In early April, we’ll say our farewells to the Year of the Kraken and many beloved cards, then welcome in The Year of the Mammoth! The release of Journey to Un’Goro brings 135 brand new cards, which will (hopefully) form the core of a fun and diverse metagame. Although the tools aren’t yet in our hands, we can indulge in some cautious speculation about what decklists might be worth investigating once the expansion goes live! The rotation of the Standard format will mean big shakeups in the current card pool: let’s start by discussing those a bit further!
Journey to Un’Goro is Hearthstone’s fifth expansion, and its release marks the beginning of the Year of the Mammoth! This means that the expansions not released in the past year (Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers) will “cycle out” to make room for the 135 new cards in the incoming set. In addition to the numerous cards leaving Standard due to age, six Classic powerhouses will be moving to Wild: Azure Drake, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros the Firelord, Power Overwhelming, Ice Lance, and Conceal. Each of these cards has seen a lot of play over the past three years, and Blizzard has decided that they needed to make a change to let newer options shine. With so many staples leaving, there’s tons of uncertainty about what the new Standard will look like!
Now let’s dive into what exactly this new expansion has in store! Blizzard seems to be pushing several primary themes between the Adapt mechanic, the Elemental tribe, and new legendary 1-mana spells called Quests. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, I’ve been having a lot of ideas that I’m eager to try once the cards are in our (digital) hands! From the endless possibilities of deckbuilding, I’ve distilled three lists that highlight the cool new tools that Blizzard is giving us…
Midrange Elemental Shaman
First up, we have a tribal Shaman deck that gets the majority of its power from the expansion! This list starts with a lot of the anti-aggro cards that give Midrange Shaman good matchups, and adds new Elementals that apply serious pressure in later turns. Many cards require an Elemental to have been played the turn before to get full value, so planning your turns will be key to victory (especially with Overload spells). For additional early board presence, we run Fire Fly; despite being weak alone, he gives us a second Elemental activator for one mana. To halt aggro decks in their tracks, we follow up this early drop with mana-efficient plays like the new Golakka Crawler and Tar Creeper, and board wipes in Maelstrom Portal, Lightning Storm, and Volcano!
To round out our later turns, we need to chain our most powerful Elementals together. Fire Elemental fights alongside his brethren, enabling much scarier minions when deployed on curve! Look out for super powerful 7-drop followups in Stone Sentinel, aka “Dr. Rock,” as well as Blazecaller, the better Firelands Portal! For seven mana you can deal five damage, but instead of getting Bomb Squad, you’re always left with a 6/6 Elemental! Finally, the Shaman legendary Kalimos, Primal Lord is right at home in this list, with his choice of Invocations putting both slower control decks and struggling aggro opponents too far behind to recover! Try this one out in April if you want to shut down the beatdown!
Questing Deathrattle Priest
The next deck revives an archetype fairly popular following the release of Whispers of the Old Gods. We have a new incentive though, as the Priest Quest, Awaken the Makers, rewards you for playing seven (of this deck’s fifteen) Deathrattle minions with an insane 40-Health reset from Amara, Warden of Hope! This deck seems incredibly solid with diverse removal options, but will need adjustment based on how the meta evolves. Despite being a relatively slower Priest list, you’ll be able to take the board with effective minions while completing your Quest! Both new and old cards like Crystalline Oracle and Shifting Shade work incredibly well alongside Mirage Caller, which summons 1/1 copies with the same Deathrattle effects for extra value!
Tortollan Shellraiser and Corrupted Healbot present must-remove threats that help us reach our Quest’s conclusion. Curious Glimmerroot doesn’t help the Quest but contributes to winning the value game, essentially giving you a free card from your opponent’s deck. Many of the minions we play add extra cards to your hand or deck, giving you maximum value for the long-game from each turn. N’Zoth, the Corruptor lets you swing back the board even from far behind, and the deck in general doesn’t seem to run out of steam when played correctly. There may even be a way to run a Reno-style list with the Quest, to take advantage of powerful cards like Kazakus and Raza the Chained!
Questing Combo Hunter
This might just be the wildest deck in the meta! This list revolves around the Hunter Quest, called The Marsh Queen: playing seven of our sixteen total 1-drops rewards us with the mightiest Dino, Queen Carnassa. The Queen herself is beefy as a 5-mana 8/8, but her real strength comes from the Battlecry that shuffles 15 copies of Carnassa’s Brood into your deck. Now these aren’t any ordinary raptors: each is a 1-mana 3/2 with Battlecry: Draw a card! In conjunction with the early face damage that Hunter tends to rack up, we should be constantly filling the board with cheap threats that demand a response.
This deck is so fun because of the combination of Tundra Rhino and Timber Wolf. These cards turn massive bursts of damage from these cute little raptors into a deadly combo! The deck plays as many 1-mana minions as possible, but it suffers from the need to play your Quest before you start slamming creatures on the board. For this reason, it may be even more desirable to go second than first! This list completes its Quest incredibly quickly, but also has plenty of other efficient minions with which to pressure face. Once we summon the Queen, the board will essentially always be full of 3/2s that the opponent must remove!
Keep in mind that these decklists were made only with only 56 of the total 135 cards revealed. They will certainly change with the final spoilers, but the archetype and structure of each list will likely be viable once the expansion releases! There are many other themes that Blizzard is pushing, and brainstorming decks is endless fun. I do believe that the Un’Goro meta will be one of great possibility: check back next week for three more cool decklists before the set release!