Predictions. As someone who reviews all the cards before they get out, I know how hard it is to actually rate them correctly. There are so many factors you just can’t take into the account – how the meta will shape, how practical will the synergies with other cards be, what techs other players will run etc. Not to mention that some cards are just difficult to rate – especially when we talk about mechanics we haven’t seen before.
However, rating cards is also the most fun part of the reveal season and the reason why it’s the time I enjoy most (alongside the actual expansion’s release). And I’m definitely not the only one thinking that way. Vicious Syndicate has organized a pre-expansion poll, where community could rate the cards. With almost 5,000 votes, you could say that it was pretty popular and statistically relevant. Given that the site is used mostly by the more experienced players (including the pretty dedicated reddit crowd), that’s probably the best source of the opinions on those cards.
Remember that I’m basing this list on the average score from the community votes! I do realize that a lot of pros got the cards right (and a lot didn’t, which just shows how tricky the whole deal is), just like many individual voters were right about some of those cards. However, the general sentiment was that those cards are either very good (and they turned out to be average/bad) or terrible (and they turned out to be okay or even great).
Back to TopOverrated Cards
Overrated cards are the cards that were expected to be stronger before the expansion than they actually turned out to be. Overrated card DOES NOT mean a “bad” card. A card that was rated 9/10 before the expansion and turned out to be just a 5/10 is overrated, but it’s not bad (it’s average). On the other hand, a card that was rated 4/10 and turned out to be 2/10 can't really be called overrated, because the expectations weren’t set high in the first place.
Back to TopLeyline Manipulator
vS poll position: #4 out of 135
Rated as one of the best cards from the set, Leyline Manipulator didn’t turn out to be powerful enough. The card definitely looks amazing in the vacuum – vanilla stats, Elemental tag, strong effect. However, the Elemental Mage doesn’t look as good as some people have expected.
Another thing people were excited about was the combo potential – with this card, it is possible to play Exodia Combo without the Quest. You started with a Sorcerer's Apprentice in your hand, then got two more copies through Simulacrum. You had to discount those two copies by 2 with Leyline Elemental. Then, you play 3x Sorcerer’s Apprentice, follow up with Archmage Antonidas and 1 mana Molten Reflection to get the fourth Apprentice. Now you have 0 mana Fireball and can continue firing.
While removing the Quest from Exodia Mage sounds appealing, the combo is actually a bit harder to achieve, as you need an extra Leyline Manipulator (so the number of combo pieces goes up from 5 to 6) as a set-up, meaning that it's another combo piece that can be stuck on the bottom of your deck. The combo is also easier to counter with Dirty Rat, as it is even more minion-based. It turned out that the classic Quest version is just better right now (which might not be the case in the future, who knows).
The card is not bad by any means, but you’d expect a card rated as one of the best from the set to be meta-defining. And this one definitely isn’t just yet, Elemental Mage will need even more support to work properly.
Back to TopGrumble, Worldshaker
vS poll position: #18 out of 135
Shaman’s Legendary is another overrated card. It’s one of the highest rated Legendaries on the list, and it was supposed to be a thing that brings Shaman back into the meta. Not only it didn’t bring Shaman back, I haven’t seen it played even once since the expansion launched.
While it looks good on the paper – having an ability to replay your valuable Battlecry minions, get more value, heal them back etc. in reality, Shaman already struggles with the tempo. Setting yourself back in terms of the tempo (because that’s what this card is most of the time) is something you really don’t want to do in this tempo-oriented meta.
In theory, if the meta was slower, the card would have a lot of potential. For example - in a Jade deck, you could bounce back your Jade generators (e.g. Jade Spirit) for an extra huge minion. In an Elemental deck, you could get back Servant of Kalimos for another free Elemental (or even Kalimos, Primal Lord himself to repeat the Battlecry). In a more generic Shaman list, you could just bounce back the Stonehill Defender and get another free Taunt. In the late game, versus a slow deck, this card has potential to do a lot. However, as we all know, there is no slow meta and Shaman is in a terrible spot BECAUSE it doesn't have enough tempo to stay relevant on the board against all those fast decks.
The only use for this card I’ve seen so far is as a part of a fancy OTK combo, but it’s more of a thing you want to pull off once (probably after losing first 5 games) and get over it, not an actual deck you want to play competitively.
Back to TopHooked Reaver
vS poll position: #21 out of 135
Who knows, if not for the whole “play only big Demons and summon them through Lackey/Skull” theme that’s going on in slower Warlock decks right now, maybe, just maybe this would actually see play?
4 mana 7/7 Taunt is very appealing. Especially in a class that’s still pretty weak when it comes to the defense. Taking damage also is not a problem – between Kobold Librarian, Hellfire and the good, old Life Taps, getting down to 15 health is quite common.
However, the problem is that 4/4 itself is not appealing and that’s what you will get from your “Recruit” effects etc.
Maybe Zoo? Yeah, but the problem with running it in Zoo is that you often don’t take a lot of damage besides the damage you deal to yourself, and it’s really bad until you deal 15 damage to yourself (and that’s quite a lot, even considering that you do run multiple self-damage minions).
So while the card is not really bad, it just got outclassed by a different strategy.
Back to TopSonya Shadowdancer
vS poll position: #26 out of 135
I’ve read a lot of opinions about this card before the expansion, and I’ve also engaged in multiple discussions. I’ve seen a lot of people praising her, giving multiple expansions of how useful she will be. That was the best example of one of the most common fallacies related to reviewing cards – focusing too much on the best case scenario. Yes, if you have a few minions on the board, especially the ones with high value Battlecry/Combo, then trading them after dropping Sonya is great. But how often does it happen? It’s the reason why a card like Sonya, or let’s say the Classic Cult Master rarely works, even though it might seem strong in the right scenario.
In order to make this card really useful in Tempo Rogue, you need to be ahead on the board. Then your opponent also needs to have minions you can trade into. And not any minions – you can’t make value trades, you will only get value when your minions die. Oh, and you basically need to trade to get value from this card – if you’re ahead on the board when playing Tempo Rogue, you often really want to go face and set up lethal.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that situations like that don’t happen. Sometimes just getting one extra Vilespine Slayer is good enough. It’s definitely an option in Tempo Rogue, and it was played early in the expansion, however majority of the lists have decided to cut it. I’ve seen only one deck running it lately, and it’s probably one of the first cards to cut anyway, just because she’s a “win-more” card.
The deck this card really shines in is the Quest Rogue. If you’re bouncing a Charge minion, you can easily get 2 Quest activations with this card alone (even more later into the game, but given how the deck plays, there is often no “late game” unless you finish the Quest quickly). That said, Quest Rogue is not a super viable deck right now, so that’s that.
Back to TopCataclysm
vS poll position: #38 out of 135
I just had to put this on the list, because I have to admit that I've overrated this card horribly. I really thought that it’s going to finally work. The Discard Warlock dream. You get this on Turn 4 and then complete Quest on Turn 5. Or even better – get this on Turn 5 with Malchezaar's Imp, clear the board, refill hand and then complete Quest on Turn 6.
But no, this strategy is just bad, inconsistent, and the reward is not good enough. It takes at least a few turns to really take advantage of all the free 3/2’s you’re getting. Building such a deck is also very weird process. If you build a fast deck, then starting with one card less and discarding a lot of cards will make you run out of steam. Not to mention that if you get ahead, Cataclysm is not really a great card to play. A slow deck? Well, it’s weird, because there are a lot of key cards you don’t want to discard. The reward itself also doesn’t work as well in a slower deck as it would in a faster one.
Another issue is consistency. I honestly think that if you could get T5 Imp + Cataclysm every single game, the deck would be broken. But you obviously can’t, that’s why, in the end, it’s not good enough. I wonder if Blizzard will give up or brute-force it like they did with some of the archetypes in the past. We’ll have to wait and see until the next Standard rotation, but as for now, I have to say that Cataclysm was a pretty overrated card.
At least it’s funny to see my opponent’s Yogg-Saron, Hope's End destroying himself while my opponent discards his whole hand from time to time. After Astral Communion rotated out, it was only a matter of time until another card like that gets printed.
Back to TopUnderrated Cards
Similarly to overrated cards, “underrated” card is a card that turned out to be stronger than players have expected. Not all underrated cards turned out to be meta defining – to follow-up on the previous examples, if card that was expected to be one of the worst in the expansion (e.g. 1/10 score) turned out to be quite alright (e.g. 5/10 score), then it was overrated, even though it’s not great.
Back to TopRin, the First Disciple
vS poll position: #131 out of 135
Rin was one of the lowest rated cards from K&C. I mean, come on, you first need to play an overcosted Taunt minion (6 mana Fen Creeper). Then it has to die. Then you need to play 30 mana worth of spells, summoning vanilla minions, starting with a mere 2/2. And then you need to spend 10 more mana to actually get the card you want and destroy your opponent’s deck. Impossible, right?
Yeah, that’s true. In faster matchups, it’s just impossible to get it to work. If you’re at the point you can play all the Seals, you’re in a position that probably doing anything else would won you the game anyway. However, where this card really shines are the slow matchups, where destroying even the last few cards in your opponent’s deck is a big deal. Playing a Control Warlock in slow matchups often comes down to the battle of resources. Will they have enough removals to answer every threat you play? And will you have? Destroying even 5 cards in their deck is amazing, as you might burn a removal or a threat. Not to mention that fatigue is a big deal – since you are cycling a lot, you usually start taking it earlier, and that often forces them to take the first tick.
Then, if you play vs a combo deck, getting it early enough might burn their vital combo piece. It’s possible to win a game vs Highlander Priest by getting Rin early and then getting rid of their Shadowreaper Anduin or Raza the Chained (even burning Prophet Velen might be a win). Similarly, you can auto-win vs Exodia Mage by simply burning Archmage Antonidas. Of course, it does not happen often, but when it does, it feels great.
To be fair, it’s not an amazing card. It’s still slow and clunky. Most popular slow Warlock decks – Cube Warlocks – don’t even run it. It’s played only in the more grindy Control Warlock versions, it’s not great vs fast decks (sure, it’s a Taunt, but you’d rather have something like Tar Lurker instead). Still, after playing a while with this card, I can say with all certainty that it’s not one of the worst cards of the expansion. It’s solid in certain matchups, and if the meta possibly moves away from the super heavy tempo decks everywhere, it might be even better in the next Standard year.
Back to TopTo my Side! & Rhok’delar
Remember the complete outrage after To My Side! was revealed? I remember. People have called devs incompetent, said that 6 years old kids would design and balance cards better than Hearthstone team does etc. Well, what do you know. While I wouldn’t go as far and call those cards amazing, they’re actually okay.
Spell Hunter, a deck where those two cards belong, is not really a meta breaking deck. It’s like a low Tier 3 list. But it’s fun and most importantly, it’s playable. I’d say even more – if it gets more support next rotation, it might actually become a competitive meta deck.
Both To my Side and Rhok’delar are actually solid cards in the right deck. The concept of Spell Hunter is not only fun, but people have already proven that it works on the base level. It just needs more synergies, more incentives to not run any minions.
Oh, and funnily enough, if the poll was made at the time To My Side was first reveled (when we didn’t know about Rhok’delar yet), I bet that it would be even lower. So it’s quite clear that at least part of the outrage was unjustified.
Back to TopGrand Archivist & Spiteful Summoner
As you can see, Spiteful Summoner wasn’t rated that low. It was pretty much in the middle of the stake. It was still underrated given that it turned out to be the second most impactful Neutral card in the set, however I’d say that the card that really deserves a mention here is Grand Archivist.
Honestly, it mostly looks like random/fun/meme card. Casting a random spell from your deck, with a random target? That’s a potential disaster. You can’t possibly cut all the cards that you don’t want to cast at random moments, right? Right? Well, it turned out that you can. There are some expensive cards that have always positive effects. And since they’re expensive, you can also run the other card I’ve featured here – Spiteful Summoner.
The most prominent deck running that duo is “Big Spells” version of Dragon Priest. It plays 2x Free From Amber, 2x Mind Control and of course both of those guys. Another deck featuring the Spiteful Summoner & Grand Archivist duo is the Xixo’s Midrange Hunter with 2x Call of the Wild. But I honestly expect that it will find its home in even more decks throughout the next Standard year.
Another cool thing about this card is that it will cast a spell only when there’s a viable target. So, for example, it WON’T cast Mind Control on the empty board, it will always cast Free from Amber (if you have it left in your deck, of course). This way you can control what spells it casts in what situation, at least to a certain extent.
Oh, and the 4/7 body was also pretty underrated. It’s not that easy to remove, especially since it usually either steals another minion or summons it – so you now have two bodies to remove. Decks running it also run Spiteful Summoner, which demands an answer after summoning a big body. So all in all, you might have no way to clear it – and if you don’t, he will continue playing all the expensive spells for free and gaining insane tempo. The class I found having hardest time removing it is.. Priest. 7 health is out of range of most AoE cards, while 4 attack is still the Priest’s kryptonite.
In all fairness, I do understand how one could underrate Grand Archivist. I also gave him a bad rating (unlike Spiteful Summoner, which I thought is going to be very strong). Those cards spawned a completely new deck building restriction and play style, and that’s not always easy to see.
Back to TopPossessed Lackey
vS poll position: #103 out of 135
I’ve also thought about including Skull of the Man'ari, but I don’t think that the card was underrated THAT much – people basically said that it’s great if there is zero weapon destruction in the meta, and it sucks if people will run it. Well, as it happened, weapon destruction is much less popular than anticipated. But this guy? Well, that’s another story.
When you see a 5 mana 2/2 with no immediate impact, you get that tingling feeling saying “this can’t possibly be good”. I mean, looks a bit like Twilight Summoner – a 4 mana 1/1 what a huge Deathrattle. How is this better? Well, it is if you run only Voidlords (or Voidlords + Doomguards) – this is a big like those “Big” decks that were very popular in this Standard rotation. The meta is all about cheating tempo, comboing the opponent down or… cheating out big minions earlier than you should. And current Control Warlock (or Cube Warlocks) fit the third category.
Possessed Lackey turned out to be a key card in this strategy. As it happens, dropping a 3/9 Taunt which Deathrattles into three 1/3 Taunts (not to mention that you can revive it later down the road) on Turn 5/6 is pretty solid play.
Yes, this card is still an immediate tempo loss, it’s super slow to play, just like people have imagined. However, what people have missed is that if you can pull only cards that negate that tempo loss, it’s often not as severe as it seems. Combined with the fact that between Defile and Hellfire, you aren’t that likely to get rushed down by Aggro, the only thing that can really punish you is Silence (or stuff like Potion of Madness). If Silenced, you’ve just played a 5 mana 2/2 and that’s it.
Another thing is that it has really solid synegy with Dark Pact. For 6 mana, you can summon a big Demon from your deck AND heal for 8, also denying the possibility to counter it with Silence and stuff. So in the end, the card is really powerful and definitely one of the most underrated cards of the set.
Back to TopCorridor Creeper
vS poll position: #90 out of 135
However, the title of “most underrated card from K&C” can’t go to any other card than this. Rated as #90 of the set, called bad by most of the players, Corridor Creeper turned out to be the most impactful, popular and powerful card in the latest expansion.
As it turns out, mana discounts are very powerful and shouldn’t be underestimated. Starting mana cost of 7, plus the fact that it gets discounted only when in your hand doesn’t sound great. And honestly, it wouldn’t be in a different meta. However, the current one is so tempo-driven, so flooded with small minions, tokens etc. that 7 minions dying is not a big requirement at all. It’s crazy, but you can often drop this for free as soon as Turn 3 or 4, and an extra 5/5 so early in the game is basically game-winning if your opponent doesn’t have one. It’s a crazy situation which forced every faster deck to run it – if your opponent does and you don’t, you will just get out-tempo’d.
It’s probably the most popular card I’ve ever seen in Hearthstone. As I’m writing this, it’s in 50.2% of the decks on the ladder (last 7 days, Ranks 10-Legend) according to HSreplays.net, and the number is not going down. I’ve been watching it for the last 2 weeks and it stays around 50%, even slightly growing. I honestly expect it to get nerfed at the next opportunity, because the current situation is quite crazy.
While Patches the Pirate is slightly responsible for the whole situation, it’s not like the card would stop being used with Patches gone. If not nerfed, we’d probably have to face it in every second game for the whole another Standard rotation.
Back to TopClosing
Corridor Creeper is definitely one of the most underrated cards in the history of Hearthstone. But it’s not like we haven’t seen a similar story before. And we’ll definitely see more in the future. That’s the best part about the reveal season and new expansions – no matter how much you theorycraft, how hard you try to review the cards, you will always be wrong about something.
And how about you? Are you trying to rate the cards before the expansion is released? What did you think about the cards above before they got out? Or maybe you’ve overrated / underrated another cards? Let me know in the comments and until next time!
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.