TGT First Impressions: Underrated and Overrated Cards

Today is the third day after the TGT release and I’ve already played around with a lot of different decks. We’ve posted a lot of TGT predictions before – which cards are gonna work? Which will suck? New auto-includes, cards that no one is ever gonna play… But predictions are pretty tricky and a lot of […]

Introduction

Today is the third day after the TGT release and I’ve already played around with a lot of different decks. We’ve posted a lot of TGT predictions before – which cards are gonna work? Which will suck? New auto-includes, cards that no one is ever gonna play… But predictions are pretty tricky and a lot of us were wrong.

In this article I want to talk about 5 cards that were underrated and 5 that were overrated. Mind you, this list is based only on the first impressions – some cards may join either side or leave it after they are thoroughly tested. In case a lot of things change, I’ll make another one when the meta becomes more stable.

Also, I know that some people predicted the strength of those cards correctly. I’m mostly talking about our (HSP) predictions, but a lot of our guesses were similar to the majority.

Underrated cards

5. Argent Horserider

The first card on my list is Argent Horserider. And while it didn’t receive too many negative opinions – people were mostly like “meh” or “average” – a 2/1 for 3 mana? But as it turned out, it’s crazy strong in aggressive decks. Right now I’ve tried it only in Aggro Paladin and Face Hunter, but in both of those decks it’s wonderful. The direct comparison here is a Wolfrider – 1 more attack against the Divine Shield. I’ll take Divine Shield any day. It can’t be pinged that easily, it can trade for another small drop and still survive, it’s GREAT buff target – with Blessing of Might you get a 5/1 Charge with Divine Shield for 4 mana. That’s pretty crazy. Not to mention that it plays around the AoE much better – your board is much more sticky and even if enemy AoE’s, you still have something to swing with next turn.

I think that Argent Horserider is gonna mostly push out Wolfriders. I actually run it instead of Arcane Golem in Aggro Paladin and I really enjoy the change.

4. Wyrmrest Agent

I’ve seen a lot of people saying that this card is not gonna be good, telling that having a Dragon on t2 is really situational, that 1/4 really sucks if you don’t have it, that it trades 1 for 1 with 2/3’s or Shielded Minibot etc. But I think the card turned out really good, being the base of the new Dragon Priest deck along with the Twilight Guardian .

2/4 with Taunt on turn 2 is really strong. Not only against Aggro decks – even slower decks usually don’t have a way to deal 4 damage so early (all the early removals deal 3 damage). The high health on this guy is also great because of the Priest Hero Power. If enemy doesn’t kill it in one turn, Priest can just heal it back and make some great trades.

Against slower decks, you don’t have to play it on t2 if you don’t have a Dragon (but it’s quite likely that you actually have one – a new Dragon Priest runs a lot of them!). And against faster decks, even 1/4 for 2 is not that bad (as the Armorsmith has proven), because it trades well against 1-drops.

This card is how Silverback Patriarch should look. For 1 less mana. I think no one really expected that Dragon Priest is gonna be that strong and this card is one of the reasons.

3. Thunder Bluff Valiant

Totem Shaman was one of the first TGT predictions, but a lot of people were hesitant to call Thunder Bluff Valiant a great card. 3/6 statline for 5 mana is not really good and the effect is on Inspire – it means that to get the full value it needs to survive or you have to play it on turn 7+. While both of those are true, the 6 health on your 5-drop makes it pretty hard to remove, since as a Shaman you try to control the board no matter what. You don’t care that much about the 3 attack, because you play it mostly for the effect. And if it survives, well, that’s a lot of value. Shaman consistently has at least 1 or 2 totems on the board and the Inspire effect applies AFTER you use the Hero Power, so the newly created one also gets affected.

The card can be game-winning by itself. If this guy sticks on the board, Shaman gets so much value. Enemy can’t really play anything, because it gets removed for free… by the buffed totems. If you combine it with the Flametongue Totem, your totems can easily contest enemy mid game drops. Not to mention that it allows you to push for a lot of damage – even 2 additional damage per turn can’t be underestimated, and this guy consistently gives you 4 or 6 damage.

Also, the great thing about him is that he doesn’t really play into enemy removals. Since you can get so much value without actually having to play many more cards, enemy might be forced to AoE the board full of totems you actually got for free from your Hero Power.

2. Justicar Trueheart

“Too slow”, people have said. “6/3 stats suck for a 6-drop”, people said. Sure, both of those points are pretty valid. But once you get this girl rolling (or rather the new Hero Power rolling), the value you get is huge. People have predicted that it’s gonna work in Control Warrior – getting more Armor is never wasted, is great against Aggro, has nice synergy with Shield Slam etc. But it turned out to be working well in more classes. Druid for example, the difference between 1 and 2 attack is big, and getting 2 Armor per turn means you basically get the standard Warrior Hero Power, which is great against Hunters, Freeze Mages and a few other things. It also works quite nicely in Priest – healing for 4 is great against Aggro (between this, healing from other spells and Taunts, it’s really hard to finish off the Priest) and against slower decks, healing your minions for 4 is also big. Your minions can trade much better and stick into the board after clearing enemy big drops. You can also play Injured Blademaster and just heal it to full without Circle of Healing. Value! And last, but not least – Paladin. Two Silver Hand Recruits per turn is like a dream. Your Hero Power by itself becomes a real threat enemy has to deal with. You can even outrgrind Control decks thanks to the value your Hero Power gets! Not to mention that using Quartermaster is much easier. Getting him out on 3-4 Recruits is now pretty easy even without the Muster for Battle.

The 6/3 body is usually taken down really easily, but the effect itself is good enough that you don’t really care about the body. And to be fair, if enemy doesn’t have any small minions on the board, 6/3 might actually trade for something bigger. I’ve killed quite a lot of 5-drops with it.

Yes, Justicar is pretty bad in some classes. Warlock and Rogue got the short end of the stick. It also seems underwhelming in Hunter (making your Hero Power only 50% stronger instead of 100%) and Shaman. Not sure about Mage, but it might actually be decent in certain Mage decks. I’ll have to test it before giving a verdict. But still, I don’t think a lot of people expecting it being strong in at least 4 classes.

1. Murloc Knight

And here we have the winner! Murloc Knight seemed like a gimmicky card at the start. I mean, Murloc Paladin? Who is gonna play a deck like that? But a lot of people forgot that the tribe isn’t important here. Murloc Knight is a 4-drop that ABSOLUTELY has to be removed or he can snowball the game. Yes, the random Murloc is usually pretty small. On average, you’re gonna get something between 2/1 and 3/2 or 2/3. But that’s way more than enough to get a lot of value. Let’s say getting a 3/4 + 2/3 + 1/1 for 6 mana (1 card) is actually good – that’s 6/8 of stats in 3 bodies – and the 3/4 has to be removed or it’s gonna get more value. And we aren’t even talking about the best outcome. If you get a Siltfin Spiritwalker, enemy is gonna have a really hard decision. Killing Murloc Knight gives you a card. Leaving it gives you more value. Old Murk-Eye or even Bluegill Warrior might instantly charge into something, either killing it or just damaging your enemy. Murloc Warleader buffs your Knight to 5/5 + it also buffs any future Murlocs you’re gonna get. And there is a 1 in 12 chance that you’re gonna get another Murloc Knight. Double the value, double the fun. Card is great and has quickly found its place in Midrange/Flood Paladin. I haven’t played a lot with it yet, but it has already won me couple of the games by just sticking into the board and giving 2-3 minions for free.

Pushing the Hero Power was never so fun as Paladin with both Justicar and Murloc Knight.

P.S. For some reason, I really like the art on this card! Especially the golden version.

Overrated cards

5. Ram Wrangler

A lot of people were hyped for this card. Including me, to be honest. But after playing around with it a bit, it was really underwhelming. I’ve heard a lot of other opinions saying the same. People trying the Beast Hunter were actually cutting it because it was too unreliable.

So, what went wrong? The card isn’t bad, it might get a lot of value. But it’s not solid enough. First of all – you need a beast on the board, so it’s not a reliable 5-drop. When people realize you’re playing some sort of Beast Hunter, they’ll obviously kill all your beasts when they hit the board. Ram Wrangler being only one of the reasons, Houndmaster and Kill Command being other ones. They might even expect some different synergies, like the new Stablemaster.

To play it, you often need to combo it with a small beast on the same turn. Webspinner seems like the most obvious choice, but you rarely have one in your hand on turn 6. And even then, you often prefer to just play Savannah Highmane on 6 instead of counting on the RNG. Ram Wrangler was usually sitting dead into my hand because either I didn’t have anything to combo it with or I had to do other things in the mid game and I didn’t have enough mana left (playing Unleash the Hounds, clearing enemy board with removals etc.). I rarely had an opportunity to play him until the late game, and in the late game, the average outcome isn’t that impressive anymore.

And the second problem – RNG. Often you face the board when you just NEED a solid drop or you’re gonna lose. Playing Ram Wrangler is really risky – yes, you might get the Highmane or King Krush, but you might as well get the Captain’s Parrot or Timber Wolf. If you want a reliable 5-drop, you’d rather just have a Loatheb or Sludge Belcher instead of him. This way you know what you’re playing – you can plan your turn out. With the random outcome, you can’t plan anything. You just pray that you get something good.

Out of all the games I’ve played with him in my deck, he won me the game only once with spawning a Gahz’rilla on t5. So yeah, if you play the Beast Hunter and you’re feeling lucky – you can try him out. But I don’t really recommend him.

4. Wrathguard

While the opinions about Wrathguard were pretty mixed, here at HSP we all thought it’s gonna be great. I mean, 4/3 for 2 mana – why not? Taking 3 damage back is also not that bad. It’s nothing for the aggressive Zoo deck. The problem with him is that he’s often just a Flame Imp for 1 more mana. If the stats were reversed – 3/4, he would be completely overpowered. But the 3 health is just enough to be in range of other early drops and early removals.

Another problem is that while getting the 3 damage early is not bad, you often don’t even want to play him in the later turns. Obviously you have to – but you’re risking a lot. If enemy has a big minion on the board, like let’s say Dr. Boom, he can remove your minion while hitting you for 7 into the face. And it really hurts.

Wrathguard is definitely not bad. He’s good against enemy 2/3’s (like Mechwarper) and if left unchecked, can push for a lot of damage. But him often being just a 2 mana Flame Imp or backfiring in the late game make the card not exactly as good as we’ve expected.

To be fair, I’m judging it based on the Zoo performance. Maybe there is a way to build an aggressive deck that actually wants to damage itself and play Molten Giants for big tempo swings in the mid/late game (just like the standard Zoo plays Sea Giant). I didn’t have an opportunity to test deck like that yet, so I might be wrong about Wrathguard if something like that turns out to be good.

3. Eydis Darkbane/Fjola Lightbane

The Valkyrie Sisters – Eydis Darkbane and Fjola Lightbane. When they were showcased, there was a lot of hype around them. Low cost, strong legendaries. Good vanilla stats with additional effects. What can possibly be wrong with them?

The answer is – nothing. It’s not that that pair of cards is weak. It’s just that you need to play a deck with a lot of buffs for them to be good – and buffs are tricky. First of all, actually not a lot of classes can take advantage of their effects. Realistically, only Paladin and Priest have enough small spells you want to target your own minions with. Theoretically Druid and Shaman are another candidates. Druid Mark of the Wild and Mark of Nature, but since the second one sucks, I don’t think one good buff is enough. Shaman has Ancestral Healing, Rockbiter Weapon, Ancestral Spirit and Windfury, but only Rockbiter is commonly used and the other ones don’t even have good synergy with the sisters.

So, let’s get back to the classes that can actually use them. Paladin! Blessing of Might, Blessing of Wisdom, Hand of Protection, Seal of Champions, Blessing of Kings. Well… Most of those don’t really suit the Midrange. So maybe Aggro? Yeah, it can actually work in the Aggro. Some of those buffs could be good in Aggro. The problem is that they don’t have the Charge. You have to either rely on them surviving a turn (which is quite unlikely, because if enemy sees them they are just gonna kill them and not risk crazy combos) or you have to play the buffs on the same turn (e.g. Fjola + Blessing of Might) on turn 4. But then you risk getting no value from your buff because enemy can just remove it before you can attack. Blessing of Kings is especially tricky – it puts them into the Big Game Hunter range. 7/8 with Divine Shield might seem great, but when it can just get BGH’d, you’re losing so much tempo that the risk might not be worth.

So, Priest. And I have to say that – they actually can work in Priest! But the problem is that you don’t really need them. 3 mana slot is really crowded in Priest. Dark Cultist, Injured Blademaster, Deathlord, Velen’s Chosen, Shadow Word: Death, Thoughtsteal… Obviously Priests don’t run all those at the same time – they already have to make cuts to fit some of them. And what do they accomplish? Yes, in best case scenario you can Coin out Fjola on turn 2 and Velen’s Chosen her on turn 3. You’re getting 5/8 with Divine Shield. But doing the same combo on Dark Cultist is comparable – you lose the Divine Shield, but when it dies your other minion gets buffed. In the early game when Divine Shield can be taken down by a 1-drop or ping, +3 health on something might be even stronger. And Eydis doesn’t really fit the Priest – yes, it might be good if it hits the minion, but random damage is pretty unreliable and hitting the face is often completely pointless so early in the game when you’re fighting for board control.

Both cards are very strong, but I think they were overhyped. Unless we find some crazy deck to put them into, they are gonna be good, but not as great as some people thought.

2. Lock and Load

One of the most hyped cards from the first TGT reveal stream. Maybe Hunter is gonna get a way to play slow, control game? Maybe the current aggressive archetypes that want to go face will go away? Well… I don’t think so. Unless someone creates a perfect deck around Lock and Load, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

The thing is – yes, the card can get a lot of value. But you have to build pretty much your whole deck around it. You need to play at least 3 or 4 spells with it to make it worth – you can’t just put it into a standard deck. Such a spell-heavy Hunter deck is really slow and reactive. And the problem is that Hunter spells aren’t THAT slow and reactive. Yes, the traps can slow the game down. Yes, Hunter’s Mark and Unleash the Hounds can clear the board. But besides that, a lot of Hunter turns are just Hero Power + pass, because they can’t do anything else or they don’t want to waste the spells without Lock and Load.

Next thing – Lock and Load combos need mana. You need to get into the mid/late game to really combo them. I don’t think you can reliably play it before t5 or t6. Against Aggro decks, getting to late game is not always that easy. Sometimes you’re gonna get killed before you can even do your combos, which should be your main win condition. Against slower decks, on the other hand, do the Lock and Load combos get enough value? Lock and Load deck would run a lot of low value spells like Arcane Shot just to get more L&L value. Those things are useless against enemy big threats.

And the last thing – cards you get from Lock and Load are random. The overall value of your deck is pretty low because of all the low cost spells you run, so the Lock and Load draws need to be REALLY on point to catch up. Yes, you can get like 4-5 cards for free from each of the Lock and Loads. But you have no guarantee that those cards are gonna be good. And you have to run couple of bad cards yourself to make the combo work. If the Control deck can still outvalue your really slow, reactive deck that is based around the value from Lock and Load, is there a point to even play the deck?

I’ve faced couple of L&L Hunters on the ladder – they failed. I’ve created my own L&L Hunter deck – it was really fun, but it sucked. I still have some hope, waiting for some better deck builder to polish the deck enough to be competitive. But right now I don’t see the card being anything more than a base of a gimmicky deck.

1. Varian Wrynn

And here we are. The king of Stormwind, Varian Wrynn, with his whole (up to 3 minions) army. Probably THE MOST hyped card of the TGT. I also was really, really hyped for it. I mean, just thinking about enemy pulling it out makes me shiver. And playing it by myself would feel so good… right? The truth is, it’s not always the case.

In theory, the card is great. 10 mana for 7/7 is bad, right, but drawing 3 cards AND putting minions into the battlefield is a great deal. But in practice, there are few problems with it.

First, the speed. 10 mana card that has no instant impact on the board (unless you pull out Ragnaros the Firelord, huh) is very, very slow. Against most of the Aggro and Midrange decks you won’t even have the opportunity to play it. A dead card in your hand. Right. But the card is meant to be played against slow decks. That’s true – against slow decks it’s much better. But the problem is that it’s STILL hard to find a good opportunity to play it. Enemy also plays cards. Let’s say he throws the Ysera on the board. You can’t just leave it be. You have to I don’t know, Execute it. Even if you have a way to damage it from the board and Execute costs only 1 mana, you still can’t play it. You have 9 mana and you have to do something else because you can’t play it. There are a lot of turns where you are just forced to do something else – play removal, Taunt up, set-up the weapon etc. You rarely just have a free 10 mana to spend when enemy has no threats on the board that needs to be answered.

Second, drawing cards. Right now we assume that you play it against another slower deck. Drawing cards is great, right? Right? Well… not always. Like I’ve mentioned, it’s often hard to get a good opportunity to get him out. By the time you actually can do that, it’s often gonna be a late, LATE game. You’re both gonna be far into your decks already. So drawing 3 cards might actually backfire if the game goes to the fatigue (and mind you, many Control vs Control games do). As a Warrior in Control matchup you’re that worried about fatigue that you sometimes don’t even want to use Shield Block when you have 10 cards left in your deck. Obviously, drawing cards may be great even in slow matchups, so it’s not like the Battlecry is negative. It’s positive, but you have to take the fatigue into account.

Third, the effect – putting minions into the board. When the card was first announced, everyone was thinking about the dream scenario. I don’t know, putting 2-3 big minions into the board along the 7/7 Varian. The truth is, it doesn’t happen that often as you’d want it to happen. Control Warrior runs at least 7 small minions – 2x Armorsmith, 2x Cruel Taskmaster, 2x Acolyte of Pain and 1x Big Game Hunter. The first three don’t really get that much value (especially since you miss the Taskmaster’s Battlecry) and you really don’t want to get the BGH out. The standard Control Warrior also runs 10-12 spells/weapons. Out of the bigger minions, Harrison Jones, Shieldmaiden and  Alexstrasza are also played mostly for their Battlecries. So while getting them for free on the board is not necessarily bad, it might not be great. As it turns out, there are really only a few minions you WANT to instantly get into the board – things like Ragnaros the Firelord, Sludge Belcher or Ysera. But how often will you actually draw them with Varian?

And the last thing – getting the dream scenario might actually not be the dream scenario at all. Getting out 3-4 big minions in one turn might backfire hard. If enemy has board wipe like Brawl or Equality + Consecration, not only he denies your value, but he also can get rid of your win conditions and leave you unarmed.

While the card is really cool and can situationally be great, it turned out to not be as good as people have expected it to be. Obviously I’ve pointed out most of the flaws of the card, not talking about the strong points – it has its strengths and definitely can win you some games, but I just don’t think it’s good enough to instantly craft it and include in your deck.

Maybe there is a deck where this card is gonna shine, some hidden combos I fail to see, but right now, in the most obvious deck it should fit – slow, Control Warrior – it’s only “okay”.

Conclusion

So, that’s it for my list of the underrated and overrated cards. The list is based mostly on my own opinion and experience on European ladder (Legend) in the last 3 days. I may be wrong on some of the picks. Especially since the meta is still shaping – some of the “bad” cards may turn out to be great if people find the proper deck, and some of the gimmicky things that are being tested right now may be bad after the meta stabilizes. We’re gonna see how everything looks a week or two from now!

If you disagree with my picks or just have some other thoughts, feel free to leave your comment in the section below!