The Grand Tournament – First Card Impressions Part 5

Full full list of cards in The Grand Tournament, check out this dedicated post. Hey all! I’m Camzeee, a multi-legend ranked Hearthstone player and long-time contributor to HearthstonePlayers.com. I’m a Hearthstone Coach with hearthstonecoaching.com too so check that out if you’re looking for someone to help your game. Welcome to part 5 of my card review/predictions […]

Full full list of cards in The Grand Tournament, check out this dedicated post.

Introduction

Hey all!

I’m Camzeee, a multi-legend ranked Hearthstone player and long-time contributor to HearthstonePlayers.com. I’m a Hearthstone Coach with hearthstonecoaching.com too so check that out if you’re looking for someone to help your game.

Welcome to part 5 of my card review/predictions of the new Hearthstone expansion – The Grand Tournament. If you haven’t already, check out my other reviews covering The Grand Tournament here.

For each card, I’m going to rate it from a scale of Terrible, Bad, Average, Good and Great. It’s hard to predict just how well certain cards will do, but I’ve done them for the last expansion and also expanded my knowledge of Hearthstone a considerable bit so I’m willing to stick my neck out and make my predictions for how each card will perform.

Let’s get into part 5!

Neutral Cards

Light’s Champion

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Average

Overall: Average

This card was released a couple of days before the big reveal and it’s a bit of an odd one. It looks very much like Spellbreaker except its Silence effect is reserved for Demons only. The flipside of this, is that it costs one mana less. I don’t envision this card making a meta impact sadly. Its Battlecry is too specific, and while its stats are decent for 3 mana, it doesn’t offer as much versatility as the Ironbeak Owl or Spellbreaker for Silence.

Spellbreaker is also out of the meta because the Silence for 4 mana is just too slow compared to the 2 from Ironbeak Owl. Only in the most Warlock heavy metas will thiscard  be at all useful and its targets are really limited to Voidcaller and Mal’ganis of the currently played Demons. If a Demon buff-centric deck becomes popular, it’s a good check I suppose, but you’d probably be better off just using the Owl instead for universal Silence utility.

In arena, this card is about average. A 3 mana 4/3 is acceptable stats and its Battlecry will get value on occasion. Even if it isn’t, I imagine this will be taken much like Injured Blademaster. Not the most exciting card, but not the worst either.

Sideshow Spelleater

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Bad

Overall: Bad

This is a really fun card but probably not playable in constructed. Unless the metagame inexplicably switches to one where the goal is to boost your hero power, this card will fall flat most of the time especially since constructed decks are usually tailored to synergize with its own hero power. That said, it is tempting to pick up say a Mage hero power when you’re playing a Warrior deck with Enrage minions.

The problem is, it’s not reliable. If you don’t queue a hero whose hero power you’d like to copy, you’re stuck. Copying the Warrior hero power for instance for almost any other class is a big downgrade on your existing one. If this sees any play, it’ll likely be in the slow classes such as Warrior or Priest who’d prefer a more active hero power. Note that it doesn’t replace your opponents’ hero power with yours, so they still have their synergies in tact. It would be more interesting if you swapped hero powers, but as is, it’s just not going to be good enough most of the time.

In arena, this card is really wacky and can result in some fun games. I’d still rate it below average because of its volatility and weak base stats. I’d pick it over some of the garbage Epics, but it’s certainly below average.

Fencing Coach

Constructed: Average

Arena: Average

Overall: Average

This card is very difficult to judge accurately. What it essentially does, is give you a free cost hero power later down the line. It’s very unlikely that this card will get maximum value from hero powering the turn you play him. The value of him, is being able to combo it with high cost Inspire based cards earlier. Some of the most powerful Inspire cards require 8 mana or more to trigger and being able to “store a charge” so to speak is pretty useful for combo’ing.

If you do however decide to hero power the turn you play the Coach, you are essentially playing a 1 mana 2/2. That’s decent enough but not great. The real test for the Fencing Coach is whether or not the free hero power is worth the loss in tempo from playing a 3 mana 2/2. I’m honestly not sure since I don’t know how effective the Inspire mechanic will be. My instinct tells me the weak base stats make this a bad card, but the potential it has with some Inspire cards like Wilfred Fizzlebang are huge and I’d be foolish to write this off so early.

In arena, this card is around average. The hero power and Inspire synergies are much harder to come by, but this card which masquerades as a 1 mana 2/2 with an active hero power is pretty good in the right circumstances. I’d pick it around average overall and it gets more value of course depending on how many Inspire cards you have.

Kvaldir Raider

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Good

Overall: Average

Floating Watcher has become a neutral card! This card is so comparable to that card that I feel its impact is likely to be similar. Watcher has the additional benefit of being able to grow off self damage but is limited to the Warlock class. This card being a neutral has some interesting synergies among the other classes. I think Mage and classes with more active hero powers like Druid or Rogue can maybe utilize Kvaldir and he can grow into a fairly large threat in the right archetypes. I don’t think he’s good though because of the same limitations of Floating Watcher – slow and weak base stats.

It’s difficult to justify dropping this on turn 7 with a hero power when you could be playing Dr. Boom for instance. In constructed, the tight synergies between cards will likely leave this card without a home.

In arena though, this card is pretty good. Floating Watcher is a very strong card in arena because of its ability to snowball and this card is the same. Again, not being limited to the Warlock class helps it here and I can see this being picked up as a potent late game threat similar to Gruul.

Ice Rager

Constructed: Terrible

Arena: Bad

Overall: Terrible

Woo Magma Rager is officially power-creeped! Sadly, this card even though it is a strictly better version of the Magma Rager is still not a good card. A 3 mana 5/2 still trades terribly with 1 mana 2/1s and 2 mana 2/2s. It has more durability which makes it at least pickable in arena, but it’s not exactly a high value card.

In constructed, this card has no place in any competitive deck. It has no tribal synergy, no card text and easily punishable stats. It won’t be played.

In arena, this card is better but still below average. It compares to Druid of the Flame which is a pretty good card, which you do often put in a 5/2 form. However, the versatility of the Flame is what makes it so potent and being able to make it a 2/5 is a pretty big improvement over this card. I’d pick it below average but not bottom tier.

Tournament Attendee

Constructed: Terrible

Arena: Bad

Overall: Terrible

This card is rather lazy. A 2/1 with Taunt isn’t going to make any waves in any mode and is mostly just a filler card. I wish there was more to analyze here, but it’s really just a poor card in constructed and a slightly below average one in arena. It does have some obscure synergy potentially with Bolster, the new Warrior card that gives +2/+2 to minions with Taunt, but aside from that very specific instance, Taunt here doesn’t actually accomplish much. Played in aggressive decks, it’ll get removed anyway. It has no real durability so it gets swept up in board clears and doesn’t require multiple attacks like Annoy-o-tron. I can’t see this card having a meaningful impact.

In arena, this card is weak too. There are plenty of 1 mana 2/1s out there with far superior effects like Abusive Sergeant or Young Priestess. Even Voodoo Doctor outshines this card and that’s not a good sign.

Warrior Cards

Varian Wrynn

Constructed: Good

Arena: Great

Overall: Great

This is a legendary card. Nobody can dispute that this card is powerful. However, what is questioned is how effective it will be. A 10 mana 7/7 is pretty weak but Varian’s Battlecry is astonishingly powerful. If it draws spells, you’ve got what is essentially a 5 mana 7/7 and a Nourish. If you get minions, you have the potential to draw into some humongous threats in one turn.

The dream scenarios for this card are incredible. Getting a Ragnaros The Firelord and/or Ysera with this card is unimaginably high value. However, problems could arise when you draw certain cards that are used primarily for their Battlecry effect. Harrison Jones for instance is a big swing card that can change a game and losing that effect to put him directly onto the field could have negative consequences.

In truth, Varian really depends on the sort of deck you build around him. If you play a solid Control Warrior with few tech cards and some great standalone minions like Sylvanas Windrunner and Ysera, you boost the likelihood that Varian does something game changing for you. He’s a great card when used while ahead or on an empty board. His biggest weakness is that he can’t contest a board effectively since you’re using your whole turn to play him and can’t follow it up with anything. Perhaps with some Emperor Thaurissan value he could be played in tandem with a few things, but that’s still rather limited.

I’m inclined to think that he’s a very good card that will see play in constructed. What sways me at this point is that even if you don’t get minions, you’re getting card draw which is very important especially in a slow Control Warrior. He will need to be built around and isn’t an evergreen legendary like Dr. Boom but I can definitely see it working and when it hits big, it hits really big. Varian is one of the cards I’m most excited to try. I’m just so curious about the card and its power.

In arena, this card is insanely good. It provides either card draw or board presence (more likely). You could feasibly put out an entire army from nothing with him off a top deck which is more than you can do with any other card in the game. It’s such a shame then that he’s a Warrior-only card since Warrior is primed to be the whipping boys of the arena metagame. I don’t expect I’ll see him in many games in arena and that’s a shame.

Magnataur Alpha

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Good

Overall: Average

This is a fun card. It is essentially a Foe Reaper 4000 with higher upside but at far greater risk. If it survives the turn, it’s a superb card. If it doesn’t, it’s below average since it has such low health.

The worrying thing about this card is that it doesn’t fit into any archetype for Warrior right now. It ideally is suited to a deck that has more early game to ensure that if this is played on turn 4 it’ll survive. However, in a fast aggressive deck, its ability is wasted since aggro decks are at their strongest when they aren’t worrying about board control and are attacking face instead.

I can’t really see where I might want this. You don’t want it in a control deck even though it can clear boards amazingly since you’re likely behind on turn 4 and it’ll just die to a 3/2 minion. And as I mentioned above, it doesn’t fit in an aggro deck either because you’re better off with the stickier Piloted Shredder if you’re just going to be aggressive anyhow. I can’t see this spawning a whole new archetype for it, and what would that be anyway? A Midrange Warrior with excellent early game?

In arena, this card is above average though. In the right tempo oriented early game Warrior deck (which I feel is their best chance at making a good arena run), he comes down on turn 4 with you ahead on board because of Fiery War Axe and your aggressive one and two drops. From there, the AoE effect of this card can really lock down a board and help you out. I’d rate it above average certainly but not quite top tier.

Sparring Partner

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Good

Overall: Average

Blizzard seems pretty keen to push a new form of Taunt Warrior with the introduction of this card and the new Bolster. This is like a Sunfury Protector that can only give its effect to one minion but has Taunt itself. Alone, it’s a pretty mediocre card. However, the ability to give Taunt to a minion is more versatile than you might think right away. It can be used on enemy threats hiding behind a Taunt, it can give a strong or weak minion Taunt to give you some survivability or to soak up a big hit from one large creature, I like that it gives you the option instead of being only for your own minions.

Sparring Partner certainly doesn’t fit into any Warrior deck present right now, but it could thrive in a Bolster deck if those ever catch on. Outside of a deck dedicated to Taunt synergy, I can’t see this being run in any other Warrior archetypes and thus relegates it to a “bad” rating. However, it certainly opens enough doors for a Taunt Warrior to at least be a possibility.

In arena, this card is above average. Taunts are pretty valuable especially for Warrior. They also need some solid early game bodies and this is certainly a pretty decent one being a 3/2 for 2 mana. I’d pick one of these up happily if I was offered it unless I got one of the great rares as an option.

Orgrimmar Aspirant

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Average

Overall: Average

A 3 mana 3/3 with a situational ability. Orgrimmar Aspirant is not what Warrior needed in order to compete in arena, and with this last common introduction, I have no hesitation in calling Warrior the worst arena class. In constructed, this card is basically unplayable compared to some of the other options out there. Giving your weapon just +1 attack at the expense of 2 mana and 2 armor is just not worth its weight. If it gave your weapon +1/+1 or even just +1 durability I could see it being good, but +1 attack doesn’t really justify using your hero power over playing something else.

In arena where this might be picked up, it’s still not great. The Warrior class is very heavily dependent on getting weapons in order to compete, and this card doesn’t help with that. If it gets the weapons it needs, a Warrior can be pretty strong and this will help with that on occasion. But when it doesn’t, you’re left with no tempo and a 3 mana 3/3 – not exactly enticing.

If you think about it relative to options from another class, it would have exactly the same effect as a Mage who played a 3/3 and pinged except this card requires that you have a weapon and you don’t get to choose where that extra damage goes. This card is a real disappointment as the last Warrior common card. Getting 12 wins with Warrior is going to become one of the rarest feats in arena and knowing myself, I’ll be playing Warrior a bunch trying to get it!

Mage Cards

Rhonin

Constructed: Good

Arena: Great

Overall: Great

I really like Rhonin. He’s a powerful legendary that hasn’t gotten nearly as much hype as Varian Wrynn considering they were both released at the same time. I actually think he is better than Varian even though his effect is more subtle to appreciate. His base stats of 8 mana 7/7 are pretty weak, that can’t be disputed. However, he has some great upside and from past reviews, I’ve learnt a lesson about overlooking cards that have multiple effects.

Yes, Rhonin can be Silenced, yes, he can be killed by Big Game Hunter, but he can rarely be removed by both. Control Mage decks where he would fit in also typically have a large number of Silence targets such as Sludge Belcher, Mad Scientist and Sylvanas herself to leave Rhonin free to dominate. The beauty of Rhonin is that his Deathrattle is actually more powerful than his body. Three Arcane Missiles doesn’t sound like much but if you put it in perspective, it’s amazing.

Avenging Wrath costs 6 mana and you get 8 shots. Three Arcane Missiles is equal to 9 shots with each spell having synergy with Mana Wyrm, Flamewaker and most notably Archmage Antonidas. The missiles are also benefited by spell power and this can result in some amazing burst combos or setup combos.

He doesn’t work in fast decks naturally, but in grindy Echo Mages or control based value ones, he can be an amazing addition and I expect him to find a home in late-game Mage decks without a problem.

In arena, he’s even better. The three missiles as stated before are superior in value to an Avenging Wrath in damage alone. If you just compared them to that, you’d be getting an 8 mana 7/7 that will also almost certainly give you a 6 mana spell on death.  The amount of control that allows a good Mage player to have is huge and it’ll be an arena all-star without a doubt.

Arcane Blast

Constructed: Average

Arena: Average

Overall: Average

This is a difficult card to judge overall. At first glance, it looks incredible, but then again, you see the limitation to minions only, and then you think about Spell Damage and how often you have it and it doesn’t seem so great anymore. Rarely, rarely will you have more than +1 Spell Damage on the board for this to be incredible. Considering most players make it a priority to remove them, it makes it very hard for this to be any more than a 4 dmg minion only spell (Shadow Bolt) and only when combo’d with Azure Drake. Otherwise, it’s an Arcane Shot that can only target minions.

I can’t see this making a considerable impact and that’s largely due to the minion only clause. If they had a card that could remove that clause, that would make this a brilliant card to combo with Malygos since it would do a whopping 12 damage for just 1 mana. However, it’s not a bad card per se. It does combo well with Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Flamewaker and of course any Spell Damage you have. It will probably find a spot in a more aggressive Tempo Mage. I can see a solid open of Coin > Sorcerer’s > Arcane Blast being pretty strong.

For that reason as well, I can see this being a decent arena card. Not great, but decent since it combos with a lot of other Mage cards and an Arcane Shot is fair value even if this is confined to just minions.

Polymorph: Boar

Constructed: Good

Arena: Good

Overall: Good

This is a funny card, and actually a pretty good one. It grants Huffers which is nice but what makes it strong is that it’s versatile. You can use it as a weaker version of Polymorph on big threats or use it on your own weak minions to create a Huffer. It’s great when used for burst on your own minions. You can attack face with a weak minion then morph it, and then hit face again for 4. Or you could trade favorably twice giving your minion essentially Windfury.

For 3 mana, it’s a fair cost, and has some pretty neat uses. I can see this being a pretty strong card in a Tempo Mage or another fast variant which needs some method to either bypass Taunt or get extra reach. You can see it more simplistically as either a 3 mana deal 4 damage spell or transform into a 4/2 sheep for 1 mana less. I think both are pretty nice options to have.

In arena, this card is pretty good too for that versatility. It’s probably not as good as in constructed because Mage decks are often slower than other classes and you’d prefer the reliability of Polymorph for neutering threats especially on an empty board. Again though, the ability to play both defensively and aggressively with it gives it brownie points and I would draft this card above average.

Dalaran Aspirant

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Average

Overall: Average

This card is a bit underwhelming overall. 4 mana 3/5s are pretty standard and I’m not sure that this card’s ability quite makes up for its average stats. Getting Spell Damage is a nice perk on occasion but rarely will factor in and especially not on the turn you play it, since this card will cost 6 mana to setup just one additional point of Spell Damage. I don’t think this card will make the cut in constructed because there are better options at the 4 mana slot. Both Water Elemental and Piloted Shredder are considerably more powerful than this card and have a more immediate impact.

In arena, this card is exactly average. 4 mana 3/5s are right in the average column and this card has an upside that is probably as effective as Burly Rockjaw Trogg. It’s not bad, it’s just not great.

Paladin Cards

Enter the Coliseum

Constructed: Average

Arena: Bad

Overall: Average

This card is comparable to Brawl but I’d argue it’s slightly worse. For starters, it costs one mana more. 6 mana for this effect is not great compared to the other options that other classes have such as Force of Nature for Druid or Lightbomb for Priest. It undoubtedly has some fun uses especially against aggro decks since it narrows the field right down. However, it also requires that you have some form of removal for said large attack minion.

The best use for this is as a brawl effect when you have an empty board. As long as you have a way to naturalize the minion that survives with either an attack reducing effect such as Aldor Peacekeeper or just outright removal like Big Game Hunter, this can be effective. However, it’s hard to make all of that stuff align, and the hefty cost of this card makes it hard to justify. I think it will see play or at least be tested but I doubt it’ll be better than Brawl and certainly no more than a one-of in only the slowest Paladins.

This card isn’t good in arena because it doesn’t help with Paladin’s strengths and that is board presence. If you’re behind enough to the point where you have to use this to neuter your opponent, this card isn’t likely to get you back into the game especially since it’ll preserve your opponents’ biggest minion. I would draft this below average.

Mysterious Challenger

Constructed: Good

Arena: Good

Overall: Good

This card is really powerful. Yes, Paladin secrets are the weakest in the game, so the value of this card isn’t insane like it might be in Mage. However, there are some neat little secrets in there that can be useful in a midrange or aggressive Paladin variant. The Challenger has competitive stats of 6 mana 6/6. This trades well with most other cards in its mana pool. The fact it has an acceptable body makes running this card even easier because it can compete even if its Battlecry gets no value.

Between this card and Mad Scientist, Paladins should never have any problem playing secrets from within their deck and never having to play them from hand. The best secrets for a deck built around this card are probably Avenge and the new secret for Paladin, Competitive Spirit, which I’ll discuss below. Getting stat boosts on minions is powerful in a token heavy deck. Muster for Battle is still as potent as ever and this card will help get the best value out of your tokens (unless you run Redemption!) A Paladin secrets deck has never really caught on unlike the other secret heavy decks Hunter and Mage. Maybe this card will bring them roaring into the meta. I’m hopeful at least.

In arena, this card is similarly excellent. If you can draft even one or preferably two differing secrets, this card is amazing value if it can put both of them into play at once. It is an epic which means you won’t run into it often, but when you do and if you have or plan to take secrets, I’d snap this card up in an instant.

Competitive Spirit

Constructed: Average

Arena: Average

Overall: Average

This is an unusual secret. Basically, when your turn starts and you have minions on board and this secret in play, it gives them all +1/+1 before you play your turn. It does NOT trigger if you have no minions on board, and there’s no way for the opponent to stop you from getting value from the secret except through Kezan Mystic or by clearing the board every single turn.

It’s not the greatest if it only gives a 1/1 token +1/+1, but it can be very powerful if you have a strong board position. A potential example of a good use of this card is to play it on turn 1. Then, on turn 2, coin out Muster for Battle, and at the start of your next turn, you begin with 2/2 recruits instead of 1/1s.

As a standalone card, it’s pretty weak. However, when it can be put in play for free from Mysterious Challenger or Mad Scientist, it’s a pretty nifty board wide buff. I can see this being played in a secret Paladin with aggressive tendencies. It synergizes extremely well with Mysterious Challenger and that could be just the thing it needs to become a competitively played card.

In arena, this card is about average. I’d consider Avenge slightly superior to this card, since the buff it gives is more substantial, but this isn’t a terrible card because you will almost always get some semblance of value from it. If you can get either of the Secret implementers, it’ll be a solid pick.

Murloc Knight

Constructed: Bad

Arena: Average

Overall: Average

This card is pretty cool but probably not quite good enough to make Murloc Paladin a force in the metagame. It’s a strange card overall because it’s a slow Murloc card. Most Murloc decks are understandably aggressive because of the snowball nature of the tribal synergy and their relatively cheap cost and weak stats. This card encourages a slower style of play that generates value from the hero power.

With that in mind, perhaps it could be a card that’s played outside of a Murloc deck. However, the effect of summoning a random Murloc isn’t great since so many of them are 1-cost 1 health goons. Couple this with the fact that this card effectively costs 6 mana in order to get the effect immediately, and this card just falls way short compared to other six drops like Emperor Thaurissan and Sylvanas Windrunner. It’s just not good enough to make the cut in constructed even though it’s undoubtedly a fun card.

In arena, this card is slightly stronger. The slower metagame of arena means that this can often be played on 6 mana and hopefully can continue generating value. It’s not fantastic because as a 3/4 for 4 mana, it’s understatted, but if you can get a few Inspire turns from it, it has the potential to be very strong.

Seal of Champions

Constructed: Good

Arena: Good

Overall: Good

This card is very strong and a great addition to the list of Paladin buff cards. It allows for some really exceptional trading because of the strength of Divine Shield and the attack buff means that even lowly 1/1s can suddenly trade with 4 health minions and live to be a nuisance for your opponent.

Just like Muster for Battle, this card has the appearance of being a little overcosted. Hand of Protection and Blessing of Might accomplish what this does for just 2 mana. However, the strength of this card is in its combined effect into one card and there are so many situations where this buff will be exceptionally good.

It will find a natural home in aggressive token oriented decks, and can probably be used to good effect in a midrange deck too. It’s likely not as good in control decks which are more focused on board clears and large threats, but it probably wouldn’t do bad in there either. Overall, it’s a solid card for constructed which I expect will see play.

In arena, this card is just as potent. A buff this powerful can leave your opponent crushed. Let’s say for instance you have a Chillwind Yeti on board. Your opponent decides he wants a favorable match-up here and coins out a Venture Co. Mercenary. With Blessing of Kings, you’d be left with an 8/2 on board. With Seal, you’d have a 7/5, which is a lot scarier in my opinion. This is just one specific example. It’s powerful, and I’d draft it very highly, probably ahead of Blessing of Kings even.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the review. Feel free to leave comments and feedback. These cards have been a ton of fun to review, and I’m looking forward to creating new deck archetypes with these new cards reveals. I’m a huge fan of Mysterious Challenger, and I feel Secrets Paladin is a sleeper archetype that could have a new lease of life with this expansion. Also, team Rhonin! I do believe it’s better than Varian. Disagree? Let me know and we’ll talk about it!

See you soon for more card impression from The Grand Tournament!


About Camzeee

I am a multi legend-ranked player with Level 60 heroes for every class. My favorite card in Hearthstone is Lord Jaraxxus (gold of course!) and I’m also an arena infinite player with over 800 arenas completed.

If you’re interested in Arena, here’s my Arena Mastery link and my own personal 12-Win Arena Log where I record every card/deck I’ve made it to 12 wins with (80+). 

I offer Ranked Ladder and Arena coaching through HearthstoneCoaching.com (founded by Sheng). Visit the site if you’re interested in having me coach you!