Karazhan Ideas & Predictions – The Opera (2nd Wing)

Second wing of Karazhan is being released in less than 24 hours. While the first one was pretty fun, but just like I’ve expected, it didn’t really shake up the meta. Will it change this time, or we’ll still have to wait until future wings? In this article, I want to share couple of my predictions. […]

Introduction

Second wing of Karazhan is being released in less than 24 hours. While the first one was pretty fun, but just like I’ve expected, it didn’t really shake up the meta. Will it change this time, or we’ll still have to wait until future wings?

In this article, I want to share couple of my predictions. What people will play? Which cards they will test? Will they be successful? How will it affect the meta?

You should also stick around if you want to get a few ideas for brews you can make yourself. After all, new expansion/adventure’s release is a great time to try new, fun stuff.

Basic info

Each wing costs $7 or 700 gold, but if you buy them in a bulk, you can get all 4 wings for $20 (so $5 per wing, $8 savings in total if you plan to buy all 4). If you already own the first wing, you can buy the next 3 in bulk for $15. You can’t buy them in a bulk with gold, buy you should be able to pre-purchase every wing already.

This week we’re getting the 2nd wing – The Opera. We’re going to see following cards: Arcane Giant, Barnes, Kara Kazham!, Kindly Grandmother, Moat Lurker, Onyx Bishop, Pompous Thespian, Silvermoon Portal, Swashburglar, Wicked Witchdoctor.

What should we expect?

Yes, that’s a great question. What should we expect? And like last time, a quick note – I won’t try to predict which of those decks will be strong and which won’t, because it would be just guessing at this point. Most of the decks can be theorycrafted, but they really require play testing to see whether they’re good.

Now, with 10 more cards from wing 2, we have 23 cards released in total, so basically a half of the expansion. But I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that the more exciting half is still to come. But, 23 cards means that we can start building some real decks and Karazhan starts to influence the meta more and more. Since people like to test new stuff, first days should be full of Karazhan cards. And this wing has a few shining points that, probably, will see play even after the initial dust settles. I’ll go card by card and explain the potential of each of those cards, listing a few decks that they can go into.

Arcane Giant

I’m pretty excited about this card. And even though I’m not as hyped as I was when I’ve first seen it, after doing some math I still think this card is very strong and will see some play. First of all – why would people want to play it? Current Hearthstone meta (and I would say that probably it will stay this way for quite some time) is based around tempo. You want to do as much as you can for as little mana. If you have a card with high stats that you can potentially play out for nearly free (or even free) – this card will definitely gain some attention. That’s the reason why other Giants have seen some play throughout the history of Hearthstone. I’d say that this Giant is most similar to the Frost Giant. Frost Giant starts at 10 and gets reduced each time you press Hero Power. And while it’s cool – most of the decks DON’T want to press Hero Power. Especially in the early/mid game, Hero Power loses you the tempo, not gains it. Pressing Hero Powers 10 times is A LOT and only possible in the longest games. On the other hand, in a heavy-spell deck you want to cast those spells anyway. They gain you the tempo. They’re your removals. Your win conditions. So you do that no matter what, it’s not like you have to play slower or alternate your game plan just to play the Giant.

Decks that I would see Arcane Giant in: 

Definitely Yogg decks. You want to put a lot of spells into Yogg decks already, so having a very cheap, big minion would be a nice addition. But it doesn’t fit into any Yogg deck. I’d say that Yogg Druid (or Token Druid) and Yogg Priest (some people have played it recently with Priest of the Feast) will be the best candidates. I think it fits only into the decks that don’t necessarily have to play it as a 0 mana 8/8 – the decks that still can afford to play it for like 5 or 6 mana if necessary. Because it’s true that you won’t always play it for free. Maybe in a spell-heavy Control Mage deck too.

A bold prediction would be seeing this guy in Miracle Rogue. But I think Miracle Rogue lists are already refined enough and it’s hard to find a place for such a card. Not to mention that they don’t help to fight the biggest struggle Miracle has – surviving against fast decks. But playing two of those alongside some other minions (e.g. Edwin) and Conceal in the late game would be another sweet win condition.

Barnes

Okay, so this card is really hard to evaluate. I personally think that it’s going to be played a lot, even months from now. But I’ve heard opinions that it’s meh card. What this card REALLY needs is a right deck to fit it into. This effect has incredibly strong potential. Getting a strong Deathrattle or ongoing effect can win you the game right away. Let’s say getting Emperor Thaurissan or Tirion Fordring on turn 4 might completely shake up the game, even though those are 1/1 copies of the cards. The first one gives you a very good tempo advantage and the second one gives you a 5/3 weapon early in the game. And a great thing about this card is that even the worst case scenario isn’t terrible. You can’t get anything negative as long as you don’t put it into your deck. So the worst case is getting a 3/4 + vanilla 1/1. No one would play that, but it won’t lose you the game. Something like dropping a 1/1 from Piloted Shredder was. Important thing is that the minion you get from Barnes can be Silenced in order to restore the full stats of the minion. So if you run some sort of Silence in your deck, that’s another reason to play Barnes.

Decks that I would see Barnes in: 

Definitely N’Zoth, the Corruptor decks. Getting a strong Deathrattle is one of the reasons why you would want to run Barnes. But probably not in N’Zoth Paladin, because they would need to cut Doomsayer then. Getting Doomsayer from Barnes might screw yourself instead of giving you a huge advantage. Still, it might fit into N’Zoth Priest. Or N’Zoth RenoLock. I still run 1x Doomsayer in my version, but since I’m hard mulliganing for it + it’s only one copy, it might pass. But besides Deathrattle minions, I also play Emperor Thaurissan and Ragnaros the Firelord.

Then, it might be used in a Silence deck. Like you know, the Purify Priest. And I’m not kidding here – those two cards have really good synergy. But it’s still not enough to make the deck work. However, if you run Spellbreaker + big minions in your deck, you might want to try Barnes (another reason to try him in RenoLock).

I will also try him in Zoo Warlock. It summons two bodies, which is good for the Zoo deck. And quite a lot of Zoo minions have some sort of extra effects – Argent Squire, Possessed Villager, Voidwalker, Dire Wolf Alpha, Knife Juggler, Darkshire Councilman, Imp Gang Boss, Doomguard – the 1/1 will more often have some effect than be just a vanilla 1/1.

Kara Kazham!

I don’t really like this one. I mean, it’s not a bad card, but it’s not something exciting. We had similar card (Silver Hand Knight) available to Warlock for a long time and no deck has played it. Yes, it summons one additional body (3/3 + 2/2 + 1/1 vs 4/4 + 2/2), which MIGHT be important sometimes, but I don’t think it’s enough. Force of Nature is very similar and it’s not even played in Token Druid, which relies on the board presence almost as much as Zoo Warlock. The only reason I think it might be playable is because it’s a spell. And Warlock lacks good, high cost spells for the potential Cho’gall synergy.

Decks that I would see Kara Kazham! in: 

People might try it in Zoo Warlock. It has synergy with a few cards like Knife Juggler and Darkshire Councilman. Having multiple bodies on the board makes it easier to land buffs on something, too. But it’s a 5 mana card that does nothing immediately. Zoo wants to curve mostly between 1 and 3 mana, it doesn’t want to play too many things above it. Defender of Argus, Dark Iron Dwarf/Gormok the Impaler and Doomguard are the only more expensive cards commonly seen in Zoo (Sea Giant too, but the point of this card is to play it for nearly free) – and they all have immediate impact on the board.

But then, some might try it in RenoLock (because that’s the only viable Control Warlock deck right now) alongside Cho’gall. It increases the number of potential spells you can combo him with. And I mean, summoning 7/7, 3/3, 2/2 and 1/1 for 7 mana is a really strong tempo move. But will ONE CARD that is questionable at best make Cho’gall suddenly playable? I’m not sure again.

So in the end, I think people might try this card, but I don’t think it’s going to be successful.

Kindly Grandmother

A new version of Nerubian Egg/Haunted Creeper or similar Deathrattle cards we got rid of in Standard with Naxx and GvG rotating out. But I think it’s a slightly better balanced version and it won’t cause so much trouble. Still, the card is strong – 2 mana 1/1 is a slow start, but the fact that you can’t really kill it in one go and that both parts of the minion are Beast (for the potential Kill Command and Houndmaster synergies), I think that it will see some play in different Hunter lists.

This is one of those cards that are small and seemingly pretty mediocre, but might shake up the things in meta a bit. Blizzard has seemed to realize that releasing Deathrattle minions that summon another minions (=sticky minions that are hard to remove, not die to AoE immediately) is dangerous and might lead to very unhealthy meta. But they still continue to sneak up a card like that here and there. I hope they won’t go all-in one day and we won’t have another Deathrattle meta.

Decks that I would see Kindly Grandmother in: 

First of all – something like a Hybrid Hunter. I don’t think it fits the classic Aggro Hunter so much, as it is pretty slow and straight up 3/2 might be a better option. I mean, it’s not terrible in such a deck, but it will really shine in slightly slower deck. If you play Kindly Grandmother, you would probably want to play Abusive Sergeant too – the 1/1 is like a magnet for attack buffs and will allow to trade up zoo-like style. But on the other hand, you also probably want to play the Houndmaster, as it’s pretty easy to keep it alive for the Beast tag (it will often be ignored – just like Haunted Creeper was before). So a deck that mixes the Aggro and Midrange play style seems like a fit.

Then, possibly a Zoo-like Hunter deck. Maybe with minions like Dire Wolf Alpha or Dark Iron Dwarf. But it’s still just a concept in my head and I don’t think it will work that well. Mainly because it lacks the hand refill power of Warlock’s Hero Power. Or a strong card draw mechanic, akin to Divine Favor. I might still try the concept, because the Hunter’s Hero Power has its obvious advantages, Houndmaster would be insane in such a Zoo-like deck and Call of the Wild is still broken.

Moat Lurker

While I love this concept, and I have thought about similar cards myself in the past, I think this card is too expensive and too easy to kill. Right now it’s more of a stalling card. If it gets immediately killed next turn (which is very likely), all it did was freeze a minion for one turn. But in that case, we already have a stronger card – Frost Elemental. To make it work, it requires player to Silence it immediately. But the problem is that the only neutral Silence you really want to play in your deck is Spellbreaker. And this combo is okay at best, because it’s so damn expensive. For 10 mana you kill a minion you choose (Assassinate = 5 mana), then you summon 3/3 + 4/3 (also around 5 mana worth of stats). It’s not like it’s a huge tempo gain or value or anything – it’s just alright. Or when it comes to killing really big minions, Big Game Hunter is just better, because it doesn’t require you to combo it with another card to be useful.

The other use, although very niche, might require you to target your own minions. Basically, it allows you to proc Deathrattles without the minion “really” dying, as it will be summoned back after. You can kill your own Sylvanas Windrunner, steal something, and then get it back again at full health. And since it died, you then summon 2 copies with N’Zoth, the Corruptor.

Right now the card is just too expensive, but I guess some people will still try it. After all, the effect is cool and it’s possible to catch someone off-guard, using the last removal in the hand and then having no way to kill that thing.

Decks that I would see Moat Lurker in: 

Probably a Silence deck and that’s it. If you run a lot of Silence cards already, then sure, it might work alright. I’ll bring Silence Priest again – as it’s probably best with Silence or Purify and both are Priest cards. But even then, you’re using 6 mana (2 cards) or 8 mana to kill a minion and summon a 3/3. That’s not really the best value anyway, considering that Priest has one of the best single target removals in the game. Entomb, for example.

Due to its niche combo with Deathrattles, some people might try it in N’Zoth decks. It’s a Deathrattle minion by itself too, so you get a 3/3 back. But then again, I think that those situations will be too uncommon for the card to really shine.

Onyx Bishop

I think the card is pretty cool. You get a 3/4 + a 2 mana spell (Resurrect) in one card, for 5 mana. Combined cards like that are usually pretty strong. However, the one questionable thing is the spell itself. You can’t just play it in any Priest deck and expect it to work. Resurrecting a minion is a very strong effect, but only if you don’t run the small fries. Getting back a 4/7 Injured Blademaster (so 3/4 + 4/7 for 5 mana) is incredibly powerful. But on the other hand, getting a 1/2 Museum Curator sucks really hard. Even getting Northshire Cleric doesn’t seem like enough. If you build a right deck – this card will be very strong. I suspect Priest will be more common on the ladder, at least for a few days, as people are testing Onyx Bishop. The truth is that the Control Priest won’t likely get stronger this expansion, so if anything it’s the best time to test it now.

Decks that I would see Onyx Bishop in: 

So I’d say that you want to play it in a deck where you cut the smallest minions, probably leaving Wild Pyromancer because how strong it is and how well it combos with Priest in general. But then you play Injured Blademaster, Priest of the Feast and other strong minions like that.

So it will probably be a special version of Control Priest. I haven’t played Control Priest in Standard (just a few games total), so I’m not sure here – I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Zetalot plays and then copy it, huh.

Pompous Thespian

A filler card, I don’t think it’s going to see any serious play. I don’t even think people will test it. There are just better 2-drop options in any deck.

Silvermoon Portal

I think this card is also bad and won’t see any real play, but I guess people MIGHT test it. It’s a mix between summoning a random 2-drop and Blessing of Kings. But sadly, for the same mana cost as Blessing of Kings. The card would be really strong at 3 mana, but not at 4. Not to mention that random 2-drop is very board term, like we’ve already seen with Piloted Shredder. There are a lot of bad things you can get. But let’s assume the average scenario – it would most likely be getting a 2/2 minion and +2/+2 buff. Let’s even say a 3/2 to make the card look better. Then, it’s basically a 4 mana version of Shattered Sun Cleric. The same stats, but gives +2/+2 instead of +1/+1. So the question is – in which deck you MIGHT play a 3/2 for 4 that gives +2/+2 to a minion?

Decks that I would see Silvermoon Portal in: 

The answer is – Aggro Paladin. Or rather the Divine Shield Paladin. The deck is pretty Zoo-like, so flooding the board is a common strategy. Then, buffing stuff is also common, especially since a lot of minions have Divine Shields and those have extra synergy with buffs. That’s the only semi-common deck that plays Blessing of Kings. So now, the question is – which one of the two is better? I’d say that generally Blessing of Kings is better, but Silvermoon Portal might get better if you’re extra lucky. There are some 2 mana cards that are especially strong. For example, have good effects (like Knife Juggler) or come with negative Battlecry that you won’t proc since you summon it, not play (Millhouse Manastorm). If you only ever get the good 2-drops, I think this would be stronger than Blessing of Kings. So you will most likely need to test your luck.

Swashburglar

It doesn’t seem impressive. And it’s not impressive. But hell, you don’t expect 1-drop to be impressive (Tunnel Trogg is broken, so it doesn’t count). 1-drops usually have a big downside – they have very weak late game scaling. Getting a 1-drop in the late game usually means you just put a small body on the board. This card is only a 1/1 (which is often enough to trade into something in the early game, especially with the help of Rogue’s Hero Power), but it doesn’t fall off in the late game that much. Getting a random card from the opponent’s class is a very broad term. On the one hand, Paladin might give you a Tirion Fordring and Mage might give you Archmage Antonidas (oh, that one would be so broken in Rogue). But on the other hand you might get a Cursed Blade or, I don’t know, Purify. The variance is really high.

But the card might be redeemed by its low mana cost. 1 mana card that’s also okay in the late game just screams “combo activator”. And I think that’s the reason why it MIGHT be played.

Decks that I would see Swashburglar in: 

Played, but most likely not in the currently popular Rogue archetypes. I’d see it in something like a Tempo Rogue, more minion-heavy list. With more Combo cards, like Defias Ringleader or even Bladed Cultist. Then, it might also be played in Reno/Control Rogue – just to give him something to drop on turn 1 that won’t be useless later in the match.

Wicked Witchdoctor

I think that Blizzard, thankfully, didn’t want to give Shaman another broken card. And this one is quite fine, I’d say that it’s balanced and might fit into a certain deck type, but it definitely won’t be abused across the board.

3/4 for 4 requires a very good effect to be playable. Something like Keeper of Uldaman – and even Uldaman isn’t played in every Paladin deck, sometimes it’s only 1 copy and sometimes it’s cut completely. Wicked Witchdoctor has nice effect, but I wouldn’t say that it’s very good.

It isn’t that good, because it doesn’t work by itself. You drop it on turn 4, it’s just a 3/4 minion. Pretty bad. You need to follow it by a few spells to really make it worth. And when it’s worth? I’d say that 2-3 spells and it’s good. More than that – great. The card itself is similar to the Violet Teacher. It has 1 less health, but it summons Totems instead. And as we all know, Totems have extra synergies. And that’s the only reason I could see this card being played.

The only problem I see is that Midrange Shaman lists aren’t generally spell heavy. And a lot of the spells are situational. For example, you don’t want to throw the Hex or Lightning Storm just to get a basic Totem – you want to wait for a good opportunity. So it’s hard to imagine this card summoning too many totems. Then, the Control lists, which are more spell heavy, don’t really run Totem synergies (besides Thing from Below).

P.S. Thanks Blizzard for not making it summon ANY Totem and only basic totems. If it summoned any totem, we’d have a Tuskarr Totemic v2.0. Nightmare.

Decks that I would see Wicked Witchdoctor in: 

A Totem Shaman. You want to play this in a deck with quite heavy totem synergies. That would most likely be a Midrange Shaman with 2 copies of Primal Fusion, Thing from Below and Thunderbluff Valiant. This one synergizes with each one of them – gives you a bigger Primal Fusion (and since it says WHENEVER you cast a spell, the new summoned Totem will also give another +1/+1 to Primal Fusion), cheaper Thing From Below (if you drop it on t4 and follow by a few spells, you might even drop Thing from Below on the same turn for nearly free) and more buff targets for Thunderbluff Valiant (the Totems by themselves aren’t very useful in the late game, but a full board of totems buffed by Valiant is something).

But is the deck better than the standard Midrange Shaman we see now? And does it run enough spells to make this card really work?

Closing

So, that’s the list of my more-or-less bold predictions of which cards will be playable and which decks you’ll see after the second wing of Karazhan. Some of the decks might still be missing a card or two that will come in next wings, but I think the Karazhan meta will slowly start to shape up. I’ll also try some of the decks I was talking about here. I probably won’t write any deck guides until the whole expansion comes out, because the meta is still in flux, but expect to see some after the last wing.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. 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!