Finally! The Grand Tournament is almost upon us, and the whole set has been revealed. That means new cards, new decks and, most of all, new analyses. For this article, I am skirting away from my usual Weekly Legends articles to bring you guys my top ten picks for the best constructed cards in the set, which will soon be followed by my theorycrafting article looking at the new decks to come. All of these have a wide range of uses and abilities that should appeal to all sorts of different playstyles. While some people are very underwhelmed by the power level and card design of this set, I think The Grand Tournament will be a huge success on multiple levels. These cards (among many others) could see to the resurgence of some decks, while strengthening existing ones and building entirely new ones as well. That is very good news for anyone who wanted a change to the meta, and huge changes are on the horizon. There will be several reasons for these changes, but the cards on this list will most definitely be one of them.
While the following ten cards are ranked in a very specific order, it should be noted they all could be lumped together in different ways. Power level is a very interesting concept, and it changes greatly from class to class and use to use. While many of the cards on this list simply only effect one class, I believe all of them will shape the meta heavily in one way or another. I am not quite sure how that is going to happen just yet, but it is going to happen very,very soon. These cards are linked together for sheer power level printed on them, and then ordered based on how important they will be in the coming weeks. I am not saying they will all see play right away, or that all of them will be completely backbreaking, but I will say that the rest of the set pales in comparison to the following list. These cards are fun, unique and very, very powerful. Now, with that being said, let’s get going into my first look into the Grand Tournament!
[cardinsert card=”ram-wrangler” float=”right”]
[cardinsert card=”bear-trap” float=”left”]
[toc]10. Bear Trap/Ram Wrangler[/toc]
We begin our list with two cards instead of just one. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a cop out, but (similar to the Hunter legend) I could not see mentioning one without mentioning the other. [card]Bear Trap[/card] and [card]Ram Wrangler[/card] are here together for two distinct reasons. One, they are both very, very powerful (which we will discuss in more detail below). Two, each of them are going to play a key part in a new midrange beast-centric Hunter deck. As such, before getting into the cards themselves, I want to take a brief minute to discuss the impact these cards could have. Beast synergy is perhaps (besides Murlocs) the most powerful synergy in the game. However, unlike Murlocs, beasts are incredibly powerful on their own, can be pushed for their mana cost, and have some incredible support. These two cards take that support and crank up the notch all the way to 11. Midrange Hunter has always been a powerful, top player in the metagame. These two cards let you play that deck by gutting the middle, keeping the shell, and then filling your list with a great number of powerful beasts and beast interactions.
The first card on the operating slab is [card]Bear Trap[/card], an absolute powerhouse of a secret that just oozes value. Just on base stats alone, this card is very strong. An [card]Ironfur Grizzly[/card] is nothing to sneeze at, and when you add in the fact that most often this card will be free (thanks again [card]Mad Scientist[/card]) and that the bear essentially has charge since it comes out on your opponent’s turn, the value is through the roof. In conjunction with [card]Snake Trap[/card], this card creates nightmare situations for your opponents when they are trying to decide whether to attack your minions or go face. [card]Freezing Trap[/card] is very strong, but this card is actually better than Freezing Trap in decks where having beasts on board matters. One of Hunter’s biggest problems (and the reason to run Snake Trap) is keeping a beast around, since they most often are killed on sight. However, it is much harder to react to a beast that only comes out after an attack has been made.
The second half of this new midrange beast deck is [card]Ram Wrangler[/card]. Yes, the design on the card is very swingy, and will cause many a laptop to be broken, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, this five drop is quite the opposite. One of the things about RNG is, if the RNG on a card is bad or too heavy, it most often won’t see play. The reason that [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] and [card]Boom Bot[/card]s are both so good is due to the fact that their RNG outcomes are always going to gain you value in some way. You only want to run RNG if the odds are heavily in your favor, and boy are they in your favor with this card. Ram Wrangler can summon any beast in the game, which means you can easily get [card]Savannah Highmane[/card], [card]King Krush[/card], [card]Malorne[/card], [card]Gahz’rilla[/card] or [card]King Mukla[/card]. Any of those cards is extremely strong when summoned for free off of a 3/3, but even getting something like [card]Stampeding Kodo[/card], [card]Oasis Snapjaw[/card], [card]Lost Tallstrider[/card] or [card]Stranglethorn Tiger[/card] is a fantastic deal. While you do need a beast on board to get the trigger (something also helped by [card]Bear Trap[/card]) that is more than doable in Hunter, even if it mean waiting until turn six to play this with [card]Webspinner[/card]. Most beasts have decent bodies, which means that this card is pulling a lot of stats for five mana. Of course, there are many low-impact cards as well, but the RNG is heavily tilted in your favor, and the low risk – high reward makes this one of the best cards in the set.
[cardinsert card=”tuskarr-jouster” float=”right”]
[toc]9. Tuskarr Jouster[/toc]
[card]Antique Healbot[/card] just got chokeslammed out of Paladin and into the junk heap. [card]Tuskarr Jouster[/card] is perhaps the most “boring” or simple cards on this list, but it also is going to breath life into an old archetype. Earlier I touched upon the idea of use, and how that can change how powerful a card is. For instance, there are some bad cards that, if given to certain classes, would suddenly become great. If the jouster was not a Paladin card I don’t think it would deserve to be on this list. A 5/5 for 5 that heals for seven is extremely strong, but a 5/5 for 5 that heals for 7 only when you win jousts is situational at best, and will often not be enough to justify a card slot. However, this is a Paladin card, and that changes the game completely. Not only does this 5/5 give Control Paladin what is essentially two cheaper [card]Shield Maiden[/card]s, but it also could very well single-handedly make Control Paladin a deck again.
With [card]Tuskarr Jouster[/card], Paladin gets to add more healing into their deck while not sacrificing any threats. Now, before analyzing just how critical having two more midgame threats can be, it is important to discuss the jouster’s ability. While I will admit I am not a fan of joust (too much variance to really be relied upon) the joust here is completely different. Not only will you almost always win this joust against aggro, but you will almost always win this joust against most decks. This is due to the way that Paladin Control is constructed. Control Paladin has very few minions, and most of the ones they do have are a ton of mana. [card]Tirion Fordring[/card] and [card]Ysera[/card] are the common finishers here, while one [card]Acolyte of Pain[/card], two [card]Aldor Peacekeeper[/card]s and two [card]Shielded Minibot[/card]s are the only things you run below five. Those odds mean you are going to be healing quite often, and make this card better than a healbot ever could be.
The last important piece of information to cover is exactly what this card does. That is, heals, takes up board, and provides a solid body.There is a ton of decent midrange cards in this game, but in the land where five is the most important number, the ones that can take down a [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] and live are king. While efficient, sticky minions were largely what contributed to the fall of heavy control, 5/5’s are also a huge problem. This is because, while you often have a lot of premium removal spells, you can’t afford to use them on a 5/5. If you do, you risk losing the game to something scarier later on, but if you don’t, you might lose board and never get it back. The jouster fixes this problem by giving you the opportunity to crash into 5 health minions, which allows you some much needed board presence for the midgame. That ability, mixed with such a powerful healing tool, makes this card an easy two-of-auto-include in any slow Paladin deck.
[cardinsert card=”gormok-the-impaler” float=”left”]
[toc]8. Gormok the Impaler[/toc]
Four attack, four defense, four minions, four damage. Four is the golden number here, and man is it a good one. [card]Gormok the Impaler[/card] is a card many people first looked at, immediately thought “meh”, and moved on. That’s fair, and I wouldn’t blame you if you missed just how powerful this card truly is. Before even getting into the ability, it is important to understand that the tusked gladiator is a 4/4 for four. While those are not the most impressive of numbers, they are very reasonable stats that are only really weak when [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] enters the conversation. Even so, it crushes a lot of cards pound for pound and can easily be buffed to trade up with most midrange minions. Yes, it does not pass the “5 attack” test that enables it to kill off [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or the like, but it still is big enough of a beater that, in the decks that want to run this card, that won’t particularly matter.
So, if Gormok doesn’t pass the attack test, and has a very situational ability, why is this card so high up in my list? The answer is a combination of versatility, control and power. Gormok is one of the few very powerful aggro cards of the set, but it also can act as a great tempo play, efficient removal, or direct damage. Everyone who has ever played with or against [card]Fire Elemental[/card] knows just how strong that card is, and this card does more damage and costs less. As I stated earlier, most of the cards in this list are focused at creating or helping one particular class, but Gromok has a couple of very solid options. Having four minions is no easy task, and can be a definite drawback, but having a crowded board happens much more often than you think. Not only that, but you can also set up this card with things like [card]Muster for Battle[/card] or [card]Living Roots[/card] to guarantee that the ability triggers. A quick scenario is imagine you are playing Token Druid and all you have is a [card]Haunted Creeper[/card] out of turn five. Your opponent then plays a [card]Sludge Belcher[/card]. Back on your turn, with five mana, you can then run the creeper into the belcher, then play [card]Living Roots[/card] and Gromok to finish off the belcher. An extremely solid turn around, and that’s not even a dream. A 4/4 for four that does four damage is very, very powerful, and if you can set up his ability in a deck that can make use of it, he is one of the best tools in the game.
After covering the card itself, the next question becomes, what decks will want Gromok the most? The answer is Zoo, Aggro Paladin and Token Druid. Zoo is a class that really strives on board control, and has so many sticky minions (in addition to [card]Imp-losion[/card]) that you will almost always have a board full of minions. In that same vein, divine shield, [card]Muster for Battle[/card] and the hero power make aggro Paladin a great spot for the impaler. Token Druid is a deck that has not been around for some time, but this beast, paired along with [card]Living Roots[/card], could easily lead to a resurgence of that archetype as well. Each of these decks can give you ways to plan for Gromok, which will allow him to obliterate your opponent in the right setting. One concern that many people have had with Gromok is that he could be a “win more” card, where if you already have four minions on the board, you’re already going to win the game. While that may be true for many decks, it is most definitely not the case for the three mentioned here. Anyone who has spent a lot of time playing aggro will tell you that you can often flood the board early, which many slower decks counter by playing beefy minions. Gromok allows you to offset this by removing a minion of your choice, giving you a tempo play, and then adding a 4/4 to the board.
[cardinsert card=”tuskarr-totemic” float=”right”]
[toc]7. Tuskarr Totemic[/toc]
I don’t care if you hate or love RNG, there is one fact you cannot deny: extremely swingy RNG is almost always bad. That being said, RNG that has a small pool ([card]Bane of Doom[/card], [card]Crackle[/card] etc.) is very good. This card is of the latter, and oh man is it something special. As we learned from GVG, the best way to take a crappy class (Paladin) and make it good is to just pump some insanely powerful cards into it ([card]Shielded Minibot[/card], [card]Muster of Battle[/card]). This time around, Shaman is getting the steroid treatment, and it is going to blow the doors off of the class. While one of the key cards to this transformation will be covered below, the first tool is [card]Tuskarr Totemic[/card], a card that makes the case for one of the best three drops in the game.
[card]Tuskarr Totemic[/card], a 3/2 for three, does not pass the vanilla test. However, it does pass the Shaman test. When evaluating this card, you need to look at it from two different angles. The first angle is in terms of what it actually does, and the second in what it means for a class like Shaman. This card is similar to [card]Bane of Doom[/card] in that it takes RNG, and injects it into a small pool of cards. The totems you can get from the totemic are [card]Searing Totem[/card], [card]Healing Totem[/card], [card]Taunt Totem[/card], [card]Wrath of Air Totem[/card], [card]Vitality Totem[/card], [card]Totem Golem[/card], [card]Flametongue Totem[/card] and [card]Mana Tide Totem[/card]. Out of all of those, [card]Searing Totem[/card] is the only truly bad option, and while you typically don’t want [card]Vitality Totem[/card], it can be a great pull against aggro. Next you have Wrath of Air, Taunt Totem and Healing Totem. Each of these are all powerful in the right circumstances, and if you roll them you are basically getting a 3/2 with a “free” hero power tacked on. Beyond that, you have access to [card]Flametongue Totem[/card], which can just be amazing if you curved out on turn one and two, and then you also have Totem Golem and Mana Tide which can just end the game on the spot. Those odds are really good, and the fact that this has almost no terrible rolls (like a certain [card]Blood Imp[/card]) gives this three drop a lot of staying power that cards typically don’t have.
Shaman is a class that thrives on board control, and a three drop that gives you two minions allows you a huge amount of board presence. Yes, there are some scenarios that aren’t as strong, but some are so powerful that this can just runaway with the game. As with [card]Ram Wrangler[/card], you want to look at RNG by weighing the best case scenario versus the worst case. Anyone who has played Midrange Shaman knows that once you get board control, you never lose it. However, getting that early board control can be very difficult, and is going to get harder the more good, early game minions that get printed. [card]Tuskarr Totemic[/card] fixes this problem by adding two minions to the board in the same way that [card]Feral Spirit[/card] does. However, unlike Feral Spirit, sometimes you can get a much better card than just a 2/3 wolf, such as a 0/3 that draws each turn, or a 3/4. This then makes your opponent react to you, which most likely will keep your 3.2 alive, and then enable you to set up turn four. Those type of plays are what made Shaman so good in the past, and what will push the class over the edge.
[cardinsert card=”rhonin” float=”left”]
So, Mages got [card]Tirion Fordring [/card] and not one person noticed? How this card slipped through the cracks I have no idea, but it is an absolutely insane late-game card that is going to kill a ton of people in a variety of creative ways. While [card]Rhonin[/card] is not inherently as strong as Tirion (mainly due to the fact that is has no taunt) his death rattle is just as strong, if not stronger. Nine damage split across a board for three mana is insane, and basically acts as a cheaper, more powerful [card]Avenging Wrath[/card]. However, what really takes the Mage legend to the next level is how well it can be combined with other popular Mage cards. After the deathrattle, just one [card]Flamewaker[/card] gives you get fifteen damage split across the board. That is a devastating play that can push for lethal, bring you back from a losing position, or move you further ahead. Even more powerful is playing the [card]Arcane Missile[/card]s with [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card], which gives you a huge “must kill” threat, nine damage across a board as well as three [card]Fireball[/card]s, which will most likely add up to lethal very, very soon. That power enables Rhonin to slot right into Mage’s already-laid plans, and you can even combo him with [card]Malygos[/card] or [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] for the super combo of death. Typically, you want to work as little as possible when incorporating new cards into your decks, and Rhonin slots right into Mage without so much as breaking a sweat.
Beyond the litany of reasons listed above, [card]Rhonin[/card] is also extremely powerful because, just like [card]Tirion Fordring[/card], he falls into a very interesting spot. That is to say, while you don’t want to trigger the deathrattle due to how strong it is, the card itself cannot be ignored. Tirion can’t be ignored because of the taunt, which literally forces you to kill it before moving on with the game. Rhonin must be killed as well, because taking seven from a Mage deck, tempo or otherwise, is never an option. Mage always is at threat to kill you out of nowhere, and seven is a huge chunk of health. This is the number one reason why he is so powerful, and why he traps your opponent in a corner. If your opponent is low on health, how do they answer this card? Silence is strong, but they still need to kill him immediately afterwards. If they don’t have a silence, they basically need to be able to survive nine damage, or hope that you don’t have [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card] in hand. Furthermore, even if they have board and life, but kill him without silence, chances are his deathrattle is going to wipe their board the following turn.
The biggest criticism from [card]Rhonin[/card] right now is that it doesn’t fit into any existing Mage decks, but, as I covered above, this could not be further from the truth. Tempo Mage is a deck that already runs [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card], and Rhonin is miles better due to his versatility, and the fact that he can choose what minion to attack. In addition, due to his synergy with [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card], he also works really well as a finisher in slower mage decks while also making combo decks that much stronger. He is not a card that is going to bring about a new style of deck, but his raw power is so high that, just like Tirion, he will just go right into almost all Mage decks…and that’s good enough for me.
[cardinsert card=”darnassus-aspirant” float=”right”]
[toc]5. Darnassus Aspirant[/toc]
Shifting gears, we are moving into the top five of the set. The real heavy hitters on this list, the bruisers that are set to be some of the most powerful constructed cards the game has ever seen. And I will start out by saying, holy mother of two drops batman! Hearthstone is a game where turn two is extremely important, as it can largely dictate the pace of a game. Many decks have an extremely powerful two drop these days, and Blizzard went ahead and let Druid join the party. [card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card] is not just a card. It is a perfect example of how Blizzard continues to push the limits of this game, which is by no means a bad thing. It is easy to look at the negatives here, and so I think I should address them before moving forward. Yes, this card dies to a lot of solid, common removal such as [card]Fiery War Axe[/card], [card]Frostbolt[/card], [card]Dark Bomb[/card] and [card]Rockbiter Weapon[/card]. Also, yes, this card is very susceptible to a lot of common openings, which means it will most often immediately die in combat. However, it does have three health (which is the necessary amount of health a sticky, early-game minion needs) and just as with [card]Mechwarper[/card], if the aspirant doesn’t die immediately, the upside goes through the roof. Risk-reward is often one of the best ways to evaluate cards, and even though this card is not as strong as [card]Wild Growth[/card] in ramp, it enables you another powerful early game option that makes all Druid decks (which are aimed at getting to the middle game) that much stronger.
[card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card] seems like an immediate inclusion to all existing Druid archetypes, which is very, very high praise. Ramp may not be able to get the best use out of this card, but adding more consistency is never a bad thing. Druid now has six different options to start out quickly, between this, [card]Wild Growth[/card] and [card]Innervate[/card]. While it is much more fragile than the other two options, the fact that aspirant can also be used to kill off or challenge a lot of popular two drops is what pushes it over the edge. One of ramps biggest problems has always been the early game. You would spend a key turn Wild Growthing, which would then allow your opponent to fill the board with a [card]Knife Juggler[/card], [card]Imp Gang Boss[/card] or the like. Many times, if you don’t have a card to follow your ramp, you could easily fall behind. Aspirant changes this, as you can now play a two drop minion that not only kills those cards, but also gives you a jump from turn two to four. That is absolutely insane.
Beyond the consistency it allows ramp, aspirant may be even better in midrange Druid decks. While four is not always essential in heavy ramp, it is crucial in midrange combo, where you can immediately jump to something like [card]Piloted Shredder[/card]. Not only that, but you can also coin this out on turn one and then play a [card]Shade of Naxxramas[/card] on turn two. While there is a very high chance that the aspirant will not be able to live more than a turn or two, if you can get value out of the card early on then it really doesn’t matter. A temporary mana boost is not worth it, but a temporary mana boost that pushes you to the next level while also eating removal or trading with an early minion has unlimited potential. As time moves forward, two drops are going to become more and more important. This would normally make Druid, so focused on ramp and pushing towards the later turns, fall behind. However, here, they get the best of both worlds: An extremely strong two drop that also serves as a very efficient (if temporary) ramp spell as well.
[cardinsert card=”totem-golem” float=”left”]
[toc]4. Totem Golem[/toc]
As covered, Shaman is undergoing a massive transformation in this set. The first half of this is [card]Tuskarr Totemic[/card], with the second being the incredibly powerful [card]Totem Golem[/card]. Totem Golem is an extremely strong card that really has no reason to be as low on this list as it is. However, the three cards above it are far too strong to put anywhere else. That being said, Totem Golem is in the running for the best two drop in the game, and is easily the best early game, board control card there is. It’s solid against aggro, good against control and midrange, and can even apply pressure if need be. This card is the complete package, good in every single sense of the word, and is going to help Shaman rise from the ashes. While [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] still might be the king of turn two openings, Totem Golem is a very, very, very close second. Very close. A 3/4 for two is the most stats we have ever seen on a two drop, and it comes to a class that desperately needed it. The golem stomps on everything in its path, wins most combats, isn’t weak to silence, and laughs at just about every early removal spell in the game.
Most of Shaman’s early cards are strong, but usually not enough to keep up. For instance, even if you do manage to trade a [card]Zombie Chow[/card] into a [card]Knife Juggler[/card], you can easily not have an answer for the next drop, and will quickly fall behind. In contrast, this beater will almost always take out two minions before it dies. Shaman is a deck that thrives on board presence. It is almost exclusively a midrange build that uses incremental value and targeted removal to keep its opponent’s board clear while furthering it’s own. There are very few cards that fit that agenda better than [card]totem Golem[/card]. Currently, four health on turn three has become the norm. Not only that, but it also has really been outclassed by heavy, resilient minions and things like [card]Death’s Bite[/card] or [card]Truesilver Champion[/card]. Totem Golem fixes this problem by coming down a whole turn earlier, which is incredibly important for the early game. As stated, Shaman lives and thrives off of board control, which means that if your opponent is not playing cards, you are winning. If you can coin this out on turn one, suddenly your opponent has been locked out of the board. They can’t play their [card]Knife Juggler[/card] or [card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card], and most likely are going to avoid dropping a [card]Sorcerer’s Apprentice[/card] as well. That fear alone makes this card worth running.
Before moving on to number three, it also should be noted that this card does have overload one. Some people have cited this as a pretty hefty setback, as it can ruin your curve or take away turn three. However, any card that can kill off a [card]Knife Juggler[/card] and live to tell the tale is more than worth a slot, especially in a deck that only cares about being able to get the most value out of each card. Anyone who has seriously played Midrange Shaman (where this card will most definitely go) knows that you want to play as little cards as possible. Conservation is very important in that deck, and you want to be hero powering early and often. This card may only allow you to totem on turn three, but you were probably going to do that anyway. That kind of curve, mixed with the sheer raw stats of the golem, make it an all-star player, and one of the top five cards in the set.
[cardinsert card=”mulch” float=”right”]
This. This is what I’m talking about. Druid is a very strong class that has always had one weakness: a lack of hard removal. This card over-solves that problem by giving the tree-lover access to one of the most efficient hard removal spells in the game. At its base, [card]Mulch[/card] is just solid, no-nonsense removal that kills any (any!) minion in the game. [card]Mal’Ganis[/card]? Gone. [card]Ysera[/card] ? Nice knowing you. [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card] ? Don’t make me laugh. Not only that, but it does that for the small cost of three mana. Druid has always had to either depend on sketchy removal ([card]Swipe[/card]/hero power the [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card]) or big minions to stay in the game. Now, they get a three mana [card]Assassinate[/card] that not only allows them to remove any threat they want, but that can also be played with other cards, such as [card]Druid of the Claw[/card] or [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] on the same turn. Druid is a deck that loves solid tempo, and being able to kill any minion in the game while also adding your own threat that same turn is the definition of solid tempo.
When analyzing this card, it is best to compare it to [card]Tuskarr Jouster[/card] in the sense that it truly shines due to the class it was given to. Many heroes would be fine with this card, but almost none of them would be so eager to play it. However, Druid, with so little removal in its repertoire, was starving for something halfway decent. What they got was something insane. I have often discussed the importance of versatility in this game, and [card]Mulch[/card] can be whatever you need it to be. It can help kill a threat off in the earlier stages of the game, stop a midrange threat, gain you tempo, or wrestle the board away from an opponent anytime past turn five. Ramp and tempo have both always struggled in getting rid of giant minions, and while they did get [card]Recycle[/card], it proved to be too costly and too slow to have any real use. In contrast, due to its low cost and versatility, Mulch will go into every type of Druid build as at least a one-of, but there are plenty of decks that will run two copies as well.
The last thing that need to be addressed about [card]Mulch[/card] is the “drawback”. Normally, I don’t put words in quotation mark, but here it is important to say that there is no real drawback on this card. Some people are comparing this to a [card]Naturalize[/card] that gives your opponent one card instead of two, but it is so far ahead of Naturalize, it is an insult to even say the two cards in the same breath. While Naturalize gives your opponent two of the cards that they chose to put into their deck, this just gives them some random minion. Anyone who has ever used [card]Unstable Portal[/card] can tell you there are a lot of bad minions in this game. A lot. Not only that, but there are also a lot of minions that are considered strong due to the specific decks or archetype they are in. When you take both of those facts into account, you start to realize how many subpar minions Mulch can give your opponent. As a result, more often than not you are going to give them something much worse than what they had on the field, which means you are trading up almost all of the time. Furthermore, even if they do get something big, such as a [card]Ysera[/card], they still have to pay the mana cost for it. This means they might take a late game turn playing it, giving you time to combo, or they simply will have to wait a couple of turns before dropping it onto the field. In the meantime, you took away their board, most likely added to your own, and are most likely winning. Of course, this card is worse against aggro or token decks, but just about every deck in the game has something worth killing these days, and this hits them all.
[cardinsert card=”varian-wrynn” float=”left”]
[toc]2. Varian Wrynn[/toc]
While I have talked about how powerful Shaman is going to be (extremely, for those wondering) Control Warrior is another archetype that got an adrenaline shot in the form of [card]Varian Wrynn[/card]. Varian is….wow. I mean…wow. This card is not messing around. This isn’t your dad’s 10 mana legend. This isn’t some 12/12 dragon that empties your hand. No, this card is an absolute beat down, guess I win, beast of a legend, and exactly what I want my 10 mana cards to do. Not only does this 7/7 draw you three cards (something that could of easily been enough for it to be insane) but it also allows you to play minions onto the board for free. Free. As in no mana. This has been a topic of debate for the past week or so, because there are a lot of people who think that this ability is actually a drawback due to the fact that you could overextend into AOE, or miss key battlecries. While I will say this concern is well founded, it largely doesn’t matter. This is because, most of the minions you are going to pull out with Varian are going to be very large or have significant abilities. In fact, Control Warrior is most likely going to get restructured due to simply how powerful this card is.
When building a deck with Varian, you want to limit the amount of battlecry cards you have in your deck. Luckily for you Warrior fans out there, there are plenty of minions that don’t have battlecry which fit perfectly into Control Warrior. [card]Ysera[/card], [card]Ragnaros the Firelord[/card], [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card], [card]Baron Geddon[/card], [card]Cairne Bloodhoof[/card] and [card]Sneed’s Old Shredder[/card] are all perfectly reasonable options, that can be backbreaking when dropped into play for free next to a 7/7. These cards may not be in the stock Control Warrior lists of today, and some of them did not have even seen much play in the past, but Varian is such a strong card it would almost be foolish to try and run a Control Warrior deck without him. As such, you also want to be prepared should you draw or play him at a key time in the game. You want to alter or change you deck in certain ways that will allow you to get the most out of his ability without risking too much, and putting more minions with static abilities in your deck is the way to do this. I am not saying that this card will lead people to cut [card]Alexstrasza[/card] or [card]Grommash Hellscream[/card] (though they very well could) but it will definitely alter the way people construct Control Warrior, since this card is an auto include if I have ever seen one. Just an absolute beast.
[cardinsert card=”justicar-trueheart” float=”right”]
[toc]1. Justicar Trueheart[/toc]
Ah yes, the little six drop that could. The knight with a big dream. When this card first got announced, I thought it was going to be the best in the set, since I didn’t think Blizzard would make another card of this power level that positively affected so many different classes. Now that all the cards have been revealed, turns out I was right. [card]Justican Trueheart[/card] is exactly the type of card a high-powered legendary should be; a midrange minion with decent stats and an extremely powerful ability. In this case, it is not just an ability, it is one of the best abilities ever made. Yes, this card has very little use for some classes, but it is going to be a godsend for others. This card seems like it will not be played in Rogue, Warlock, Mage, Druid and Hunter. All of those decks have fine hero powers, and the new boost they get from this card really isn’t worth the slot. However, Shaman, Paladin, Warrior and Priest will all love having access to this card, and that is the main reason the trueheart rose through the ranks and made it to the top of the mountain.
Though you could easily make the argument that, pound for pound, there are cards on this list stronger than Justicar, none of them are going to have such a wide impact across multiple classes. Almost every card in this run down belongs to one class, and that means that they do not show the type of diversity that some people expect strong cards to have. Justicar directly challenges that notion through sheer value. More often than not, a 6/3 for six is going to die immediately. Not only that, but the low health means any small minion can kill her off. However, what makes her strong is that Justicar does not need to live to be good, as she permanently changes your hero power forever. This is very important because you should see her as more of a spell that, if it gets to live on the board for a turn, can trade with just about any minion coming down turn five or six.
When assessing just how good [card]Justicar Trueheart[/card] is, you need to see understand exactly how she is going to change each deck she’s played in. Shaman is the first I will cover, as it is the furthest stretch. When Justicar is played in Shaman, Thrall gets to choose what totem he summons via his hero power for the rest of the game. That ability seems strange at first, but it is actually quite powerful, and gets stronger as the game goes on. Being able to choose a totem allows you to adapt to whatever situation comes your way, and helps you mold the game exactly in the way that you want. Next up is Paladin, where she allows you to create two Silver Hand Recruits a turn. Here, Justicar could serve as another Tirion-type character for the heavy control deck that gives you a big finish when you need it. Control Paladin has always wanted to shave down its deck to only play a few high-impact minions that can take over the game. This card does exactly that, giving them a tool that can help with both board control and pressure long after it’s dead.
The final two classes, Priest and Warrior, can be lumped together, since they each get a very similar bonus. Warrior can make four armor after Justicar is played, and Priests can heal for four. Each of those powers is very, very good. Both Warrior and Priest have had problems with longevity in the past, and the six mana legends fixes that quite well. Not only does each of the new power work marvelously with cards like [card]Shield Slam[/card], [card]Injured Blademaster[/card] and [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card], but it also enables each of those classes to outlast their opponent through sheer attrition. Control Warrior and Priest are decks that are built to go the distance. Justicar is another tool that allows them to stick to that game plan, while also putting something down in the middle turns. Yes, she will be a tempo loss at times, but being able to heal up four a turn will more than make up for that loss in the long run.
Well, there you have it, my first foray into the world of The Grand Tournament. I am extremely excited for the new set, and there are many more cards I want to play with that aren’t on this list. Now that my top ten are done, I am going to move on to my favorite part of a new set, brewing. My theorycrafting article is coming up next, and I could not be more excited. Everyone (except Rogue) got something really exciting in this set. It doesn’t matter if you want to destroy someone with the elements, shoot someone in the face or armor up for thirty turns, there is something for you. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. As always, let me know what you think of my list, what your top ten cards are, and tell me why I’m wrong (or why I’m not). Until next time, happy brewing!