Construct (ed) ing Naxxramas: The Military Quarter
Another week, another wing. After braving hordes of spiders and the disease slimed walls of the Plague Quarter, this Tuesday we get to suit up and fight through the armored barracks in the Military Quarter. This wing, like all wings, brings us a batch of fresh new cards to play with, which have the potential to greatly change ladder play moving forward.
There are six new cards in the Military Wings and while they may not all be the most versatile cards in the game, there is some great potential for the decks they do fit into. While I do believe that next week's wing (the Construct Quarter) will have the biggest impact on constructed play, the Military Quarter is a close second.
Today I will be discussing the new cards, what decks they will go into, and why constructed will never be the same.
One the most interesting cards in Naxx, Dancing Swordsis a very strong minion that comes with a very odd drawback. I say odd because, while the drawback may seem very bad at first look, that’s not always the case.
A 4/4 for a simple three mana is a very strong body that can quickly take over the early stages of the game. Of course, one cannot look at the swords without seeing the potential drawback. Yes, there will be plenty of times where the drawback hurts your gameplan and will put you at a disadvantage. However, there are also certain instances where a 4/4 for three is worth a lot more than giving your opponent a card.
Aggro decks, which care a lot less about giving their opponents advantages (see Arcane Golemand Coldlight Oracle) could use this card greatly to their advantage and I think there are two decks in particular that will at least give the swords a try.
Aggro (Divine Favor) Paladin
Shockadin, or whatever it has now become, is a Paladin aggro deck that uses huge draws off of Divine Favorto create gigantic tempo swings as well as a way to find lethal. Those draws made the deck what it was, and was the reason it carried so many people (myself included) to legend. Aggro Paladin is an deck that wants their opponent to have cards in their hand, because the more cards your opponent has the greater chance you have at finding lethal.
As a result, Dancing Swords fits right into aggro Paladin’s gameplan in the exact same way King Mukladoes. For three mana you get a minion with buffed stats that also helps out your Divine Favors for later in the game.
However, instead of giving your opponents two cards which they can use immediately, the swords give your opponent a card down the line, usually after they have lost some minions or taken a fair amount of damage.
It is for these reasons that this is probably the best suited deck for the swords (especially when coined out turn two) as being able to trade with a larger minion and gaining a card for Divine Favor is simply too good to pass up.
Backspace (Aggro) Rogue
While not quite as powerful as it could be in Paladin, Dancing Swords could also find a place among the aggro rogue decks. The reason for this is that, the main reason Backspace’s Rogue deck worked was that you simply didn’t care what kind of advantage you gave your opponent.
Mana crystals, cards...it didn’t matter as long as you kept doing damage in any way that you could. That deck has since fallen out of favor, but if it is set to make a comeback the swords could have a chance to be a part of that revival.
Once again, much like Mukla they are pushed in terms of mana and health, and can bring about large amounts of damage in going unchecked. Maybe not the most obvious use for the card, but there is no doubt some good potential here.
Holy Faerie Dragon Batman! Spectral Knightwas a card that was greatly overlooked when Naxxramas first got spoiled, and while I’m not sure how good it’s going to be, it is probably one of the most dangerous cards in the entire game. Faerie Dragon, while a solid option in aggro, suffers from the fact that it trades with most early game minions.
Yes, it can resist early removal, but it usually only gets one hit in before being killed off. However, Spectral Knight doesn’t have this problem. As a 4/6 for five, the knight has the same beefy stats as a taunted Druid of the Claw, but it trades the taunt for the fact that it can only be killed by creatures.
This may seem rather unassuming at first, but the more you think about it the more you realize exactly what that means. Swipecan’t hit the knight, neither can Wrath, Hunter's Mark, Backstab, Sapor any other form of removal. Almost no classes have any way to deal with Spectral Knight outside of creatures, and while this may not be the biggest problem for Zoo, it is going to give most decks fits.
Unlike its dragon counterpart, Spectral Knight will almost always trade off with multiple creatures. It’s a very good card in both midrange and control because it helps you get (and keep) board presence. Resilient minions (Harvest Golem) are always strong because board presence is so important in Hearthstone, and this card is the definition of staying power. For this reason, even though it is a little weak against aggro, it may well be one of the strongest turn five drops in the game.
Being neutral allows this card to slot very nicely into most control decks, especially Kolento’s Paladin, and will give midrange deck’s like Shaman a very good tool at their disposal. However, out of every deck that seeks to use the knight, I think no class has more to gain than Druid.
Innervate. If there was ever a card that made Spectral Knight an absolute terror it is Innervate. Imagine facing down the knight on turn two or three. How does any deck deal with that? Can any deck deal with that? Maybe, but it’s gonna set you far back on cards, board presence as well as tempo.
Even if Druid doesn’t get to Innervate it out early, Spectral Knight still acts as a great five drop that has the potential to completely disrupt your opponents plan. Druid of the Claw is a staple in Druid, and while Sludge Belcheris already making the five spot crowded these days, I think that Spectral Knight is just too good to ignore. Ramp Druid has many different problems with slower, more control oriented decks (Shaman) and this card will serve as a great presence in those matches.
Add in that it can also be played early off of things like Wild Growthand you have one of the silver bullets Druid has been looking for. It may not be the tool against aggro that both Belcher or Druid of the Claw are, but it’s ability and health are so strong together I can’t imagine Ramp Druid not slotting at least one of these into their builds.
Deathlordis one of the most talked about cards in Naxxramas for one very simple reason: Nobody knows how good or bad it is going to be. There are opinions all over the board, but it seems like it’s going to be insanely good in Zoo and really weak everywhere else.
That may seems strange seeing as many people are calling this the Zoo killer, but there is much more to this card than meets the eye, There is no doubt that a 2/8 for three is very challenging for aggro to deal with, but Deathlord also suffers from what I call the “sometimes effect”. That is, this is a card many people will put in their deck to specifically deal with Zoo, but you will only play against Zoo some of the time. So, ask yourself the question when you’re not playing aggro how good will this card be?
Against Hunter, especially midrange, there is no better Hunter's Marktarget, it gets Sapped very hard by Rogue, Control Warrior has plenty of efficient answers between Shield Slamand Execute, and Control Paladin can either turn it into a Mogu'shan Wardenor simply Equalityit away. Not only that, but the classes that can most easily deal with Deathlord are also the ones who have the most to gain from it.
While Zoo may not have many cards that can come into play and dominate a board, giving you opponent a free Ragnaros the Firelord, Tirion Fordringor the like can outright lose you the game. There is a ton of upside to Deathlord, but that upside should definitely taken with a grain of salt.
I know it's hard and I know that ever since Nerubian Egghatched onto the scene it is almost impossible not to run into Zoo on ladder. Well, I hate to say it, but strap in boys and girls because Zoo’s just going to be getting better and better from here on out.
Deathlord fits perfectly into the creature repertoire, allowing an incredibly strong three drop that protects your early game creatures and forces your opponent to use removal they would normally be saving for later in the game on things like Doomguard. That alone works well, and this card acts like a Voidwalkeron steroids.
Given that it can also be buffed by things like Shattered Sun Clericthis card really looks to add to the already terrifying arsenal Zoo has at its disposal. Deathlord may be in existence to stop Zoo, but a body that big and that cheap seems like it is going to do the exact opposite.
I’m not sure if it will be an auto include in all Zoo builds, but because Zoo, unlike other decks, has the ability to hold board control so well once its been established, the drawback will almost be a non-factor to the swarm.
The first legend spoiled, Baron Rivendareis a card that suffers from having both a ton of potential as well as a good amount of downside. There is no doubt his ability is extremely strong, but the situationality of it might prevent the Baron from ever getting to see constructed play.
Baron Rivendare is a card of two parts, and understand each part can show you why his constructed potential is a giant question mark. Baron's ability has the ability to swing games, and because his ability is static you can always wait to play him whenever you need him. This allows you to control when you get two Sylvanas WindrunnerTriggers, that second Cairne Bloodhoof, two Loot Hoarderdraws, etc.That fact alone makes Baron at least interesting, and could make him very strong in decks that naturally run a lot of death rattle cards like Shaman. Yet, there is also a huge downside to that as well.
Because Baron is so situational, and because you are likely going to have cards that you want to interact with his ability, he’s also going to sit in your hand for a good part of the game. Not only that, but because you want to get value out him, he’s also very bad to play on an empty board.
He doesn’t fit into a curve very well, and his Mogu'shan Wardenstats really don’t offer any offensive threat. He may find his way into a few deathrattle decks but right now he feels like a card that people are going to try to make work rather than being a card that is just actually good.
There are a lot of mixed opinions regarding the Shaman class card, but I personally think this card is a solid option that has some very strong applications. At its base Reincarnateis basically a Windfury. What does that mean? It is a two mana card that you sometimes draw and it wins you the game, sometimes you never see it, and sometimes you draw it and it does absolutely nothing. However, unlike Windfury, Reincarnation can interact with a lot more cards which sets to give Shaman midrange and control some very interesting options to test out.
Cairne Bloodhoof, Harvest Golem, Sylvanas Windrunner, Leeroy Jenkins, Al'Akir the Windlord, Nerubian Egg, Haunted Creeper. That’s a quick list of cards of all the cards Shaman plays that interact very well with Reincarnate. While Haunted Creeper and Harvest Golem may be the most unexciting cards on that list, even using Reincarnate on them to flood the board with minions against a deck like Zoo is a very good option.
Using Reincarnate on Cairne gives you a 4/5 for two mana, Sylvanas a double mind control (because you can use her again) and it brings both Leeroy and Al’Akir back to charge another day. All of these combos are very strong, and each ones gives you a solid advantage over your opponent. Ancestral Spiritis also a card that has been creeping into Shaman lists of late, and this card works very well with any Spirited creature.
Using Reincarnation on an ancestraled Cairne, give you a Baine and two Cairnes and can be used on an ancestraled Earth Elementalto give you two 7/8's with taunt when you need them. These examples may be somewhat of a pipe dream, but those crazy swings, combined with the fact that there are always going to be more solid plays available, make this one of the better class cards in the set.
We know he comes from the void, but the question is, will a viable demon deck follow behind? The answer is (sadly) probably not. Voidcaller is a very cool card, and a step in the right direction when it comes to creating a viable demon deck.
However, the days of the underworld are not yet upon us. Not only are Voidcaller's stats positively lackluster, but the demon also suffers from needed demons in your hand to adequately work. There will always be the dream of getting a free Doomguardor Pit Lordwithout the drawback, but until the game has more viable demons to help stabilize the early game this card seems like it will simply collect dust in your collection.
Coming up on week three in Naxxramas, the Military Wing sets out to be the most powerful quarter yet. Each card (with maybe the exception of Voidcaller) seems to have a niche of some sort, and will be at least worth testing in one build or another. The rise of Zoo has begun (something I will cover in much greater detail next week) but Control decks still have a fighting chance. It seems that Shaman's class card should bring a lot of new cards to life, while Baron Rivendare has a good amount of potential upside.
So far Naxxramas has greatly shaken up the meta, and based off this wing as well as next week's cards, that trends looks like it's going to continue. Until next Tuesday, may all of your transactions go through.
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