Or maybe it won’t. That’s the thing about new cards, you never quite know until you try them. Darkbomb seemed like a totally average sub-Frostbolt for Warlocks; two weeks later it became the dominant early-game removal spell for the entire class. Troggzor the Earthinator looked like a top-tier legendary, but it’s yet to find a home in a deck.
It’ll be till July that we have a sure grip on exactly where this set stands, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be curious. Here is our selection for the five cards from Blackrock Mountain that have the best chance to shake things up.
A 6/4 for six is obviously terrible value, but the Volcanic Drake is one of a number of new cards getting bundled with this brand-new discount effect. The mechanic is simple: For every minion that dies during the turn, this thing will cost a mana less. So if you do a simple one-for-one trade—say a Bloodfen Raptor into a Sorcerer’s Apprentice—you now get to play the Drake for only four mana.
That will be the most common circumstance. A simple trade, and a two mana discount. But the door is open for much wilder combinations. Clear six guys with a Flamestrike or an Equality-Consecration, now you can drop the Drake for free. A board clear followed up with a 6/4, or even two 6/4s, is pretty incredible value.
But is four mana for that same 6/4 good enough on average? While a similar card doesn’t exist in the game right now, that four health makes it a very unfavorable trade with Piloted Shredder, which might be the most popular card in the meta. Personally I think the upside is strong enough that the Volcanic Drake will become the marquee card of the expansion, in the same class of Haunted Creeper and Sludge Belcher from Naxxramas.
Okay, I’m cheating a bit, because I’m writing this article on the same day the first wing of Blackrock Mountain came out, and I’ve already been handily rekt by the Grim Patron. Here’s what we didn’t consider when originally appraising this minion: if you play an Inner Rage (zero mana) on the Patron, you’re getting a 5/2 and 3/3 with upside for a total cost of five.
If there was a neutral minion that was 5/2 battlecry summon a 3/3, we’d probably all run it. You’re talking about a five-drop with a combined 8/5 stats, plus the upside of spawning additional 3/3s. Sure it’s a two-card combination, but Warrior has a bunch of cheap activators (Whirlwind, Cruel Taskmaster, Unstable Ghoul,) that I’m starting to believe that the Grim Patron might bring a brand new dimension to Warrior archetypes.
Here’s something you might not be aware about Emperor Thaurissan. The card text doesn’t read “Battlecry: At the end of your turn reduce the cost of cards in your hand by one.” No, that effect isn’t a battlecry. It happens at the end of every turn, which means the discount can stack at the end of every turn. Needless to say, that opens the door for a whole world of possibilities.
For instance, what if you play Emperor Thaurissan and then Conceal? You’re now almost guaranteeing a two mana discount on everything in your hand. Maybe if you’re really ambitious you play this with a Master of Disguise, now there’s a permanent stacking discount until you’re casting zero mana Eviscerates. What if you get this thing to stick to the board with stacked Ancestral Spirits? What if you chip away until you can play a Malygos for six mana?
That’s not that crazy, you’d only need to keep it on the board for three turns. Thaurissan is one of those cards that’s good enough to have a whole deck built around it, and the results might be truly gamebreaking.
Remember that six-mana Malygos I was talking about above? Well, you can actually get close to that if you’re simply running it alongside the new Paladin minion Dragon Consort.
The Consort discounts the next dragon you play, not on the same turnp but for the rest of the game, by two mana. That opens the door for turn six Dragon Consort turn seven Ysera or Malygos or Nefarian or Alexstrasza or plenty of other devastating follow-ups. Even the comparably vanilla Dragon Consort into Dragon Consort combo is pretty gnarly, eight mana for 10/10 combined stats and the promise a future discounted dragon. With one card, Blizzard has made Paladin the favorite for the burgeoning dragon archetype. Like Mad Scientist before it, there’s a chance Dragon Consort is the best card in the game.
Don’t believe anything you read about this card. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has any idea how good or bad it is to copy spells into your hand. This might be a meta-shifting effect, or it might be complete garbage. The point is, we have no precedent. Is it as good as drawing two cards from your deck? Is it worse? Is it better? We don’t know, and that’s what makes it so exciting. You can compare it to Thoughtsteal, which is run in practically every Priest deck, but Thoughtsteal doesn’t cost nine mana. Is it worth taking an entire turn to get a big guy and, I don’t know, a Pyroblast and a Frostbolt? Probably! What about double Ice Lances? Probably not!
What I am sure of is that I love it when Blizzard introduces something completely out of left field into Hearthstone. It’ll be fascinating to see if Nefarian turns out to be good or not.
Image via Blizzard