Depending on where you live, Hearthstone’s latest expansion is now potentially just a few hours away.
Journey to Un’Goro is one of the most interesting, exciting, and potentially transformative expansions released for the game in a long time. As the 135 new cards are added, hundreds of others from the Blackrock Mountain, Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers expansion will rotate out.
Evaluating the strength of cards is difficult before they are released and play-tested, so such an exercise should be left to the pros. Instead, we want to know which the most exciting cards of the set are. And what are the ones that are going to lead to cool new deckbuilding strategies and create crazy games to watch?
Token Druid is a retro deck from Hearthstone’s history, but with Living Mana it could be set for a comeback.
The Cho’Gall mechanic of using health instead of Mana in Warlock failed to take off, but this could be the first viable alternative way to use resources in Hearthstone. In the first few playable turns it gives you a nice board presence, but it’s where you can abuse the mana manipulation that this card could become really powerful.
Obviously used with Innervate on turn three this card is pretty nuts—or it would be if it worked. Unfortunately, it’s been confirmed that Living Mana only works on permanent mana crystals. But in the later game, if you can control your board space, you can create crazy combos with this. Cards like Soul of the Forest and Evolving Spores might be viable with this card in play.
Quests are going to be tricky, as its hard to see any of the nine as instantly viable. The Mage quest in particular looks difficult to pull off with cards like Forgotten Torch disappearing, but come on—that reward.
Each player getting one turn to play their mana, summoning sickness and (within reason) limits of mana played per turn have been fundamental tenants of Hearthstone since day one. Time Warp subverts just about everything you know about how the game plays out.
It’s pretty much the definition of not “fun and interactive,” as minions played on the first of the two turns can then attack. With up to 20 mana available without any manipulation, the potential plays are endless.
Hemet, Jungle Hunter
The original Hemet Nesingwary was a card that never found its place. A poor stat line and an effect that never really felt necessary in any deck.
Now Hemet is back, with an outfit made of plants and a skull hat, to help players create some kind of crazy deck. How many times have you been frustrated at drawing one of your early game cards in the later turns? Hemet removes that possibility by taking those early drops out of the game all together.
In something like Ramp Druid, potentially with the new Druid Quest card, this could be incredibly useful. Look forward to watching people fail miserably at building something viable with this before potentially stumbling on something awesome.
Sherazin, Corpse Flower
Unkillable minions are always interesting. Dreadsteed never really had the power to see play, and cards like Malorne were just too slow because they needed to be replayed every time.
Sherazin is more like Malorne than Dreadsteed as it requires players to do something before it reappears, but because you can activate it by playing other cards it’s not the mana sink that Malorne was.
Sadly Unearthed Raptor is leaving the Standard set, so that potential abuse of the deathrattle effect is out. But N’Zoth Rogue has always been a deck on the fringes of viability, and each time this dies it should add a 5/3 to your N’Zoth. Will it work that way? Not sure. Welcome to Hearthstone.
It’s Hungry Crab, Jim, but not as we know it.
Let’s be honest. This is undoubtedly an exciting card. But it’s not exciting because it creates a new deck archetype, or a new strategy, or introduces a new mechanic. So why is it exciting?
Why? Because fuck pirates, that’s why.
Viable Hunter decks for the entirety of Hearthstone‘s history have always had one thing in common—aggression.
It didn’t matter if it was out outright Face Hunter, or something with a larger power spike at the end, the cards that were printed really lent themselves to aggressive play. When Blizzard released cards to try and push Beast Hunter or slower decks, it never stuck.
The biggest reason why Hunter has never been able to break out of its mold is the hero power. It’s inflexibly aggressive. It can’t be used to control the board, or do anything else interesting. It can only do face damage. With Dinomancy, Hunter can finally break free of those shackles.
Of course, you have to draw this card earlier enough to make your Beast Hunter work. But there are so many players who have been waiting literally years to do something different with Hunter, we will likely seeing something strong emerge quickly.
Kalimos, Primal Lord
Elementals have some people worried. They could be the next Jade Druid, where you just play stronger and stronger minions each turn on curve.
But maybe they will be harder to play than that, and getting to something as powerful as Kalimos might require some sacrifice. If it does, it could be a pretty rewarding deck strategy to play.
Kalimos has to be, on paper, one of the best cards the game has ever seen in its combination of power and versatility. The Invocations vary wildly in what they can do, from casting a mini Flamestrike, to a massive dose of healing, to some extra face damage to help with that final push. If Elementals end up being a deck that has a place in the meta, this card could get crazy real fast.
It’s not flashy, it’s not particularly clever, but Lakkari Felhound could be a crucial card for Warlock.
Reno Jackson is going. For some players it’s bittersweet, for others it’s cause for celebration. But it means that, with the Molten Giant nerf having killed off Handlock, Warlock has no viable obvious slow deck. With a massive taunt now in its arsenal, maybe a slower Discard Warlock could be a thing? Clutchmother Zavas, the new Warlock legendary, certainly gives Discard more power.
Of course this could just bolster the existing Discard decks which are faster, and based on Zoo. Having a 3/8 taunt could help to set up some crazy unstoppable board states. Either way expect to see players trying to make Discard decks work in the new meta.