Jesse's complete Journey to Un'Goro card predictions
For predictions on the power level of all 135 Un'Goro cards, check out Jesse's spreadsheet here. It's got ratings and reasonings for every card in the set.
The Hearthstone design team have outdone themselves with Journey to Un’goro. While it’s impossible to say for sure until we get our hands on the cards this Thursday, there are so many novel mechanics being introduced as part of this set that it’s hard to not get excited about the new options coming to the game. Coupled with the Standard rotation, the meta looks certain to see its since the vanilla days.
All these new mechanics and keywords make my task—card power prediction—very difficult. Specifically, the upcoming Quests offer access to some of the most powerful cards the game has ever seen, but cannot be evaluated outside of the decks in which they are likely to be played. This means I need to predict not only which of the Quests is going to be good, but also what the decks built around them might look like. Challenging, certainly, but not impossible. For fun, I’ve divided the Quests into the good, the bad, and the... interesting. Let’s start with the ones that look certain to be strong.
[Warning! All quests come with an inherent weakness: reducing the number of cards in your mulligan. It is possible the quest strategy is weak in general because of that issue, as it can affect the reliability of your deck]
Fire Plume’s Heart (Warrior):
A very straightforward quest: play seven Taunt creatures and turn your hero power into the 8-damage RNG of Ragnaros. You even get a 4/2 weapon too as the flaming cherry on top.
I think this might be the best quest in the set for a few reasons. First, it’s already something Warrior wants to do. The class has several strong taunts and just received many more. Importantly, this Quest provides one of the best late-game win conditions in the game, which fits the attrition-based nature of the class. Crucially, as the control deck, you now get to build your list without needing to include many clunky, high-cost cards because your win condition is the Quest payoff (not unlike the old version of Elise, but better). This allows you to have a much stronger early-game presence and still win with value in the late game. With new strong taunts containing both Beast and Dragon tags, Curator lists will no doubt be tried as well for ultimate value.
Awaken the Makers (Priest):
Another straightforward quest, play seven Deathrattle minions and get 40 health and an 8/8 Taunt in return. Like Reno, but better.
Much like the Warrior quest, Deathrattle decks already come with a powerful late-game value win condition in the form of N’zoth. This increases the attractiveness of building a deck capable of surviving until that point and Amara can accomplish just that. Coupled with the new deathrattle minions that provide both defense and value for Priest—and then do it again when they’re brought back to life—Priest looks to have a solid foundation for realizing such a strategy. That said, this list initially posed some deck-building challenges, as many of the strongest deathrattle minions are found in Wild (where this Quest will assuredly be a powerhouse).
I didn’t become more confident in it for Standard until I realized that several of the new viable deathrattle minions also fit the Elemental theme. The inclusion of an Elemental package provides what looks to be a much stronger early defensive and mid-game tempo punch. In turn, this also makes the new Radiant Elemental look attractive, finally giving Priest access to the two-drop it’s always needed.
The Marsh Queen (Hunter):
Play seven one-cost minions, get an 8/8 for 5-Mana and a deck full of cycling raptors. Miracle Hunter time?
There are two routes to go in completing this quest: fill your deck with one-cost minions to try and complete it guaranteed by turns 5 or 6 or try a more midrange approach that still plays a lot of one drops to complete it eventually. I feel the latter route puts one at a disadvantage as you won’t reliably complete the quest quickly while still having many low-value draws in your deck. The net result is running out of gas before getting Queen Carnassa too often, so I’m currently favoring the former design: play lots of cheap minions, go face, and try to close the game with hero power damage. One weakness of the strategy is playing the quest on turn 1 instead of a minion in such a highly-aggressive deck. Another weakness is the vulnerability of your board to AoE at all points.
Unite the Murlocs (Shaman):
Summon 10 Murlocs to get another 8/8 for 5 that draws you lots more murlocs. Talk about gas in the tank.
Murloc decks have historically been a very all-in, aggressive strategy that benefits from on-board synergy, so this quest suffers from the same problem as the Hunter one: playing the quest on one instead of a minion. Nevertheless, Shaman did receive some strong support for Unite the Murlocs in the form of Primalfin Totem and Rockpool Hunter, giving it a more solid foundation. Also worth noting is that the vulnerability to AoE murloc decks usually have is offset (somewhat) by the reload provided by Megafin. A more practical issue with this strategy is that elemental-based Shaman decks might just be better if you want to win without goofing around with the fish folk.
Lakkari Sacrifice (Warlock):
Discard six cards to get a 5-mana portal that summons two Flame Imps at the end of your turn. Welcome to Value Town!
There are two major problems with this quest. First, Discard cards have anti-synergy with each other (Doomguard is bad when it discards Doomguard…) and they also have anti-synergy with your hand size. After playing a few Discard cards, you’ll quickly find your hand empty unless you manage to stick a Malchezaar’s Imp or are holding the new Clutchmother . This means you may find yourself frequently tapping just to have more cards to discard, which doesn’t feel good. Even if you do manage to complete the quest, it takes a lot of time to accrue value from it, which is at odds with what your deck wants to do: if you’re Zoo, you’re not playing the value game (or a Quest on turn 1), but if you’re midrange/control you don’t want to decimate your hand. Cruel Dinomancer might look like an appealing option for these lists, but for a sticky six-mana minion you’d want it to be at least as strong as the alternative: Cairne Bloodhoof. Unless you discard a big minion and RNG it back (which you will be unlikely to do), Dinomancer wouldn’t make the cut.
The Last Kaleidosaur (Paladin):
Cast six spells on your minions for a 5/5 for 5-Mana that Adapts five times. Ironically, that’s only four 5s.
The good part about this quest is that the reward itself is capable of closing out a game in a single turn. With the right combinations of Adapt buffs, you could get a minion with Stealth, Windfury, and up to 14 attack (which you can then cast additional buffs on next turn). Since that can win games on its own, the best strategy is likely to get Galvadon online as soon as possible and just win the game with it, meaning you want lots of cheap buffs, cheap minions to stick them to, and Divine Favor for reload. Paladin did get some support for this plan so it might just be viable as long as you don’t get Devolved, Frozen, blocked by Taunts, run out of gas before completing the quest, hit the wrong Adapt effects, or get killed before you can pull it off. Easy.
Jungle Giants (Druid):
Summon five minions with 5 or more attack to get a 5-Mana 8/8 that reduces the cost of all other minions in your deck to 0. Who needs ramp when you don’t need Mana?
This is a quest that sounds a lot better if you misread the reward as reducing the cost of all your minions, rather than just the ones in your deck. Because it doesn’t hit your hand you cannot save up combo minions and use this quest as a better Aviana. If there are any combos you’re thinking about pulling off with this quest, you better hope you don’t draw the large combo pieces first or you’re out of luck. The best bet for this quest is to try and complete it, then cast a Nourish for a huge tempo push, which doesn’t sound all that appealing when combo druid lists are already struggling. The Druid forecast is for another few months of Jade.
Open the Waygate (Mage):
Play six spells that didn’t start in your deck and get an extra turn for 5 mana. Let's do the Time Warp again!
If a control/freeze mage is to survive after the loss of Ice Lance, this is how it will happen. The extra turn allows for all sort of burst combos, the most appealing of which looks to be dropping two (or more) Arcane Giants followed by Alexstrasza on the free turn to set up the kill. The rest of the list can be devoted to accumulating value spells that weren’t in your deck, AoE, and burn. With so many powerful board-control options available, there might be enough sustain here to make it to the combo turn, but you might also end up with too many clunky, random spells you can’t utilize effectively at the expense of real card draw (which you need to find the combo pieces). Also, you lose to control Warrior for sure, but what’s new in the world of control Mage?
Alternatively, you might want to consider a tempo mage list with a more proactive game plan. The extra turn can be useful for pushing that last bit of damage to close out the game, making it less essential but also making your plan more difficult to disrupt.
The Caverns Below (Rogue):
Play four minions with the same name and turn all your minions into 5/5s forever. You really cannot stop the Kvaldir this time.
If you want to win, there are probably better Rogue strategies to use. This Quest is probably not good. That said, this Quest also poses one of the greatest deckbuilding challenges and so is likely to attracts a lot of interest, especially from Rogue main hipsters. The reward allows you to fill your deck with low-cost minions that have useful Battlecry effects and cards to help you recycle them, creating a toolbox of potential value. If you manage to stall long enough to pull off the reward, you can quickly flood the board with obscene amounts of stats and close out the game in a turn or two. That’s a big if, but innovators can always dream bigger.