Gadgetzan Card Reviews – 9th-14th Reveals

Hello everyone. It’s this time of year again – new expansion is coming out pretty soon and it’s time to evaluate some cards. When it comes to Gadgetzan, it might be even harder than it usually is. A lot of the cards are quite synergistic and we can’t really tell how well will they work […]

Introduction

Hello everyone. It’s this time of year again – new expansion is coming out pretty soon and it’s time to evaluate some cards. When it comes to Gadgetzan, it might be even harder than it usually is. A lot of the cards are quite synergistic and we can’t really tell how well will they work until we learn about the whole set. With almost half of the cards revealed, though, the general picture is starting to shape up, so I’ve decided to follow-up my initial card reviews. I’ve already briefly reviewed the ones showcased on the initial Blizzcon stream, so I won’t go back to them.

I’ll try to give you a bit of insight – a quick description of the card, potential synergies, whether it’s good or bad and why. I’ll also rate every card from 1 to 5. Here’s the quick summary of the ratings:

  • 1 – The card won’t likely see any play
  • 2 – Overall pretty bad, but it might be okay against a very specific meta or work in some non-competitive decks.
  • 3 – Average card. It might be a tech card or it might be played in some tier 3-4 decks.
  • 4 – Good card, should see some play in one of the higher tier decks or be a very common tech card.
  • 5 – Potentially meta-defining card, very powerful, will surely see some play in top tier decks or even carry a lower tier deck.

P.S. Most of my reviews are about Constructed (Standard). If I’ll be talking about Arena or Wild, I’ll say that.

Reviews

Smuggler’s Run

Basically a spell version of the Grimestreet Outfitter. And I think that the minion version might be better for one big reason – if you play a deck that revolves around buffing minions in your hand, you prefer to have more minions than spells. Grimestreet Outfitter can be buffed itself – if it was always 1/1, I think that I’d like Smuggler’s run more. But it can be 2/2 or maybe even 3/3 in some cases (not on turn 2, obviously).

I guess this card has similar viability to the minion version. It all depends on whether an Aggro Paladin takes off. In theory, it could be pretty nice. Playing it on turn 1 and then having few high tempo turns. Or playing it right after refilling your hand with Divine Favor. But there is a limit on how many such effects you want to play in your deck. After all, this card sucks hard when your hand size is low. Running more of them increases the chances that you will encounter those kind of situations. So I don’t think that playing more than 2 of those is right.

And now, it’s a choice between this and Outfitter. I can see it going either way, but in the end I think Outfitter will be the card of choice if this deck takes off.

Card rating: 3/5

Dopplegangster

This card has SOOOO huge potential. And if we will have a Midrange deck that plays “buff cards in hand” effects, I think that it might see some play. But at the same time, this card is a huge noob trap. I bet a lot of people got very excited and will play it right away. But the thing about this card is that it’s only good when you buff it, and buffs are really RNG-dependant.

The only class that can buff the whole hand is Paladin. But Paladin buffs fit the Aggro deck way more than Midrange. So far the only cards that could work well with this one are Warrior’s Grimy Gadgeteer, Hunter’s Shaky Zipgunner and the big boss himself – Don Han’Cho. And sure, getting a Han’Cho hit on Dopplegangster is the dream – 5 mana for 3x 7/7. But the problem is that all those effects are RNG. So this card might be very, very inconsistent. If the buffs don’t hit it, it’s a 5 mana for 3x 2/2, which is very weak. They can often get traded for free, they die to pretty much any AoE etc.

I think that +2/+2 is enough to make them good, 3x 4/4 for 5 mana is way more solid. But still, the problem is to hit the buff. I feel like in a buff deck, you would like to play cards that are okay-ish even if you don’t manage to buff them. For example, the Warrior’s Alley Armorsmith. While it would love to get even +1/+1, it’s also an okay card at the base. Same goes for the Rat Pack I’ll be reviewing soon – even with no buffs, it’s still playable.

This card will definitely make some people ragequit, because like I’ve said at the beginning – it has very high potential. If you hit it with Don Han’Cho, it’s often game over for your opponent. But it would require a very specific deck to really make it work. And there might not be such a deck this time around. So I gave it 3/5 because on the one hand, it really might spark a new archetype if we get some more solid buff cards. But on the other, it might be too inconsistent and thus be non playable. So it’s really hard to review without actually playtesting it.

Card rating: 3/5

Grimestreet Protector

Pretty weak card. 7 mana 6/6 Taunt is obviously weak – we have a Neutral Bog Creeper which is clearly better and it doesn’t see play in almost any deck, most certainly not in Paladin decks. But, this has an additional effect – giving Divine Shield to adjacent minions. And the thing is, this effect can be incredibly powerful, but is also incredibly hard to pull of consistently.

To take a full advantage of this effect, you would need to have two extra minions on the board (besides this one) and they would need to be pretty good targets to give Divine Shield to. 1/1’s from the Hero Power aren’t that kind of targets – sure, it’s SOME value, but definitely not enough to justify playing it. So to make this card work, you would need to have two already quite strong, midrange minions on the board and even better – a target that you could hit on the opposing side of the board.

It’s hard to utilize this card to its full potential. You don’t really want to play it in Control Paladin, because you rarely have minions on the board that you want to buff. Aggro Paladin – nope, too slow. If anything, it would fit some kind of Midrange/Dragon Paladin best, but I’ll be honest – I wouldn’t put it in that kind of deck either. If I wanted a more flexible way to give Divine Shield – Argent Protector just seems better.

Card rating: 2/5

Grimy Gadgeteer

Even though this card has an ongoing effect, you can threat it as a one time thing. It’s a very, very, very high priority target and assuming that it will proc more than once can lead to bad judgement.

So let’s say a 4 mana 4/3 that gives a random card in your hand +2/+2 (after you end your turn) – is it good enough to see play? In the current Warrior decks, no. Control Warrior wouldn’t want to play something like that. And 4 mana vanilla 4/3, with no immediate impact on the board, is too big of a tempo loss in the Midrange Warrior decks.

But, we also need to consider that there are new cards coming. With cards like Alley Armorsmith or the Dopplegangster I was reviewing earlier, I think this card has a potential to be played in some sort of Midrange Buff Warrior. Buffing a random card that doesn’t synergize very well with buffs is not worth the tempo loss. But giving +2/+2 to one of the cards I’ve just mentioned is a huge difference and you can really justify the weak stats.

So overall, this card will either be a staple in Buff Warrior or completely useless. I’m very positive that people will try to play a deck like that, but it’s impossible to say how well will it work right now. So another 3/5, because it can really go either way.

Card rating: 3/5

Brass Knuckles

Even though the idea is pretty cool, the card itself is way too slow. First of all – 2 attack weapons aren’t generally that strong right now. We have A LOT of early 3 health minions going around and 2 damage often doesn’t cut it. 2/3 weapon might be good for 2 mana, but not for 4 mana. It comes too late, on turn 4 there might not be any target you can kill with it. Good weapons should also be a great tempo gain, and this one isn’t. It’s more of a value weapon than the tempo one.

The effect itself is also not that amazing. You get 3 random +1/+1 buffs. I mean, it’s not that bad, especially in the deck that takes advantage of the buffs. But once again – it’s too slow. Not to mention that it curves right into the Harrison Jones.

Theoretically you could increase the potential value of this card with Upgrade!, but why would you even want to play those two in the same deck. Pretty bad card, I don’t think it would see play even in the Buff Warrior decks.

Card rating: 2/5

Rat Pack

Oh my, this on the other hand seems pretty amazing. You obviously want to play it in the deck that also runs the buff cards. The more you buff it, the stronger it gets. But to be fair, it’s how the “buff target” card should look like. It gets way stronger when you buff it, but even without any buffs it’s still decent. It’s still playable. Just like this one.

At the base, it’s something in between the Haunted Creeper and Infested Wolf. I think the card’s power level is closer to the Infested Wolf, which is actually a quite solid card. But that’s only the base – if you play cards like Shaky Zipgunner, you can make it so much better. Just giving it +2/+2 increases the value by a lot. The Deathrattle becomes really potent after the buffs.

I don’t think the card’s broken, because 1/1’s are still easy to deal with most of the time. You know, things like Maelstrom Portal or Ravaging Ghoul can deal with full board of 1/1’s quite easily. But you can’t look at the worst case scenario – after all, it’s not like those cards counter it completely. First they have to kill the initial body, then they need to have AoE for the small guys – and that’s your 3-drop, not some late game play.

Just because there are tons of ways to deal 1 damage in this meta, I will only give it 4/5. But if not for that, I’d say that it’s 5/5.

Card rating: 4/5

Knuckles

Kinda an average card. The main problem here is the Attack. 3 Attack is pretty low for a 5-drop, especially in an aggressive deck like Hunter. I kinda like the fact that it allows Hunter to control the board while still doing what he wants to do – dealing face damage.

I think this card is better in Aggro matchups – 3 attack is often more than enough, 7 health is nice, and you can start pushing damage while keeping the board control. In slower matchups, however, you would need to buff it to make it useful. Low attack/high health distribution is really a buff magnet – if you manage to hit it with +2/+2 or let’s say Houndmaster it, a 5/9 is much more threatening to both minions and the opponent’s face.

This card is not terrible, it’s not completely useless and it MIGHT be played in a buff Hunter deck (because it’s a nice target to catch buffs and it’s not a terrible card by itself), but I think there are just better options. In constructed, “average” cards rarely pass.

Card rating: 3/5

Don Han’Cho

The big boss himself. It might be a very unpopular opinion, but I actually think that this card is amazing. Not Dr. Boom level of amazing, but still great and it should go into many decks. Yet I hear people comparing him to The Boogeymonster. Whaaat? No way. I’ll admit that the effect wasn’t as exciting as most of people have expected after seeing Kazakus (leader of The Kabal), but in the end, this game isn’t about “exciting” effects, it’s about solid, strong cards. And I think this is one of them.

It’s true that 7 mana 5/6 is a tempo loss. A pretty big tempo loss. But we had one of the slowest metas ever. Midrange Shamans are using greedy builds, Malygos Druid and Control/C’Thun Warrior are quite popular, even Tempo Mages have gone for a more heavy late game with 2x Firelands Portal, Flamestrike and Ragnaros the Firelord. If there is a meta where Midrange Hunter can still play Call of the Wild, I don’t think that this kind of tempo loss is necessarily game-losing. You still develop something and you can regain that tempo later.

Because yes, giving +5/+5 to a minion in your hand is a huge deal. Obviously, hitting something like Dopplegangster, Alley Armorsmith or Dispatch Kodo is the dream. Those can often win the game on the spot. But that’s not all. Imagine hitting, I don’t know, Acolyte of Pain in Warrior. That’s a 3 mana 6/8 minion that will most likely draw a lot of cards. Or let’s say Kindly Grandmother in Hunter. It’s a 2 mana 6/6 that still Deathrattles into a 3/2. Even with the standard minion that don’t necessarily have insane buff synergy, +5/+5 works quite nicely. Hitting anything small means you can tempo out next turn. And hitting any of the strong buff targets is even better.

The meta would need to get faster for this card to be bad. I will definitely test it out in different decks. I have high hopes for this card and you might call me crazy, but I think this card has one of the biggest potential in the whole set so far. Of course, I might be wrong, because it’s incredibly hard to judge such cards before actually getting to play with them, but I have faith.

Card rating: 5/5

Madam Goya

Just like Don Han’Cho was (in my opinion) amazing, this one is amazingly disappointing. First, the stats. If someone said that 7 mana 5/6 is too slow, he should look at this one. 6 mana for a 4/3 minion. So you pretty much play it only for the effect.

Since it costs so much, there is no way to have some early shenanigans, like getting out a big minion on turn 2-3. No, you have to wait until turn 6.

Then, you need to have a minion that you can actually get rid from the board. Shamans & Paladins have it easier thanks to the Hero Power, but other decks? This is definitely a card that fits a slower deck, and slower decks rarely run a lot of small/disposable minion or tokens. If something sticks to the board at all, it’s usually a bigger minion that you don’t want to get rid of.

And the effect itself. I mean, there are couple of “dream” scenarios. E.g. pulling out a Ragnaros the Firelord or Y’Shaarj, Rage Unbound instead of a 1/1. But you can’t have only big minions in your deck. Pulling out any small minion will basically waste the effect (and thus 6 mana). Pulling a Battlecry minion will waste the Battlecry.

Not to mention that, if I understand it correctly, the minion you pick on the board goes into the deck in place of the minion you pull out. So if you decide to shuffle some 1/1 in, now you have one dead draw in your deck. Not really a thrilling perspective.

I can’t really see the boons of this card. Barnes seems way better – sure, it’s only 1/1 copy, but it costs 2 less, it doesn’t require you to “sacrifice” anything on the board (and thus you can drop it on empty board), 3/4 is a better stat distribution than 4/3 and you don’t make your future draws weaker. I can’t see Madam Goya being played in any serious deck.

Card rating: 1/5

Grimscale Chum

For a brief moment, I’ll assume that Aggro Murloc Paladin decks will be a thing. Because this only fits into such an archetype. This archetype won’t take off – this card is completely useless.

So, if the archetype would be solid, this card would definitely be an auto-include. I mean, 2/1 for 1 are good stats for an aggressive deck. And the effect is also pretty strong – giving a random Murloc in your hand +1/+1 can increase your tempo immensely. Like you know, Bluegill Warrior becomes a 3/2 Charge or Murloc Warleader is harder to kill because it’s 4/4 now. Pretty much no matter what it hits, it’s going to be strong.

I’ve seen some players testing the Aggro Murloc Paladin with Vilefin Inquisitor and I’ll be honest – it didn’t work that well. Sure, it was semi-viable on the ladder, especially thanks to the element of surprise, but it definitely wasn’t a competitive deck. I don’t think that this card alone is going to change it, but it’s getting close. One more strong Murloc revealed this expansion and it might really become a thing.

But come to think about it, the Paladin’s “buff the whole hand” effects also work really well with the Murlocs. Whether you can afford to play those in such a deck is another story.

Card rating: 4/5 if Aggro Murloc Paladin will become a thing, 1/5 if not

Tanaris Hogchopper

First one of the 3 mechanically similar, biker gang-themed cards. And most likely the weakest out of 3. It seems like they’ve tried to make “counter cards” to different mechanic or strategies. This one in particular is meant to counter decks that run out of cards quickly – Aggro decks. But it’s really, really bad at that.

First of all – it’s pretty much unplayable without the Battlecry happening. Vanilla 4/4 for 4 is a terrible statline. Then, what are the chances that it will proc? In Midrange, Combo, Control etc. matchups – close to zero. They pretty much always have some cards left in the hand. Maybe in some late game scenarios, but most of the games you won’t get to proc it. Only matchup where you could see it working is Aggro.

So this might work well in case of a heavy Aggro meta? Right? No. Even against Aggro, the archetype it’s supposed to counter, it sucks. Even Aggro decks don’t have empty hands that often. Sometimes they play situational cards – e.g. Hunter might have Unleash the Hounds. If they have burn, they usually don’t play it right away and wait until they can actually kill you with it (or set up lethal, at least). And if you play a slower deck vs an Aggro deck, in a situation where Aggro deck it out of cards – how many times a 4/4 Charge would be useful? I’ll help you – very rarely. In this situation you are most likely the one with board lead. What you need is health gain. And if you aren’t in the lead, Taunt is way better than Charge – you can kill one minion, sure, amazing, but if you’re behind on the board against Aggro it usually means that they have a few small minions there.

So even in the matchup where this card is supposed to work, it will rarely work and when it works, it’s not that amazing. One of the worst cards of the expansion so far.

Card rating: 1/5

Spiked Hogrider

Second of the Biker Gang members. Definitely better than the last one, but still pretty weak. Just like the last one was supposed to be an Aggro counter, this is a Taunt counter. But let’s start with the stats. 5/5 for 5 are better vanilla stats than 4/4 for 4, but they still suck. If you won’t activate the effect consistently, you don’t want to play this guy.

So when you do want to play it? If the meta is full of Taunts. But not just any Taunts – the best case scenario is when the Taunt dies to this minion, but this minion doesn’t die to the Taunt. So for example, if people played Sen’jin Shieldmasta or the new Second-Rate Bruiser commonly, this card might be decent, because it can Charge into it, kill it and still require your opponent to deal with a 5/1 or 5/2. Right now, it might be decent against Shaman – it’s good against Feral Spirit, you can immediately get rid of a Taunt totem or just kill the 5/5 Thing From Below (although in that case, it will usually be in Shaman’s favor because of the mana costs).

So, this card might be decent in a heavy Taunt meta. But not only heavy Taunt meta – very specific Taunt meta. This isn’t good against Druid’s Dark Arakkoa or Ancient of War. It’s not good against Twin Emperor Vek’lor or any 6+ health Taunt that it can’t kill. It’s not good against a lot of stuff, actually.

I don’t see it being played in any deck unless literally every top tier deck plays the Taunts you can kill with this. This kind of card is just way too specific and situational to be played. Most of the decks want to be consistent and work no matter what opponent plays.

Card rating: 2/5

Leatherclad Hogleader

Out of the 3, I think that this effect is easiest to activate and so this has a highest chance of seeing play. Because in the best case scenario – a 6/6 Charge is quite strong. It doesn’t require enemy to have Taunt minions too, so you’re free to attack whatever you want with it a lot of times, you aren’t limited to just one possible trade.

This one would require a slow meta to be useful. And I mean it – slow meta. If the meta was dominated by the slower Midrange decks, Control decks and Combo decks – this would have a serious chance to see play. And it’s better against slow decks than the 4/4 is against Aggro decks.

There is still a catch. Meta like that won’t likely ever exist. There are a few problems. First of all – slow decks are usually more expensive. A lot of players play fast decks just because they’re cheap. Second – current ladder system doesn’t reward for playing slow decks. If you have a fast deck with 55% win rate and slow deck with the same win rate – you will always want to play the first one, because your progress will be just faster. And third – slower decks are usually harder to play and that’s why players who aren’t great at this game prefer to choose the faster decks. There might be more reasons, but I think that the meta we have right now is as slow as it gets.

But theoretically, IF such a meta did exist and you would face 2/3 slow decks, this would probably be the strongest one out of three.

Card rating: 3/5

Volcanic Potion

Demonwrath for Mage. And just like Demonwrath, this one might fit a Reno or Control Mage decks. Reno Mage actually seems to be getting quite a lot of new, shiny tools and this is one of them.

3 mana for a 2 damage board clear is good. When you play the slower deck, like Reno Mage, you usually play from behind. Enemy should have the bigger board presence than you do. You’re also in control of when you play it – if you have the minions it would kill on the board, you just don’t play it. It’s kinda like the Explosive Sheep + ping that Control Mages used to play, but probably better (because it costs 1 less mana).  The only problem was that Demonwrath already wasn’t that amazing in the current meta, because of all the 3 health early game minions. But since it’s a Reno deck, you can’t be too picky.

How usable it will be mostly depends on the early game meta. For example, it’s great against Zoo or Tempo Mage, because it can kill a lot of early stuff against those decks. But it doesn’t seem as exciting against Shaman – it can still be good later, but it won’t clear many things by itself. Oh, and I like it in Mage more than I do in Warlock because of the Hero Power. It’s easier to get a full clear if you can add that extra ping whenever you need, you can also set-up this card much more easily by pinging something the turn before.

By the way, I’ve heard a lot of people saying that Demonwrath is better than this, because it doesn’t hit some of your minions (Demons). Sure, but you didn’t run a lot of Demons in RenoLock and at the same time it was often a nuisance against Zoo Warlock, where it didn’t hit half of their minions. This one doesn’t have such a problem and is amazing card against Zoo.

Card rating: 4/5

Closing

That’s all folks. Thanks for staying with me, I’ll get out more card reviews soon. You should see another one in a few days, so stay tuned!

Overall, I’m really excited for the expansion. I don’t remember being so hyped about Hearthstone in a long while. I really can’t wait to get my hands on those cards and start testing them. I hope that the reality will meet expectations and I (just like many other players) won’t be completely disappointed.

If you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.

Good luck on the ladder and until next time!