The final review: which new cards to craft, and which to disenchant!
After what seemed like forever, the new Hearthstone expansion has finally arrived to change up the metagame. We’ve had about ten days since the release, and both professional and casual players have been busily developing decks around the new cards. Although there’s only been time to form first impressions, I’ve already logged a good number of hours with the recent additions. To round out my set review, here’s my list of the best and worst neutral cards of Gadgetzan – followed by a look at all nine new “tri-class” cards! That’s a ton of material for discussion, so let’s jump in!
Neutral Cards – Top 5
#5: Finja, the Flying Star
This card is really interesting despite its lackluster stats, and probably fits Murloc Control Paladin the best because you don’t need to rely on Finja as a finisher on its own. Generally I think you want to keep Finja in Stealth until able to guarantee its trigger (a strong combination being Old Murk-Eye and Murloc Warleader). In the Murloc Control list, running Finja also lets you reach a point to cast Anyfin Can Happen earlier instead of very late game. It might have the potential to be played in Aggro Murloc decks, but aggressive strategies usually don’t want their 5-mana cards to be this unreliable.
#4: Second-Rate Bruiser
A good card for Reno decks, because you can play it cheaply when your opponent floods the board and puts you on the back foot. Generally a tech card, and Reno lists have a ton of slots to devote to tech. Also capable of creating huge swing turns if you can play it in conjunction with an active Mind Control Tech! Decent potential in general if the metagame remains aggressive, which will probably depend on whether Pirate or Jade lists prove to be more dominant. If Aggro Shaman returns to prominence, expect to see more of this guy!
#3: Dirty Rat
Not a fan of this card, but I have to admit that it’s fairly strong! Has been played a lot in Reno Warlock and Reno Priest, as it’s usually a good Taunt minion against aggro decks. It can also be used to “combo” with Brann Bronzebeard and Mind Control Tech. In one game recently, I actually forced out my opponent’s Leeroy Jenkins and Faceless Manipulator with that combo. Other combos with this card include playing it into a board clear like your opponent’s Doomsayer or with Twisting Nether in hand.
#2: Small-Time Buccaneer
Very good 1-drop for an aggressive Pirate deck, several variants of which seem worth exploring at the moment. This little fellow only gets full value when a weapon is equipped, making him playable in Warrior, Rogue and Paladin since they tend to run lots of weapons. Rogue benefits the most since it can guarantee activating the Buccaneer with its hero power, but any of these classes can apparently make the Pirate subtheme work!
#1: Patches the Pirate
This card is also better than I first thought, since Pirate decks received so much an overall boost with this expansion, especially Warrior variants. Patches comes out immediately whenever you play a Pirate minion like N’zoth’s First Mate or Small-Time Buccaneer. In addition to putting on extra pressure once in play, a Patches in your deck essentially represents a “free card” you will always “draw” – an extremely important point in a game where the number of cards you see heavily influences your chances of winning! For this reason, you should always mulligan Patches, since doing otherwise forgoes the “extra card” aspect and turns him into a mere Stonetusk Boar.
Neutral Cards – Bottom 5
This card is actually kind of interesting, but it’s hard to play since the current meta seems control-heavy and your opponent’s hand won’t be empty until very late game. If the stats were just a little better or he had an additional ability this would be worth a look, but as of now I don’t see how this card can fit in any reasonable deck.
Yeah, it’s a 3-mana 4/3 with Taunt, but it is still not good enough to be playable in the meta. It dies very easily to weapons (especially Fiery War Axe) and value trades in general. I don’t expect it to show up in the competitive meta any time soon, although it does offer a minor upgrade to Ironfur Grizzly for new players.
A 3-mana 0/7 with Spell Power is really not impressive. The obvious comparison is to Doomsayer, but that leaves it looking bad since a board clear has a huge impact on the board to make up for Doomsayer’s lack of attack. Unplayable in any meta deck, though the fact that it’s a Demon means that some odd synergy might conceivably be discovered in the future.
Just like the aforementioned Hired Gun, it dies to everything, including all-too-common weapon and value trades. Yes, 6 attack is impressive for a 4-drop, but what else does it do? Absolutely nothing! Don’t expect this card to show up anywhere interesting, and I would avoid it even in Arena.
A 5/4 body for 9 mana is terrible stat-wise, and would have to have an amazing Battlecry effect to make up for it. Frankly, the effect that this card does have is awful. Even if you build around it, you’re giving up most of the best removal in the game since cards like Execute or Shadow Word: Pain can only target one minion. Probably the worst legendary of the expansion – this card is basically 400 dust waiting to happen.
That concludes our overview of the neutral cards! This expansion also introduced a new mechanic – tri-class cards, which can be played in any of the three associated classes for each of the three “gangs.” There are nine of these cards, so I’ll take a brief look at each in turn!
Tri-Class Cards – The Grimy Goons (Hunter, Paladin, Warrior)
Common: Grimestreet Smuggler
I’m still not 100% sold on this card, but it has potential to be good in an Aggro Paladin deck since it has decent stats and can buff your followup turn four play. There’s no telling if it will be run in Warrior or Hunter since the meta is unstable right now, but it certainly seems playable in Arena if nothing else.
Rare: Grimestreet Informant
I think this is one of the worse tri-cards in the expansion due to its puny 1/1 body, even worse than Museum Curator. There’s a chance the Informant could find a spot in a Reno list for one of the Goons classes, but that combination is rare in Standard. If we see more Reno-like effects in the future, this card’s stock may rise!
Legendary: Don Han’Cho
This card is pretty good in a Control deck, probably Warrior or Paladin. I don’t think it’s viable in Control Hunter since that class lacks card draw, and Don Han’Cho’s worst nightmare is to be played when you only have spells and weapons in hand. If you can stabilize and slam this minion, he’ll almost always present two must-remove targets for your opponent!
Tri-Class Cards – The Jade Lotus (Druid, Rogue, Shaman)
Common: Jade Spirit
This card has the potential to be run in all three of the applicable classes, as it’s a great role-player for the Jade Golem archetype. So far it’s been seeing a lot of play in Jade Druid since they run so many synergistic cards, including Jade Idol. A great 4-drop, especially after a Wild Growth on turn two. It’s a great combo with Brann Bronzebeard, and remains relevant late into the game if you summoned a few Jade Golems already.
Rare: Lotus Agents
This card has been disappointing so far, as I think it’s at least decent but haven’t seen it played. It’s worth comparing to Ethereal Conjurer in that it has a similar body with Discover and may be run in a Reno decklist. However there’s just no easy card slot to fit this one into, and it further suffers from the randomness of a general Discover.
Legendary: Aya Blackpaw
Has been run a lot in Jade Druid because it has a solid body that summons two Golems with its Battlecry and Deathrattle. I haven’t seen many Jade Rogues or Shamans right now, but they’re definitely out there and this card will be run if those decks become viable. Definitely one of the top tri-cards in the expansion, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend crafting!
Tri-Class Cards – The Kabal (Mage, Priest, Warlock)
Common: Kabal Chemist
This card seems to work well to fill out Reno decklists, because the Potions are mostly mediocre with the exception of Volcanic Potion. It hasn’t been otherwise seen much on ladder, though maybe that could change as we get closer to a new Standard year and new Potion cards.
Rare: Kabal Courier
Definitely a solid card for Reno as well, though it might be hard to run because the 2/2 body is prone to getting munched by more aggressive classes and decks. For that reason, I could see this being more of an Arena hit since you can Discover for value.
Probably the strongest Reno-style card in the game right now because he gives you so many options to choose from. Whatever the situation, Kazakus can craft an answer to it: select 1, 5, or 10-mana as a cost and you get a spell with two custom effects of your choice! Those effects can include gaining armor, wiping the board, dealing damage, buff your minions, summon Demons, drawing cards, and more. This guy is already being seen in Reno decks and could potentially be a reason to play such lists even after Reno Jackson himself leaves Standard!
That’s it for my look at the new cards from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan! We’re only two weeks into the new metagame, and huge changes are already happening at the top of the ladder. Whether you’re trying to break into competitive play or just aiming for a higher rank than last season, I hope this guide helps you to sort out the gems and build better decks!
Keep an eye out for my deck guides as we explore this strange new world! Stay tuned for more interesting content, and follow me on Twitter at @rduong_hs!