In just two days the first of four wings in League of Explorers will be released as part of Hearthstone’s fourth content expansion in less than 12 months, taking the total number of cards in the game to more than 700.
Ahead of the arrival of the 45 new cards, we poured through the set to find the ten cards that are most interesting, meta-shifting, or game-breaking.
Keeper of Uldaman
It’s not too often in these newer expansions that we get a card that, potentially, could easily replace a staple from the basic set. With Keeper of Uldaman, however, that could be a possibility, and the humble Aldor Peacekeeper could see his days numbered. In aggressive Paladin decks this could be a replacement for both Aldor and Equality, while also having the dual role of buffing up your Silver Hand Recruits as a tempo play. Look for this to make an immediate impact in Midrange Paladin.
It ain’t cool or flashy, but this is a card with insane value potential. Sure the initial three damage is overcosted, but in certain decks the three mana Fireball replacement that comes after will be invaluable. Freeze Mage will try and make use of this straight away, as it opens up removal opportunities in the early game without using up crucial game-ending burn.
Creating new traps is always a difficult balancing act, as adding an extra possibility for players to have to play around is a benefit in and of itself. With Dart Trap, playing around the unseen Hunter secret is completely changed. Want to test it on an empty board? Well that’s five damage to your face, good luck with that!
Hunter is doing pretty well in this expansion. Desert Camel is a solid three drop that will likely perform a heck of a lot better than Hungry Dragon, a Blackrock Mountain card that many players had high hopes for. Crucially if your opponent doesn’t have any one-drops in their deck, this card does nothing for them, and in Hunter you will almost always have a one-drop yourself. Of course cards like Webspinner and Leper Gnome are great for this, but the synergy getting everyone hyped right now is Injured Kvaldir. Two 2/4 minions on turn three? Value overload.
This card requires you to track the cards left in your deck, but if you can do that it’s super powerful. Cards like Tree of Life have seen play it Fatigue decks, but removing the drawback of healing your opponent makes it hugely powerful in control style play. That’s what you get from Reno Jackson, which could replace Healbot in decks like Echo and Freeze Mage. Of course, the obvious problem is a real one: Sometimes you will have two copies of a card right at the bottom of your deck. But expect to see a lot of players try this out in the days following its release.
There’s been a ton of water dumped on Explorer’s Hat, which is not entirely unwarranted. +1/+1 on a minion is a super insignificant buff, and getting the card dumped back into your hand as a deathrattle doesn’t move the needle too much. I do, however, think Explorer’s Hat could be good if we shift everything we know about Hunter as a class. The erstwhile “Control Hunter” has never existed because its hero power demands an aggressive style of play. Now, however, they have a self-replicating two mana spell that encourages a much slower, board-oriented philosophy. Explorer’s Hat doesn’t have a dramatic effect, but since it’s going to be constantly in your hand, you might able to build an entire deck around it. It’s simply a better way to spend two mana than the Hunter hero power if you’re trying to grind out victories, and that’s exciting!
Baron Rivendare is a powerful card, but it was hard to use because a deathrattle-centric effect requires a developed board (and stuff to trade into). Brann Bronzebeard, on the other hand, is priced more aggressively than Rivendare and allows you to trigger battlecries twice. This could be as simple as getting double buffs from Abusive Sergeant, or as game-changing as eight Murlocs with Neptulon (an actual potential combo on turn 10!). Battlecries are immediate, which means you’ll get value out of Bronzebeard no matter what. This is one of those cards that I absolutely think will give rise to a whole subgenre of combo decks, and will never totally go away. From here on out every time Blizzard prints a minion with battlecry, Brann Bronzebeard will get a little more interesting.
Everyfin is Awesome
How much does an effect that gives all your minions +2/+2 need to cost in order to be great? Maybe four mana? Three mana? Unlike Bloodlust, Everyfin is Awesome buffs everything on your board permanently, but it’s saddled with a gaudy 7-mana cost. However you can discount that by one for every Murloc you have on your side of the battlefield. Live the dream and get seven murlocs out? All of a sudden you live the dream and can play Everyfin is Awesome for free. That’s… obviously unlikely, but the cheapness of Murloc cards means you could reliably have, say, at least three on board. Suddenly Everyfin is only four mana. Pretty reasonable right? Murloc decks have been mostly MIA since vanilla Hearthstone, but I really do think this spell might be good enough to bring them back, at least in some capacity.
Naga Sea Witch
This is a super interesting card. It’s a five mana 5/5, which is Loatheb/Dragon Consort status, and it comes with a dramatic, potentially detrimental effect. Drop your Sea Witch and everything in your hand costs five mana. What does that mean? Well, let’s say you play Naga Sea Witch on turn 10, now you can play any card you want, no matter the cost, on the same turn. You can play Naga Sea Witch and Ysera, or Varian Wrynn, or Dr. Boom. That seems pretty strong. There’s also the chance you totally chortle your hand with an unwieldy curve, but I feel like this thing will worm its way into some exotic combo decks.
Will this work? I don’t know. Maybe not. Having a board of six or more guys is pretty hard to establish, and if you do manage to cultivate something like that, you’re probably going to win the game anyway. This is a Warlock card, however, and as long as Imp Gang Boss and Imp-losion are staples in Zoo, I think Reliquary Seeker might have a shot. I mean, it’s only one mana. Paying one mana for a 5/5 is so ridiculously powerful and game-winning that I think people will at least give it a shot.
Images via Blizzard