The Goblins versus Gnomes expansion has certainly managed to shake up the metagame – but there could have been even more new archetypes in the mix, if the tools provided by Blizzard were good enough on their own to get them going. Even though they aren’t viable at the moment – or at least not at a high level –, it is interesting to take a look at what the developers expected to be viable with the new cards.
1 – Control Hunter
It was a very interesting idea, something people have already experimented with, even when we only had the basic set to work with. multi-shot, deadly-shot, explosive-shot: all are decent removal cards. Thing is: they have either random elements or depend on your opponent’s minion placement. They are also more expensive than other hard removals – while being less reliable at the same time.
Many would have thought that the new tools could help to finally establish Control Hunter as a viable option. gahzrilla is a BGH-proof legendary with a huge body and nice potential, feign-death helps with savannah-highmane and sludge-belcher (or with nerubian-egg potentially, as my top 100 Legend deck shows) and steamwheedle-sniper allows you to affect the board with your Hero Power. And there’s cobra-shot, which is, erm, useless. Still, the concept seems sturdy enough – what is the problem?
Simply put, it is a worse Control deck than Control Warrior and is a worse Hunter deck than its more aggressive counterparts. We still seem to need more tools to slow down the hunts.
2 – Beast Hunter
Beast synergy has always been a thing with Hunter, but its effectiveness has been seriously reduced with the insane nerf of starving-buzzard – and it’s been overshadowed by the aggro decks based on Deathrattle-synergy. The developers tried to address this by adding “fantastic” cards like call-pet – which no one in their right mind would ever use in conjunction of the current pool, as Beasts are weaker than their vanilla counterparts and their synergy doesn’t necessarily make up for that. (Look no further than the synergy of Mech cards – a much stronger tribe, possibly also a source of power creep.)
The new Hunter legendary has also turned out to be pretty much unplayable – and king-of-beasts is either a worse fen-creeper or just a win-more card when you already have board control. Hunter decks based on Beast-synergy simply have nothing to offer at this point in time.
3 – Aggro Priest
I’m hesitant to even add this to the list but I can’t think of any other explanation why shadowbomber and shadowboxer are a thing – the former being a weird double-edged dagger (I would not call a 2/1 a sword) and the latter attempting to masquerade as a poor man’s knife-juggler.
The problem with aggressive Priest decks isn’t necessarily the lack of aggressive cards: Mind Blasts would be more than welcome in almost any other class. (Imagine if Hunters got their hands on that – or mind, whatever.) The main issue is that their hero ability cannot impact the board and is also incapable of applying pressure to the opponent via continuous damage. shadowform requires you to essentially pass on turn 3 – a massive concession to make as the aggressor – and auchenai-soulpriest is just as ineffective in transforming the hero power as the Steamwheedle Sniper.
velens-chosen is a fantastic Arena card but it is a lot less effective in Constructed – again, not particularly tempo-efficient – and lightbomb is quirky but also quite suicidal. I’d love to blast minds but I don’t have the option yet.
4 – Pirate Rogue
Oh, look, a class-specific Pirate! Oh, look, it’s ridiculously difficult to keep online! Just like cobalt-guardian, the One-eyed Cheat’s pseudo-combo effect is not reliable enough to make up for the obscenely low health of the minion – it is basically just a fancier magma-rager that may occasionally get in an extra hit, which is still terrible.
Unfortunately, the new pirate cards are not enough to make this tribe viable in competitive play and their synergy is minimal – they usually synergize with weapons, not each other, apart from southsea-captain’s minor buff and ships-cannon, the thing that juggles massive knives. It is, however, still not enough to get them off the ground properly.
And yes, salty-dog is a thing now. Didn’t the history of core-hound, the-beast, uprooted ancient-of-wars, magma-rager, reckless-rocketeer and ravenholdt-assassin teach the developers anything? High attack stats do not make up for low health.
5 – Mech Rogue
Rogues have fallen on quite rough times since the introduction of Goblins versus Gnomes – as their other intended new deck archetype is also pretty much unplayable, while Miracle Rogue has been nerfed into what is essentially the dictionary description of oblivion.
goblin-auto-barber is nice, but not enough – and comparing iron-sensei to something like goblin-blastmage just makes me sad. While its effect is quite powerful, it is simply too vulnerable and quite useless as a naked drop. And again, the deck to beat is MechMage – and you cannot do better than that with just an Iron Sensei, which is supposed to be able to push you over the top.
6 – Murloc Shaman
Apart from puddlestomper, the only new Murloc added in the expansion was a Shaman-exclusive card in the form of siltfin-spiritwalker, which happens to be a potential solution to the constant card draw issue facing this particular tribal deck. And, of course, there is neptulon, whose effect is powerful enough on its own to warrant its inclusion in some of the control-oriented Shaman decks – then again, its Overload cost is also pretty hefty.
Sadly, Murlocs are still just way too inconsistent and you still don’t have any viable one-drop apart from the good old murloc-tidehunter.
7 – OMG MEGA-BURST WINDFURY EXTRAVAGANZA Shaman
I must confess that I was one of the people who cried foul when Whirling Zap-o-Matic has been announced – man, what a letdown the aggressive, Windfury-oriented Shaman-cards ended up as! To be fair, they are decent in Arena but their explosive nature is not enough to make an aggressive Shaman deck viable – not to mention the dunemaul-shaman.
On the other hand, I am extremely happy to see that crackle hasn’t become an established part of the metagame – I despised the concept of that card since the moment of its announcement. Frustratingly, it introduced non-manageable random chance to the game: even with cards like ragnaros-the-firelord, you have the option to clear the board and at least get a 50% chance to hit your intended target.
I’ve always been annoyed by the random element in the Shaman’s hero power and board clear capability: here’s hoping we’ll see less of that in the future, not more.
8 – Demonlock
Even back when The Curse of Naxxramas has been released, voidcaller used to be the clarion call of the proponents of Demonlock. Getting out a doomguard without the loss of two cards? A dread-infernal without the mana investment? Great possibilities – but it wasn’t reliable enough. Not to mention the occasional issue of getting lord-jaraxxus out as a 3/15 minion.
It seemed like the new demons introduced in Goblins versus Gnomes – mistress-of-pain, floating-watcher and malganis (plus demonheart) would make this deck playable on high levels. Unfortunately, that wan’t the case, even though Mal’Ganis has a fantastic card text that even buffs other demons: the new Warlock legendary is just too susceptible to the big-game-hunter. Here’s hoping there will be a way to make this deck to work: I’m really looking forward to being eternal.
9 – Mechwarrior
It seems to me that Warrior has got the most new class-specific Mech chards – which is hilarious, because none of them are being played at all. First things first, warbot is just garbage – unless it gets buffed, it ends up in the same situation as tauren-warrior: only an imbecile would let it trade up and it simply gets killed by minions of the same cost. screwjunk-clanker unfortunately doesn’t accomplish enough with its buff and its body is not powerful enough on its own. siege-engine’s upside is not big enough to make the minion playable over something like loatheb or harrison-jones – and last but not least, much to my disappointment, iron-juggernaut’s slightly understatted body doesn’t make up for the random pyroblast on a timer. The main problem is that the damage may just simply end up wasted in a Control Warrior deck due to alexstrasza – and Mechwarrior’s synergy is just not good enough.
The thing with every potential Mech deck is that it has to outpace the MechMage and outperform its burn capability with the Mage’s powerful spells and the Goblin Blastmage’s quasi-board clear ability: the Warrior is just not good enough for this.
10 – Beast Druid (bonus points for Wisps)
Oh, Druid of the Fang, why didn’t it happen for you? They even changed the druid-of-the-claw into a Beast, hoping that would help. Sadly, there just aren’t enough viable Beasts to run in a viable Druid deck – malorne is out of the question, lost-tallstrider has too low health… the only one I’ve occasionally seen in these decks is haunted-creeper for tokens, but that doesn’t warrant the inclusion of what is almost always only a 4/4 for 5 with no text to show for it.
Also, dark-wispers is funny.
+1 – Anything involving Flame Leviathan