Wing two. Despite the lack of hype for this new adventure, the first wing of One Night in Karazhan wing really brought some new, exciting and fun cards to the table. This week, we get some more cards of that style that I believe will have a significant impact on the meta. In fact, this wing could be have the biggest impact out of all four. The first wing gave us a lot of powerful cards that are going to be played for a long while. This time around the power level is going up and there are many tools that could significantly impact the game over the next year. Though these cards may not make as many new decks as the ones we visited the last time around, they are going to give a lot of decks some very powerful tools. We are going to discuss how those tools work and analyze the opportunities they could open.
Though its time may not come for another two weeks (when a certain peddler gets released), Swashburglar is a solid role card that I think will shine in future play. Though this card, alongside Babbling Book, seems really underwhelming at first glance, there is much more here than you might expect. When looking at 1/1’s for one it is always important to remember Webspinner saw a lot of play during its time. While this is no spinner (no beast synergy and the card is more random) just having something to play on turn one that gives you value later in the game can go a long way. Yes, you have no idea what the card you get is going to be, but this curves out so well and has so many options that you usually aren’t going to mind. This card is not going to break open the meta, but I think it is going to be a welcome addition to the class.
Though Swashburglar could very well make its way into multiple Rogue decks (one drop does a very nice job of activating combo after all), I think this could be apart of a value-oriented build that lives off of just playing value cards each turn. I see this deck a lot like the old Tempo Rogue decks where you want to win the game through big minions and a solid curve rather than just trying to build into some giant combo. While it is hard to see past the Miracle sheen that has dominated the class, Rogue has a lot of very strong minions at its disposal. A solid curve of threat-after-threat backed up with their ample removal (not to mention Preparation) could really make something. Ethereal Peddler has some real potential between burglar and Undercity Huckster, and a 5/6 for five is strong enough on its own. To make this list I blended the old deathrattle core and fused it with cards like Shado-Pan Calvary, Edwin Vancleef and Ethereal Peddler to create a strong base. And yes, Burgle is probably too slow.
There’s no way around it, Kindly Grandmother is good. Really, really good. So good in fact that she may change the way Hunter plays. Now, that is not to say the beast is going to create a brand new archetype within the class, but that she may bring back some old cards that have left the class. For instance, this card is very strong with both Abusive Sergeant and Knife Juggler[/card]. Though those cards have been traditionally aggressive, I could see a large resurgence in Hybrid Hunter because of the two drop (which also plays well in my token Huntress deck). This card is going to take the place of any Hunter two drop because it directly outclasses both King’s Elekk and Huge Toad. Between this, Infested Wolf, Savannah Highmane and Unleash the Hounds, you have quite a bit of token potential that you could really make use of with non-traditional Hunter cards like Abusive Sergeant, Cult Master, Barnes and maybe even Princess Huhuran. This card may seem low-impact at first glance, but it packs a huge punch and gives you more ways to control the early board.
The reason Kindly Grandmother is so strong is because both halves of it are a beast. That means your opponent has to react to both early on to stop Houndmaster from coming down and ruining their day. In that same vein, if you manage to Houndmaster this card, you suddenly have a 4/3 and a 3/3 that becomes a 3/2 when it dies. That’s just insane. Nobody wants to kill this card, but not killing this card could lead to some real disasters. That type of push-and-pull is very strong and will force many Hunter opponent’s into very tight or uncomfortable corners. Blizzard went away from strong deathrattles for a reason, and this card takes us back to the Naxxramas days. While this card may not be quite as strong as Haunted Creeper, getting 4/3 worth of stats across two beasts on a sticky minion is exactly what Rexxar wanted to help slot into their already very strong curve. Goodbye Huge Toad.
Kara Kazham! is another card that I believe has a lot of potential. Though it gives you the same stats as Silverhand Knight, the extra body makes it a lot more useful (and thus a lot better). There are two ways Warlock can make use of this card, and the first I want to cover is its role in Renolock. All Renolock has ever wanted to do is stall long enough to draw and play Reno Jackson (from which they almost always win the game). This card gives you another way to do that by just filling up the board in the same way that Imp Gang Boss does. This is because three bodies can do a lot of trading, especially when they get buffed up. They also work well with taunt-givers and can help you buy an extra turn or two against midrange decks. There are also a few popular decks (notable Druid and Dragon Warrior) that lack the proper AOE to clear a 3/3, 2/2 and 1/1. While there are ways they can clear, it is going to often costs them a turn and set back their tempo. For those reasons, I think most slow Warlock decks will adopt this card as another way to make it through the midgame.
Though I believe it has a role in control, where I think Kara Kazham! is the most interesting is in a Zoo-style token deck. As Hearthstone has developed, Warlock has received more and more ways to generate large boards out of nowhere. More token creators just add to that plan. The idea here is to take the classic Zoo build and funnel out some of the dead weight to play more cards that just make stuff. Then, you back that up with cards that support hordes of small minion. Forbidden Ritual, Possessed Villager and Imp Gang Boss are all here, but there are a lot of things to test. This could include Imp Master, Pantry Spider, Cult Master and Arcanosmith. I also like the idea of running more long buffs with this build, teching in both Dark Iron Dwarf and Shattered Sun Cleric. The heavy-burst has also been cut, simply relying on Power Overwhelming to eliminate any dead draws. Nothing new here, but this is the type of deck that could really make use of Kara Kazham!.
Out of every card in the set, Moat Lurker is the most interesting from a design perspective. Not only does it have a brand new ability that has never been seen before, but it interacts with a ton of different cards in a variety of interesting ways. If this card does not prove to be too slow (which a 3/3 for six may well be) I think it is going to be used most in deathrattle decks that want to kill their own stuff. In that way it has a lot of versatility. You can use this to get a Sylvanas Windrunner trigger (as well as a second Sylvanas when it dies) or you can use this to take down your opponent’s taunt to push for lethal. It also has some very nice Reincarnate synergy with Cairne Bloodhoof and things like Tomb Pillager or Xaril, Poisoned Mind. The fact that this card is always going to do something gives it some real potential. There are some games where you are going to use it for value and there are games where it just gets rid of a taunt and gives you lethal. It can even “hide” one of your minions to protect it or discourage AOE. This card could also have a large impact on Evolve Shaman because it allows you a free kill and a seven drop for seven mana. In a similar vein, this could easily make its way into Rogue decks that run Shadowstep as well.
Though Priest still needs some work, there is no doubt that Onyx Bishop is going to open up a new archetype for the class. Ressurect Priest has been tried (unsuccessfully) in the past, but I think this card could really fix the deck’s consistency issues. A 3/4 body for five is horrendous. However, a 3/4 that comes with another body is another story entirely. If this pulls something like Shifting Shade, you suddenly get two bodies and 7/7 worth of stats. Not to mention, a card from your opponent’s class. There are a lot of cards you want to bring back in today’s Hearthstone, so this probably fits best in some type of N’zoth build. In the past Resurrect has simply been too unreliable to make a deck around, but getting four in your deck adds to the consistency and lets you push hard on the deathrattle/value train.
Though you could go the heavy control route with Resurrect, where you run cards like Wild Pyromancer and Doomsayer, I think you want to trend in the exact opposite direction. Onyx Bishop screams tempo to me, so that’s how I want to play it in the coming week (and you better bet I will be playing this in the coming week). You want to run a lower curve and just play a plethora of cards that work well with Resurrect. You then back that up with Priest’s classic removal and N’zoth, the Corruptor as your emergency finisher. Barnes also adds a lot of power and helps you with both Resurrect and Onyx Bishop. Yes, there are a lot of blanks in the deck, but there are also a lot of “oops I win” plays that are too good to ignore. Also, letting your opponent kill a 1/1 Injured Blademaster and then bringing it back with Bishop the following turn is a very strong play.
Though people are split over this card, I think Arcane Giant has a chance to be one of the best cards in the entire set. Not only does this have natural interactions with what many lists are trying to do anyway, but it is also the easiest giant to get to zero (giving it a lot of extra combo potential in addition to value). Before going further, I will say that this card is not going to fit into low-curve decks like Tempo Mage. Though it is great when you draw it on turn ten or so, you never want to risk diluting your hand in a deck that so desperately on a strong curve. Rather, this card is going to be for much slower decks (such as Yogg Hunter) that can actually use their removal throughout the game to bring this card down onto an empty board. I also imagine it is going to be very strong in Rogue decks where you can just play the Miracle game and suddenly have free 8/8’s out of nowhere that you can Conceal. This card is like a neutral Thing From Below that is bigger in size and , dare I say it, easier to cast.
The most important aspect of Arcane Giant (as noted above) is that there are many scenarios where it is going to be free or one mana. That flexibility is very important for a lot of decks, most notably Control Mage and Control Shaman. Being able to play two of these and then taunt them up with Defender of Argus has shades of Echo Mage, and being able to Elemental Destruction an entire board and slam an 8/8 is just an insane amount of value. It also could work wonders as a finisher for combo Warrior decks with Faceless Manipulator and Charge (though I am not sure if it’s better than Raging Worgen). For my own taste, I have been working on a Grinder Mage list for the past two weeks in anticipation of this card. The point of the deck is to play the tempo game at the start and then use that board presence to build into more AOE and stalling mechanisms. From there, you grind your opponent down and finish them off with a combination of Archmage Antonidas and free 8/8’s. There are a lot of powerful Mage spells right now, so finding the exact number I want to run is going to be difficult.
There are good cards, there are strong cards, and then there’s Barnes. I am going to go out right now and say, not is this card the best in the set hands down, but it also has the potential to warp the meta as much as Piloted Shredder did. A bold claim, but I stand behind it one hundred percent. The problem with Barnes is, there is simply no downside to running him. In that way, he has what I call Nat Pagle syndrome. While he can give you no return, he also can pretty much win you the game. Yes, a Chillwind Yeti split across two bodies is not great, but the upside of this card is so high you probably aren’t going to care. You simply can just structure your deck in a way where you never can get anything worse than a 4/5, but you also have a ton of high-roll cards that just push you so far ahead your opponent is not going to be able to come back.
So many people look at this card and see some gimmicky combo piece, but this card isn’t built for combo decks. It’s built for value. To see how strong Barnes is, you have to look at an average scenario. In this case, summoning an Infested Tauren on turn four. In this scenario (far from the best) you get a 1/1 with taunt (protecting your Barnes) that becomes a 2/2 in addition to your 3/4. That is three bodies and 6/7 worth of stats on turn four. If that is Cairne Bloodhoof instead (8/10 worth of stats) or Tirion Fordring (turn four Ashbringer anyone?) your opponent is going to get annihilated. There are a ton of decks that want Barnes, and they will all gladly play him. Not only does he have a ton of potential in N’zoth decks, but he is also going to be very strong in Hunter (Kindly Grandmother, Infested Wolf, Savannah Highmane, Fiery Bat, Stranglethorn Tiger), Mage (Rhonin, Archmage Antonidas, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Azure Drake, Bloodmage Thalnos and Flamewaker), and Rogue (Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Tomb Pillager, Emperor Thaurissan, Undercity Huckster). He could even be good enough for a wide range of combo decks as well.
Another week, another wing. This time around Blizzard has given us some really exciting cards to play with, and I think things are going to just keep getting better from here on out. We are only halfway through the adventure and there are still so many things I want to try and so many more things to come. I hope you guys are enjoying the party as much as I am, and I hope you find some new things to brew. Until next week, when we explore the real Zoo, thanks for reading!