Which class is getting the best cards from One Night in Karazhan?
For week 2 of Medivh's little fiesta, editor TheUrbanShep lists the Hearthstone classes who received the best party favours, and which ones got the worst offering (aside from Priest ... ).
It’s obvious now that One Night in Karazhan won’t be the big meta-changer its predecessors were. The creative mechanics and camp aesthetics of Hearthstone’s new adventure have been great fun to play (and pleasing to Warcraft lore enthusiasts), but it’s hard to get over the mix of confusion and nonchalance that initially greeted the 45 new cards.
We’ve seen the finest minds in the Tavern place their bets on which additions will see play, already modifying decks to include the handful of intriguing legendaries, and avoiding the catastrophes masquerading as spell cards. When it comes to the game’s class collective, who went home with the best party favours? Which neutral minions hit it off with the existing deck archetypes? And which best dance partners from the Classic and current Standard set won the top prize?
The sound of Arena players grumbling over new Mage cards must be music to the design team’s ears by now. ONiK isn’t likely to buck that trend, but it could herald a comeback for the Secret Control deck of the Mage’s early days.
- Statistically, there aren’t that many terrible 5 drops in Hearthstone, which is why Firelands Portal is doing far better on ladder than it deserves to be. It’s a little on the slow side for a Tempo or Freeze Mage deck, but the ability to take out most hefty minions, whilst almost always reliably summoning a 4/5 or better, should counter Control Mage’s usual shortage of things to throw out on the board.
- Medivh's Valet may single-handedly revive Secret Control Mage. Its major drawback of being useless until turn 4 can be countered with the reintroduction of Kirin Tor Mage and in Freeze Mage it gloriously compliments Ice Block to save you from sacrificing a Frostbolt. Our eyes should be fixed on whether this minion also finds a home in the more experimental Reno or Midrange decks, and whether its powerful enough for Eater of Secrets to become the insane counter it would have been in pre-standard days.
- Avian Watcher repeats a lot of the talking points of the Valet, but in particular, this mid-game minion is very much the missing defensive piece for Secrets Mage, helping them to stay alive whilst developing board presence – pretty much the essence of a control deck.
- I see Arcane Giant as the grand finale to this new Control Mage deck. In the late-game, either one or both copies of the epic minion can be dropped simultaneously with Alexstrasza for a heal, or next to Archmage Antonidas for a solid lethal set-up. Even in Tempo Mage decks, it’s great to have as a backup when Yogg-Saron, Hope's End either doesn’t (or hell, does) work in your favour.
The joke in World of Warcraft is that Paladins hate healing. Right now in Hearthstone, they’re even better at it than Priests, to the point where the quite versatile Ivory Knight comes across as underwhelming. Instead, what you see below are three cards that give three already popular decks a chance at reaching a higher tier.
- ONiK sets the scene for a lot of experimental decks, but then there’s Barnes: the grand exception that we all knew immediately how and where to play. The potential scenarios with N’Zoth Pally are obvious but still impressive. An early 5/3 weapon from Tirion Fordring? By the Holy Light indeed, and it’ll pay back in dividends when your Old God finally lands. The fact that the Battlecry is totally random is a big drawback, but give it a few days, and a turn 4 Cairne Bloodhoof is going to be the #1 reason people rage-quit a game of Hearthstone.
- Murloc Paladin (in both its N’zoth and N’zoth-less versions) is my current favourite deck, and the idea of adding The Curator honestly makes me giddy. Many have questioned whether a Murloc/Dragon/Beast deck is even possible, but some variants of this OTK build already run all three – the eponymous amphibians, plus Stampeding Kodo and Azure Drake.
- Earlier in the year, GosuGamer’s Hearthstone crew predicted which decks would become strong after the arrival of Standard. My suggestion of Token Paladin was among the least popular … and least accurate. I like being proven wrong continuously, and will gamble on Nightbane Templar (with synergy from Steward of Darkshire and Keeper of Uldaman) ushering in a new version of this deck, albeit with a heavy influx of dragons.
Rogue’s new cards really stand out as bringing in the most change among the classes. The Control variant still isn’t fully primed, but the existing Deathrattle, Miracle and Yogg builds can now be played with a profoundly different approach.
- A new one-drop is always appreciated in Rogue as a cheap combo-activator, but Swashburglar is so much more than that. It replaces the gap left in your hand, has Pirate synergy, and alongside the brilliant stat-line of Ethereal Peddler it elevates the concept of Thief Rogue to more than just deck-filler. No one’s ever going to run Burgle, but with Undercity Huckster this reactive style of play is more viable than its unwieldy RNG would have you believe.
- When it comes to Arcane Giant, the talk around the table usually concerns Yogg decks, but I think Miracle Rogue is the most profitable place for this card. The Gadgetzan Auctioneer deck cycle (with Conceal), of course) perfectly sets it up as a weaker, but more flexible alternative when you don’t have Edwin VanCleef or the mana left to play him.
The not so humble Hunter really wins out this time in terms of class cards. The new tools for the Deathrattle and Secret (better known as Yogg’n’Load) decks offer much more variety, and indeed the only thing that needs to be seen is just how craftier Hunter players will overcome the lingering issue of card-draw.
- We’d barely play Cat Trick if it weren’t for the other secret-based cards from ONiK. The spell-trigger mechanic is interesting, but far too situational. However Cloaked Huntress, arguably the best thing to happen to secrets since Mad Scientist, is reason enough to include it. I’m personally waiting to see whether any deck-builder is able to set up the 3-drop along with a Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Lock and Load finale … and actually make it competitive.
- Thanks to Cloaked Huntress, everything I said about Avian Watcher for Mage applies here, not to mention Hunter gets the ridiculously strong defensive 5-drop it always wanted. If this card was also a beast it’d be unfathomably broken, but luckily the stony illustration on the card keeps it fairly balanced.
- The comparison of Kindly Grandmother to Haunted Creeper and Nerubian Egg is brutally obvious, but it’s hard to get across just how much of an advantage this card gives N’Zoth Hunter. A low-cost deathrattle minion like this almost always ensures board presence, but the fact that both minions are beasts (it would be weird if the Grandmother wasn’t … ) makes the curve into Houndmaster or Ram Wrangler ridiculously powerful, and reason enough to use it in Midrange decks too.
Purify was the card that finally got me to acknowledge how low my favourite class has slunk. Thing is, you can’t rectify Anduin’s problems (an inconsistent playstyle, lack of strong legendary minions etc.) with one, or even three cards. Your N’zoth deck’s win-rate won’t be going to soar with this bunch, but when all’s said and done, Priest was granted more from this set than yet another atrocious spell.
- It was great to see the more masochistic Priest players successfully getting Priest of the Feast going after the first week of ONiK. The minion does have good stats, and the healing tempo with Power Word: Shield, Flash Heal and even Forbidden Shaping is a demonstrably good counter to some of the more simple-minded aggro opponents on ladder.
- “Stop trying to make Dragon Priest happen Blizzard. It’s not going to happen!” Certainly not with Netherspite Historian alone, but the high odds of discovering a decent dragon do raise the deck a few wings higher, and it’s refreshing to see Blizzard not only keeping but combining their older mechanics.
- I’ve heard passionate arguments for why Onyx Bishop is more than just vanilla, but I’ll need to see it in action before dropping all of my skepticism. Yes, the chance of resurrecting Injured Blademaster, Auchenai Soulpriest or even late-game minions like Sylvanas Windrunner makes it worth including, but it’s still not an effect that really helps turnaround the class’ major mana curve problem.
Druid’s definitely the class going in the clearest direction after this expansion. The Beast archetype has been growing over the last year or so (remember Druid of the Fang, anyone?), but now it has the speed and the right amount of minions to reach tier-2 level, at the very least.
- I want the HS community to be wrong about Menagerie Warden, otherwise we have a farcically broken 6-drop on our hands. I think the touted combo with Stranglethorn Tiger is actually too situational to be anything more than a hasty prediction, but even the synergy with lesser beasts (like Mounted Raptor or Druid of the Flame) is still ridiculous.
- Enchanted Raven appears rather simple – the game’s first 1-drop with 2/2 stats and no drawback – but with Mark of Y’Shaarj it’s a bear necessity from here on out. It also combos marvelously with the Warden, even as a last resort; a combination which might even make Knight of the Wild viable in a Beast Druid deck.
- The Curator has drawn a lot of comparisons to the sorely missed Ancient of Lore. The drop in card draw killed all value in that minion, but this new neutral legendary not only ensures precision in what you add to your hand, the added Taunt and superb stats mean you can even swap out your Ancient of War without hurting your deck’s defensive capabilities.
- Arcane Giant in Yogg-Druid pretty much speaks for itself. The class has by far the highest spell casting rate, and the ability to combine Fandral Staghelm with Raven Idol means you can lower this epic-minion’s cost to a valuable level twice as fast as the ill-fated Frost Giant.
Warlock’s discard effect is one of the most interesting synergies in Hearthstone, but it’s also difficult to separate it from everything else we know and love/hate about the class. Even if Gul'dan’s new class cards were intended to foster some new kind of deck ... they’ve arrived practically gift-wrapped for the already dominant Zoo in Standard.
- Malchezaar's Imp, with its reliable level of RNG, is actually getting some theorycraft talk going about how best to include Darkshire Librarian and Fist of Jaraxxus, two cards which were originally dismissed out of hand.
- Discardlock is like the opposite of Beast Druid, in that cards that would support it are likewise being printed too slowly, but they’re simultaneously bolstering other ways of playing the class. Silverware Golem, when summoned before Doomguard or Soulfire, is going to dramatically speed up Zoo in a way I don’t think we’re ready for.
- Kara Kazham! isn’t exactly winning over Warlock players en masse, but only hours after its introduction its already seeing play in Reno decks. Cho’Gall (a legendary minion from WotOG that I have literally never seen in play) is ideal for leading this army of silverware into battle, but since the spell sends out multiple bodies, a tiny bit of careful timing with Darkshire Councilman, Hellfire or Power Overwhelming could be game-changing.
By either accident or design, the Shaman meta is staying right where it is. None of the ONiK minions or spells really take anything away from the current Aggro/Midrange powerhouses – and really, unless it was some Doctor 7-like addition, nothing could beat Tuskarr Totemic and Flamewreathed Faceless. Can you imagine if Blizzard actually gave a card like that to Shaman right now? Players would be sending them far more than just one useless petition …
- Maelstrom Portal is a great example of how interesting a card can be with just a sprinkle of RNG. Alone, this spell is like a weaker Ravaging Ghoul that leaves your board untouched. However, should you get a Spell Power totem, it’s ridiculously valueable, and a great counter to Zoo and Token Druid or Paladin.
- Moat Lurker is a card we really can’t evaluate till it’s sitting in our hands, but in terms of the deck that I would most want to experiment with, Control Shaman is unrivalled. Is there some defensive potential between high stat taunt cards (Earth Elemental or Thing from Below) and Ancestral Spirit? Will it see much play with Evolve on turn seven? If the answer to any of these is yes, then a really interesting deck archetype may be imminent.
Garrosh easily has the most forgettable take home gifts from ONiK. The whole bolster thing Blizzard is trying to push with Protect the King is nonsensical, since Warrior demands cards with instant results (i. e. damage). As intriguingly unconventional as the class cards are, all have the potential to fall flat.
- The funny thing about Ironforge Portal is, even if we agree that it’s worse than Shieldmaiden, it’ll get played. Because every armour gaining card ever printed has been played, because after two years Shield Slam is still insane. Whereas C’Thun Warrior has more than enough amour to go around, this is the card Control Warrior desperately needs, even if it’s not what it really wants.
- Fool’s Bane is the maddest ever attempt at a board clear. A very meta-dependent weapon, you’ll either give up trying to swat 1-health minions away from Zoo or Hunter boards, or it will totally replace your Gorehowl, especially if you have an Upgrade! handy. I initially assumed this card would mean cutting an extra Brawl from your deck, but the pro consensus is that it's a Tempo tool designed to guarantee board control. Either way, when this card arrives next week, we'll see how it cracks on.
- On the neutral side, The Curator could mark the return of a more control-orientated Dragon Warrior. By dragging along a Fierce Monkey, you can get all three of the minion types on turn seven (perfect for when you’ve yet to draw Sir Finley Mrrgglton), making up for the lack of card draw that this popular deck currently lacks.
Are you happy with the decks that have come out so far from One Night of Karazhan?
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