Hello everyone! Soon we will know all the cards from the Old Gods expansion and as I was writing the article, Blizzard finally announced the new nerfs. After the long wait, the new Standard format and the new expansion will launch on April 26th.
Today’s article won’t be about new cards, instead I will focus on future all-star cards and potential very strong “deck building blocks” in the upcoming standard format. Although the new set will have a big impact, the majority of the cards played in the new Standard format will be from older sets. Therefore I think it is important to call to mind some of the older cards, that are powerful in a vacuum, but currently see very little competitive play, because they are suppressed by the high power level of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Naxxramas.
In addition to that in the last section of the article, I will take a look at the nerfs. I won’t get too much in-depth, because I have a very tight schedule and not enough time, but I fully believe that some other competent author will write much more about the nerfs!
Let’s get started!
Tempo and Malygos Rogue- Unearthed Raptor and Tomb Pillager
“First of all Rogue will be absurd without any slight adjustments to some Basic/ Classic cards. I fully expect to see some slight adjustments to Blade Flurry, Preparation and the like.”
I wrote that a couple of hours before Blizzard announced the nerfs. Another possibility I had not in my mind that they just could weakenBlade Flurry by A LOT. Although Blade Flurry is not trash now, I think you now don’t want to run more than one copy in a Tempo Rogue shell.
Currently Oil Rogue is a very powerful force in tournaments (I do very well with it and I see other players also doing very well with it). It is very good against every type of Warlock, Paladin and Priest. It is slightly favored against Druid and Patron Warrior. The downfall of the deck is that it is very bad against Face Hunter, Face Shaman, Freeze Mage and Control Warrior. In tournaments, that is not that big of a deal, because you can try to dodge them, but on the ladder Rogue can be an awful experience if you face the bad matchups too often.
If you are not very experienced with Oil Rogue, you might think that losing Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil or Blade Flurry (you now probably play only 1 copy) will put an end to the deck. I have seen the same level of nonsense multiple times in the past (for example people thought Patron Warrior was dead, after the Warsong Commander nerf, whereas I said from the start that the deck is not dead). Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil is not the centerpiece of Oil Rogue, although funnily the deck is named after the card. It is a good card, but one that can very easily be replaced with Assassin’s Blade. Also keep in mind that the majority of Oil Rogue decks only play one copy of Oil. Obviously the loss of Oil and the nerf to Blade Flurry to 4 mana weakens the deck, but it’s important to note that other archetypes lose a lot more after the rotation. I would even say that losing Loatheb and Piloted Shredder is an advantage, because your opponent also cannot use these cards. Especially Loatheb can sometimes be backbreaking for Oil Rogue.
The core of the deck, the heavy emphasis on tempo and Violet Teacher going nuts and dominating the board is still there and left untouched.
And so far as it looks like the new expansion gives Rogue some very good cards like Xaril, Poisoned Mind. The new Rogue legendary is sooooo good. I love it. Finally a legendary minion that is good in Tempo Rogue.
In addition to that another good Rogue deck: Malygos Rogue, loses only Antique Healbot and Blade Flurry (will probably be removed completely). But besides that you have a Tier 2 deck in the current metagame, that loses very little with the rotation.
I think Rogue will be one of the major players in the upcoming Standard format and one of the building blocks, you need to keep an eye on.
Tomb Pillager already sees a decent amount of play, but mainly in Malygos Rogue, because in Oil Rogue it is slightly overshadowed by Piloted Shredder. So with the ubiquitous Shredder gone, you can expect Tomb Pillager to be in every Standard Rogue deck. Even when Piloted Shredder was around the card saw a decent amount of play, which should tell you how powerful the card is.
The next card I want to talk about and where I fear that people might miss a deckbuilding opportunity is: Unearthed Raptor.
Although a lot of very strong Deathrattles won’t be Standard legal like Nerubian Egg and Haunted Creeper, I think the card will still be quite good, because the stats are average, meaning that you don’t lose tempo if you play a 3/4 for three without making use of the Battlecry. Copying just the Deathrattle of Loot Hoarder will be a lot more powerful in a format that has a lower power level than the current iteration of Hearthstone. Overall I think that you don’t have to build to go “full Deathrattle”, meaning it is good enough to just toss some Deathrattle cards like Undercity Huckster, Tomb Pillager and Loot Hoarder together with Unearthed Raptor in a Tempo Rogue shell and have a good deck.
Control Paladin- Dragon Consort, Equality and Doomsayer
Before Naxxramas Control Paladin was a fine deck to play. It was the first deck I have built in Hearthstone and climbed the ladder with. Equality together with Wild Pyromancer and Consecration was very potent against both Control and Aggro decks. But the very good Deathrattles introduced with Naxxramas and the reign of Hunter made the deck obsolete. But to be fair Hunter made a lot of decks obsolete back then (I still don’t understand how a two mana Starving Buzzard made it through Beta).
Anyways, Goblins versus Gnomes returned Paladin from the dead to the living, but Midrange Paladin was just a little bit more powerful than its slower brother. Muster for Battle and Shielded Minibot are better in a more proactive shell.
With the advent of Standard I think that the Control Paladin shell will have once again it’s time in the sun. The lack of oppressive Deathrattles makes board clears with Equality much more powerful.
Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman are also very good at dealing with bigger minions. Especially because Whispers of the Old Gods features a lot of bigger minions, they look especially potent. It is also worth noting that both of these cards, unlike other anti-Control cards like Big Game Hunter are also quite good against aggressive decks.
Because something as powerful as Shielded Minibot will not be available in Standard, Control Paladin has to get more creative when looking for proper early game minions. I think Doomsayer fulfills the role of an early game minion, and already has proven to be quite potent in Murloc Paladin.
Antique Healbot is not Standard legal. But Refreshment Vendor is. Although Refreshment Vendor only replenishes four life points, he is cheaper and has a much better body. I fully expect Refreshment Vendor to be a staple of almost every Control deck.
Although the core of a potential Control Paladin will be pretty much set in stone and does not involve a whole lot of creativity, the best win conditions of a Control Paladin deck are kind of unknown and have to be found out through testing. Between Anyfin can Happen– Control Paladin, Dragon Paladin, N’zoth, the Corruptor– Control Paladin and just putting only good legendaries without any particular synergies I see a lot of deckbuilding possibilities. My first choice would be putting Dragons as win conditions.
Dragon Consort is a very powerful minion with a strong effect. The reason why it does not see any competitive play, is that it is too slow in the current metagame. The very sticky boards of aggressive decks, Druid’s Combo finish and the high pressure output of Mysterious Challenger together with all the crazy Paladin cards from Goblins vs. Gnomes, just make the card too slow in the current metagame. You are probably already dying because you are so behind on tempo, once you can play your nine mana Dragon on Turn 7. Quite ridiculous, but I fully believe the rotation of the design mistakes in Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes will change that and Dragon Consort will get its time in the sun.
Midrange Warrior- Varian Wrynn
It remains to be seen if Grim Patron will be viable in Standard. But that’s not really important. The truth is that Grim Patron is just a very good card people have put into a Midrange Warrior shell.
The core of a Midrange Warrior shell is:
- Weapons (in Standard possibly even Arcanite Reaper could see play, but it is depending on the prevalence of 5 and 6 mana 5 health minions)
- Battle Rage; the strongest card draw spell in the game. It requires some neglectable setup to draw two cards, but has a very high ceiling and more often than not it draws four or even more cards.
- Execute; the most efficient single target removal in the game. You could also add Shield Slam, but unlike Execute it’s a little bit harder to trigger.
The power level of the Midrange Warrior shell is what made Grim Patron – Warrior survive the Warsong Commander nerf. If on the other hand they would have changed Battle Rage to four mana and Execute to 2 mana and left Warsong Commander unchanged, the deck would be much worse than with only Warsong Commander being nerfed.
My point is that for Midrange Warrior it does not really matter if Grim Patron has enough other support cards in Standard. You can just adapt your win conditions and play a Dragon, C’thun or an ordinary Midrange deck with just Varian Wrynn and other good minions. So you have a lot of deckbuilding possibilities with Midrange Warrior, that are all possible because of how strong the core of the deck is.
Oh boy was this card hyped during the spoiler season of The Grand Tournament. Sadly the card did not live up to its full potential. Many people think that is because Varian is bad, but that is completely wrong. Varian Wrynn is an absurdly powerful minion and would see play in a lot of decks, if he was a neutral card.
The downfall of Varian Wrynn is that people only put him in Control Warrior decks, which has to be very fatigue focused given how much tempo focused and aggressive the current metagame is. In a Midrange Warrior shell on the other hand, so a deck that does not care about fatigue because it wins or loses before it, Varian Wrynn is very powerful and if some non- Patron Warrior Midrange shells get played in Standard, Varian Wrynn should definitely be part of them.
This is my most favorite card out of The Grand Tournament set. It has decent stats, which means if you are under pressure you can just drop him to contest the board without making great use of its ability. In addition to that, if the game goes long, the card can win a game on its own if left unchecked and unlike Murloc Knight it does not involve terrible RNG mechanics.
I had high hopes for a Midrange Shaman deck with the new expansions, but the nerfs made me a bit sceptical. Freeze Mage is not affected by the nerfs, and will continue to demolish every non Warrior Control or slower Midrange deck. In addition to that I also expected some slight adjustments to Doomhammer, because in my eyes the card is a little bit too powerful in a vacuum and to also weaken Aggro Shaman, which is another bad matchup for Aggro Shaman. But maybe one can build Midrange Shaman in a way to make it favorable against Aggro Shaman, while not weakening the other matchups too much.
Overall I really like the changes, some slight adjustments to Rogue were necessary so that Rogue is not just flat-out the strongest class. It’s up for debate if there was a better way to nerf Rogue. I mean they really went ham on Blade Flurry, but maybe they only wanted to nerf one card really hard, instead of weakening several ones. Also Blade Flurry puts a heavy design constraint on future weapon buffs, so when it comes to weapon buffs they have slightly more design space in future expansions.
Although I love playing Freeze Mage I’m really astonished that they have chosen to not nerf a single card from Freeze Mage.
But maybe we get a card tomorrow that is not as fringe as Kezan Mystic and is even more powerful. I hope not, but we will see.
The nerf I like the most is probably the Big Game Hunter change. It was literally in every slower deck and was just too efficient at dealing with bigger minions. The nerf rendered Big Game Hunter not useless, you can still play him on your deck if you want more removal against bigger minion, but he is now very bad against faster decks. Because unlike a three mana Big Game Hunter a five mana one does not contest something like Animal Companion
I hope you liked my article.
Once I have seen all the cards from the new expansion, I will start building a couple of decks and write articles about them. If you have any suggestions for a deck you would like to see, let me know!
Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments!