Analysis of Discover Mechanic – Ethereal Conjurer & Tomb Spider

Hello everyone! This is the second part of the analysis of a new mechanic called “Discover”. If you want to read the introduction and mechanic summary, check out the first part of the article: Analysis of the Discover mechanic – Dark Peddler & Jeweled Scarab This time I’ll get straight to the point and start […]

Introduction

Hello everyone! This is the second part of the analysis of a new mechanic called “Discover”. If you want to read the introduction and mechanic summary, check out the first part of the article:

This time I’ll get straight to the point and start analyzing the cards. Second week of League of Explorers brought us two new Discover cards: Ethereal Conjurer and Tomb Spider.

Ethereal Conjurer

A Mage discover card. I was really hyped for it since the beginning. Compared to other Discover, it seemed so good. The thing is, we didn’t know that every discover cards weights class cards 400% higher, but this one was GUARANTEED to give you a class card. And a Mage spell, which is actually not bad. While yes, there are few bad Mage spells (*cough* Vaporize *cough*), I’d say that there are a lot more good than bad ones. And since you get to pick 3 of them, the chances you’re getting something good are decent.

The biggest problem with this card I’ve seen people mentioning is the body. 6/3 body for 5 mana is indeed, below average. But some people say that it’s worse than Azure Drake‘s. Well, I have hard time agreeing with this. Ethereal Conjurer loses 1 health, but gains 2 attack instead. I think that’s a very fair trade-off. It’s true that the difference between 3 and 4 health is big. 3 health is in the range of a lot of 2-drops (3/2’s), it’s in the range of the early removals like Frostbolt, Darkbomb, Bash. It dies to the Sludge Belcher. Those are all valid points. But no one can deny that 6 attack is so much stronger than 4. In the mid to late game, 4 attack is often not enough to kill something. It can kill stuff like Loatheb or Emperor Thaurissan in one hit, without the Hero Power. And with Hero Power it gets into 7 damage range, which means that it contests Dr. Boom‘s main body. That’s a huge thing and I’m not sure why people are missing it. If you drop it in the mid to late game, there is a bigger chance that enemy is going to drop one of his bigger stuff (and the most common bigger stuff is – exactly – Dr. Boom) than he’s keeping an early game removal. I mean, come on, if you’re playing this in the Tempo Mage, what are the odds that enemy didn’t use small removal on your Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice or even Flamewaker and kept it for this guy?

I’m using Azure Drake as a comparison, because they’re most similar drops. Both fit the same decks, both are in 5 mana slot and both “draw” you a card. My argument is that the stats are also comparable – Azure Drake is better at trading down, while Ethereal Conjurer is better at trading up. Azure Drake also provides +1 Spell Damage, which is actually pretty good in Mage. So, for Ethereal Conjurer to be on the same power level (or possibly stronger?) the effect would have to be better. Now, it’s very, very hard to decide whether drawing a card from your deck is better than getting to pick one of 3 spells. On the one hand, drawing is better, because all the cards in your deck are good + you’re thinning your deck, so you’re getting closer to your big bombs which you want to drop in the late game. On the other hand, Discovering a spell is better, because drawing into your Arcane Missiles or Mana Wyrm in the late game isn’t very good, but on the other hand you have much bigger chance to get a strong spell offered. It’s also better, because you might pick it depending on the situation. Draws are fixed – you can’t control what you get. Here, if enemy has dropped a big minion and you have no answer, you can pick Polymorph or Flame Lance. If you need AoE, Blizzard or Flamestrike. If you need burn, Fireball, Roaring Torch or even Pyroblast for the next turn. Another good thing about Discover is that enemy can’t play around the cards you get from there. If you play at high ranks, enemy should generally be aware of your deck list (unless you’ve made an unique deck yourself) and he knows what to expect. Since cards from Discover are random, enemy has no way knowing what have you got. He can make assumptions – for example if he has a lot of minions on the board you’re more likely to pick some sort of AoE, if you’re at low health he’s more likely to pick burn etc. But that’s all, no way to really know what you have. Getting a Secret from Discover means that enemy has to play around EVERY Mage Secret, which might be hard, especially in case of niche Secrets like Spellbender.

I can’t definitely say that one or the other is better. While I have tested Ethereal Conjurer already, my sample size isn’t big enough to tell which one is doing better for me. Right now, the things I’ve noticed is that Drake is doing better in faster matchups, because it gives you a better chance to draw into Flamewaker, which is crucial against the small stuff + 1 more health means it can take something like Knife Juggler without dying. On the other hand, Conjurer does better in slower matchups, where you should be ahead on the board by turn 5, meaning 2 more attack works really great (you still have other threats enemy needs to remove and you’re putting a 6 attack minion, which he REALLY needs to deal with) and you have a wider variety of spells you might want to pick.

Discover Choices

Analyzing the Discover choices given by Ethereal Conjurer are going to be a little harder, because those are all spells. They’re mostly situational – when comparing minions, you can at least judge the stats. Spells are effects only, so it’s impossible to tell which ones are good and which ones are bad.

Let’s take Vaporize as the example. While it might be one of the worst Mage cards, if enemy has a single 8/8 on the board, it might be the best card you can pick. Or Arcane Explosion – it doesn’t see Constructed play either, but it might be awesome against Paladin that has five 1/1’s on the board.

There are 29 Mage Spells in total. 

  • Secrets: 8/29 – Counterspell, Duplicate, Effigy, Ice Barrier, Ice Block, Mirror Entity, Spellbender, Vaporize
  • Burn*: 6/29 – Dragon’s Breath, Fireball, Forgotten Torch, Frostbolt, Polymorph: Boar, Pyroblast
  • Single target removal: 4/29 – Arcane Blast, Flamecannon, Flame Lance, Polymorph
  • AoE removal: 4/29 – Arcane Explosion, Blizzard, Cone of Cold, Flamestrike
  • Card draw: 1/29 – Arcane Intellect
  • Others: 6/29 – Arcane Missiles**, Echo of Medivh, Frost Nova, Ice Lance***, Mirror Image, Unstable Portal

*Burn can be also used as a single target removal. **Depending on the RNG, Arcane Missiles can be used as burn, single target removal or AoE removal. ***Ice Lance can be used as a burn or single target removal if combined with another Freeze effect.

As you can see above, the kind of spells you’re going to get most often are.. Secrets. Which honestly isn’t that good, because not only a lot of Secrets aren’t that great, but Mage Secrets generally aren’t that amazing when played from the hand. Mage Secrets are mostly used because Mad Scientist allows for a free draw + a tempo boost. If you play Mirror Entity from your hand and enemy just plays a 1-drop into it, you’ve lost 2 mana of tempo and Secrets are supposed to be worth more than their mana cost. Sometimes picking a Secret will still be the right choice. For example, if you’re going into Druid’s combo turn and you’re below 14 health, you might pick Counterspell, Ice Barrier or Ice Block to survive.

The second category is burn. If you’re missing couple points of damage to kill the enemy, you’re very likely to get them. While not every spell can be used on the same turn as Ethereal Conjurer, getting something like Pyroblast might pretty much assure your win on turn 10 if you’re already in the commanding lead. Burn spells can also be used as a single target removal, but they aren’t as efficient as the spells in the next category. Which is, well, single target removal. While Arcane Blast and Flamecannon work well only on small/medium targets, both Polymorph and Flame Lance can remove most of the big drops. Both Polymorph and Polymorph: Boar also get rid of card’s text, which might be crucial. It allows you to pass through the Taunt, but it also negates the Deathrattle effects of cards like Sylvanas Windrunner or Tirion Fordring. It makes both Polymorphs awesome in slow matchups.

If you’re looking for a card draw, you won’t find much. The only one you can get is Arcane Intellect. But it’s actually also good in slower matchups. It turns Ethereal Conjurer into a weaker version of Ancient of Lore – for 8 mana you get a 6/3 and draw 2 cards. But since you can use the Arcane Intellect at any time AND Ancient of Lore is a very strong card, it’s actually not bad.

The last category is “Others”. Those spells don’t really fit into any other category or fit into couple of them at once. Unstable Portal is an awesome pick most of the time, I bet a lot of people would run more than 2 of those if they could. Echo of Medivh, while being pretty slow, might single-handedly win you the game in a slower matchup. If you manage to have 3-4 minions on the board and then Echo all of them, enemy won’t likely be able to stand that pressure. In faster matchups it’s nearly useless. Frost Nova, while obviously best in decks that run Doomsayer, is always a nice tempo boost if you’re pushing for lethal or you want to prevent the damage in fast matchups. Mirror Image is another card that’s cool against Aggro. It gives you at least 4 health for 1 mana, but in reality it’s often much more. Enemy often doesn’t have a clear way to kill them and has to overkill, meaning 0/2’s might tank more damage. It’s also cool against weapon classes – against Warrior it counters 2 weapon hits and protects the rest of your board.

Overall, the Mage Spells are really solid. The class has spells that fit pretty much any situation. Some of them are even proactive and can be used when enemy has nothing in play (Secrets, Arcane Intellect, Unstable Portal), making Ethereal Conjurer a solid card for most of the situations.

Deck That Ethereal Conjurer Can Fit Into

This one will be pretty easy. Just check out which decks can play the Azure Drake. If it can play the Drake, it probably can also play the Ethereal Conjurer.

Meaning the first and most obvious choice is Tempo Mage, for a few reasons. First of all, the deck’s curve is pretty low. It runs A LOT of small drops, meaning sometimes it runs out of cards too fast. To prevent that, the deck runs Azure Drakes and Arcane Intellects to replenish the resources. For the same reason, Conjurer can also fit into the deck. Tempo Mage also has a lot of synergies with spells. Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Flamewaker, possibly even Archmage Antonidas. Since Conjurer is guaranteed to get you a spell, those synergies might be even easier to activate. Tempo Mage has really strong early game tempo, especially in the slower matchups. Against Aggro it might have to fight hard for the board and not have time to play the 5-drops. But in Control, it should be really ahead around turn 4-5. For that reason, dropping a 6/3 minion onto the board is awesome. Enemy should have played small removals by then, so 6/3 might bait a big removal or, in the best case scenario, even be completely ignored. That’s what makes him stronger than Azure Drake in those scenarios – 6 damage is a lot more threatening than 4. Ignoring Conjurer can be punished much harder than ignoring the Drake (you’d need to cast 2 damage spells per turn to keep the same damage).

I’m not sure whether Ethereal Conjurer might take the Drake’s spot, might be played simultaneously or the Drake will still be the considered better.

Besides the Tempo Mage, Ethereal Conjurer might be also played in slower, more Control-oriented lists. However, Control Mages would rather prefer something that can trade down, not trade up in order to fight against Aggro. But it will surely fit the Mage Reno Jackson decks – there aren’t as many good 5-drops for Mage. Besides the standard Sludge Belcher and Loatheb it’s rather hard to find a solid card to drop on turn 5. So it might be filled with Azure Drake, Ethereal Conjurer and possibly some tech cards (like Harrison Jones).

Possibly even a slower version of Mech Mage might run it. I’ve played Azure Drakes in Mech Mage a long time ago and they worked quite well in certain matchups, so I think Conjurer might also be a viable choice.

I don’t think it’s the fit into decks like Freeze Mage or Echo Giants Mage, but who knows!

Final Thoughts

Ethereal Conjurer is definitely a strong card. While it’s a little RNG-based, what isn’t in the Hearthstone? The usual card draws are also RNG-based. I actually think that with Ethereal Conjurer you have much bigger chance to get something that fits the situation than with a normal draw. While it doesn’t fit into every deck, I’ve been doing quite well with it in the Tempo Mage. If you guys have any experience with this card, please share it in the comments, I’d really like to know what you think about it.

Tomb Spider

Second Discover card in League of Explorers Wing 2. This time we get to pick one of three random Beasts. It already hints that it’s not going to fit into just any deck, but rather the Beast-focused decks. There is already a problem with that. The only Beast focused deck that works is a Midrange/Beast Hunter. There is also a Beast Druid, but it’s not great. So, the card would have to be really strong to fit into non-Beast decks. Is it that strong?

Let’s start with the stats. 3/3 for 4 mana is bad, but not terrible. It has the same amount of stats as Gnomish Inventor and a similar effect, so this time it will be my line of comparison. 3/3 vs 2/4 is arguably the same. While 2/4 is better against Aggro, because it can take more beating before dying (and 2 attack is usually enough to clear small stuff), it sucks against Piloted Shredder. It dies without killing it, while 3/3 can get rid of the first body. It also gets a slightly better trades against the bigger stuff with 1 more attack, while it still dodges some AoEs for 3 health. One statline might be better than other in different matchups, but generally they’re really close.

Then, the effect. Picking a random Beast or just drawing a card? I actually think that simply drawing a card is stronger in the decks that have no Beast synergy. There are quite a lot of small/weak Beasts and being forced to pick one of them is pretty bad feeling. The big ones (Neutral) also aren’t particularly strong if you have to play them from your hand. When it comes to the Neutral big Beasts, Maexxna, Core Hound and Captured Jormungar are the best you’re going to get. While there are couple of solid choices that can be played regardless of the class/deck, Neutral Beast tag is saturated with situational (Hungry Crab) or straight up weak stuff (Angry Chicken). Drawing a card from your deck will always be solid.

Does it mean that Tomb Spider is bad? Not exactly. First of all, you need to play it in the right class. Then, you can also get some Beasts that are perfect for the given situation. But I still think it’s more of a niche card that might fit into the Beast-focused decks and only into them.

Discover Choices

I’ve already identified that Neutral discover choices are rather weak, but I’ll still make a quick analysis of them. There are 28 Neutral Beasts. Their average mana cost is 3.29. They have 3.07 points of attack and 3.39 points of health on average. This, however, doesn’t tell you that much. I’ll list the ones with more notable effects that can come handy in certain situations.

  • 2/28 have Taunt – Ironfur Grizzly and Silverback Patriarch.
  • If you need guaranteed damage, only 1/28 has Charge – Stonetusk Boar. Armored Warhorse has potential to deal much more damage (5), but you first need to win the Joust. Dire Wolf Alpha can deal up to 2 more damage, but you need to already have 2 minions that are able to attack on the board. Mukla’s Champion also might give you some damage, but without any discounts (or 10 mana + Coin) there is no way you can get it on the same turn you drop Tomb Spider (4 + 5 + 2 = 11).
  • 1/28 can Silence – Ironbeak Owl.
  • 2/28 have Stealth, so if you need something to survive until next turn those might be good choices – Jungle Panther and Stranglethorn Tiger.
  • 2/28 can draw you a card through Discover mechanic – Jeweled Scarab and Tomb Spider (yes, you can chain those couple of times if you’re lucky enough). Captain’s Parrot can also draw you a card if you run any Pirates in your deck. But why would you run Tomb Spider in a Pirate deck anyway?
  • 2/28 have Poison effect – Emperor’s Cobra and Maexxna.

Other notable effects:

  • Stampeding Kodo can instantly kill opponent’s 2 or less attack minion. It also has possible synergy with minions that reduce attack, like Shrinkmeister and Aldor Peacekeeper.
  • Hungry Crab can instantly kill a Murloc and get buffed. It might be useful if Murloc decks ever become popular or against Paladin’s Murloc Knight.

As you can see, there are couple of cards that can come handy in certain situations. Sadly, majority of Neutral beasts are underwhelming and you won’t really want to pick them.

Decks Tomb Spider Can Fit Into

Maybe let’s first check out in which classes you can actually run it. We’ve already identified that Neutral Beasts aren’t exactly most exciting. Only about 1/3 of Neutral Beasts are good. Rest are either very situational or just bad. So if you’d get to pick only from the pool of Neutral Beasts, you probably wouldn’t want to run this card in any deck. What about Class cards? Since they get offered 4x more often, if there are even 5-6 good Beasts in a certain class, the chances you’re going to see one of them are very high.

Up until LoE, the only classes that had cards with Beast tag were Hunter and Druid. LoE introduced two new cards – Fierce Monkey into Warrior and Pit Snake into Rogue. Even though class cards have bigger chance of showing up, it’s still only 4 out of 32 (28 Neutral Beasts + 4x 1 Class Beast). It means that I wouldn’t recommend using Tomb Spider in any class besides, possibly, Hunter and Druid. Let’s analyze those two.

Hunter has 14 class Beasts. Since class cards have 4x weight and we have 28 Neutral Beasts, Hunter class Beasts are going to show up 2 times more often than Neutrals. That’s very good, because those are on average stronger than Neutrals. I’d say that there is only one bad Hunter Beast, which is:

  • Acidmaw. It is unplayable in a lot of games, because it hurts you more than your enemy (and it’s a 7 mana 4/2 minion…).

Then, we have the average Beasts:

  • Timber Wolf is situational, but you might combo it with Unleash the Hounds for amazing effect.
  • Scavenging Hyena also isn’t the most exciting card by itself, but once again – with the Unleash Combo you can turn her into let’s say a 2 mana 8/5 pretty easily. Even sacrificing just one Beast means that it’s a 2 mana 4/3, which is already good enough.
  • Starving Buzzard is yet another card that has great synergy with Unleash the Hounds (and Savannah Highmane dying). Even though the body is incredibly weak, you can easily draw 4-5 cards from it in the late game, which is really awesome in slower matchups.
  • Dreadscale can come handy in games against Aggro decks or Paladin.
  • Desert Camel is alright if you run 1-drops in your deck.
  • King of Beasts gives you a Taunt, and a pretty big one. With just 2 other Beasts on the board, it’s already a Druid of the Claw. Once again, great thing to combo with Unleash.
  • Core Rager is just a 4/4 for 4 most of time, so it’s slightly below average. But on the other hand, it has the potential to be a 7/7 for 4 in case you’re in top deck mode. If you top deck the Tomb Spider, Core Rager might be incredible choice. You get 3/3 + 7/7 in a single card.

And finally, we get the great beasts. Those are commonly used in Hunter already or have really good synergy with the deck.

  • Webspinner is never a bad thing to get. You get a 1/1 on the board, a way to activate your Beast synergies (Houndmaster/Ram Wrangler/Kill Command) and if it dies, you just cycle for another Beast.
  • King’s Elekk – a 3/2 for 2 is already okay, but with the additional effect you might even get a free card draw.
  • Tundra Rhino – I’ve decided to put it into this category, because this card is AMAZING in Beast Hunter. Since you run a lot of Beasts, giving them Charge is awesome. The best combo is Rhino on turn 5 into Highmane on turn 6. A massive body with a Charge is really overpowered. If Rhino sticks to the board for just a couple of turns, you’re pretty much guaranteed to win that game.
  • Savannah Highmane – hands down the best Beast in the game. The massive first body, the Deathrattle that makes it very hard to completely remove, Beast tag on everything. We all know how strong it is.
  • Gahz’rilla – It might be MVP in slower matchups. Not only it has good initial stats (6/9), but without hard removal enemy might just not be able to drop anything small on the board, because after like two turns Gahz’rilla might just one-shot him.
  • King Krush – Most of time it’s going to be used as a finisher, but 8/8 with Charge is also good when making the trades. Another card that might win you a slower matchup.

As you can see, the Beasts Hunter has are quite good. There are really not many bad ones and it’s pretty easy to pick a strong, non-situational thing. A lot of them can be just dropped on the board proactively without worrying what opponent has on the board or in his hand.

It makes Beast Hunter most likely the best deck that you can use Tomb Spider in. I’m not 100% sure if it’s good enough, but in theory it might actually work in there. The only problem is that you don’t want too many 4-drops. You definitely won’t drop Houndmasters, because they’re just too good. And I’m also not sure whether dropping Piloted Shredder is justifiable. It might be used as an one-of and not really as a 4-drop.

But let’s maybe take look at the Druid right now, shall we? Druid has much, much less amount of Beasts than Hunter. Compared to Hunter’s 14, Druid has only 4 class Beasts. Even if you count them 4x, it’s still 16 compared to 28 Neutrals. It means that Neutrals will be offered much more often than Class ones, but you should see at least one class card very often. However, their quality is also pretty high. The only questionable one is Jungle Moonkin – Beast Druid isn’t likely very spell-heavy, so it might be more of a drawback than a positive thing. Still, a 6 + 3 damage Swipe might come handy a lot of times when you just really need to clear the board (e.g. Patron Warrior floods the whole board with Patrons). It’s also kinda good against decks that don’t run many damage spells, but honestly, there aren’t many of those.

Another 3 Druid Beasts are much better. Another new one that was just introduced in LoE is Mounted Raptor is a mini-Piloted Shredder or slightly upgraded Harvest Golem, depending on how you want to look at it. The card itself is pretty strong and it’s already used in some Druid decks. Second one is Savage Combatant – awesome card, once you get it onto the board and it doesn’t die, it can snowball the game pretty hard. Either you deal 3 damage to opponent’s face with your Hero Power (upgraded Steady Shot and you also gain 1 Armor!) or you can remove the small stuff for free (well, at the cost of your health, but it’s almost for free). And last, but not least, we have Malorne. The card’s statline is great, it’s a very big minion. If enemy doesn’t have Big Game Hunter or any other big removal, threatening 1/3 of opponent’s life total each turn is great. Shuffling back into the deck, while not being the best effect ever, it might come handy in the slower matchups. If they have to remove your Malorne like 3 times during the course of the game, they might eventually run out of ways to do so.

Overall, while Druid doesn’t have as many Beasts as Hunter, the quality is comparable. It means that Tomb Spider MIGHT make into the Beast Druid decks. But once again – it’s a 4 mana card. Druid is even more heavy on 4 mana than the Hunter. With Keeper of the Grove, Swipe, Piloted Shredder and possibly even Savage Combatant (it’s very good in Beast Druid), is there really a space for another 4 mana card? It’s another thing we’ll have to see.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t have high hopes for this one. I thought it was an okay card in certain, specific decks and it exactly turned out that way. It’s not something you’re going to see often, but more of a Beast tech card. The truth is that Beast decks aren’t really a thing. While Midrange Hunter runs some Beast synergies, it’s not strictly a Beast deck. Beast Druid is nowhere to be seen, because it’s inferior to the standard Midrange Druid.

So, even in the best possible classes, the card might not see pretty much any play. It makes it pretty bad, but still not terrible. The card is definitely playable, but to see the card in top Constructed decks it has to be much more than only “playable”.

I think the card would be much better if it was in a 3 mana slot. 4 mana slot is heavily contested – the decks that could consider running this already run the Piloted Shredder as their main 3-drop. And honestly, if I had to choose between Shredder and Tomb Spider, I’d pick Shredder any day.

Nonetheless, I really like the Discover mechanic and this might be better in the future. If Beast decks become a thing or more good Neutral Beasts are released, the value of this guy might go up.

Closing

That’s all folks. A lot of what I’ve written above are still my thoughts and assumptions. While I’ve tested both of the cards already, it’s been only couple of days since they were released. It’s still very hard to tell whether they’re gonna get into the popular Constructed decks or be forgotten (like most new cards are). There are still 3 more Discover cards ahead of us: Gorillabot A-3 in Wing 3 and Museum Curator + Raven Idol in Wing 4. I’ll probably cover them all together after 4th Wing is released and I give them some testing.

Once again, thanks for your attention. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the section below!