First impressions of the Grand Tournament – Part 3
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="220"] “[It] is just about the saddest card that I’ve seen.” - Trump[/caption]
I like the visual design of this card. Everything on it screams: “Pirate!” Pirate decks are still considered a gimmick. The closest they got to the stage lights of a big tournament was back in early vanilla, when Artosis won the final of BlizzCon 2013 Innkeeper's Invitational against Kripparrian. Artosis ran face Warrior which won him the title of the first BlizzCon Heartstone champion. Captain Greenskin and two Bloodsail Raiders were in that deck. By the way, if you did not watch that final and you like watching competitive Hearthstone, you should totally do it. Games are fun to watch and it is interesting to see how the game evolved over time. In today’s meta, one or two Dread Corsairs can be found in Patron Warrior, while Southsea Deckhand can be found in both Oil Rouge and Aggo Paladin.
Skycap’n Kragg is a 7 mana 4/6 with charrrrge, which costs 1 less mana for each friendly pirate on board. If you have 3 pirates on board, Cap’n Kragg is amazing. Then it becomes 4/6 with charge for only 4 mana! With 2 pirates on board at 5 mana cost he is good. Druid of the Claw is played as charging 4/4 all the time for the same cost. At 6 mana, he is worse than Argent Commander (charging 4/2 with divine shield). The problem with this card is that all pirates, except this one, have high attack and low health point stat distribution. They are very easy to remove so you cannot count on having few on board on turn 4 or 5 when you want to play “good value” Skycap’n Kragg. Having said that, if you have, for example, Death’s Bite equipped, you can surprise your opponent with double Dread Corsairs and Skycap’n Kragg on turn 5.
Pirate decks are usually very aggressive. They aim at finishing the game around turn 6 or 7. Knowing that, you can look at this card as a finisher, but it really is not one. It has high health, which means it is designed to trade and protect your board. If a finisher is what you need, Leeroy Jenkins is much better, he costs less and hits harder.
In arena, this card is bad and you should avoid it when possible.
Kodorider is an example of a card that is really bad in aggressive meta. It is really slow. I guess this will be the case with many cards with Inspire effect. If a card has powerful effect, its mana cost is high and stats are low, forcing you to play them same turn when you use your hero power (cost of the card + 2) for full value. Kodorider is 6 mana 3/5 that summons 3/5 War Codoes when your hero power is played. You would play it on turn 8 getting two 3/5 minions of which one is a major threat and as result has pseudo-taunt. 6/10 for 8 mana is good, but not amazing. Amazing happens when you get a chance to trigger Inspire effect multiple times, possibly using synergy with Garrison Commander or Coldarra Drake.
From good high-cost minions you usually want immediate results without additional investment of resources. Sylvanas Windrunner, Emperor Thaurissan and Piloted Sky Golem are good examples of 6 drops with this feature. They are good on their own. They do not need a setup or synergies to return full value and because of that, they are consistent. With Kodorider, sometimes you will pull out a board full of War Codoes, but more often you will not. That is why I do not see this card being played in constructed. There is also no current meta deck in which Korodirer can find a place.
In arena, this card is much better. On turn 8 you are splitting your threats, making it easier to trade and harder to remove. Also, Kodorider will stick on the board better than in constructed.
With 3/4 body, Totem Golem can trade with almost any 2 cost minion and survive. It is like Spider Tank played one turn earlier, and Spider Tank is a solid card played in many Mech decks. It is a Totem, so we can expect more cards that have some kind of synergy with totems. Totem Golem can be played in aggressive decks as a sticky early threat or in control decks for grabbing the board early. Early board control is better than late board control because you can trade favorably, gaining an advantage over your opponent.
Is Overload for 1 mana, on a minion with such good stats, a big deal? Shamans are not getting much love in today’s meta and many players think the reason is Overload effect. Locked mana crystals can really cripple your plays. If you fall back early, you start playing cards with Overload to answer opponents plays and every turn your mana pool is lesser than it should be. It feels like you are fighting with a big disadvantage. You can make an argument that good players can plan ahead and play around Overload. You would be right, but if the upside of planning ahead and playing around Overload is big enough, Shaman would be played more often than it currently is. For example, in Archon Team League, 8 teams compete every week. Each team picks 6 classes to compete with. Shaman is picked by one, two or maximally three teams and when it gets picked, aggressive Mech Shaman deck is played. Brian Kibler is a player from Trump’s team, Value Town. He is the only undefeated player in Archon Team League with an 8-0 score. He played Mech Shaman 3 times. Do you know how many cards with Overload effect his deck list has? Four. Two Crackles and two Lava Bursts, both spells, both mainly used as finishers.
Shaman decks with minions like Fireguard Destroyer (massive 4/6 or up to 7/6 body for 4 mana) or Earth Elemental (7/8 with taunt for 5 mana) are not played competitively and maybe Overload mechanic attached to them is the reason. Will Totem Golem have the same fate as those mentioned remains to be seen. It has better chances, because one less mana crystal on turn 3 is not as bad as on turn 5.
In arena, Totem Golem will be a top tier card.
Tuskarr Totemic is a 3/2 minion with Battlecry effect that summons ANY totem. There are eight totems we currently know about. Four totems from hero power and four card totems: Flametongue Totem, Mana Tide Totem, Vitality Totem and Totem Golem. This means that half of the time, Tuskarr Totemic is an average 3 mana card that gives you a 2 mana worth minion and a 1 mana worth totem. In this case, it is a little bit better than Razorfen Hunter because it has 3 attack and summons totem for totem synergy cards, but since we are comparing it to Razorfen Hunter it is pretty bad. In best case scenario, you will get 3/2 and 3 mana worth minion by it: Mana Tide Totem that draws you card and forces your opponent to use removal or let you get a big card advantage; or Totem Golem in which case you get 6/6 worth of stats on two minions for 3 mana and amazing value. Because it can summon Flametongue Totem, you should always put it on the left side of your minions as totem spawns on the right side.
This card will obviously be part of Totem Shaman decks. As more totems are being added to the game, Tuscarr Totemic will only gain in value, unless totems with drawback are introduced. Although cards that like to punish you are more of a Warlock thing.
Another addition to above mentioned Totem Shaman. Draenei Totemcarver is a 4/4 minion that gains +1/+1 for every friendly totem on board. It is very similar to Frostwolf Warlord, but it costs less and has more specific buff condition. Frostwolf Warlord is only seen in Arena and constructed “budget” decks of new players. In Arena, I consider it a decent card, especially good in Paladin and Shaman decks due to their hero power. Draenei Totemcarver is going to be better than Froswolf Warlord in Arena, because in the worst case scenario it is a 4 mana 4/4, which is much better than 5 mana 4/4.
However, in constructed environment, you cannot keep a lot of minions on board. People already tend to clear totems. With more totem synergy cards, totems become more dangerous. In situations when a player is choosing to hit face or clear totems, totems will be cleared more often. Plays like turn 2 hero power into turn 3 Tuscarr Totemic or turn 2 Totem Golem, turn 3 hero power, will enable 6/6 Draenei Totemcarver on turn 4 but are really hard to pull off. I hope that Totemic Shaman will become a new competitive option which will be played differently than the ones we have now. Ladder and Tournament matches will become much more interesting as a result.
Thunder Bluff Valiant
Four hero power totems on the board just became much more dangerous. When I used to play Midrange Shaman, many times I would find myself in a situation where I have 4+ minions on the board and 3 attack in total. Usually something like Haunted Creeper or Defender of Argus would stay on board with bunch of totems. That is why I started playing one copy of a Bloodlust.
Thunder Bluff Valiant is a 5 mana 3/6 minion, with an ability to permanently give all friendly totems +2 attack when hero power is used. This will be a much better addition than a Bloodlust. An important thing to note is that the totem that triggers Inspire effect will also get a buff. So if you do not have any totems on board, playing Thunder Bluff Valiant and then using hero power will summon you a totem with +2 attack. The fact that buff is permanent and can stack is a big deal.
A body with 6 health points is tough enough to be played on turn 5 with decent chances to survive for next turn. It can be used as some kind of Quartermaster for Shaman and will be a crucial part of Totem Shaman deck.
In arena, this card is really good. You can expect to trigger effect at least once. If you draw it in topdeck war, it can win you the game.