Karazhan Reviews – Ironforge Portal, Spirit Claws, Arcane Giant and more!

In this article I’ll cover cards I’ve missed from the rest of the classes + I’ll start going through the neutrals. If you want to see previous ones, check out my Twitter! The card seems similar to the Mage’s . I didn’t like the Book. I like this one much more. Weird, huh? It’s not […]

Introduction

In this article I’ll cover cards I’ve missed from the rest of the classes + I’ll start going through the neutrals. If you want to see previous ones, check out my Twitter!

Swashburglar

The card seems similar to the Mage’s Babbling Book. I didn’t like the Book. I like this one much more. Weird, huh?

It’s not about the card, it’s about which class it’s played in. In my opinion, low mana cards, especially those that “cycle” themselves are very strong in the Rogue. The reason is, like always, Combo. Both this and Babbling Book are similar. I’d even say that Babbling Book is slightly stronger when it comes to the Battlecry. I mean, Mage spell will almost always be usable – with this one you can get something that REALLY sucks. Like Shield Slam when you have no Armor gain. Or I don’t know, Purify (who am I kidding, no one will play Priest anyway).

But the fact that it costs 1 mana and it kinda refunds the card, even though it might not be the BEST one, makes it amazing combo activator. It’s not a card you’d play in Miracle Rogue, but if Tempo Rogue became thing again – sure, why not. Maybe even Reno Rogue.

Then, it’s another card for the potential Ethereal Peddler synergy, joining the Undercity Huckster and Burgle. I’d say that Burgle is still pretty bad, maybe one copy in Reno… but this + Undercity Huckster are both playable. Is it enough to actually put Ethereal Peddler into the deck? I honestly don’t think so, but everything can happen.

I also have a more minion-heavy Tempo Rogue build in my mind and I might try this card. I’m not holding high hopes, I’m not impressed – I just think the card is fine.

Deadly Fork

This card is ridiculous design-wise. You play a fork-minion that puts a fork-weapon into your hand. Then you can equip a fork and punch something, possibly killing it, with a fork. Killing opponent with a fork must be one of the best feelings ever.

When I’ve first seen this card, it was clear that it might be either broken or useless. It all depended on how much the fork-weapon will cost. And I’m serious, 1 mana difference might mean the card unplayable or played in a lot of decks. Sadly (or luckily for non-Rogue players), the card is pretty weak. By the way, I’m questioning the card’s text really hard. Why doesn’t it tell you that the weapon costs 3 mana? There is no way of knowing that without playing the card. Talking about “confusing for new players”.

But, back to the card. It’s a 3 mana 3/2 with card draw. But the card you draw is always a 3 mana 3/2 weapon. 3 mana 3/2 card draw is playable, pretty strong even, but the card you draw should be good. Is a 3 mana 3/2 weapon good? Not really. It’s okay, but okay doesn’t really cut it in constructed. If it was 2 mana weapon – basically 3 mana 3/2 “draw a Fiery War Axe” – that would be much better. It might not seem like a huge deal, but it makes the whole thing much more flexible. For example, if you want to equip the weapon on turn 4 (so a turn after you play this card), you’re left with 1 mana. Now, there are some things you can do with 1 mana, but you usually float it. At 2 mana you’d still be able to play some 2-drop or a 2 mana spell (you know, Eviscerate for example). Then, the play this minion + equip a weapon immediately would cost 5 mana instead of 6. 3/2 + 3/2 weapon for 5 mana is okay-ish. For 6 mana, not so much.

It’s okay in Arena, but I don’t think it will see any Constructed play. Besides the points I’ve already mentioned, it might be too slow and it doesn’t really fit the current Rogue play style.

Wicked Witchdoctor

Luckily, this expansion Shaman didn’t get anything broken. Luckily, because he got amazing cards basically 3 expansions in a row now, one more and everyone would play Shaman.

Let’s say this card. It’s nothing impressive at all. I wouldn’t put it into any popular Shaman list. 4 mana 3/4 are bad stats, plus you get what, random basic totem for each spell cast? So it’s like a Violet Teacher, just with 1 less health, but summoning totems? Totems. That’s the only reason why would you even want to play this card. But only in the deck with a lot of Totem synergies. So the Midrange Shaman with A LOT of Totem synergies is the only deck I’d consider it. Having a lot of totems has obvious synergy with Primal Fusion, Thing from Below, Thunder Bluff Valiant. But it’s not like Shaman struggles with ways to summon totems. Between Hero Power, Tuskarr Totemic, Totem Golem, Mana Tide Totem and Flametongue Totem, having enough totems for those synergies is rarely a problem.

This is still a stretch. Since it can’t summon any other Totems than the ones from your Hero Power, it will never get too much value. Plus, this kind of Midrange Shaman isn’t really known as a spell-heavy deck. It’s more minion-focused, so playing this + bunch of spells is very rare. The expected outcome would be 1, maybe 2 spells.

In a perfect, Totem-focused deck with a lot of spells it might be okay. Just okay. I don’t think this card will see any serious play.

Spirit Claws

Okay, this card also – most likely – will see little to no play. But this one has great potential. To make this card viable, you either count on rolling a spell damage totem on turn 2 (25% chance) and then rolling it whenever you need… or you want to play some spell damage minions. 1 mana 1/3 weapon is very weak, but 1 mana 3/3 weapon is beyond broken.

The problem with this weapon is that it’s inconsistent. Even if you play a few Spell Damage minions in the deck, you’d basically need to get this AND cheap spell damage minions in your opening hand to make it work. The chances aren’t too high.

It doesn’t help that actually most of the spell damage minions in Hearthstone are.. pretty bad. When it comes to the neutral ones, only Bloodmage Thalnos and Azure Drake are being commonly played. Okay, Malygos too, but that’s a 9 mana finisher, not something you want to combo with 1 mana weapon. Then we have other Spell Damage minions – Kobold Geomancer, Dalaran Mage, Evolved Kobold, Archmage.. just to name a few. I honestly don’t think people will play only of those. Okay, MAYBE Kobold Geomancer isn’t that terrible considering that you can guarantee a spell damage on turn 2 after you equip this on turn 1 as long as you draw both (instead of depending on a 1/4 roll). But overall, you don’t really want to put bad cards to make this one work. It’s not Mysterious Challenger that can literally turn the game. It’s amazing in the early game, but later in the game it’s not something that will win Shaman a game alone.

So, current Shaman builds MIGHT play Bloodmage Thalnos and 2x Azure Drake. +random Spell Damage Totem. I don’t think it’s enough to justify running this weapon, honestly. Azure Drakes come too late and totems are random so you’re left with only A SINGLE card in your deck that activates this one. Like I’ve said, people might experiment with Kobold Geomancer (Cult Sorcerer would be insane in Shaman with this weapon), but it’s questionable.

Then, if you put more Spell Damage into your deck, you also want to put more spells. Maybe some kind of Spell Shaman will emerge in the future? Right now, I’d say that this weapon has potential, but nothing more.

Maelstrom Portal

Maybe they really want Shaman to play around with Spell Damage. For example, Spell Damage would work really nicely with this card. Maelstrom Portal. A lot of people have raised their voices – WHAT THE HELL BLIZZ, POWER CREEP, IT’S A BETTER ARCANE EXPLOSION. And sure, they are right – it’s a better Arcane Explosion, card that no one plays. I’ve seen it maybe twice in Constructed, both times in Reno Mage as a tech card against flood decks. So yeaaaah…

I quite like this card. I don’t think it will make a cut into Constructed as a staple, but it might be used like the Arcane Explosion – as a tech against flood decks. Especially if you combine it with some Spell Damage, you get a nice, cheap board clear. Just like with other portals, I’ll give you an average scenario. I didn’t do the match, but when I hear about a random 1-drop, I think that a 2/1 minion would be fair “average”. Worst case scenario you get some 1/1, which isn’t the end of the world. Some even have effects. Best case scenario, you get something like a Tunnel Trogg. Mana Wyrm or even Injured Kvaldir (it would be 2/4). I actually think there are more “good” cases than bad ones here. But let’s get back to our 2/1 minion. 2 mana 2/1 that deals 1 damage to all enemy minions. I mean, Mage has got Twilight Flamecaller last expansion. And while it doesn’t see common play – I’ve seen it used in some Control Mage builds. 3 mana for a 2/2 with the same effect. Is the 1 extra mana worth the +1 extra health? I don’t think so. I think that this card is stronger than Twilight Flamecaller at the base. And it’s EVEN stronger, because it’s a spell. Sure, Twilight Flamecaller gets a potential synergy with Brann Bronzebeard, Spell Damage is way more common and more accessible.

So yeah, this card will not be anything meta-defining, people won’t go crazy about it, even the worst/best outcome won’t likely decide about the game (those are 1-drops after all), but it’s pretty solid. And most importantly – it doesn’t fit the Aggro Shaman. Not even Midrange Shaman, honestly. If anything, Control Shaman would like to play this card. Or maybe not-yet-existing Spell Shaman. Good card, solid design, I like it.

Ironforge Portal

Sooo… Another portal, this time it’s the last one. Warrior has got another way to gain the Armor. And honestly, even though Control Warrior hasn’t really been struggling, the deck has looked for some way to offset the loss of Shieldmaiden in Standard. Justicar Trueheart is good, but too slow. Armorsmiths are good, but Control Warrior isn’t minion-heavy deck. Ancient Shieldbearer is amazing, but can only be played in C’Thun decks. So when it comes to immediate, guaranteed Armor gain – Warrior was left with Shield Block and that’s it. Another card that lets him gain armor, possibly attached to a body, would be what Warrior needs.

And that’s exactly what this portal is. It’s like a mini-Shieldmaiden. She was 6 mana 5/5 with +5 Armor. This one is 5 mana …….. with +4 Armor. The Armor gain is close, since it costs 1 less mana, all it needs is a pretty solid body. And here is the “problem”. 4 mana is one of the most diverse mana slots. So it’s basically a lottery. I won’t even try to count the average stats, but I’d say it’s probably close to 4/4. But, like I’ve said, it’s a lottery with A LOT of outcomes, where you will rarely get the “average” outcome. You might be a big winner and get Flamewreathed Faceless. That’s absolutely insane. Like, game-winning. 5 mana 7/7 with +4 Armor gain. Sure. You have quite a lot good outcomes, but more “balanced” – Ancient Shade, Bloodhoof Brave, Twilight Summoner or maybe even good, old Chillwind Yeti will be quite alright. But there is the other side of things, which is much less appealing. 2/2 Keeper of the Grove, 2/3 Defender of Argus, 1/4 Midnight Drake or 4/1 Twilight Drake, Eerie Statue that most likely won’t get too many opportunities to attack, but a 1/1 Faceless Shambler steals the show. So yeah, those are two opposites of this card. You might get 5 mana 7/7 +4 Armor or 5 mana 1/1 +4 Armor.

Honestly, it’s hard to “be sure” about the card without actually playtesting it. I think it will see some play, as ON AVERAGE it’s an okay card and another way to gain Armor in Control Warrior (that’s the deck it would see play in). But then again, it will often be very anti-fun card. A lot of the outcomes, and I mean it, A LOT of them will cause one player to be upset. Winning or losing the game just because you won a 1 in 80 roll is Piloted Shredder all over again. Good and bad RNG balances over time, but individual, extreme cases is what you remember the most. That’s why I think the card is strong, but I dislike the design.

Arcane Giant

Another Giant joins the family. I actually quite like the Giant design, because they all fit into a specific type of decks. This one keeps up with the others and benefits from playing it in a heavy spell deck. I’m really hyped for this card and I think it might be one of the strongest cards in the expansion, actually. But not “4 mana 7/7” way strong, but in a similar way that Molten Giant was strong before the nerf. After a certain thing happens, after a given point in the game is reached, you (most likely as Warlock) were able to drop a free or nearly free 8/8 minion to turn the things around. That was balanced by the fact that it can’t happen very early in the game, unless Warlock is already dying at this point.

Arcane Giant is similar in that matter. But instead of health, the clock is number of spells casted. The closer this number gets to 12, the cheaper it becomes. Let’s say the point when you seriously want to play it is about 7-8 spells, because 4-5 mana 8/8 is very strong. So we need to look at the decks that can consistently cast up to 12 spells before the game ends.

After thinking for a bit, I can definitely name a few popular decks that indeed cast A LOT of spells.

  • Tempo Mage. The deck is known for its spell synergies, it’s one of the only decks that actually might benefit from starting second and having the Coin. Half of the Tempo Mage deck, give or take 2-3 cards, are spells. For the same reason Tempo Mage often plays Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End – a lot of spells means Yogg’s effect being much more impressive. The deck shouldn’t have a big problem with casting quite a lot of spells. Arcane Giant might be a solid fit into the deck, but I see one problem – Tempo Mage is generally a rather aggressive deck and it wants to finish the game as fast as it can. Plus it’s the deck that often runs out of cards because of how many cheap spells/minions it runs. Getting Arcane Giant in the opening hand might lead to quite a lot of losses. “If that Arcane Giant was something cheaper, I could continue to put pressure, but I can’t really play a 8 mana 8/8 on turn 5”. It would be a great topdeck, but not so much a card that you want to get early.
  • Token/Yogg Druid. This one seems like the most likely candidate to play Arcane Giant. While the deck is actually very minion-focused, in that case minions are mostly created by spells. This means that the deck is very low on ACTUAL minion cards, often about 2/3 of the deck being spells. Not only that, but it’s also not as fast/aggressive. It often aims at a slower game, with quite a lot of removal, card draw and health gain (Feral Rage). I’ve seen the 15 spell Yoggs from this kind of Druid. Casting 12 spells isn’t that hard. It’s achievable in any Midrange/Control matchup. Then, having a dead card isn’t as punishing, because the deck can afford to play slow game. I think that a potential 0 mana 8/8 would fit this deck really nicely.
  • Yogg ‘n’ Load Hunter. Talking about spell-heavy deck. Most of the lists I know run 3 minions total. That’s right, 3 minions – King’s Elekk, Emperor Thaurissan and Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End. Obviously, it also plays 2x Animal Companion and 2x Call of the Wild, but those are still spells. The deck that is pretty much spell-only is bound to cast so many spells. I mean, that’s their game plan in EVERY matchup. Meaning it would be incredibly easy to get the free 8/8’s out. Between this and Cloaked Huntress (like I’ve said on the review, possible Huntress + Lock and Load + a bunch of Secrets), I think the deck might be seriously competitive after Karazhan.
  • Miracle Rogue. But in this case I actually don’t think that they will find slots for Arcane Giants. The deck is full already, it’s hard to cut any card from the list. But considering the amount of cheap spells, cycle, free coins from Tomb Pillagers, 2 more 1 mana spells from Xaril, Poisoned Mind… Arcane Giant would work really nicely. I bet Miracle could consistently drop free Arcane Giants a turn after Gadgetzan Auctioneer has been played. I’m not the Miracle expert, but I think experimenting with that for a bit wouldn’t hurt.
  • Control Shaman. While I didn’t have a pleasure to play this deck a lot, I’ve played against it a few times. And I have to say that it’s really heavy on spells. Definitely half of the deck, or even more. It’s also a slow deck, defensive one, aiming at the long game, being able to board clear and sustain… Once again, I’m not a Shaman expert, it’s actually my least played class, but I might also try the Giants here.

Aaaand probably some more decks. Those are the pretty common decks that first came to my mind. I’m pretty sure that you can build more decks given how strong this card is and how many possibilities it gives. Tempo swing of a free 8/8 is insane as Molten Giants have already proven. On the one hand, you really need to have a lot of spells in your deck to make Arcane Giants work. But on the other hand, enemy can’t really counter it. The longer game goes, the cheaper those are – enemy can’t play around it, like they could play around Moltens.

In my opinion, the card is very strong. It does a great job as the only Epic of the adventure.

Closing

That was second to last review. There are still some neutral cards left, but I actually think that I’ve covered the most interesting ones already, so depending on how much time I’ll have, I might start making some brews instead of reviewing the last bunch of cards. I hope that you’ve enjoyed my reviews, I’ve tried my best to be objective and look at every card from different angles. Overall, I think that this expansion won’t have such a big impact as our last adventure – League of Explorers – but it might still shake some things up. Hopefully, because who doesn’t like changes in the meta?

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!