The dust has settled on One Night in Karazhan. Pro players have the full set to play with, and implications on the meta are just now coming into view. As is tradition, there are a number of cards that we disparaged before release that turn out to be… better than we imagined. Hearthstone is a consistently humbling game. We thought Yogg-Saron was going to be bad and Troggzor was going to be good.
I’m glad this is the case, because it means that after seven expansions, Blizzard still has the capacity to surprise us. Let’s go take a look at our mistakes.
People were tremendously down on Priest as a whole coming into Karazhan, and that can be entirely blamed on the underwhelming Purify. But the memes may have caused us to overlook Onyx Bishop, which has proven to be a standout in Control Priest. Resurrect is a decent mechanic, but it didn’t see much play in its two-mana spell incarnation back in Blackrock Mountain. But when it’s attached it to a body you can play on curve it gets a lot better. You no longer have to have a Circle of Healing or spare mana for a hero power to get value out of your Injured Blademaster. Just recast it with full health on turn five. Priest is still far from competitive, but the Bishop is a step in the right direction.
It’s still really early, but I think Swashburgler is finding a home as an early drop for tempo-oriented Rogue decks. People were a little down coming in, because I think they were trying to fit it into an Ethereal Peddler deck that doesn’t quite have all the pieces yet. However, it’s hard to sneeze at a one-mana minion that draws you a potentially useful card. Obviously as Rogue gets more tempo pieces (and moves away from its Oil/Miracle roots) it’ll get better, but right now they’ve basically got a Webspinner. Not bad!
Maelstrom Portal was the one portal card I didn’t have much hope for. It’s an Arcane Explosion plus a one-drop. If Arcane Explosion doesn’t get play in Tempo Mage, why would an added shot at a 1/2 or 2/1 change anything? Apparently it does, because Maelstrom Portal has shown up in practically every Aggro Shaman deck on ladder. I think that’s mostly to do with the ease in which Shamans can get spell damage from their hero power. Board clears that don’t damage face are generally a no-no in fast archetypes, but Shaman’s tools are priced aggressively enough to make them work.
The Curator is a niche card that, at first glance, doesn’t seem to have the utility to be truly useful. It’s found a cozy home in Beast Druid, however. Right now Beast Druids are running Azure Drakes and Sir Finley to complement the Stranglethorn Tigers and Enchanted Ravens, which means they can reliably pull at least two minions when Curator hits the board. A seven mana 4/6 with taunt that draws two cards is absolutely good enough to make the cut—we learned that back when Ancient of Lore was at full power.
Medivh, The Guardian
I was super high on Medivh. I thought he’d serve as a perfect finisher in things like Renolock and a prospective Control Mage, but I probably overvalued him just like I overvalued Varian Wrynn back in The Grand Tournament. I think Medivh will shine someday, but it will happen when the format is a little slower and full of some more good, high-cost spells.