Hey guys and gals, DarkArbiter here again with a special new article. Currently, I’m working on a Control Warrior guide I think a lot of people may like, but until then I thought I would deliver this comprehensive article due to the exciting news surrounding our beloved game.
Well, it’s finally happened gang; after months of waiting and hyping it up, Curse of Naxxramas, the first adventure and minor expansion in Hearthstone, has been released in its entirety. With that release, a slew of 30 new cards awaits our critique, and I’d like to give my opinion on each one. I will also include my thoughts on how each card will perform in arena, although I am not as experienced with this format, so take my ratings with a grain of salt.
Before I get into reviewing the cards, I would like to take the time to mention that I have ordered this list from worst to best out of the set, based on my own perceptions. I will also rate each card for constructed and arena on a 0-5 rating system:
- 0: Unplayable
- 1: Sub-Par
- 2: Below Average/Average, but not exciting
- 3: Decent card
- 4: Strong card
- 5: Crazy good card
Now, without further waiting, let’s dive right in!
At first, I didn’t think that this card was actually this bad. I thought it could be utilized in a gimmicky deck built around it, and that maybe someone would find a way to utilize its ability. However, there just isn’t anything to like about the card.
It’s three mana, meaning that having only one power and four health causes it to fail the vanilla test, which already makes it an unpopular pick. In addition, it’s ability has almost no impact on the board, and even at turn three, you want to start developing towards your end game, whether it’s to begin stalling for the late game or to put more pressure to seal the victory, and this card does neither.
If it was costed at two mana, I think my opinion of it would be better, but for now I don’t see a use for it in any deck.
As far as arena, it won’t see much play either just because there are so many better cards to play, and especially in arena you only want minions that will trade well with other minions. It’s just a terrible card.
My second to least favorite card out of this set isn’t better by much. For one thing, it’s a mage secret, meaning that at three mana you’re really pushing its ability to gain value by giving it such a high cost. In addition, its ability is incredibly clunky, and it fills your hand with unnecessary cards, cards that you will have to pay for again if you want to put in play, which for anything other than a taunt minion can be considered a tempo loss.
Even if you do manage to get it off, very rarely is the case that you will get the dream of getting two additional copies of Cairne Bloodhoof in your hand, and even then you have to pay the mana to cast those cards. Despite that, some mage decks run it, and it shows a bit of promise, but not for now.
In arena, this card is worse. It’s not reliable enough and will hardly get value.
One of our first Legendary cards that were spoiled is probably one of the weakest as well, but might see some fringe play for one very specific reason; Maexxna is a part of the Beast tribal set of cards, meaning she will have some very good synergy with the Hunter class cards.
Looking at the stats, a two-eight for six mana is not a good deal, and the poison ability has almost never been that good of an ability, simply because minions don’t last very long on the board anyways. In addition, the minions that you will want to use her on will usually kill her. Other than that, she is a more expensive Oasis Snapjaw with the poison effect of the Emperor Cobra. If given the choice, I’d rather just have the Snapjaw because he’s less expensive.
With arena, she’s a pretty bad legendary to get, but not the worst.
The second Legendary on my list isn’t better than Maexxna by much. Just stats-wise, Baron Rivendare passes the test, clocking in at eight stats total for four mana, which isn’t bad. However, one problem I have with him is that the card doesn’t make much of an impact by itself on the board, which is a big deal.
In many cases, especially with anything higher than a two-drop, you want your creatures to have an impact on the board without influence from other cards. In addition, Rivendare dies very easily to cards like Stampeding Kodo, can be taken with Cabal Shadow Priest, and his attack is only really good for taking care of weak or weakened minions. Granted, its ability synergizes really well with other cards like Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner.
However, don’t let these cards lure you to believe that those interactions make it good. I gave duplicate a low rank because its ability was incredibly gimmicky, and this is no different. The largest reason this is as high up on my list is because it will require some focus on part of your opponent to kill off, so it will help to absorb some damage in the time that it’s out.
In arena, this card will be trash because you can’t rely on building a deck around a combo card, which is what Rivendare basically is.
I didn’t think I would see the day Ancestral Healing became meta viable until the day I went up against the Crusher Shaman deck. This card is another that, at first glance, I don’t think will become a truly viable part of the meta, but I might be wrong, and it may be a part of some new amazing Shaman deck (currently, the card is being used, but there are no specific Shaman lists that are utilizing it). For this one at least, I will wait and see before I decide whether I like it or not, but for now let’s look at the actual card.
For two mana you basically have a combo card. In theory, combo cards need to be relatively cheap so that you can get the most out of your combos. For shaman, I don’t know that you will have cheap enough cards to work a combo like this, although I have often heard people dreaming about Miracle Shaman becoming a thing. I will say that this card lends to that possibility, but in general Shaman spells are more expensive than Rogue spells, meaning your card-drawing mechanics will be slower.
In arena, this card will be pretty terrible because you want to avoid trying to make combo decks in arena.
Before the resurgence of Paladin on the ladder last season, I was trying to find a way to make the class work with the cards at my disposal. Before even then, it along with Warrior were my two favorite classes to play, and both were seeing an abysmal number of usable decks, in part due to the still-popular Miracle Rogue and the overall pace of the meta.
Recently, Shockadin has found its place on the ladder, but I was still hoping for something else with the new class card. Therefore, I was fairly disappointed when they revealed this as the Paladin card. Granted, it has some uses, and it might see some fringe play, but the Paladin secrets in general are not good, and this one is no exception.
It won’t beat out Noble Sacrifice as the best Paladin Secret, and it’s not as consistent as Redemption, which is barely playable. Despite that though, I do think we will see it played in some aggro decks, as it does favor filling up your board early on. In arena, I think this card has potential to be strong if you run a minion-heavy deck.
Constructed: 2, maybe 3
We are now finally out of the realm of cards that I believe will not be very meta-competitive, and are now moving on to cards that might have some viability, but are still questionable. With that, our Warlock class card is the first in this group. As far as first impressions go, I’m not very impressed.
Three attack and four health is great on a three-drop like Dark Cultist, but when applied to a four-drop, it already puts it below the line on playability. However, when we look at the fact that it has the potential to place a card from our hand on to the field, we have to reassess it. Being able to put even a Flame Imp on the field with this ability makes it unique and worth considering.
I don’t believe that a demon tribal deck will be very viable even with the inclusion of Voidcaller, but this card certainly lends towards that possibility.
In arena, this card might have more synergy with the demon cards that are more playable, so it might be worth playing there.
Shade of Naxxramas
When I first saw this card, I thought that it would be a strong contender as a required card for the meta. This was before the popularity of Miracle Rogue skyrocketed out of proportions and laddering became all about those first few crucial turns. As a result, this card has fallen significantly in my eyes.
Despite that though, it’s not a terrible card. Getting a three-three the turn after you cast it isn’t bad for a three-drop, and the stealth will protect it from many forms of targeted removal. However, this card does not gain tempo or value even with its ability. It might be possible for it to rebound if the meta slows down its tempo, but for now this card is fairly sub-par when compared to some of the other goodies we’re getting from Naxxramas.
In arena I believe it will be much stronger, since its potential to make value trades increases.
I find this card very intriguing. It’s ability is persistent for as long as it remains on the board and unsilenced, so the potential is definitely there. It suffers due to low stats, but it is possible to see some unique combos come out with this card.
The biggest problem I have with it having low stats for its cost is that normally you want your cards that cost higher amounts of mana to be game-winning cards on their own, and Kel’Thuzad doesn’t do that. It’s a gimmicky ability, but I think the potential is there with a control-heavy meta.
If you can get off its ability even once, you can turn the board and tempo in your favor, barring some unlucky draws or a silence. Other than that, it’s just a glorified Reincarnate.
In arena, this card will potentially provide more of a punch as a lower mid-tier legendary.
Our next Legendary minion out of this set has a very unique deathrattle. When comparing Stalagg with Feugen, I believe Stalagg is the weaker of the two. However, if you plan on attempting to utilize these two cards for their combo, he is a necessary inclusion in the deck, and his stats are not bad for the mana cost.
In addition, we are still sorely lacking viable neutral five-drops (which is the main reason Azure Drake is so widely used), so these two may fit that very specific niche. I’m not entirely sure that this will be the case though, considering Sludge Belcher has such a huge potential in the current meta.
In arena, this card might be good simply because its raw stats are pretty strong.
Constructed: 3, maybe 4
As one of the two epics out of this Hearthstone adventure, Echoing Ooze seems pretty underwhelming to me, despite having one of the coolest intro animations for anything below a legendary. Looking just at its stats in its vanilla form, it boasts two attack and four health, which normally is ridiculous.
However, the fact that these stats are divided between two bodies makes me less than enthusiastic to play it. Sure, it’s battle-cry might lend to some crazy buff combos, but on its own I’m not sure that it will be worth playing on the ladder despite those good stats. It might see play in a Druid or possibly Paladin deck (possibly Paladin more than Druid, since Paladin can roll out a Blessing of Kings onto this ooze), both of which have the appropriate buffs that they can use on the card.
Other than that, I’m not sure it has the potential people think it will.
In arena, I think this card will be much stronger as it provides the same advantage that Silver Hand Knight provides; options in trading.
Arena: 3 maybe 4
It took me a bit longer to judge the value of this card simply because I had to try to think of scenarios in which you would want to silence your side of the board only. It’s not a particularly strong card, boasting the same stats as a Sen’jin Shieldmasta without the taunt, and doesn’t seem like it would fit anywhere.
Then I realized that there are indeed some cards that love to be silenced, such as Ancient Watcher. In addition, this is a nice counter to a freeze Mage’s Frost Nova or a Paladin’s Equality, and I think it is because of this that it has potential as a utility card depending on the meta. Other than that, it’s nothing special.
In arena, this card might be strong depending on the rest of your picks, but I would pass on it if it was one of the first cards in the draft.
Arena: 2, maybe 3
Now we are going out of the realm of what might see play in the future and going into cards that will see play in the future, and Poison Seeds falls right in between these two realms.
At first glance, it isn’t that great of a card. It does nothing to stop aggro decks, and Miracle decks will laugh at it, despite it being able to destroy a Concealed Gadgetzan Auctioneer. Other than that though, this card might become good utility against decks such as Handlock, some control decks, and some other midrange decks.
It will also prove its worth against the Giants Mage lists that I see now and then, but until we know how the meta changes after this expansion I won’t speculate too much on this card.
In arena, it won’t be very viable simply because it doesn’t really answer anything.
Not surprisingly, many people have been overlooking this card from what I have seen, and I can understand. While five stats for two mana is usually a good deal, the allocation of those stats leave a bit to be desired. It’s not as flashy as some of the other cards previewed, and at first glance it doesn’t even look that remotely special. However, whenever you consider the huge impact that creatures that have battle cry have on the game, then this card might become a staple in some decks. Making anything as simple as an Ironbeak Owl to something as game-changing as Alexstrasza cost two more mana is huge.
Played at the right time, this card can be a huge tempo loss for your opponent. Even Zoo suffers from its ability, considering the number of minions in the deck that have a battle cry effect. It may be weak against decks like Shaman and Druid, but for only two mana it can shut down some of the huge combos in the game, especially those that involve the ever infamous Leeroy Jenkins.
However, despite everything I have just mentioned, I have had to move this card much further down on my list than what I originally had it. It’s not that the card is worse than I thought it would be, it’s that several cards are stronger than I originally perceived.
I’m not sure how to evaluate this card in arena. I do know that you generally want cards that individually can hold their own without assistance though, so I’m not sure this card will be worth playing.
Arena: 1, maybe 2
Much like Abomination, Unstable Ghoul finds itself in an interesting position. Its death-rattle is the same as a Whirlwind, making it less devastating than Abomination if your side of the board has minions on it and making it all the harder for some classes to pull off their huge burst combo.
Tacking a Whirlwind on to a Voidwalker for one extra mana seems like it will be good addition to slower decks to make it into the late game. In particular Control Warrior benefits the most from this card, as it triggers effects from creatures such as Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain, and indeed many Warrior decks are running it.
In arena, I’m not sure how viable it will be, although it will provide enrage effects for cards like Amani Berserker
Arena: 2, maybe 3
The second half of the combo required to summon the incredibly powerful Thaddius, one would think that I would have the two minions relatively close together on my list. The main reason that I put Feugen so much higher on the list than Stalagg is due to their stat distribution; for five mana Feugen will prove more difficult to remove from the board once summoned and may help to fill in as a neutral five-drop that we’ve needed for some time.
The stats are pretty strong, but this card will be a choice target for silencing. I believe that the meta will have to settle down before we know for sure where exactly this card will fit in, but for now its only home will be control decks.
In arena, I see this as a rather strong pick from the list of legendaries since it provides strong stats with almost no downside.
Constructed: 3, maybe 4
Like a couple cards in this release, I’ve had to reevaluate this one’s strength and uses in constructed as it is being utilized vastly different to how I imagined. So, looking at the stats, we have a pretty decent card; two attack and two toughness for two mana isn’t bad at all. However, then we come to the more interesting part of the card, the death-rattle of taking a secret out of your deck and putting it into play. This potential can either be ridiculous or fall flat on its face, depending on how soon you draw the card and the secrets in your deck. However, the fact that it only draws out secrets narrows its use to three classes in the game; Paladin, Mage, and Hunter.
I believed that this card would be a new addition to Freeze Mage, but the deck has all but disappeared off of the ladder, and it’s not hard to see why. Virtually every deck now has the capability of countering it (Hunter still has a ridiculously easy time of it due to Flare, a card that many people want to see changed) and Mage in particular just isn’t very strong anymore.
However, getting back to the card, what has surprised me is that this card is seeing a lot of play in Midrange Hunter decks. This was a list I thought was pretty tight already due to the specific cards needed to make the deck work, yet people have made room for this minion. I’m not sure that I agree just yet on its use in this deck though, since Hunter traps are more specific to certain threats, and the randomness of this card goes against the thought process you need when playing them.
This card might see some fringe play in Paladin, but not much, since the secrets there aren’t very strong.
In arena, this card really is extremely limited and not very good. I don’t expect this situation to change any time soon either.
Faerie Dragon is seeing a bit of popularity recently, mostly because its ability makes it incredibly hard to deal with outside of attacking it, and the same applies here. Just looking at the stats, we have a solid four attack and six health for five mana, and the ability to not be targeted means that it will have staying power.
Probably the biggest reason I can see this being played over others on the ladder is due to our lack of viable five-drops in the game, but even so we are getting some in this expansion that might be worth considering over this one. Despite that, Ramp Druid in particluar is utilizing this card quite frequently, as they often want to bring out larger cards quickly. I personally agree with this strategy, as I have often wanted something to Innervate out that couldn’t be Sapped immediately after I play it.
For arena, as I stated above, I think it will be quite strong regardless of the class you’re running with.
Constructed: 3, maybe 4
Arena: 4, maybe 5
I’ll be honest, I’ve had to reevaluate my stance on this card several times now, because I don’t really know what to think of it other than that it provided one of the most unusual and memorable class challenges in the entire Naxxramas adventure. Before trying it, I didn’t think it would have a place in the meta because there were better one drops. However, more Hunter lists are including the card in their ranks, so I was wrong about that. In particular, Midrange Hunter has popped up as a strong contender on the ladder, with every list running two of these spiders without fail.
In all honesty, I still don’t think it’s as strong as Stonetusk Boar, which has a consistent and specific role in hunter. With Webspinner, you’re not only paying the one mana for the 1/1 body, you’re also paying for the RNG of a second beast card. Despite that, after having played with the card a couple of times, I will admit that it is a nice one-drop when you need one.
It triggers cards like Houndmaster and Kill Command, which is pretty powerful, and I have often had very decent RNG with the cards received with the deathrattle.
In arena, I’m not sure this will be as good as it is in constructed, but it might see some play.
This card has quite a lot going for it. Normally, these stats on a one-drop aren’t always viewed favorably by those on the ladder. However, the ability for this card to buff itself whenever a minion with deathrattle is summoned is huge. Add to that the fact that this card has been released in an expansion full of deathrattle minions, several of which have a place in zoo, and its potential increases.
It provides a very strong early game, but it might not be favorable to run this card in every zoo list, which is why I believe that we will see a couple of splits in the zoo compositions. One of them will be a more aggressive list that runs cards like this to take advantage of the number of deathrattles in the deck. Other than that, there isn’t much else to talk about as far as constructed goes; normally the strong cards don’t need a lot of explaining as to why they’re strong.
In arena, I don’t think this card will be very strong though. It’s too reliant on you drafting minions with deathrattle, so the only way you might be able to pick this up in an arena and do well with it is when you’ve already gotten a fair number of deathrattle minions.
Arena: 1, maybe 2
Just when I thought Rogues couldn’t get more powerful on the ladder, this card was revealed. At first I had my doubts about it, but I have since conceded that this card can see play, as Rogues usually have no problem with getting a minion back to their hand. On top of that ability, his stats are very nice, and I’ll be interested to see the Rogue lists that pop up as a result. Miracle won’t have much of a use for him though, something to be grateful for since Miracle Rogue is already getting a powerful new five-drop with these new cards.
It might be possible to see a Control-style Rogue list emerge, or even a resurgence of Tempo Rogue in some fashion that utilizes this card. In any event, like many of the cards, we will have to wait and see.
In arena, this card seems like it will be strong enough to play in most Rogue drafts. The raw stats should allow for that, and in general combos with returning minions to their owner’s hand are more prevalent.
Arena: 3, maybe 4
To put it simply, this card is quite strong, and we will see a change-up in zoo lists to include this guy within their ranks. The downside to playing him really isn’t a downside if you play him on turn one, as you can use this guy to establish board control without dying as quickly as cards like Flame Imp would.
Later in the game, when you want to deal as much damage as you can to your opponent, he will most certainly be a dead draw, but most of the one drops in zoo are in the later part of the game. In addition, this card might also see some play in Priest decks, as the card’s synergy with the Auchenai Soulpriest+Circle of Healing combo is pretty evident. It might even see play in some other decks just because of its ability to make favorable trades.
In arena, this card might still be good, but I can’t say for sure due to not having as much experience with arena as I do with constructed.
Constructed: 4, maybe 5
Our first and only new weapon out of this expansion looks like an incredibly solid card. For four mana, you basically get the strength of a Truesilver Champion. After that though, things get interesting when you consider that it also tacks on a Whirlwind after it is destroyed, increasing the possibilities with this card. It’s capable of taking out a Chillwind Yeti like this as well as several other five-health minions, and it comes perfectly in between the Fiery War Axe and Arcanite Reaper on the lists.
Something else to consider is that this card comes in at the Warrior’s four-drop slot, a space Control Warrior in particular has trouble filling. In all, I expect this to be included at least as a one-of in many Warrior lists for now, and I doubt we will see Arcanite Reaper used after this card is released, as it’s so much better.
In arena, this card will also be quite strong, as you always want the potential to draft weapons with Warrior, and Death’s Bite is no exception.
Constructed: 4, maybe 5
This is one of the new cards that provides a new and unique perspective on how to give a card a downside but give it more stats to make up for it. As many people have said, this card may prove to be a very nice anti-zoo card. It will often require at least two or three trades to get it off the board, and it is very rare that the card that they pull out of their deck will be worth the trades.
Sure, the downside of it could be bad if the death-rattle summons a Doomguard to their side of the field, but I think more often that not it will give more late-game decks a chance to make it into the late game, making this worth considering, although I also firmly believe that zoo will utilize this card as well. Another point to make is that this card will be strong in the late game against decks like Miracle Rogue due to the insane amount of health on it. In general, by the time Rogue players want to unleash their combo, they’re almost out of answers for this powerful of a creature, and the death-rattle will have few targets that late in the game.
In arena, I think this card will perform quite well. Often the opponent won’t have an answer except with minions, which is what this card wants to make trades with.
Arena: 3, maybe 4
Not many people have talked about this card, and it’s understandable why. Allowing your opponent to draw a card is normally a setback many prefer not to have occur. However, for three mana, a minion with the same stats as an Azure Drake deserves being looked at. It’s potential is huge, and your opponent will often have to make at least two trades or use one of their removals meant for larger minions to get it off the board early on.
In addition, it’s a deathrattle effect, meaning it will combo with cards like Undertaker. Maybe I see the potential of this card as too much, but I find it to be a solid three drop, and expect to see it being ran in several lists in the future, whether it be zoo or possibly aggro decks. Another possibility would be a mill deck, although I’m less inclined to believe this will become a thing.
In arena I think it will also see play for the same reasons as in constructed.
At first, I was hesitant to put this creature up so high on my list. For five mana, it starts off as a Sen’jin Shieldmasta, an incredibly good card, and has a death-rattle to spawn a Goldshire Footman, which is normally considered a weak card. However, I’ve continued to implement the card in constructed for slower control decks, and my opinion of it has skyrocketed.
It has the lasting power of a Harvest Golem with a taunt tacked on. In addition, being a five-cost minion, it automatically receives more favorable attention, considering the best five drop before now was Azure Drake, which has less of an immediate impact on the board as this card does. Finally, and this is what set it over the top for me, this card in addition to some of the other taunt cards that are being released have the potential to slow down the tempo of games.
This means that decks like Control Warrior, which have been almost non-existent in this rapid-paced meta, are once again viable.
In arena this card will also be viable because it is a suitable pick when you don’t have an Azure Drake to choose.
Normally, I would say that this card isn’t worth its two-mana cost, but then this card isn’t really normal. It’s a beast card, meaning it has huge synergy with many of the Hunter cards. Looking at this card like you would a Harvest Golem, you’re paying two mana for seven stats (three attack and four health), which even off of paper is solid. It’s a beast card, meaning it is an automatic consideration in Hunter decks, specifically the Midrange variant that’s being played currently.
In addition it, much like Harvest Golem, is significantly harder to remove due to their death-rattles, and I see this card making favorable trades for its cost all the time. Overall, it’s a solid card, and there really isn’t much else to say about it as far as constructed goes.
In arena it will also have potential, although not quite as much as in constructed.
Constructed: 4, maybe 5
Ever since this card has been revealed, so many people have been eager to play it, and I am no exception. The downside with this card is that it slows down decks like Zoo and other aggressive lists that run it, and more often than not you do need a potential way of activating the card. The upside of this is that many deck lists that were once fairly susceptible to board clears now have an aggressive way of maintaining tempo after those clears.
In addition, there are any number of ways of activating the egg so that you can get the Nerubian inside without waiting for a board sweeper. In particular, Zoo is going to gain even more ammunition to use in the early game, as this card maintains tempo, can be activated easily, and is another activator for Undertaker, a card I believe will be in a large number of Zoo lists.
In arena, this card isn’t quite as strong, but it will still have potential.
Probably one of the second-most anticipated cards from this set, the reasons behind the hype of Dark Cultist are certainly justified. It’s an incredibly solid card, clocking in at three attack and four health for three mana, but it doesn’t stop there.
In addition, it has the side benefit of increasing a random friendly minion’s health by three, but even without this added benefit, I think this card would be powerful. As it is, this card is as insane as Water Elemental. If the stats were any other way, I don’t think this card would be as popular as it is, but for now it is one of the better three drops in the game.
In arena, I think this card will be additionally amazing, and will be an auto-include in many Priest drafts.
The most anticipated card in the expansion, Loatheb has generated some mixed reviews; some believe it won’t have any impact, while some think it will redefine the meta. I tend to think that this card is a very strong contender in many deck lists, but it won’t change the entire meta on its own. The card is even a strong addition to Miracle Rogue, the deck this card was hailed as the bane of.
Boasting a solid five attack and five health for five mana is a pretty good deal, and that’s before its ability is considered. Looking at this ability, causing your opponent’s spells cost five more mana next turn is an insane shift in tempo, especially at the stage of the game that Loatheb will be played, and above all, this minion will have as much staying power on the board as Spectral Knight because of this.
To be sure, it has all the potential of shutting down many combos for a turn, but the trick will be in understanding when to play him. In addition, considering he is a Legendary, you can only have one of him in the deck, so drawing him at the right time is crucial. Even now he is being utilized in a large amount of decks, ranging from Control Warrior to Midrange Hunter. Even some zoo decks have adopted this minion into their ranks, although these aren’t as prevailent. Against most decks, he is just a huge tempo shift.
In arena, I see this as a solid five-drop, though I don’t know that it will be preferable over some of the other legendaries simply because many arena decks aren’t as spell-heavy.
Arena: 4, maybe 5
Curse of Naxxramas has certainly lived up to the hype for me, especially in regards to the cards we have received. Many of them are incredibly viable both on the ladder and in the arena, and the meta will shift and change as a result of these cards.
If you have questions or comments about the article or the deck, feel free to email me at email@example.com. In addition, if you have a deck list you would like to see me talk about, email me with the list and basic description of the deck. If the deck shows promise, you may see it in a new article. As always, thanks for reading!