Welcome to the Parlor! It is the first week of One Night in Karazhan, and despite all of the flack the set has been getting, I am never sad about new cards. There are some really cool things in the new forty five and a ton of new decks that I cannot wait to explore. Some of them may be twists on old builds, but a lot of them are going to be entirely new. This article is going to be the first of four in my new Joseph Brews series where I will go week by week (wing by wing) and look at how the new cards are going to play in the Standard meta. While there are a forty five cards in all, I am only going to focus on the ones that I think have some real potential, and see what decks they could fit into or create. In this guide we will look at a few lists, some potential uses for the following cards and analyze why I think they will see play.
Well, we are definitely going to start things off on a high note. Even without a certain Warden (which we will get to in a later article) this little bird is very strong. Not only does it have incredibly good, obvious synergy with Mark of Y’sharrj, but it a very powerful one drop in its own right. One of the biggest problems with one drops in Hearthstone is that they have one health. Though it may not seem like a big deal, the fact that this cannot be pinged by Mage or knocked down by Druid’s hero power makes it very good. Now, your opponent has to spend their turn two removal like Wrath or Frostbolt on your one drop. This then clears the way for your next on-curve threat and allows you to take control of early tempo.
What excites me most about Enchanted Raven is how good it is for an aggressive archetype. Everyone looks at this card and sees Beast Druid. However, the first time I saw it my mind went to tokens. Token Druid has shifted to a more midrange style over the past couple of months, but I think this card is worth testing in a more aggressive shell. Living Roots is already one of the strongest one drops around, and having two viable turn-one options gives you that many more ways to start the game on the right foot. A beast sub-theme also helps solidify the inclusion of Mark of Y’sharrj for the dream curve. You want to swarm as fast as possible and then end the game with Savage Roar. I also like running two Dire Wolf Alphas for the added mark synergy as well as the ability to let your ravens trade up into Tunnel Troggs and Mana Wyrms.
The subject of a lot of arena controversy, I think Firelands Portal actually has quite a bit of potential. The biggest being that, as many have said, there could be a real control Mage deck coming in the next few weeks. The seven mana spell seems quite underwhelming at first glance, but the more you think about it, the more you realize just what it can do. Being able to do five damage to anything should not be taken lightly. That in itself can do some real work and allows you a lot of extra flexibility. As someone who has tested many Control and Reno Mage builds, one of the biggest problems is midrange threats like Emperor Thaurissan and Azure Drake. This is because those cards stack up damage but are not high-impact enough to warrant heavy removal like a Polymorph. Being able to play one more removal spell, especially one that also provides board presence, could be a real game changer.
Beyond the damage, summoning a five mana minion is usually going to be a good play at most stages of the game. One of the biggest problems with removal in Hearthstone is that you have to sacrifice board to do it. Being able to kill a real threat and also put down a solid body most of the time allows you to fight your opponent on both fronts. I see this card a lot like a Fire Elemental. Of course, it is worse since the body cannot be controlled (and can be downright bad) but it works in a very similar vein. The damage threshold is also much higher, which is extremely important. Yes, the card is a little slow, but it’s a good deal for removal, a body and potential burn. I think it will see some play.
Out of all the cards in this wing, I think Arcane Anomaly is the hardest to analyze. The reason being that this card has some serious potential but could also be too slow. I know, that’s a cop out. If you had to ask me, I think this card is going to be quite strong. A 2/1 for one is nothing to write home about, but decks that can play a lot of early spells quickly can easily turn this into a Zombie Chow with very little effort. Though Chow stats today are not as strong today as they once were, this card also has the potential to grow over the course of the game. That means if your opponent doesn’t kill it right away it is going to sit around for some time. Cards with a strong static ability are always worth looking at.
Where I see Arcane Anomaly shining most is in Priest, Paladin and Rogue. Though it seems that it could have some use in decks like Tempo Mage, the fact that it will only ever have two attack is going to keep it out aggressive shells. Priest has the obvious synergy with Power Word: Shield, but even putting this down turn one against a deck like Hunter and then being able to play a spell over the next two turns while removing their threats with cards like Shadow Word: Pain can give you a constantly-growing minion. That may not seem like much, but having two attack at your disposal at all times can be very strong. I also really like this in a value Rogue deck because of Backstab, which allows you to remove a minion and get a 2/2 on turn one. From there, it is only upside as the game goes on. Secret Paladin and Aggro Paladin would both like to have this card as well since it interacts so well with secrets and buffs. Divine Strength anyone?
Oh yes. Oooh yes. Cloaked Huntress is my third favorite card of the set, and I think is primed to really bring some new archetypes to the meta. The biggest knock against this card, as many streamers have noted, is that Hunters currently don’t play many secrets. While that is true, it could easily change if you have the ability to go all Mysterious Challenger on your opponent on turn three (or two with the coin). This card not only has perfect on-curve stats, but you need to do very little to get some serious value from it. Even playing one secret alongside a 3/4 on turn three is a very strong play that can drastically change the state of the game. Though I think this is a card that is going to need its own deck (rather than slotting into the current midrange build) I likely has enough swing power to be tier one.
In my book, the biggest reason to run the Huntress is that three Hunter secrets are actually minions. Bear Trap, Snake Trap, and the new addition of Cat Trick, are all ways to gain board presence while furthering your secret gameplan. That is very important because it allows you to actually do something proactive with your turns (or your Huntress) instead of something reactive like Freezing Trap or Explosive Trap. Though you could run the clearing secrets as well, I like this card most in a token-oriented build that plays off of being able to put multiple things into play very quickly. Another important note is that Hunter secrets cost two mana. That curves very nicely with Secretkeeper, which I think could make a real comeback in this style of deck. I also like the inclusion of both Loot Hoarder and Cult Master offset Huntress’ ability of dumping your hand quickly.
Note: For now, I would play a Freezing Trap and an Abusive Sergeant in place of the Cat Tricks.
A card that a lot of people have overlooked, I think Arcanosmith could do some real work in the coming weeks. While this is by no means a 3/7 for four, it is two solid bodies with decent stats. A 3/2 and a 0/5 that protects that 3/2 has a lot of different uses and could slot into a lot of different builds. As strange as it may sound, I think this card could really shine in a tempo-aggro builds. Right now, the biggest setback on this card is that the 0/5 taunt simply just sits on the board and is easily removed. However, if you have the board when you play this you suddenly get 3/7 worth of stats and two bodies to play with the next turn. While it may seem too low impact, I think this may make its way into Zoo or token decks as a way to protect early game threats like Darkshire Councilman or Knife Juggler. Five health is not easy to get through, and being able to buff the shield makes it very strong. Also, there are plenty of decks who would love to rebound against AOE with these two bodies.
This card could also see play in control decks as a way to gain five life and leave something on the board. Though many people say this is worse than Sen’jin Shieldmasta, I think there are many cases where it could be better. The reason is that aggro is often going to have to use a buff to break through the 0/5. Then, instead of losing your only minion, you can trade with the 3/2 the following turn. While they could sit back and just wait, that still buys you some extra time. This card can also help save you in situations where you and your opponent are both low on cards. This is really strong against things like Doomhammer and completely blanks late-game topdecks like Kor’kron Elite.
Priest of the Feast
Though Priest has become the laughingstock of the game, Priest of the Feast is a good card. A 3/6 worth of stats for four mana is very hard to deal with (just ask Water Elemental) and, like Arcane Anomaly, it has a static ability that just gains more and more value as your deck naturally does the things it wants to do anyway. While I do not think this card is going to singlehandedly solve all of Priest’s problems, more healing is always welcome. That goes double when that healing comes with a on-curve minion. This card is also a must-kill because for a lot of popular aggro decks (and even some midrange builds) because of how quickly it can put you out of lethal range. In that way, you can get immediate healing or run it out early and force your opponent to deal with it right away.
Currently, Control Priest has two glaring weaknesses: combo and overwhelming aggro. While combo is always going to be a problem for a reactive deck, Priest of the Feast, Northshire Cleric, Wild Pyromancer and Arcane Anomaly could all combine to bring you some early game punch. This could help bridge the gap between control and aggro by giving you a tool against both. I think you want to run a low-curve deck where your win condition is a combination of Entomb and Elise Starseeker. Everything else is all about staying alive. Though you only add two cards to what Priests have now, the cards add some extra consistency the class really needs. This deck still depends on numerous small interactions to win, but you now have more good draws than you once had. That could make all the difference.
Though I doubt it will be as big of a game-changer as other cards coming out in week one, Maelstrom Portal could be quite strong in Control Shaman. Slower Shaman decks have been popping up more and more over the past few weeks. While this card seems very innocuous, it could fill a very important gap that the deck has in small swarms or low-health minions. Like Firelands Portal, the two cost AOE is a way to both clear the board and gain some type of presence. Yes, that presence is low-impact but even a 2/1 needs to be cleared. The portal interacts very nicely with spell damage as well. Slower Shaman decks already run two AOE in Lightning Storm and Elemental Destruction, but they often want to save those for larger boards. This card helps that by allowing Shaman to deal with smaller minions or swarm decks easily and effectively. More AOE is always welcome in slow decks, especially ones that only care about staying alive.
Another absolute beater, Silverware Golem may very well turn out to be one of the strongest cards in the entire set. It is so powerful that I believe you could easily run it without Malchezaar’s Imp (though my list has the one drop). Discard Warlock has been a slow-drip deck that has been steadily getting more and more cards with each expansion. If those tools have been chipping at the dam, then this may just blow it wide open. One of the biggest disadvantages to playing discard decks is that you have to, of course, discard cards. However, in order to make those decks good you have to give them cards that work well when they are discarded. We always knew those options were coming, I just didn’t think they would be this good. Even on its own, this card is a perfectly fine 3/3 for three.
Silverware Golem is one of those high-risk, high-reward cards whose reward is so incredibly high that its hard not to run. I would see this in the same vein as pre-nerf Nat Pagle. That is to say, most of the time this card is going to have very little impact, but when it hits it is going to hit big. I will go as far to say that anytime you discard this card during the first three turns of the game you are often going to win. That type of power is very rare, and is completely worth the randomness that comes with losing your hand. Though it may not be original, the discard list is going to pilot very similarly to Zoo. Not only are all the discard cards inherently aggressive-tempo based, but you need to fill the deck with plenty of one drops to empty your hand and increase your chances of hitting strong discards. Your whole goal here is to push as much damage as you can as quickly as possible and then end the game with burst. Though Succubus may be going too all-in on the discard theme, I think having more ways to discard on turn two is going to be necessary in this build.
Note: To replace Malchezaar’s Imp, I would play two Darkshire Councilmen or two Dark Peddlers instead.
Maybe it’s my optimism or maybe it’s my hype for new cards, but I think there’s a lot more potential to Ivory Knight than people first realize. Yes, there are a lot of bad Paladin spells. And yes, a lot of them cost one mana. However, this card is a Discover mechanic, which really opens up what you can do with it. The odds of actually only getting to choose from three one mana spells is quite low, and there are more than a few good Paladin spells running around the game. Not only that, but most Paladin spells help foster a slower match, which is what the decks running this card will want. Being able to choose from three options means you are often going to get the spell you need, be it a board clear or a clutch heal. On top of that, you also get a 4/4 and some life.
The biggest question mark with this card is just how strong Paladin Control can be. I think the deck has some real potential, but it also doesn’t seem to have all of the necessary tools needed to push it over the edge. As a result, I think Ivory Knight may be best suited for a more midrange style build. The body is quite slow, but if the effect proves to be strong then it could easily see play. There are many times where you want or need a card that you didn’t put into your deck. Having access to those cards can be really important in some matchups and help you out of tight situations. Though this is perfectly suited as a control card, there is a chance it sneaks into a more curve-oriented midrange as well.
I have heard a lot of hate on the party-loving guide recently, but I think Moroes has quite a bit of potential. Getting a free 1/1 every single turn of the game is quite strong, and can really help aggro and token decks get some extra value and board presence as the game goes on. In that way, I think this card is going to do very well in decks that have a lot of buffs running around, such as Aggro Paladin. The deck already has a strong divine shield base, and giving them a constant source of token (and buff target) generation in addition to a very strong one drop in Arcane Anomaly could really push them over the top. This card is by no means game-breaking, but I think it is a very useful tool that a lot of decks would like to have access to. I could even see this finding its way into Zoo or token builds.
The biggest knock against Moroes is that it is very easy to remove. Every Warrior deck packs two Ravaging Ghoul, Rogue has Fan of Knives and Druid has Swipe. However, if you run Moroes in a buff deck, where I think he is going to shine the most, your opponent is only going to have one chance to remove him before you can put him out of range. Once he gets some extra health, the only way decks are going to be able to interact with him is with mass AOE (which not a lot of them run). This card has a lot of potential and can be one of those “answer or die” tools that a lot of swarm decks want to have. I don’t think he will ever be good enough just to run as a tool, but getting his health up can allow you to never run out of answers. Especially in Paladin.
Week one is shaping up to bring some real cards to the table. I always love the new releases because of the new options they bring with them. While One Night in Karazhan may not be everything people wanted, I am really excited at what’s to come and what new decks I can make. We will be looking at more potential new builds next week and exploring how the second wing is going to impact the meta. Until then, thanks for reading!