First wing of Karazhan is scheduled to release today. Just like you guys, I’m super excited for all the meta changes it will bring. But, unlike expansion packs, adventures give us small amount of cards every week. What does it mean for us as the players? Basically, for the next months you should expect the meta to change quite often. Since it’s hard to keep up with constant changes, I offer you a helpful hand. I’ll try to give you a few ideas of what people might play and at the same time, what you can test yourself.
This week we get The Prologue and the first wing – The Parlor. We’re going to see following cards: Enchanted Raven, Firelands Portal, Deadly Fork, Silverware Golem, Pantry Spider, Arcane Anomaly, Arcanosmith, Ivory Knight, Protect the King, Cloaked Huntress, Moroes, Priest of the Feast, Maelstrom Portal
First mini-wing – The Prologue – will be free and all players will be able to access it. It means that you’re going to get Enchanted Raven and Firelands Portal for free, even if you don’t buy anything else from the expansion.
Each wing will cost $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). You can’t buy them in a bulk with gold, buy you should be able to pre-purchase every wing already.
What should we expect?
First of all, I won’t try to predict which decks will WORK, because that would be a guessing game. I’ll try to predict, I think quite correctly, what people will PLAY. Or maybe “test” is a better word. Most of the decks won’t probably work too well and meta will revert back to the previous one with a few small alterations. The reason is that we’re only going to see 13 cards and a few of them will really be playable. Meta will change away from the WotG one more and more each week, as more cards are released.
With the first 13 cards the deckbuilding possibilities will be very limited, although we’re definitely see some new stuff. People just LOVE to play new stuff and expansion/adventure release is a perfect opportunity. Since most of players will test new cards, you’ll have a higher chance to encounter one of them and less likely to encounter a cookie-cutter meta deck. If you like deck building, it’s a good opportunity to try yourself in a pretty wild environment – no one knows what’s good yet, so you might be the first one to discover the best strategy. On the other hand, if you’re very competitive and you like winning, you might use this opportunity to play an already established meta deck that you’re sure is good and have easier time winning against novice deckbuilders. No matter which side you’ll choose, here are the decks that players will most likely test themselves:
- Beast Druid. I think that Beast Druid might be a gem of Karazhan, but it’s still going to be unpolished after the first wing. We’re going to see Enchanted Raven which is a good card in Beast Druid. The archetype was already quite strong in WotG and it has a lot of tricks up its sleeve. But I don’t think that Enchanted Raven will make it much stronger. I mean, it’s a good card, but it’s not a card that makes the archetype. People will probably realize that quite fast and give up until week 3 when Menagerie Warden gets released. Since it’s a strong 1-drop and 1-drops are best in fast decks, I think we might see some high tempo versions of Beast Druid or maybe even Aggro Druid being tested out with a new 1-drop.
- More Mage – Tempo, Control, Reno. First week is first portal release. Firelands Portal is quite hyped by the player base. And while I don’t fully agree and I don’t think that this card alone will be that great, expect to see people playing it. Maybe not because the card is amazing, but because it’s fun. RNG effects like summoning a random minion always come with a “fun” factor, especially in a non-competitive environment. Generally, with the other Mage cards we should expect more Control Mages, but I think we’ll really have to wait for the last wing and Medivh’s Valet. Playing Firelands portal will be like a big wheel of fortune. Expect people to laugh at the enemy for playing such a card one game, when he gets an Abomination with a lot of 1/2 health minions on his side of the board. And then throw their pc out of the window next game when Mage gets a Doomguard or Earth Elemental. People who will be lucky with the few first RNG rolls will probably add 2 copies of that card into every Mage deck they play and people with terrible RNG will remove it and wait for more Mage cards.
- Yogg Hunter / Secret Heavy Hunter. Cloaked Huntress might be a very strong card in the right deck. But to really make her work, you need to run multiple Secrets, probably some one-ofs. If you play 2x Cloaked Huntress, it’s generally better to run e.g. Bear Trap AND Cat Trick instead of 2x Bear Trap, because you can’t play the same secret second time, and playing multiple Secrets gives Hunter a huge tempo swing and a lot of value. I can see people trying two decks. It will almost surely get into some Yogg Hunter decks – some lists have played up to 6 Secrets already. All it takes now is to change the 2-ofs into 1-ofs. Yogg Hunter is known to operate on relatively big hand sizes + Cloaked Huntress combos really well with Lock and Load. And now I can see two approaches – first one is to just add Cloaked Huntress (maybe even 1 copy) but generally continue with previous gameplay. And second is to make more minion-oriented list, because if you’ve already committed to run two 3-drops, you can as well add something like a Highmane to have a more consistent alternative game plan. The second deck I see people trying is something like a heavy Secret Midrange Hunter. Play a bunch of Secrets, Cloaked Huntress, obviously 2x Eaglehorn Bow. Maybe even throw Secretkeeper in 1-drop slot. This deck makes sense, because with the right hand it can be REALLY hard to counter. Hunter going second, opening with t1 Secretkeeper, t2 Coin + Cloaked Huntress + 2 Secrets, t3 Eaglehorn Bow… such openings would be nearly unstoppable. That’s why you should expect to lose to something like that. But I think that the deck might be too inconsistent, because if you don’t draw an early Cloaked Huntress, playing bunch of Secrets will just slow you down and make your turns more awkward.
- Some kind of slower Paladin. It might be Murloc Paladin (Anyfin Can Happen one), it might be N’Zoth Paladin, it might even be a slower Midrange version. But people will definitely test out the Ivory Knight. Those decks will naturally be very defensive, with A LOT of healing, as Ivory Knights will probably be added on top of the Ragnaros, Lightlord and possibly 1 or 2 copies of Forbidden Healing. I expect some people to get way too greedy and go overboard with the value/healing game. Funnily enough, this one card might push the deck into playable zone. I don’t think the card is amazing, but what’s cool is that it’s pretty flexible. It gives you healing and a body against Aggro and a card NOT from your deck (so no draw, which might be important in fatigue games) in Control matchups. Expect getting to choose between 3 Secrets when you play it and enemy Murloc Paladin getting 2x Anyfin can Happen from it.
- Control Shaman or slower Midrange Shaman. Control Shaman was already semi-popular after the SeatStory Cup and I think that Malestrom Portal looks like a nice addition to that kind of deck. It adds some early game consistency, especially against Aggro decks. Even if enemy just plays a 2/1 1-drop, it’s already fine to drop it on turn 2, as you will get 1 for 1 and end up with a 1-drop of your own. It has no overload so it doesn’t screw with your future turns. In the mid/late game it combos really nicely with Spell Damage or you can play it after Lightning Storm / Elemental Destruction to clean up whatever’s left on the board at 1 health. It’s not a high impact card, but it should be rather consistent and add something that Shaman lacks – way to deal 1 damage.
- Discard Warlock (Discolock). Even though we’re only getting one of the 2 cards that are going to fit this archetype, I suspect people will already try to make Silverware Golem work. And I see two options here. Some people will decide to add the card to their Zoo Warlock lists, and just make them slightly more discard-heavy. This is a safe option that will probably work, but I don’t think that it will be more consistent then the 3-drops that Zoo already runs. Then, there is another option – play Warlock list dedicated to discarding. You should see some of those on the first day already. Expect some deckbuilders going way too far and adding pretty much every discard mechanic there is. That will either win the game fast thanks to the insane tempo gains (Silverware Golem, Fist of Jaraxxus) OR fail hard, with the latter outcome being much more common. I think it will take a lot of time to figure the most optimal Discard Warlock list, because it’s very important to balance the number of cards with discard mechanic. Another question is whether the Tiny Knight of Evil will fit into the deck. All in all, the deck might be okay right now, but we’ll definitely have to wait until wing 4 and Malchezaar’s Imp to truly test it.
- Taunt Warrior. Yes, I really think people are going to play Bolster. With the new card, Protect the King, it makes more sense than it ever did. But while this combo is incredibly strong, it’s a counter to very specific type of decks – the ones that flood the board. If you play against a slower list that rarely has more than 2 minions on the board, the combo will suddenly look quite weak. I don’t think the deck will be good. Maybe it will be a meta call and IF, IF something like Zoo Warlock or some Violet Teacher deck ever starts dominating the meta this might work out. But besides Protect the King, Taunt/Bolster Warrior didn’t really get anything new. MAYBE Arcanosmith, as it gives two bodies, one of which is a Taunt. And that Taunt with Bolster becomes 2/7, which is quite good (we’re talking about almost a Deathlord without downside). The problem is that the Taunt initially has 0 attack, which means it’s pretty easy to trade it off for free. Still, I think that people will try Bolster Warrior, but it might not work at all in the early meta. Like I’ve said, much more people are testing stuff, they often take opportunity to play slower decks instead of the Aggro ones. And Taunt Warrior shines in those Aggro matchups, because Taunts have inherently less value than non-Taunt cards, meaning that the deck is ultimately worse against Control. We’ll see.
- One crazy guys that tries to play Priest. In the first wing, Priest gets the Priest of the Feast card. Which is actually a quite good card, but it’s definitely NOT enough to make Priest work. But there will definitely be a small portion of people who will still try to make it work, play Priest and feed free wins to other people. But no, honestly, Priest might not be in such a terrible spot after Karazhan, because Dragon Priest might actually be decent. But sadly for Priest players, both Netherspite Historian and Book Wyrm are going to be released in the last wing. Still, good luck to all the Priest players out there. You’ll need it.
So, that’s the list of my more-or-less bold predictions of the deck you’ll see after first wing of Karazhan. Like I’ve already said a few times, most of them will still be missing a card or two, but people like to try new stuff, so expect to see them already. Some of them are on my list of decks to try too! If anything works really well, I’ll let you guys know and write about it.
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!