Construct (ed) ing Naxxramas: The Construct Quarter
I hate to say it, but Naxxramas is finally coming to an end. True, there are still two more wings to conquer before we say goodbye to the Necropolis, but we are finally heading into the downs wing. However, there are two sides to every story, and the end of Naxx also brings about good news. Soon, we will have access to all Naxxramas cards to play and experiment with on the ladder. Out of all the wings, this weeks (The Construct Quarter) brings the most to the meta in terms of both sheer amount of cards as well as pure playability.
Unlike the other wings, the Construct Quarter brings a whopping eight cards to the meta game, and each one will have a spot in constructed play. So far Naxxramas has already shaken up many different decks, but this week’s cards will show us the true power of Naxxramas. Each new card has a role to play in the current meta, and while they may all not be on the same power level, every card does have a deck that it will benefit greatly.
Zoo, thy time is now! I discussed a little last week about how Zoo was going to continue its rise through the ranks the further we got into Naxxramas, and Undertakermay be the card that finally pushes it over the edge. A 1/2 for one is already a solid first turn play (because it kills things like Webspinnerand Argent Squirewhile also being able to survive the Rogue, Druid and Mage hero powers) but add-on the fact that, because of cards like , it can easily become a 2/3 or a 3/4 and its power level gets out of control. This card is so good that I can even see Zoo running Leper Gnomeagain just to trigger Undertaker’s ability. That may or may not happen, but with Zombie Chow, Nerubian Egg, Harvest Golemand Haunted Creeper, this card is going to be one of the strongest cards in the coming weeks.
Undertaker is exactly what the doctor ordered for aggro, a tailor-made card that exists simply to beat down your opponent and get them from thirty to zero as fast as possible. Now, that is not to say it is only for aggro, but that is where it will thrive. I could see more midrange decks adopting this card and trying to pair it with things like Loot Hoarderor Harvest Golem, but that seems like it will take too much work to make happen.
Undertaker does suffer from the fact that it’s very situational and it is a very poor top deck (like most aggressive cards). However, it’s ability is so good and scales up so quickly that there is simply too much potential to ignore. This card could even make Dancing Swordsa legitimate option in more aggressive decks.
Nom, nom, nom. Zombie Chowis a very interesting card that is much like Nerubian Egg in that it has potential to be very strong in both aggro and control. In control this card is a great first turn play. It trades will all sorts of early game creatures, has the ability to take out things like Haunted Creeper, Shaman totems and Silver Hand Recruits while having almost no drawback. Most control decks (with the exception of maybe Druid) don’t care about giving their opponent’s five extra life and being able to control the board during the first couple of turns before bringing out your beaters is a very strong game plan.
In terms of aggro, while Zombie Chow will not find a home in every beat down deck, Zoo will gladly take this under costed creature. Zombie Chow will undoubtedly find its way into many different deck styles, but I believe there are two decks in particular that are going to most benefit from the one drop.
There are many control decks in the current meta, and all of them would love a chance to control the early board to make way for the middle to late game. However, none of them care less about their opponent’s health than Priest and Paladin. While decks like Shaman and Druid (even Warrior to some extent) rely on burst as a finisher, Priest and Paladin are decks that are built to slow down the game and beat their opponent through attrition. In these builds five extra health to your opponent almost never matters, and even if it did having an early creature that takes out most one and two drops is more than worth it.
Zombie Chow eats plenty of early creatures (most notably Haunted Creeper) and just gives these slow control decks another early game tool. While this card may not be the savior, each of these decks should at the very least consider playing Chow as it is a great way to fight back against aggro.
I know I already mentioned this card when discussing Undertaker’s potential, but Zombie Chow is a great Zoo card that I feel needs some explanation. Why? Because many people can't seem to see past Zombie Chow's deathrattle. Yes, giving your opponent five life is not something aggro typically wants to do, but when you have the option of playing a three health minion on turn one the five live will hardly ever matter. Zoo is an aggressive deck, but more so it is a deck that is dependent on board control.
Zombie Chow gives Zoo another amazing one drop that combos well with Undertakerand allows for incredibly powerful openings. Because of cards like Zombie Chow, Zoo will be able to have openings like Undertaker, Coin, Zombie Chow or turn one Undertaker into Leper Gnome and Zombie Chow giving you a 3/4, 2/3 and a 2/1 on turn two. That’s almost impossible to come back from. This card may give five life back later in the game, but if you do more than five damage, or use it to control the early board, then the trade-off is more than worth it.
Two weeks ago I would have said that Mad Scientistwas going to be one of the most useful cards coming out of Naxx. It has a very good deathrattle, is a 2/2 for two and fits nicely into a curve. However, time is a fickle thing, and with Freeze Mage disappearing from the ladder and Hunter decks no longer playing any secrets this card seems to have very limited (if any) upside. I’m sure at this point there will be people who try to make Mad Scientist work (especially in conjunction with something like Duplicate) but that’s probably just trying to hard.
Getting a free Freezing Trapor Explosive Trap is really good, but the truth of the matter is that there is really no place in the current meta for this card (which really is a shame). The one thing Mad Scientist has going for it is that it is a card that gets better with time, and as more secrets get printed this card will gain more power. Scientist’s time will come, just not right now.
As a ladder player, when a new set comes out, some cards are easy to evaluate, some cards are a little harder, and some cards downright impossible. Wailing Soulfalls right into the middle of that last category. Not only does this card have a very unique ability, but it is an ability that could be extremely powerful or one of the worst in the game. I know that all of these sentences are very ambiguous, but Wailing Soul is a not a card that is going to come firing right out of the gate (if at all).
Silencing your own minions is a very tricky ability that looks terrible at first glance. However, when you start to think about it there are a few minions in this game you wouldn’t mind silencing. The Beast, Zombie Chow, Deathlord, Ancient Watcherand Dancing Swordsare all cards that get better when silenced. In fact, because of Wailing Soul’s stats (3/5 for four), opening with Ancient Watcher into Coin, Wailing Soul is a fantastic early play that could very easily lead to victory.
Wailing Soul also acts as a handy tool to unfreeze your minions, and works as an [card]Equality[card] Combo to reset all of your minions health while keeping your opponent’s at one. In this way, there is some potential to Wailing Soul. However, nothing is perfect and just like a rose, Wailing Soul also has its thorns.
Despite the potential, Wailing Soul also suffers from the same thing that Anub'ar Ambusherdoes: its situational. Sometimes Ambusher is a 5/5 that completely takes over the board or works well with your battlecry creatures. However, more often than not it two for ones yourself or simply sits in your hand. Wailing Soul is much in the same vein, because there simply aren’t enough creatures you want to silence to make a full deck. As a result, there will be some creatures you don’t want to silence, which means there are some games where Wailing Soul will just away rot in your hand.
I’m not sure if there is a deck for Wailing Soul (my gut instinct says no) but it’s ability is so new and interesting that there may be hope for this card yet. It is also worth noting that, like Mad Scientist, this card will probably only get better at time goes on.
Note: For the purposes of this article I will not be discussing by himself. He’s an 11/11 (which is more than enough power) and something you always want on the board. The question is, is he worth the work you need to put in to get him?
The Construct Quarter not only gives us the most cards out of any quarter, but it also gives us two new legends to play with. The first of these legends is the incredibly underwhelming Stalagg. Seven power for five mana is very pushed and trades with almost every midrange minion. However, the fact of the matter is that Stalagg is almost guaranteed to die the turn he comes out (due to four health) which makes the power almost irrelevant. Everything kills Stalagg, ranging from Abusive Sergeanted Dire Wolf Alphas to Spell Power Lightning Bolts to Swipes, which makes him a very poor five drop.
So, the next question then becomes, is his deathrattle worth putting him into a deck? One argument for playing Stalagg is that you want him to die, but that’s only true if you also have Feugen, which will happen a very small amount of the time. Summoning Thaddius seems a lot like a pipe dream more than an actuality, and that makes Stalagg much worse that his counterpart who, unlike Stalagg, can function very well on his own.
Whereas Stalagg suffers from the fact that he is too easy to kill, Feugen’s seven health makes him a nightmare to deal with. His four power is a little on the weak side, but there are many decks that could capitalize on the fact that he is very hard to kill. Just like Stalagg, it seems that trying to bring to life might just be too tall of an order, but a deck like Shaman (with Reincarnate) could try. But these days good minions are ones that can stay on the board for at least a turn (see Loatheb) and Feugen will do that more often than not. He's a very powerful play and while Spectral Knightand are crowding the five mana cost spot these days, Feugen could be an easy replacement for either one.
As stated above, Feugen will probably see play in a number of midrange and control builds. However, Druid probably has the most use for the 4/7. Why? Because not only does Druid depend on powerful five and six drops (Druid of the Claw, Cairne Bloodhoof, Sludge Belcher) they also have access to Mark of the Wildwhich will make Feugen an absolute terror.
This combo may not come up all of the time, but it is much like Houndmasterand Oasis Snapjawin Hunter. However, instead of a 4/9 with taunt you get a 6/9. True, you don't get a 4/3 with your taunt, but Mark of the Wild also has the potential to be combo'd with The Black Knightand, because it only costs two mana, you can also play another creature or spell on the same turn. Feugen seems to be a great fit for Druid, a good midgame minion with high cost, and is also an exception Innervatetarget.
Warrior Swipe Death's Biteis a very strong card that seems perfectly balanced. Giving Warrior a Swipethat also does four extra damage seems very strong. Add on the fact that does it does one damage to all minions instead of just your opponent’s, and it just gets better.
It is a double removal spell that also triggers Acolyte of Painand Armorsmith, which are two things Control Warrior loves to have. Not only that, but because it’s ability works as a deathrattle, Warrior will also be able to choose when to use the second swing and set it up turns ahead of time. This card will always allow Warriors to be able to get thier armor and Acolyte triggers much in the same way as .
However, unlike Whirlwind, those triggers will also usually be used to remove a larger creature and the deathrattle costs zero mana. Yes, there is the downside that your opponent can also play around the second swing (because they will see it coming) but all of those elements blend together to create a very strong weapon that will slot right into Warrior Control. Even if your opponent is aware of the second swing, if they play cautiously to avoid it that just helps you get closer to the end game where you can start dropping legends.
You might not always run two, as the deck is already very crowded as is, but it is definitely worth at least one slot.
For those of you following the latest trends, Trump just took priest all the way to the top of the legend ladder. Why is that important? It means that Priest has a good place in the current meta, and shows it is not a throw away class after all.
Right now the meta has slowed down, and slower games favor Priests greatly, allowing it to draw into the right combo cards and control the game. With Zoo getting the final pieces it needs (maybe with the exception of Echoing Ooze) the metagame will start to speed up again, which usually would mean bad news for the healing class. However, instead of getting sucked up under the wave of aggro, Priest gets Dark Cultist, which is a perfect tool for striking back.
There’s no other way to say this, Dark Cultist is too good. A 3/4 for three is already above the curve, and giving that to a class that cares about health just makes it even better. The deathrattle is very strong, and will make cards like Ancient Watcher, Northshire Clericor Wild Pyromancerbetter than they already are. Looking at base stats, combo ability and functionality, the cultist is easily the best three drop in the game.
It dominates the early board (being able to kill off almost every single early game creature and live) and is an automatic two of in every priest deck. In fact, the card is so powerful there’s really not much else to explain. If you are a Priest player, play two and never look back.
The second to last wing in Naxxramas is easily the most exciting. Priest is already making somewhat of a comeback, and it will be interesting to see how Dark Cultisthelps fight back against the oncoming wave of Zoo. There are plenty of cards for all decks in the Construct Quarter, which shows not just good design on Blizzard's part, but also a good sense of balancing out the meta. I do think Zoo might actually be too strong this time around, but only time will tell if that's true.
The most important thing is, eight new cards are coming to our collections and I for one cannot wait to give them a try. Til next week, may your boss fights go smoothly. Thanks for reading.