Hearthstone‘s Year of the Mammoth will soon come to an end—although we don’t know exactly when.
That means that three expansions—Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night In Karazhan, and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan—will be rotated out of the Standard format and become Wild. This will happen at some point in April, with the release of the first expansion of 2018.
As it did last year, that’s going to have a significant effect on the meta. In total 311 collectible cards will be rotated, and replaced with around 130 from the new set. Some of the most powerful decks will be affected, while new archetypes will rise.
So exactly which cards are going to be affected, and how what decks will take the biggest hit?
A few weeks ago, the biggest hit to the Priest class would have been the removal of Raza the Chained. But now that card has been nerfed it’s not that big a loss anymore.
What is the biggest blow though is the effect on Dragon Priest. That deck is losing Kabal Talonpriest, Drakonid Operative, Netherspite Historian, and Dragonfire Potion. That’s three of the engine cards of the deck, and it’s powerful board clear option. Dragon Priest has been through this once before when Blackrock Mountain rotated, but it will need strong new Dragon cards to survive.
Right now Control Warlock and Cubelock are dominating the meta—and that might well not change in the new rotation. That archetype is basically losing nothing of note, so it’s going nowhere.
Zoo Warlock on the other hand is losing some tools. Darkshire Councilman and Malchezaar’s Imp will be leaving the format. But it’s survived before, and as long as there are good cheap minions available Zoo will do okay.
Murloc Paladin has been the strongest Paladin deck for a long time now. Most of that deck is staying when the set rotation hits—but it is losing two one drops. Grimscale Chum and Vilefin Inquisitor might not seem important by themselves, but having less cheap Murlocs weakens cards like Gentle Megasaur.
For heavier archetypes, N’Zoth and Ragnaros Lightlord are big casualties. The class generally is losing Rallying Blade too, the early game weapon of choice.
Secret Mage will likely go away in the new Standard Year. Medivh’s Valet and Kabal Crystal Runner, two of the best Secret-related cards available, are rotating out. Kabal Lackey is out too, leaving only Kirin Tor Mage to give you free secrets. That’s probably not enough.
Two of the most useful Mage spells of recent years are also leaving—Cabalist Tome, and Firelands Portal.
Rogue isn’t in a very good state right now, but Quest Rogue has a place in the meta. Gadgetzan Ferryman will be rotating out, but the core of that deck will remain for another year.
The class cards overall aren’t of much consequence. The best of the bunch is probably Swashburglar, but with the Patches nerf that card isn’t really relevant anyway.
Say goodbye to Jades. Jade Druid isn’t anymore near as oppressive as it has been at other points in its history, but it’s a deck that has been around for enough time now. That’s the beauty of set rotations—when an archetype starts to get dull, it generally will fall out of the format.
Fandral Staghelm and Mire Keeper are also on the chopping block. Kun the Forgotten King will be leaving, to the despair of everyone who enjoyed combo Druid decks.
Hunter isn’t in a great place right now, with Spell Hunter a deck on the fringes of the meta. Unfortunately, the most refined form of that deck includes Barnes and Y’Shaarj—both of which are going this year.
Some of the spells, like Cat Trick, Call of the Wild, and On The Hunt are going as well. Even if you want to play minion-based Hunter decks, Alley Cat, Infested Wolf, and Rat Pack are rotating. The next expansion better be kind to Hunter.
Shaman is one of the worst two classes in the current meta. Just like Druid it’s losing its Jades, like Jade Claws and Jade Lightning. But Shaman is also losing Evolve and Dopplegangster, the key to its currently only viable strategy. The incredibly useful Maelstrom Portal is among the other cards rotating.
It’s hard to know how to judge what Warrior is losing, when it’s so far away from having a really viable archetype right now. But taking a macro view of the class, whatever deck you want to try and play the toolbox is being depleted.
What’s going away? Sleep With The Fishes for a start. That’s the most popular board clear outside of Brawl. Then you lose Bloodhoof Brave and Alley Armorsmith, which probably means Taunt Warrior is deader than it already is—unless new taunts come in to replace it.