We are right on the edge of a brand new Hearthstone expansion. On Friday, Blizzard will unveil the rest of the cards lingering in the Journey to Un’goro set, and a few days later we’ll be thrust into a brand new meta. As someone who’s been playing this game since launch, I can’t remember a time where a fresh injection of cards felt more necessary. Un’goro will feature some of the most radical, and downright volatile designs in the three-year history of the game, and you get the feeling that things are about to change very, very quickly.
But before we see the rest of the set, here are five questions we have about the next season of Hearthstone. Some are hopeful, (what if a Kazakus/Awaken the Masters deck works?) some are apocalyptic, (what if jade stays strong as ever?) but they’re all important.
What direction will Blizzard take Warrior?
Means Streets of Gadgetzan did the unthinkable: It turned Warrior into an aggressive class. Sure, we’ve had Pirate Warriors and Tempo Warriors and Dragon Warriors in the past, but Garrosh’s classic win condition involved generating a ton of armor and deflecting all your opponent’s threats. Surprisingly, Patches and Small-Time Buccaneer were both powerful enough to morph Warrior into maybe the most aggressive class in Hearthstone history. It seems like Blizzard isn’t necessarily happy with that direction, considering how it’s introducing flat-out counters to the archetype with Gluttonous Ooze and Golakka Crawler.
We’re about a week removed from the launch of Un’goro, and we still haven’t seen the bulk of the Warrior cards in the set. Seriously, we’re missing all three commons, two rares, an epic, and the quest. This is an opportunity to create a brand new playstyle for an unhealthy class, and I swear to god if the quest involves pirates I will personally burn down Ben Brode’s house.
Will there be a hate card for Jade?
After the rotation, a lot of Hearthstone pros are fearful that the juggernaut midrange force of Jade Shaman (and to a lesser extent, Jade Druid) will both be powerful enough to steamroll any other nascent decks. After seeing about half the cards I’m still not convinced that something like the new “elemental” tribe will be powerful enough to change things. Blizzard has responded to similar questions about the pirate package with the aforementioned Golakka Crawler and Gluttonous Ooze, but will we see a similar neutral printed to combat jade? I kinda hope so, because personally losing to Jade Idol is maybe the most frustrating experience in the game.
What’s the future for Paladin?
The Paladin set in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan clunked pretty hard. On paper it looked good; a suite of hand-buffing utility spells and minions that seemed to push the class back into the value-oriented midrange tone that made it great back in Goblins vs. Gnomes. That didn’t work, because Patches sped up the meta to a blistering pace, and the jade packages available in Druid and Shaman were just better.
I expected Uther to get a shot in the arm in Un’goro, and so far I’m not impressed. The quest asks you to build around an archetype that cast spells on friendly minions, which asks us to run subpar cards like Blessing of Kings, Blessing of Might, and the just-revealed Dinosize. And the legendary Sunkeeper Tarim packs a battlecry that turns all minions on board into 3/3s. It just all seems a little too slow, and there are only three cards left from their set that we haven’t seen. I fear that we might be headed towards another meta where Paladin is nowhere to be found.
Will the Hunter quest be too powerful?
I was watching Trump’s card review stream with Hearthstone designer Mike Donais, and he said he was a little worried about the Hunter quest reward Queen Carnassa. It’s easy to see why, considering that it’s literally a five- mana 8/8 that shuffles 15 one-mana 3/2 raptors into your deck that are each equipped with a battlecry to draw a card. I mean, one-mana 3/2s that automatically cycle sound extremely broken, and all you have to do to complete the quest is play seven one-mana minions. Hunters already do that, and the additional tools introduced in Un’goro like Small Raptor and Tol’vir Warden are going to make it even easier. This is the first deck I’m building after the expansion drops, because it seems super strong and ridiculously easy to make. It also seems like something that could dominate for years if it looks as good as it does on paper. The Hearthstone team are really pushing the boundaries with this design, and I hope it doesn’t come back to bite them.
Can Reno Priest survive without Reno?
We’re probably going to see the death of both Renolock and Reno Mage. The singleton decks that empower Kazakus and Reno Jackson go hand in hand, and it seems impossible to survive the early game threats that Shaman and Warrior generate without a back-breaking burst heal. If there is one class that can overcome Reno’s rotation, however, I think it will be Priest.
Anduin’s Mean Streets legendary Raza The Chained is leagues better than both Inkmaster Solia and Krul the Unshackled, and when you combine that with their Un’goro quest Awaken The Masters – which asks them to play seven deathrattle minions for access to a 5 mana 8/8 that permanently sets their health to 40 for the rest of their game – it certainly seems like they have access to Reno levels of healing. Are Kazakus and Raza both good enough to warrant inclusion in a singleton Awaken the Masters deck? If it works, Priest could become the most powerful control card in the meta.