League of Explorers Card Reviews: Arena Edition

Card-by-card reviews for League of Explorers, the new Hearthstone adventure. Also includes initial thoughts on how these cards and the new Discovery keyword will affect the Arena meta.

Introduction

With the announcement of the new Hearthstone adventure, The League of Explorers (LoE), it’s time for some card reviews! There will be plenty of Constructed reviews of LoE cards, so this article will focus solely on how these cards will play in Arena. I will discuss each card individually, then I’ll discuss the impact these new cards—as well as the new Discover keyword—will have on the Arena meta. One quick word on Discover: in many cases in Arena, it is basically the same as drawing a card (since Arena picks are already done from 3 random cards), with the upside of being able to pick the card that currently helps you best, rather than the best overall card for your deck. Each Discover keyword is different, though, which I will cover in my individual card reviews.

In LoE, each class will be receiving 3 cards: 2 commons and a rare. For neutral minions, there will be 7 commons, 3 rares, 2 epics, and 5 legendaries. In all, the adventure will contain 45 new collectible cards. You can see all of those cards on the Hearthstone Facebook page and read more about the adventure in the announcement thread on this site.

I’ll begin with the class cards, before moving on to the neutral minions. Within each class, I will cover the 2 common cards first, then the rare card. I also start each section with a brief intro to the class as it currently stands prior to the release of LoE. My rating scale is as follows: terrible, bad, below average, average, above average, good, great, excellent.

Druid Cards

The Druid is currently one of the better classes in Arena because of its consistently strong curve minions, powerful area-of-effect (AoE) spells, and ping Hero Power. It’s an honest class, with few tricky plays, but a powerful one all the same.

mounted-raptor — 2-mana 3/2 Beast, Deathrattle: Summon a random 1-Cost minion.

On first glance, this card looks like a miniature piloted shredder. Unlike Shredder, the body plus the minion that pops out together equal the mana cost of the Mounted Raptor. Additionally, the pool of 1-Cost minions is filled with very bad minions. Like Shredder, though, the Raptor is statted to prioritize attack over health, and as we found with Shredder and piloted-sky-golem, sticky minions can afford to have higher attack and lower health. Also, as hungry-dragon taught us, 1-Cost minions are not inconsequential.

This will not be a miniature Shredder, and but it will be close to as good as Druid of the Flame in the 3-mana slot. Most of the time in Arena, playing a 3/2 on Turn 3 is a perfectly acceptable play, and if that 3/2 actually leaves something behind, all the better. The only class that can easily deal with this on Turn 3 consistently is Rogue, and that’s a good sign for a card.

Verdict: Good

raven-idol — 1-mana spell, Choose one – Discover a minion; or Discover a spell.

This card compares very closely to tracking, a card that is average in Arena, simply because you will occassionally float 1 mana. Unlike Tracking, the 3 cards you choose between will not be from your deck and so will vary in quality more drastically. The terribleness of many cards in Arena will mean that you rarely get to choose between 3 great or even good cards. However, on the flip side, the flexibility of being able to select a minion (when you are just looking for a body on the board) or a spell (when you are looking for a more proactive play) is a definite positive. These two effects, though, are basically a wash, making it a perfectly acceptable card but not a spectacular one in any way.

One side benefit for people who play Arena primarily for fun: like spellslinger, since Raven Idol doesn’t adjust for rarity, you will see more rare, epic, and legendary cards than you would in your normal draft. Also, I should note that the fatigue concerns with Tracking are not present here, but that’s not really a benefit in Arena, since only a tiny percentage of matches go to fatigue.

Verdict: Average

jungle-moonkin — 4-mana 4/4 Beast, Both players have Spell Damage +2.

Once again, we have a card with a very similar touchstone: ogre-magi. In general, this card will be like Ogre Magi: an acceptable enough body, but not good enough to offset the fact that its effect is not very strong in Arena. In a spell heavy deck, Jungle Moonkin will be ever-so-slightly better than Ogre Magi for 2 reasons: the extra Spell Damage for your opponent usually won’t matter, since most Arena decks only have a few damage spells, and the Beast tribe is definitely meaningful in Druid, making cards like wildwalker and druid-of-the-fang slightly better.

Verdict: Below Average (in most decks)

Hunter Cards

The Hunter, while difficult to pilot, can also be a fairly powerful Arena class. The lack of an easy ping and consistent board clears hurts the Hunter, but with the right draft, it can be almost impossible to beat.

dart-trap — 2-mana Secret, When an opposing Hero Power is used, deal 5 damage to a random enemy.

When considering a Secret in Arena, you should think about 2 things: how easy is it for my opponent to play around the trigger, and how significant will this effect be (in particular with regard to board control)? A card like freezing-trap is good because it often is both difficult to play around and has a major effect on the board.

Dart Trap is harder to play around than a lot of Secrets, such as bear-trap, but it’s still easier to play around than Freezing Trap, mirror-entity, and avenge, all of which trigger on things you should be normally wanting to do in Arena. In general, classes without ping Hero Powers don’t use their Hero Power in the early game at all. If they do (and even for ping classes), they generally don’t play a minion alongside the Hero Power. At least in the early game, then, Dart Trap is very likely to hit face, which is generally not optimal in Arena. In the late game, when your opponent is more likely to use their Hero Power, Dart Trap may be more likely to hit an enemy minion, but the mana efficiency (5 damage for 2 mana) just isn’t worth the inability to control when it is triggered and to target that damage.

That said, Hunter is the only class in the game that can actually value a card that may do direct face damage. Dart Trap can be average or even good in a more aggressive deck with lots of early game board control cards or in a deck with mad-scientist. With most Hunter decks, you eventually make a push for face and ignore your opponent’s board, and Dart Trap can be a reasonable play in that scenario. This is certainly not eye-for-an-eye level, so if your deck dictates it, you shouldn’t hesitate to choose Dart Trap.

Verdict: Below Average (in most decks)

desert-camel — 3-mana 2/4 Beast, Battlecry: Put a 1-Cost minion from each deck into the battlefield.

Based purely on its stats, the Desert Camel is a below average card, on par with cards like illuminator. Its effect is a symmetrical one, and we’ve already seen with spellslinger that symmetrical effects are generally bad for good Arena players, because they give you more of a chance to lose on that symmetrical effect. Additionally, symmetrical effects like this one are even worse because they give your opponent the first chance to take advantage of the effect.

The dream with Desert Camel is that you play it and you get a 1-Cost minion and your opponent does not. That situation, while not entirely unlikely, is not particularly likely either. As a Hunter, your deck is likely slightly lighter than your opponent’s, but there will be plenty of times when your deck has no 1-Cost minions or only has a single 1-Cost minion that you draw in your opening hand. Additionally, your opponents will often have at least one 1-Cost minion, making the effect often better for your opponent than for you.

Verdict: Bad

explorers-hat — 2-mana spell, Give a minion +1/+1 and “Deathrattle: Add an Explorer’s Hat to your hand.”

A reusable buff card that’s over-costed in the same sense that dreadsteed is over-costed, Explorer’s Hat is one of the most unique new cards introduced in LoE. Besides houndmaster and glaivezooka, Hunter is currently lacking in consistent buff cards. But will Explorer’s Hat offer enough of a buff to be used consistently?

In order to play this card well, you’ll have to use it at times when its cost is not prohibitively large (i.e., late game). It can help your late game push for lethal, but that’s also the time in the game as a Hunter when you stop trading with enemy minions. In other words, you usually won’t be able to trigger the Deathrattle yourself, relying on your opponent to kill the minion. Unfortunately, +1/+1 isn’t enough to elevate a weaker minion to huge threat, so you will mostly be restricted late game to playing it on your bigger threats.

Another way to think of Explorer’s Hat is as a bananas generator. In an average game, how many times are you likely to be able to use Explorer’s Hat? 3 is realistic, but much more than that is fairly unlikely. Even in best case scenario (say, 5 uses), would you be willing to pay 5 mana for a spell that read “Add 5 Bananas to your hand; you can only play 1 Banana per turn”?

Verdict: Below Average

Mage Cards

The reigning queen of the Arena, the Mage is so strong in Arena because it has it all: solid minions, loads of single-target removals, and board clears galore. The Mage may not be the strongest class in Arena, but it is almost certainly the most consistent.

ethereal-conjurer — 5-mana 6/3 minion, Battlecry: Discover a spell.

While Mage spells are generally better than other class spells, we can still basically treat the Discover keyword as drawing a card on Ethereal Conjurer. In that case, Ethereal Conjurer is basically an azure-drake with a poorer distribution of stats and no Spell Damage. This card will occasionally produce a fireball lethal or flamestrike bailout, but don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s good.

Verdict: Bad

forgotten-torch — 3-mana spell, Deal 3 damage. Shuffle a ‘Roaring Torch’ into your deck that deals 6 damage.

Forgotten Torch explores some interesting design space in Hearthstone: it’s a card that’s functional when played, but it also shuffles an amazing card into your deck (the Roaring Torch costs 3 mana). While you will never draw that card in plenty of games, you will actually draw it a significant enough number of times to make it relevant. Tempo-efficient removal is huge in Arena, but the Roaring Torch will usually come later in the game, when the cheap cost is less important.

So, with the meaningful but inconsistent bonus of the Roaring Torch, is 3 damage for 3 mana playable in Mage? In Arena, a card like bash is perfectly functional because of the prevalence of 3-health minions on and prior to Turn 3. The Armor gain from Bash is not entirely insignificant in Arena, but it’s also not particularly important, either. The bigger problem here is that Mage has much better cheap removal in the form of frostbolt and flamecannon, both cards I would choose over Forgotten Torch, despite the promise of the Roaring Torch. In a deck with a lot of other removal options, Forgotten Torch is likely to be a worse card, but if you don’t happen to draft many other removal cards, it will do just fine.

Verdict: Average

animated-armor — 4-mana 4/4 minion, Your hero can only take 1 damage at a time.

Like with Jungle Moonkin, this card compares very closely with Ogre Magi: it’s a 4/4 for 4 mana that doesn’t have a very meaningful effect. Life gain is just not impactful enough in Arena to justify an under-statted card. Unless the Arena meta shifts significantly toward aggro, this is a worse Ogre Magi.

Verdict: Below Average

Paladin Cards

The new top of the Arena meta, the Paladin has risen above other classes based purely on the strength of its cards. The Paladin struggles when behind on the board, but it also has some of the best tools in the game to generate a board and keep it once it’s there.

keeper-of-uldaman — 4-mana 3/4 minion, Battlecry: Set a minion’s Attack and Health to 3.

One of my personal favorites from the new adventure, Keeper of Uldaman presents an interesting case. Unlike aldor-peacekeeper and humility, it does not neutralize a minion’s attack, but also unlike those cards, it affects a minion’s health. In many ways, then, it’s like a less good polymorph on a stick. Of course, the minion you target keeps its text, but that’s less of an issue in Arena, where there are plenty of vanilla or close to vanilla minions.

As cards like bomb-lobber have shown, removal on a stick is valuable to have in Arena. The stats on the stick don’t matter as much as the effect, and this one is very good, especially when you can target a big minion like a boulderfist-ogre or north-sea-kraken, something Paladin struggles with. Even targeting your opponent’s Turn 4 chillwind-yeti with your Turn 4 Keeper of Uldaman brings you out in front.

Another way to use Keeper of Uldaman is to allow one of your weaker minions to trade up. In that way, it acts like polymorph-boar, trading the flexibility of targeting your own minion for a very meaningful 3/4 body. In almost any other class, that would make an even better card, but Paladin already has lots of ways to utilize weaker minions, making this a little redundant in some ways. Keeper is still a very good card that you should be happy to see in your next Paladin draft.

Verdict: Great

sacred-trial — 1-mana Secret, When your opponent has at least 3 minions and plays another, destroy it.

As with Dart Trap, Sacred Trial presents a previously unseen Secret trigger. It will require some experimentation, but on first glance, it appears to be somewhat difficult to play around. There are many times when playing around mind-control-tech is a liability, and this is basically the same situation. The ways to play around it are similar to mirror-entity, which, even when played around, is still a decent Arena card. The effect here is definitely substantial, and unlike Keeper of Uldaman, it offers up an effect (destroy a minion) that Paladin doesn’t really have anywhere else in its arsenal. The very fact that it’s a Secret, which necessarily hand the reins over to your opponent, keeps it from being amazing, but Sacred Trial is still a good card.

Verdict: Good

anyfin-can-happen — 10-mana spell, Summon 7 Murlocs that died this game.

I know, I know: the murloc-knight dream. You play a couple of Murloc Knights, then trigger the Inspire effect a few times. If your opponent somehow deals with the board, you resurrect everything with Anyfin Can Happen. But it’s only a dream. Most Arena matches end with maybe 1 or 2 Murlocs being played, even in Paladin, so you will usually pay 10 mana for a puddlestomper. But hey, at least you’ll face a few less muster-for-battle after LoE releases!

Verdict: Terrible

Priest Cards

Despite a somewhat slow meta, the Priest currently suffers from too many situational cards and not enough early-game board control cards. If the Priest can manage to get on the board and stay on the board, though, its Hero Power becomes the best one in the game.

entomb — 6-mana spell, Choose an enemy minion. Shuffle into your deck.

A strictly better recycle, already an above average Arena card, the trick with Entomb is to figure out how much better it is than Recycle. Unfortunately for Priest players, the answer is “not much.” Recycle comes in a class with no common single-target hard removal, whereas Entomb appears for Priest, who already has shadow-word-pain and shadow-word-death. That said, the bonus of shuffling the chosen minion into your own deck, rather than your opponent’s deck, may never be meaningful, but when it is, it’s doubly meaningful, as you both never have to deal with that minion and get it for yourself. Like Forgotten Torch, it takes a perfectly acceptable Arena card and gives it a slight bonus by increasing the overall quality of your deck.

Verdict: Good

museum-curator — 2-mana 1/2 minion, Battlecry: Discover a Deathrattle card.

novice-engineer is a very slightly below average Arena card, and it provides a comparison point for both this card and the upcoming Jeweled Scarab. None of these cards are meant to be played on Turn 2, but playing them on Turn 2 is still better than just using your Hero Power. In the late game, when cheap cantrip cards like this are at their best, the extra health of the Museum Curator isn’t really relevant (it’s arguable whether it’s even relevant on Turn 2). The Discover here is also not much better than what you will get from your Arena draft, though as we saw with Raven Idol, it can produce more cards of higher rarity (imagine getting a sylvanas-windrunner from Museum Curator). All things told, we have a slightly better novice-engineer, or a perfectly average card.

Verdict: Average

excavated-evil — 5-mana spell, Deal 3 damage to all minions. Shuffle this card into your opponent’s deck.

This card had all the potential in the world if only the “all minions” just read ­“enemy minions.” Unfortunately, this is basically a higher-cost hellfire that also puts a copy of itself in your opponent’s deck. Hellfire is a pretty good card, though, since it allows Warlocks to catch up on the board, something they struggle with otherwise. Priests also struggle with comeback mechanisms, so Excavated Evil at least helps in that regard. I would not pick this card highly, but I also would not be upset to have one in my deck.

Verdict: Below Average

Rogue Cards

Offering up tons of flexibility, the Rogue has the strongest set of tempo-oriented cards in the game. Like the Hunter, a good Rogue deck in the right hands can feel almost impossible to beat.

pit-snake — 1-mana 2/1 Beast, Destroy any minion damaged by this minion.

In most cases, 1-mana 2/1 minions are bad without any effect (murloc-raider), below average with a mediocre effect (leper-gnome), and average with a solid effect (clockwork-gnome). There are only two really strong 1-mana 2/1 minions in the game: worgen-infiltrator and another Rogue card, buccaneer. In the former case, the Stealth allows you to control the damage it deals, making it basically arcane-shot or holy-smite. In the latter case, the extra damage on the weapon gives Rogues an additional early tempo boost and damage flexibility.

Pit Snake is interesting because its ability allows it to cover up one of the weaknesses of 2/1 minions: the fact that they get eaten up completely by 2/3 minions. In a sense, Pit Snake is a 3/1 or even 4/1 minion. As such, it can be very strong against non-ping classes, and even against ping classes, it will necessitate a Hero Power, setting your opponent back slightly on tempo. I would pretty much always take a Buccaneer over a Pit Snake, but Pit Snake will still be a solid card.

Verdict: Above Average

tomb-pillager — 4-mana 5/4 minion, Deathrattle: Add a Coin to your hand.

For Rogues, Tomb Pillager is basically just a lost-tallstrider with an upside. That upside is very impactful, though, especially with The Grand Tournament’s common-slot Combo cards like undercity-valiant and shado-pan-rider. The Coin you get from Tomb Pillager can serve both as mana acceleration and as a Combo activator. Interestingly, Tomb Pillager presents almost an anti-overload: instead of reducing your mana next turn, you increase it. Much better stats than cutpurse, and you don’t need to worry about constantly going face with it.

Verdict: Great

unearthed-raptor — 3-mana 3/4 minion, Battlecry: Choose a friendly minion. Gain a copy of its Deathrattle effect.

The 3-mana slot was not one that Rogue previously had strong cards in, but Unearthed Raptor changes that in a hurry. While it is a rare card, there won’t be many better Rogue rares (of course, there’s always dark-iron-skulker, which is hard to beat). In effect, Unearthed Raptor is a spider-tank with an upside, which we’ve seen already in dark-cultist makes for a pretty great card.

The upside may be slightly difficult to trigger (if you’ve ever played in Arena with lil-exorcist, you’ll recognize that Deathrattle effects are not incredibly common), but when you do trigger it, it will be very powerful. It becomes easier to trigger and more powerful when you recognize that many Deathrattle effects are ones that keep your opponent from killing the minion, such as haunted-creeper, harvest-golem, piloted-shredder and nerubian-egg. Turn 2 Harvest Golem with the Coin into Turn 3 Unearthed Raptor; Turn 2 Haunted Creeper or Nerubian Egg into Turn 3 Unearthed Raptor. These plays might not happen every game, but they will happen a reasonable amount of time, and when they do, they will win you the game.

Finally, this ability gives Unearthed Raptor late-game viability, something we’ve seen in the past making a lower-cost card fantastic for Arena. If arch-thief-rafaam didn’t exist, this would be my highest pick from the entire set.

Verdict: Excellent

Shaman Cards

The Shaman is easily the best class at creating massive swing turns in Arena, but its inconsistent drafts and reliance on RNG and Overload make it not a top choice for most Arena players.

rumbling-elemental — 4-mana 2/6 minion, After you play a Battlecry minion, deal 2 damage to a random enemy.

The stat distribution on Rumbling Elemental is very weak, comparing to cards like frigid-snobold and maiden-of-the-lake. The effect on Rumbling Elemental is obviously not as good as Maiden, so the closer comparison point is Frigid Snobold. Is 2 random damage from Battlecry minions a meaningful enough effect? As you’ve seen if you’ve played with crowd-favorite, most Arena decks have a pretty solid number of Battlecry minions, and Rumbling Elemental is likely to be able to survive a turn because of its high health. In Shaman, Battlecry minions are even more common, with two of the best class cards being fireguard-destroyer and fire-elemental. Rumbling Elemental, then, is somewhat likely to trigger its effect at least once, making it an ever so slightly better Snobold.

Verdict: Average

tunnel-trogg — 1-mana 1/3 minion, Whenever you Overload, gain +1 attack per locked Mana Crystal.

Shaman gets a mana-wyrm with Tunnel Trogg. Unfortunately, Overload interaction cards just don’t work very well in Arena because of draft inconsistencies. Tunnel Trogg is quite good if you have a couple copies of stormforged-axe or totem-golem as immediate follow-ups, but if you’re lacking early-game Overload cards, then the Trogg is nothing better than a warbot. I would still pick this over a warbot, but I would not pick it highly unless I already had synergy cards.

Verdict: Below Average (in most decks)

everyfin-is-awesome — 7-mana spell, Give your minions +2/+2. Costs (1) less for each Murloc you control.

Kudos to Blizzard for outdoing dark-wispers in the pun department, but this card just will not work in Arena. Much like its Paladin companion, Anyfin Can Happen, Everyfin is Awesome requires Murlocs to be particularly viable, and that’s not a synergy you can rely on in Arena. Everyfin is Awesome isn’t nearly as bad as Anyfin Can Happen because of its lower cost and more meaningful effect on the board, but it’s still just too much mana for not enough of an effect. If you have a large enough board to make this card meaningful, you’d pretty much always rather have a stormwind-champion or muklas-champion than this card.

Verdict: Bad

Warlock Cards

Never having to worry about card advantage is the clearest strength of the Warlock. Many of its cards are underpowered, but cheap AoE, cheating out massive Demons, and that Hero Power combine to make it a decent Arena class.

curse-of-rafaam — 2-mana spell, Give your opponent a ‘Cursed!’ card. While they hold it, they take 2 damage on their turn.

This spell definitely gives Anyfin Can Happen a run for its money in terms of terribleness. The Cursed! card that this gives your opponent costs 2 mana, so you are basically spending 2 mana for a Hunter Hero Power every turn until your opponent chooses to spend mana to remove the curse. If you cast this in the early game, good opponents will just leave the curse in their hand and be happy that you spent 2 mana and a card for some negligible face damage. If you cast this in the late game, your opponent will probably just ditch the curse right away. The fact that this comes in Warlock, a class that isn’t very good at winning the face game, makes it even worse.

Verdict: Terrible

dark-peddler — 2-mana 2/2 minion, Battlecry: Discover a 1-Cost card.

As we saw with Museum Curator, some Discover effects are not very different from just drawing a card, at least in Arena. However, when the Discover keyword specifies a card cost, that changes things significantly. In the case of Dark Peddler, there are two likely scenarios: playing him Turn 2 and taking the 1-Cost card to play later, potentially Turn 3; and playing him Turn 3 alongside the 1-Cost card. In the former case, you are playing an understatted minion, but 2/2 is not entirely terrible, especially if it is followed later by a 1-Cost card to potentially mop up 2/3 minions. In the latter case, you are often at bare minimum getting an activated defias-ringleader for 3 mana. There will even be times when you get a flame-imp, voidwalker, zombie-chow, or Worgen Infiltrator. Factor in soulfire and power-overwhelming, and Dark Peddler has a pretty solid ability for a 2-mana 2/2 minion.

Verdict: Above Average

reliquary-seeker — 1-mana 1/1 minion, Battlecry: If you have 6 other minions, gain +4/+4.

Unfortunately, Warlock kind of gets the shaft here, with 2 terrible cards out of 3 released in LoE. Reliquary Seeker is very unlikely to trigger in Arena, making it basically an angry-chicken with a presumably less fun attack sound. If you want to try to make it work, be my guest, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Verdict: Terrible

Warrior Cards

#ArenaWarriorsMatter exists for a reason: Warrior is by far and away the worst class in Arena right now. Its biggest strength is the large staple of weapons, but even those are heavily dependent on the draft.

fierce-monkey — 3-mana 3/4 Beast, Taunt

Hearthstone Senior Game Designer Ben Brode hinted that the new adventure would improve Warrior’s overall card quality, and this is certainly a step in the right direction. Fierce Monkey compares very favorably to spider-tank, itself a great card. The Beast tag in Warrior doesn’t matter at all, but the Taunt can actually be quite impactful on Turn 3, allowing you to protect your weaker Turn 1 and Turn 2 plays. I would still almost always take dark-cultist (and always take Unearthed Raptor) over Fierce Monkey, but only by a little bit.

Verdict: Excellent

obsidian-destroyer — 7-mana 7/7 minion, At the end of your turn, summon a 1/1 Scarab with Taunt.

Just like Fierce Monkey, Obsidian Destroyer will help make Warrior more viable in Arena. Obsidian Destroyer compares favorably to war-golem, functioning as a more flexible 8/8 for 7 mana. Also, like hogger, the Taunt minion it spawns can help protect it as a generator and just serves as an annoying minion that your opponent will have to spend resources to deal with. The likelihood that it lives to spawn multiple Scarabs is reasonably high, since your opponent will have to deal with the Scarab before dealing with the Destroyer, unless they’re holding removal. In a world where War Golem is below average or even average and Hogger is a good card, Obsidian Destroyer is definitely a great card.

Verdict: Great

cursed-blade — 1-mana 2/3 weapon, Double all damage dealt to your hero.

One of my favorite card designs in LoE, Cursed Blade is a huge risk-reward card. The risk is that hitting minions 3 times with that effect is likely to result in anywhere from 10 to 20 face damage, even ignoring any other sources of damage to your face during the time you have Cursed Blade equipped. The reward is a 1-mana version of a 3-mana Shaman card, stormforged-axe.

Because of the high-risk/high-reward nature of Cursed Blade, its usefulness will depend on the rest of your deck. If you happen to draft a lot of weapons, including at least 1 copy of fiery-war-axe or kings-defender, then Cursed Blade is likely a bad card, because it takes up your weapon slot and lowers your health enough to make your other weapons less playable. However, it can still be good in those decks, since its low mana cost means you don’t necessarily need to use all 3 durability. In a draft with few weapons, Cursed Blade will be one of the few ways your hero takes face damage, and combined with the Warrior Hero Power, that’s a trade-off you’re pretty much always willing to make for board control in the early game.

Verdict: Above Average (in most decks)

Neutral Commons

anubisath-sentinel — 5-mana 4/4 minion, Deathrattle: Give a random friendly minion +3/+3.

My first thought was that Anubisath Sentinel is a card we haven’t really seen the likes of in Hearthstone so far: a very powerful Deathrattle effect for a heavily understatted body. Upon second glance, though, is the Deathrattle effect really that good? While technically a 3-mana effect, it’s conditional on you having a minion already on your board. In that way, then, it’s closer to an avenge, because your opponent can also either play around it or attempt to trigger it on the minion most favorable for them.

Anubisath Sentinel will not be terrible, but the body is so easily killed, with so many highly-picked Arena cards dealing 4 damage. If you play Anubisath Sentinel and the Deathrattle has no effect, then you just anti-tempoed yourself potentially even out of the game. Win more cards are still acceptable in Arena, though, so this will almost always be at least a reasonable pick. If your deck is leaning toward zoo play styles already, then Anubisath Sentinel may even be a great pickup to help elevate one of your weaker threats into a big threat.

Verdict: Below Average (in most decks)

gorillabot-a-3 — 4-mana 3/4 Mech, Battlecry: If you control another Mech, Discover a Mech.

Gorillabot A-3 suffers from the same issue as Anubisath Sentinel: it’s a powerful effect, but it’s an effect you cannot really rely on triggering. Most Arena drafts have a few Mechs, but a few Mechs isn’t really enough to reliably be able to trigger an “If you control another Mech” effect. Compare this card to goblin-blastmage, an arguably just as good effect (a better arcane-missiles) with no sacrifice in stats for the exact same trigger.

In an already Mech-heavy deck, Gorillabot could even be a very good card, generating you more Mechs for additional Mech synergy. Mech synergy certainly isn’t impossible to pull off in Arena, but it’s also somewhat limited to classes with strong class Mechs, like Mage, Rogue, Druid, and Shaman. Don’t pick him early, but definitely consider Gorillabot if you already have a handful of Mechs.

Verdict: Below Average (in most decks)

fossilized-devilsaur — 8-mana 8/8 minion, Battlecry: If you control a Beast, gain Taunt.

Fossilized Devilsaur is basically an ironbark-protector that only sometimes has Taunt. Considering that Ironbark’s strength is the Taunt, since it basically forces your opponent into sacrificing their minions, Devilsaur is definitely not going to be a neutral Ironbark. In reality, it’s closer to a war-golem with a slight upside. The Beast condition is not very difficult to meet, but it’s also not particularly easy, either. druid-of-the-fang is not a good Arena card because it doesn’t trigger often enough to make it good. The same is true here, so you’ll often be stuck with an 8-mana 8/8 that your opponent can ignore and just go face.

Verdict: Below Average

jeweled-scarab — 2-mana 1/1 Beast, Battlecry: Discover a 3-Cost card.

As we saw with Dark Peddler, Discover effects with a cost attached to them present an interesting case. Unlike Dark Peddler, though, Jeweled Scarab doesn’t make sense to play on curve, making it closer to Museum Curator and its comparison point, novice-engineer. The Scarab is acceptable to play on curve, which would then generate a 3-drop for you to play the following turn, a definite bonus for the card. In the late game, though, when you are more likely to be playing Jeweled Scarab, the 3-Cost restriction is a downside, since most Arena mana curves average slightly higher than 3 (and the presence of a mulligan means your deck should average slightly higher still). Additionally, the upside of potentially drawing a big card from Novice Engineer more than offsets the downside of potentially drawing a bloodfen-raptor. In all, a fancier Novice Engineer is still basically a Novice Engineer at heart.

Verdict: Average

huge-toad — 2-mana 3/2 Beast, Deathrattle: Deal 1 damage to a random enemy.

2-mana minions that can be safely be played on Turn 2 are one of the staples of Arena. When you give those cards an upside, especially one that helps you control the board—see knife-juggler, flame-juggler, and boneguard-lieutenant—you have a great card.

Huge Toad is basically a stat-flopped Flame Juggler, but it’s actually both better and worse than Flame Juggler. One of the problems with Flame Juggler is that when your opponent has nothing on their board, Flame Juggler is just a river-crocolisk. Huge Toad is a much better play on an empty board, but it also can’t work miracles like killing your opponent’s worgen-infiltrator. Additionally, when you play Huge Toad onto a board with an enemy minion, your opponent will likely be able to trigger the Deathrattle effect themselves. Overall, then Huge Toad won’t be as good as Flame Juggler, but the Juggler is one of the best neutral 2-drops in the game, so that’s still not too bad.

Verdict: Great

murloc-tinyfin — 0-mana 1/1 Murloc

How do you feel about wisp in Arena? Because this card is a Wisp (see Anyfin Can Happen and Everyfin is Awesome). But hey, a subtle nerf to one of the most annoying cards in Arena to play against, murloc-knight!

Verdict: Terrible

tomb-spider — 4-mana 3/3 Beast, Battlecry: Discover a Beast.

Again, we’re left with a Discover keyword that basically amounts to drawing a card, since there’s the upside of being able to pick the card that currently best helps you and the downside of being restricted only to minions (the Beast tag doesn’t really matter here, except in Hunter and Druid). A 4-mana 3/3 cantrip minion is a reasonable card, nothing particularly special. In Hunter and Druid, the Beast tag makes an above average card.

Verdict: Average (for most classes)

Neutral Rares

ancient-shade — 4-mana 7/4 minion, Battlecry: Shuffle an ‘Ancient Curse’ into your deck that deals 7 damage to you when drawn.

Ancient Shade is a pretty cool card, but it’s also about the worst stat distribution this could reasonably have. salty-dog is a bad Arena card, and it would move up to average if it cost 4 mana. Here, though, the cheaper cost is offset by an ability that is actually pretty meaningful. Often in Arena, by mid-game, you’ll be in 20 health or so naturally, and by late game, you’ll be on 10 health or so naturally. If you randomly happen into a Fireball+ to your own face, you may well kill yourself or put yourself within easy lethal. I would love this card if it had the feugen stats, rather than the stalagg stats, but tragically, it’s basically a lost-tallstrider that hates you and your stupid face.

Verdict: Below Average

eerie-statue — 4-mana 7/7 minion, Can’t attack unless it’s the only minion in the battlefield.

Just like Reliquary Seeker above, Eerie Statue is almost impossible to make work. In Arena, there are always minions on the board. Even in the best case scenario, Eerie Statue is just a beatdown stick that you can only send at face, an anti-icehowl if you will. In a game mode dominated by board control and not face damage, this card is so bad.

Verdict: Terrible

summoning-stone — 5-mana 0/6 minion, Whenever you cast a spell, summon a random minion of the same Cost.

Yet another “hey, remember that Tavern Brawl?” card from LoE, Summoning Stone is a bit like lock-and-load in Arena: it could theoretically generate a bunch of cards at once, but it requires you to have spells to cast. In general, spells in Arena are pretty expensive, too, with premium spells generally costing 4 or more mana (e.g., consecration, swipe, and flamestrike). In essence, then, you could very well be paying 9 mana and 2 cards for a 4-mana spell and a random 4-mana minion. Not a good deal. You may be able to snowball games with Summoning Stone, but why not just use that card slot for something more reliable?

Verdict: Terrible

wobbling-runts — 6-mana 2/6 minion, Deathrattle: Summon three 2/2 Runts.

Oh man, I hope so badly that these guys have an animation and death sound of them toppling over. They’re so cute I have a hard time being objective about the Runts, but I really think this will be a good card. Compare this to savannah-highmane, one of the best Arena cards in the game: the mana cost is the same, and the Deathrattle effect generates yet another 2/2 token for you to have to deal with (almost like a silver-hand-knight popping out). The stats are obviously much worse, but as you can see with kodo-rider, poor stats on a card that generates more bodies doesn’t make that card bad. This will be less of a threat than Highmane (and less good as a result), but it will be equally annoying. I initially had a verdict of “Good,” but I’ve (possibly foolishly) talked myself into a verdict of…

Verdict: Great

Neutral Epics

djinni-of-zephyrs — 5-mana 4/6 minion, Whenever you cast a spell on another friendly minion, cast a copy of it on this one.

5-mana 4/6 stats are perfectly functional in Arena, and this ability is a doozy. In Paladin, you get double seal-of-champions or blessing-of-kings. In Priest, you get double velens-chosen or power-word-shield. Even classes with fewer premium buffs like Druid and Warlock can get utility out of the Djinni (imagining the power-overwhelming burst makes me happy).

In some classes, like Mage and Shaman, the Djinni won’t be much better than a spiteful-smith, spellslinger shenanigans aside. For buff-heavy classes, though, Djinni of Zephyrs is a fantastic card that splits your threats up, making them harder to deal with, and generates massive card advantage.

Verdict: Great (for some classes), Average (for others)

naga-sea-witch — 5-mana 5/5 minion, Your cards cost (5).

I absolutely cannot wait to see someone play this card against me, thinking it’s a good card. As I mentioned with Jeweled Scarab, most Arena decks average somewhere between 3 and 4 mana. Most Arena decks only have a handful of cards that cost 6+ mana. So, in the best case scenario, you manage to get the Naga Sea Witch and a north-sea-kraken out for 10 mana, but in the much more likely scenario, you just made all your 2-drops cost 3 mana more. It’s a venture-co-mercenary without all the stats to back that up.

Verdict: Terrible

Neutral Legendaries

arch-thief-rafaam — 9-mana 7/8 minion, Battlecry: Discover a powerful Artifact.

There are 3 Artifacts that Arch-Thief Rafaam can Discover, and all of them are spells that cost 10 mana: +10/+10 minion buff, fill your board with 3/3 Mummy Zombies, and deal 10 damage split randomly between all enemies.

Spoiler alert: Arch-Thief Rafaam is one of only 3 cards I have rated as Excellent, the other 2 being Unearthed Raptor and Fierce Monkey. The reason is that, like nefarian, he provides a meaningful body (in the BGH-less world of Arena) and card draw that can help you finish out the game. Unlike Nefarian, you are guaranteed to get a very powerful card (even the super avenging-wrath, which is over-costed for 10 mana, is pretty darn great), and you can pick the best card for the current situation.

The legendary rarity slot is one place to pick up a finisher, and Arch-Thief Rafaam will be up there with many of the best of them. I, for one, can’t wait to draft Rafaam and get some Mummy Zombies a-shamblin’.

Verdict: Excellent

brann-bronzebeard — 3-mana 2/4 minion, Your Battlecries trigger twice.

Brann Bronzebeard is very hit-or-miss: you could double several Battlecries, or you could basically be playing a 3-mana 2/4 minion. Thankfully, LoE introduces a ton of Battlecries, and Arena matches are already pretty heavy on Battlecries. It’s also fun that, unlike Rumbling Elemental, Brann’s effect is not tied only to Battlecry minions, so your glaivezooka can buff a minion twice. Brann is also costed in a way that allows you to play him and at least one Battlecry card, guaranteed at least one double Battlecry.

On the downside, when you target a Battlecry, such as with a fire-elemental, Brann targets the same thing again. Also, his generally poor stats mean that you will need to get utility out of him the same turn you play him, because he almost certainly will not survive. Finally, while you will have at least a handful of Battlecries in your deck, very few common cards (and even rare cards) have particularly impactful Battlecry effects, especially in terms of board control.

If Brann Bronzebeard were not in the legendary slot, he would be a pretty good card, but his placement in the legendary slot means he’ll be matched up against some very powerful cards, and there, he just doesn’t measure up.

Verdict: Average

elise-starseeker — 4-mana 3/5 minion, Battlecry: Shuffle the ‘Map to the Golden Monkey’ into your deck.

The flashiest card in LoE, Elise Starseeker suffers from the same fate as Brann: as a neutral common minion, she would be facing much lower competition, and she would be basically a refreshment-vendor with a potentially game-winning upside. However, in the legendary slot, she’ll be matched against tons of powerful cards that absolutely dwarf her ability.

In general, the reliability of getting both the Map and the Golden Monkey and the time to start taking advantage of the Golden Monkey’s effect is simply too low, even in Arena. A 4-mana 3/5 body may not be bad, but it’s not particularly good either, and she could even be worse than other 4-mana 3/5 minions if you draw the Map but don’t have the wiggle room to spend the 2 mana it costs to cast the Map.

Verdict: Below Average

reno-jackson — 6-mana 4/6 minion, Battlecry: If your deck contains no more than 1 of any card, fully heal your hero.

In order to evaluate Reno Jackson, we first have to determine how often his effect can trigger. His body is obviously terrible for his cost, but the effect is a free tree-of-life for only yourself. Surprisingly, his ability isn’t that hard to trigger. I looked back at my last 20 or so Arena runs, and I found that on average, my Arena decks have about 3 duplicate cards, ranging anywhere from 0 up to 7. I had quite a few Arena runs with only 1 duplicate card, and if I managed to draw either copy of that duplicate prior to playing Reno Jackson, his ability would trigger.

That said, the full hero heal will often not matter enough in Arena to make him worthwhile. It’s a Catch-22: Arena is the much more likely game mode for triggering Reno Jackson, but it’s also the game mode where hero health doesn’t matter much at all. For Warlocks and Rogues, he should be an interesting choice in a deck without more reliable healing, but most other classes should pretty much always go for a stronger body.

Verdict: Bad (for most classes)

sir-finley-mrrgglton — 1-mana 1/3 Murloc, Battlecry: Discover a new Basic Hero Power.

My single biggest disappointment with League of Explorers is that this card exists and it is a legendary. As a neutral common, this card could have had an impact on the Arena meta, giving every class the ability to quickly upgrade to premium Hero Powers like the Mage and Paladin Hero Powers.

As it is, this card is fun, but the competition in the legendary slot is too intense, and Sir Finley is only good for classes with poor Arena Hero Powers (like Warrior). Most Arena decks are at least somewhat crafted with the Hero Power in mind, too, so playing Sir Finely may not even be an upgrade.

Verdict: Bad (for most classes)

LoE and the New Arena Meta

So, how will these 45 cards affect the Arena meta? First, let’s start with the classes and see which classes will get better with LoE and which classes will get worse. Of course, while larger than previous adventures, the card pool in LoE is still smaller than a stand-alone expansion, so the overall effect is not going to be massive in the way that it was with The Grand Tournament (TGT).

There are two clear winners here: Rogue and Warrior. Rogue will get an Above Average card, a Great card, and an Excellent card. Thankfully for Arena balance, the Excellent card is a rare, but even Tomb Pillager will make the Rogue a more consistent class, allowing for mana acceleration and more consistent Combo effects without sacrificing any stats. Additionally, the Rogue plays the tempo game better than anyone else, and as we’ll see shortly, the tempo game will only become more important in the LoE Arena meta.

It’s hard to declare the Warrior a winner, because it will still likely be the worst Arena class after LoE, but the Warrior still gets some of the best class cards in the adventure. Fierce Monkey is a fantastic early game tool in a class lacking those, and Obsidian Destroyer adds a very solid late game class minion that simply outshines most neutral minions in the game. LoE is not going to catapult the Warrior to the top of the heap, but it is a definite step on the long road to making the Warrior viable in Arena.

The three biggest losers here are Warlock, followed by Hunter, followed by Shaman. All 3 classes were in a bit of a rough spot in the TGT meta, and all 3 will get some generally bad cards. I personally really enjoy playing the Warlock, especially in a zoo style, but Gul’dan got two really terrible cards, something that makes me less excited to call his name after LoE comes out.

Druid won’t get significantly better or worse (though it will continue its trend of getting less heavy), and Mage should stay roughly the same, too, perhaps even ticking down a bit. Unfortunately for players who play a lot of Arena, the 2 Paladin common cards are both good cards, so the current meta-defining class will stay on top of the pile.

Like Paladin, the Priest also gets some solid cards. Unfortunately, none of those cards help with the Priest’s biggest problem, early game board control. In fact, as we saw with TGT, diluting cards like shrinkmeister with cards that don’t help Priest get on the board will only hurt it in the long run.

That leads me to how the introduction of these cards will affect the overall meta. It’s striking that LoE won’t introduce any new Inspire minions. Additionally, aside from a handful of cards (Mounted Raptor, Cursed Blade, Unearthed Raptor, Huge Toad, and, arguably, Pit Snake), LoE won’t introduce early game board control cards. What it will do is add a bunch of card draw engines into the game with the Discover mechanic.

Ultimately, then, I don’t expect LoE to change the Arena class tiers significantly, since the classes that are currently good are good largely because they have tools for controlling the board in the early game, and the classes that are currently bad are bad because they don’t have those tools or they aren’t consistent enough.

I do, however, expect LoE to slightly change the pace of the game. With so many new card draw cards, decks will have more card draw than they did prior to LoE. While most people would see that and assume that the meta will be slower, I actually think it will stay roughly the same or even get slightly faster. When a deck has more card draw, that means that any individual card within that deck can afford to be weaker, so we should see slightly faster decks as a whole. Slower decks will continue to do fairly well, though, and they will have additional attrition options with all the new card draw cards. The lack of Inspire minions here, though, do hold back the meta from slowing down significantly.

Whatever the pace of game change is, tempo will be more important than ever after the release of LoE. Card draw cards are often very bad in Arena if you have not been playing the tempo game: even a great card like azure-drake is pretty bad when your opponent out-tempos you. With more card draw present in all decks, heavy tempo decks with little card draw will be even better able to punish slower decks. The way for value-oriented decks to combat tempo-oriented decks is by playing tempo-oriented cards back at them in order to survive long enough for the tempo-oriented deck to run out of steam. The introduction of a lot of value-oriented cards in LoE means that value-oriented decks will have fewer high-tempo tools to keep them in the game, and tempo-oriented decks will have more tools to keep them from running out steam.

Ultimately, though, not only are we only getting 45 new cards, we’re also not getting any game-changing neutral commons like north-sea-kraken. The lower proportion of heavy cards in LoE compared to TGT and the high percentage of card draw cards means that we’ll have a slightly faster meta, but that uptick in speed is likely to be only slightly noticeable. Of course, all this depends pretty significantly on the offering rates: if Blizzard ups the offering rates for LoE and brings the TGT cards back to a normal offering rate, then the uptick in speed will be more significant.

Closing

I am really looking forward to the release of LoE for one big reason: the Discover keyword will reward good Arena players who can quickly evaluate cards. With the presence of online drafting tools, Arena has become more accessible than it was at the launch of Hearthstone, but players won’t have time to consult online drafting tools and tier lists when choosing between Discover cards. Additionally, players will have to think not just about the strength of a card but how it fits into their plans for their current turn and even 2 or 3 turns in the future.

That’s the kind of thinking good Arena players do all the time, so Discover will feel very natural for those players. While some previous card pools introduced cards that made leveled the playing field between good and bad Arena players, LoE as a whole should help skill in Arena win out more often over luck. If you’re here, reading 8,000 words about these new cards in Arena, then you clearly care enough about Arena to at least be striving to be good, so you should be excited, too.

What do you think of the new cards, either individually or as a whole? Which ones do you think I got completely wrong? Weigh in on the new adventure in the comments below.