner, games vs Taunt Warrior end sooner, games vs Burn/Freeze Mage end sooner, games vs Miracle Rogue end sooner... Only a small percent of matchups (when you play vs other slow, Control decks) can actually get to fatigue from your side. And it's not like they get to fatigue EVERY TIME, Tempo is also important and one player outtempo'ing another is a common win condition. So in the end, I estimate that around 2-3% of the matches would be won by this card.

But at the same time, you're playing a card that decreases your win rate in the other ~97%, because it has a bad body and it makes your deck weaker. You can do the math.

This card would be a great tech in case the slow, Control deck like the good, old Control Priest became a thing again. If 15-20% of the matches went to fatigue, then it would make sense to run this card. So while I can't judge the meta that still isn't there, unless such decks become popular, this card won't be any good.

Card rating: 1/5, but has potential as a tech vs very slow meta

Embrace Darkness

It's like a Corruption mixed with Mind Control. Corruption has seen some play in Reno decks, but only because they were Reno decks and only because it cost 1 mana, so it worked as an early game "counter" to cards like Tunnel Trogg or Totem Golem. You took some damage, but you still removed their early game drop from the board.

In order for this card to work, you need to have pretty much no board, the opponent needs to drop a big minion, you need to be healthy enough that you don't have to remove it right away, it has to be a minion that you don't have to remove right away (so it doesn't work with something like Archmage Antonidas, which you simply have to deal with on the same turn) and the opponent needs to not have a way to answer that - e.g. a Silence. That's a lot of conditions, but I'll be honest - that's how often Priest works. You often have an empty board, opponent drops a big minion and you remove it. But, outside of the ones you need to remove right away, you now will be able to steal them with it.

The card is very polarized. Against some matchups it's simply bonkers - e.g. against Ramp Druid. But it's also really slow. It's pretty much dead against most of Aggro and Midrange decks, however, it might be a solid tech if the meta slows down. I mean, Priest has hard time dealing with some minions, like Primordial Drake. This can be a solid answer - taking 4 extra points of damage when you have no board they can bump into is nothing, the swing will be significant.

The card is hard to rate, because it heavily depends on the meta. In a faster meta, it's 1/5, because it's too slow. In a slower meta, it can be a 4/5 or even 5/5, because you can set up the game in a way to get a lot of value out of it.

Card rating: 3/5

Phantom Freebooter

Most of the people screamed "Pirate Warrior" when first seeing Phantom Freebooter. I mean, that's the first logical thought - it's a Pirate and it combos nicely with the big weapons. However, I don't think that this card would be very thrilling in the Pirate Warrior.

The thing is, most of the time it won't be much better than Bloodsail Raider. Pirate Warrior's weapons tend to have high attack and low health. E.g. if you have a 5/1 Arcanite Reaper, Bloodsail Raider will be a 7/3. This will be an 8/4. +1/+1 for 2 mana is not really worth it.

The most common scenario is this card being a 4 mana 6/4 with a 3/1 Fiery War Axe. You rarely have a bigger weapon by Turn 4. Maybe if you played a Bloodsail Cultist on Turn 3, you can have a 4/1 (note that you want to keep your weapon at 1 charge, so it won't get countered by weapon destruction).

So 6/4 is like a Naga Corsair with 1 more attack, but it doesn't buff the weapon by (probably) one, so it's pretty much similar. This card might have one more health sometimes, but at the same time, if you happen to have no weapon equipped and play it for the tempo, it's just a 4/4.

You can also play it with N'Zoth's First Mate to turn it into a 4/6, which is a nice stat line for 4 mana. But again, Naga Corsair is 5/4 AND it will make the weapon a 2/3 instead of 1/3, so probably even better. And you definitely don't want to play this instead of Kor'kron Elite.

So no, it won't be played in Pirate Warrior. But how about Shaman? You can play Turn 5 Doomhammer and this guy will be a 5/11 for 4 mana on the next turn (and it fits the mana curve perfectly). Or 5/9 if you attack twice right away. You could also combo it with Jade Claws to have a 4 mana 5/5. Or Hammer of Twilight for a 4 mana 7/5. I know that it probably won't be worth it to run a lot of weapons just to support this guy, but the combo with Doomhammer seems really cool.

Overall, I don't think that this card will see any play. Unless there will actually be a reason to run Doomhammer in Shaman.

Card rating: 2/5

Mindbreaker

Anti-Hero Power tech. Since the effect is mirrored, it's basically meant to be played either in a deck that doesn't care about own Hero Power that much, or against a deck that has stronger Hero Power.

Given the fact that Hero Cards with new, powerful Hero Powers are getting released, it's clearly a tech targeted at those. However, I don't really think that it will help that much.

First of all, 2/5 stats for a 3-drop are okay, but it's not really exciting given that fact that it's pretty much a vanilla minion in the early/mid game, where people generally don't want to use the Hero Powers anyway. And the problem is that in the late game, a 3-drop is quite easy to take down if your opponent really needs to use the Hero Power.

If one of the Hero cards has a really oppressive Hero Power and this becomes a tech, it's not like they can't counter-tech and play Stampeding Kodo in order to deal with it. So I don't really see how it can stop the Death Knights from using their Hero Powers (most of the time).

I think that a more interesting use is to counter Aggro Hunter. The deck mostly relies on the Hero Power to deal damage in the mid/late game. Mid/late game it tries to press Hero Power every turn. So if you play this card, it can save you a lot of health over the course of the few turns. However, it's a really specific tech and I don't think that it's going to be that impactful.

I'm glad that we have a card like that, it's nice to have techs against stuff that can potentially get out of control. But I don't really imagine that we will need it and that it will be played.

Card rating: 2.5/5

Crypt Lord

I've heard some voices that this card looks anti-Aggro but no, it doesn't. Against Aggro, it's most likely a 1/6 Taunt for 3. While it's clearly a power-creep over Silverback Patriarch, 1/6 Taunt isn't great against Aggro - it doesn't take down 2 or 3 health minions. Tar Creeper is better.

But what about the effect? Well, it's nice, but it's nearly meaningless. If you play vs Aggro, it will die right away. Even if not, you will at most gain 1 health, because you won't be playing more minions on the curve. Does it mean that the card is bad? Well, not exactly.

It honestly looks like a great Aggro tool. Just like Tar Creeper is often played in Token Druid right now to protect the rest of the board. This is simply superior. Of course, it doesn't gain +2 Attack on the opponent's turn, but it can gain a lot of health. Token Druid tends to flood the board and summon (that's the key, this card gains +1 for each SUMMONED minion) multiple minions every turn. Let's say you play 2 minions on the next turn and buff it to 1/8. Then you play Living Mana and give it another +5 Health. Now it's already 13 health that the opponent has to get through before he can attack your other minions. And such a low health and high attack minion has insane synergy with buffs. Token Druid can buff it to 2-3 Attack quite easily, which will make it a serious threat.

This card is pretty insane in Token Druid - the current version, but also maybe a bit more Midrange-y version. It seems pretty powerful.

Card rating: 4/5

Thrall, Deathseer (Transmute Spirit)

Wow... yeah, Hero cards are really hard to rate, because it's a new mechanic that we haven't seen before.

This one is hard to rate specifically because it doesn't fit in the current Evolve deck at all. Right now, the Evolve deck is based around Tokens and AoE Evolving. While yes, the first cast of this card Evolves everything, it costs 5 mana for the +2 mana evolution. It's not THAT much more impactful than +1, and it costs 5 times as much. But that's not even the problem, it's pretty solid immediate tempo gain on the right board. The problem is that Hero Power becomes "Evolve a single minion" for 1 mana. It seems like a pretty bad Hero Power. It's pretty low tempo move. Master of Evolution has the same effect on a solid, 4/5 body and it has never really seen competitive play. The normal Hero Power is actually better in the current Token Shaman, because it synergizes with Flametongue Totem and Bloodlust.

So it really doesn't fit into the current Evolve deck. However, it MIGHT see play in a slower deck. For example, into a Jade deck. The good thing about this Hero Power is that it "heals up" the minion. Jade deck tends to run a lot of pretty big, vanilla minions. E.g. you can play a 7/7 Jade, trade it into something (a 5/5 or something) and then Evolve it. But then again, it might be hard to fit other good Evolve targets into that deck (like Doppelgangster).

There are some cool combos available, but honestly, they would need a lot of testing. Having Evolve on demand means that some minions that normally aren't played might make more sense. For example, Moat Lurker + Evolve is a great Turn 8 play. You destroy any minion and get a random 7-drop for 8 mana. However, Moat Lurker will suck until you get a way to Evolve it.

So all in all, I'm not really sure about this card. I think it has some potential, but I wouldn't call it amazing.

Card rating: 3/5

Tomb Lurker

A 5 mana 5/3 draw a card is average. For example, Lotus Agents have seen no serious play, even though Discover was pretty nice. I could maybe see using this as one-of, except...

It doesn't say "friendly" Deathrattle minion, but a "random" Deathrattle minion. It basically means that you can also draw the opponent's Deathrattles. And while sometimes it's a good thing - e.g. you can get a Tirion Fordring in the late game vs Paladin, most of the time it's a downside. The Deathrattle minions you put into your deck will always, on average, be better in your deck, because that's the reason you run them in the first place over other stuff. And this effect means that you can draw a Fiery Bat against Hunter, Mana Treant against Druid with Living Mana (+1 mana can be good, BUT only if you draw that on Turn 5-6, later it's pointless), Jade Swarmer against Jade Rogue etc.

Which, in my opinion, pushes the card into "below average" zone.

Card rating: 2/5

Righteous Protector

Better Argent Squire? 1 mana Annoy-o-Tron? No matter how you call it, it looks pretty solid. Divine Shield and Taunt is a great combination, especially on a 1-drop. It's very cheap and annoying - Annoy-o-Tron was good because it could reliably stop two minion attacks. Even in the late game. Imagine Bittertide Hydra having to trade into your 1/1.

If Divine Shield Paladin will become a thing, this card will definitely see play. Taunt + Divine Shield is a great combo for all those "gain X when friendly minion loses Divine Shield." It also seems to have solid synergy with buffs - with Blessing of Kings you can make a 5 mana 5/5 Taunt with Divine Shield. That can be great against some board states.

This card also seems good enough to see play outside of the Divine Shield synergy decks. It might be played in Midrange Paladin, if Midrange Paladin wasn't all about Murlocs right now.

And well, it's a clear nerf to the Stonehill Defender. No, it's not a bad card, sometimes picking a 1-drop to fit the curve will be good. But it will reduce your chance to get a Tirion Fordring or Sunkeeper Tarim. Maybe not much, but it will matter.

Overall I like the card, auto-include into Divine Shield deck (if one exists), but also doesn't seem bad outside of it.

Card rating: 4/5

Runeforge Haunter

I'm not really sold on this one. Realistically, this is going to work for a single turn only. You can't expect a 5/3 4-drop to live for longer. The card's stat line is quite weak - 5/3 for 4 is meh. So the effect could often read simply "Add one Durability to your weapon". Would that be good in Rogue? Right now not really.

Rogue doesn't play big weapons or weapon buffs. Right now the only potential good target for this card is Shadowblade. Turn 3 Shadowblade + you kill something, then Turn 4 this + you kill something and you still have a 5/3 minion and 3/1 weapon. If this minion survives, you can attack one more time. That combo seems nice, but it's also situational. If you don't have Shadowblade on Turn 3, you can gain an extra charge of your Hero Power, which is nearly meaningless.

I feel like this card might be more powerful if Rogue got access to another strong weapon. Right now it's average. But the thing is, even an average card like that might see play, because Rogue's 4-drop slot is barren. Right now Rogues have Sherazin, Corpse Flower and that's all. After Tomb Pillager rotated out, Rogue has struggled with the 4-drop slot and even if it's pretty average, it might still see play.

Card rating: 3/5

Corpse Raiser

It's the Ancestral Spirit on a 3/3 body, for 5 mana. Which doesn't make it some insane deal, but the fact that it's Neutral is huge. It means that EVERY class will be able to resurrect minions now.

Why is it important? Because Shaman isn't necessarily the best class for revive shenanigans. Let's say Paladin - Tirion Fordring or Ragnaros, Lightlord are insane targets. Finja, the Flying Star and Primordial Drake are other solid targets.

The problem here is that the 3/3 body is pretty irrelevant. I mean, it's a nice addition, but the card loses a lot of flexibility. You COULD play Tirion and use 2 mana Ancestral Spirit right away.  You CAN'T do the same thing with this card.

The big minions you'd normally want to use this on are usually so expensive that you can't combo those together. And those big minions are often removed right after they're played, or else you're on a good track to win the game anyway. I mean, if your 8/8 sticks, if opponent can't answer that, this minion doesn't add a lot to the mix.

So while it has some potential, I don't think that it's going to be that impactful, because 5 mana means that it can't be combo'd with the big stuff right away. Because of that, it seems to fit a Midrange deck more than a Control. In a Midrange deck, it has a higher chance to be played on the curve (after a solid 5-drop) or to be combo'd with some powerful mid game minion in the late game. But I don't really have a particular deck it would fit into in mind.

Card rating: 3.5/5

Corpse Widow

If that's not going to make a slower Midrange Hunter with Deathrattle package and N'Zoth viable, then I don't know what will. This card is insane. This card has quite solid stats (4/6 for 5), it fills the gap in the Midrange Hunter's curve (Hunter has no staple 5-drop, Tundra Rhino, Nesting Roc and Stranglethorn Tiger have all been played, but they are all average), it has a Beast tag and a powerful effect.

Any mana discount effect is powerful on the right card. This one discounts Deathrattles. And while it might not seem like the best thing, Hunter decks tend to play A LOT of Deathrattles. Here are some of the viable Deathrattle cards that can be played in Hunter: Fiery Bat, Kindly Grandmother, Rat Pack, Infested Wolf, Savannah Highmane. That's easily enough to justify running this minion. The thing about this mana discount is that it can be utilized immediately. If you drop it on Turn 5, you can play Fiery Bat and/or Kindly Grandmother with it. On Turn 6 - Rat Pack. Turn 7 - Infested Wolf. Those are quite solid tempo swings. If you drop it on Turn 5 and it survives, you can follow it up with something like Infested Wolf + Highmane on Turn 6. That's four mana of free tempo, which is exactly what Hunter wants. Or even Highmane + Crackling Razormaw - which not only puts Highmane on the board, but allows you to immediately Adapt the 4/6 for an immediate effect.

Of course, the minion isn't perfect. If you have no Deathrattle minions to combo it with, it's just a vanilla 4/6. But 5-drop slot was never that important in Hunter, so even if it won't get you high value, it will still be a high priority removal target for your opponent.

I really like the card and I think that it will see play in a slower version of Midrange Hunter, one that's more focused on the Deathrattles.

Card rating: 4.5/5

Devour Mind

It's a Thoughtsteal but bigger. Thoughtsteal is more mana efficient (you pay 1.5 mana per card on average, as opposed to ~1.7 of Mind Robber), but the latter is more card efficient - you get 3 for 1, instead of 2 for 1. Since Thoughtsteal was used pretty much only as a value tool for Control matchups, I think that Mind Robber would fit that role better, because it nets +2 cards.

But the thing is, the card (just like Thoughtsteal) is pure value and no tempo. That's the problem, because Control Priest decks already struggle with tempo. Thoughtsteal was switched for Curious Glimmerroot in most recent lists, because even though it's basically +0 card advantage (cost 1 card, gives 1 card), it also gets a 3/3 body, which is important in any faster matchup.

So that's the thing - this card might be used as a value tool in Control Priest if the meta gets slower. However, it shares a lot of problems with Thoughtsteal - getting cards from the opponent's deck is not the best way to get value. They often don't synergize with your deck and Priest has better ways to get value now - Drakonid Operative in Dragon Priest, Elise the Trailblazer + Shadow Visions in Control Priest, and obviously Lyra the Sunshard.

I think that it might see some play in the future, but only because it's ultimately 3 for 1, which is great in any slow matchup.

Card rating: 2/5

Glacial Mysteries

I'd like to say that this card is broken, because well, let's be honest, if we found a deck that can play like 5 different Secrets, 2 copies of each, this would be an auto-include.  Imagine this: drawing five 3 mana cards and playing them all for 8 mana. It's crazy value. Even at 3 Secrets, it already starts being worth it. However, there is no such a deck. That's the problem. Slow decks run Ice Barrier, Ice Block (which is not great, because you can't cast another copy if you already have one) and sometimes Counterspell. Faster decks run mostly Mirror Entity, Counterspell and sometimes Ice Block or Spellbender. But it doesn't mean that you will pull all of them with this card. A lot of them are 1-ofs, so drawing the only copy before Turn 8 is quite common. Each Mage deck also plays two copies of Arcanologist, the card is so good that there is simply no point to NOT run it.

All in all, it makes this card very hard to run. Mysterious Challenger at least had a 6/6 body, so even in case most of the Secrets were drawn, it was still a solid 6-drop. This one isn't. If it pulls out one Secret and plays it, it's terrible. At two Secrets, it's average/okay. It's three or more where it really shines. However, pulling three or more will be nigh impossible in the current decks.

Right now I have to call this card bad. HOWEVER, it's one of those cards that really need a lot of testing. If people will be able to build a deck with at least like 7-8 copies of Secrets, then it might work and be really powerful.

P.S. It gets significantly better if you have Atiesh out (from Medivh, the Guardian) or with Inkmaster Solia in Reno deck. However, any expensive spell is much better with Atiesh and running that many Secrets in Reno deck can be pretty hard).

Card rating: 2/5 - but it will probably turn out to be broken and I'll feel stupid

Obsidian Statue

Priest isn't a class known for big minions. If I remember correctly, this is the first time Priest is getting 8+ mana minion since the launch. Anyway, it's a 4/8 Taunt for 9 mana. This alone seems pretty bad. However, the card also gets Lifesteal which makes it better. Healing for 4 each time it deals damage means that if you, as a Priest, survive against Aggro or aggressive Midrange deck until you drop this, it's game over. It's also great against burn decks like Burn/Freeze Mage - it's great to heal up after Alexstrasza. But that's not all. When it dies, it destroys a random enemy minion. Which, similarly to Sylvanas Windrunner, might make things awkward for the opponent. They won't want to play anything huge because it will die from this Deathrattle.

This Deathrattle also a) counts for the Quest b) combos really well with N'Zoth the Corruptor. Quest Priest struggled a bit in Standard because there weren't too many good Deathrattle minions to run/resurrect. This changes it a bit and covers the late game really well.

Oh, and the fact that it can be discovered by Stonehill Defender (alongside Tortollan Shellraiser, which is another Deathrattle Taunt) might make Priest start running them.

It's also the first Priest class card that can be discovered from Free From Amber - since it will have 400% offering rate (as a class card), it will be seen more often than any other (if I'm calculating correctly, it will have around 1/3 chance to get discovered with Free from Amber), improving the Free from Amber's quality by quite a lot.

So yeah, this card is just good. Not perfect, because of a high mana cost (9 is a lot for Priest, a lot of the games are decided by then), but definitely auto-include in Deathrattle variant of Priest and maybe even in the Control version. Taunt is the saving grace for this card - Taunt + Lifesteal combination makes this card, unlike most of the other high drops, playable in faster matchups without worrying that you will die right after.

Card rating: 4/5

Simulacrum

When it comes to the card synergies, you can read my thoughts in the official reveal (here), so I won't repeat myself.

And when it comes to the rating, the card is really hard to rate. It's a unique effect, something we have never had in the game before. I think that at least one copy will be played in Quest Mage to make it more consistent. Also, I imagine that a Control Mage (like the Wild Reno Mage) might run one copy as a late game flexible value tool - you could copy whatever minion you'd like. It's a bit like Duplicate, but can't be played around. In the late game, it shouldn't be hard to play the low cost cards and leave exactly the one you want to copy as the lowest one in your hand. Having an extra Kazakus (imagine having discounted Brann Bronzebeard and then playing 2x Kazakus in a value matchup) or Reno Jackson (very useful vs some decks).

Rating this card is very hard. I don't imagine it will ever be a staple meta card in multiple Mage decks, it's just too specific. But I'm glad that cards like that exist - even if it will be played in just one deck, it's still very cool. Since my rating is about Standard, I can't rate it higher than 2, as right now it only seems to fit Quest Mage. If Control Mage becomes a thing in Standard, it might see some play there too, but I'm not 100% sure.

Card rating: 2/5

Lilian Voss

This expansion is full of cards that are hard to rate. This one is very interesting. It has great stats for a Rogue's 4-drop - this is a weak spot in the class, even if something is released, it's usually at 3 or 4 health. This one being a 4/5 is good already. And then the effect. The effect... But isn't the effect a downside? Wouldn't you rather keep your spells and not replace them with random ones?

Yes and no. Rogue tends to run a lot of cheap spells and "token" spells which are mostly used as the Gadgetzan Auctioneer fuel. For example, Counterfeit Coin isn't really worth a card. It's very weak and it's used only because it's a free draw from Auctioneer AND an extra point of mana (and well, for the Edwin VanCleef shenanigans, but it probably wouldn't be played without Auctioneer). Later in the game, especially if you have used your Auctioneer already or you can't draw it, you might want to reroll it into a random spell. Rogues tend to have big hands, full of spells, but spells that are nearly worthless. This could potentially turn them into something better.

Also, it might let you reroll the bad picks from Hallucination or bad "gifts" from Swashburglar.

And the cool thing about this card is that it might combo nicely with Ethereal Peddler. Turning your hand full of spells into random spells from the opponent's class and then discounting them all by 2 can make for some solid tempo plays.

I'd say that this card would most likely be played in "Burgle Rogue" archetype, the one centered around cards like that. However, will any Standard deck, especially Miracle Rogue pick it up as a "spell recycler" if they don't draw Auctioneer? I have no clue. Rogue Legendaries are always hard to evaluate. I think it's above average, but I don't imagine it being meta-changing.

Card rating: 3.5/5

Unwilling Sacrifice

A pessimist sees a Deadly Shot with a downside. I see another way to proc your own Deathrattle minions while removing random opponent's minion. Okay, the truth is that Warlock doesn't need more ways to kill its own minions. Between things like Void Terror, Ravenous Pterrordax and the new 1-drop from Frozen Throne, Warlock has a lot of ways to remove own minions. What we need right now is more minions we want to remove. In Wild, at least we have both Eggs - Nerubian Egg and Devilsaur Egg. In Standard, only the latter. It's not enough to run all of them. Sure, even getting rid of your own 1/1 to deal with a big drop as a Zoo is pretty efficient. That's why I can actually see the deck running it. Removing a "random" minion is not the best thing ever, but against slow decks it often doesn't matter. Something like Ramp Druid drops a big Taunt, you drop Possessed Villager + this and laugh.

But it's not only a Zoo card. I can imagine running it in Renolock in Wild. The problem with Warlock class is a lack of powerful single target removals. There are a lot of AoE ones, but when it comes to a single target, the class is pretty much limited to Siphon Soul and Blastcrystal Potion. Having another one can be great in Reno.

I think this card might see some play.

Card rating: 3/5

Brrlock

So, this card seems to have two potential uses. First, you can play it in a Murloc Warlock deck just as a solid 2 mana Murloc. While 2/2 stats are average, having a Freeze effect is a great tempo tool in a Murloc deck. Freeze effects are temporary tempo boosts, and that's all that Murloc deck might need to get ahead. Stalling the game for one turn can create strong enough board to drop a Murloc Warleader or Coldlight Seer. The Murloc tag makes it synergize with all of those cards.

Another use is ignoring the Murloc tag and playing it as another Freeze card in a Freeze Shaman deck. It's probably a bit weaker than Glacial Shard if we ignore the Murloc tag - it gets +1 health for 1 mana, which isn't the best trade-off. However, the Freeze deck will likely need a lot of ways to Freeze, meaning that it can be played ON TOP of Glacial Shards.

So here is the thing - one deck it fits into is an off-meta deck and the other one doesn't exist yet. So it's pretty hard to really know whether it will see play. But I'd say that the card is quite good, it's definitely above average.

Card rating: 3.5/5

Treachery

Very interesting card, very cool idea, but I think that right now the card's uses are too limited for it to be viable. The only obvious one is Doomsayer - it's a 5 mana two card combo that clears the board. You get a 3 mana discount when compared to Twisting Nether, but you pay an extra card. It's a bit like the Paladin's Wild Pyromancer + Equality (weaker, but hey, different classes, different things). However, in terms of Paladin, both combo pieces can be used individually. In the Warlock's case, while Doomsayer can be used individually, this can't. This is really not a flexible combo piece.

Yes, I've heard about other niche uses. For example, you can play Unlicensed Apothecary one turn, then if it survives Treachery it and play Leeroy Jenkins. Assuming Apothecary survives and you can attack with it for 5, you now deal 21 damage on a single turn. That's a great combo, but without Emperor Thaurissan you can't perform it in a single turn.

Other than that, you can give your opponent negative Deathrattles like Bomb Squad (10 health swing - you "heal" for 5 while you deal 5 damage to them instead). But that's still very weak.

So all in all, the card has one really good use and maybe some other niche uses. I don't think it's good right now, but it's one of those cards that get better with time. If more minions similar to Doomsayer get released in the future, hey, it might suddenly become playable.

Card rating: 1.5/5

Valeera the Hollow (Death's Shadow)

First of all - it's by far the hardest card to rate this expansion and my rating will pretty much be a guess. Hero cards are a new mechanic. Hero Stealth is a new mechanic. A passive Hero Power is also something new. Copying the last card played is something new. I LOVE THIS CARD. Even if it won't be great, I love the direction the game is heading this expansion. The card is complicated, it will open a new deck building possibilities, it explores the territories that were never touched before.

Okay, but let's start with the obvious. This is more of a "Control" Rogue card. Rogue never really had a meta Control deck. The problem was that most of the class mechanics were built around the tempo. But this card might change that. First of all - the Battlecry. Hero gains Stealth means that it can't be targeted by anything for one turn. It means that you can't take minion damage, can't take spell damage and you gain 5 Armor on top of that. Most of the time when playing an expensive card like that, the biggest problem is "you can just get rushed down and die" - this is not the case here.

Then, the Hero Power is incredibly interesting. Every turn you can play an extra copy of a card you've already played. Shadow Reflection is added to your hand every turn. And how does it exactly work? Every time you play a card, it gets "printed" on the Shadow Reflection. So let's say that you open your turn with Backstab - now your Shadow Reflection turns into Backstab and you can play it. If you do, your Shadow Reflection disappears, and it will get added to your hand again next turn. But instead of playing a second Backstab, you might play Vilespine Slayer from your hand. Now the Shadow Reflection will turn from Backstab into Vilespine Slayer. With 5 mana left, you can play the second one and destroy the second minion. So you've basically gained a free Vilespine Slayer.

That's the main point of this card. You can get an extra copy of a card from your hand every turn. Over few turns, that's a lot of value and/or tempo, depending on what you choose. The card is incredibly flexible,

I can imagine that the deck it would fit into most is some kind of Wild Control/N'Zoth/Reno Rogue. In Standard? Well, that's harder. While this effect would definitely be good in Miracle, the card costs 9 mana. Miracle tends to finish games faster than that, 9 mana is a real late game for the Miracle. And drawing the Hero card early can be bad + drawing it from Auctioneer might break the draw chain. So yeah, the effect is cool, I think that the card will be tested and will fit into Wild, but in Standard I'm not sure. I'm moderately hopeful.

Card rating: 3.5/5

Ultimate Infestation

That card is like a Swiss army knife for Druid. It does EVERYTHING. I think that the card is incredibly powerful. Let's be honest - normally 10 mana cards are very hard to play, because most of the games end way before that. But it's Druid we're talking about. If 10 mana cards are playable in any deck, it has to be Druid. Ramp Druid, to be specific. The deck already plays 9-10 mana cards and can get away with it and this is simply insane.

Firelands Portal is a playable card in Constructed. More than that, it's pretty powerful one. This card is a Firelands Portal  - 5 damage and a 5/5 minion. But it also gives you 5 Armor. And you draw 5 cards. Yes, 5 cards. Sprint costs 7 and it draws 4. Crazy, right?

But 10 mana is a lot, that's hard to deny. However, thanks to this card, getting to 10 mana might be even easier. Ramp Druid runs Nourish and it was often a part of a big dilemma. Druid often wanted to ramp up with it, but then iy might run out of cards really fast, as it's the only good way to refill left in Standard (Ancient of Lore nerfed, Azure Drake rotated out) for the deck. But thanks to this card, ramping up with Nourish won't hurt that much, because you will be able to refill anyway. Imagine a hand full of ramp, including Nourish. In that case, you couldn't ramp with Nourish, because you'd just run out of cards. If you're also holding this card, you might go all-in on the ramp and then quickly refill the hand.

In Wild, this is going to be insane in Astral Communion Druid. Getting this right after Astral is basically a win. And getting it later is still great, because Astral Druid struggles with dead turns from time to time, and drawing 10 means that it's no longer a problem for the rest of the game.

I've heard people saying that it might fit into Jade Druid I'm not that sure about it. Maybe as a one-of,  but I don't think that Jade Druid in particular needs it. The deck has an easier time fitting Gadgetzan Auctioneer¸ which is a great way to put a body on the board, gain Armor and draw a lot on the same turn already.

I might be overhyping the card a bit, but I just feel like it will make Ramp Druid so much more powerful. It might be one of the best cards from the set revealed so far.

Card rating: 4.5/5

Desperate Stand

It's like Ancestral Spirit. For Paladin. But weaker. Like I've mentioned when reviewing Corpse Raiser, Paladin is a better deck to play Ancestral Spirit in than Shaman. However, the minion reviving at 1 health instead of full health is a huge downside.

This card is a bit like Redemption, but more consistent. Your opponent can (often) play around Redemption by killing a small minion first, but on the other hand, this is a buff, so it can get countered by something like Polymorph or Silence. But the thing is, no one plays Redemption in their deck. The card is only played because of Hydrologist. So it this card so much better to actually see play?

Since the target gets revived at 1 health, it's very weak on your average minion. It works best with Divine Shield minions. Against Aggro, you can use it on Wickerflame Burnbristle - reviving it will force the opponent to attack two more times, most likely having to trade more minions and Paladin will gain (at least) 4 more health. Against slower decks, Tirion Fordring seems to be the best target. 2 mana for a 6/1 with Taunt and Divine Shield + refresh on the weapon is very good. Reviving Deathrattle minions also combos well with N'Zoth, the Corruptor. And unlike Redemption, this card can proc on your own turn. You can play it right before trading off a minion to guarantee the value.

Then, it has more synergies with the potential Divine Shield deck. If you revive a Divine Shield minion, you can get another proc on the "when friendly minion loses Divine Shield."

But ultimately, is it really worth a card slot? The thing is, this card is really limited to Deathrattles (which Paladin doesn't run a lot) and Divine Shield minions. Which makes it much less flexible than Ancestral Spirit. But I imagine that if you run a lot of minions like that in a slower Control deck or maybe even more Midrange'y Divine Shield deck, this card looks alright. But alright cards rarely get into the competitive decks.

Card rating: 3/5

Shadow Ascendant

It's a pretty solid early game minion that might not necessarily fit the Priest's play style. It would be much better in a more Tempo/Zoo-styled deck and Priest doesn't really play stuff like that. If you just drop it on the empty board, it sucks, it's just a 2/2 for 2. But if you happen to already have a 1-drop, now it's a 3/3 immediately + an extra +1/+1 every turn.

Of course, the curve of Northshire Cleric into this into Kabal Talonpriest is pretty crazy and if it was more consistent, a faster Priest deck might be viable. But Priest doesn't have enough good small drops yet to make it viable.

And when it comes to a slower deck, it's again not consistent enough (you need to play a 1-drop and it needs to survive) and it has very weak late game scaling. Priest's small drops tend to still be good in the mid game and in the late game. This really isn't.

So all in all, right now it looks like an Arena card. If a more tempo-oriented Priest (even more than the old Dragon Priest) deck gets viable, this card will probably be played. But I don't know when it will happen and if it will happen at all.

Card rating: 2/5

Skulking Geist

This. Card. Is. Crazy. I really didn't think that they will ever print something like this. The thing about Jade Druid killer was kinda right. While it doesn't kill the whole deck, it removes the "going infinite" potential, making some previously terrible matchup actually favorable. But what does this card exactly counter?

When it comes to the spells you actually want to remove: Jade Idol against Jade Druid. Obviously. Inner Fire against combo Priest - it destroys the whole combo part, Priest can still buff the health, but can't hit for 20+. Paladin Secrets (Wild) - It makes Secret Paladin a worse version of Midrange Paladin, and turns Mysterious Challenger into a vanilla 6/6. Evolve - Token Shaman is significantly worse in the mid/late game without Evolve, especially since the combo with Doppelgangster is gone.

Besides that, some other cards like Shield Slam vs Control Warrior, Cold Blood against Rogue, Power Word: Shield against Priest etc., but those are less "crucial" in the deck.

However, before you start including this card into every deck, wait a moment. First of all - it actually doesn't completely counter those decks. Jade Druid will still probably play the first Jade as a minion and will still be able to get to ~10/10 Jades. Priest will still probably play the Silence package and Lyra. Token Shaman will still have Bloodlust win condition. It's not an "I win" tech card.

In a lot of matchups, you actually do your opponent a favor by destroying the 1 cost spells. Let's say you play against Mage with Arcane Missiles. It's already the late game and they're looking for more burn (e.g. Fireball). When you play this card and destroy the Arcane Missiles, you make it more likely that they'll draw the Fireball. Similarly, destroying cards like Lost in the Jungle, Potion of Madness or Whirlwind might actually increase your opponent's draw consistency in the late game. Those are not cards you want to topdeck past Turn 6, at least most of the time.

At the same time, since 1 mana spells are quite common, this card might actually fit into some kind of fatigue deck, like Fatigue Warrior. Even if you increase your opponent's draw consistency, you might remove one or two cards from his deck, putting them ahead of you in terms of fatigue.

On the other hand, this is a 6 mana 4/6. You would never put that into your deck. Yes, it's a tech card, but you only want to tech when the decks you tech against are a big part of the meta. So in case something like Jade Druid or Inner Fire Priest become Tier 1, then yeah, this will be played. Otherwise, it will probably be a very niche tech.

The card also - obviously - removes the 1 mana spells from your deck. Which means that you can run it if you run a lot of 1 mana spells in your deck for the sake of early game, but don't want them later in the game. Something a bit like Hemet, Jungle Hunter but for 1 mana spells only and with a potential upside against some decks.

I'm not even sure whether I like this card or not. From the design perspective, it might - sorry - bite them in the ass many times in the future. Now releasing any quite powerful 1 mana spells might be complicated, because they might just be countered with this single card.

It's clearly a tech card and tech cards are hard to rate. Their usefulness is heavily tied to whether the things they counter are played or not. I think that a lot of people will run it early, but then it will be played less and less and maybe dusted off sometimes when some powerful 1 mana spell will be played. And it might be played in Fatigue Warrior all the time, but that deck is probably more of a meme deck anyway.

Card rating: 2.5/5

Ice Fishing

2 mana for 2 cards is great when the standard is 3 mana for 2 cards (Arcane Intellect). However, the fact that it's limited to Murlocs makes it quite weaker. Your usual Shaman decks don't really play Murlocs. However, two things: it will most likely be played in a Murloc deck (just because it's a cheap way to refill the hand) and it might also be used in Midrange or Freeze decks if they will use more Murlocs (Brrlock will most likely be played, add one or two more and this might be good enough).

While it would obviously be better to just draw, not draw Murlocs, 2 for 2 is one of the most (if not the most) mana efficient draws we had. It's cheap, it's good, I imagine some decks will put more Murlocs into them just to run this card. Like, Finja, the Flying Star package was played in A LOT of decks already and Shaman doesn't even seem like a bad candidate. Not much more to say about it. Usually, the most broken cards in the expansion are very simple and reliable, not some expensive, weird effects that work only under specific circumstances.

Card rating: 4.5/5

Roll the Bones

Oh boy, this expansion is full of interesting cards. And this is another one of them. Deathrattles are one of the Rogue's secondary themes and while it was never heavily developed, the class gets some Deathrattles/Deathrattle synergies every now and then. This is one of them.

In a deck that runs little to no Deathrattle minions, this card sucks. Shiv is just better - both cycle and guaranteed 1 damage is better than drawing an extra card 1 out of 10 times or something. But on the other hand, the more Deathrattle minions you run in the deck, the better this card gets.

But how much better, exactly? In order for this card to hit 50% chance to draw an extra card (~25% chance to draw three in a row, ~12% to draw four), you'd need to play 15 Deathrattle cards in your deck. 15. That's a lot. I don't think that any Rogue deck ever used that many cards. And even then, it's just 50% chance to draw an extra card. While it's obviously good, it's kinda unrealistic in the first place. No viable deck runs that many Deathrattles.

The card is a bit like Wrathion. After you read the effect, it seems quite good. But when you play the card in game, you realize that it's far from consistent. Most of the time, this card will be cycling itself for 2 mana, which is not enough.

I think that it might see play if a Deathrattle-heavy Rogue ever becomes a thing. For that reason, it looks more like a WIld card than a Standard one. Since I'm rating cards in Standard, I have to say that it's pretty bad.

Card rating: 2/5

Closing

That's all, folks. Our final part will be arriving tomorrow and will cover the remaining Frozen Throne cards!

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 misunderstand 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 the 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.