In just a few days, the next Hearthstone expansion will be released and throw the metagame into total chaos! The full setlist for Journey to Un’Goro was revealed on Friday, and we’ve had a few days to digest the implications of the cards that we’ll be playing with come Thursday! I’m extremely excited about this set, as there are tons of different synergies and possibilities to explore. Let’s dive in one more time, to get up to date before the expansion drops!
To start off, we have an intriguing legendary neutral minion: Spiritsinger Umbra. As a 4-mana 3/4, her stats are respectable but not overwhelming; it’s her ongoing effect that will make waves! Triggering Deathrattle effects immediately is extremely potent, and her low cost lets her contest the board early if need be. Powerful in the Standard format (particularly with the Priest Quest), this card will shine in Wild with the synergies available there: expect to see this oddity alongside cards like Sylvanas, Loot Hoarder, or even Boombots from Dr. Boom!
Last week we discussed the Hunter class briefly, but there’s more good news! With the Hunter Quest looking like one of the strongest, it may be time for the underdog to return to the top of the pile… Another new card will help keep hands full, especially with the Beast-themed nature of the expansion. I’m of course referring to Stampede, which adds a “combo” element to the deck and will be great alongside Carnassa’s Brood of overpowered Raptors. Because of its low mana cost, this card is incredibly flexible in play and works with the Hunter Quest. I’d expect this to be a staple for a long time to come!
Next up, a neutral(?) legendary: Hemet, Jungle Hunter. Although this isn’t a class card, Hunter could well be one of the better classes for this bizarre new minion! His Battlecry, “Destroy all cards in your deck that cost (3) or less,” initially reads like a drawback. However, there are a few ways to turn this into an asset: Hemet lets you build a strong early game and be left with your key late game cards after playing him. This ensures that you only draw your most powerful cards after he’s played – plus you can put a lot of pressure on your opponent with his beefy 6/6 body!
Although there’s definite non-bo potential, Hemet could even be played alongside The Marsh Queen! Imagine a deck packed with 1-mana minions to complete the Quest quickly, and then playing Hemet before Queen Carnassa! You’d be left with a huge number of hyper-efficient Raptors that help you dig through your deck to finishers such Call of the Wild. Time will tell for this minion, but he’s certainly an interesting build-around!
Druid, neglected throughout the past weeks, got a lot of love in the full reveal! The Quest, Jungle Giants, hints at a new theme for Druid to explore: minions with 5 or more Attack. The Quest rewards you for summoning five such giants with one heck of a dinosaur: Barnabus the Stomper! This may seem like an impossibly difficult goal, but Barnabus is the real attraction: a 5-mana 8/8 who out-Avianas the original by reducing the cost of minions in your deck to 0! Casting free minions for the remainder of the game certainly qualifies as incredibly powerful, and I’m sure that non-Jade Druid decks will find a place in the Un’Goro metagame.
Druid got a few other noteworthy tools; one that looks particularly interesting is Earthen Scales. One of the greatest weaknesses of this class is the lack of playable healing / Armor options. The Scales offers an intriguing package as a 1-mana spell that buffs a friendly minion and grants Armor equal to its Attack. This offers decent utility even if you’re running an aggro swarm, but the spell definitely is at its best in conjunction with dino-sized minions. In some situations, you could easily gain six or more Armor! There are definitely downsides to consider though… This card does literal nothing if you don’t have a minion on board!
Warrior’s Quest is what most people expected, although the reward certainly isn’t… The Quest, Fire Plume’s Heart, asks you to play seven minions with Taunt. You’ll be pleased to receive Sulfuras in return! As a 3-mana weapon with a 4/2 statline, Sulfuras is great on its own, but the Battlecry is where things really get kicking! Sulfuras is Ragnaros’ weapon in WarCraft lore, so it’s appropriate that it grants you the fiery lord’s same Hero Power… You’ll replace Armor Up with “Deal 8 damage to a random enemy” for a measly two mana! This is sort of a strange package and difficult to evaluate, but it could provide a semi-reliable finisher for Control Warrior decks!
Warrior got a few new Taunts to help achieve its Quest. Perhaps most interesting is Cornered Sentry, a 2-mana, 2/6 with Taunt that summons three 1/1 Raptors for your opponent as a Battlecry. The obvious comparison based on statline is to Dirty Rat, but I think this card will fill a different role since the Rat’s main appeal lies in foiling combos and sniping key minions. The Sentry has some unique synergies with other Warrior cards such as Ravaging Ghoul and other Whirlwind effects (which may themselves be an archetype with King Mosh). This minion should also be great alongside Warrior staples like Armorsmith!
Another new tool for Warrior is the Direhorn Hatchling. A 5-mana 3/6 Taunt is a bit weak on the face of it, but a Deathrattle that shuffles a 5-mana 6/9 Taunt into your deck makes up for a lot! Adding a “second life” to this minion will be great for lists like Control Warrior where you can likely get through a large part of your deck, possibly even combined with something like N’Zoth!
Paladin seems to once again be getting the short end of the stick. Things started off with a mediocre class legendary in Sunkeeper Tarim, and its Quest The Last Kaleidosaur isn’t anything to write home about either. The Quest asks you to cast six spells on your minions, and rewards you with Galvadon. Alternately described, play six spells you don’t want, then finally do something and hope it’s not too late. While Galvadon itself is incredible, the cost to achieve it (in terms of both time and deck slots) is far too high. Having to play so many weak cards while your opponent is actively doing stuff just isn’t going to cut it. Meanwhile, the best outcome (Stealth, +3 Attack x3, Windfury) gets mostly countered by Taunt as well as many other effects. We’ll see what can be devised, but it’s just hard to imagine Paladin being played at all!
Last but not least, I wanted to talk about the Mage Quest, Open the Waygate. If you can cast six spells that didn’t start in your deck, you’re rewarded with an incredible seventh: Time Warp! I’ve spend a long time thinking about this card, and I can’t tell if it’s really really good or merely incredible. Despite costing five mana, “take an extra turn” is one of the most powerful effects in the history of card games. Being able to attack a second time with your minions, and set up for effective 15+ mana turns has the potential to be insane!
But how do we find those first six spells? Cards from outside of your deck can come from anything from Babbling Books and Cabalist’s Tome to Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End! We can also look to other new Mage cards like Shimmering Tempest or Mana Bind to provide extra spells towards our goal. A final advantage of taking an extra turn: it “shuts off” your opponent’s previous-turn-Elemental synergies, which could be super disruptive if Elemental Shaman proves to be as dangerous as it looks!
I hope this series has helped you make sense of all the new cards that we’ll be playing later this week. I’m really looking forward to testing and learning the new decks that will accompany the metagame upheaval, and I can’t wait to bring you my insights as the season develops! Enjoyed this article? Look for the final card review next week, and check out my Profile below!